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Vintage Lugged Carbon - Proceed With Caution

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Vintage Lugged Carbon - Proceed With Caution

Old 11-08-16, 07:31 PM
  #1  
plonz 
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Vintage Lugged Carbon - Proceed With Caution

My buddy's pride & joy: His 198? Alan Record Carbonio. He's had it together for a couple of months now. 19.0 lbs, rides great and he flat out flies on it.



Then tonight he sends me this picture. The worst of what you hear about these lugged carbon bikes happened. The dowtube completely separated from the lug. Fortunately it happened at the end of his ride and he was able to stop the bike without an accident.



This frame was immaculate and showed no signs of its impending failure. He's a light rider at <160lbs. There was no warning, it just broke loose as he neared the end of tonight's ride. I think of the times we've been in a 23mph+ paceline with him on this bike and am thankful it didn't end up worse.

FWIW, this is an early Alan without the screws at the bonded points. This makes it very similar to all the Specialized Epics, Vitus', Treks, Giants, etc with lugged carbon frames. They may look cool but there's no way I'm riding one, that's for sure.
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Old 11-08-16, 07:34 PM
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Wow. Hopefully a fluke. As cool as those old bikes look to me though, I've stayed away from them due to concerns over aging carbon or aluminum. I dont really think a lot of them were meant to be ridden as long as many have been.
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Old 11-08-16, 08:07 PM
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come on! this is a roadside fix no worse that a flat tire: a bit of superglue and you are on your way!
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Old 11-08-16, 08:15 PM
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Originally Posted by jetboy View Post
come on! this is a roadside fix no worse that a flat tire: a bit of superglue and you are on your way!
All jokes side I'd probably try JBWeld if there no other options if it were my frame.
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Old 11-08-16, 10:00 PM
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I fixed a Vitus once with JB Weld, at the recommendation of the distributor. It worked perfectly. It was just a loose seat stay to dropout joint though. Arguably less stressed.
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Old 11-08-16, 10:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Salamandrine View Post
I fixed a Vitus once with JB Weld, at the recommendation of the distributor. It worked perfectly. It was just a loose seat stay to dropout joint though. Arguably less stressed.
I'm honestly not surprised that worked.
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Old 11-08-16, 10:52 PM
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They told me the name of the correct 3M epoxy that was used at the factory, but then said I could just use JB Weld, as it had nearly identical properties. Surface prep and proper mixing are important.

That is a rad Alan. I have always thought those were super cool bikes. Too bad about the failure, but it does look fixable. It could always be sent back to Italy.
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Old 11-09-16, 01:24 AM
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Wall Hanger!

@plonz It's too bad about your friend's frame.

Originally Posted by Salamandrine View Post
They told me the name of the correct 3M epoxy that was used at the factory, but then said I could just use JB Weld, as it had nearly identical properties. Surface prep and proper mixing are important.
Just curious, who is "They"?

Those Alan Record Carbonio frames date back to ~1986, The epoxy adhesive used to assemble the tubes and the epoxy used to hold the carbon fiber mats together is 30 years old (Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic = Epoxy).

Over time, all plastics deteriorate. They didn't have the adhesive technology back then that's available today.

In addition, there's quite a bit of difference in performance between hardware store fix-it products for consumer use and industrial grade adhesives used in manufacturing.

For starters JB Weld and similar retail products may have the same listed ingredients as 3M, Loctite and other industrial adhesives but they're formulated for much longer shelf life which lowers their performance!

Adhesive manufactures can't afford the possible liability from out of date products. Industrial suppliers of commercial grade adhesives rotate their inventory on a regular basis.

The out of date products are returned to the manufacturers for credit and replacement. That's one reason why the industrial products cost more.

We sold some Exxon Graftek frames in the late 70's. Exxon had state of the art expertise when they were producing the glued together Graftek frames. Adhesive failures were one of the reasons that contributed to Exxon backing away from the bicycle industry.

ALAN and Vitus produced glued together CFRP frames and they both experienced some amount of adhesive failure during the time that those frames were being manufactured. Same thing with their aluminum frames.

Later Raleigh had similar problems with both their aluminum and their steel Technium glued together frames!

