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Carbon fibre motorcycle frames looking to leap into mainstream

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New patent files show BMW has a mindset for mass producing carbon fibre motorcycle frames

Over the last few years we’ve all seen carbon fibre being used in more motorcycle components than ever before due to dramatic drops in production of the “wonder-material”.

Whilst carbon fibre motorcycle frames are generally exclusive to expensive high end track motorcycles, we may be looking at a massive change in the very near future.

The Bavarian firm’s car-making arm currently leads the world in the technology needed to mass-produce structural carbon-fibre components, and having cracked the challenge of making structural carbon cheaply and quickly enough to be viable for the mainstream market, it’s spreading the material across the rest of its range and looking at using it to replace steel and aluminium frames in its motorcycles.

New patents reveal two distinct carbon-fibre frame designs, complete with details of how they can be made quickly and at the lowest possible price. The advantage? Weight. Although differences in construction and characteristics mean it’s hard to make like-for-like comparison between carbon-fibre and metal components, aircraft use regularly results in components being as much as 40% lighter than their metal equivalents.

Looking at BMW’s patents it’s clear that the two designs could replace the entire range of metal frames. One reveals a race-style beam frame that’s clearly been created with machines such as the S1000RR superbike in mind, while the other is a clever, modular trellis design that’s intended to be easily modified to suit a wide range of bikes, and which would be ideal for the firm’s big-selling R-series boxer-engined models.

Will it really happen?

What makes these designs fascinating is the fact that the firm already has facilities capable of turning out large amounts of pultruded and sheet carbon fibre and turning them into finished, showroom-ready components.

BMW’s i3 electric car and i8 hybrid are both full carbon monocoques, while the new 7-Series uses a carbon fibre safety cell around the passengers. BMW are likely to make 100,000 carbon-fibre structured cars in 2016, from a total production of around 2 million.

Given that carbon-framed bikes are likely to initially limited to range-topping bikes, BMW would only need to make a few thousand to start with, and that looks like a very realistic prospect.

Article Source: Motorcycle News
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