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Cheap carbon fiber bikes

Old 12-22-15, 01:13 AM
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Cheap carbon fiber bikes

Online I'm noticing a lot of store brand carbon fiber bikes being sold at relatively low prices- 50 to 70 percent off what the more established, well-known brick and mortar companies like Trek, Fuji, etc. are selling them for. This is so much cheaper that I can't help but wonder where all the savings goes. Is the material extremely low quality or do these small web businesses just have less of a profit margin?-just curious
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Old 12-22-15, 02:53 AM
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Not sure which stores and brands you're referring to but my guess would be lower end or older carbon frames made on tooling that's already amortized, being sold through a discount channel. Might be fine if from a reputable brand, if not the latest tech, or engineered ride quality.. But do your homework..

Make sure they're not one of those Chinese bootleg brands. There was an expose in a recent Bicycling mag on those name brand knock-offs. Fake Specialized, Trek, etc.. Horrible quality, uneven layup, and could break under average cycling loads.. into dangerous pieces. It was kind of ugly.
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Old 12-22-15, 03:52 AM
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Could be a number of things.

Production quality and research and development play a huge number in it though. Pinarello and Specialized, etc. are going to research and push the latest technology forward, while other companies ride the coat-tails and usurp research for an already established mold, for instance. While higher end bikes are going to have a mix of different layups in key areas for stiffness and compliance, other makers will utilize the mold but without the same exact application in terms of layup.

I'm still on the fence with my stance on whether carbon bikes from certain retailers are wrong. I do wholeheartedly agree that if it's a bike with decals that is not genuine, then that is wrong. I've heard of many people riding "cheap" carbon bikes and have accumulated a good number of miles with good results.

Not sure I'd trust my life to the same bike if I was a climber and was flying downhill at 40 mph naturally. In that case, I'd like as much genuine research and expertise put into my bike as possible, not some company just trying to make a quick buck.
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Old 12-22-15, 04:47 AM
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The better Chinese companies (or Taiwanese companies--that's where Nashbar supposedly gets its carbon frames (likely made in China by a Taiwan-owned company)) are proabbly using last year's or two-year-old molds. They aren't the lightest, latest, best technology bu they were a few years back. For folks who cannot afford a $5k-$8K bike, theses seem to be decent alternatives.

Several people on the site have built and ride sub-15-lb bikes for under or around $2K, which, unless you are wealthy or a serious road racer who needs to lose those extra 250 grams, seems like a good deal to me.
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Old 12-22-15, 09:02 AM
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If you do some Internet research you will see that there are plenty of people who are happy with their no-name Chinese bikes. Most established brand bikes are made in China and Taiwan. If you want to buy one from a reputable seller, check out Bikesdirect.
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Old 12-22-15, 09:06 AM
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How about some links so we know which bikes your talking about?
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Old 12-22-15, 11:13 AM
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Even name brand carbon bikes are a lot cheaper these days compared to 5 years ago. My local bike shop (a long time authorized Trek dealer) is selling ready-to-ride carbon Trek bikes for under $2000.
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Old 12-22-15, 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by GeoKrpan
If you do some Internet research you will see that there are plenty of people who are happy with their no-name Chinese bikes. Most established brand bikes are made in China and Taiwan. If you want to buy one from a reputable seller, check out Bikesdirect.
nashbar and bikesdirect are mostly who I am referring to
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Old 12-22-15, 02:04 PM
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Originally Posted by theblazingak
nashbar and bikesdirect are mostly who I am referring to
They probably have less overhead being catalog and online only retailers so they don't need as much markup. The big bicycle brands probably spend more on research and development, marketing, team sponsorships, support systems and personnel, and have owners/stockholders that want to make more profit.

There are open mould frames out there that you can buy that are already designed and engineered, therefore a company can easily slap their brand logo on it without spending anything on r&d.

