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  1. #1
    Senior Member Big Pete 1982's Avatar
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    Is a carbon frame ok for a guy my size?

    I am 6'7 and around 290lbs. I'm looking at some new bikes and carbon is all the rage it seems, but i'm still worried about the issue of me being too heavy for a carbon frame. I've seen several articles on the net that claim carbon fiber tech has drastically improved in the last 10-15 years, but still, bikes are designed for skinny little European sized dudes, not big bears like me. So what do you guys think? Is carbon fiber ok for a guy my size?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    I think you are making a mountain out of a mole hill. I good carbon fork will handle your weight so will a good carbon frame. Wheels would be your only concern.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  3. #3
    Senior Member gyozadude's Avatar
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    Talk to your LBS sales person and have them get the data from the manufacturer. IIRC, Trek and other makers rate their frames max to 250 - 275 lbs for road bikes. And a bit higher for their hybrids (like 295). So you're on the borderline. Personally, having test ridden some CF and Aluminum bikes back in the day, and experienced tube separation, I pretty much only stick to steel. But that's not to say that the CF frames coming out of the several fabs that do all the volume frames aren't strong. Just when your seat post starts to slide down because you're heavier or you can't stick even 28C tires to smooth your ride because you barely have frame clearance for true 25mm tires, well, hopefully, there's a warranty without fine print, like the max rider weight.

    Personally, I commute on a cheap $150 single speed and with my power-to-surface area ratio on the flats, I blow by lots of folks in full CF much deneiro bikes with lots of speeds. And just losing a few pounds off the gut makes up for any weight savings of the CF. And if I'm seriously touring on my own, no sag and I'm out in the boonies, I put much more faith in steel. But that's just me.
    Yes, I can roll my own potsticker skins!

  4. #4
    Senior Member Big Pete 1982's Avatar
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    Well i currently ride an aluminum frame. I have a Cannondale CAAD9. This whole dilemma started when I decided to upgrade to a better component group. For the price of the parts I want, I may as well buy a new bike. But the CAAD10 i was looking at with an Ultegra group isn't that much cheaper than the carbon frame Super Six with the same components. I'll probably end up sticking with aluminum. I thought about titanium but it was a bit too spendy for me.

  5. #5
    SuperGimp TrojanHorse's Avatar
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    I tend to upgrade frames and components separately. I found a 61cm Merlin Ti Frame for about $200 from a friend and bought a "build kit" consisting of primarily SRAM Force for it... just today I bought a used Specialized Roubaix frame and I'll put my SRAM stuff on it when it gets here. I get that it's more economical to buy a frame with the components you want but I'm contrary that way.

    I guess the question for you is why upgrade your components? The flip question is why upgrade your frame? In my case, the build kit had wheels that were way more expensive than I would have paid but as part of the kit... reasonable. So I was happy with it.

  6. #6
    Senior Member gyozadude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Pete 1982 View Post
    Well i currently ride an aluminum frame. I have a Cannondale CAAD9. This whole dilemma started when I decided to upgrade to a better component group. For the price of the parts I want, I may as well buy a new bike. But the CAAD10 i was looking at with an Ultegra group isn't that much cheaper than the carbon frame Super Six with the same components. I'll probably end up sticking with aluminum. I thought about titanium but it was a bit too spendy for me.
    I'd say you may want to consider putting 3 hooks in the garage. You fill the first hook hanging your CAAD9. Then get the CAAD10 and hang that between the full CF bike and for a twist, get the CF frame and hang Campy on it versus whatever Japanese/Taiwanese parts come on the others.:-) I did that when I was in college. I had two full 4 year scholarships paying for tuition and expenses and still worked 3 part time jobs making money. Plus I commuted to school (by bike and train of course) and saved lots of money. I spent some of the money buying a gazillion bikes. My Dad thought I was nuts - hung 15 bikes in his garage at the peak of my lunacy. Back then, good bikes went for only $600 and up.
    Yes, I can roll my own potsticker skins!

  7. #7
    Support JDRF b_young's Avatar
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    Carbon frame will not be an issue. Most are rated to around 2200lbs. The seat post however, is only rated to 250lbs. So, as long as you ride standing up you should be okay. I had the same questions when I bought my Roubaix. I was 240lbs, I think since the holidays I am pushing the limit of the seat post right now.
    "Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift that is why it is called the present." - Kung Fu Panda

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  8. #8
    Senior Member Big Pete 1982's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrojanHorse View Post
    I tend to upgrade frames and components separately. I found a 61cm Merlin Ti Frame for about $200 from a friend and bought a "build kit" consisting of primarily SRAM Force for it... just today I bought a used Specialized Roubaix frame and I'll put my SRAM stuff on it when it gets here. I get that it's more economical to buy a frame with the components you want but I'm contrary that way.

