The focus for our engineers is and will always be to develop products and technologies that are meaningful and relevant to the end-user.
For that reason, we defined our R&D strategy around two axis:
(1) Creating products that are the most durable and the safest possible.
(2) Reducing our environmental impact by recycling and limiting the manufacturing waste.
The first part of Panorama Cycle’s innovative technology chapter: security, durability & longevity.
OBJECTIVE: bring the durability performance of composite frames to the next level
Since the creation of Panorama Cycles, we met dozens of adventure cyclists, expedition cyclists, endurance cyclists and passionate bikepackers. When we asked the questions “what is holding you from investing in a carbon fiber frame?”, the most recurring answer was the fear of damaging the frame, and ultimately breaking it during their grueling activities.
“Impacts could create invisible damage to the frame…”
“If the frame breaks when I’m in a remote area, I would miss my steel frame…”
All cyclists are unanimous about the fun of riding a lighter and stiffer carbon fiber frame on either on short or long distance rides. A composite frame is in general more efficient, and the performance of the riding could increase significantly in many aspects.
After two years of development, we have re-thought the way we design the laminates for our composite frames. While our competitors focus on creating the lightest and stiffest bikes, we, on the other hand, asked ourselves: how can we make an already very light and stiff bike more durable?
Another non negligible fact: how do we convince the most conservative and purist cyclists (read here the ones dedicated to steel) to try composite frame?
Our solution: Xantu.Layr™ & Zylon®
A welcomed addition to the laminate
Xantu.Layr™ is an incredibly thin nanofiber interleaving thermoplastic veil developed in New Zealand by Revolution Fiber. When building the frame parts, the thin layers are inserted between plies of carbon fiber, and would fused all together during the curing process.
Xantu.Layr™: a thermoplastic reinforcement
The bike frames are made from multiple layers of carbon fiber which are pre-impregnated with a thermoset resin. Because of the fibers mechanical properties and orientation, each layer is essential to create the final structural properties of the part.
When a severe impact initiate a failure in a composite frame, the typical breakage mechanism will be most most often interlaminar. In other words, the crack propagation occurs between plies of carbon fiber.
The Xantu.Layr™ acts as toughening material that increase the interlaminar strength.
This material is not used all over the frame or in between every single carbon fiber plies. It is positioned on strategic areas of the frame and specific locations within the thickness of the laminate. These areas are selected for their probability to witness high interlaminar shear stress. Those areas could be for example between plies of carbon fiber of high and intermediate modulus.
Xantu.Layr™ interleaved panels show a significant reduction in delamination area after being impacted at 30J energy.
Xantu.Layr™ interleaved panels show smaller delamination cracks and less fibre breakage after being impacted at 30J energy.
The atypical material!
Zylon® is a PBO based synthetic polymer material made by Toyobo in Japan. While it exhibits similar rigidity to intermediate modulus carbon fiber and similar elongation at break than aramid, it shows a 20% superior resistance compared to the same material. This is why it could be considered a super aramid.
Zylon®: fasten your seatbelt!
Adventure cyclists are haunted by the thought of crashing and having to deal with a seriously damaged frame, while being in a remote area.
The ultimate resistance of this material, combined with its large elongation at breakage are what will make the frame much stronger.
Similarly, the aramid fibers is a key material that keeps structures integral for many high energy impacts applications. Think of kayak paddles which are reinforced with kevlar to avoid such breakage while going down a river. As for the Zylon®, it is widely used in the manufacturing of Formula 1 cockpits to ensure the drivers are protected upon impact.
Why not use aramid alone for the bike frame? Zylon® has a similar in rigidity to intermediate modulus carbon fiber, where as aramid is much lower. This means that extra material is not being used to compensate for a potential lack of rigidity when Zylon® is being used. Furthermore, due to similar properties, interlaminar shear stress between Zylon® and carbon layers are reduced, which greatly improves the laminate durability.
Same feeling on the bike
With the added Xantu.Layr™ and Zylon® materials, the bike keeps its great character and feel.
Top quality above anything else
Why don’t other bike manufacturers use these materials? Zylon® & Xantu.Layr™ are approximately three times more expensive by weight than carbon fiber. This significant raw material cost increase could be hard to justify for larger companies looking for ways to increase profit margins everyday. Well, that’s just not the way we roll!
In addition, as a smaller company amongst giants, we have the flexibility, creativity and audacity to resolve such unique and complex problems. Our hands are not tied with asian manufacturers that require quick and easy manufacturing for the mass market. Our manufacturing partners are thrilled to come on this adventure with us. They are fully on board in this project to build frames that are more durable, to pursue safer adventures in the untapped and unpredictable wilderness.