Titanium vs. Carbon-Fiber

Discussion in 'Bike buying advice' started by Ruedy, Oct 16, 2010.

  1. frbock

    frbock New Member

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    In 1971, I bought a Motobecane Mirage (basic 1020 tubing). In the years that followed, the paint developed a crackle finish (popular these days I'm told), but, 1n 1993 when I threw it out (all the LBS wanted to sell me a new bike, not fix the headset), it didn't have a speck of rust on it. At my mom's house in Chincoteague, there's a Schwinn (not sure the model) that was bought in the early '80's, and is hanging in the garage. They have waterfront property so, there's a little salt in the air sometimes, there's not a speck of rust on that one either.... and that bike hasn't been touched in at least 15 years./img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif
    My brother has managed to get bikes to rust. Buy them, don't ride them, and leave them out in the elements 24x7.... that works./img/vbsmilies/smilies/mad.gif
     


  2. vspa

    vspa Active Member

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    a lot about Chinese and Taiwanese manufacturing capabilities has come along on this thread. Its true that they do lots of cheap stuff but it is also true that they build more than half of your quality daily appliances; your mobile phone, your refrigerator, your laptop, the internet servers running this website and - eventually - your Bicycle frameset.
     
  3. clx1

    clx1 New Member

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    No doubt you also think that the Morris Minor Traveller is better than any of the cars built today!
    I like Titanium and Steel bikes, I have a Titanium bike but quite frankly you comments on Carbon Fibre are too laughable to take seriously!
     
  4. vspa

    vspa Active Member

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    that wasn't my point, i just think that the Chinese manufacturers have come a long way to offer good quality products nowadays.
     
  5. dhk2

    dhk2 Active Member

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    I know a strong racer whose fatigued/wornout/broken both ti, steel and cf frames over the years. Another has gone through three Trek CF frames in the last 15 years of racing; he's currently riding his old Trek al bike and building up an asian CF frame for his next bike. Another racer just had to replace his 8 year old custom al bike due to cracks found in the BB shell. While another got about 10 years and 75K miles on his custom al frame before it failed.

    OK, enough of the anecdotes. My point is obviously that race-weight bikes of any material can and will fail if ridden hard enough for many miles. That's why the warranties from the major brands don't cover failures due to fatigue or "wear and tear". The fact that most of the problems LBS now see are in CF frames is not surprising, since the majority of road bikes sold to serious riders/racers are now carbon.

    We all have different experiences and opinions of course. My view is that a quality frame and fork made from any material will likely serve the vast majority of us as long as we want to ride it, barring crashes or other kinds of handling damage. I do like the freedom from corrosion and worry-free finish that unpainted ti offers......a Lynskey frame is about the top of my list now.
     
  6. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    Yep, refrigerators that last 8 to 10 years instead of 20 to 30; mobile phones that are lucky to make it 2 years; daily appliances that barely make it, if they make it, past the warranty period when they use to last 15 to 20 years...yeah your right, their making such quality junk...err stuff. None of my dozen or so bikes were made in China...not yet anyways.

    Not all stuff coming out of China is bad, like you said circuit boards in computers tend to be quite good, not sure why that is when Chinese radios and TV's are not that great.

    Edit; forgot one thing about computers though, why did the old hard drives made in Japan lasted 10 years, now the newer ones coming out of China last about 3? and by me saying 3 I think I'm being generious, because over the last 6 years I've gone through 4 hard drives and one computer. Some may argue, will gee the computer is out of date after 3 years anyways, maybe, but not for me because I don't play games on it so I don't need the largest greatest computer I can get every 3 years to keep up with the demands of the graphics. My first computer was a Everex 286 with a 40mb hard drive all of which was made in the USA, and it lasted 16 years! In fact the only reason I got rid of it was because I needed to get a better one, not because it failed.
     
  7. dabac

    dabac Well-Known Member

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    Again, it's important to remember that the inherent material qualities are not exactly the same as the qualities of the finished product. For one thing building in CF is pretty much automatically stating that you're aiming at the higher end of the spectra, so it kinda goes with the territory that someone willing to pay that premium will be quite inclined to expect a fairly light bike. And one element in cutting weight is to cut back on the design margins.
    It'd be real interesting to see a comparison between bikes built to the same margins, but out of different materials.
    Also, with metals it's a bit of a lucky coincidence that you often end up at a very comfortable balance point between tube walls being thick enough to be possible to join together in a reasonably efficient process, them having a suitable rigidity for the application, and being sturdy enough to withstand everyday handling.
    For CF, being virtually free of the basic circular/tubular shape that dominates metal frames, that goes entirely out the window. It'd be no problem at all building a CF bike with absolute amazing durability, but then it probably wouldn't look and feel that special anymore.

