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  1. #1
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    Carbon Fiber Bikes

    New to the forum. I have been mountain biking and recently bought a road bike to change things up. A BMC SLT01. How many people ride carbon bikes and how well do they hold up. I have some concerns about carbon frames and forks. I would hate to have a fork fail doing 50. I weigh in at 215. Are carbon failures over blown or should the bike hold up fine.

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    I don't know the stats on carbon fiber frame or fork failures, but the anecdotal evidence is why I've never considered getting one and doubt I ever will. I don't have that worry about steel.

  3. #3
    Senior Member skilsaw's Avatar
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    If there was a serious breakage problem with carbon frames, the manufacturers would not build them because of their legal liability for related injuries.
    The one who has the most bikes wins.

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    Senior Member mkadam68's Avatar
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    Search the clydes. We have this question come up about once every 2 months or so.

    At 215lbs, you're really not too much of a clyde. Yes, clydes can ride carbon, frames or forks. Plenty of us do. I do. I weigh in at 260lbs. Been riding carbon since 2005 when I weighed in at 318lbs. No problems. I race. I ride centuries. I ride mountains. Plenty of us clydes here do.

    My top speed (on my carbon bike) is 52mph. I routinely go 40+mph and have absolutely no qualms about it. I crashed once and broke my bike. It wasn't the carbon that broke--it was the only bit of aluminum on it.

    Do you have to be concerned if you crash? Yes. Get the bike looked at by a shop before riding too much further on it (unless you know how to check for damage). Do you lean the top-tube against a concrete corner of a building? No (besides, it would hurt the paint job as well). Do I treat my bike with kid-gloves? Yes. Not because it's carbon but because I paid $3,500 for it & I want it to last.

    Are these strictly carbon concerns? No. You should be concerned like this if your bike was made of steel, aluminum, or titanium.

    Visit The C-Blog : the blog about cycling.

  5. #5
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ClydesterD View Post
    I don't have that worry about steel.
    Sure!

    My buddy was 210 when he did this to his expensive STEEL frame (DeRosa, he paid $3000 back in 2000?) That was before adding the wheels. Frame snapped after 2 1/2 years.


    steel2 by mrbeanz1, on Flickr

    ...and I was 225 when I did this to my aluminum frame.

    Last edited by Mr. Beanz; 07-18-11 at 09:07 PM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member mkadam68's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Beanz View Post
    Sure!

    My buddy was 210 when he did this to his expensive STEEL frame

    ...and I was 225 when I did this to my aluminum frame.
    Yep. Thnx Beanz. And to the OP: that's the point. Any frame can fail on you. It's just a freak accident. Same with carbon, same with steel/aluminum/etc...

    Anybody that tries to warn you away from carbon "cause it might fail" is dealing in FUD.

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    Senior Member volosong's Avatar
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    Take to heart what mkadam68 says. He gave good insight. I waver between 200 and 210 and have been riding carbon for a couple years now. No issues at all. And, like him, I "baby" my bikes; as he says, not because they are carbon but because the cost a lot. The only thing I'd like to add to what he said is that I see you come from a MTB background. Don't expect to ride a carbon road bike like you do your MTB bike. For sure, if you do, it will have a short life. (Just ask my daughter who is also primarily a MTB rider and "trashed" the road bike I purchased for her.)

    p.s. You'll "love" the way carbon bikes seem to go up hills by themselves.

    Okay, a slight exaggeration ... but it is a lot easier going up a hill on a carbon bike than my old Reynolds 531 bike.
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  8. #8
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    I go about 265 lbs. at the moment and was about 285 at my biggest and I have been riding carbon most the time for the last 2 years. I've had several professional mechanics tell me not to worry about buying carbon as long it's a quality frame. I'm not sure I would ride one of the $300 ebay Taiwan frames at this weight. I have a BMC SLC01 and it's great.....

  9. #9
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    It won't explode.

    Carbon is strong, there's no reason to worry about it.

    There is plenty of reason to learn the proper care and feeding of your carbon bike. Just like doing maintenance on your car, bikes need maintenance. Even then, the only Big Deal to worry about that is unique to carbon fiber is the use of torque specs. One of the unique things about carbon fiber is the anisotropic strength, as in the strength is not the same in every direction. The bike will hold 250lbs of rider just fine, but you can crack the seat tube with an Allen wrench if you tighten the seat post clamp too tight.

