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Carbon forks: durability

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Carbon forks: durability

Old 12-08-05, 03:25 AM
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JayB
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Carbon forks: durability

Are carbon forks as durable as steel? I mean, ridden the same way, will they fail sooner? And will the failure be more or less catastrophic? Never had one, but thinking about it so interested.
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Old 12-08-05, 05:14 AM
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Like anything else, there are carbon forks and there are carbon forks. If you buy a no-name fork for $175 it will not be as reliable, all other things considered, as a Name Brand. If you want to see some evidence, there's a really interesting picture of a Colnago carbon fork cut in half and being conpared to another brand: the carbon on the COlnago is about 4 times thicker. Of course, the COlnago Force fork on my C40 costs about $700. Reynolds forks are very reliaible: I have one on my Co Motion and it is great. SHould last as long as the frame. Carbon doesn't rust, steel does.
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Old 12-08-05, 05:30 AM
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Despite owning a C40, I think the Colnago sawn up fork picures are misleading. Just because the layup is thicker doesn't make it better. I would be more persuaded by looking at the consistency of the layup, analysis of voids or something like that. The thinner fork may be 25% lighter, constructed from higher modulus fibre and be produced using a superior process. Without going into more detail abouts the parts being compared it's hard to say what value the comparison has. One could draw the same conclusion by sawing up a gas tube steel bike and comparing it with a 'dangerously thin' 753 tubeset.

Colnago's carbon offerings used to be far ahead of the market when the first C40s were put together. Recently they seemed far behind the cutting edge, driven more by marketing than engineering design. Holes in the chainstay and trefoil shaped tubes are not not things Engineers would ever dream up. Only their latest Extreme C loses the marketing modifications to get below a kilo in weight. By all means buy a Colnago because you like the paint job and the brand heritage, but if you want an Engineered bike, buy a Giant or a Cervelo.

Coming back to the original subject of carbon forks on tandems, I am definitely a fan. My concern is that the carbon tandem fork market is now where the single bike fork market was 5 or 6 years ago with manufacturers still gradually improving their designs to reduce weight and cost. Thus I would buy a properly designed, tested and constructed model from a reputable source rather than taking any risks with a heavy single bike or cyclo cross model. If the price seems high, I'd wait a year or two as the prices will come down.

Last edited by mrfish; 12-08-05 at 05:43 AM.
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Old 12-08-05, 09:22 AM
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Originally Posted by JayB
Are carbon forks as durable as steel? I mean, ridden the same way, will they fail sooner? And will the failure be more or less catastrophic? Never had one, but thinking about it so interested.
If you limit the discussion to forks designed specifically for use on tandems that have been on the market for several years now, there shouldn't be too many concerns. These include the tandem forks from Reynolds, True Temper, Wound-Up, or others endorsed and used by the major tandem producer that have now have a track record. Trek introduced a new Bontrager tandem for for '06 and I would suspect that they have done their homework to ensure it is overbuilt.

We've put about 10k miles on one of our True Temper Alpha Q X2s and about 5k miles on the other one... In that time the fork tips were damaged on one of the forks and replaced by True Temper in a week for $25/ea. One of the others developed what appeared to be some cracks behind the fork tips which prompted me to send it to True Temper for inspection. Turns out that they were scratches in the clear-coat and paint that sits on top of factory fork finish.

As for failure modes, if there is a defect in the fork -- such as a void or wrinkle -- a fatigue crack can occur and the couple I've seen either in photos or in person look and act like fatigue cracks in steel, i.e., they are easy to see and if they are caught early-on, the forks are not at risk of catastrophic failure. Simply remove it and send it back to the manufacturer for an inspection (or to whomever your tandem builder tells you to send it to if your fork came on the bike from the factory). If it's a product defect that falls under their warranty period, it gets replaced. If it's outside the warranty period you usually get a replacement at dealer cost. Same thing goes for one that gets damaged in a crash or mishandling: if a post incident inspection reveals visible damage, send it back to the manufacturer for an inspection. If it's no longer sound several of the fork manufacturers offer a significant cost break on a replacement.
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Old 12-08-05, 11:52 AM
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JayB:
Have around 10,000 miles on an Alpha Q X2 fork on our ariZona carbon fiber tandem.
Have personally broken a experimental Reynolds 531 steel fork and have seen a Santana steel fork break.
All things can/will eventually reach the limits of their useful life, including us!

