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  1. #1
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    Carbon bikes on brevets

    Anyone here using carbon fiber bikes on brevets...any caveats or problems?

    Thanks,
    John

  2. #2
    Senior Member The Octopus's Avatar
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    Just finished my 5th year of randonneuring on an all-carbon bike that's now got somewhere around 40,000 miles on it. No caveats, no problems. When this bike goes to the great bicycle rack in the sky, I'll replace it with another carbon bike.

    I guess the only caveat is that if you ride a carbon bike on brevets you will have some people ask you, in complete seriousness, if you know what you're doing and aren't you afraid of your safety, etc., for chosing to ride a carbon bike. There's a fairly strong bias in the U.S. toward steel bikes and bikes that can take fenders, paniers, etc. for doing brevets. These comments get annoying. Take a look at some of the '07 PBP videos on the web and you'll see an incredible diversity of bicycles and frame materials represented. Carbon works just as well as anything else for brevets. The key is to pick a bike that's suited to your goals and style and then to make sure it fits you properly. All the self-righteous worry-warts who profess concern about your bike disintigrating under you and just feeling insecure because you made equipment choices that are fundamentally dfferent than theirs.

    In all seriousness though... If you're looking for a bike that will take fenders and you want to hang heavy bags on it, carbon wouldn't be the best tool for the job.

  3. #3
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Just keep in mind that most carbon bikes are designed more for fast road use, and may have too aggressive a geometry for longer rides.

    Bikes like the Specialized Allez or Giant Defy Advanced will be a little more relaxed, and therefore better for long rides.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    I've been using carbon bikes for brevets (including five 1200k's) for 10 years or so. I'm currently on a Colnago C-50. There is no problem with using them. I prefer them.

    The only thing that matters is whether or not the bike fits and you are comfortable on it.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

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    Thanks for the replies...I've been using my Ti bike for centuries and brevets but I am getting a can't say no deal for a carbon Pinarello and I would like to use this bike.

  6. #6
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    I've heard the comments abot "plastic" bikes and there are always stories about the wear and tear of carbon. My carbon fork on a ti bike is 50k into its life. I also ride a carbon recumbent. All the "rando" specific bikes are steel (with some exception) but at PBP the europeans were riding your pinarello.

  7. #7
    Randomhead
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    a couple of pounds over 50000 feet of climbing starts to add up.

  8. #8
    **** that mattm's Avatar
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    They do Paris-Roubaix on carbon bikes these days.. I wouldn't worry. Most of our brevets are on paved roads anyway, not sure about yours. I mean how much extra "wear & tear" do randos put on bikes anyway?

    If you get any flak, just say, "My $5k, 25-lb custom randoneuse is at the shop."

    Or, "The leather washers on my randoneuse need to be replaced, this is the backup bike."

    There are a lot of truisms in the rando scene, especially about bikes/luggage, if you visit the front of a brevet you'll find that the bikes become much leaner and often are actually carbon, or don't even carry luggage at all. In my experience those at the middle/back are the "stereotypical" randos, while those at the front just do what works for them, regardless of what everyone else is doing.

    Just don't forget to have fun, whatever you do.
    pro-meter: lol

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  9. #9
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    ride the bike that fits, that you are comfortable on for long long times, and that is properly equipped for the task at hand. if you doubt any of the above, find a different bike, or get over your doubts.

    and before building up my ti wonder machine i rode a carbon / steel lemond for a series. nothing crazy happened to the bike, other than i mounted up a brooks saddle, some clip on fenders, and 2 lights on the fork blades... it looked pretty goofy with all of its appendages, and if it actually fit i might have kept it around...

  10. #10
    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    "All the "rando" specific bikes are steel"
    I would think this would be more related to small/ custom production runs than utility of the finished frame.
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

  11. #11
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    I've been doing this for a very long time I have no idea what the term "rando specific bike." There is no such animal. It doesn't exist...
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  12. #12
    **** that mattm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Homeyba View Post
    I've been doing this for a very long time I have no idea what the term "rando specific bike." There is no such animal. It doesn't exist...
    It probably refers to slack angles but mostly that constructeur-specific fork rake angle made for front loads.

    Beyond that, maybe space for fenders and extra braze-ons.
    pro-meter: lol

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  13. #13
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattm View Post
    It probably refers to slack angles but mostly that constructeur-specific fork rake angle made for front loads.

