For better bike tires, just add graphene
When it comes to high-end bicycle tires, buyers generally have to choose between light, fast ones and grippier, more durable models. According to Italian tire manufacturer Vittoria, however, that's no longer the case – at least, not with the company's new Graphene Plus rubber.
For the uninitiated, graphene typically takes the form of a one-atom-thick sheet of carbon atoms. These atoms are linked together in a honeycomb pattern. Because it's so thermally and electrically conductive, many of graphene's most prominent applications are in the field of electronics. However, it's also extremely mechanically strong, while remaining very lightweight.
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Vittoria's tires are composed of a blend of that company's own existing rubber, along with graphene nanoplatelets (which are two to eight atoms thick) produced by Italy's Directa Plus. The result is road and mountain bike tires that are claimed to offer better speed, traction, puncture resistance and overall durability than those made without graphene.
According to Vittoria, when the tires are at speed and rolling straight, the rubber gets harder – this reduces rolling resistance. When riders brake, accelerate or take corners, however, that same rubber gets softer, adding traction. This could make the tires particularly well-suited to e-bikes, which generate considerable torque.
Graphene Plus is now available in a variety of Vittoria tire models, designated by the G+ symbol. There are also plans to expand the technology into the automotive tire market.