Ever wonder why motorcycle manufacturers love working with copper and titanium? These metals pack a punch in the best possible way. Titanium boasts the top-tier strength needed for the skeleton of the bike, keeping things light enough for that thrilling ride but sturdy enough for safety. Copper–on the other hand–takes care of the bike’s nerves–its electrical circuits–with its stellar conductivity. Both metals come with the added bonus of battling corrosion like champs, making them the unsung heroes of long-lasting, high-quality motorcycles.
Titanium: The Muscle in Motorcycles
When General Motors rolled out the first car with titanium in 1956, it set a precedent that motorcycles would soon follow. Motorcycles–like their four-wheeled cousins–benefit from the unmatched strength-to-weight ratio of titanium. This allows manufacturers to build bikes that are light enough to handle with ease but tough enough to withstand the rigors of the road. To this day, titanium bars are sought after for frames and components, contributing to the sleek, swift, and strong nature of modern motorcycles.
W. Robert Ransom’s project is a notable example of a motorcycle with significant use of titanium–and has actually been called the World’s First All-Titanium Motorcycle. His custom-built motorcycle features a tubular frame with a unique geometry, a swingarm crafted for enhanced rigidity, and an exhaust system comprising over 130 sections in the header pipes alone, all made of titanium. This level of craftsmanship and use of titanium in motorcycles showcases the material’s adaptability and the innovative spirit within the motorcycle industry.
Copper in Motorcycle Mechanics
Before 1930, copper was the go-to for crucial parts like brake tubing in vehicles, and it has maintained its status in the motorcycle industry. Its superb electrical conductivity makes it indispensable for the intricate wiring of motorbikes, where every ounce of energy matters. Copper’s heat resistance is a godsend for bikes that are prone to high heat during their high-octane journeys, ensuring that the electrical systems run without a hitch.
In motorcycles–copper really shines because it’s great at conducting electricity–second only to silver, which is perfect for the wiring that sends power all over the bike. It’s also great at handling heat–so it’s used in radiators to keep the engine cool. Plus, copper doesn’t rust easily–so it’s solid for brake tubes that have to deal with all kinds of weather. Some top-notch bike brands even go for copper-nickel tubes for extra toughness. And in the engine–copper alloys are the go-to because they’re tough but don’t wear out fast, making them ideal for parts that move a lot. And here’s more good news–this also means less maintenance in the long run.
From the titanium that fortifies the bike’s bones to the copper that courses through its veins, these metals are at the heart of motorcycle innovation, driving the industry towards a future that promises bikes which are not only faster and lighter but also safer.