Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Bicycle Mechanics
Reload this Page >

Is it Safe to Ride on Vintage Carbon Wheels?

Notices
Bicycle Mechanics Broken bottom bracket? Tacoed wheel? If you're having problems with your bicycle, or just need help fixing a flat, drop in here for the latest on bicycle mechanics & bicycle maintenance.

Is it Safe to Ride on Vintage Carbon Wheels?

Old 05-02-18, 09:54 AM
  #1  
Horochar
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Horochar's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Up North
Posts: 126

Bikes: 1985 Raleigh Elkhorn, 1986 Faggin Tre Tubi, 1991 Miyata Alumicross, 1992 Merlin Road Titanium, 1993 Giant Cadex CFR-3, 2003 Tomac Buckshot Pro

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 32 Post(s)
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
Is it Safe to Ride on Vintage Carbon Wheels?

I wasn't sure which board to post this question in, but here it goes: I bought vintage early 1990s bike that came with Campanolo "Bora" carbon fiber tubular wheels, generation 1. That means that they would have been manufactured between 1994 and 1996. They are in cosmetically perfect condition, free of evidence of wear, cracks, delamination, nothing. Is it safe to ride on these? I was told by one bike mechanic that older carbon wheels, because they're under high tension, are prone to cracking and are not safe to ride on. I'm hoping that he's not right. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Charles
Horochar is offline  
Old 05-02-18, 10:01 AM
  #2  
fietsbob
Banned
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: NW,Oregon Coast
Posts: 43,599

Bikes: 8

Mentioned: 197 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 7607 Post(s)
Liked 1,349 Times in 856 Posts
In person inspection is best, but not a function of online,text comments, so yes/no
fietsbob is offline  
Old 05-02-18, 10:04 AM
  #3  
Horochar
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Horochar's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Up North
Posts: 126

Bikes: 1985 Raleigh Elkhorn, 1986 Faggin Tre Tubi, 1991 Miyata Alumicross, 1992 Merlin Road Titanium, 1993 Giant Cadex CFR-3, 2003 Tomac Buckshot Pro

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 32 Post(s)
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
Yes, I understand that, but what I think he's saying is that IN THE ABSTRACT (i.e., irrespective of wear), old carbon wheels are unsafe to ride on. Even if well maintained or NOS. I'm hoping he's wrong.

Charles
Horochar is offline  
Old 05-02-18, 11:10 AM
  #4  
Kontact
Senior Member
 
Kontact's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 5,541
Mentioned: 40 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3409 Post(s)
Liked 809 Times in 538 Posts
Originally Posted by Horochar
Yes, I understand that, but what I think he's saying is that IN THE ABSTRACT (i.e., irrespective of wear), old carbon wheels are unsafe to ride on. Even if well maintained or NOS. I'm hoping he's wrong.

Charles
To an extent, all wheels are "prone to cracking" from spoke tension and age, but that doesn't mean that something is "unsafe". For the wheel to be unsafe, the rim would have to go from no noticeable cracks to catastrophic failure during the middle of a ride. But that isn't what's going to happen. Instead, cracks will develop around the nipples, which won't cause the rim to fail all at once.

Ultimately, it is up to you what you think is safe, but if large company like Campy was aware that all their 20 year old wheels were causing severe crashes, they would do something about it and you would likely have heard about these accidents.

Buying a "vintage" carbon wheel should be approached with reasonable expectations about how much use you're going to get out of it, but you may not have any problems at all.
Kontact is offline  
Old 05-02-18, 12:19 PM
  #5  
AnkleWork
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Llano Estacado
Posts: 3,702

Bikes: old clunker

Mentioned: 13 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 684 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 104 Times in 82 Posts
"In the abstract" nothing is safe.
AnkleWork is offline  
Old 05-02-18, 12:34 PM
  #6  
CliffordK
Senior Member
 
CliffordK's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Eugene, Oregon, USA
Posts: 27,570
Mentioned: 217 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 17873 Post(s)
Liked 4,285 Times in 3,197 Posts
So far I've avoided the temptation to ride vintage Spinergy wheels.

How many spokes do your Campy wheels have? Steel spokes? Aluminum hub flanges (or whole hub?)

