Khon Kaen University Unwraps Its New ‘Silk Bicycles’

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The engineering faculty of Thailand's Khon Kaen University revealed what it says are the world's first "silk bicycles", featuring lightweight, low-cost silk-resin frames. The frames were developed within the faculty, Asst Prof Phanomkorn Khwakhong said.

They were made of a silk and resin compound, wrapped with silk threads and left to dry for three days. It was hoped they would prove a popular substitute for the far more expensive carbon fibre frames used on top end bikes, he said.

He said a carbon fibre bicycle frame retailed at 40,000-100,000 baht while a silk-resin frame cost only 15,000-20,000 baht and was also much stronger than the aluminium frames found on many bikes.

"The silk-resin frames tolerate about five times the load and about eight times the tensile force and are about 30 times more flexible than an aluminium frame… Silk-resin frames and aluminium frames have similar weights," Phanomkorn said. The engineering faculty of Khon Kaen University had patented the process and was ready for a commercial partnership with interested investors, he said. He hoped it would benefit Thai silk producers.

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