I left the bike industry in 1980 and went into manufacturing. Since then, I've been involved at one time or another with many aspects of composite production and manufacture, also Loctite and 3M adhesives so I'm not talking out of my exhaust port!

If it were my frame, I'd glue it back together and make it a wall hanger.

The movement of the head and down tubes coming apart like that has to have affected the integrity of the rest of the glued together joints!

or.... "Hey! Watch this"!

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Old 11-09-16, 02:04 AM
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It's always dangerous to draw broad conclusions - lugged carbon bicycle frames are structurally unsound and will eventually fail - with a sample size of one. And with this sample, we apparently only know the last couple months of the bike's 30-year history. I could easily see a scenario where the bike, sometime in its life, suffered a head-on impact that induced failure in this joint - it is at the spot where direct impact crashes often cause material or weld failure.

If anybody has some comprehensive data on the failure rates of lugged carbon frames, I'd love to see it.

Personally, I would never ride this frame again as the complete loss of structural integrity in one joint likely caused overstresses in others.

- Mark

Last edited by markjenn; 11-09-16 at 02:12 AM.
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Old 11-09-16, 03:34 AM
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Originally Posted by markjenn View Post
It's always dangerous to draw broad conclusions - lugged carbon bicycle frames are structurally unsound and will eventually fail - with a sample size of one. And with this sample, we apparently only know the last couple months of the bike's 30-year history. I could easily see a scenario where the bike, sometime in its life, suffered a head-on impact that induced failure in this joint - it is at the spot where direct impact crashes often cause material or weld failure.
Good point.

Both ALAN and Vitus frames were ridden by professional cyclocross riders. I suspect that the frames were replaced after every event.

Originally Posted by markjenn View Post
If anybody has some comprehensive data on the failure rates of lugged carbon frames, I'd love to see it.
N= how many? How many glued together frames were produced by all sources? Those frames probably never amounted to more than 5% of the professional quality frames sold during the years that they were produced.

Finding that kind of information would be very difficult unless you could access the manufacture's 20-30 year old records...

But... there's more than adequate anecdotal information about adhesive failure in glued together frames from all of the manufactures during the late 1970's through 1990's.

You just need one frame failure and one product liability suit to change a product design.

Over the years both ALAN and Vitus redesigned their aluminum and CFRP frames a number times.

The point I was suggesting is that 20-30 year old adhesives in highly stressed applications are always suspect.

Take the aerospace industry for example. There have been a number of aircraft that have been removed from service well before their designed in life expectancy because of problems with composite component failures.

For example how many recalls have there been for tail component problems in airliners? The Convair B58 Hustler was another example.

Originally Posted by markjenn View Post
Personally, I would never ride this frame again as the complete loss of structural integrity in one joint likely caused overstresses in others.

- Mark
My point exactly...

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Last edited by verktyg; 11-09-16 at 03:41 AM.
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Old 11-09-16, 05:02 AM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by verktyg View Post

Just curious, who is "They"?
The US distributor of Vitus frames at that time. (late 80s?) Just to clarify, the frame I referred to was all aluminum, not carbon, and it was a loose seat stay to dropout socket, not the HT to down tube junction. If you want more info, PM me. I prefer not to discuss it on a forum.

I don't disagree with anything you say, and I am not recommending that the frame can be repaired properly with JB Weld.

My recommendadion is send it to the factory or make it a wall hanger. Sorry but it's toast. Don't think those frames were intended to last more than a few years. Steel is real for a reason.
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Old 11-09-16, 05:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Salamandrine View Post
The US distributor of Vitus frames at that time. (late 80s?) Just to clarify, the frame I referred to was all aluminum, not carbon, and it was a loose seat stay to dropout socket, not the HT to down tube junction.
Thanks for the clarification, that's kind of what I was thinking.


Originally Posted by Salamandrine View Post
Don't think those frames were intended to last more than a few years. Steel is real for a reason.
Agreed, it's pretty amazing how many have lasted this long.


To change the subject somewhat, Beging about 1985 Raleigh USA and Raleigh produced a number of variations of glued together frames. In the US they were called Technium and in the UK Dyna-Tech.

