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Lightning vs carbon frame


Maximum Pace
Apr 9, 2007
Before I took up cycling as a hobby, I was an ardent mountain stream angler (flyfishing, tenkara, lure, bait) and many a time in the summer season, I was forced to get out of the river because of approaching thundershowers. My carbon fishing rods, all came with a prominently placed warning, beware of high voltage cables and lighting with the typical "inazuma" mark on them.

Now, very curiously, I have found only little and inconclusive literature on the potential danger of riding carbon bikes near thunderclouds... Last weekend as I was riding through Kosuge on my way back to Okutama, dark clouds of a thunderstorm suddenly rolled in...I was scared to hell (I might be suffering from a lightning phobia - the thunder noise "kaminari" itself doesn't scare me at all though ). With carbon being a very conductive material, I feel like a "moving target" for those "inazuma" thunderbolts...

Just how far are my anxieties justified?
In the atmospheric electrical discharge, a leader of a bolt of lightning can travel at speeds of 60,000 m/s, and can reach temperatures approaching 30,000 °C (54,000 °F), hot enough to fuse silica sand into petrified lightning, known scientifically as glass channels or fulgurites which are normally hollow and can extend some distance into the ground .

Depends how fast you can cycle. I'd say your anxiety is 100% justified.
I wonder if the rubber tyres are going to give you an ounce of help.

Hey Tom,
I think your fears are unfounded. The conductivity of any material is not what makes lightning strike; it's the proximity to the ground - ie. The path of least resistance "through the air"!
That's why they tell you not to sit under a tree in open ground during a thunderstorm - Because it's the highest point in the field.
Similarly, lightning rods in buildings are made of copper, but it's not the conductivity of copper that makes it the target for lightning strikes. It's the fact that it will always be the highest point on the building.
Also, when out in a small-boat on a lake, your best bet is to "lie down in it"! If you stand up, you may find yourself being the tallest object for kilometers around.
That's also why you'll find those warnings particularly on fishing-rods - it's not the material so much as the possibility of being "the highest point in the sky" on any given day.
So far as I know, there is NO particular material that has been found to attract lightning more than another, whether it be steel, copper or carbon (if there were, the earth's energy worries would be over by now).
It is the taller guys (Phil, Thomas, Christoph, Trad, etc.) who need to worry, despite what the composition of their bikes may be.
Hope this allays your fears!
Lightning vs carbon frame...

Reading the thread title I was wondering what kind of nifty hi-tech frame material "lightning" was... :D

I guess the tall blokes should think about attaching lightning rods onto their helmets.
Lightning vs carbon frame...
I guess the tall blokes should think about attaching lightning rods onto their helmets.

Thomas, Thomas, Thomas!
Are you seriously still looking for ways to travel at "the speed of light"?
This is one that I wouldn't recommend!:D
Utter Cobblers !

Sat in one of the tallest buildings in Tokyo this evening drinking beer and I was not struck by lightning once despite waving a fork around above my head and shouting at the top of my voice ....ner ner ner ner ner .....to the thunderous show outside.

Mind you the person next to me ( a team member) has been struck by lightning whilst carrying an umbrella. Clearly much more dangerous than riding a bike or lying down on the pavement/on the bottom of a boat/suspended in a hammock after a few glasses of chardonnay.

I rest my case (of champagne)

I went riding tonight (60km) There was lightning going off everywhere in the distance, North, South, East & west except in Noda...was thinking of this thread.
Soy sauce fumes must keep lightning away...
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