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Carbon Fiber Commuters?

Old 06-07-14, 09:06 AM
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Panza
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Carbon Fiber Commuters?

Hi guys, I have a few bikes and enjoy riding them but ive been afraid to use my higher end carbon fiber bikes as commuters. Does anyone else use theirs? Ive seen people commuting on some beaten up CF bikes as commuters and I personally love the style and ride. Do you place your bike indoors? Chain it outside? Pics of your roughed up CF commuter are welcome too!
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Old 06-07-14, 09:45 AM
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I don't have a CF bike but I've seen one or two locked up outside the building all day. I used to run into a guy all the time a few years ago that commuted on his but he could keep it inside their office.

Many people would be a little nervous about locking one up in a traditional bike rack where it could get banged up by other people getting their bikes in and out.
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Old 06-07-14, 10:51 AM
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I commute on mine pretty regularly but I also am able to keep it inside where I work so I do not have to worry about theft or other things getting smashed against it. If I had to leave my bike locked up all day outside I would use a much cheaper bike as bike theft is pretty bad in Colorado
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Old 06-07-14, 02:26 PM
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For those who race CF bikes I don't think they would want all of the exposure to elements, extra miles, and of course theft. CF is not the longest lasting material on the market and they do wear out. If you are just a commuter or rec rider you probably don't exactly tax the bike very much so riding it should not wear it out. Unless you live in Mayberry RFD, you better keep it inside somewhere. If your workplace does not allow bikes inside, look around the neighborhood for a business that might let you rent some space in a back room or something. One bike just does not take up very much space.

And hey...if you can afford CF bikes like Kleenex, you should always ride what you like.
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Old 06-07-14, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by chriskmurray View Post
I commute on mine pretty regularly but I also am able to keep it inside where I work so I do not have to worry about theft or other things getting smashed against it. If I had to leave my bike locked up all day outside I would use a much cheaper bike as bike theft is pretty bad in Colorado
Same here in Metro Boston.The carbon fiber bike is such a joy a ride that it is a further motivation to cycle-commute besides all the other benefits, so I ride it as often as possible.

I don't ride my carbon fiber bike in rain or ride it to work with a threat of rain; I use my beater mountain bike instead. I can safely leave the CF at work, and take a train home. The CF was also not used at all from December to mid-April, just to avoid salt, even on dry roads
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Old 06-07-14, 04:50 PM
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Twice now I've seen a carbon fiber Bottecchia at the rack. It's mid-range I guess, not "high end" but a nice bike. I'd ride it every day without much of a qualm. It's not likely to get stolen from our rack though, which I think would be the main consideration.
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Old 06-07-14, 05:25 PM
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Thus far, the whole gist of this thread has been that carbon is basically a PITA to commute with, due to elemental climate concerns, theft, and abuse on the part of others. No bicycle commuter has quite the profound concerns as a CF bicycle commuter.

Many CF bicycle owners like to claim that carbon fiber is tough, strong, and doesn't need to be coddled. This may partially be true. However, there's no doubt that a carbon fiber bicycle seems to require just a tad more care and protection than its aluminum and steel siblings. IMHO, this is coddling...
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Old 06-07-14, 05:55 PM
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Originally Posted by WestPablo View Post
Thus far, the whole gist of this thread has been that carbon is basically a PITA to commute with, due to elemental climate concerns, theft, and abuse on the part of others. No bicycle commuter has quite the profound concerns as a CF bicycle commuter.

Many CF bicycle owners like to claim that carbon fiber is tough, strong, and doesn't need to be coddled. This may partially be true. However, there's no doubt that a carbon fiber bicycle seems to require just a tad more care and protection than its aluminum and steel siblings. IMHO, this is coddling...
I'm actually less concerned with the elements on my CF bike. What's going to happen? Is it going to rust? Get over it. Now for it attracting the attention of thieves, well yes I would worry. Abuse? Nah, again they are just as resilient as any other. If Boeing and Airbus can use it, I think we're OK on our bikes with it.

I've been looking at carbon MTB frames to build my commuter on, but I haven't found many that are suitable. The main problem is that almost all carbon mtb frames are made for disc brakes but my bike has v-brakes with all the associated parts like my brand new dynamo wheels. This bike would be the donor as I'm not buying all new again.
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Old 06-07-14, 06:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Same here in Metro Boston.The carbon fiber bike is such a joy a ride that it is a further motivation to cycle-commute besides all the other benefits, so I ride it as often as possible.

I don't ride my carbon fiber bike in rain or ride it to work with a threat of rain; I use my beater mountain bike instead. I can safely leave the CF at work, and take a train home. The CF was also not used at all from December to mid-April, just to avoid salt, even on dry roads
My carbon bike is actually a fatbike so it tends to see the worst conditions of any of my bikes. My other commuter is a Ti cross bike and I base the decision on which one I ride simply on my mood rather than weather.

