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Touring with a Carbon Bike

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Touring with a Carbon Bike

Old 12-23-05, 05:10 PM
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tcwolf
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Touring with a Carbon Bike

Just wondering if everyone thinks I'm crazy. I have gone cross country before so know what a real touring bike is like. That said, I currently bought an amazing road bike that I think will be very comfortable touring with as well. It is a Specialized Roubaix which has special inserts that dampen the ride significantly. This bike completely got rid of back pain when I use to ride over 5 hours. Here's a link with a description:

http://www.specialized.com/bc/SBCBkModel.jsp?spid=13024

I plan to buy a B.O.B. Yak trailer and take a short trip (500 miles) to test it out. I guess my question is whether anyone knows anyone that has done this. Should I worry about the durability of the bike? It's handling with the trailer?
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Old 12-23-05, 05:34 PM
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I rode a bit with a guy who was going from Toronto to Boston via Montreal and he had a carbon Luna Cross made by Calfee Designs. He had a Ti fork and had a bar bag and rear rack with panniers.

Pulling a Bob or Yak might be hard on the carbon stays especially if you ride off the saddle.
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Old 12-24-05, 12:59 AM
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There was an interesting thread a few months ago about the durability of carbon components under the rigours of touring. A touring bike may be thrown around by baggage handlers or banged against parking meters while being locked. Heaven forbid that the bike falls sideways when rider is clipped to the pedals, but it does happen. Touring bikes are subject to a lot of punishment, and can easily get nicked or scratched in ways that may weaken carbon fibre.

One person reported witnessing a catastrophic carbon fork failure during a mountain descent that resulted in face pudding. The idea that a carbon fork can collapse without warning worries me because my custom built touring bike has a carbon fork. I intend to continue riding it, but if I ever need to replace my bike, I will probably go for steel. (Or titanium, if I am unexpectedly rich!)

Most optimistically, I would suggest that there is no real consensus yet on whether carbon is suitable for major structural parts on a touring bike.
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Old 12-24-05, 02:56 AM
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Nice bike, but for pulling 50 more pounds up hills you will need to do something about the gearing. Also, the tires are way too narrow, might want to buy a set of touring wheels for it with 32mm tires. A BOB actually exerts some lateral forces on the rear wheel. I dunno, seems like it would just be easier to buy a used 520 for touring but if you really like the bike it can be made to work. I don't think the carbon itself will be a problem.
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Old 12-24-05, 03:53 AM
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Yeah. the seatstays take a awful amount of punishment with heavy loads. I think you should stick with steel.
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Old 12-24-05, 03:55 AM
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And I don't think it's the frame material that got rid of your back pain, but more like the fit and geometry. Try to find another steel bike that has the same geometry, handlebar, stem, etc.
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Old 12-24-05, 06:38 AM
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The gearing is fine. I got the triple. The tires are fine as well. They are heavier duty specialized tires. I once road from Vancouver, through the Canadian rockies and back on sew-ups without a flat, so I'm not really worried. Also, it really isn't geometry of the bike that makes the ride of this bike unique, it is the inserts. They really dampen the ride without completely diluting responsiveness. There is really no easy way to discribe the ride with actually getting on the bike. It is the best I've ever felt after riding 100 miles.

What worries me is the carbon and as has been stated here the stress on the stays pulling the bob. And, to worry me even more I wonder if the inserts that I love so much will further weaken the frame under load...
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Old 12-24-05, 07:05 AM
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That bike and a BOB will work great! The lighter you packed the BOB the better, but that goes for any other bike too. Take this forum with a grain of salt, it is terminally stuck in the 1970s. The only thing you will wish you had was fenders, but that's not the end of the world, just some spray off your tires.
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Old 12-24-05, 07:53 AM
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Not sure what you mean by "inserts". I'm unfamiliar with the bike and read through the link... didn't see anything of the sort.

What do they do?
Where are they located?

I've a carbon / steel LeMond - not sure I'd ever want to pull a trailer with it. I've set up a 520 for commuting and touring. It gets wet, stays outside, etc.



You should check out Adventure Cycling and post in one of their forums as well.
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Old 12-24-05, 08:01 AM
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Zert inserts into the seatpost,front forks and read seatstays.
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Old 12-24-05, 10:08 AM
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Ah, another Roubaix owner. Here is the link on Zertz technology:

http://www.specialized.com/bc/techlab_zertz.jsp?a=b

Still looking for anyone with some first hand experience.