    But seriously, it's not a big deal. Just treat the bike properly. Use assembly paste, use a torque wrench, don't abuse it, and it'll last forever.

    Heck, I'm 230lbs, and I've already crashed my carbon bike twice. Not a thing wrong with the carbon frame or fork.

  10. #10
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    I bought my first carbon fiber frame in 1994. Bought my second one in 2008. Sold the first one in 2010 and it was still in great shape. I have no concerns about the strength or durability of carbon fiber. Aluminum, on the other hand, scares the heck out of me...

  11. #11
    Senior Member Crazydad's Avatar
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    A good frame is a good frame and a bad one is bad, regardless of the material. BMC is a quality company, but all frame materials can and do fail. I would not hesitate to buy a carbon frame (actually want one real bad). I have a 250lb friend who rode a carbon mtb frame for a number of years without a problem. And if it survived him (he traded up from Yeti ASRC to 575 Anniversay), then that is saying a lot for carbon's durability.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    BMC has a lifetime warranty on their frames, right? Cervelo does. My RS developed a very small crack in the seat tube after I'd had it for more than a year. I took it in to the bike shop to ask them how concerned I should be, and three days later they left a voice mail to tell me my new frame was on its way. I kept riding this one in the meantime, partly because the location of the crack was pretty benign, and, honestly, because it may well have been in the paint, but not the carbon. Anyway, it's not going to asplode on you.

    The wheels might be an issue, though, depending how you ride.

    Quote Originally Posted by ClydesterD View Post
    I don't know the stats on carbon fiber frame or fork failures, but the anecdotal evidence is why I've never considered getting one and doubt I ever will. I don't have that worry about steel.
    I've destroyed a steel frame by crashing it.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Beanz View Post
    My buddy was 210 when he did this to his expensive STEEL frame (DeRosa, he paid $3000 back in 2000?) That was before adding the wheels. Frame snapped after 2 1/2 years.


    steel2 by mrbeanz1, on Flickr

    ...and I was 225 when I did this to my aluminum frame.

    I've always considered carbon to be perhaps possibly fine for the flyweights, those 140-lb wisps of smoke I see flying down the road in their 4-color skintight jerseys on the latest technology available, but at twice that weight, that I'd be risking my life---or at least my teeth and jaw---by trusting such tempermental stuff. Therefore, I'm surprised by the near-unanimous opinion that carbon's just fine, nothing to worry about. Maybe it's sturdier stuff than I thought it was.

    Having said that, the image lives in my mind of a guy I saw 3 years at a LBS, all skinned up and moving really slowly, standing at the counter waiting for service. I asked him what'd happened, and he held up his CF fork, which was missing the lower half, the upper half ending in a morass of twisted carbon splinters. He'd been riding along the side of a road and was approached by traffic from behind. He moved to the right, in the process stepping down to another level of pavement about 1 inch below where he was, and when he did that his fork just snapped. No warning, just a catastrophic failure.

    I don't worry about that happening with steel, so that's what I ride. Maybe it does happen with steel, and Mr. Beanz's pictures suggest that it does, or did at least once. I do appreciate the feedback and will consider that carbon is probably more reliable than I thought it was---but for me myself personally, steel will remain my comfort level. Luckily for me, I'm 100% satisfied with steel and don't crave a CF bike, so I'm not conflicted by my choice.

    Now, titanium....maybe one of those someday, but carbon, no thanks.
    Last edited by ClydesterD; 07-19-11 at 03:06 PM.

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    You will be fine on a carbon frame.

    I started riding a carbon frame in March and was weighing in at 312lbs.

    I have put a little over 2000 miles on it - (even laid it down at about 18mph in a corner when my front tire blew) - and it has held up fine.
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    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ClydesterD View Post
    He'd been riding along the side of a road and was approached by traffic from behind. He moved to the right, in the process stepping down to another level of pavement about 1 inch below where he was, and when he did that his fork just snapped. No warning, just a catastrophic failure.
    What's the fork's history leading up to this, I wonder...?

    If they can make these out of carbon fiber ( 23 tones of it, per jet ) and carry people around safely in them, bikes are a piece of cake:

    Don't believe everything you think.

  16. #16
    Senior Member irwin7638's Avatar
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    Carbon is really good if you compete. So far the bikes aren't good for much but running around really fast, then there's the reliability issue. The problems I've seen result from unintended impact of some sort, dropped, banged into a door, that sort of stuff. They seem to be fine if they get the stress that is intended for them. Personally,I don't compete, use my bikes for all sorts of stuff and, hell if I can't throw something to the ground now and then,I probably shouldn't have it.

