Materials and Marginal Gains

Materials and Marginal Gains

"Materials and Marginal Gains" is a big topic — too big for a single episode of this show. So if it's OK with you (and we think it will be), we'd like you to think of this as the first of many episodes about Materials. And we're going to kick this introduction off with a few stories and look forward to hearing your thoughts and feedback...which we'll incorporate into future episodes.

Got a question you’d like to ask Josh? Text or leave a voicemail at the Marginal Gains Hotline: +1-317-343-4506 or just leave a comment in this post!

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  • Diego Garay


    Awesome podcast for the technically minded.

    I come from competitive sailing and have fallen in love with cycling the last ten years. Around that time, a new technology in sailmaking came into play called Thin Ply Technology (TPT), belonging to North Technology Group. In essence, it’s a composite construction method that relies in very thin prepreg tapes of untwisted fibers with no fiber bulk. This is supposed to provide a much stabler and controlable laminate without voids (due to the lack of fiber bulk). We use it for racing sails (a product called 3Di, by North Sails) and in high end masts (by Southern Spars).

    I first thought this technology would make a big impact in cycling, both in frame building and wheel building. If anything, due to the very tunable construction process. Why hasn’t it happen? Is it because of it’s high cost as a process compared to normal carbon manufacturing for a smaller advantage?

    I leave you a link for the technology:

    Thanks for your work

  • Josh Poertner

    Awesome question and we will definitely get to this in the next Q&A!!

  • Alex Hung

    A history question:

    Whatever happened to MMC (Metal Matrix Composite) used by Specialized back in the mid-late 90’s?

  • NotTonyMartin


    Questions about brakes and time trial bikes:

    Assuming that disc brakes are less aero than hidden aero rim brakes (is this assumption correct? Because of extra spokes and the rotor?), why has there not been made any frames with a combination? As in “normal” hidden aero front brake and disc rear brake?

    Best of both worlds, more aero and lighter than disc front/rear and increased braking capabilities compared to rim front/rear?

    Is there an UCI rule against this? If so, it would still be possible in triathlon. I find it strange that no manufacturer has done this, so there must be reasons I can’t think of. Hopefully you can.

    Thanks for the shows.

  • DaveQB

    This might be my new favourite podcast. Awesome!

    2 questions.

    1) Aero over weight.

    Using best bike split, this looks very clear. But when you add in the extra element of riding in a 50 rider size bunch on the flat…..are the aero gains of an more aero, but heavier wheelset or frame mitigated to the point where weight starts to matter more when you have a main climb in the race or course? Assuming you never take a turn on the front of the peloton. Does this explain why marquee climbers still stick with light bikes over aero bikes in the pro tour?

    2) If you have aero data on a wheel, tested in a tunnel, presumably on it’s own or as the front wheel, what is the general consensus of the type of aero performance reduction would you expect for the back wheel (behind a frame, churning legs and crank etc)? All companies would post aero data of a front wheel hitting the clean air, so you wouldn’t just double that for 2 wheels, or would you? Or does it vary so wildly that there’s not a typical range?

    Thanks for the shows! Love them.

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