By Doc Robinson of Heavy Duty Magazine, Australia
Interestingly, when this Ironhead Sportster motor went down the line at Harley-Davidson’s Engine Plant in Milwaukee some time in 1967, carbon fiber hardly existed. Sure, it was back in the 1950s that the first carbon fibers were developed for use on missiles, but they were primitive compared with today’s product. And it wasn’t until the 1970s that today’s carbon fiber composites began to be refined to the point where they became suitable for a wide range of uses.
Carbon fiber’s high strength-to-weight ratio is the core property that makes it such an appealing product to use in all kinds of applications, including cars, motorcycles, fishing rods, guitars and racquet frames, to name but a few. However, you don’t see much of it in the custom bike world and there’s a good reason for this; it’s a real bastard to work with.