An Article About Carbon Bikes



hyperliterate

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In terms of technology, Greg LeMond, the three-time Tour de France winner, was a pioneer. In an age when steel still dominated, LeMond rode bikes made of carbon-fiber composites, then an exotic material mostly used by the military.

At this year’s Tour, carbon fiber is the only material used for bikes, and it has also replaced aluminum in wheel rims. The strength, lightness and the design flexibility offered by carbon fiber have ensured its dominance. And its most extreme form, the special aerodynamic time-trial bicycle, was on display Saturday in the 20th stage.

But there has been a catch. Unlike steel or aluminum, carbon fiber does not bend in crashes. Rather the bikes and wheels frequently shatter, often hurling riders to the road and, many fear, increasing the severity of injuries.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/27/sports/cycling/as-technology-makes-bicycles-lighter-and-faster-it8217s-the-cyclists-falling-harder.html?module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Ar%2C%7B%221%22%3A%22RI%3A8%22%7D&_r=0
 
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Originally Posted by hyperliterate
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/27/sports/cycling/as-technology-makes-bicycles-lighter-and-faster-it8217s-the-cyclists-falling-harder.html?module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Ar%2C%7B%221%22%3A%22RI%3A8%22%7D&_r=0
You are surely going to run into a lot a flack for posting that, but it is what it is. I've been saying this for years and got tarred and feathered for it. Yet I found myself in a situation of wanting a newer modern bike so I opted for a Titanium frame because I am against carbon fiber, but that bike came with a carbon fork and there was no other fork choice except a better CF fork, so I opted to pay more and get a fork that was rated for a 320 pound rider even though I only weigh 164 and even though the original fork was rated for 240 pounds, I felt if the fork was way over engineered for my weight then hopefully the fork will last and hold up even in a good front end hit. The good thing is that if I do break the fork in an accident all I would have to do is replace the fork and not the frame too!

There's also these videos I think are quite interesting.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xk98yvozq1g http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvk63...eature=related http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...&v=p92Stnnigjs
 
Froze, not sure what the article is saying. The main point seems to be that CF frames and forks are less crash-worthy, ie, they break during the crash sequence rather than bending, thereby causing worse injuries to the riders. This doesn't make any sense to me, because in a bike crash, the rider doesn't rely on the bike for any kind of crash protection. If you crash and separate from the bike, you hit the deck, not relying on the structure of the bike to attenuate impact forces as you would in a car.

But then later it states that the experts quoted agreed the risk to consumers should be minimal. No sure what risk they are talking about. I do agree that if you plan to crash often, or just beat up your bike, a steel frame and fork may be a better choice, but not sure that's what the article is promoting either.

Regardless of what the NY Times puts out to grab headlines, I share your concern about the strength of CF forks. Quality of design and construction is important, certainly a better buying criteria than just choosing the lightest one. I'm riding a Reynolds Ouzo Pro fork, now 10 years old with 37K miles, and have no worries about it's integrity.

Have seen photos of a Reynolds Ouzo Pro fork on a steel frame after a head-on with a car. The steel frame was broken at the TT/HT joint due to the impact, and the fork was folded under around the DT, yet I was told the fork remained intact with no obvious damage. That incident showed the tremendous strength of a well-made CF fork. But in a serious accident like that, who cares whether the fork breaks or not......the safe route is to replace it anyway.
 
I'm sorry for even commenting on this subject because it always degrade into a huge war and that's because most people have embraced the technology including myself howbeit forced into it. But I have seen in LBS's broken CF wheels, forks, and frames, not to mention smaller bits like handlebars, seatposts and seat rails etc. Of course aluminum rims bent under impact as did steel frames and forks, but from what I've seen the degree as to how much of this is happening today has greatly accelerated; but what is very uncommon back in the day was steel, aluminum, or TI bits like handlebars, seat posts etc breaking whereas today it's not so uncommon. I walk into a large shop today and I see this (major) stuff in the backroom either heading for the trash or being returned to manufacture, in the steel days I rarely saw stuff in the back of the shop heading for wherever.

I'm not saying I'm paranoid about my fork breaking, if I was I would have never bought it!! I'm just saying that overall the CF stuff isn't holding up as well as people think. You have to remember too that a new generation of riders is out and about on their CF bikes, people who were never around in the day when steel was the only material available, they all just think that if it was old school it was inferior to anything modern due to technology. If you've been around as long as I have you learn there are other things as well in the cycling industry that are indeed inferior to the old school. Not saying all new school stuff is inferior to old school stuff but there are several examples of where that is true.

