Significant Events in the History of Composite and Carbon Fiber Bicycle Technology:
Note: The goal is to document the history and give credit where credit is due. This is a very rough cut that I have thrown together, and I am sure I am missing key events or have inaccurate dates. I need your help to make this better for all! Please send corrections / additions to:
carbonbikes @ mountainbikes.net
1959/60 - Benjamin Bowden builds the 2 piece moulded Bowden Spacelander out of Fiberglass. It has since become a symbol of great industrial design and is sought after by bike collectors everywhere.
1975 - Graphite USA pioneers probably the first carbon fiber bicycle. Frank Appel, Richard Katner, and Bill McCready are the masterminds behind this creation. They finish the first rideable prototypes just months before Exxon Graftek does. Only a few Graphite USA bikes are produced and the project is abandoned due to tube delamination problems. McCready later goes on to found the successful Santana Cycles, maker of high quality tandems.
Exxon Graptek builds probably the first mass production carbon tubed bike. Carbon prepreg lugs glued to steal lugs.
1982 - Peugeot develops carbon tubing for use in lugged bicycles. Peugeot colaborates with Bador (Bador is working with French tubing company, Vitus and utlizing the Vitus brand name to build complete frames) and both begin offering carbon bikes under individual brand names. Peugeot offers "Team" edition bikes PY-10 FC under the their brand and the bikes are first riden by Pascal Simon and a possible a few other Tour De France riders in 1982. Soon after they are commercially available. Bador built "Vitus-branded" bikes utilize "Vitus Duralinox" alloy for the rear triangle and Peugeot carbon for the main tubes.
http://home.wanadoo.nl/peugeotshow/images/1985_1.jpg (source: Oscar Casander - Thanks for contributing!)
1984-85 - Vitus a well known french steel bike tubing manufacturer begins producing carbon tubes and begins offering a few bikes under their own brand name. Several versions are produced over the years including the Vitus Carbone 7 & 9 and Vitus Carbone 9 Plus.
Peugeot purchases tubing from Vitus and also begins offering "Team" edition bikes under the their brand in France starting as early as 1984.
1986 - Look builds a prototype Bernard Hinault model carbon lugged frame which Greg Lemond rides to victory. This is the first Tour de France winner to ride a carbon bicycle to victory. Look was on a technology role having introduced the clipless pedal just a year prior as well.
Alan rode bikes are being produced with carbon tubes and ridden in the RAAM race. (from an article by Chris Kostman in California Bicyclist, August 1990)
1987 - (Aprox - don't have exact dates) Future Kestrel & Aegis MTB founders are building bikes under the name "MountainBik". Trek engineers are also rumored to be working closely with them to build a carbon offering under the Trek name. Technology differences of opinion lead to a split the company splits into two new companies, Aegis and Kestrel. www.carbonbikes.com/gallery.html
Kestrel builds the MXZ a high chainstay hardtail, and later the Nitro full suspension bike sporting a prototype Rock Shox RS-1. The Kestrel Nitro is displayed to much accolade at the Interbike show and is recognized as one of the first ever modern era full suspension designs. The Nitro never goes into public production.
1989 - Brent Trimble introduces a "boom style" frame made of carbon which is both radical and elegant. Now deceased legendary DH pioneer, "Earthquake" Jake Watson is one of Trimble's sponsored riders. Jake goes on in years to follow to race for several other prestigious big company bike teams and during this time touches many as a great embassador for the emerging sport of DH riding both on and off the bike. Tragicly he passes on after a bad crash during practice for a DH race in 1999.
James L Trimble of Aero Cycles begins building an ultra aerodynamic time trial
style bicycle. It is raced to second place by Mike Secrest in the race Across
America in 1989. (from an article by Chris Kostman in California
Bicyclist, August 1990)
Trek gets into the carbon fiber bicycle business, and introduces some of their first lugged carbon frames (8700, 8900)
Giant is also producing some of their first carbon bikes around this same time.
Koga-Miyata is producing carbon lugged mountain bikes and road bikes, including the SkyRunner CBL model.
