Graphene is a recently discovered revolutionary material in the form of a very thin, nearly transparent sheet of pure carbon and has been featured in a number of remarkable news stories over the past months but this is the first time I have seen the material mentioned in a cycling context. Graphene is as thin as a single atom (1/1,000,000,000th of a metre). One gram covers over 2,500 m2 of surface! The purest (pristine) form of Graphene (the only form of Graphene that Madone-based Vittoria SpA uses) is 200 times stronger than steel and 6 times more flexible. It conducts heat and electricity with great efficiency. Italian manufacturer Vittoria and their partners have researched and developed methods to unlock the properties of Graphene in combination with carbon fibre (wheels) and rubber (tyres). Here’s something of what they had to say about their tyres and wheels at Eurobikein Friedrichshafen last week.
Graphene and tyres
With Graphene, Vittoria tyres are now “intelligent”. The Graphene compounds become harder and softer, depending on the needs of the rider. If the tyre is rolling straight, the rubber is at its hardest and offers low rolling resistance. If the rider breaks, accelerates or corners, the compounds soften and offer significantly more grip. Additionally, Vittoria has achieved major improvements in durability and puncture resistance for its Graphene-enhanced range.
Graphene and performance road tyres
Vittoria has done elaborate independent testing at the Wheel Energy Labs in Finland that clearly shows it is the fastest tyre in the world. As the graphic shows, in wind tunnel testing of a 50km time trial at 50 km/hour, the new Corsa Speed TLR tyre has anywhere from 30 to 60 seconds advantage over 4 other brands, which do not use Graphene. Vittoria’s new Corsa has 19% less rolling resistance compared to the same product without pristine Graphene, also showing superior grip and durability. In combination with the most flexible Aramid-enhanced cotton casing ever developed, Vittoria maintains that this product is the best performance tyre in the world (overall).
Graphene and performance off-road tyres
All MTB tyres developed with Graphene demonstrate greatly increased knob strength, long-wearing durability and confidence-inspiring (wet) grip. Vittoria’s new Morsa is a multi-condition Enduro and Downhill tyre, ready to meet the most demanding conditions. Vittoria’s new Mezcal is the ultimate cross-country tyre with its low rolling resistance, effective braking and climbing edges.
Graphene and electric bike tyres
Vittoria also launches an optimized range for electric bikes. The use of Graphene allows for longer battery life in urban usage, due to greatly reduced rolling resistance. The new Revolution offers fast-rolling comfort on any bicycle and truly excels on e-bikes. Furthermore, with the application of Graphene, the increased strength allows the tyres to resist damaging the tread due to acceleration torque of MTB electric engines in the new products e-Goma and e-Barzo.
Graphene and carbon fibre wheels
Vittoria carbon wheels with Graphene show a superior behaviour in heat dissipation in general and in the brake area specifically, which is a huge improvement for rider safety on full carbon wheels. Additionally, Vittoria wheels offer much greater strength all around (up to 50%!) as a direct result of the added Graphene. Vittoria has also managed to reduce weight significantly.
These look like some stunning technological developments. I imagine that many of the professional teams will be taking a very close look at what Vittoria has brought on to the market.
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