    Repairing CF is a so-so issue. The biggest challenge is the difference between the strength of the untouched material vs the strength of the patch/seam/joint.
    Working with fibreglass a common rule-of-thumb is that if the width of the transition between old and new is 10x the thickness of the material, the repair will be virtually invisible WRT material properties. The part will bend, flex and break pretty much as if it had never been touched. But due to the much higher strength of the CF, that rule-of-thumb is to shoot for a 40x overlap before the transition will no longer be a weak spot in the construction. And given that CF frames can be amazingy thin to begin with, creating an invisible repair is quite a challenge.
    But as soon as you let go of the concept of the invisible repair, CF can often be fixed quite easily. Breaks to chain/seatstays an inch or two from dropouts, brake bridge or bb is pretty much a non-issue in terms of repair difficulty. Damages right up against dropouts, brake bridge or bb are a bit more complicated.
    What remains difficult, apart from the invisible repairs, are things like CF frames with aluminum lugs,dropouts and inserts that have debonded. Bikes go together in a sequence, and with some joints failing and some holding on access to repair can be quite tricky.
     
  8. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    Calfee claims they can fix CF damage to be like new.
     
  9. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    This message just came to me today from the folks at RBR. Please read carefully noting particularly he says it's just an opinion.

    Carbon Concerns It's just one man's opinion, but he's in a position to know. A fellow named Aaron Goss, president of Aaron's Bicycle Repair, Inc., in Seattle, wrote to trade magazine Bicycle Retailer and Industry News to express concerns about the ubiquity of carbon fiber cycling products. Goss is an admitted carbon cynic. He says flat-out, "Our view has always been that carbon fiber's disadvantages outweigh its supposed advantages." In the category of food for thought, here's some of what this professional mechanic wrote to his peers in the cycling industry: ---"We are seeing an exponential increase in damaged and broken carbon fiber parts, forks and frames." ---"Carbon should be reserved for race use only. Everyday bikes should be metal." ---"We find it reckless that everyday folks can buy ultralight carbon fiber parts that they assemble themselves and then ride on rough roads." ---"I would say, conservatively, one in 10 [carbon] seat posts is damaged from improper installation." ---"Customers don't like hearing that they need a new handlebar or a fork after a crash." ---"Check out the Busted Carbon blog for JRA [just riding along] broken carbon: http://www.bustedcarbon.com." ---"We have created a web page to educate our customers: http://www.rideyourbike.com/carbonfiber.shtml." ---"Steel trumps all other materials when you factor in durability, repair-ability and recycle-ability. It is pleasing to see the industry turning again toward the greenest of all frame materials."
     
  10. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    Another CF recall:

    --Product recall: Carbon forks on certain Felt F-series road bikes. Affected models are the 2011 Felt F3, F4, F5, F5 Team and F75. Owners should stop riding these bikes and contact a Felt dealer for a replacement fork. Felt says that although current forks meet CPSC standards and no forks have failed, its in-house testing has detected substandard performance. "Our protocol is to test carbon frames and forks at random from our OEM carbon factory assembly lines," explains Felt company president Bill Duehring. "After testing a cross-section of early production forks we are simply not satisfied." Replacement forks will come from several manufacturers, including Enve, Easton and 3T. Contact Felt Dealer Support at 866-433-5887 or [email protected].
     
  11. dhk2

    dhk2 Active Member

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    Froze, have to agree with a lot of the comments from Aaron Goss. But of course he's in the bike repair business, so his preference for steel is no surprise. And sure, he's seeing an increase in CF frames and forks needing repairs, since there are many more of them on the road now doing big miles and crashing under serious riders and racers. And don't forget that his sample is "biased", since he only sees broken bikes. The vast majority of riders today who may ride CF frames for 5-10 years or more without a failure or problem never knock on his door.

    But if his main point is that most of us would be just as happy riding a "practical" steel frame, that's hard to argue against. Rather than focus on materials, believe we could challenge the need for ultralight frames and forks of any material. The average recreational/club rider just doesn't need to "push the envelope" by saving 2-3 pounds on his frame and compromising long-term durability in the process. Guess it's hard to fault the industry for producing what sells, but they seem to be contributing to the "lighter is better" mania with all their ad hype, like everyone of us is down to their "race weight", and should be concerned about saving those last few pounds on their equipment.
     
  12. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    I've said this an earlier post, I agree that the bike industry is pushing the weight limits too far, then you get a wealthy 240 pound man who thinks "gee I need a light ultramodern bike", and then of course problems occur.

    But I think Aaron Goss, who has been in the industry for years is seeing a major increase in CF failures that do not correspond to steel failures back in the day when steel was popular and the only material. I think that's what has Goss concerned. And then add on top of that failures from CF component parts that has generated recalls; but all of those recalls have been Chinese made CF and were considered top end components. When these components were made in America, Japan and Europe there weren't any recalls on CF products.
     
  13. frbock

    frbock New Member

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    From the 1 standpoint, Steel has been used in bikes for 100 years or so, and is kind of the base material, it can be made very light for race bikes, but most of the frames aren't. Carbon fiber has been the new kid, kind of pricey, and first used on race bikes (throw away after a couple of races).
    It makes sense that if the same technology is put out to the masses that the failure rate will be high. Most CF is designed to win a race. It wasn't designed to run for years. Some manufactures seem to be adding some structure to the bike for the long haul, but, it's the exception.I suspect it'll be a couple of years before they allow that extra lb on the frame to make it useful to the masses.
     