It is weird for me because I was always skeptical of carbon until I gave in and actually bought one and since have been more than surprised with its durability in nasty conditions. With that being said, I have no interest in seeing how it handles other bikes smashing into it in a well used public bike rack.
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Old 06-07-14, 06:13 PM
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Since a lot of my race training takes place either at lunch or on the commute, I probably ride my race bike to work the majority of the time during decent weather. I'm fortunate to have card-key access cage inside the parking garage attached to my building.
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Old 06-07-14, 06:53 PM
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Originally Posted by WestPablo View Post
Many CF bicycle owners like to claim that carbon fiber is tough, strong, and doesn't need to be coddled. This may partially be true. However, there's no doubt that a carbon fiber bicycle seems to require just a tad more care and protection than its aluminum and steel siblings. IMHO, this is coddling...
News to me. It's just a bike like any other. I lock mine outside the rear entrance to my building. I have a carbon cyclocross bike for the winter and an S-works tarmac for the summer. I had a steel bike for 10 yrs but it broke so I'm finished with steel.
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Old 06-07-14, 07:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Same here in Metro Boston.The carbon fiber bike is such a joy a ride that it is a further motivation to cycle-commute besides all the other benefits, so I ride it as often as possible.

I don't ride my carbon fiber bike in rain or ride it to work with a threat of rain; I use my beater mountain bike instead. I can safely leave the CF at work, and take a train home. The CF was also not used at all from December to mid-April, just to avoid salt, even on dry roads
I also ride in the metro boston and cambridge area. At the Japanese Festival today I was looking and admiring all the other locked up master pieces...
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Old 06-08-14, 07:50 AM
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I've considered riding my Roubaix, but would rather suffer chips from the bike rack on my hybrid. Besides, riding the hybrid is a more challenging workout which makes the Roubaix feel that much faster!
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Old 06-08-14, 08:15 AM
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Originally Posted by WestPablo View Post
Thus far, the whole gist of this thread has been that carbon is basically a PITA to commute with, due to elemental climate concerns, theft, and abuse on the part of others. No bicycle commuter has quite the profound concerns as a CF bicycle commuter.

Many CF bicycle owners like to claim that carbon fiber is tough, strong, and doesn't need to be coddled. This may partially be true. However, there's no doubt that a carbon fiber bicycle seems to require just a tad more care and protection than its aluminum and steel siblings. IMHO, this is coddling...
I have three different bikes, - two with carbon forks including the winter bike. The winter bike gets exposed to everything: rain, snow, salt, extreme cold, etc. I don't worry about it in the least. I worry about it less than I would a steel fork because any scratch in the finish of a steel would lead to corrosion. I chose CF over steel for that very reason.
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Old 06-08-14, 08:35 AM
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Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
I have three different bikes, - two with carbon forks including the winter bike. The winter bike gets exposed to everything: rain, snow, salt, extreme cold, etc. I don't worry about it in the least. I worry about it less than I would a steel fork because any scratch in the finish of a steel would lead to corrosion. I chose CF over steel for that very reason.
I highly suspect that you are an exception to the rule, TJ!

Nonetheless, a CF fork is not quite the same as an entire CF frame. A fork is merely a small fraction of the frameset's whole volume. That gives a cyclist much less to worry about!

We all know the difference between a mere cosmetic scratch endured by a steel framed bicycle vs. a CF bicycle. A cosmetic scratch on a steel bicycle is simply slightly sanded and then covered with nail polish. OTOH, a cosmetic scratch upon a CF frame or fork, has to be either ignored or professionally repaired by a qualified technician. Otherwise, a fool-hearty venture will be undertaken by the novice, in order to chance a successful cover-up.
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Old 06-08-14, 10:06 AM
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I think many bike commuters are in it to save a buck, which doesn't fit with paying $2000 for a bicycle with the components of a $1200 aluminum model. Also, most CF bikes are racing frames and have little or no provision for racks etc. and a low weight rating.

I've got no qualms whatsoever with CF as an appropriate material. I really believe it will not be very long til there are carbon fiber bikes at Wal-Mart, as production quantities increase and moves to China or beyond.
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Old 06-08-14, 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by WestPablo View Post
I highly suspect that you are an exception to the rule, TJ!

Nonetheless, a CF fork is not quite the same as an entire CF frame. A fork is merely a small fraction of the frameset's whole volume. That gives a cyclist much less to worry about!

We all know the difference between a mere cosmetic scratch endured by a steel framed bicycle vs. a CF bicycle. A cosmetic scratch on a steel bicycle is simply slightly sanded and then covered with nail polish. OTOH, a cosmetic scratch upon a CF frame or fork, has to be either ignored or professionally repaired by a qualified technician. Otherwise, a fool-hearty venture will be undertaken by the novice, in order to chance a successful cover-up.
I would be quite happy to have a CF framed bike for winter use if I could have gotten it for the same price I paid for the aluminum frame.
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Old 06-08-14, 11:14 AM
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Originally Posted by WestPablo View Post
We all know the difference between a mere cosmetic scratch endured by a steel framed bicycle vs. a CF bicycle. A cosmetic scratch on a steel bicycle is simply slightly sanded and then covered with nail polish. OTOH, a cosmetic scratch upon a CF frame or fork, has to be either ignored or professionally repaired by a qualified technician. Otherwise, a fool-hearty venture will be undertaken by the novice, in order to chance a successful cover-up.
Truly comical.
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Old 06-08-14, 11:34 AM
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Originally Posted by rebel1916 View Post
Truly comical.
Alright...