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  17. #17
    Senior Member Seve's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
    What's the fork's history leading up to this, I wonder...?

    If they can make these out of carbon fiber ( 23 tones of it, per jet ) and carry people around safely in them, bikes are a piece of cake:

    59% believe the prophecies in the
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    If only facts mattered.

  18. #18
    Senior Member mkadam68's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by irwin7638 View Post
    Carbon is really good if you compete. So far the bikes aren't good for much but running around really fast...
    I'd have to disagree on this. Carbon, to me, is extremely comfortable. If I'm going to put in some extended time on a bike, it has to be carbon. After my first frame cracked, I only looked at carbon to replace it.

    Quote Originally Posted by ClydesterD View Post
    ...I don't worry about that happening with steel, so that's what I ride...
    Have no problem with this. Your choice is your choice.

    My panties get in a twist when other people post here (or voice it in person) a so-called "fact" about how carbon isn't for heavier riders or it's unreliable or yadda-yadda-yadda, and they start scaring others away, when it's only just their opinion and has no basis in reality. Thanks for your honesty, ClydesterD.

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  19. #19
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ClydesterD View Post
    I don't worry about that happening with steel, so that's what I ride. Maybe it does happen with steel, and Mr. Beanz's pictures suggest that it does, or did at least once. Now, titanium....maybe one of those someday, but carbon, no thanks.
    Once? Ask forum members BigJohn (210'sh?) about his steel frame and OCRrick about his titanium frame (150 lbs).

  20. #20
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ClydesterD View Post
    I've always considered carbon to be perhaps possibly fine for the flyweights, those 140-lb wisps of smoke I see flying down the road in their 4-color skintight jerseys on the latest technology available, but at twice that weight, that I'd be risking my life---or at least my teeth and jaw---by trusting such tempermental stuff. Therefore, I'm surprised by the near-unanimous opinion that carbon's just fine, nothing to worry about. Maybe it's sturdier stuff than I thought it was.....


    So...if you saw this guy in the bike shop after his steel fork broke catastrophically with no warning you'd be riding what?
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  21. #21
    Senior Member avmech's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
    What's the fork's history leading up to this, I wonder...?

    If they can make these out of carbon fiber ( 23 tones of it, per jet ) and carry people around safely in them, bikes are a piece of cake:

    You beat me to it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Also planes have been made out of aluminium for many decades, but kevlar and carbon fiber composites have rapidly been taking center stage.

    BTW steel has a nasty habit of rusting, especially in places one does not tend to look at

    I am at 250 lbs and riding carbon, no problems
    Last edited by avmech; 07-19-11 at 06:36 PM.
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  22. #22
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    Thanks for all the responses. It helps ease my mind when it comes to carbon. Nothing is fail proof. As a kid I broke frames on steel bmx bikes.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Homeyba View Post


    So...if you saw this guy in the bike shop after his steel fork broke catastrophically with no warning you'd be riding what?
    Steel, 'cause in over 40 years of riding steel nothing like that's ever happened to me. I know it could, someday, especially when rust enters the equation, but my experience with steel gives me a comfort level that trumps the horror stories. Without that experience I might run scared right into the arms of carbon fiber---who knows? With no experience on carbon, though---beyond one short test ride that made me think "so what's the big deal?"---I'd always be waiting for the snappage. Irrational? Perhaps, but it's my peace of mind I'm dealing with.

    I'm not one of these "steel is real" guys who thinks every other material is trash, but my experience with steel makes me like it more than the others. The comments in this post do increase respect for CF, but it's not for me, at least not now. Beyond the nasty pictures and anecdotal evidence, it'd be interesting to see objective data on failure rates for the different materials in bicycles. Does anyone have access to that? Or are we relegated to continue sharing stories of "the time that my buddy Joe was riding along and suddenly...."
    Last edited by ClydesterD; 07-20-11 at 06:00 AM.

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    you guys on carbon fiber: if your bike falls over in the garage, gets a scratch, are you not suddenly worried that is a crack initiation spot?

    It is this potential problem that keeps me from considering a carbon frame, as pretty as they are.

  25. #25
    Senior Member mkadam68's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brando_T. View Post
    you guys on carbon fiber: if your bike falls over in the garage, gets a scratch, are you not suddenly worried that is a crack initiation spot?
    I don't keep my bike in the garage.




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