Like all things new in the bike world, graphene is the shiny new toy. Everyone is talking about it but is graphene really necessary? I would venture to say no. To clarify – We repair any composite construct and we have a keen interest in graphene as we learn new repair solutions.
Yes, it is a wonderful material and yes it can conduct electricity (so does carbon by the way). Lightness and stiffness might be another motivation and repair is most likely possible but why am I not as enthused by graphene as I should be?
Carbon has taken bikes to the limit where any further weight shedding may not be in the best interests of all riders. Let me explain – Cycling terrain generally undulates creating benefits and drawbacks depending on the rider and the bike. Inertia is also a benefit so light is not always the ONLY goal.
Carbon bikes are already safely at the tipping point of weight versus stiffness. By loosing several more grams on the frame and adding more stiffness by using graphene will work well in certain circumstances but is only one element in one bikes advantage over another. Carbon is fit for purpose as GRP, Glass-reinforced plastic is for high performance boats.
Graphene is still too expensive and challenging to process. Stocks in graphene, according to Nanalyze, is not yet an invetment opportunity and as a result the prices will not drop anytime soon. However we see an increase in the use of graphene oxide powder which is used to strengthen resin. I would be intrigued to understand how robust a full graphene bike will be to surface impacts and how abrasive resistant it will be in the future. This is where Carbon is not great.
I will let this one play out.