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Will the titanium bicycle era be over soon?

Scientists have developed an alternative to titanium alloy used in bicycles.

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titanium bicycle

A new discovery on the lightweight metal technology could soon introduce changes to the bicycle market, which is dominated by titanium bicycle producers.

A group of scientists at the Graduate Institute of Ferrous Technology (GIFT) at the Pohang University of Science and Technology in South Korea have developed a material that equals the weightlessness of titanium alloy and durability of steel.

Metal pipes used for construction. (Source)

The South Korean scientists found out that a new metal can be made out of altering metal alloy at a nanoscale level and combining it with nickel, carbon, manganese, aluminium, and steel. The new metal is a new breed of alloy that can be produced at a cheap price if it hits the market in the future.

Commercializing this metal will pose no predicament to bicycle manufacturers as the minerals essential in producing it are widely available in the global market. This will also help increase the demand for each commodity, as the bicycle segment is a continuously growing industry.

By 2019, the global bicycle industry will reach $65 billion as various entities around the globe advocate for cheaper energy, cleaner environment, and healthier lifestyle. Increasing demand for low-cost transportation in developing countries such as India, China, Taiwan, as well as various countries in the US and Europe will increase the relevance of bicycles and help the entire market grow over the next five years. In the US alone, about 18 million bicycles have been sold annually over the past few years.

The E-bike market, which depends heavily on titanium metal, is expected to grow at a CAGR of 3.42 percent in revenue and 4.35 percent in shipment in 2019.

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Although bicycles remain one of the top modes of transportation in emerging countries, making them cheaper is a major problem among producers. As most bicycles are made with lightweight but expensive materials such as titanium, many people from the lower class brackets in countries like India, Taiwan, and China are forced to purchase cheaper but less durable products. The new metal discovered in South Korea could become a substantial answer to this predicament.

A large percentage of the global titanium market comes from various alternative transport industries including bicycle companies. Over the years, the production of lightweight bicycles has been supported by the robust and stable titanium dioxide supply.

In the years to come, the supply segment will become stronger as promising producers are expected to join the global commerce. White Mountain Titanium Corporation (OTCQB:WMTM), a Chile-based company that owns the Cerro Blanco Property,  is one of them. The company is capable of producing up to 112 million tonnes of rutile, an abundant source of titanium dioxide.

Titanium remains an essential mineral for all types of bicycle producers. The mineral is now used for the production of regular, everyday bikes, unlike in the past when it was utilized only for producing bicycles used in professional events.

According to market research firm NPD Group, bicycle sales have historically moved in tandem with GDP growth. That means that the global bike market, along with the segments that support it like the titanium industry, will continue to grow as small and emerging economies strive for continued and prolonged progress.

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The $51 billion global bike market has recorded a 5.2 percent annual increase in the past few years. And experts say that there will be more challenges and changes on the market as the world continues to look for cheaper and stronger materials.

Rows of bikes. (Source)

(Sources: 1, 2)

Dominique Einhorn is a French-American business man who began his entrepreneurial journey at the age of 19, engaging himself in the import and export of nutritional supplements. He founded the Born2Invest brand under advertising technology firm, M6 Limited, and is involved in its day-to-day operations. Dom pens features on marketing, technology, as well as alternative investments.

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