Developing Ultra-Lightweight, High Performance Road Bikes
During the development of a new carbon fiber bicycle, the design team at Sweden based Rolo Bikes, wanted to develop a frame which exhibited world leading strength and stiffness attributes while keeping weight to an absolute minimum. The team required an efficient process to design the frame and test it in a virtual world against the industry’s safety and performance standards. The Rolo Bikes team had some exposure to Altair’s HyperWorks suite of simulation tools during the early development of the new frame. However, the team did not have the in-house computer aided engineering (CAE) expertise required to accurately analyze and optimize the frame.
Rolo Bikes approached Altair ProductDesign due to the company’s familiarity with the HyperWorks suite and expertise in being able to apply computer aided engineering techniques to optimize carbon fiber structures. To optimize the carbon fiber frame, Altair ProductDesign utilized a three-step approach, during which the shape, thickness, direction and location of each layer of composite material was fine-tuned until an optimum solution had been reached. Each stage was performed using HyperWorks' design optimization solution, OptiStruct.
At the end of this process, HyperWorks was utilized again to analyze and validate the optimized frame against the CEN and Zedler tests, and assess fatigue performance. The resulting composite ‘layup’ created a component that is manufacturable for Rolo’s meticulous hand layup construction process employed in its European based manufacturing center, all within cost targets.
The composite optimization process successfully reduced the weight of the frame from 829g to 792g. Additional material tweaks by Rolo’s manufacturing team reduced the weight even further resulting in a final weight of just 710g. The design met all performance and safety standards with the stiffness and durability performance being enhanced significantly over the target values. In addition, the optimized design was actually feasible from a manufacturing point of view, something that was missing from the original baseline.
“The working relationship we have with Altair ProductDesign has been absolutely fantastic. I’m not sure we’d have been able to take what we had to market without them. I would be thrilled to work more and more closely with them in the future.”
Adam Wais, Owner & Co-Founder, Rolo Bikes