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Dynamic Properties of Hybrid Composite Hollow Cylinders: Application for Mountain Bicycle Handlebars

K. Hay, L. Lessard, McGill University


Significant interest in natural fiber composites by industry is being predominately driven by recent environmental policies. Hybrid composites of natural and synthetic reinforcement are a growing field, with the intent to develop a composite material with the damping advantages of natural fibers and the strength characteristics of synthetic fibers. These material characteristics are advantageous in sports equipment, especially bicycle design where stiffness and damping are desired for optimum power transfer and comfort. In this investigation, a hollow cylinder cured with internal bladder pressure was studied. The static strengths of the flax and carbon fiber laminates were first determined to assess the effect of the geometry and manufacturing process on performance. The dynamic characteristics of various hybrid layups were then modeled using Finite Element Analysis (FEA) software, focusing on optimizing modal behaviour and flexural strength. FEA results were then used to select two laminate testing groups to determine the effect of flax layer placement and number of flax layers in the hybrid composite. The investigation results will be used to design a prototype mountain bicycle handlebar, which will be compared to an existing carbon fiber benchmark to evaluate dynamic behaviour design improvements.

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