Skip to main content

Oproep: Ik zoek iemand die kan zorgen voor de continuïteit van deze website

The best wire for e-bikes: Irradiated crosslinked PVC

Published: 14 December 2012
Last updated: 06 March 2023


The reliability of e-bikes can be improved by using high quality wiring. Therefore, on my solar powered bicycle, the Maxun One, I only use AlphaWire EcoWire cables. For power cables, I use 16AWG 26/30, for control wires 18AWG 16/30.

Benefits of crosslinked PVC hook-up wire

Crosslinked PVC wire is solder iron resistant:

Regular PVC insulation melts during soldering:

Crosslinked PVC withstand high temperatures:

Crosslinked PVC wire, and in particular irradiated cross linked wire (IRRPVC), is quite unknown; therefore I want to draw attention to its benefits:

  • Crosslinked PVC wire is solder iron resistant.
    Regular PVC insulation melts easily during soldering and pulls back in contrast to crosslinked PVC wire.
  • Crosslinked PVC wire is mechanically stronger and tougher.
    Regular PVC insulation is soft and quite vulnerable to damage in contrast to crosslinked PVC wire which has a greater abrasion and cut-through resistance.
  • Crosslinked PVC insulation can be thinner.
    Due to the strength, the insulation of crosslinked PVC can be thin; this saves weight and looks better too.
  • Crosslinked PVC withstand higher temperatures.
    However, this should not be the only reason to use crosslinked PVC.

Applications of crosslinked PVC wire

An application is a hub motor cable; the insulation has to be extremely thin because the cable goes through a small hole.

Thin wire insulation with irradiated PVCThin wire insulation with irradiated PVC

Improve mechanical properties by cross-linking

Regular plastics for insulation are made up of random molecular chains that have no chemical bonds between them; if heat is applied, the molecular chains will be weakened. The mechanical properties can be greatly improved by cross-linking, which will bond adjacent molecular chains together. Cross-linking can be accomplished not only by electron beam irradiation but chemically also.

Disadvantages of crosslinked PVC wire

  • Most available crosslinked PVC hook-up wire is fabricated according military specifications (UL 1429, UL 1430, UL 1431), and this have to be paid with a high price.
  • It is just available from a few suppliers and sometimes the minimum order size is a problem.

Other crosslinked insulation materials

Other insulation materials with similar or better properties than crosslinked PVC are:

  • Crosslinked polyolefin
  • Crosslinked polyethylene
  • Crosslinked polyalkene
  • Crosslinked ETFE

EcoWire™ as alternative for crosslinked PVC wire

EcoWire™ is cheaper as cross linked PVC wire, but has similar properties.