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LeMond Composites
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daddy-o
Joined: 12 Apr 2004
Posts: 2758
Location: Springfield

11/17/16 8:27 PM

LeMond Composites

Nice introduction, emphasis on the industrial material, go Greg go!

http://lemond.cc/
http://lemond.cc/composites
http://lemond.cc/bicycles
http://lemond.cc/press

OAK RIDGE, Tenn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Three-time Tour de France champion Greg LeMond is partnering with carbon fiber manufacturing pioneer Connie Jackson and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to bring one of the most significant development in carbon fiber production in over 50 years to the global markets. ...

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Brian Nystrom
Joined: 26 Jan 2004
Posts: 3687
Location: Nashua, NH

11/17/16 9:24 PM

He may actually succeed...

...in creating the "Huffy" of carbon fiber. Big deal.

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Sparky
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 15528
Location: Portland, OR

11/17/16 10:39 PM

BTW, similarly...

Introducing Pursuit Cycles Comming: http://pursuitcycles.com/

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April
Joined: 13 Dec 2003
Posts: 6025
Location: Westchester/NYC

11/18/16 5:17 AM

Dropping the manufacturing cost significantly in one of the commonly used industrial material IS a big deal!

But I can't see Lemond monopolizing that manufacturinging process for long.

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Brian Nystrom
Joined: 26 Jan 2004
Posts: 3687
Location: Nashua, NH

11/18/16 9:48 PM

The problem is...

...they're going to be producing an inferior product, which is why it will be cheaper. That's not a big deal; like I said, it will be the "Huffy" of carbon fiber. Considering the advances in aluminum frame construction, it seems unlikely that Lemond is going to produce bikes that are commercially viable. However, perhaps their low-performance carbon fiber will be just the ticket in some other applications and the company may be successful there.

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April
Joined: 13 Dec 2003
Posts: 6025
Location: Westchester/NYC

11/18/16 10:01 PM


quote:
they're going to be producing an inferior product

In what way are their product inferior? Compare to what?

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daddy-o
Joined: 12 Apr 2004
Posts: 2758
Location: Springfield

11/19/16 8:45 AM


quote:
...they're going to be producing an inferior product


Can you link to your source? It sounds they have a finger on the pulse of the industry.

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Brian Nystrom
Joined: 26 Jan 2004
Posts: 3687
Location: Nashua, NH

11/19/16 10:16 AM

I'll see if I can find the discussion...

...but they stated in the article that the carbon would not be the same "aerospace grade" that manufacturers are currently using.

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dddd
Joined: 11 Jan 2004
Posts: 3126
Location: NorCal

11/19/16 12:02 PM

All that usually means is that the finished product weighs more, and what is usually associated with an inferior product.
But those heavier frames have better impact resistance, better resistance to "contusion" or development of soft-spot "bruises" that the thinnest-walled frames suffer from. Maybe not an issue when talking about expensive bikes that are supposed to be cutting-edge lightweight, but a big deal for the rest of us who might accept a small weight gain for lower price and better durability.
Using a minimal amount of highest-grade material also tends to make it more difficult to achieve a state-of-the-art balance between the frame's strength level and desirable flex characteristics, much as this held back acceptance of early aluminum frames.

At some point, carbon frames may be mass-produced to almost the same levels of automated construction as aluminum frames, bringing the cost down to where, among other advantages, the terms of crash-damage or warranty replacement can be much more friendly, sort of an insurance policy against having to shell out more money at the same time that an injury might be having financial impact.
Carbon frames will continue to be developed to higher standards of performance features, like suspension effects and so on, and the more mass-produced frames will always be a little behind there, because developing the mass-production methods and facilities adds ~years onto the development cycle.

It won't be the higher-end frames that this new carbon should be compared to, maybe not even aircraft would benefit in terms of cost effectiveness, but it's the lower range of the market where this new carbon substitutes for lesser materials like steel, aluminum and fiberglass.
It seems to me like LeMond is lending his name to a much bigger industry than bicycles, even as their new Oak Ridge Tennessee bike factory is targeting 2018 roll-out of a new product line. The LeMond-branded bikes will be a good way to gain global marketing attention to the Carbon Fiber company, just as Mitsubishi makes sports cars principally to direct "sexy image" attention to their giant industrial conglomerate.


Last edited by dddd on 11/19/16 12:29 PM; edited 1 time in total

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Sparky
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 15528
Location: Portland, OR

11/19/16 12:13 PM

More true to the moniker of 'plastic bikes' perhaps.