I personally am not very interested in dealing direct with Chinese sellers, but would consider a cheap frame from Nashbar and similar US sellers because they are likely to stand behind their product. Id rather pay $100 more to Nashbar than to a Chinese factory to have the option to just send it back for a refund if not satisfied.
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Old 12-22-15, 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted by theblazingak
nashbar and bikesdirect are mostly who I am referring to
As with all opf BD and much of Nashbar's own brand bikes, you are buying two- or three-year-old tooling, frames which were pretty good a couple or a few years ago, maybe some reverse-engineered stuff ... all good quality but none of it the Latest and Greatest.

These companies have zero R&D, vastly less promo expense, and maybe (this is my imagination) can let more frames through QC---nothing dangerous, but a frame which is 80 grams above spec might make it through on a BD-funded production run while it might get scrapped by Trek or Giant. Nothing wrong with the frame, maybe an extra layer of cloth or a little extra resin got laid in by accident, but it wouldn't meet major-manufacturer specs---Cervelo can't have a customer weigh a frame and find it 80 grams over advertised max weight, Nashbar couldn't care less because it doesn't publish frame weights.

The savings are passed on to the consumer. Nashbar or BD let the big companies do the design, do the testing, set up the assembly line, then come in and order an extra X000 bikes off the same line before it is dismantled and tooled up for something else, i'd imagine.

That's why they can sell for less and not go broke.

A note: Nashbar and BD are U.S.-based companies, so they cannot afford to sell dangerous merchandise. if someone could prove injury because of a faulty BD bike, BD would get sued out of business. Just based on that I have to figure BD and Nashbar are selling what they claim top be selling---low-cost, low-price, mid-quality carbon frames.

EDIT: Milkbaby types faster.
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Old 12-22-15, 03:10 PM
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Originally Posted by theblazingak
I can't help but wonder where all the savings goes.
Others have addressed the tech issues, but the biggest reason they are so much cheaper is that they cut out a middleman. BD or Nashbar buy direct from a manufacturer and sell it to consumers. TrekSpecializedCannondaleFeltEtc buy from a manufacturer... and then sell it to a bike shop who sells to consumers. The bikeshop is the middleman and have to make their markup, too, and that ends up in the price to the consumer.

The difference between the two is in-person, local support. Some people don't want or need shop support for a bike and that's fine, they can order from BD or Nashbar and save some $$$. Others would prefer shop support for maintenance, warranty service, goodwill, etc. and the difference in price between their bikes and the equivalent NashbarBD bike is the price paid for that support.
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Old 12-22-15, 05:35 PM
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You get what you pay for.

And by that I mean the dental work you'll need when this "carbon fiber" fails spectacularly.

Tooling? Oh brother.


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Old 12-22-15, 05:44 PM
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CF is pretty durable.

My CF fork is tough and well-made.

If you're considering entrusting your life to a high quality CF frame, the chances of a frame failure are slim to none.

Just look at the thousands of CF bikes all around the country ridden every day without incident.
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Old 12-22-15, 06:27 PM
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Not at all fazed by the folks preaching "Asploding Doom" for all purchasers of unbranded CF frames or components. Fine with them thinking that way, fine being a little more realistic myself.

Ask the folks who ride them----folks right here on the site. Oh, that pesky real-world evidence ... sorry, forget it.
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Old 12-22-15, 06:41 PM
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You can be like the pros: get a bunch of new bikes in the spring every year ..

Be prepared to replace them with spare parts during the season .

low cost labor countries for labor intensive products .. and blems and seconds of those can be really Cheap.
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Old 12-22-15, 07:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs
Not at all fazed by the folks preaching "Asploding Doom" for all purchasers of unbranded CF frames or components. Fine with them thinking that way, fine being a little more realistic myself.

