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Textiles Intelligence

Composites for cycling and sailing - incubator industries for innovation

Composites will be the materials of choice in cycling and sailing at the 2024 Summer Olympic Games - which is due to be held Paris, France, from 26 July – 11 August, 2024.

10th May 2024

Innovation in Textiles
 |  United Kingdom

Sports/​Outdoor, Transport/​Aerospace

Report summary

In cycling, the use of carbon fibre and three-dimensionally (3D) printed materials can help to improve the aerodynamics, ergonomics, structural integrity and weights of bicycles. Bicycle manufacturing has gradually moved to lower wage countries because of high labour costs—even though the major markets for bicycles remain in Europe and the USA. That said, there has been some “reshoring” as logistical issues have come to the fore. Time Bicycles, a company based in Vaulx-Milieu, France, which boasts multiple wins at past Olympic Games, has relocated the production of its bicycle frames to Slovakia and to South Carolina, USA.

Among recent innovations, the HB.T bicycle produced by Lotus, a high performance sports car manufacturer headquartered in Norwich, UK, and Hope Technology—a bicycle components manufacturer based in Barnoldswick, UK—helped Team Great Britain (GB) to top the medals table in the track cycling events at the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, and the two companies are planning to supply Team GB with new HB.T2 bicycles based on the same high grade carbon fibre and manufacturing process as the Lotus Evija hypercar for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games.

In sailing, fibre reinforced composites can contribute significantly to the development of critical structural components. One of the main benefits of using fibre reinforced composites in sailing applications is that they are corrosion resistant. In addition, glass fibre composites offer considerable strength and durability, and their ease of moulding into complex shapes makes them ideal for a variety of waterborne vessels—from small boats to large yachts. Also, glass fibre composites are relatively cheap. Meanwhile, carbon fibres have emerged as a popular replacement for nylon as a material for use in manufacturing sails as they are characterised by low elastic deformation and they provide sails with aerodynamic efficiency. At the same time, they can enhance the longevity of rigging ropes.

The unbeatable properties of carbon fibre composites will also be evident in a variety of other sports during the 2024 Summer Olympic Games, notably archery, badminton, golf, hockey, javelin throwing, pole vaulting, skateboarding, surfing and tennis. Also, they are making a major contribution to improved mobility and this will be evident at the 2024 Summer Paralympic Games, which will be held in Paris, France, during August 28-September 8, 2024. For example, carbon fibre composites are used extensively in racing wheelchairs, and several automotive racing companies have been involved in the development of advanced wheelchair models which are light in weight and benefit from optimised aerodynamics and ergonomics. Carbon fibre composites will also be used in prosthetics, such as running blades.

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Publisher: Textiles Intelligence

‘Editorial: Technical textile composites for cycling and sailing—incubator industries for innovation’

13 pages, published in April 2024

Report price: US$ 426.00; Euro 325.00

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