    Beyond that, maybe space for fenders and extra braze-ons.
    What I was trying to say is that those things will make a rando bike for some people but they don't make a "rando specific" bike. Form me a rando specific bike is racing geometry carbon bike, (no front loads), a seatpost rack/bag, NO fenders, Schmidt hub laced to a Zipp 404's, all under 28lbs at the starting line in Paris (Or San Quintine). For other people a rando bike is a late 70's Schwinn Paramount. A rando bike "is" what you ride! That's it. I'm going to stop right there...
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  14. #14
    **** that mattm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Homeyba View Post
    What I was trying to say is that those things will make a rando bike for some people but they don't make a "rando specific" bike. Form me a rando specific bike is racing geometry carbon bike, (no front loads), a seatpost rack/bag, NO fenders, Schmidt hub laced to a Zipp 404's, all under 28lbs at the starting line in Paris (Or San Quintine). For other people a rando bike is a late 70's Schwinn Paramount. A rando bike "is" what you ride! That's it. I'm going to stop right there...
    I agree that a rando bike is the one you ride on a brevet, no question there.

    I've taken a liking to my race bike on brevets (a Ciocc) - I just switch out the saddle for the B17, throw on the dynohub/E6, and it's good to go. But when the rainy season starts, I'll probably go back to the Pacer for brevets.
    pro-meter: lol

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  15. #15
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    If you can stay on the bike for days at a time, it is comfortable, doesn't break down, and you love riding it, then it will work for brevet riding...

  16. #16
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Homeyba View Post
    I've been doing this for a very long time I have no idea what the term "rando specific bike." There is no such animal. It doesn't exist...
    Mercian Audax Special, Salsa Casseroll, Rivendell "A. Homer Hilsen" are a few. Maybe the Surly Pacer frame. I'm sure there are more out there, although there's so much overlap with sport touring bikes that I don't think many are strictly labeled as "audax" or "randonneuring" bikes.

    Ironically the Masi Randonneur is marketed as a touring bike. Go figure.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by ebrady View Post
    If you can stay on the bike for days at a time, it is comfortable, doesn't break down, and you love riding it, then it will work for brevet riding...
    +1

    I would add if you can comfortably carry what you want to --- scratch that, what you NEED to on the bike rather than your back.

    I have ridden a steel frame, a titanium frame, an aluminium frame tandem, a steel frame tandem on several brevets each and my wife's Specialized Roubaix (a carbon bike) for part of one 600. If I were to get another single bike just for brevets, I would look very closely at the Specialized Roubaix. Lightweight and very comfortable. My wife has ridden everything from a 200 to a 1000 on it and likes it very much. Then again she has always had me around to carry some stuff for her so she has not needed a huge amount of pannier space. Some may question if you NEED a huge amount of pannier space. It all boils down to what works for you. Unfortunately, I can not answer that for you.

  18. #18
    Senior Member lonesomesteve's Avatar
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    Bicycle Quarterly did an interesting survey of equipment at the 2007 PBP. See it here. 22% of riders were on Carbon bikes. 47% were fenderless. Many other interesting equipment choices that don't fit with the stereotypical "Rando-specific bike."

  19. #19
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post
    Mercian Audax Special, Salsa Casseroll, Rivendell "A. Homer Hilsen" are a few. Maybe the Surly Pacer frame. I'm sure there are more out there, although there's so much overlap with sport touring bikes that I don't think many are strictly labeled as "audax" or "randonneuring" bikes.

    Ironically the Masi Randonneur is marketed as a touring bike. Go figure.

    Why don't you include Colnago C-50, Specialized Tarmac, Scott CR1, Calfee Dragonfly, Seven VII... I've seen all these on brevets. I've also seen Rivendell's, Mercian's etc out on many ultra-distance races, century rides whatever. There are so many different bikes used on brevets it isn't even funny. There just is no rando specific bike. There is just the bike that you are using.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  20. #20
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Homeyba View Post
    Why don't you include Colnago C-50, Specialized Tarmac, Scott CR1, Calfee Dragonfly, Seven VII... I've seen all these on brevets. I've also seen Rivendell's, Mercian's etc out on many ultra-distance races, century rides whatever. There are so many different bikes used on brevets it isn't even funny. There just is no rando specific bike. There is just the bike that you are using.
    Dame, I thought putting bar end shifter on my CAAD3 would make it a rando specific bike! I better keep it down as a century bike

  21. #21
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Homeyba View Post
    Why don't you include Colnago C-50, Specialized Tarmac, Scott CR1, Calfee Dragonfly, Seven VII... I've seen all these on brevets.
    Because those are racing bikes which happened to get used on ultra-distance events. This is not to say that the "ONLY" bike you can use on a long ride is a Mercian Audax, only that a handful of bikes are specifically designed (and marketed) specifically for long rides.

    I.e. I could use a Trek 520 in a crit, that won't make it a "racing bike."

  22. #22
    Senior Member Road Rash's Avatar
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    I ride a specialized S-works tricross on most Brevets - it has clearance for wider tires and can handle fenders (has mounting points and plenty of clearance). It is by far the most comfortable bike I have ever ridden - and I have a 1983 Trek 720 which is the Cadillac Fleetwood of Bikes.

