You have probably seen cycling products made with Dyneema without knowing it. The latest Specialized S-Works road shoes use the strong fabric in parts of their uppers, the Giant-Alpecin pro team used it in its bib shorts, and even the leader's jersey of the Tour de France incorporated the fabric.
Parent company DSM claims its thin, flexible Dyneema fabric to be the strongest in the world and soon you will likely see Dyneema Carbon used in bicycles, as DSM is promoting its new material to bike brands.
Dyneema is DSM's brand name for its Ultra-High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMwPE), which basically means 'really strong plastic'. DSM sells Dyneema to brands in a variety of industries, from aviation to nautical to sports. In cycling, Specialized, Castelli, Exteondo and others use the fabric for shoes and clothing. DSM says Dyneema is 15 times stronger than steel but floats on water, and the fiber has long been used to do everything from moor oil rigs at sea to repair human ligaments.
There are two strong selling points for cycling companies: the material's very high strength-to-weight ratio and its very high abrasion resistance. Specialized shoe designer Rob Cook liked that the material is very thin and pliable without being stretchy.
For bikes, DSM claims to be working with "several brands" on development projects with its new Dyneema Carbon, which incorporates Dyneema into sheets of carbon. DSM declined to name any specific brands.
DSM claims Dyneema Carbon will make carbon bikes better at absorbing both road vibrations and outright impacts to the frame tubing. Regular carbon is "strong, stiff, lightweight and easy to mould. But it's not so good at handling impact," said DSM Dyneema scientist and part-time professor at Delft University of Technology Roel Marissen.
Adding Dyneema to carbon can increase energy absorption by up to 100 percent, the company claims.
DSM has made a prototype bike with the frameset and spokes made from Dyneema Carbon for display at the rubber and plastics K Trade Fair in Germany.