    I guess the question for you is why upgrade your components? The flip question is why upgrade your frame? In my case, the build kit had wheels that were way more expensive than I would have paid but as part of the kit... reasonable. So I was happy with it.
    I'm upgrading for a few reasons. My Shimano Tiagra group is less than silky smooth. It functions, but occasionally not as well as i'd like. Also, I currently have a triple and I almost never use the middle chainring. Also, i'm a bit of a gear snob.

    I considered just upgrading components, but for the price of a group minus new wheels, i could get a new bike. I like my CAAD9 frame, but when i was shopping around, some of the carbon bikes were only a little bit more expensive.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Big Pete 1982's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by b_young View Post
    Carbon frame will not be an issue. Most are rated to around 2200lbs. The seat post however, is only rated to 250lbs. So, as long as you ride standing up you should be okay. I had the same questions when I bought my Roubaix. I was 240lbs, I think since the holidays I am pushing the limit of the seat post right now.

    Well, I have a carbon seat post now and i've never had anny issues with it.

  10. #10
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    IMHO these weight limits are mostly layer talk.. I got my Cervelo RS with carbon Zipp wheels at 285 and I've had no problems. Besides, if you're going to start riding heavily you're going to loose weight pretty quick.. Down 15lbs in the first 6 wks since I bought it.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Pete 1982 View Post
    So what do you guys think? Is carbon fiber ok for a guy my size?
    How many people in this forum do you imagine have the mechanical engineering or material science degree necessary to give an informed answer to this question?

  12. #12
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Of course carbon fiber bikes can hold the people who ride them. Boeing's new Dreamliner jet is something like half CF by weight. You might eventually wear the wheels that come with the bike out, though.

    I LOVE my carbon fiber bike.

    Quote Originally Posted by matthewk459 View Post
    IMHO these weight limits are mostly layer talk.. I got my Cervelo RS with carbon Zipp wheels at 285 and I've had no problems. Besides, if you're going to start riding heavily you're going to loose weight pretty quick.. Down 15lbs in the first 6 wks since I bought it.
    Wonderful ride. I used to have an RS, and it was a brilliant combination of comfort and handling. For the OP, this bike doesn't have a rider weight limit; you could be 500 pounds and ride it.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Big Pete 1982's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
    How many people in this forum do you imagine have the mechanical engineering or material science degree necessary to give an informed answer to this question?
    I'm not looking for an engineer's answer. I was just wondering if there were any big dudes like me on here that bought a cf frame and snapped it.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
    How many people in this forum do you imagine have the mechanical engineering or material science degree necessary to give an informed answer to this question?
    I suspect the OP is looking for empirical evidence based upon our collective observations and experimentation. Even with strong knowledge of mechanical engineering or material science, it would be impossible to provide a scientific response without knowing the specific and exact details of a manufactures technique in building their carbon frame. I think the OP's question was appropriate given the spirit of this group, forgive me for thinking that your response above is in direct contradiction to that same spirit.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
    Wonderful ride. I used to have an RS, and it was a brilliant combination of comfort and handling. For the OP, this bike doesn't have a rider weight limit; you could be 500 pounds and ride it.
    Thanks!! I really like it too.. Much better than my last specialized Secteur, although aluminum vs carbon comparisons are not exactly apples to apples.

  16. #16
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    I know plenty of people over 200# that ride carbon frames. I don't know a single one who has had a frame failure. I do know one guy who had his carbon frame crack, and he's around 150-160#. His was a manufacturing defect and was replaced.

    I did a lot of research before I bought my Tarmac (I was 265# at the time). I talked to a couple different people at Specialized and was told the same thing - they don't put weight limits on their frames and forks. They do "suggest" weight limits on seatposts, stems, wheels, etc. Wheels weren't a big deal since I was going to switch them anyways. They said they don't recommend anyone over 250 use their carbon seat posts. I have about 3 full seasons on mine and it's fine.

    By the way, I also was considering Giant, Cannondale, and Trek. I checked with each manufacturer and was told pretty much the same thing I was told by Specialized.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Pete 1982 View Post
    I'm not looking for an engineer's answer. I was just wondering if there were any big dudes like me on here that bought a cf frame and snapped it.
    Quote Originally Posted by IAmCosmo View Post
    I know plenty of people over 200# that ride carbon frames. I don't know a single one who has had a frame failure. I do know one guy who had his carbon frame crack, and he's around 150-160#. His was a manufacturing defect and was replaced.
    My first frame developed a small crack. I couldn't tell whether it was in the clear coat only, or if it went into the carbon. It was an itty bittly little crack on the front of the seat tube. Not the post, but the tube, part of the frame. LBS said it was a manufacturing defect - it happens - and unrelated to my weight. I got a brand new frame, and was without my bike for about a day while the shop moved the components over to the new frame.

    I kept riding the frame after it cracked, while my new one was en route. I couldn't actually feel a difference in the ride, which tells me it must have been a pretty minor crack ... although I'm glad they replaced it.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by matthewk459 View Post
    I think the OP's question was appropriate given the spirit of this group, forgive me for thinking that your response above is in direct contradiction to that same spirit.
    Sorry, I just never understood the point of questions like these. If some random yahoo tells you he owned a carbon fiber bike and it didn't break, will run out and buy one? If another random yahoo tells you his friend's carbon fiber bike exploded into flames will you decide not to buy one?