They used aluminum main tubes with steel lugs lugs and steel or titanium main tubes with cast aluminum lugs (Raleigh made a few glued CFRP and Kevlar frames too but I'm not familiar with them).

All of those of frames had steel rear triangles and standard style steel forks.

Those frames do have a history of coming unglued! The down tubes pulled out of the bottom brackets or head tube lugs.

Over a 5+ years span I saw a number of both the aluminum and steel tubed Raleigh glued frames with down tube adhesive failure listed for sale cheap on eBay.

A few years back I bought a 1990 Raleigh USA Team Technium frame as a novelty for my collection.

It's the model with thin wall oversize straight gage Reynolds 753 main tubes and a True Temper chrome moly rear triangle glued into cast aluminum lugs. The forks are Reynolds 753 with a steel crown.

On close inspection looking for any sign of tube separation, I found a hairline vertical crack in the cast aluminum seat lug. It's on the side at the top of the lug. Probably the result of having been overtightened on a slightly undersized seatpost. They used a 25mm post.

Aluminum, especially some cast aluminum alloys have a much lower percentage of elongation than steels used in bicycles - 3% to 6% vs at least twice that much for steel.

In simple terms that means you can only clamp down an aluminum seat lug a small amount and a limited number of times before cracks develop.

I posted several pictures below showing the seat lugs on Technium aluminum lugged frames.

In Raleigh's advertising, if you read between the lines, their glued together frames were an attempt to reduce manufacturing costs over lugged or welded frame designs.

They also claimed that the steel frames were stronger because the main tubes were never exposed to heat.

The frame has been sitting half assembled for some time. When I finish building the bike I'll probably take it out for 1 or 2 FLAT rides then hang it up.

verktyg

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ebay pictures...
Attached Images
File Type: jpg
RaleighUSATechniumTeam1.jpg (54.1 KB, 412 views)
File Type: jpg
RaleighTechniumHeadTube.jpg (20.2 KB, 407 views)
File Type: jpg
RaleighTechnium2.jpg (51.8 KB, 408 views)
File Type: jpg
RaleighTechnium4.jpg (39.7 KB, 412 views)
File Type: jpg
RaleighUSATechniumTeam5.jpg (32.1 KB, 409 views)
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Old 11-09-16, 07:09 AM
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Originally Posted by verktyg View Post
Thanks for the clarification, that's kind of what I was thinking.




Agreed, it's pretty amazing how many have lasted this long.

I bought a 1990 Raleigh USA Team Technium frame a few years back as a novelty for my collection. It's the model with thin wall oversize straight gage Reynolds 753 main tubes and a Japanese made Tange chrome moly rear triangle glued into cast aluminum lugs. The forks are Reynolds 753 with a steel crown.

Now those frames do have a history of coming unglued! On close inspection I found a hairline crack in the top of the cast seat lug. It's been sitting half assembled for some time. I'll probably take it out for 1 or 2 FLAT rides then hang it up.

verktyg

Chas.

ebay pictures...
Citing a hairline crack in a lug after a reference to Technium frames "coming unglued!" is obviously a non-sequitur.

Cracked steel (and, to a lesser degree, titanium) frames are not uncommon, but cracks in those frames are dismissed according to the convoluted reasoning that those frames fail despite being made of those materials whereas aluminum and carbon frames fail because they're aluminum and carbon.

You can find mentions of Technium frames coming unglued in forums, but there seems to be very little in the way of first-hand evidence. Such failures, if any occurred, seem to have been rare and were possibly confined to a single production run.
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Old 11-09-16, 08:27 AM
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I work for the largest composite fiber material manufacturer in the world. We are the biggest supplier to every aerospace, high speed train, high performance car, bike, tool, helmet etc anywhere you care to mention.

Average Joe below Tour d' France average speed (26 mph for 3 weeks and 150 pounds dripping wet) doesn't have the strength or fitness to get the benefits that carbon gives in terms of rigidity and lack of weight to power transfer and acceleration over Reynolds tubing.

What the Average Joe carbon bike owner does get is a bike that after five years has delamination (the resin has separated from the multiple layers of carbon fabric) and you then have a very expensive marshmallow that can fail in a heartbeat regardless of outward appearances.

