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BANGKOK (VN) – Italian cycling brand Vittoria has updated its premier compound reinforcer featuring the carbon allotrope graphene. Dubbed Graphene 2.0, Vittoria claims the second generation of graphene technology is one minute and 20 seconds faster over 50 kilometers compared with the first generation version. That figure is astonishing. So, what’s the difference between the initial compound, 1.0, and the updated 2.0 version?
For starters, the graphene technology has become central to Vittoria’s high-end 4C tires, where four different compounds are merged together to create a single tire. Vittoria is the only large company to use four compounds in a single tire.
For its second generation, Vittoria has coined the term “functionalized graphene.” In the first generation, graphene was used evenly among the different compounds, but for the newest form, Vittoria found a way to pinpoint graphene’s integration into the compound to improve specific components. The different compounds contain between one and 10 percent graphene, allowing the company to focus on specific improvements among its various compounds, such as that impressive rolling resistance claim.
However, before diving deeper into Graphene 2.0, let’s reexamine what graphene is and why Vittoria began using it.
What is graphene?
Vittoria first began developing its graphene technology in 2013, launching it two years later in 2015. The company found that graphene, an allotrope of carbon, is small enough that it can fill the gaps between rubber molecules to create a stronger compound. Vittoria uses graphene in flake and Vittoria sources over two tons of it per year. That figure is quite remarkable considering 1 gram of graphene equates to a 2,600-square-meter surface.
The tire manufacturer acquires graphene from multiple sources, which Vittoria wouldn’t name, but the company did confirm it is no longer working with its original supplier Directa Plus from the United Kingdom.
Vittoria’s development of graphene has garnered the company accolades, as it was admitted into the Graphene Flagship this past December. That association, which contains more than 60 members and brands such as Bosch and LEGO, focuses on the research and commercialization of graphene in Europe. It has a budget of over 1 billion euros annually.
Graphene 2.0 is an integral component of Vittoria’s Corsa and Rubino lines, especially the TLR (Tubeless Ready) versions. Vittoria claims Graphene 2.0 helps its road tires have less rolling resistance and increased air retention, grip, and cut resistance.
Off-road, Graphene 2.0 is integrated to increase grip, particularly on wet surfaces, increase air retention, and cut resistance. In improving those three components, Vittoria sacrificed the life of the tire. Vittoria off-road tires with Graphene 2.0 actually have about the same lifespan as tires with the first-generation graphene technology, according to Vittoria’s data. Tire rolling resistance is the same among the first and second graphene generations.
Vittoria expects to continue to improve on tire lifespan in the near future.
Vittoria began using graphene in its wheels and claims the allotrope considerably strengthens the mechanical properties. It notes that leading airplane manufacturer Airbus uses graphene in its horizontal tailplane on the Airbus A350.
The addition of Graphene into carbon composite rims translates to what Vittoria says is a stiffer and lighter wheel with a 50 percent increase in lateral stiffness to be exact. The company also contends Graphene 2.0 integration results in a rim that dissipates heat much quicker under braking, between 9-16 percent as compared with a carbon rim without graphene. This results in better stopping power. However, these results have not been verified independently.
Vittoria’s claims are bold. If they are true, Graphene 2.0 technology is a substantial improvement over the first generation technology. We’re looking forward to putting it through its paces on familiar roads around our home in Boulder, Colorado.
Vittoria expects to have Graphene 2.0 products available for purchase within the next month. The tires and wheels will cost the same as those that currently contain the first-generation graphene technology.
Stay tuned for more from Bangkok and Graphene 2.0.
Vittoria provided airfare and accommodation for VeloNews to attend the launch of its Graphene 2.0 technology