Pedal on!
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Old 12-11-05, 06:38 PM
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The Alpha Q fork on our Litespeed tandem started showing cracks near the crown after about 20k miles. Unfortunately the warranty time had expired and I had to pay for a replacement. True Temper offered us a "crash replacement" price on a new fork but since they were out of tandem forks it was a 6 week delivery time. Ended up replacing with a Wound Up fork. Als otook the good price on the replacement Aplpha Q so I now have a spare.
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Old 12-12-05, 03:39 AM
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Originally Posted by tandemracer
The Alpha Q fork on our Litespeed tandem started showing cracks near the crown after about 20k miles. Unfortunately the warranty time had expired and I had to pay for a replacement. True Temper offered us a "crash replacement" price on a new fork but since they were out of tandem forks it was a 6 week delivery time. Ended up replacing with a Wound Up fork. Als otook the good price on the replacement Aplpha Q so I now have a spare.
Interesting - and True Temper is a well-respected brand as far as I know. The Woundup fork is quite different, from what I have heard. You're in an excellent position to give us some comparative comments. What is your subjective feeling about the differences between the Alpha and the Woundup. Handling? Comfort?
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Old 12-12-05, 06:04 AM
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mrfish: all components of a C40 are made at the Ferrari factory. You don't have to be real insightful to figure that pretty much puts them at the leading edge of technology. Giant? Cervelo? You're kidding, right????
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Old 12-12-05, 08:49 PM
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Originally Posted by JayB
Interesting - and True Temper is a well-respected brand as far as I know. The Woundup fork is quite different, from what I have heard. You're in an excellent position to give us some comparative comments. What is your subjective feeling about the differences between the Alpha and the Woundup. Handling? Comfort?
I was surprised by the difference in the ride between the two forks. The Alpha Q is shorter so we had to have an extension made for the bottom of the head tube to lift the front end up 15mm. With corrected geometry the forks steer about the same. The Wound Up has a much more solid feel when cornering hard with noticeably less flex. But the Alpha Q is lighter and looks much faster.

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Old 12-12-05, 10:11 PM
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Looks like that Alpha fork is on a Calfee?
Have about 10M on our fork; still OK but we'll keep our eyes open!
Pedal on!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
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Old 12-12-05, 10:19 PM
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Originally Posted by zonatandem
Looks like that Alpha fork is on a Calfee?
From an earlier post...


Originally Posted by tandemracer
The Alpha Q fork on our Litespeed tandem started showing cracks near the crown after about 20k miles
It was a Calfee-branded Alpha Q X2... purchased from Calfee.
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Old 12-13-05, 01:52 AM
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ELREY .... Ferrari factory.... does not mean much...... I have never seen a C40 qualify for a Grand Prix!!!!!!!!
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Old 12-13-05, 05:58 AM
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Originally Posted by ElRey
...all components of a C40 are made at the Ferrari factory.
Originally Posted by Big H
Ferrari factory.... does not mean much...... I have never seen a C40 qualify for a Grand Prix!!!!!!!!
From Colnago's Tech Bulletin:

FERRARI CONNECTION & ATR: [It was]....Colnago’s friendship with Ferrari that got things started. “I was discussing composite materials with Enzo Ferrari one day”, recalled Ernesto Colnago, “and he suggested that I work with his engineering team to develop a bicycle frame made in carbon fibre, with all the right elements that a racer needs; stiffness and stability.”...The first prototype was built in 1986 and Ferrari Engineering then brought Colnago to their key partner in composite materials fabrication, ATR srl, an emerging Italian high-tech company that specialized in carbon fiber fabrication. ATR proved to be the right choice, for two decades later, ATR now builds state-of-the-art carbon fibre components for Porsche, Aprilia, Ducati, Renault, Minardi, Agusta, besides Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini as well as Colnago.