Notice how on the latest carbon bikes the bottom bracket housings and headstays are getting bigger and bigger. More and more folks are unhappy with the lack of rigidity of what was a major financial investment.

As opposed to a steel bike that can keep on going for at least a hundred years.

IMHO leave carbon to the pros, they achieve incredible things on them because they are probably, pound for pound the strongest and fittest sportsman on the planet. For the pro teams the bikes are a high performance disposable tool provided by the makers for nothing.

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Old 11-09-16, 10:32 AM
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So in the pic the joint is an aluminum lug with what I assume is an aluminum insert at the carbon fiber tube. Was there actually any carbon failure or was this essentially failure of a lugged aluminum joint?
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Old 11-09-16, 10:48 AM
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When I was in college from 1986-1991, the Cherry Bike Shop in Lafayette IN had a lugged CF frame hanging on the wall with the downtube pulled out exactly like the one in the OP. I don't recall make/model anymore.
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Old 11-09-16, 10:49 AM
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If I understood correctly what I had read for years from descriptions from ALAN themselves, that inner tube still attached to the CF down tube, is part of the lug that forms a socket to attach to both interior and exterior of the CF or aluminum tubes, to the lug with glue. That is why, they explained, when the head lugs sometimes crack on these bikes, the tubes do not separate, as the inner tube bond will still hold the tube to the lug.
What might have happened here is, maybe because of a casting flaw (voids in the casting?), the inner tube on the lug, cracked off and severely compromised the stiffness of the connection. It was just a matter of time when the cyclic stresses on the joint made the already compromised, bonded connection fail.
Just a theory on what might have happened to this particular bike.......
This will NOT keep me from riding all my lugged CF bikes.......
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Old 11-09-16, 12:55 PM
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It looks to me like the Alan frame is constructed differently than that Specialized. The down tube appears to be carbon wrapped aluminum, with no inner sleeve. I can't say for sure, but it appears that way in the photographs. The Allez Epic used pure carbon/epoxy tubes.

It also makes sense as it allowed Alan to use essentially the same joint style as they did with their all aluminum frames.

RE the Allez Epic: I'm not an engineer but those severe 90 deg tube ends seem like they'd concentrate a lot of stress on the fancy lug compared to traditional mitred construction. But this must have been taken into consideration. Does anyone know how well these frames held up?
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Old 11-09-16, 02:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Salamandrine View Post
....RE the Allez Epic: I'm not an engineer but those severe 90 deg tube ends seem like they'd concentrate a lot of stress on the fancy lug compared to traditional mitred construction. But this must have been taken into consideration. Does anyone know how well these frames held up?
Kind of hard to quantify, but in my case at least quite well. I expect a lot has to do with how the frame was treated, and the environment it was used in.

I've owned my Epic since new, in 92 or 93 when I purchased it as a take off from a local shop. I built it up with mostly Ultegra 600 Tri Color components and have enjoyed it ever since with no issues at all. For a while I was more into mountain biking, then I tore a knee a bit (damn thing hurts this week) which kept me off bikes a while but over the years that Epic has seen plenty of use. However, it was "born" in Southern California, and now lives on the eastern side of the Rockies in Colorado. Both places tend to be low humidity dry environments. In addition, this bike, as far as I can remember, has never even been on a smooth dirt path or road much less anything that we could consider rough. So far, its fine.

This model year frame is one of the painted ones too which gives me a bit of an indicator. If the frame starts to come apart and a tube moves at all that paint will crack. I look it over quite regularly and have never seen any indication of a problem.

I personally have no issues riding the thing but due to comments I hear I keep an eye on it, just in case...
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Old 11-09-16, 02:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Salamandrine View Post
It looks to me like the Alan frame is constructed differently than that Specialized. The down tube appears to be carbon wrapped aluminum, with no inner sleeve. I can't say for sure, but it appears that way in the photographs. The Allez Epic used pure carbon/epoxy tubes.

It also makes sense as it allowed Alan to use essentially the same joint style as they did with their all aluminum frames.

