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Is Magnesium A Superior Bike Frame Material… When Compared to Carbon Fiber?

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Trigger (heh) warning: This is some funny $#!+. Read at your peril. If you’re allergic to laughter and happiness. Err somethin’. Anyway, without further ado:

So sayeth Ollie at GCN, that magnesium could be the new frame material of choice for frame building. It’s plentiful, easy to manufacture, easy to manipulate, repair and coat… and it’s fairly light. It’s less dense than Titanium, therefore lighter, so that’s a great start.

It’s not all a bed of roses, though. Magnesium is flammable when it’s met with water. Take a little bead and drop it in some water and see what ha… you know what, don’t. Take my word (or watch the embedded video below). That, you might think, would be a problem for a cyclist getting caught in a rainstorm and having their bicycle burst into flames! Well, it’s not so disastrous, really. But it makes for a funny point.

If you’ve been following GCN’s videos of late, Ollie is very excited that magnesium is the eighth most abundant material on the planet, even more abundant than aluminum! Impressive indeed. GCN has been running the green theme for a while, now, presumably trying to be sufficiently woke that they remain relevant in today’s “we’re woker than you, and here’s why” environment (where everyone tries to out-woke the next to a point you can only win by being so woke you kill yourself to show how woke woke really is – a game I’m content losing to someone else). Where this gets fun is GCN having just done a video in which they explore the idea of running out of carbon fiber.

If you don’t get the irony, carbon is the single most abundant element on the planet. I didn’t bother watching the carbon fiber video, but presumably, while we might run out of the chemicals to make the epoxy, we won’t be running out of carbon any time soon. Hell, just the amount emanating from Washington DC would keep the bicycle industry in decent supply for the next 138-years. Give or take.

But let’s get real about this. Let’s go beyond the petty virtue signaling and posturing of which material is “better for the environment” – it’s probably magnesium, but there will be flaws that must be ignored in order to make that idea work. The dreaded trade-offs are unavoidable and I highly doubt the only one would be weight or the metal bursting into flames. Simply put, if you’re not building out of bamboo (a fully sustainable grass), they’ll be able to out-woke you. If that matters to you.

In any event, with a proper ceramic coating inside and out to keep your frame from bursting into flames should it get wet (it’s a little more stable than that, I’m being a bit facetious for fun), magnesium could be the wave of the future for bike frames, so smack my ass and call me impressed. While they did make a point of how recyclable magnesium was, they didn’t say how recyclable it would be after being coated with a ceramic-based finish… but let’s not allow reality to intrude on feeling good about magnesium, eh?

Come to think about it, I’ll probably still keep my Venge, thank you very much. Virtuous or not. It’s light. And fast. And aero. And beautiful… and whilst made with carbon and chemical epoxies, it’s painted with… erm… you know, paint. Now, should my beautiful Venge break (because carbon won’t burst into flames when wet), well, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens in that event.


11 Comments

  1. Dave Talsma says:

    I would think being flammable would not be an issue. VW made engines from magnesium by the millions, plus all the mag wheels, I even owned some. I have seen a mag bike frame back in the 80s.

  2. According to Ollie and the international scientific community, aluminum is “aluminium”🙄

  3. Bursting into flames is a small price to pay for being able to smash every uphill Strava KOM on your schmancy superlight superwoke magnesium single-use flammable bicycle!

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