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dddd
Joined: 11 Jan 2004
Posts: 3126
Location: NorCal

11/19/16 12:33 PM

It'll be interesting to see how low in the pecking order of bikes that carbon will gain entry. Disposable WalMart/KMart/Target "plastic" bikes(?), you bet(!), even without LeMond or this new material.
But LeMond's brand already graces department store hooks and shelves with racks, trainers and many other accessories, so he has established connections there.

Currently, domestic bike production is focused on the upper end of the market where higher labor and other costs (domestic) can more easily be absorbed without removing all profit margin, but this LeMond factory sounds like a huge deal in this regard, bringing more-mainstream manufacturing back home. Hopefully the new administration will be friendly to their efforts, relative to their stated "jobs" priorities and possibly (hoping) energy policy as well.

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daddy-o
Joined: 12 Apr 2004
Posts: 2758
Location: Springfield

11/19/16 4:36 PM

The product is labeled "industrial grade." It's raw material in the process for now is Thai acrylic fiber.

My initial reaction to Brian's "Huffy" quip was "the Chevrolet of." My prescience perhaps, to wit, this photo of something that looks like the hood of a car:


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Brian Nystrom
Joined: 26 Jan 2004
Posts: 3687
Location: Nashua, NH

11/20/16 1:00 PM

In fairness, the Chevy analogy may be more accurate

It's going to be a rather pedestrian product by carbon fiber standards. It will not be usable in the aerospace industry, but that's probably not important. I'm sure there will be plenty of other applications for it.

As for bikes, it's important to understand that aerospace grade carbon comes in a lot of varieties of strength, stiffness, impact resistance, etc. It's the quality and consistency of the product that makes it aerospace grade. Currently, lower-end carbon frames use lower-modulus, higher durability carbon, but it's still extremely high quality and consistency. The Lemond product cannot meet those same standards and if it's a significant drop in either category, I don't want it in any component that I will have to depend on for my safety. Lower quality means that components will have to be so overbuilt that they may not provide much, if any, advantage over aluminum in cycling applications. I seriously doubt that they'll be able to make it cheap enough to compete with aluminum on price.

While this new business is a big deal for Lemond and probably for other manufacturers of products that could benefit from lower cost carbon, I think it will probably be a major yawn in the bike biz.

Now, if they could figure out how to make carbon fiber by pulling carbon out of the atmosphere, THAT would be something to get excited about!

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dddd
Joined: 11 Jan 2004
Posts: 3126
Location: NorCal

11/20/16 1:09 PM

That photo-op, with the flag on the wall, wth, he should have been running for president!

If his company works out, he's got a chance in 2020, maybe sooner!

This new material and new frames don't necessarily have to be better than aluminum to succeed in the market. The frames only have to meet contemporary standards for strength, quality-control and stiffness, with contemporary looks and meeting aluminum competition head-on in terms of weight. Aluminum is regarded as "economy", whereas made-in-usa carbon could be very well received in the market. Could racing team sponsorship be far behind(?), and who cares what the pro riders frames are made from or who molded them? I think this endeavor's marketing power is what is most important, the bikes will ride fine.


Last edited by dddd on 11/20/16 1:16 PM; edited 1 time in total

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Sparky
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 15528
Location: Portland, OR

11/20/16 1:15 PM

Given the difference in feel from the low level carbon frames I have and have had VS the upper and top level one I have. My mind is leaning "is this just the next low end aluminum for the masses" only in plastic? Is/was the industry likely to go this way anyhow.

My 2008 Orig $7k near mint HMX Addict frameset is not worth more than 500.00 at most or so on the market. Still put it up against a lot of high end current offerings as well. [sans hidden cables and press fit BBs] The threaded BB is one reason it is still in my stable too. I digress...

We are going to see on the earths surface pieces of disposable plastic bikes sticking out of the dirt along with the legs of the myriads of PVC chairs.

Gotta stop watching post election news, that was terribly dark I am afraid. ;)

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dddd
Joined: 11 Jan 2004
Posts: 3126
Location: NorCal

11/20/16 1:37 PM

I've put in plenty of miles on my 1980's Epic and Centurion Carbon frames, and like the way that they ride.
Similarly, my upper mid-priced Scott CR1 Pro rides just as I like.

But the Orbea Orca and a couple of other higher-end carbon bikes I've ridden have had a stiffer feel, with more in the way of crackly noises when impacting the unseen road defects. So as far as ride quality, I've been happy with lesser carbon frames, and with no fancy pressed-in bottom brackets.