1990 - Yeti Cycles designer Chris Herting with some help from Easton, builds the C26 (named after his name and age),which is piloted by Juli Furtado to a World Championship cross country win. John Tomac also races a Yeti C26 at the Durango World DH championships this same year after a hand shake agreement with John Parker of Yeti. Greg Herbold wins the DH that year. Johnny T's bike setup for this event goes down in the history of interesting MTB folklore, due to the fact he chooses to race the DH with drop bars. Decision was likely influenced by the fact he'd been spliting time that year with the 7-11 Road bike team that raced in Europe. It is rumored that 7-11's decision not to include John on the Tour de France roster that year pushes John to move into mountain bike racing full time and he soon leaves 7-11 for good. Bob Roll is also on this same 7-11 team.
1991/1992 - Craig Calfee of "CarbonFrames" (name has since changed to Calfee Design) supplies Carbon bikes under the Greg Lemond name to Greg Lemond. In 1992 Lemonds entire Team Z uses Calfee bikes for the Tour. This is the first American built Carbon bicycle to be ridden by a tour rider in the coveted Yellow Jersey (1991).
1993 - Prototype full carbon Cannondale Super V frame is produced and spotted at Mount Snow Vermont at the Cannondale truck, but this design is not released to the public for several more years in carbon form.
1994 - Yeti and Kaiser Aerospace build the worlds first Thermoplastic bike. Only a few are made for the Yeti team at a cost of 1/2 a million to develop the bike. (many reported 2 rideable bikes ever made it into existience as well as a few flexy prototypes that were unrideable). Paul Tracy who is best know for his professional auto racing career races a few races under the Yeti Factory team and uses this bike at the Mamouth Kamakazi Downhill. Zappata Espinoza races Paul's back up bike at Mammouth this same year and is rumored to have gotten going a bit too fast stacks it into the crowd at a good clip.
1994 - Alex Morgan and family of Buffalo Composite Designs (BCD) is a regular on the MTB DH pro circuit. Probably the only Pro running a carbon DH bike at the time. He builds some of the most innovative designs (all carbon) including one of the first no derailer internally geared DH bike as well as a second bike which allows the rear axle to move independently in both vertical and horizontal paths to create a "box of theoretically undefined or floating axle travel" that is determined by bump force. Nearly all other suspension bikeshave a single axle path during compression. Similar designs are ironically released in near parallel to Alex's bikes by GT and Cannondale, with multimillion dollar design budgets. These are purely coincidence as Alex has zero ties to either company.
1995 GT Bicycles and Mantis Bicycles collaborate to build the first mass production Thermoplastic bikes. GT releases the LTS Thermoplastic, while Mantis release the Screaming V Thermoplastic.
1995 RockShox releases the Specialized Carbon Judy to replace the "Carbon Epic Shox that specialized had made the year previous for Ned Overend. This Judy is probably the first mass produced carbon suspension fork. Pace in UK is also making carbon suspension forks around this same time.
1996 / 1997 Cool carbon monoque frames are released by companies including Schwinn, Trek Y, High Zoot, and others.
1996 ProFlex/K2 release the Proflex 4000 thermplastic bicycle. This bike wins many design awards, largely due to the computer chip controled "Smart Shock" technology as well as the use of Thermoplastics for frames
1997 Manitou TPC DH forks sporting carbon legs become the top choice of pro DH riders like John Tomac
1999 Manitou Dorado upside down slider design DH forks begin to appear in Pro's hands as the next generation Carbon DH fork standard for Pro's
1999 Lance Armstrong wins his first Tour de France on a Trek OCLV frame bicycle. Designer with the last name "Nelson" seems to have developed much of the technology and patents for Trek during and prior to this period.
2000 FSA release a carbon crank becomes increasingly popular over the next few years for both road and mountain bikers due to the weight savings and stiffness. Gigantek an Asian company is likely the original designer and manufacturer of this wildly successful crank for FSA, though this is just speculation and never publiclly stated.
2002 Cinelli release a radical "RAM" 1 piece bar & stem combination made entirely of monocoque carbon fiber. It is perhaps one the most elegant carbon components every produced. Robin Williams is soon know to be sporting one.
2003 Campangnolo release carbon derailers and brake levers. Hayes and Magura offers carbon brake levers for their disc brakes