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Carbon fiber bike life span

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Carbon fiber bike life span

Old 11-04-22, 03:19 PM
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Carbon fiber bike life span

I saw many opinions saying that a road carbon fiber bike should be changed after 6,7,10 years, to avoid risk of carbon failure. However, talking about the large pool of riders of carbon bikes from reputable brands, outside of professionals or hard racing world, I wonder:

How many road riders from above category experienced carbon fiber failure from normal riding (no hard crash or misuse), and how long (years or km) did it take for such failure to occur?
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Old 11-04-22, 03:27 PM
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imo; neglect is likely the cause for most carbon failures. I'd expect someone that had steel/aluminum/Ti bicycles & jumped to a CF bicycle, that they might be a little careless at times. (it: lean a CF on a tree & it rolls forward & slams onto a curb)
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Old 11-04-22, 03:27 PM
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Shouldn't you also include those that ride other types of bikes. Won't do much good to know about the stat's for CF if we don't know the stat's for steel, aluminum, titanium and bamboo.

I use to see a lot of videos where head tube and fork assemblies came off of steel and aluminum BMX bikes when the top and bottom tubes weren't properly lugged.
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Old 11-04-22, 03:29 PM
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Old 11-04-22, 03:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01
Shouldn't you also include those that ride other types of bikes. Won't do much good to know about the stat's for CF if we don't know the stat's for steel, aluminum, titanium and bamboo.
That is correct, but I did not want to start a comparison between materials. Carbon is pushed more and more as a standard. I also rode a carbon bike until a crash and the replacement will be most likely another carbon bike.
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Old 11-04-22, 03:50 PM
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My 2013 and 2016 carbon bikes are still going strong without any issues. I agree that care/maintenance is the biggest determinant, but that applies to everything.
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Old 11-04-22, 04:24 PM
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My 1992 TVT travelled 40,000 km on the road and then 34,000 km on Zwift before being retired. It shows no visible signs of fatigue or wear other than paint and clearcoat rubbing off. I'm not worried and I do check tubes and joints on all my bikes regularly.
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Old 11-04-22, 04:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Troul
imo; neglect is likely the cause for most carbon failures.
If anything, cf is less prone to damage from neglect. It doesn't corrode, it doesn't dent, it doesn't bend.

Rode my 2003 LeMond a couple days ago -- with the original cf fork. Almost 20 yrs old, probably about 45k miles.

Honestly, why do people worry about this?
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Old 11-04-22, 05:05 PM
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I had a Madone 5.0. Rear aluminum drop out broke. Can be fixed by Trek under warranty buuuuut when Trek inspected it they found a crack hidden under the paint of the top tube about 4 inches from the headset. Not visable. Bet the the drop out had not broken Id still be riding it.
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Old 11-04-22, 06:37 PM
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Old 11-04-22, 07:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote

Honestly, why do people worry about this?
Because they presume it's a bit like plastic maybe? To be fair I've seen plenty of carbon failures from inappropriate loading (usually from clamping to bike racks). The typical pencil thin seat stays you often see on modern road bikes are also easily prone to damage from everyday knocks. I'm always very careful when leaning my bikes up not to catch those on sharp edges of walls etc.
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Old 11-04-22, 09:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote
If anything, cf is less prone to damage from neglect. It doesn't corrode, it doesn't dent, it doesn't bend.

Rode my 2003 LeMond a couple days ago -- with the original cf fork. Almost 20 yrs old, probably about 45k miles.

Honestly, why do people worry about this?
I was including careless behavior in my reference to neglect.
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Old 11-04-22, 09:47 PM
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My 2007 carbon monocoque Fuji frame is still solid. No cracks or suspicious looking areas. Still rides great. Also, the carbon Reynolds fork on it is even older, and has no issues.
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Old 11-05-22, 02:19 AM
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I don't know if there is any set age, although I've heard people discourage riding Carbon Fiber bikes from the 1970's. One of the issues with the oldest carbon fiber bikes with metal lugs is the bonding coming loose.

My Colnago C40 is about 25 years old, and still a sweet bike. Not overly babied.



One issue that some carbon fiber bikes have had is pealing clear coats.
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Old 11-05-22, 05:17 AM
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Longer than Titanium for sure.
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Old 11-05-22, 05:31 AM
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My CF road bike is fairly young still, just 22300 km on it.

Has been ridden on not very pristine roads and crashed a number of times, but I can't tell it rides any differently and I can see it going for years of hard riding more, provided I don't crash hard enough.

