It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!
I've seen a guy wailing on a skin boat with a screwdriver
and it simply would not puncture the boat, it bounced.
A nylon fabric properly bonded with waterproof sealant
is amazingly tough and puncture resistant.
that is the same as the Formula Diamante they currently build. Those boats are not known for being particularly heavily built but they are pretty tough.
In the six years I have had mine, I have had a few mishaps. Once I ran it fully loaded with camping gear up onto a submerged stump with a pointed end where a tree had been knawed off by a beaver. When I got the boat off and once I saw what I had hit, I was amazed that it hadn't punch a hole through the hull. I also got caught by a wave once and slammed broadside into a piling and it only put a small crack in the gelcoat.
Sorry, but I have to take issue here. For the record, I own steel, aluminum, titanium and carbon fiber bikes.
Carbon Fiber (CF):
In terms of strength/weight/stiffness, carbon fiber wins hands-down; metals simply cannot compete. Additionally, you can tailor the stiffness of a CF frame in ways that are simply impossible with metal tubing. From a pure performance standpoint carbon fiber has no equal, which is why essentially all professional racing teams, road and off-road, ride CF bikes. Recently, manufacturers have been putting a lot of emphasis in making CF bikes that are more suitable for recreational riders, for whom comfort is a key consideration. I bought my first CF frame in 1979, the second in 1995 and the third and forth at the end of last season. The evolution of CF has taken a long time, but it's been dramatic.
That said, there are three areas where carbon is less than optimum:
1- Carbon fiber has low abrasion resistance, so it needs to be protected against it. This doesn't seem to be a major issue with bikes, but it could be in the case of a loose/broken spoke causing tire rub on the frame.
2- Carbon fiber has a somewhat unforgiving failure mode. It doesn't dent or bend like metals will, it cracks or breaks. While it's not an issue in normal riding, it can be problematic in accidents.
3- It's expensive, although that seems to be improving slowly. It's likely to get better in the near future, as global carbon fiber production capacity increases.
I loved my titanium bikes and rode them for many years (I still have both frames, in case I ever want to set one up again). Ti is arguably the best of all the metals. It's impervious to rust (unlike steel) or corrosion (unlike aluminum). It doesn't fatigue the way aluminum does. It's lighter than steel, though heavier than aluminum. However, it's much stronger than aluminum, so in frames, there's little difference in weight. It can provide the same type of resilient ride that steel does, with better vibration damping.
The major downside to Ti is the price, which is similar to CF. It can't be built as stiff as CF without being considerably heavier.
Aluminum is the lightest of the three metals and can be built into the lightest metal frames. It's also much cheaper than carbon fiber or Ti. However, aluminum has three significant issues:
- Fatigue is a problem if Al frames are allowed to flex, which forces manufacturers to make their Al frames very stiff, in an effort to extend their fatigue life. That adds weight. I still have my '77 Klein Team Super and it's still in good shape, but it probably only has 10-12K miles on it. I have had a swingarm break on an Al mountain bike.
- Aluminum is only 1/3 as stiff as steel. In order to make a stiff Al frame without making it heavy, you have to use large diameter tubing with thin walls, which makes them prone to denting and "beer can" failures.
- Aluminum will corrode, particularly if it comes into contact with another material such as CF or steel (such as a seatpost). Al-Al joints can also corrode. This can be particularly problematic in coastal areas and when bikes are ridden on salt-covered roads in winter.
Basically, the lighter you make an Al frame, the shorter its lifespan. This is why most Al frames have short warranties. However, recent developments in hydroforming Al have helped to overcome some of its shortcomings and it seems to be gaining some traction in the market again.
Steel it relative inexpensive and has a resilient ride that many riders prefer. It's also popular among people who prefer the "classic" look of skinny tubes. I've owned steel bikes since before AL, Ti and CF hit the market. Steel suffers from some serious disadvantages:
- Steel is the heaviest of the frame materials. In order to make an even reasonably light frame, you have to sacrifice stiffness. It's just not in the same league as the other material when it comes to stiffness-to-weight ratio and never will be.
- Steel rusts, which means you have to paint it and maintain the finish. It also means that you have to be aware of condensation and water infiltration into the seat & chain stays, the seat tube and the bottom bracket. That means using a product like "Frame Saver", which is like automotive rustproofing in a can. The newer stainless steels can eliminate this issue, but at a significant increase in price that puts them in the range of Ti and CF.