On the comment about the forum being stuck in the 1970s, actually it did strike me about touring technology in general. I did a lot of touring in the '70s and '80s and the bikes still look pretty much the same. I'm a big windsurfer and it's amazing how technology has filtered down to the masses from the pros. Carbon masts and booms have pretty much wiped out glass and metal. They are stronger, last longer, and are significantly lighter. (Strength may be counter intuitive but to get an idea of how it works take a look at a tree swinging in the wind. Some flex is actually good when under stress.) The downside is that carbon is still more expensive but the cost has come down significantly. At first there was a bit of issue with durability, however that was quickly overcome with better manufacturing techniques. If in fact the comment about the failing fork is true rather than urban myth, it is likely an early carbon fork that was poorly manufactured...
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Old 12-24-05, 12:11 PM
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Why not email Specialized customer support and see what they think?
I had concerns using my LeMond in the trainer all winter, wonder about the stresses on the carbon. LeMond answered back with a pointer or two...


Zerts? Interesting.
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Old 12-24-05, 01:13 PM
  #13  
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Originally Posted by tcwolf
Ah, another Roubaix owner. Here is the link on Zertz technology:

http://www.specialized.com/bc/techlab_zertz.jsp?a=b

Still looking for anyone with some first hand experience.

On the comment about the forum being stuck in the 1970s, actually it did strike me about touring technology in general. I did a lot of touring in the '70s and '80s and the bikes still look pretty much the same. I'm a big windsurfer and it's amazing how technology has filtered down to the masses from the pros. Carbon masts and booms have pretty much wiped out glass and metal. They are stronger, last longer, and are significantly lighter. (Strength may be counter intuitive but to get an idea of how it works take a look at a tree swinging in the wind. Some flex is actually good when under stress.) The downside is that carbon is still more expensive but the cost has come down significantly. At first there was a bit of issue with durability, however that was quickly overcome with better manufacturing techniques. If in fact the comment about the failing fork is true rather than urban myth, it is likely an early carbon fork that was poorly manufactured...

I agree that tourists do tend to be traditional in their approach to equipment. This conservative attitude is brought about by sticking with stuff that is simple and you know works. I think there is a general feeling that steel rides well, is strong and durable, is light enough for touring and is reasonably priced. When it comes to performance and strength vs weight carbon is better and I think it will start to appear in some
touring bikes, but I don't think the extra cost really merits its use and its long term performance after yeras of punishment is still unknown. Also I think tourers stick with their bikes for a long time, decades sometimes, and they modify and change them over the years and its just alot easier to braze on an extra fitting and repaint steel than carbon fiber. I'm getting a new touring bike made with Columbus Zona tubes that I expect to ride for 20 plus years and the frame weight is 3.75 lbs, that's light enough for me.
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Old 12-24-05, 03:24 PM
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Thanks everyone. I do have an inquiry into Specialized and will let you know their reply. I understand staying with what is known to work. I'm just trying to avoid purchasing another bike. If I had a Trek 520 I wouldn't be posting. I had my last touring trek for 15 years before it literally fell apart...
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Old 01-01-06, 05:46 PM
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I finally got a reply from Specialized and they don't recommend it. Oh well, guess I'm in the market for a used touring bike (52cm). Anyone have a recommendation as to where to look?
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Old 01-01-06, 08:33 PM
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Not sure where you're located but out here on the west coast there is almost always a Trek 520 on Craigslist.org, either here in the BayArea or down in LA or Orange Country. Usually $5-600, maybe a bit more, depending on year, condition, extras, etc. BF member Gobes has a fairly new one listed in your size (19") on the CL Orange County site for $600, and there is an older one also 19" for $450 on the LA CL. I would jump on one of those since sometimes they are hard to find in the right size. I generally don't trust Ebay sellers - have seen too many scams/mis-described items.
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Old 01-02-06, 02:18 AM
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Originally Posted by tcwolf
I finally got a reply from Specialized and they don't recommend it. Oh well, guess I'm in the market for a used touring bike (52cm). Anyone have a recommendation as to where to look?
I'm currently trying to sell a Trek 520 that's probably your size. It is the 19" frame. My other bikes, trek 5500, trek 1000, and specialized tricross, are all 52cm frames. See my ad on craigslist.

http://orangecounty.craigslist.org/bik/120872278.html
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Old 01-02-06, 05:43 PM
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I know you were planing on a bob, but a touring bike with paniers on the wheels sucks up a lot of road shock. I have a bad back, and with the longer stays, and the paniers, my touring bike is more comfortable than my 42" wheel base mountain bike with 1.9" tires.
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Old 01-06-06, 11:01 AM
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If you absolutely have to get a different bike or frame, look for as much tire clearance as possible.
The suggestions to look at a Trek 520 are good--they will clear at least a 700 x 38 tire. Consider tires that are fat with relatively light sidewalls, as this combination will get you the most ride comfort--Panaracer Pasela, Tioga City Slicker are two good choices.
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Old 01-07-06, 05:31 AM
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Why change from your original plan??? You have the bike & the plan already. Take the test tour & see how it goes. If you still like the bike, ride, etc. use it. If not change it. The important thing is if it works for you. Don't worry about what others think.

