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Is steel is the ideal material from which to make a high impact bike frame?

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Introduction

Young's Modulus Young's Modulus is a measure of strength and stiffness. If you get a large force over a small area then you will get a large figure for stress. And a small extension divided by a large original length will give you a small figure for strain. Divide these numbers and a large modulus results, the material extends little for a large applied force. Steel has a large modulus, meaning that it is stiff and strong. A typical modulus for steel is 1100 Mpa, whereas cfrp, titanium and aluminium have modulus's of 2145, 900 Mpa and 400 Mpa respectively. This shows that although steel is not the strongest of the materials commonly used to construct mountain bike frames it is still very strong. Reasons why, although it is the strongest material, cfrp is not commonly used to construct frames will be discussed in the 'cfrp' section of this presentation. Elongation Elongation of a material is how much it stretches before breaking as a percentage of its overall length .The higher the percentage of elongation before a material breaks, the greater its ductility. ...read more.

Middle

It also yields a lot, so it gives warning of impending failure. Aluminium, although it yields, is not as strong as steel and does not yield to such a degree, and so we find it outshone by its ferrous partner. Cfrp, although it is immensely strong, hardly yields to a degree that the yield point is nearly the same as the failure point. Therefore no warning of breakage would be given to the rider and a sudden failure could result in injury. Titanium has fantastic elongation figures and yield strength, but is not commonly used for frame construction. The reasons for this will be discusses in the 'titanium' section of this presentation. Density Steel, although it has many other admirable qualities, is a fairly dense metal. Weighing 0.283 pounds per cubic inch, it's almost twice as dense as titanium (0.160 lb/in2) and nearly three times the density of aluminium (0.098 lb/in2). This seemingly heavy weight however, when weighed up against its other properties, such as its good strength and stiffness can be all but forgotten. ...read more.

Conclusion

Aluminium is a very good, relatively inexpensive material to make a frame from, but steel still surpasses it in key areas where high/repeated impact situations are to be considered. Steel is naturally more elastic than aluminium, and can deform with applied loads and return to its original form with no detrimental effects to strength etc. Every applied load, however, fatigues aluminium. This is not a property idea in high impact situations. Aluminium is also more brittle than steel and deforms less than steel before it fails. In a situation with repeated impacts, advanced warning of failure is a very good idea. Summary From the analysis of contending materials in this presentation, I can conclude that steel is the ideal material from which to make a high impact bike frame. It has a good modulus, good elongation percentage and high strength and its inherent 'springiness' gives a comfortable ride. It is also relatively cheap. A good, high impact design steel frame will cost around �250, whereas a good alloy frame will cost twice as much or more. Price, in a section of the sport in which frames are regularly damaged, is an important factor. ...read more.

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