Who makes a ture one piece carbon monocoque road frame?



tdxloki

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Jan 11, 2005
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I am shopping for carbon fiber. The concensus opinion seems to be in favor of monocoque frames over lugged/glued carbon frames. Frame makers do not seem to distinguish between main triangle monocoque and full frame monocoque builds - Giant and Specialized speak of monocoque frames but it only describes the main triangle. Does anyone know of a frame maker that builds a true monocoque carbon frame, i.e. rear and main triangle are one piece? Thank for any input.
 

artmichalek

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I'm not sure where that consensus is coming from. There are a lot of very good carbon frames built by gluing parts together. There are some bad ones too. If I were spending that much on a frame I would give the manufacturer's reputation a lot more weight than their particular construction method. You don't see many full monocoque frames because it would be nearly impossible to get the inflation bladders out of the seat and chainstays. Or at least difficult enough that designing the frame around the molds would cancel out any performance gains from making it out of one piece.
 

mises

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Nobody that I know of makes a true monocoque. Although technically possible the bladders are the least of the problem. Producing a multipart mold that would simultaneously apply consistent pressure to every square cm of the frame and still allow layup and removal to be done would be ridiculously complex, increase production time, and end up with no real performance advantage vs doing it in subassemblies.

Though the overall weight could theoretically be lower because the subparts wouldn't have to be joined together the complexity of the mold would probably result in more voids in some places (that would have to be filled) and more excess material elsewhere and eat up whatever weight advantage you were hoping to achieve. All for far more cost too.
 

artmichalek

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mises said:
Nobody that I know of makes a true monocoque. Although technically possible the bladders are the least of the problem. Producing a multipart mold that would simultaneously apply consistent pressure to every square cm of the frame and still allow layup and removal to be done would be ridiculously complex, increase production time, and end up with no real performance advantage vs doing it in subassemblies.
You would probably need a process like the one used on those old Spin three spoke composite wheels. They injected a mixture of chopped carbon fibers and epoxy between aluminum inner and outer molds. After a shourt cure time, the outer mold was pulled off and then it was put into a kiln to finish curing the epoxy and melt out the inner mold. And when was the last time anyone saw a pair of those wheels?
 

Insight Driver

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There must be some kind of marketing myth going around. There is no technical advantage in moncocque versus joined-tubes carbon fiber bikes. The lightest carbon fiber bikes of more than adequate strength (as opposed to light and fragile) are made with carbon tubes and carbon lugs

It's very easy to learn the brands of manufacturers that offer carbon fiber bikes. Keep in mind that the Treks and Giants out there are very conservative in their designs since they cannot have product liability suits over shoddy products. The fact that very, very few horror stories of carbon bike failures are floating around should also reassure you that glued construction is every bit as strong and light as monococque construction. It's not about how it was made, it's about how it fits.
 

Adam-from-SLO

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I ride a LOOK KG 286 monocoque(1999-00) frame .... its a true monocoque, made in France. The predicessor KG 186(I believe.... 1994-97) , and the model that took over the 286 was the KG 396 (same as the KG 286, but included a full carbon fork , and some how with the rear drop outs, you could adjust the wheel-base of the bike- by maybe 3-5cm).

Also, Kestral has been making real monocoque bikes since the late/early 1990's . I am not up to speed with Kestral now a days, but in the late 1990's they had the 200 sci , and 200 ems(very-very well put together frame!) , and there 500 sci( TT triatholon bike).

The only thing with Kestral that I've never liked about there road frames.... is there funky geometry- its kind of set up for century type riding , where as my LOOK frameset is euro geometry... with 73 degree angles, thus makes climbing hills well angled :)

Hope this helps. ;)
 

tdxloki

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Thanks for the info everyone - I guess I need to learn some more about CF frame building - know of any good websites?. Look frames are out of the price range - very nice frames though.
 

Insight Driver

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tdxloki said:
Thanks for the info everyone - I guess I need to learn some more about CF frame building - know of any good websites?. Look frames are out of the price range - very nice frames though.

I suggest you keep googling. There are a lot of smaller bike makers that make very affordable carbon frames. If you can fit a standard frame well, then, in my opinion Giant or Trek give the best bang for the buck in the lower-end carbon bikes they sell. There are a few dozen smaller makers of very fine carbon bikes.

Oh, and I'd like to add that marketing types are calling multi-piece joined carbon tubes and lugs a, "monocoque" frame simply because the frame is all made from the same carbon fiber. Many of the Look frames are called monocoque when they clearly are not one-piece construction. They are not the only people that muddy the waters.
 

JohnO

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The monocoque style of frame was popular in the mid to late 1990's, especially as a time trial frameset. Advantages are largely aerodyanmic - weight and stiffness was not noticably better or worse than the current carbon frames that sport a diamond tube design. Only figures I have are from the Trek Y-Foil, which was reported to have 30% less wind resistance than a standard diamond tube frame (but since the rider generates most of the wind resistance, it isn't that much faster) Some mono framed bikes also mounted the seat on a beam of CF - referred to as beam frames, which soak up some road vibration and are easier on the rider's behind.