Watch those videos when you have a chance if you haven't already, and you can quickly see which material is overall more inferior over the others. Of course not many people will run a 4x4 truck over their frames, or saw, or hammer, or whatever their bike frames with but it does show quite vividly the weaknesses of some materials over others. And then you have to be careful about not over tightening stuff on a CF part or else you could crush the part it's being attached to? so you have to use a torque wrench? Really?

I've seen pics of wrecks too, and some bizarre things and and do happen but not typically. I saw a guy lose control of his CF bike and hit a curve bending the aluminum rim but snapping the CF fork in half, and cracking the CF headtube, and I'm sure this was at a far less impact than your example, but the odd thing was the wheel was restorable the frame and fork was not. There's a video on YouTube of a guy on a TI Lightspeed gets rear ended by a speeding motorcycle that completely crushes the CF wheelset (front and rear) into pieces and breaking the fork, well so what? the guy would have been hurt no matter what, but what was interesting is that the TI frame was completely undamaged. Or a friend whose 8 year old daughter accidently hit his CF bike with her foot and it slid hitting the top tube of a concrete block putting a 1/2 long mar from the sliding action that left cut fibers which in turn the LBS had to total the frame, (this was before Calfee got into the CF repairing business). And lets not forget chain suck problems where the chain saws through part of the chain stay, I've actually saw a guy that this happened too, the frame was totaled but he took the frame home and patched it with fiberglass epoxy and it held up fine.

And there's this to that talks about protecting your investment...protecting the CF dropouts from totaling your bike; see: http://blogs.bicycling.com/blogs/boulderreport/the-perils-of-progress

See this too: http://www.hop-law.com/consumer-safety-agency-issues-warning-about-accident-danger-with-carbon-fiber-road-bicycles/

And that is why I got the way overrated Enve 2.0 fork because it wasn't made in some foreign country that doesn't care about me as a person!

I know you can go to all the pro CF frame manufactures and they will wax on and on about how good CF is vs steel, which they should they make the stuff! But you can also go to pro steel frame manufactures and they'll wax on and on about how good steel vs CF which would be expected again because they make the stuff.
 
There have to be at least 20 million carbon forks on road bikes in the US alone. Only the cheapest entry level aluminum bikes don't have at least carbon blades, and many now have carbon steerers, too. If they were breaking regularly, we'd have a lot more dead cyclists than we do. The thrust of the article is that crash damage to carbon frames and forks isn't readily apparent, and if the frame or fork is compromised, it can fail without warning, unlike steel or aluminum, where you can see damage more easily. No one is going to seriously argue over that issue. That being said, if I had the money right now, I would be riding titanium.
 
I read the article, it is a lot of opinion and little fact. There is nothing in it that shows an increase in injury or severity. Carbon frames lack toughness and can break - not suprising. It cracks and metal bends.
 
Originally Posted by mpre53

There have to be at least 20 million carbon forks on road bikes in the US alone. Only the cheapest entry level aluminum bikes don't have at least carbon blades, and many now have carbon steerers, too. If they were breaking regularly, we'd have a lot more dead cyclists than we do. The thrust of the article is that crash damage to carbon frames and forks isn't readily apparent, and if the frame or fork is compromised, it can fail without warning, unlike steel or aluminum, where you can see damage more easily. No one is going to seriously argue over that issue.

That being said, if I had the money right now, I would be riding titanium.
Not all titanium bikes are god awful expensive, though most are! You can get TI frames directly from China for real cheap but I have hesitations about getting anything from China directly. The lowest cost TI bike I've ever found and yet have full product support by an American company was this:http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/motobecane/lechamp_slti_xiv.htm Of course you will get last years Ultegra components, and you can't upgrade it before they ship it, but it's an incredible deal for a TI bike. I have a friend who has a 2 or 3 year old version of that bike and he loves it, but I did notice a slight frame difference in the new one that I'm not real sure about the long term effects, but it no longer has reinforcement thicker butts on the top or bottom of the head tube; and it appears from the photo, but no way to measure to make sure, that the top tube appears to smaller in diameter where it comes out of the head tube than it use to be, again not sure if that would ever become an issue. I'm sure those frame changes was due to trying to reduce weight and it could be perfectly fine that way. You can compare the older style frame by looking at the frame/fork sold by itself to the new model.