I'd wonder if the CF wheels will maintain a good chunk of their original strength. Say 80% for example? Most tests indicate that CF parts are pretty resistant to cumulative fatigue effects, but if the wheels have been ridden for 20+ years, that could add up a bit.

Then, the question is how strong the wheels were out of the manufacture. I believe the 90's would predate the extreme emphasis on reducing the spoke count. But, it could also mean less emphasis on reinforcing around the nipples.

Anyway, I'd assume there is a little margin for error. So, I'd probably ride them if I had them. But, I'd probably not ride them a lot.

Oh, also, are the rims 100% carbon, or a carbon/aluminum hybrid? Most of the carbon/aluminum hybrid rims are basically aluminum with a carbon cowling for wind, and I wouldn't have a second thought about riding them (although perhaps it is more difficult to see the actual nipple seats).
CliffordK is offline  
Old 05-02-18, 12:39 PM
  #7  
Kontact
Senior Member
 
Kontact's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 5,541
Mentioned: 40 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3409 Post(s)
Liked 809 Times in 538 Posts
Here's the 1st gen Bora:
VeloBase.com - Component: Campagnolo Bora (1st Generation)
Kontact is offline  
Old 05-02-18, 12:41 PM
  #8  
jimc101
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: West Yorkshire, United Kingdom
Posts: 5,772
Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 452 Post(s)
Liked 103 Times in 86 Posts
Originally Posted by CliffordK
So far I've avoided the temptation to ride vintage Spinergy wheels.
If you mean the Rev-X model (the 4 spoke design) anyone who rides them today is very brave
jimc101 is offline  
Old 05-02-18, 12:48 PM
  #9  
RobotGuy
Semi-Pro Bowler
 
RobotGuy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2018
Location: New Joisey
Posts: 202

Bikes: 02 LeMond Tete De Course Titanium (road), 98 Gary Fisher Hoo Koo E Koo (mtb), 88 GT Mach One (BMX)

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 101 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
Heres my thinking. Im a materials engineer, but I certainly cant predict everything. So heres my $0.01. My feeling is that with traditional spoked wheels, any carbon rim material failure will likely start at the rim at one or two spoke nipple locations. If that happens, the carbon will give, causing the nipple to pull out a mm or two to relieve stress. This probably will cause the rim to go out of true but the nipple will likely be retained by the rim, I dont see the rim completely releasing the nipple and spoke.

Itll likely happen with you on the bike, as that presents more stress than an unloaded rim. Probably the rear rim under heavy acceleration or maybe front rim under heavy breaking and turning.

Youd likely hear the piano string ping and the rim would suddenly be maybe 5-10 mm out of true, rubbing the break pads. IMHO, youre not looking at a catastrophic rim failure situation... but thats only if the rim really is in as good a shape as you observe it to be.

Id ride them for a while on basic training rides or fun runs before bombing down hills at break-neck speeds over rough surfaces.

edit: one easy way to tell if any nipples have given up the ghost is a spoke tension tester. Pretty cheap insurance. Of course, the wheel would likely be out of true already.

If you take the rim tape off, can you see the nipples? Are any spokes screwed into the nipples much deeper than the rest? If so, those areas might have yielded a bit, requiring tensioning in the past.

Last edited by RobotGuy; 05-02-18 at 12:55 PM.
RobotGuy is offline  
Likes For RobotGuy:
Old 05-02-18, 01:08 PM
  #10  
CliffordK
Senior Member
 
CliffordK's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Eugene, Oregon, USA
Posts: 27,570
Mentioned: 217 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 17873 Post(s)
Liked 4,285 Times in 3,197 Posts
Originally Posted by Kontact
Thanks,

Is that 16 spokes front and rear?

I've ridden a Zipp front of similar vintage and survived the ordeal.

I'd be a bit concerned about the low spoke count in the rear. Perhaps also a similarity between the front/rear designs. Are the rims interchangeable?

One thing that Campy did with their current 21 spoke design is give 14 spokes DS (equivalent to a 28 spoke wheel), and 7 spokes NDS where there is less stress.