Mono/beam frames went out of style when the UCI banned all bikes that did not have a seat tube in 2000. The actual wording of the ruling was weird - those frames represented an 'unfair advantage over developing nations', the truth seems to be that they just didn't look like bikes.

Three other mono/beam style frames that were made in the mid to late 90's:

Trek Y-Foil (see my avatar)
Zipp 2001 (actually made in 97-99)
Lotus 110 (full monocoque, very rare, designed by Lotus UK of auto fame, Chris Boardman set the hour record on one of these)

You can still find the Foil and Zipp framesets on ebay, usually $500-600 for a bare frame. The Lotus, sad to say, is not to be found anywhere - I've been looking for two years. (I'm an Esprit owner, would love to have their cycle, too)

One interesting side effect of a mono framed bike - they're noisy. The large center section acts like a guitar body, and amplifies any sound made. When I'm riding behind someone on my Foil, they say they can hear every gear change.
 

bbattle

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Insight Driver said:
I suggest you keep googling. There are a lot of smaller bike makers that make very affordable carbon frames. If you can fit a standard frame well, then, in my opinion Giant or Trek give the best bang for the buck in the lower-end carbon bikes they sell. There are a few dozen smaller makers of very fine carbon bikes.

Oh, and I'd like to add that marketing types are calling multi-piece joined carbon tubes and lugs a, "monocoque" frame simply because the frame is all made from the same carbon fiber. Many of the Look frames are called monocoque when they clearly are not one-piece construction. They are not the only people that muddy the waters.


Orbea's website says the Orca and Onix bikes are monocoque construction. Is there a way to tell by looking at them? My LBS has Orbeas and Treks on the floor and those carbon frames look seamless, smooth, gorgeous.
 

artmichalek

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bbattle said:
Orbea's website says the Orca and Onix bikes are monocoque construction. Is there a way to tell by looking at them? My LBS has Orbeas and Treks on the floor and those carbon frames look seamless, smooth, gorgeous.
Only the front halves of the Orca and Onix are monocoque. You can see a pretty obvious joint up above the spot where the chain stays come together. They do look hot in orange though...
 

mcgroup53

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Aug 2, 2005
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The riders cautioning you on fit are right on; nothing's as important. But one key feature to check for in any carbon frame is whether the derailleur hanger is replaceable.

I absolutely fell in love with the new Scott CR1 Pro, a "welded carbon" tubeset that is amazinging light, stiff and comfortable. Maybe the best carbon bike I've ever been on during my 2 hour demo. But I couldn't bring myself to buy it because the hanger is integrated into the frame, meaning if you bend it, the whole frame has to be replaced.

That decision was reinforced in a race Sunday when I took a corner too fast and went down hard on the right ride. My Giant TCR Composite 2 sustained no damage, but it was exactly the sort of fall that frequently grabs the rear derailleur and causes damage. If anything had happened, it would have been a simple trip back to my Giant dealer to replace the hanger, not some extended period of dickering with a faraway bike company over some warranty claim and shipping the frame off for replacement.

Too bad, too, because that Scott is the fastest bike I've ever ridden. And I have not a clue why they would sell a bike aimed squarely at the racing crowd and NOT include a replaceable derailleur hanger on a frame of that caliber and expense. It just doesn't make any sense. But that's another thread.

Venga Davis Phinney!


Dave McCarty
 

meehs

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Someone already mentioned it but Kestrel has been doing monocoque carbon frames for a long time now.
 

Adam-from-SLO

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tdxloki said:
Thanks for the info everyone - I guess I need to learn some more about CF frame building - know of any good websites?. Look frames are out of the price range - very nice frames though.

You'd be surprised what kind of deals you can find on the web. , or mail-order bike shops accross the country. My LOOK frameset does have the replaceable rear-derailier hanger, BTW.. which is nice. I once ate it on my MTB about 5 years ago, and bent the rear hanger- it was a GT frame... and got lucky again because it was replaceable :)
 

mark75k9

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Sep 17, 2005
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you can try www.kuota.it they claim a true mono frame.
tdxloki said:
I am shopping for carbon fiber. The concensus opinion seems to be in favor of monocoque frames over lugged/glued carbon frames. Frame makers do not seem to distinguish between main triangle monocoque and full frame monocoque builds - Giant and Specialized speak of monocoque frames but it only describes the main triangle. Does anyone know of a frame maker that builds a true monocoque carbon frame, i.e. rear and main triangle are one piece? Thank for any input.
 

pinoybiker

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May 9, 2005
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artmichalek said:
Only the front halves of the Orca and Onix are monocoque. You can see a pretty obvious joint up above the spot where the chain stays come together. They do look hot in orange though...
Oh i thought the ORCA and ONIX are real CF monocoques. The top of the chain stays somewhat looks like a joint. But I didnt though it was. It definitely does not look like the joint on the MITIS that is very obvious. Perhaps have to ask ORBEA about this.
 

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