Building a “Better” Bicycle

Introduction

I have been tasked with building a better bicycle frame, and I have been researching different metals to use when building this. I have decided that to make a “better” bicycle frame, I must make one that is durable, lasting, will not corrode in water, and is quite light. After looking at many metals, I’ve decided that I will use titanium, and steel. I originally researched platinum but decided against it, as it wasn’t as good as titanium in terms of strength against weight, and was more expensive, making it worthless compared to titanium.

 

Properties of Titanium

Titanium is a very strong metal, much like steel, but is not as dense, meaning that it’s lighter than steel. It’s also quite resistant to corrosion from water and air, and is a very poor thermal conductor, that doesn’t retain heat. According to Titanium Processing Center, the most common titanium alloy is Ti-6Al-4V, a grade 5 titanium alloy that is very strong, and not too dense. There is another alloy, Ti-3Al-2.5V, a grade 12 titanium alloy that is as strong, but easier to weld, making it easier to use, but it is slightly heavier in return. As I am not looking at the time it takes to make, or the cost of making it, I will be using the grade 5 titanium alloy Ti-6Al-4V.

 

Properties of Steel

Steel is generally a very strong and dense metal alloy, that is usually a combination of iron and carbon. It can rust and corrode when in contact with oxygen or water, causing it to not be a very good metal to use on the exterior of objects, but it is a very poor conductor of heat. It is much cheaper and easier to produce than titanium, but isn’t very environmentally friendly, although a lot of it is recycled, lessening the damage.

 

Properties of Platinum

Platinum is a dense, malleable metal that is quite similar to silver, in which it is very precious, highly resistant to many forms of corrosion, but has very good thermal conductivity. It can last for a very long time, but isn’t the strongest metal ever and can bend quite easily, so in a bicycle frame, the metal itself won’t be damaged for a long time, but the structure of the bicycle frame can be damaged very easily.

 

Economic and Environmental Factors

A big factor to keep in mind with making a titanium bicycle frame is the cost of making it. Finding and processing titanium is already quite expensive, alloying it is more expensive, and using it to build something, like a bicycle frame, is even more expensive. This means that it would have to sell for a lot to make back the money spent on it, which is a big risk, especially when a lot of people don’t use their bicycles that much, as they probably wouldn’t invest so much money into having one.

Another big factor to remember is the environmental effect of getting the materials and using them to make the bicycle frame. Titanium is extremely environmentally friendly, as it’s naturally found in the earth and is recyclable. The other main metals in titanium alloys, aluminum and vanadium, are also extremely environmentally friendly, aluminum being very easy to recycle and vanadium being extracted without any harm on the environment.

 

My Choice

I will be using the grade 5 titanium alloy, Ti 6Al-4V, which is mainly composed of titanium, aluminum, and vanadium, as well as a little bit of iron, oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, and yttrium. Out of all the metals I’ve researched, titanium has been the least dense metal that is still very strong and reliable. As stated before, it will not corrode very easily, and is a very poor thermal conductor, meaning that it will not conduct or retain heat. I am choosing this alloy over the other one I researched, as I am not focusing as much on price or usability, and would rather the bicycle be easier to ride than to make.

 

Bibliography

  • “Platinum – The Chemical Element, Its Science, Properties, and Uses.” Explain That Stuff, 31 Jan. 2018, www.explainthatstuff.com/platinum.html.
  • “The Four Types of Steel.” Metal Supermarkets, 15 Sept. 2016, www.metalsupermarkets.com/types-of-steel/.
  • “Types of Titanium Alloys | Titanium Processing Center.” Titanium Supplier | Buy Titanium Metal, 15 June 2017, titaniumprocessingcenter.com/the-element-titanium/.

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