So...I suppose you COULD cover up cosmetic damage on CF with nail polish or epoxy, or perhaps even both.

However, to cover up a $4k-10k CF bicycle with nail polish does seem just a tad comical, doesn't it?
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Old 06-08-14, 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
I would be quite happy to have a CF framed bike for winter use if I could have gotten it for the same price I paid for the aluminum frame.
Yeah, but where would you lock your new CF up, when you're at the downtown library, movies, or restaurant?

Would you lock it up between two beater bikes at the library's bike rack?

Would you lock it next to a parking meter?

Would you lock it next to a traffic or street sign?

You might very well pay a price for carbon that's on par with an aluminum price, but chances are, the care given would not be anywhere near equivalent.
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Old 06-08-14, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by WestPablo View Post
Alright...

So...I suppose you COULD cover up cosmetic damage on CF with nail polish or epoxy, or perhaps even both.

However, to cover up a $4k-10k CF bicycle with nail polish does seem just a tad comical, doesn't it?
It's a tool, not an objet d'art.
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Old 06-08-14, 11:54 AM
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Originally Posted by WestPablo View Post
Yeah, but where would you lock your new CF up, when you're at the downtown library, movies, or restaurant?

Would you lock it up between two beater bikes at the library's bike rack?

Would you lock it next to a parking meter?

Would you lock it next to a traffic or street sign?

You might very well pay a price for carbon that's on par with an aluminum price, but chances are, the care given would not be anywhere near equivalent.
Your knock against CF was that it needed to be coddled. My response to that is that in the conditions my winter bikes are exposed to, steel actually requires more coddling than CF. That's why I don't use a steel bike in the winter. I don't use a CF bike in the winter because they're too expensive.

There ARE things I would avoid doing with a CF bike that I wouldn't be as concerned about with other frame materials, but depending on your commute those situations may or may not apply. Locking it to a crowded rack is one of those situations. Locking it up other situations wouldn't bother me as much. Locking up any $3,000 bike for any length of time in theft prone areas would cause me concern no matter what it was made out of.
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Old 06-08-14, 11:54 AM
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I used to commute on my mountain bike because that was the only one I had. But, I switch to my CF bike on fair weather days because it is faster and the ride is less tiring. The mountain bike still sees commute actions when the weather is unstable or I need to haul stuffs. I do park my bike in the office so theft is not a concern.

Some people regard using CF for commuting is a waste, but I think it is worth it if it brings extra pleasure to your ride. A fun mile as a fun mile regardless of the type of ride. My commute is relatedly long and fast though (17.5 miles one way up to 19 mph average).
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Old 06-08-14, 12:13 PM
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Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
Your knock against CF was that it needed to be coddled. My response to that is that in the conditions my winter bikes are exposed to, steel actually requires more coddling than CF. That's why I don't use a steel bike in the winter. I don't use a CF bike in the winter because they're too expensive.
So why not use a CF bicycle in the winter?...What's the expense-related problem?

There ARE things I would avoid doing with a CF bike that I wouldn't be as concerned about with other frame materials, but depending on your commute those situations may or may not apply.
Are those things related to coddling?...Just think about it....
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Old 06-08-14, 12:25 PM
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elemental climate concerns - it seems to me like carbon fiber is the best material for varied weather conditions, it doesn't rust like steel does or annodize like aluminium does. It seems like it's the least affected by weather, and claims that it's worse are just part of the typical "it's new so it must be dangerous" kind of stuff that's not true.

theft - it's usually easier to find cheap aluminum or old steel than it is carbon fiber, however, carbon fiber has been around long enough that I've seen cheap full carbon bikes, I was at a bike sale this spring where I saw an older trek for $200. And of course if your parking at work is relatively secure (which it is sometimes), this may not be an issue.

abuse on the part of others - this is the one I don't think anyone has figured out - whether carbon fiber can get damaged easier than steel or aluminum if it's slammed up against other bikes

Every time there's a new frame material, someone is claiming it's fragile and has a limited lifespan, take a look at this thread from 2006 -
http://www.bikejournal.com/thread.asp?ThreadID=%7BDCE81503-8848-4E81-B825-D7833CD9799E%7D&numPost=1

My concern is that I have been told that aluminum frames loose strength at the bonds and have been known to crack after 5-7 years.

Followed up by:
There's a reason why most frame manufacturers only warranty aluminum frames for three years.

Every time a new frame material comes out there are rumors that new is bad and older is good.
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