Ultra-light Caterham Seven uses bike frame technology

Caterham has confirmed plans to produce an ultralight version of its Seven sports car in early 2017, incorporating bicycle tube technology into its space construction.

Working with bike tubing expert Reynolds Technology and computer-aided engineering (CAE) consulting firm Simpact, Caterham has already created a Seven 270 prototype with a 10% lighter chassis but still retaining the torsional stiffness of the current production car.

The project, which took six months to complete and was funded by Innovate UK, was showcased at the Niche Vehicle Network Symposium earlier this month, and has since gained traction with strong support.

The automaker now hopes to bring the technology to Seven’s customers as early as early 2017, as an additional option that would cost between £ 1,000 and £ 2,000. He expects up to one-fifth of Seven’s sales to include butted tubes.

The way that butted tubes are able to reduce weight while maintaining strength is due to their unusual shape. Unlike regular tubing, they are thicker at the ends than in the middle, so the joints remain strong, but the overall material usage is reduced by up to 50% in some parts.

In a car with a chassis that weighs only 55 kg, a weight saving of 10% would reduce the total weight by about 5.5 kg. While it might seem small, on such a light vehicle (the 270 weighs 540kg) it would have a measurable effect on bhp / tonne numbers and overall efficiency.

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