The lowest costing made in America, or made anywhere else for that matter other than the exceptions noted above I got was the Lynskey Silver Series (which they no longer call the 2 models of that group that name, they're now Pro Rouleur, and Sport Peloton (the one I got), the Rouleur and the Peloton now on sale with Shimano 105 for just $2880. But they won't make much in the way of changes, if you want some changes made with credit given towards trade in before the bike is made then go through Adrenalin Bikes like I did and make whatever changes you can afford to make. I think Adrenalin also has a Litespeed on sale to match the Lynskey offer due to a huge battle going on between the two since Lynskey was the person who created and started Litespeed!! But since Litespeed is now owned by AGB group I personally wouldn't touch them with a 10 foot pole...yes, I know, it's just my opinion of course.
 
The market forces seem to favor light weight over durability. Many riders train on wheels that used to be ridden only for races. How many riders do you know that even have a pair of 36 spoke wheels. Same with frames; riders are looking for light, stiff and aero.
 
Originally Posted by Colnago62

The market forces seem to favor light weight over durability. Many riders train on wheels that used to be ridden only for races. How many riders do you know that even have a pair of 36 spoke wheels. Same with frames; riders are looking for light, stiff and aero.
This is absolutely correct. I do have several bikes with 36 spokes and even one with 40, but my only bike that has less than 36 spokes is my newest one and it has 20 front 24 rear, but that wheelset, due to the deeper dish, weighs as much as my lightest 36 spoke wheelset! But it is aero. Which will last longer? I don't know yet, the new Shimano RS500 in silver (has a deeper dish then the same model in black) was designed for street use and a 240 pound rider, I weigh 164 so it should hold up just fine. It's the deeper dish with all the aluminum material needed to make those rims is why it weighs almost the same as my 36 hole Torelli Master Series rims (with 36 DT Revolution spokes on front and 36 DT Competition spokes on rear). Those Torelli's rarely have to be trued then it's only a very minor adjustment, so far the Shimano haven't needed truing at all yet. So I don't see any difference yet between the Torelli or the Shimano in either weight or strength, but the Shimano will have an aero advantage according to everything I've read anyways.
 
Holy mother of run-on sentences Quote by Froze:
"Yet I found myself in a situation of wanting a newer modern bike so I opted for a Titanium frame because I am against carbon fiber, but that bike came with a carbon fork and there was no other fork choice except a better CF fork, so I opted to pay more and get a fork that was rated for a 320 pound rider even though I only weigh 164 and even though the original fork was rated for 240 pounds, I felt if the fork was way over engineered for my weight then hopefully the fork will last and hold up even in a good front end hit."


Before I switched to carbon, I bought a Litespeed Ti bike in 2006. I did not trust carbon then and despite racing and training on it since 2007 I do not trust it now.

I cracked a carbon Wilier. It did not asplode without warning, but it certainly could have if it started to fail in another area of the frame or fork.

And about that Ti Litespeed. It was an uber-flexible piece of **** even a touron would have laughed at. No stiffness in the BB whatsoever. The only frame in 43 years of riding the moved so much the rear tire rubbed the chain stays. It came with a fork that was scary light and again, so flexible the amount of movement under loading was insane. The fork was an Easton EC 90 SLX...a fork so light that Easton discontinued it.

I should have replaced it with a sturdier unit (I weigh the same amount as you, Froze), but I just retired the entire bike as the Flexible Flyer frame sucked beyond belief.




Quote by mpre53:
"That being said, if I had the money right now, I would be riding titanium."

Research and ride them. I would only get the stiffest sunnovabitch built if I were buying Ti again. Hydroformed tubes, short tube lengths, large bracing angles, etc. I am not impressed with Ti as a material for a racing bike.

There's a reason I'm on carbon right now. Even the cheap carbon frames can be made stiff enough to race on. Now, if you don't want that attribute in spades, Ti does ride like a Rolls-Royce, has great durability in most cases and is easy to care for and will suffer rough handling far better than carbon.
 
I'm surprised at the response. I read the article and posted it because I knew that members of this forum would be interested to see it. My own take was that lighter frame materials yield higher speeds and that is why cyclists are getting hurt. Note the article's title: " As Technology Makes Bicycles Lighter and Faster, It’s the Cyclists Falling Harder."

I know of two incidents in our local bike club involving the failure of carbon fiber components. One was several years ago, when the carbon frame on an Orbea Orca failed during the ride and the rider was left quadriplegic immediately after and died a few months later. This summer one of our members broke his shoulder when his carbon fork failed during a ride. In the latter incident the fork was at least ten years old.

