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Graphene-infused bike tires adapt on the fly to changing conditions

As with driving, biking can be made easier with the right tires. Grab a light tire when you want to ride nimbly and put on something beefy when need some extra grip. Vittoria is making that choice easier for you by eliminating it completely. With Vittoria’s 2016 bicycle tire lineup, you get a rugged and responsive all-in-one package thanks to a new secret ingredient, graphene.

A thin, tightly packed layer of carbon atoms that are bonded together in a hexagonal honeycomb lattice, graphene is known for its strength (it’s stronger than steel) and its flexibility. Graphene also dissipates heat and conducts electricity efficiently, And graphene transforms rubber tires, creating a tire material that is light and responsive for technical riding, sticky when traversing roots and rocks, and rough enough to take a beating from the toughest of surfaces.

Not only does graphene create an all-in-one rubber material perfect for mountain and road biking, the carbon material adds another unique quality to the tire material — adaptability. These new graphene tires can change their characteristics based on riding conditions. On straightaways when you need speed, the tires stay firm, allowing you to cruise at your top speed. When you hit a corner and need some extra grab, the tires will soften, adding some grip as you corner.

Vittoria has been working on its graphene tires for more than five years, and has invested more than 45 million euros in the project. It has been working along with partner Directa Plus, one of the world’s largest producers of graphene products. The partnership has paid off from a technological standpoint — Vittoria claims its tires are 15 percent lighter than conventional rubber tires and provide 50 percent more lateral stiffness, 10 percent more heat dissipation and 18 percent more impact strength. Besides its obvious utility in mountain bike tires, Vittoria also is using graphene in its 2016 road tire lineup, which will also benefit from the lightness and strength of the carbon material.

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Kelly Hodgkins
Kelly's been writing online for ten years, working at Gizmodo, TUAW, and BGR among others. Living near the White Mountains of…
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