Ask the folks who ride them----folks right here on the site. Oh, that pesky real-world evidence ... sorry, forget it.
I agree with this. I wouldnt expect an unbranded carbon bike sold by Nashbar or Bikesdirect to just fail. I bet part of the reason they're cheaper is that they're somewhat like a generic product, and can be offered cheaper. Also as others have mentioned, lower overhead and advertising costs. They're probably not exactly the same as the their branded counterparts, but I also wouldnt expect them to be garbage either. I'd be willing to ride one if I was in the market for something like that.
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Old 12-22-15, 07:42 PM
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I love all the "but, but CF hardly EVER fails" posts. Carbon fails a *lot* more than other materials. Hey, if you're after speed at the sacrifice of a good ride and reliability, go for it. But don't try to pretend carbon fiber bikes are something that they are not.
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Old 12-22-15, 08:45 PM
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Originally Posted by skye
I love all the "but, but CF hardly EVER fails" posts. Carbon fails a *lot* more than other materials. Hey, if you're after speed at the sacrifice of a good ride and reliability, go for it. But don't try to pretend carbon fiber bikes are something that they are not.
Yes carbon is extremely dangerous. Some local fire codes even require carbon detectors. I avoid all carbon containing products.
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Old 12-22-15, 09:51 PM
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I'm untrusting of even name brand carbon fiber bikes, so the cheap ones made with less QC would concern me even more. It's not so much the frame I worry about, it's the fork and any other CF components. The increased risk just isn't worth it to me. Maybe if I was racing I'd change my view.

Originally Posted by Maelochs
These companies have zero R&D, vastly less promo expense, and maybe (this is my imagination) can let more frames through QC---nothing dangerous, but a frame which is 80 grams above spec might make it through on a BD-funded production run while it might get scrapped by Trek or Giant. Nothing wrong with the frame, maybe an extra layer of cloth or a little extra resin got laid in by accident, but it wouldn't meet major-manufacturer specs---Cervelo can't have a customer weigh a frame and find it 80 grams over advertised max weight, Nashbar couldn't care less because it doesn't publish frame weights.
While this sounds like it may be feasible, do you have any evidence to back it up?
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Old 12-22-15, 10:19 PM
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Originally Posted by AlmostTrick
While this sounds like it may be feasible, do you have any evidence to back it up?
There are many, many threads in the road forum here on this subject but lots more on other sites on this subject. Do a search and you'll see lots of comments made by knowledgable people in the industry. There are some reputable companies plus lots more you don't want to trust. You'll find some really interesting stories and insight on these frames.
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Old 12-23-15, 04:41 AM
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One of life's mysteries, likely never to be solved to the satisfaction of the masses.
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Old 12-23-15, 05:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Elvo
Yes carbon is extremely dangerous. Some local fire codes even require carbon detectors. I avoid all carbon containing products.
It's more a matter of what happens with a bike frame fails. Metal bends and carbon shatters.
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Old 12-23-15, 07:34 AM
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Way too much drama about the dangers of carbon fiber frames. Really?

The price difference for BD is in where they cut component costs: (1) wheels, (2) cranksets, and (3) sundry seatpost, stem, handlebar parts. This, and being a drop shipper.

The bikes are fine for what they are. Even the dreaded and much-feared carbon one. Oooohhh [shudders]
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Old 12-23-15, 07:40 AM
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Not all carbon fiber is the same. My previous bike was a Trek Madone with 400 level carbon and my current is a Trek Emonda SLR with 700 level carbon. The Emonda is much lighter and much stronger.

In the sub-$2000 price range, I rather have a high quality aluminum frame than a bottom of the line carbon bike.
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Old 12-23-15, 07:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs
These companies have zero R&D, vastly less promo expense, and maybe (this is my imagination)
Just how much R&D (other than marketing research/surveys) do the name brand bicycle companies do? Any evidence that it amounts to more than a dollar or so per bicycle sold? Do the so-called promo expenses provide any tangible benefits to the consumer of their products, other than brand pride?

Last edited by I-Like-To-Bike; 12-23-15 at 08:06 AM.
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