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Lightweight bike a huge hit

Payson-based company unveils 2.7-pound Arantix at Vegas show

Published: Monday, Nov. 19 2007 12:21 a.m. MST

The Arantix mountain bike's light frame has exceptional strength. So far, the frames are handmade. (Jason Olson, Deseret Morning News) The Arantix mountain bike's light frame has exceptional strength. So far, the frames are handmade. (Jason Olson, Deseret Morning News)
PAYSON — Ed Christensen and Lester Muranaka were rock stars for a day.
Or rather, the two reps from Delta 7 Sports, a Payson-based company, got a taste of what it would feel like to hang out with one when they unveiled the Arantix mountain bike at the Interbike Expo in Las Vegas in late September. Throughout the expo, people flocked around Christensen, Muranaka and the bike, peppering them with exclamations like "What the heck is that?" and "Can I get a picture?"
"The bike is a celebrity," said Muranaka, marketing director for Delta 7 Sports. "It's actually pretty funny."
"We had to start sneaking through the back," added Christensen, chief operating officer for Delta 7 Sports.
And what is it about this bike and its small-town manufacturers that have the pedal-pumping community in a fervor?
Detail shows tubes in the frame of an Arantix bike. The IsoTruss technology was developed at BYU. (Jason Olson, Deseret Morning News) Detail shows tubes in the frame of an Arantix bike. The IsoTruss technology was developed at BYU. (Jason Olson, Deseret Morning News)
The Arantix is the first bike built from IsoTruss carbon fiber and Kevlar weblike lattice tube design, said Christensen. IsoTruss is the brainchild of BYU civil engineering professor David Jensen and his students. It's produced by weaving single carbon strands to create the open lattice design, Christensen explained. The carbon fiber bundles are then wrapped tightly with a Kevlar string. Pop it into the oven, bake at 255 degrees for four hours, and — presto! — a super resilient, lightweight material.
BYU granted an exclusive worldwide license to Advanced Composite Solutions, parent company of Delta 7 Sports, to develop, produce and market IsoTruss products, Muranaka said.
There's been a lot of speculation about uses for IsoTruss, Christensen said. It could be used for power poles, towers, construction braces or building columns. But none of those ideas are practical yet, he said, because there's still no way to mass-produce IsoTruss — it's still handmade.
Tools that are used to make the braided tubes of carbon fiber composite mountain bikes. (Jason Olson, Deseret Morning News) Tools that are used to make the braided tubes of carbon fiber composite mountain bikes. (Jason Olson, Deseret Morning News)
"It's just not cost-effective," Christensen said.
While development of an automated method is still at least 18 months away, Delta 7 Sports has already started production on its first IsoTruss-based product — the Arantix mountain bike.
The frame for the Arantix bike tips the scale at a mere 2.7 pounds, but it's strong enough to easily support an individual weighing more than 250 pounds, Muranaka said. The Arantix has the potential to revolutionize the bike racing community.
"You might see bigger, stronger bikers join the game," Muranaka said.
The lattice design also reduces drag and cross wind resistance.
In the first year of production, Delta 7 Sports hopes to build 200 Arantixs, but Christensen and Muranaka expect production to skyrocket to 1,000 per year by 2010. They're already securing more land for manufacturing plants.
Dee Mizera laces Kevlar thread through tubes to be used in the Arantix carbon fiber composite mountain bike by Delta 7 Sports. (Jason Olson, Deseret Morning News) Dee Mizera laces Kevlar thread through tubes to be used in the Arantix carbon fiber composite mountain bike by Delta 7 Sports. (Jason Olson, Deseret Morning News)
At $11,995 per fully assembled bike, Christensen and Muranaka figure only big spenders with a proclivity for high-end products will buy them. But the price will come down once an automated IsoTruss manufacturing device is created, they said. In the meantime, the unique bike will keep drawing a crowd at bike shows and on the street.
"We've got the neatest bike that's ever been made," Christensen said.


E-mail: jdana@desnews.com

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