I suppose one "benefit" of the Campy Bora design is that the front should be stronger than the rear, so less likely to experience a catastrophic failure.
CliffordK is offline  
Old 05-03-18, 06:05 PM
  #11  
gsa103
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: SF Bay Area
Posts: 4,401

Bikes: Bianchi Infinito (Celeste, of course)

Mentioned: 19 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 754 Post(s)
Liked 104 Times in 77 Posts
Originally Posted by CliffordK
So far I've avoided the temptation to ride vintage Spinergy wheels.

How many spokes do your Campy wheels have? Steel spokes? Aluminum hub flanges (or whole hub?)

I'd wonder if the CF wheels will maintain a good chunk of their original strength. Say 80% for example? Most tests indicate that CF parts are pretty resistant to cumulative fatigue effects, but if the wheels have been ridden for 20+ years, that could add up a bit.
The trick is if the wheels are really in that good shape, they probably haven't been ridden, so they don't really have fatigue effects. Fatigue occurs when the loading changes, such as from riding. Given that they're in near perfect shape, they probably haven't been ridden.

I wouldn't trust them for mountain descents, but that's because of the resin available. I wouldn't have trusted them brand new in 1996 either, for mountain descending. General flat land use, no worries.
gsa103 is offline  
Old 05-03-18, 06:51 PM
  #12  
Andrew R Stewart 
Senior Member
 
Andrew R Stewart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Rochester, NY
Posts: 17,573

Bikes: Stewart S&S coupled sport tourer, Stewart Sunday light, Stewart Commuting, Stewart Touring, Co Motion Tandem, Stewart 3-Spd, Stewart Track, Fuji Finest, Mongoose Tomac ATB, GT Bravado ATB, JCP Folder, Stewart 650B ATB

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3983 Post(s)
Liked 3,364 Times in 2,041 Posts
"Vintage carbon wheels" Really...

Maybe wood? Andy
Andrew R Stewart is offline  
Old 05-03-18, 09:49 PM
  #13  
Ritalalala
Registered User
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Posts: 58
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 16 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
It looks like you are very eager to hear a positive answer. I think if you really want to use it, you must use it with caution.
Ritalalala is offline  
Old 05-03-18, 11:33 PM
  #14  
Kontact
Senior Member
 
Kontact's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 5,541
Mentioned: 40 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3409 Post(s)
Liked 809 Times in 538 Posts
Originally Posted by Ritalalala
It looks like you are very eager to hear a positive answer. I think if you really want to use it, you must use it with caution.
What is your concern with the older Boras?
Kontact is offline  
Old 05-04-18, 05:46 AM
  #15  
rydabent
Senior Member
 
rydabent's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Lincoln Ne
Posts: 9,815

Bikes: RANS Stratus TerraTrike Tour II

Mentioned: 44 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3238 Post(s)
Liked 1,007 Times in 603 Posts
Like anything called carbon, they are really just CF reinforced plastic. Plastic gets brittle with age.
rydabent is offline  
Old 05-04-18, 10:17 AM
  #16  
Kontact
Senior Member
 
Kontact's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 5,541
Mentioned: 40 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3409 Post(s)
Liked 809 Times in 538 Posts
Originally Posted by rydabent
Like anything called carbon, they are really just CF reinforced plastic. Plastic gets brittle with age.
That's really not true in the time periods and plastics we're talking about.
Kontact is offline  
Old 05-06-18, 03:10 PM
  #17  
02Giant 
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 2,977
Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1638 Post(s)
Liked 741 Times in 495 Posts
They'll be fine, until they asplode...
__________________
nine mile skid on a ten mile ride
02Giant is offline  
Old 05-06-18, 03:46 PM
  #18  
Oneder
Banned.
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Posts: 821

Bikes: Wahoo of Theseus, others

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 428 Post(s)
Liked 67 Times in 46 Posts
The problem is, I don't think you can tell at a glance whether or not they are in good shape. Many sellers also have a way of managing to find just the right time to put things out to pasture. So if it is extremely good deal I would try it but if you are not getting great deal on these like 50 bucks for the set or something like that then forget it.
Oneder is offline  
Old 05-06-18, 07:36 PM
  #19  
woodcraft
Senior Member
 
woodcraft's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Nor Cal
Posts: 6,016
Mentioned: 17 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1814 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 919 Times in 567 Posts
I bought some '90s carbon race wheels of obscure brand for cheap on ebay.