​​​​In a couple of years I will be probably treating myself to a new bike, not because there's anything wrong with this one, but just because, well, why not?
​​​​
​​​​​Probably a good idea to keep this one for the kinds of races with a higher probability of crashing.
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Old 11-05-22, 05:43 AM
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You could bump a 20 year old CF frame longevity thread and ask posters to update how their bikes have held up.

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Old 11-05-22, 06:00 AM
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Originally Posted by datlas
You could bump a 20 year old CF frame longevity thread and ask posters to update how their bikes have held up.

Good idea.
But... I wanted to "count" the failures during normal use, and the km or time period until the failure occurred. That might give a more practical perspective over the lifespan of a carbon bike for common users - as opposite to many articles that mix normal usage, poor construction, crashes, misuses and abuses - etc, to come up with a general and useless conclusion that, yes, carbon bikes fails, so you should replace your bike with a new one from time to time, for safety reasons...
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Old 11-05-22, 06:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Redbullet
Good idea.
But... I wanted to "count" the failures during normal use, and the km or time period until the failure occurred. That might give a more practical perspective over the lifespan of a carbon bike for common users - as opposite to many articles that mix normal usage, poor construction, crashes, misuses and abuses - etc, to come up with a general and useless conclusion that, yes, carbon bikes fails, so you should replace your bike with a new one from time to time, for safety reasons...
Sure. I actually bumped a thread from 2002 about CF fork lifespan.

Consensus is that properly made and non-damaged CF should last a very long time.
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Old 11-05-22, 10:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Redbullet
Good idea.
But... I wanted to "count" the failures during normal use, and the km or time period until the failure occurred. That might give a more practical perspective over the lifespan of a carbon bike for common users - as opposite to many articles that mix normal usage, poor construction, crashes, misuses and abuses - etc, to come up with a general and useless conclusion that, yes, carbon bikes fails, so you should replace your bike with a new one from time to time, for safety reasons...
I'm not sure you will get any meaningful data on this beyond anecdotal stories. There's usually the odd warranty issue kicking around the forums were some carbon frame has cracked, with no firm conclusion as to whether or not it was crashed or abused. All you really need to know is that there are hundreds of thousands of carbon bikes being happily ridden around.
Another way to look at it is how long do you really need it to last? For me 10 years would be more than enough. Without crashing or misuse I know this is very easily attainable with a carbon frame.
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Old 11-05-22, 03:49 PM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
Another way to look at it is how long do you really need it to last? For me 10 years would be more than enough. Without crashing or misuse I know this is very easily attainable with a carbon frame.
I got the point and many users mention 10 years. But I wanted to go beyond a personal milestone and assess when comes the time (or better say – mileage) to change a road bike because the carbon fails or shows failure signs. The truth is that most of us are outside the hard racing world, so we get more than we need from an expensive carbon road bike. As a result, some users would be interested to preserve the "status quo" as long as possible, without further investments in new bikes.

I already saw here and there in this thread carbon bikes of 10-25 years old still in use. Not enough for an estimation, yet I could not see a story of failure during normal use. Carbon bikes are available for large public for 25 years (roughly). However, if many users change their bikes at every 10 or even 3-4 years just to be in line with technological progress, we might never have enough stories available to assess carbon bike life span above 10 years.

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Old 11-05-22, 08:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Redbullet
I got the point and many users mention 10 years.
Who are these "many users"?
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Old 11-05-22, 08:26 PM
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Steel, aluminum, carbon feeebray frames can and do last decades...even without much care.
I'm always working on 30-40-+ year old steel bikes, most of dubious ancestry, and with few exceptions they are all perfectly rideable...generally needing some care but the frames are all still generally fine, even where there are visible rusty areas. I'd not trust them on a 40+ mph descent or a 30mph hard corner but to plug along they are still fine.
Bike frames are more robust than most think. Can they fail? Sure can but generally it is a manufacturing problem isolated to a batch or a bike or few...I remember back in the late 80's a team I was close to scored a batch of Bianchi steel frames, through the supporting bike shop. They were beautiful frames and rode very well...until...apparently a manufacturing/welding defect occurred where the seat stay weld broke away from the seat tube. Bianchi took them all back, broken or not, and replaced them with new frames which never had a problem.
I don't think a carbon feebray frame has a built in failure point nor are they any more susceptible to failure than any other frame for generally all the same reasons.
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Old 11-05-22, 08:33 PM
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feebray?
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Old 11-06-22, 07:46 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
feebray?
Fancy for fibre (or for translating for our friends across the pond). Carbon Fibre.
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