Made out of Toray Aerospace Carbon—a high modulus carbon fiber—the Epiphany is smartly
designed. Since the carbon fiber used is full-force vector anisotropic, the result is a blissful experience.
Tony Ellsworth, owner of Ellsworth Bicycles told me that the use of high-grade material results in
“stiffer power transfer while pedaling, with high damping characteristics, and more lateral stiffness,”
than what is traditionally found in carbon fiber bikes. Ellsworth Bicycles used carbon fiber deftly by
maintaining a light-weight bike with almost zero power transfer from pedaling while still maintaining
the damping associated with carbon fiber. Which translates to railing corners, regardless of breaking
bumps, while maintaining almost zero lateral torque.
What all this technical jargon means, though is a visceral, experiential feeling. Like an artist
understands her material, an athlete understands her equipment and environment. At the juncture of
terrain and material is where flow is found. I’ve been on a carbon fiber kick lately, because I’ve ridden
aluminum and steel. The advantage to steel is it’s basically fatigue resistance, and while aluminum is a
bit less fatigue resistant, it is lighter than steel.
And while mountain biking is still relatively new, the industry has moved away from steel to
aluminum. The material is ubiquitous in the bike industry because it’s lighter than steel, yet is still
relatively strong for its weight, with dependable fatigue life through competent material and engineer
Carbon fiber, on the other hand, is still somewhat new as a material for bike frames. The disadvantage
of the material is that it can bruise, without any visual clue, and can be considered delicate. The
material may be a bit brittle, as anyone with a friction burn will inherently understand that carbon fiber
is susceptible to the rubbing of other materials. Like another bike on the bike rack.
But that is a worthy trade-off when you want a bike that handles like a hard tail on the uphill, and
handles like a dream on the downhill. I had an epiphany, and what a revelation it was.
Joh Rathbun is am Action Sports Writer and MTB Coach & Ride Guide for Shine Riders Co . To stay up-to-date on West Coast events, or ride with her, like her Facebook page or contact her http://johrathbun.wix.com/freelancewriter .