It will be interesting to see how low in weight that these new-fashioned carbon frames from LeMond can go. Details like the material's ease of processing could play a significant role in how fast that frames can be made, and how much of the material can be eliminated from lower-stress areas, so published price, strength and modulus specifications might become a smaller part of the equation that determines finished cost and weight. Certain areas of the frame might also include reinforcement using layers of a higher-grade material as needed, while still keeping the cost down. And the sophistication of the factory and process is the whole other half of the equation...


Last edited by dddd on 11/20/16 1:45 PM; edited 1 time in total

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dddd
Joined: 11 Jan 2004
Posts: 3126
Location: NorCal

11/20/16 1:41 PM

One more thing about using lower-spec carbon materials is that they can have more in the way of a damping coefficient to them, independent of the stiffness level that the frame is designed to, so at the very least is the promise of a quieter ride.
Such a level of damping is still too small to affect performance in any but a good way.

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April
Joined: 13 Dec 2003
Posts: 6025
Location: Westchester/NYC

11/20/16 2:00 PM


quote:
Currently, lower-end carbon frames use lower-modulus, higher durability carbon, but it's still extremely high quality and consistency. The Lemond product cannot meet those same standards and if it's a significant drop in either category, I don't want it in any component that I will have to depend on for my safety. Lower quality means that components will have to be so overbuilt that they may not provide much, if any, advantage over aluminum in cycling applications. I seriously doubt that they'll be able to make it cheap enough to compete with aluminum on price.

Not knowing the detail of the so called new manufacturing process, I can't really figure out what level of quality it will be able to achieve at the low manufacturing cost.

Between those extremes, there can be many middle ground that can be occupied by carbon bike frames. A cracked carbon wing on an aircraft is catastrophic. But a cracked carbon downtube is not necessarily so.

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dddd
Joined: 11 Jan 2004
Posts: 3126
Location: NorCal

11/26/16 11:43 AM

...and there is a big difference between a crack and an outright failure. Many of the lower-cost materials have a more-forgiving failure mode that is much slower to propagate and thus more likely to be spotted before causing a failure.

Especially as applies to the sort of "contusion" bruises that a lower-level bike is expected to endure while perhaps slamming around on the rear rack of a motor vehicle, a higher-end frame might more readily be rendered unusable?

Expect durability and ride characteristics commensurate with the intended market at each price point. And also (assuming an ample level of market research and development), that performance targets will be met and with good levels of quality control. Such is expected of higher-volume production these days, lessons learned from the Viscount Aerospace Pro, from the first-year Specialized Epic, and even from the paint-cracking issues of the early OCLV frame design.

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dddd
Joined: 11 Jan 2004
Posts: 3126
Location: NorCal

1/22/17 1:20 AM

Things aren't going smoothly for this venture, seems the Oak Ridge Lab scientist who was hired by LeMond tried to start a new company of her own and hire away one of LeMond's engineers.

http://www.bicycleretailer.com/north-america/2017/01/20/suits-fly-lemond-composites-fires-its-ceo#.WIRaFOQiyM8

It's going to be a field day for the lawyers. Suits have been filed.
Hopefully the now-fired scientist left enough of the technology behind for LeMond Composites to work with going forward, but since she knew she was leaving that seems doubtful.

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Brian Nystrom
Joined: 26 Jan 2004
Posts: 3687
Location: Nashua, NH

1/22/17 11:26 AM

This should be fun to watch

I don't know about the state(s) in question, but in many states non-compete agreements aren't worth the paper they're printed on. In essence, those states have ruled that no one can legally prevent you from working. Non-disclosure agreements are another matter and they're definitely enforceable. Considering that there is proprietary technology involved, that could get complicated.

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dan emery
Joined: 11 Jan 2004
Posts: 5706
Location: Maine

1/22/17 2:24 PM

Yee ha

Factually LeMond's story sounds more credible to me, but who the hell knows.

My guess is that none of this goes very far (including the company).

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Sparky
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 15528
Location: Portland, OR

1/22/17 3:21 PM

Lemond is like another Lance type douche I could give less of a shit about.

I think I will go crap now while I don't think about it. ;)

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Brian Nystrom
Joined: 26 Jan 2004
Posts: 3687
Location: Nashua, NH

1/22/17 5:10 PM

Yeah, pretty much

He's been a bitter, whiny schmuck for a long time now.

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PLee
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 3465
Location: Brooklyn, NY

1/23/17 6:24 AM

A three year noncompete is too long. A nonsolicitation of employees clause is generally more enforceable. But a court can strike those provisions without throwing out the entire employment agreement.

Very few of her allegations have anything to do with her employment contract - it smells of her attorney throwing everything against the wall and hoping something sticks.

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