Should I be afraid of carbon?

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by DeanC, Aug 24, 2004.

  1. DeanC

    DeanC New Member

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    Bah! Posted this in r.b.t first, meant to post it here...

    So I'm recently back into riding my road bike after not riding seriously for 10 years or so. I've given myself a carrot in that I've said I'll replace my '89 Bianchi Limited with something modern after I put 1000 more miles on it. Of course, that means I get to start shopping for a new bike... :D

    At 250lbs I'm pretty big for a bicyclist and even when I'm done dropping the excess fat I'm trying to I'm still gonna be 210lbs or so, so stiff and durable has a higher relative value vs. weight than it would if I was 145lbs. I know that steel frames that can survive me climbing out of the saddle exist, my Bianchi does it today and I know AL can do it too. But I just don't know enough about carbon...

    I've seen a bunch of FUD about carbon forks (even seen one custom frame builder that refuses to use them because he believes they're unsafe) and I've seen several people post things in this forum about carbon frames not being able to survive crashes but it looks like Trek is still selling them... What's the real scoop here? Is there such a thing as a carbon bike that would survive 10 years of a >200lb guy riding it or should I limit my search to metals?

    Thanks,
    Dean
     
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  2. gruppo

    gruppo New Member

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    Have you thought about Titanium -- you get a better ride and more strength.

    I know carbon everything is all the rage, but compare a carbon with a Ti frame if you can. I'll bet one ride is all it takes.
     
  3. boudreaux

    boudreaux New Member

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    Riding isn't the problem.Crashing and other abuse can trash any frame.
     
  4. gruppo

    gruppo New Member

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    I can see where Dean's concern is logical. There seems to be a lot of posts lately, here and elsewhere, from big guys who had aluminum frames break for no apparent reason. So before investing in an expensive carbon frame, or any new frame for that matter, I think it is a logical question for anyone in the 200+ club.

    Dean,

    It may be wise to ask the manufacturer if the frame is warranted for someone of your weight. I'm not aware of weight restrictions on frames, but then I was aware of weight restrictions on saddles either until I purchased on recently that said it was not warranted for anyone over 200 lbs.
     
  5. boudreaux

    boudreaux New Member

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    Big guys probably shouldn't be riding alot of lightweight aluminum frames. There are plenty of frames with weight limits. Most are light aluminum. It goes without saying, that it's not the material,it's how it's built.
     
  6. lokstah

    lokstah New Member

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    You're a larger rider, but materials choice isn't your biggest concern -- it's quality of construction, and beefiness. Don't buy an ultralight frame -- nothing in the, say, 2.5 to 3.5 lbs range. Buy a sturdy one from a maker you trust, and beyond that, get the bike you like, and treat it well. It could be made out of carbon, or steel, aluminum or ti.

    Every Tom, Dick, Sally and Jane is riding around on a carbon fork (if not a carbon saddle). Seatposts are crafted from the stuff, crankarms, friggin' derailleur cages, stems, bars.

    Those might not all be great ideas for all situations, but a basic truth has emerged: used properly, carbon fiber has as much potential to be a solid, sturdy material as any other substance. That hasn't always been the case, but it's come around. It ain't a wonder material, but it works. Shop reasonably. Don't outift your bike with 170g handlebars.

    Good luck with your search!
     
  7. BungedUP

    BungedUP New Member

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    I'm in the 190 lbs range and I ride a Cannondale 2.8 with a carbon fork, and a carbon seatpost. I have had the frame for 8 years, and it is still in excellent shape (some light frames can perform just fine for heavier riders). I have Azonic CF-1 carbon bars on my mountain bike, and they also have performed very well - I took a 10-15 foot rib breaking fall and I mangled my right shifter pod, but the bars were absolutely untouched (at least in appearance and function). My carbon seatpost on my road bike is close to 12 years old and still works fine as well.

    My experience has been that CF works well, even for a heavier rider like myself.
     
  8. Downhill Jonny

    Downhill Jonny New Member

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    I have checked this issue quite extensively, and have decided that a Ti frame with FSA Alloy handlebars and stem are the way to go.

    Have a look at Litspeed (no Ulitmate that is more of a racing bike), Merlin same thing and Colorodo Cyclists have a Douglas Ti frame which looks like good value for money (although I havnt researched it that well).

    Insofar as CF is concerned, I tend to agree that you should not go for something that is ultra light. So carbon seat post and forks shouldnt be a problem.

    Happy shopping, its sometimes more fun than riding:)
     
  9. tafi

    tafi Member

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    Id certainly be woried about the lighter/smaller/faster trends these days if I was a lot heavier.
    A lightweight Aluminium bike will really only last about a year max if it's ridden hard (thats for a middleweight like me).
    I'd take a more pragmatic approach. The Bianch works and you feel safe riding it and you know that it's dependable. Stick with it until the weight drops off and then reassess your options.
    210lbs is about 95kg which isn't hugely heavy (you'll be about the same weight as Magnus Backstedt). I'd shy away from superlight frames but provided it is reasonably stiff then you won't have too much of a problem.
     
  10. boudreaux

    boudreaux New Member

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    BS..................!
     
  11. cydewaze

    cydewaze New Member

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    You're right. It only took me one ride to pick my OCLV over that Merlin I tried. More than 10 years and around 30,000 miles later, I don't regret my choice one bit. In fact my carbon bike rides so well, I picked up a mountain bike version of it back in 97. It's been crashed hundreds of times (I'm really, really bad at mountain biking) and I've had no frame related problems. Gone through a few wheelsets and some other components, but the frame has held up fine.
     
  12. DeanC

    DeanC New Member

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    Thanks for all of the advice guys. Based on what you all have said, I'm not going to be afraid. :) What I am going to do is ride a bunch of different bikes and avoid anything that seems to be going for extreme lightness. The bike I wind up buying will be the one that feels the best (and is sanely priced ;-)), regardless of material.

    Thanks again!
    Dean
     
  13. davidbod

    davidbod New Member

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    I started out as a 225 lb rider on a CF frame and its not a problem as long as you get a decent frame. I would go by warranty when determining if a frame is worthy or not and ask if they have a weight limit which would void the warranty.

    With a CF fork and your weight the one thing you don't want to do is go with a full carbon fork. Some forks are all carbon and some have alluminium steerer tubes. The steerer tube is on top of the fork and goes inside the head tube of the frame. With your weight a fork with a carbon steerer tube will be too flexible. Get one with an alluminium steerer tube. It won't be quite as light, but it will be more stiff and durable, less expensive too.
     
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