Specialized is a big company, their reply to you was probably run through their legal department. If the bike was not designed and marketed for touring, they may incur some liabilities by now recommending it for touring.

As for the carbon fibre... Why wouldn't it hold up to touring? It is pretty strong stuff. A lot of ignorance exists about carbon fibre. As with any other material, it has its advantages and disadvantages.

Catastrophic failures can occur with any frame. Treat some of the stories as urban legends. Please remember with the others: There is a real & considerable difference between weight minimalized race bikes & bikes available to the average consumer. I suspect that Specialized has a pretty good saftefy factor designed & built into this frame.

Do what works for you. Some years ago, I toured (unsupported) on tubulars. Most I ran into thought I was crazy (probably am). However, the tubulars worked just fine for me. IMHO, I did not flat ay more or less than those with clinchers. I wouldn't hesitate to tour again with them.
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Old 01-07-06, 05:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Bob S.
Why change from your original plan??? You have the bike & the plan already. Take the test tour & see how it goes. If you still like the bike, ride, etc. use it. If not change it. The important thing is if it works for you. Don't worry about what others think.

Specialized is a big company, their reply to you was probably run through their legal department. If the bike was not designed and marketed for touring, they may incur some liabilities by now recommending it for touring.

As for the carbon fibre... Why wouldn't it hold up to touring? It is pretty strong stuff. A lot of ignorance exists about carbon fibre. As with any other material, it has its advantages and disadvantages.

Catastrophic failures can occur with any frame. Treat some of the stories as urban legends. Please remember with the others: There is a real & considerable difference between weight minimized race bikes & bikes available to the average consumer. I suspect that Specialized has a pretty good safety factor designed & built into this frame.

Do what works for you. Some years ago, I toured (unsupported) on tubulars. Most I ran into thought I was crazy (probably am). However, the tubulars worked just fine for me. IMHO, I did not flat ay more or less than those with clinchers. I wouldn't hesitate to tour again with them.
I agree with Bob, think of it this way, a heavily loaded BOB trailer weighs 60 lbs. if loaded properly, 25 of those pounds attaches to the axle of your rear wheel. I bet there are plenty of riders that weigh 25 lbs. more that you and ride that same bike without issue.
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Old 01-07-06, 04:01 PM
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Originally Posted by gregw
I agree with Bob, think of it this way, a heavily loaded BOB trailer weighs 60 lbs. if loaded properly, 25 of those pounds attaches to the axle of your rear wheel. I bet there are plenty of riders that weigh 25 lbs. more that you and ride that same bike without issue.
Does the bike have carbon stays?

25 pounds of rider travels through the seat tube and deposits itself at the axel and hub, more or less in line with gravity.

The 25 pounds on the trailer may add downward load - and even though the trailer attaches at the hub its the 60 pounds worked out at the velocity of getting going, stopping, etc that I would worry about. You would now be pulling and potentially torquing the frame for ways it wasn't designed - and if it has been engineered (granted, it is probably over engineered for liability reasons) most bikes aren't loaded this way.

Not sure I'd personally feel comfortable with it - but you can always try it and see how it rides.
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Old 01-08-06, 07:49 PM
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By the way, if you want some shock absorbtion in the seat , get a brooks with springs, or even a seatpost spring. I was all for doing this before my hasty departure last fall, in the end I couldn't arrange the right parts in time. I never had a problem with shock the paniers seemed to take it all.
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Old 01-14-06, 11:38 AM
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Yes, it is a complete carbon bike including stays. Where I'm uncomfortable is the zertz inserts in the stays which I'm scared will weaken the frame with lateral motion from the Bob. As I said earlier, I'm really not concerned about the strength of the carbon itself. It's a good idea to try it out. I'll see if I can borrow a Bob for a test. Anyone reading in the Boston area have a Bob I can borrow for a test ride?
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Old 01-14-06, 11:49 AM
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Oh and Bob S. I also toured with tubulars - Vancouver through the Canadian Rockies and back - without a flat. So I agree with you, a lot wider range of equipment can work than people usually think...
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