TECHNIQUE & TECHNOLOGY: The engineer determines the characteristics, not the the material, which is called anisotropy, and this can’t be done with metal. So to ensure the utmost application of carbon fibre technology to bicycle design, Colnago collaborates with Dr. Giuseppe Sala of the Aerospace Engineering Department of the Milano Polytechnic Institute and the Research & Development Lab of ATR by using Finite Element Analysis (FEA) to optimise the distribution and positioning of the fibre within the polymer matrix. This allows Colnago to find the potential weak points in a design and strengthen the right areas as needed.

You can read more here:
https://www.colnagonews.com/prova2/storia/ctb/ctb.htm


Last edited by TandemGeek; 12-13-05 at 06:21 AM.
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Old 12-13-05, 07:44 AM
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Then they outsource to Taiwan...(not that there is anything wrong with Taiwanese bikes...)
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Old 12-13-05, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by galen_52657
Then they outsource to Taiwan...(not that there is anything wrong with Taiwanese bikes...)
Last time I read anything on this it was only the low to mid-range models and not the high-end carbon (C40, C50, Anniversary, etc.) models marketed to the US enthusiast market. Have you read something that has changed that? However, it is ironic that their licensed manufacturer in Asia is Giant, whose name did appear earlier in this thread.

Tandem Content: True Temper's Alpha Q's, when last I checked, were made in El Cajon, California. Reynolds (actually MacLean Quality Composites) makes its forks in Vista, California. Wound-Up makes its forks in Salt Lake City, Utah.
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Old 12-13-05, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by TandemGeek
Reynolds (actually MacLean Quality Composites) makes its forks in Vista, California. Wound-Up makes its forks in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Maclean Quality Composites is out of Utah. They make great CF booms and masts for windsurfing.

https://www.hawaiianproline.com/about_hpl.htm

Until last year these components were made in Utah, but starting this year they are now manufactured in China.

I heard thay make their living on defense contract work these days...

I thought I saw somewhere that the Reynolds Forks were manufactured in Mexico...not sure though.
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Old 12-13-05, 10:36 AM
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Nice that some good stuff is still being made in the US of A!
Quality will long outlast mediocrity!
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Old 12-13-05, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by wsurfn
I thought I saw somewhere that the Reynolds Forks were manufactured in Mexico...not sure though.
Hard to know anymore... Here's what they say at their Website:

Facilities
MQC operates manufacturing facilities in West Jordan, Utah; Vista, California; and Hangzhou, China. MQC is headquartered in a 66,000 sq. ft. building in West Jordan, where we develop and manufacture all of our products except bicycle forks. At our 5,000 square foot Vista facility, we market and manufacture our Reynolds forks and assist with wheel testing and development.
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Old 12-13-05, 12:52 PM
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Originally Posted by TandemGeek
Now that's a damn precious photo... do you think Marlboro will ever sponsor a bicycle team? BwahahaCOUGHCOUGHCOUGHdead.

-Greg
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Old 12-14-05, 09:56 AM
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"ferrari factory doesn't mean much." Now that's a real comeback. The guy asked, I tried to offer some insight including a bit of artwork that pretty clearly shows the differences between two carbon forks. An attempt to illustrate that asking about carbon forks in general was very simpistic, as I stated. I didn't notice anyone else illustrate that any better. I'm sorry you guys got so offended. Good thing I didn't mention what an improvement the Colnago Force fork was over the Reynolds Ouzo Pro it replaced. And what an improvement that was over the Profile BCD it replaced. Geez, I'd really get you guys mad....
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Old 12-20-05, 12:46 AM
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Luv to stir.... and it works every time!!!!!!!
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Old 12-20-05, 08:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Big H
Luv to stir.... and it works every time!!!!!!!

