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Polymer bike spokes offer lightweight durability

July 1st, 2018 / By: / Projects

Wheel spokes made out of a polymer make for a smooth ride while remaining resistant to general wear and tear. Photo: Berd LLC.

If you think steel is the strongest material for the wheel spokes of a cycle, think again. Ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWP) has it beat. In fact, UHMWP is the strongest material available on a per-weight basis.

It’s that quality, plus the fact that UHMWP is extremely lightweight and durable, that inspired Minneapolis, Minn.-based Berd LLC to develop the PolyLight™ bike spokes. The company, founded in 2015 to apply materials science and engineering advancement to improve cycling products, is introducing spokes that are compatible with all standard hub and rim connections, making them suitable for any wheel set.

Spokes keep spinning by bearing tension, not load. Berd developed a proprietary tension design to fit the flexible spokes into a wheel. Because the polymer is so strong, the spokes are thin, making them more aerodynamic. Cyclists will notice a smoother ride, as the spokes have a greater ability than steel to dampen road vibrations.

The PolyLight spokes weigh just about two grams—half the weight of their metal counterparts. According to Berd, they are also longer lasting. While metal spokes have a finite life due to normal wear of changing load from the wheel spinning as well as bumps and other road conditions, the polymer is less susceptible to these impacts, and is also impervious to UV exposure and moisture. For details, visit www.berdspokes.com.

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