I did not post the article because I am anti-carbon. I myself own and ride a Cannondale SuperSix carbon and I'm very happy with it. As the article states, "Greve and Perovic agreed that for consumers who are not constantly banging their bikes around on team vehicles and who are unlikely to be involved in crashes, the risks in buying a carbon bike made by a reputable company should be minimal."

What I will take to heart is that carbon fiber components require special handling to avoid any sort of serious impacts which may result in damage that is invisible under inspection. A month ago, I was riding with a guy who had his carbon front wheel rim knocked out of true in a fall caused by another rider. Personally, I told him, I would replace the wheel. If there is a problem with carbon, it is that damage to it is hard to detect and that, when it fails, it tends to fail catastrophically.

One last thing, sophisticated manufacturing techniques keep improving on the strength and performance of carbon fiber. I think that in the future, this all will be moot.

Honestly, I'm not looking for controversy. To me, it was just an article of interest to cyclists.
 
By the way, Froze, I watched the videos. I'm not entirely convinced that the videos indicated that carbon is a totally inferior frame material. Running over a frame tube, shooting it with a pellet gun, cutting it with an abrasive cut off wheel, dropping a forty pound weight on it, or stomping the fork are not things I do with my frame. That different materials have different characteristics doesn't surprise me.
I'll admit that the titanium frame tube was impressive and it's likely that its strength is superior to carbon's, but all of those stresses were lateral, while under normal riding conditions, most of the stress is along the axial length of the tube.

I came across this article, but, while it doesn't discuss composite materials like carbon fiber, it does discuss how bike frames are stressed: http://www.slowtwitch.com/mainheadings/techctr/framedesign.html
 
Reread the article, it is poorly written and lacks any real meat. The title suggests that there is a higher rate or more severe injuries resulting from carbon fiber construction. I would have expected some statistics from insurers or from health or transportation associations that compare injuries stemming from CF components compared to nonCF components. There were no statistics at all, not even any anecdotes referring to injury. The only statements made are that components that used to bend in a crash now break and that pros replace their CF components regularly.

In this thread, there is more talk about actual injuries involved than there is in the article.
 
If I ever go Ti, both Seven and IF are local to me. I like supporting local industry. Hampsten would be another possibility. I'd look for a more race oriented frame to get the stiffness I'm used to with CF. Even though my racing days are long over. When and if I do if, it will be when I have the money to get the frame hand built in the US. Aside from getting broadsided by an idiot behind the wheel, which probably would have even wrecked a Worksman, the only frame failure I ever had out of all my bikes was on an aluminum GT. But, at least the cracked tube was evident.
 
I bought my 1st carbon bike in 1992. I broke it 5 times. I got to the point where I could tell that an issue was developing well before it got serious. I don't believe carbon fails without warning. Today's bikes are leaps and bounds more durable, that unless you crash it, a rider can get many years of riding out of their frame. One of the reasons I bought a Trek is because I heard if you do break your frame, they will offer you a discount on the replacement. Win, win in my book.
 
Kinda OT, but I'll go for it.... How does the ride of titanium compare to steel? Is it worth the extra money? Also, what should one look for when inspecting a used titanium frame?
 
hyperliterate said:
In terms of technology, Greg LeMond, the three-time Tour de France winner, was a pioneer. In an age when steel still dominated, LeMond rode bikes made of carbon-fiber composites, then an exotic material mostly used by the military. At this year’s Tour, carbon fiber is the only material used for bikes, and it has also replaced aluminum in wheel rims. The strength, lightness and the design flexibility offered by carbon fiber have ensured its dominance. And its most extreme form, the special aerodynamic time-trial bicycle, was on display Saturday in the 20th stage. But there has been a catch. Unlike steel or aluminum, carbon fiber does not bend in crashes. Rather the bikes and wheels frequently shatter, often hurling riders to the road and, many fear, increasing the severity of injuries. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/27/sports/cycling/as-technology-makes-bicycles-lighter-and-faster-it8217s-the-cyclists-falling-harder.html?module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Ar%2C%7B%221%22%3A%22RI%3A8%22%7D&_r=0
Last time I checked, guys like Robert Millar and Luis Herrera were riding carbon frames when LeMond was still riding steel. The Peugeot Fibre de Carbone was released for team use in 83, Vitus and Alan released carbon frames in 84, Hinault and LeMond rode Look carbon frames in the 86 Tour that looked remarkably similar to TVT frames that'd shortly follow. Assos made a very sexy carbon frame in 1976, 10 years before LeMond used one in the Tour. .... But let's not let facts get in the way, aye ;)
 
