One of the materials used for tennis/squash/pickleball/... racquets is graphite.

One of the materials used for bike frames (and components) is carbon.

I gather that both have the element Carbon in them, but that they could be as distinct as the difference between the graphite in pencils and that in diamonds.

Are racquets' graphite the same substance as bike frames' carbon?

Context of the question: I'm still trying to understand how carbon can be hard for torquing yet soft to absorb bumps. Carbon racquets have the first property. They allow the player to return a fast ball from a hard racquet. I'm not aware that graphite racquets have any compliance properties (whether desirable or undesirable).

Context of the context: I was sloppily carrying a pickleball racket dangling in a bag from the handlebar, and it nearly entered the wheel. I stopped just short of learning which is harder: carbon or graphite.

  • Question presumes bike frames use the same carbon - e.g. Scott alone has HMF, HMX and HMX-SL
    – mattnz
    Oct 3, 2022 at 22:16
  • @mattnz Thanks to your hint, I located this nice video of the process at the Scott factory: youtu.be/W7wdes1DM5Y . As to lumping them together, well, let's keep that distinction for a sequel.
    – Sam7919
    Oct 3, 2022 at 23:11
  • My materials science knowledge isn't great, but perhaps the term "graphite" is attempting to emphasize the graphite/graphene hexagonal lattice structure as a marketing thing. I think generic "carbon fiber" is a little more amorphous in structure.
    – MaplePanda
    Oct 4, 2022 at 5:16

1 Answer 1


They are two names for composites of graphite fiber in a resin, usually epoxy, matrix. Graphite is made of carbon. The magic is that the graphite fibers are very strong in tension, which can make the resulting product very stiff for its weight. There are wide ranges of graphite fibers, epoxy resins, fiber/resin ratios, and layups of the fiber. The two are members of this class. Any comparison between members depends on more information about them.

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