    Rather than taking opinions from the peanut gallery, I'd suggest asking your local bike shop or contacting the manufacturer directly. They're the ones you're going to have to deal with if your carbon fiber bike breaks, so their opinion is the only one that matters...

  19. #19
    Senior Member Big Pete 1982's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
    Sorry, I just never understood the point of questions like these. If some random yahoo tells you he owned a carbon fiber bike and it didn't break, will run out and buy one? If another random yahoo tells you his friend's carbon fiber bike exploded into flames will you decide not to buy one?

    Rather than taking opinions from the peanut gallery, I'd suggest asking your local bike shop or contacting the manufacturer directly. They're the ones you're going to have to deal with if your carbon fiber bike breaks, so their opinion is the only one that matters...
    I agree to a certain extent, however some bike shops don't care all that much and just want to sell you a bike, preferably an expensive one. Also, based on the fact that i can hardly find bike clothing that fits in most bike shops, i'm guessing your average salesman doesn't sell too many bikes to a guy my size. Also if some "random yahoo" tells me he had problems with a frame, it wouldn't completely change my opinion. But if a bunch of "random yahoos" told me the same thing, I might start to wonder. I'm not sure why you got your panties in a bunch over it. I was just asking an honest question and trying to gather some intel from people who aren't trying to sell me something.

  20. #20
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    I don't give much thought to this n that exploding material" threads anymore.

    Afte having gone with aluminum for years, because it was the heavy guy thing, I've learned that any thing will break. I myself have two snapped frames, one full alum, one partial carbon and it snapped at teh alum section.

    So, now on full carbon, I don't warry any more than I did with the alum. I've never banged my bikes around so carbon will be no different in that area.

    Both snapped framed did so after 13,000 and 14,000 miles. So if this full carbon frame lasts a day over 15,000, then I will be impressed. If not, then it's just like any other bike IMO.

    I don't need no yahoo's, I know first hand alum will break as well. I'm my own yahoo.

    Plus, I don't expect too much out of weigh limits. I snapped the blue frame riding at 225 lbs and the limit is 275.

    Another thing, after riding full carbon, I have to say I enjoyed the ride of my carbon/alum mix Lemond ride much more. Smoother and more stable with only a slight weight penalty. Might just be me but I don't see that fantastic ride of full carbon. I used same components and wheels so that aint it.

    Now if these bikes would quit snapping on me!




  21. #21
    Senior Member RedC's Avatar
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    Since I bought a carbon fiber bike 3 years ago my weight has varied from 260 to 290 lbs and the only thing I've broken is the seat post and I now use a seat post made of aluminum wrapped in CF. I did have to have wheels made for me with 36 spokes in the back and 32 in the front. I've had no problems with the CF frame but I did destroy a Chris King hub
    Red, like the color my hair used to be.

    Lemond Buenos Aires(Broke) Madone 5.9 for sale,Navigator 2, S-Works Roubaix

  22. #22
    Senior Member magohn's Avatar
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    I returned to cycling almost two years ago at 320 lbs. I really wanted a road bike but was hesitant a carbon bike would hold my weight. The LBS assured me it would be fine. 3000 miles later he was proven correct. My Specialized Roubaix Compact is all carbon (including seatpost) and has stock wheels. Ive had but a handful of punctures in all those miles and mechanically/structurally it has been perfect.


    My ride:

    http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bc/...0&menuItemId=0


  23. #23
    Senior Member Big Pete 1982's Avatar
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    Well, i went bike shopping today and went home with a Cannondale CAAD10. I test rode a few carbon bikes and they were nice, but at the price the CAAD10 was going for, there were no carbon bikes in that price range. The Cannondale Super Six was the closest, but the Shimano 105 build was about $1000 more than I paid for the CAAD10 Ultegra build. I'm happy with what I got. I rode about 18 miles today with a decent hill climb (decent for me at least) and felt pretty darn good! In the future if I buy another road bike it will most likely be a carbon one. I almost broke the bank and bought a Trek Madone, but it didn't feel several thousand dollars better than the CAAD.

    Thanks for the input everyone.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Big Pete 1982's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by magohn View Post
    I returned to cycling almost two years ago at 320 lbs. I really wanted a road bike but was hesitant a carbon bike would hold my weight. The LBS assured me it would be fine. 3000 miles later he was proven correct. My Specialized Roubaix Compact is all carbon (including seatpost) and has stock wheels. Ive had but a handful of punctures in all those miles and mechanically/structurally it has been perfect.


    My ride:

    http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bc/...0&menuItemId=0

    Sweet ride!

  25. #25
    Senior Member magohn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Pete 1982 View Post
    Sweet ride!
    Same to you - congrats Pictures please!

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