This is a classic case of "I have to get the last word in so it looks like I win". I saw this in the other thread that I missappropriately titled. Related in some fashion?
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Old 01-03-06, 12:09 PM
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I think you guys have given in to marketing speak. You really need to start filtering out what's important and what's not. I didn't hear any objective comments about whether cutting up forks and comparing the thickness is a good comparison, nor whether you really believe that putting holes in the chainstay is an engineering or marketing led decision, just 'They buy their toilet roll from the same place as Ferrari does, so it must be good stuff' Hint 1: Replacing fibres with higher modulus ones allows less material to be used. Hint 2: The latest C50 Extreme has round tubes and no holes.

Don't get me wrong, my Force forks are very good, and were top of the pile when they came out; it's just that things have moved on since then, and Colnagos haven't moved on as far as others.
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Old 01-04-06, 06:45 AM
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The C50 Extreme is designed for light, light, weight. Period. Hence the lack of the top-of-line HP stays. The C50HP still has them, as does their top "President". And the Force fork was replaced by the Star fork not that long ago. I get you don't like Colnagos, but what has this to do with a guy wanting to know about steel vs. carbon forks? I offered a picture to show the guy there are differences among carbon forks and I get crucified for the effort. So why not either: 1) share your expertise relative to the question, or: 2) keep the sarcasm to yourself. Tell the guy the differences between steel and carbon forks. Give some examples. Offer the guy some advice. I didn't ask for any.
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Old 01-05-06, 10:57 AM
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OK Elrey, not personal - apologies for the sarcasm.

I agree 100% with your point that not all forks are equal. I was just trying to move from a marketing led discussion towards a fact based discussion. The comparison of wall thicknesses made by Colnago in my opinion is misleading as it makes no allowance for the weight of the fork, its planned use, the modulus of the material used to create the forks, geometry of the fork, the amount of labour and technique used to form the laminate. Technique is particularly important since the design of laminates commonly allows a tolerance for mistakes such as wrinkles in the lay up leading to poor adhesion or slight misalignment of plies. Designers can remove this tolerance, but need to ensure their manufacturing process is up to scratch. I was hoping others would agree that the comparison is flawed. I do have a Master's degree in Engineering Science, and long history as a bike fanatic, but I am not a composites expert so I would appreciate input from others that are.

Now, what fork to buy? German magazines, which like to reduce most bikes to weight and stiffnesss scores have measured significantly different levels of front to rear, torsional and lateral stiffness amongst the different forks on the market. Their testing institutes also fatigue test forks to destruction. Even these scores are not very useful as they are not a simple mechanism for choosing a fork since they do not include a reliable measure of comfort. Another obvious flaw in the measurement is that forks which are noticeably less stiff than others (e.g. those used on Orbea bikes) are still happily ridden by the Euskatel team (yes they are mostly small and light, but they do produce many watts and go fast round corners). My belief is that reputable manufacturer's forks rarely fail, so one can therefore choose one which meets your usability criteria and desired mix of lightness and price without going to an extreme of either low price or low weight. For tandem road forks, any of the widely available Reynolds, Wound up, AME, Trek forks meet this criteria. No-name or Cyclocross forks do not.

Coming back to Colnago, firstly I own a C40 in Rabobank colours with a star fork (not a force fork - my mistake previously), purchased with my own money at great expense so it's hardly fair to call me someone who dislikes Colnagos. My view is that Colnago was cutting edge when it introduced the C40, but is now some way behind the curve. So far behind in some areas that it has introduced features for marketing / aesthetic reasons rather than functional. If items such as trefoil tubes and holes in chainstays provided engineering benefits, other companies would have produced similar products. In fact round, ovoid or aero tubes and hole-less chainstays are the norm. Further examples of this range from the technique used to form the C40's family's lugs, which includes much more resin than other more recently developed techniques. This is one reason why Colnago struggles to get frames under 1 kilo while Scott carbon bikes (another company to include in my list of Engineering led manufacturers, also made in Taiwan) are heading towards the 800g mark. Your point around the C50 Extreme being built for light weight alone yet just shaving under a kilo illustrates the this perfectly. We shouldn't pretend that Colnago are leading edge in areas other than marketing and of course paint design. I still like my C40 though, and yes the paint is the best ever.
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