Originally Posted by amazinmets73

Kinda OT, but I'll go for it.... How does the ride of titanium compare to steel? Is it worth the extra money? Also, what should one look for when inspecting a used titanium frame?
It depends, I don't believe a $5,000 steel frame is better than a $2,000 steel frame by more than 2%. This is something that Grant Peterson said too at Rivendell, that his Rivendell custom made expensive frame was about 2% better than the Atlantis that cost almost 50% less at the time he wrote that. Same is true with TI, I don't believe a $5,000 TI frame is more than just 2% better than a $2,000 Ti frame.

I have 6 steel road bikes, two of them are touring bikes thus the geometry is all about comfort, and the others are all racing geometries. I would say over all the Ti Lynskey Peloton, which is not their racing geometry frame but rather a sport frame is more comfortable, now is that due to the geometry? maybe. But when compared to the touring bikes the touring bikes seem to ride about the same BUT the touring bikes actually get more comfortable when a load is put on. The neat thing about TI is that road vibrations are muted more than it is with steel which I noticed on the very first ride, therefore on long rides I come home less tired than before.

I use to have an aluminum race bike, I hated that bike, it rode rough, and on long rides it just wore you out, you felt everything the road had to offer, and it buzzed on almost all pavement except for the very smoothest.

Do I think ti is worth the money over steel? Yes, but to a degree. I wouldn't spend $5k on ti bike just as I wouldn't do that on a steel bike because I don't think there is enough gain in the quality of the ride to make it worth the extra money, so in those respects I agree with Grant.

I got TI for another reason too, I live in Indiana and get caught all the time in rainstorms, something that rarely happened when I lived in California, so rust was a concern even though I think I got a pretty good idea on how to prevent it I just didn't want to be bothered with the possibility. Also I don't want to be bothered with touching up paint.

One of the comments made was from a person who owned TI and it flexed to much. I can't really respond to that fairly enough because I haven't rode in mountains for 11 years which puts flex stress on frames, and because I haven't done that in 11 years I'm not as strong as I use to be, I have taken the Lynskey on some steep hills and it seems to respond without noticeable flex.

All in all if I was to do over again I would buy TI again, it has enough advantages over steel to make it worthwhile...as long as you don't go crazy on the price.
 
Originally Posted by swampy1970


Last time I checked, guys like Robert Millar and Luis Herrera were riding carbon frames when LeMond was still riding steel. The Peugeot Fibre de Carbone was released for team use in 83, Vitus and Alan released carbon frames in 84, Hinault and LeMond rode Look carbon frames in the 86 Tour that looked remarkably similar to TVT frames that'd shortly follow.

Assos made a very sexy carbon frame in 1976, 10 years before LeMond used one in the Tour.

.... But let's not let facts get in the way, aye ;)
Actually if you really want get further back into time, the first production CF bike was the Exxon Graftek, a externally stainless steel lugs bonded to CF tubes, this bike was raced by John Howard in the 1976 summer Olympics and a few other Pro races. And Dale Stetina was on the same bike on the same 1976 Olympics with Howard. Dale also won other Pro races.

The Graftek was a huge failure as Exxon had issues with the bonding coming apart, as did later versions made by other companies. Trek even had issues as late as the 80's with their monocoque CF bikes, as did other companies like Kestrel, with the bonding coming loose on the bottom bracket aluminum shell insert. I mentioned Kestrel to follow up on that they were the first in 1986 to develop the monocoque technique...that's a mouthful, say those last two words 10 times real fast.
 
http://www.aegisbicycles.com/about.html Exxon was one of the first commercial CF manufacturers with some production hitting the roads in 1975, but there are others with claims to at least limited handmade production frames that were either sold to or used by customers/friends. I remember seeing Grafteks at races in the late 1970's, but they were never a popular item. Teledyne Titans sold in my area in greater numbers. They hit the scene in 1973, but weren't seen in any quantity worth noting until 1974 or 1975. Like most Ti frames, the main gripe was that they were very flexible. The earliest units had Ti forks that failed. These were replaced with steel forks in later production. Flema and Speedwell were also early Ti manufacturers/builders. For better or worse, I think we are going to be on kilogram/sub-kilogram (more or less) plastic frames for a long time. Throwaway frames with throwaway components (batteries not included)?
 

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