While steel lovers are found of claiming that it's experiencing some kind of resurgence, they've been making that claim for decades and it still hasn't happened. While steel is not going away, it's a bit-player in the market and will remain that way.
The bottom line is that people ride whatever they like best in their price range. That often has little to do with performance comparison and everything to do with personal preference.
"I think it would be fair to say steel is nearly dead in the 'go fast multi gear' road bike market. In the rest of the market...not so much."
Agree that steel is far from dead in the non-racer segments of the market - in commuter/'practical' bikes, touring bikes, fixies/SS, etc., steel is alive and well.
And even in racing bikes, there's still companies and builders churning out 'club racer' bikes in steel. If by 'nearly dead' you mean a niche that'll probably never go away, then, yup.
"Ergo... in the kayak market would it not follow that a segment will demand lighter and lighter while others... not so much?"
It doesn't necessarily follow, because the parallel breaks down.
In cycling, lightness is equated with performance – even though that's really only true when going uphill (or accelerating), and to less of an extent than is commonly believed.
For example, people look at at an 18 lb bike and a 16 lb bike and go, "Wow, the 16 lb bike is 11% lighter, so I'll probably go 11% faster!!!".
Uh, nope. Your bike's weight matters almost not at all on the flat, and even going uphill, well, what about the RIDER? Rider weight + bike weight for many ppl is around 200 lbs.
So, being 2 lbs lighter means you go... 1% faster. Uphill, not on the flat. Was it worth the extra $1000 you spent on the really light bike? Probably not... especially if you had any weight at all to lose off your body.
In kayaks, it's a bit different. Lightness is generally not seen as a big huge performance enhancer, more a convenience, in terms of carrying and car-topping. But it's still important to older paddlers and female paddlers... just not quite in the same way that lightness is seen as important in bikes.
Personally I think a lot of the lightness-need in kayaks could be obviated simply by having a nice portable cart and a good load-assist roof rack (Hullavator, etc), but for whatever reason these things don't seem to occur to many buyers in the market. Many of them focus on the boat weight, not the tools they can use to make sure the boat weight doesn't really matter.
Truth is, lightness in kayaks may have just taken on a life of its own – some ppl really really want it, sure, but then at some point it becomes 'something to market' and an arms-race among manufacturers ensues.
It's an easy-to-understand differentiator ("Oh, this one weighs 51 lbs, this one weights 39, so it must be much better"), so if you can make a lot of $$$ catering to lightness as a selling-point, you do, and everyone else jumps on board so as not to have marketshare/sales taken from them.
'Life of its own', like I said. You see it in bikes all the time, over time. Back around 1990, there was an arms-race to see whose bikes could have the narrowest, lightest tires. Result was stock midrange bikes with uber-narrow 18mm tires that would pinch-flat riding over railroad tracks. o_0
A remarkably stupid trend that soon died off as the market rejected the impracticality, but you can see how it snowballed. "Narrower is faster! Lighter is always better!!!" etc. etc.
by which they meant that some layers were at 45 degrees. Whitewater layup experts don't seem to do that, but in shorter ww canoes and kayaks, subsequent layers are unlikely to have fiber orientation absolutely parallel to earlier layers. In examining broken composite boats, I haven't seen clear evidence of breaking along the line of cloth fibers.
Glass mat is ok for sea kayaks, because their hulls are not likely to be deformed as severely as ww kayaks. But I don't know of any ww composite boat builders over the last several decades who have incorporated glass mat. That speaks for itself. It might be used to stiffen ww canoe bottoms, but Kaz of Millbrook uses Spheretex instead, which is a cloth infiltrated with tiny polyester bubbles.
Glass mat is typically coated with a substance to which epoxy does not adhere well. Those building or patching with glass mat should use vinylester instead.
For me, a light weight kayak is not about going fast. It's about lugging the thing around. Yeah, I chuckle at the folks who whine about lifting their boats to the top of their vehicles. If your boat is long enough and your vehicle is low enough you just lift ONE END AT A TIME. Not hard at all. Toting the damn thing to the water and back into storage is where the filthy language starts... and a cart is just more STUFF. No, it may not make total sense, but we old folks with money and way closer to the grave than the crib will pay the $ to make life a bit easier.
Yes, the light weight bike frame means a whole lot less for flatlanders and lots of them probably don't realize it. Here in piedmont, NC you are always going up and down. A short trip to the west and you're climbing frickin' mountains. The weight savings matters here.
It may not be all logical and sensible but I think the sea kayak market will want lighter boats. I don't know nothin' about the whitewater crowd.