Jul 21, 2020
The Supercell project was a project where we set out to create the world’s best inline skating frame. Bont has a LOT of knowledge about carbon fiber layups and resins. To lay up carbon is when you lay the carbon fiber down ad paint it with resin to form a structure. For years we have experienced using different carbon weaves and weights of fibers when laying up carbon. Sandwiching different materials between carbon layers and of course using different resins. After each test, we place the carbon structure into our machine that breaks the carbon and gives us a reading of how strong that layup was. We have completed thousands of layup tests over the years. One thing that is very clear is that carbon likes to be curved. When carbon is laid flat it can flex very easily. So from the get-go, we knew that this new frame needed curved sides.
This inline racing frame was going to be the best from an engineering standpoint first and foremost.
Bont was late to the carbon inline frame market. From 2008-2015 we were really busy winning events like the Olympics and Tour de France with our cycling shoes. The cycling shoe division was consuming all of our time and while other brands came out with carbon inline skating frames, we just didn’t have the time to work on the carbon inline frame project. It wasn’t easy watching our inline frame sales dwindle. In hindsight, that was not such a bad thing because we had the opportunity to learn from other carbon inline frame maker’s mistakes.
Supercell Solid Works inline frame design
When we looked at the competitor’s frames on the market, we felt they either didn’t have a very good understanding of how to best utilize carbon fiber or they just wanted to make a frame design that they liked the look of rather than to create the strongest frame with the lowest weight possible. At Bont, we always prioritize the function of the product over aesthetics because our end goal is to produce the fastest skates, we are not in a beauty pageant. This inline racing frame was going to be the best from an engineering standpoint first and foremost. In the end, the strongest design also happened to be a nice looking design which is always good but even if this inline frame was the ugliest frame you have ever seen but it was functionally superior to the competition, that is what we would make. That is Bont. Function first, aesthetics second.
Inze Bont is a freak of a designer. I went to him with the carbon frame concept and within an hour he had carved a wooden mockup of a frame out of a block of wood. Inze has a strong understanding of the principles of what makes a strong frame. Connecting the four wheels to the two boot mounting points in the strongest and most efficient way is paramount. Then curve the walls and you can see how the shape formed.
The first wooden prototype of the Supercell inline frame
Curving the sidewalls is the key to making the strongest inline skate frame possible. Making a carbon inline skate frame with curved sidewalls in a mold is not easy. If you think about the mold, you can’t pull this frame out of a mold from any angle. Creating the tool to make the Supercell frame was extremely challenging. The tool has a lot of parts to be able to pop the Supercell frame out of the mold while having it stay perfectly straight and not bending or warping.
Curved sidewalls, the key to the Supercell inline frame strength
The Competition Part 2
To test the strength vs weight of our competition we drew up their carbon inline frames in Solid Works, a Computer-Aided Design program, and stress-tested them. Early on in the design of the Supercell inline frame, we could already tell that our design was superior. By using straight sidewalls that were easy to pop out of a mold, our competition left open huge strength gains for us to exploit. The Supercell inline frame was on its way to becoming the inline frame with the highest strength to weight ratio in the world.
Stress testing the supercell inline frame
Nano ‘Supercell’ Resin
The Bont Supercell frame is named after the type of carbon nanotube-infused resin used to bond the carbon fiber together. Carbon nanotubes are one carbon atom thick and they form of hexagonally arranged carbon atoms wrapped into a cylinder. Carbon nanotube-infused resin helps make already strong carbon fiber composites significantly tougher without compromising the stiffness and often increasing the stiffness. Adding carbon nanotubes to the resin also helps the material withstand surface abrasion, so surfaces don’t wear away as quickly, and it helps divert energy into the fibers, which are stronger than the resin. The Bont Supercell frame uses these super nano cells in the construction of the frame.
Mesh structure of the Supercell inline frame
We are extremely happy with the result of all the hard work that went into this project. It was two years of design and testing to create this exceptional product. If you get the opportunity to skate on the Bont Supercell inline frame you know know the back story into how it was made and why it looks the way it does.
Bont Supercell 4 x 110mm inline frame
About the author:
Alexander Bont has been skating since the age of two years old. He was part of the Australian national short track team for 7 years. He has also competed on quad roller skates, long track ice skates, and inline speed skates. Alexander has won a number of Australian national titles including national records in short track and state titles in inline speed skating. He is the owner and CEO of Bont Skates.