Polyglot bike-brand SwiftCarbon has unveiled the latest version of its high-end road frame, the Ultravox SSL. Co-owned by a South African former pro now living in China, SwiftCarbon’s Chinese-manufactured frames are designed in the Netherlands, with composite lay-up patterns created in Germany, and are reinforced and made lighter thanks to composite fabric strips developed in Sweden. The brand is marketed from South Africa but available consumer-direct internationally as well as being available from distributors in some territories (in the UK, SwiftCarbon frames are imported and retailed by the four Cycle Works stores in Surrey).
Instead of using standard high-modulus unidirectional fabric strips the Ultravox is reinforced by TeXtreme carbon fibre fabrics originated by Oxeon of Sweden. TeXtreme is a “spread-tow” fabric and consists of flat tapes instead of yarns of fibre. With spread-tow fabrics more fibres can be packed into a given area than yarn. This means more fibre and less resin, reducing weight
SwiftCarbon co-founder Mark Blewett, a South African who raced professionally in the 1990s and who is now based in China, said:
“TeXtreme’s spread tow carbon fibre fabrics reduce the amount of material needed while still delivering the same strength. This increases the strength-to-weight ratio for the new Ultravox SSL by 24 percent, and also allows us to adapt the technology to full-carbon accessories like the headset and seat clamp.”
SwiftCarbon has been using TeXtreme since 2014 when it developed its SCULP frame in partnership with AX-Lightness.
The company started life by offering “open mould” generic frames but quickly developed its own frame designs, which are not made available to other brands. The carbon frames are made by a “Cream” factory in the port city of Xiamen, China, one of the epicentres of composite manufacturing.
SwiftCarbon frame shapes and FEA carbon lay-ups are done by Boris Sirmanoff of Germany, formerly of Martec, Isaac and Principia. The look of the frames are created by René Baretta of the Netherlands, owner of Are-n-Dee and who also freelances for Giant, Edco, Magura, PlanetX and Shimano’s PRO.
SwiftCarbon’s hand laid-up carbon strips are moulded into frames with the help of polystyrene forms rather than bladders. This leads to cleaner, smoother internals, a process that is confirmed by the use of fibre-optic cameras on every frame.
TeXtreme is also used in Formula One, composite tennis rackets and aviation. It was first used in the bike industry by Felt in 2013 for its FRD line.