Dyneema Carbon weaves its way into bikes for 2018

Strong Dyneema fabric already used in cycling shoes and clothing

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.

Cycling products with Dyneema:

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.

Specialized uses Dyneema (the gray part) in the uppers of its S-Works 6 shoes
Specialized uses Dyneema (the gray part) in the uppers of its S-Works 6 shoes

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. 

Dyneema is a very strong plastic fabric. Dyneema carbon is a composite that the maker, DSM, claims to be more impact resistant than normal carbon
Dyneema is a very strong plastic fabric. Dyneema carbon is a composite that the maker, DSM, claims to be more impact resistant than normal carbon

Adding Dyneema to carbon can increase energy absorption by up to 100 percent, the company claims.

DSM created a prototype bike with the frameset made from Dyneema Carbon and the spokes made from a Dyneema braid for display at the rubber and plastics K Trade Fair in Germany.

DSM is showing a prototype frameset made with Dyneema carbon at a plastics trade show, along with Dyneema Carbon spokes
DSM is showing a prototype frameset made with Dyneema carbon at a plastics trade show, along with Dyneema Carbon spokes

Ben Delaney

US Editor-in-Chief
Ben has been writing about bikes since 2000, covering everything from the Tour de France to Asian manufacturing to kids' bikes. The former editor-in-chief of VeloNews, he began racing in college while getting a journalism degree at the University of New Mexico. Based in the cycling-crazed city of Boulder, Colorado, with his wife and two kids, Ben enjoys riding most every day.
  • Discipline: Road (paved or otherwise), cyclocross and sometimes mountain. His tri-curious phase seems to have passed, thankfully
  • Preferred Terrain: Quiet mountain roads leading to places unknown
  • Current Bikes: Scott Foil Team Issue, Specialized S-Works Tarmac, Priority Eight city bike... and a constant rotation of test bikes
  • Dream Bike: A BMC Teammachine SLR01 with disc brakes and clearance for 30mm tires (doesn't yet exist)
  • Beer of Choice: Saison Dupont
  • Location: Boulder, CO, USA

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