RE the Allez Epic: I'm not an engineer but those severe 90 deg tube ends seem like they'd concentrate a lot of stress on the fancy lug compared to traditional mitred construction. But this must have been taken into consideration. Does anyone know how well these frames held up?
Per my own Alan Carbonio, their CF fame tubes do not have aluminum tube "cores" inside the CF tubes. You can see this plainly at the seat tube seat post opening......
Specialized had problems with their earliest frames because of electrolytic corrosion between the lug and CF tubes that caused bonds to fail. Later Epics had insulating material added between the CF an lugs which eliminated the problem.
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Old 11-09-16, 02:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Chombi View Post
Per my own Alan Carbonio, their CF fame tubes do not have aluminum tube "cores" inside the CF tubes. You can see this plainly at the seat tube seat post opening......
Specialized had problems with their earliest frames because of electrolytic corrosion between the lug and CF tubes that caused bonds to fail. Later Epics had insulating material added between the CF an lugs which eliminated the problem.
Do you know what year Specialized added this insulating material? I'm wondering if that would have something to do with mines longevity.
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Old 11-09-16, 03:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Johno59 View Post
I work for the largest composite fiber material manufacturer in the world. We are the biggest supplier to every aerospace, high speed train, high performance car, bike, tool, helmet etc anywhere you care to mention.

Average Joe below Tour d' France average speed (26 mph for 3 weeks and 150 pounds dripping wet) doesn't have the strength or fitness to get the benefits that carbon gives in terms of rigidity and lack of weight to power transfer and acceleration over Reynolds tubing.

What the Average Joe carbon bike owner does get is a bike that after five years has delamination (the resin has separated from the multiple layers of carbon fabric) and you then have a very expensive marshmallow that can fail in a heartbeat regardless of outward appearances.

Notice how on the latest carbon bikes the bottom bracket housings and headstays are getting bigger and bigger. More and more folks are unhappy with the lack of rigidity of what was a major financial investment.

As opposed to a steel bike that can keep on going for at least a hundred years.

IMHO leave carbon to the pros, they achieve incredible things on them because they are probably, pound for pound the strongest and fittest sportsman on the planet. For the pro teams the bikes are a high performance disposable tool provided by the makers for nothing.
This is a really interesting post. I don't have any carbon bikes but then I don't race and I like steel frames fine.
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Old 11-09-16, 05:20 PM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by CoRide59 View Post
Do you know what year Specialized added this insulating material? I'm wondering if that would have something to do with mines longevity.
I'm not sure what year had the insulating material added in, but I think they started painting over the aluminum lugs with a semi-transparent bluish tinted paint to signify the improvement. The early frames had a clear anodized bright silver finish.
Regardless, the frames are tough, judging from my brother's Allez Epic that he's been pounding every week for many years now, and the many commuters I see in the train system using them as commuter bikes.
Just by coincidence, I ran into someone on the Bart train yesterday evening with an early Epic that looks to be not being babied at all, all grimey and dirty from daily commuting, .......and still it keeps on rolling after so many years......

Last edited by Chombi; 11-09-16 at 07:46 PM.
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Old 11-09-16, 05:25 PM
  #24  
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Scary.
Been a while but I would reference RockWest composites, they sell CF tubes and related products, like two part adhesive.
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Old 11-09-16, 06:21 PM
  #25  
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Sorry to see that happen. He can send that frame to me, I'll pay shipping of that TT did not break. There are so much better bonding adhesives available today.
Originally Posted by plonz View Post
My buddy's pride & joy: His 198? Alan Record Carbonio. He's had it together for a couple of months now. 19.0 lbs, rides great and he flat out flies on it.



Then tonight he sends me this picture. The worst of what you hear about these lugged carbon bikes happened. The dowtube completely separated from the lug. Fortunately it happened at the end of his ride and he was able to stop the bike without an accident.



This frame was immaculate and showed no signs of its impending failure. He's a light rider at <160lbs. There was no warning, it just broke loose as he neared the end of tonight's ride. I think of the times we've been in a 23mph+ paceline with him on this bike and am thankful it didn't end up worse.

FWIW, this is an early Alan without the screws at the bonded points. This makes it very similar to all the Specialized Epics, Vitus', Treks, Giants, etc with lugged carbon frames. They may look cool but there's no way I'm riding one, that's for sure.
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