The seller happened to be nearby so the transaction happened in person.

I got a decent amount of use out of them, but I think replaced a bearing, the hub design wasn't great, & the brake tracks were worn.

Eventually broke a spoke & I gave up- now use the rims to stretch tires.

Nothing catastrophic happened.
woodcraft is offline  
Old 05-06-18, 07:43 PM
  #20  
RobotGuy
Semi-Pro Bowler
 
RobotGuy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2018
Location: New Joisey
Posts: 202

Bikes: 02 LeMond Tete De Course Titanium (road), 98 Gary Fisher Hoo Koo E Koo (mtb), 88 GT Mach One (BMX)

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 101 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
Originally Posted by Oneder
The problem is, I don't think you can tell at a glance whether or not they are in good shape. Many sellers also have a way of managing to find just the right time to put things out to pasture. So if it is extremely good deal I would try it but if you are not getting great deal on these like 50 bucks for the set or something like that then forget it.
agreed. Id guess rims might be a better bet than, say, used forks just because the spokes are under tension so if one pulled out youd see the rim twang right out of true.

I dunno, I have a tough time using old carbon bits, no matter. maybe Im just old.
RobotGuy is offline  
Old 05-06-18, 07:43 PM
  #21  
CliffordK
Senior Member
 
CliffordK's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Eugene, Oregon, USA
Posts: 27,570
Mentioned: 217 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 17873 Post(s)
Liked 4,285 Times in 3,197 Posts
Originally Posted by gsa103
The trick is if the wheels are really in that good shape, they probably haven't been ridden, so they don't really have fatigue effects. Fatigue occurs when the loading changes, such as from riding. Given that they're in near perfect shape, they probably haven't been ridden.
It is quite possible they were used as "race-day" wheels. So, ridden hard for a few days a year, otherwise in storage most of the time, and just became old with disuse.

The brake tracks should give an indication of how much use they've had.
CliffordK is offline  
Old 05-06-18, 09:11 PM
  #22  
Kimmo 
bike whisperer
 
Kimmo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Melbourne, Oz
Posts: 9,517

Bikes: https://weightweenies.starbike.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=152015&p=1404231

Mentioned: 15 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1513 Post(s)
Liked 707 Times in 501 Posts
Structurally I bet they're just fine, but I'd avoid high speed descents because there's been a lot of development on resin tech since these were made, and they were still trying to improve it before discs have made it almost moot.

Those old brake tracks won't be able to handle a great deal of heat.
Kimmo is offline  
Old 11-10-19, 06:49 AM
  #23  
Horochar
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Horochar's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Up North
Posts: 126

Bikes: 1985 Raleigh Elkhorn, 1986 Faggin Tre Tubi, 1991 Miyata Alumicross, 1992 Merlin Road Titanium, 1993 Giant Cadex CFR-3, 2003 Tomac Buckshot Pro

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 32 Post(s)
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
Thanks all. Virtually no pad wear, indicating low use. This gives me a lot of confidence. Obviously keep an eye out for cracks but it’s good to know a worst case scenario begins with going out of true (crack at nipple) and not the whole wheel suddenly exploding. (I always wear a helmet anyway )
Horochar is offline  
Old 11-10-19, 08:33 AM
  #24  
63rickert
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 2,068
Mentioned: 44 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1089 Post(s)
Liked 328 Times in 244 Posts
I know several original Kestrels which have now been in continuous use for thirty years. These would be original Kestrels, built by the Trimble brothers. Chinese built Kestrels fail early and predictably. Build quality matters. Plastic does not last forever. When used well it lasts quite a long time.
63rickert is offline  
Old 11-10-19, 09:13 AM
  #25  
woodcraft
Senior Member
 
woodcraft's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Nor Cal
Posts: 6,016
Mentioned: 17 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1814 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 919 Times in 567 Posts
Been thinking about it for a year and a half?

Ride those things!
woodcraft is offline  
Likes For woodcraft:

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2023 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.