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Roadbike Rider
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)

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Steaming piles of opinion
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Interesting that the writer brought the Wright bros. into that discussion - The dropouts on my new bike are originally their design.

I'm not sure I'd call it 'the same' debate, but interesting parallels.
 

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AA flight 587 and Aloha flight 243 are two good examples of carbon and aluminum failures in aircraft. Having flown the 737 for 10 years and now the Airbus I really am not concerned about the material used as much as I worry about the quality and frequency of inspection cycles. With razor thin margins getting tighter we are seeing (imho) too much maintenance work being farmed out with cost driving who gets the contract rather than safety.

This 787 battery issue is very troubling to me however. Preliminarily, Boeing and the FAA looks to have really dropped the ball with this one. This NY Times article is interesting as it talks a bit about GS Yuasa, the Japanese battery manufacturer as well as the business relationship/interest between Boeing and Japan.
 

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I don't think there's much of a parallel at all. Very different issues. Carbon-reinforced composites have been around for some time, and are being more widely used all the time in applications where weight matters. Some military planes have had major structures made of them for some time. The loads faced by bicycle parts make their issues very simple by comparison. That's why there aren't really any big issues or controversies with carbon bike frames.

The electrical control issues on the 787 have to do with reliance on a high-tech battery that may have been made too compact and unshielded (to save weight). There's nothing analagous on a bike. Electrical controls on bike shifters have been slow to advance mainly because of cost-benefit calculations. The technical issues are minor, almost trivial.
 

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Agreed. There is very little, if any, correlation. Issues with the 787 center on the use of carbon fiber and the choice of battery technology.

People have been using carbon fiber in bicycle construction since the mid-80's. It was a mature technology years ago. That being said, we all need to watch out for people pushing the envelope a bit too far in the interest of lightness. Carbon fiber is not really ductile, so failures can be catastrophic. In theory, given Finite Element Analysis tools in conjunction with rigorous physical testing there shouldn't be any problems. But, it isn't a perfect world and people may build something that they shouldn't. Name brand manufacturers will work to protect their reputations and not sell anything questionable. However, there are some folks who don't really care.

E-shift systems for bicycles are also based on mature technology. Actually, there are industrial drive systems that are much more sophisticated these days. Barring manufacturing issues, there's nothing in the technology that should raise a concern. As long as the systems are sealed against water, it's good.
 
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