    I was also with the Octopus late one stormy night when he and his carbon fiber bike hit a huge pothole and he went over the handlebars. He and his bike went another 160 miles on that brevet and the bike has quite a few miles on it since then.
    Road Rash

  23. #23
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post
    Because those are racing bikes which happened to get used on ultra-distance events. This is not to say that the "ONLY" bike you can use on a long ride is a Mercian Audax, only that a handful of bikes are specifically designed (and marketed) specifically for long rides.

    I.e. I could use a Trek 520 in a crit, that won't make it a "racing bike."
    Who makes the definition of what a rando bike is??????? If you go to Seattle a lot of riders may describe a bike like what you've mentioned. They ride in the rain a lot and if it doesn't have fenders it's not a rando bike. If you ride a brevet in SoCal the predominant bike is what you call a "race bike." I call it a rando bike. Just because a bike has lax geometry doesn't mean that it is a better long distance bike than one with "race geometry" and because a bike is not marketed as a long distance bike doesn't mean it isn't one. I've done three RAAM's on "race geometry" bikes and I can tell you that I darned well wouldn't be out there on something that wasn't comfortable for a long ride! There is a lot of snobbery in the rando community (not you, but in general) when it comes to bikes. As far as I'm concerned, any bike you ride on a randonnee is a rando bike.
    Last edited by Homeyba; 08-04-09 at 12:50 AM.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  24. #24
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    Homebay said: "I have no idea what the term "rando specific bike." There is no such animal. It doesn't exist ... As far as I'm concerned, any bike you ride on a randonnee is a rando bike."

    One reading of this logic is that there presumably is also no such thing as a racing bike, a touring bike and so on. Presumably, if one rides a Kona Ute in a race, that's a racing bike!

    Sorry, but I think that's not very useful way of categorising bikes. I claim to have a rando-specific bike. It was designed specifically for Audax and, yes, it has done PBP. It is designed to be fast, but not as fast as a racer (because over 1200kms you're never trying to ride on the edge). It is designed to be comfortable, because one of the key factors to whether your make it back to Paris is whether your body can survive for 3 plus days. And it is designed to be reliable, to get you home. Thus, its custom Habanero Ti, long wheelbase (inc. 45cm chainstays), slack angles with geometry designed for stability, 36 spoked wheels (Sapium CX-rays on CXP33 rims) shod with 25mm GP4000 tires, a suspension seat post, auxillary brake levers (because one spends plenty of time on the tops in Audax), has a tripple chain ring and a 11-28 on the back (thus minimising those redundant 1 tooth gear ratio differences), has long reach brakes and can accommodate fenders for when rain is forecast, etc etc. Some of this adds to weight over a racer, but Audax is largely constant pace momentum riding, so its a small price to pay to get you home.

    Now, you are right that people ride a variety of bikes in Audax events, but that does not mean that there are not rando specific bikes. Of course, some bikes that are marketed as such are really just cheap steel 'light tourers' (fine for those who like that sort of thing), and many serious Audaxers would not consider them to be very good propositions for Audax - especially for longer brevets. But I have also seen one or two "Audax" bikes, or framesets, that seem to have been put together with similar considerations in mind to the ones I mentioned above.

    Tom N.
    Down Under

  25. #25
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    Just because a bike has a lax geometry does not make it more comfortable than a bike that does not have lax geometry. That is a myth. All lax geometry (increased rake) does is make the bike more stable (ie requires more steering input to turn) which is helpful if you are carrying a large load or like to ride with no hands. Comfort comes from positioning of hands feet and butt. A comfortable position for long distances can be had on any frame that fits you! If you are going to carry the kitchen sink with you (and many randoneurs do) then you should be on a bike with relaxed geometry. If not there is no need.

    This is my definition of a rando specific bike (minus the aerobars for PBP of course):


    It is designed to be fast, and comfortable, because, as you say, one of the key factors to whether you make it back to Paris is whether your body can survive for 3 plus days. It is also designed to be reliable, to get you home. Thus, it's a Colnago with lugged Carbon Fiber (fabbed by Ferrari), short wheelbase, tight angles with geometry designed for crisp handling, 36 spoke wheels (Mavic OP Ceramic) shod with 23mm GP4000 tires, a carbon seat post and seatpost mounted rack, has a triple chain ring (55/42/30)and a 11-28 on the back (thus minimizing those redundant 1 tooth gear ratio differences), no need (or room) for fenders since I rarely ride in the rain and when I do the ceramic wheels stop on a dime, etc etc. Some of this adds to the weight over a strict racer (28lbs at the start of PBP), but as you say, Audax is largely constant pace momentum riding, so its a small price to pay to get you home. Since it's got me home on five 1200k's and countless shorter brevets I think it's the prefect rando-specific bike!

    Maybe I should start selling them...
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

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