  14. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    http://www.parleecycles.com/tour/

    Yes they do.

    Done by one of the best carbon frame builders in the business.

    My Cannondale SuperSix Hi-Mod is way more comfortable than any custom steel frame I've had, whether it be 531, 531pro or 653. I've had a 753 frame but that wasn't custom. I'd say that the SuperSix was as comfy as a Vitus 979 but thankfully not prone to coming unglued (the Vitus engineers preffered the words "un-bonded") nor did it leave you with the sound of chainrings and chain rubbing against the front mech when sprinting erratically out of the saddle...

    ... and that 'comfort test' - it was done on a 200 mile ride that took in 21,000ft of climbing, descending over 8, 8000ft passes as well as oddball flat roads in the high Sierras of Northern California and Nevada. Comfy is a word that my choice of frame earned the hard way. Ironically, carbon frame, carbon bars, stem, saddle with a carbon base... Hmmm... lots of carbon.

    Personally, I don't give a hoot what the frame is made from as long as it rides well, inspires confidence and doesn't rattle the fillings out of my mouth.

     
  15. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    Carbon has it's limits - just like every material. I've busted steel and aluminium bikes and it'll happen one day that I'll trash one of my carbon ones too...

    But the seat post comment is a good one. Too many cyclists don't "respect" that carbon components need to be installed properly. I find it very odd that they'll have a $4000+ bike but not a $60 torque wrench in their garage to properly tighten bolts nor will they buy the proper threadlock compound for bolts that require tightening to a minimal torque spec or 'assembly goop' as recommended by the manufacturer to stop seat posts or stems from slipping when the clamps are tightened to the requested spec.

    That last point is funny though - if only he'd thought about how "un-green" high quality, seamless, steel tubing really is...
     
  16. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    This is probably the best answer I've read here. Someday they may make a CF bike for the masses that would hold up to everyday "normal" riding for many years, but right now the weight factor is king.
     
  17. vspa

    vspa Active Member

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    just coming back from my sunday club ride... out of 60 guys 55 ride CF and the ones who doesn't belong to lower budget guys,
    i ride titanium btw
     
  18. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    Carbon has it's limits - just like every material. I've busted steel and aluminium bikes and it'll happen one day that I'll trash one of my carbon ones too...

    But the seat post comment is a good one. Too many cyclists don't "respect" that carbon components need to be installed properly. I find it very odd that they'll have a $4000+ bike but not a $60 torque wrench in their garage to properly tighten bolts nor will they buy the proper threadlock compound for bolts that require tightening to a minimal torque spec or 'assembly goop' as recommended by the manufacturer to stop seat posts or stems from slipping when the clamps are tightened to the requested spec.

    That last point is funny though - if only he'd thought about how "un-green" high quality, seamless, steel tubing really is...



    Unfortunately, CF manufactures don't make it real loud and clear about the clamping limits of CF and thus the typical buyer really has no clue that they need a torque wrench, and then when it's mentioned they say: "torque wrench? whats a torque wrench?"!! Then you add in the "complication" of using goop to assemble various CF components and now you really lost them. Heck even with steel bikes, I can't even remember the number of times I've ran into a rider who never considered putting grease on their AL seat post and seat tube before insertion. It's not rocket science but the typical rider isn't aware of this stuff nor is not mechanically inclined enough to think about it.
     
  19. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    Quote:Originally Posted by Froze .




    Unfortunately, CF manufactures don't make it real loud and clear about the clamping limits of CF and thus the typical buyer really has no clue that they need a torque wrench, and then when it's mentioned they say: "torque wrench?  whats a torque wrench?"!!  Then you add in the "complication" of using goop to assemble various CF components and now you really lost them.  Heck even with steel bikes, I can't even remember the number of times I've ran into a rider who never considered putting grease on their AL seat post and seat tube before insertion.  It's not rocket science but the typical rider isn't aware of this stuff nor is not mechanically inclined enough to think about it.



    Actually they do. Every bit of carbon gear I've had has had a nugget of info about how to install it properly. Most components that could clamp to carbon - like brake levers - come with warnings about heeding the recommendations of the cf bar manufacturer... ... Then again I don't buy random stuff off eBay. Then again most alloy bike components come with recommended torque settings too... The problem isn't the material or the construction - a lot of the time it's down to the ignorance of the end user who can't be arsed reading 10 pages of a user manual. If more people took the time to help themselves then there'd be fewer people would be saying that carbon is rubbish after grinding their face off on asphalt despite the fact that they just wailed on an Allen wrench and tightened their bars about 5 times too tight...
     
  20. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    I guess people today don't like to read the instructions then, maybe the warnings about using a torque wrench should be larger and tagged with a wire tie around the CF product as well as in the instructions. I asked a 3 of my friends who have CF bikes and only one knew that they had to use a torque wrench but that guy didn't wrench his own bikes! In fact only one wrenches his own bike and he had his Trek CF since 2001 and knew nothing about torquing; in fact after I mentioned that he needed to get a torque wrench he laughed and said he has never used one and wasn't about to get one!! Yikes!!!
     
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