Composites are found in products used in 7 of the 10 most popular outdoor sports and recreational activities. Glass- and carbon-reinforced composites (alone or in hybrids with other fibers) continue to replace wood and metal in skis, fishing rods, bowling balls, tennis racquets, spars/shafts for kayak paddles, windsurfing masts and boards, hockey sticks, kites and bicycle handlebars, as well as in niche applications, such as fairings for recumbent bikes. Figures presented at the 2010 CompositesWorld Carbon Fiber Conference in La Jolla, Calif., indicated that sporting goods will consume 12 million lb (5,480 metric tonnes) of carbon fiber by 2015, worldwide.
Many sporting goods manufacturers capitalize on carbon fiber cosmetics. One is Bauer Performance Sports Ltd., which has produced ice hockey equipment since 1927. It uses TeXtreme fabric from Oxeon AB (Borås, Sweden) for player and goalie sticks, which is woven from spread tow bundles to form a wide checkerboard textile of very low areal weight. In addition to low weight, good drapability and sharp appearance, the material behaves like cross-ply uni tapes, yielding better performance than a woven fabric (see "Editor's Picks," at right).