The dimensioning of carbon fiber requires a lot more skills and knowledge compared to metals such as aluminum. As we know the mechanical properties of metals is independent of its loading direction; it is a uniform material. However, this is not the case with carbon fiber. The carbon fiber consists of series of woven threads that have great tensile strength when loaded parallel to the direction of the fibers. If loaded transverse (normal to the direction of the fibers, 90°) its strength is very low and hence is much more difficult to use. This requires thorough analysis of the forces acting on a motorcycle in order to find their directions. This data then has to be included in the FEA analysis of the carbon fiber chassis in order to prevent the use of unnecessary carbon fibers and thus keep the weight as low as possible.
In addition to the orthotropic characteristics it has some weaknesses that have to be taken into account when designing. For instance, when loaded with twisting forces (torsion) the fibers are weak. The solution to this problem is to lay the carbon fibers with an angle of +/- 45° since the twisting forces act in this direction, and thereby will be loaded parallel to the fiber direction. Since the chassis will be exposed to forces from several different directions many layers with different fiber direction have to be used. For instance, a typical laminate consists of layers with the directions 0°, +45°,-45°, 90°.
Some parts of the chassis are more critical than others and have to shown great care when designing. This could be the part where the swing arm is connected to the chassis. A possible solution could be to use more layers of carbon fiber and/or use a fiber type that consists of Kevlar. In addition a sandwich configuration (carbon fiber on top and bottom with a core of lightweight foam) can be used to increase stiffness with a low increase in weight.