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Carbon bike in winter?

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Old 11-03-18, 09:23 AM
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cj19
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Carbon bike in winter?

Trying to find some accurate information on riding a carbon frame bike (Trek Domane SL 6) in cold temperatures. For me in the Northeast US, I'll probably ride down to about 10 to 15 deg F but no colder. I also have a Salsa Vaya Apex that handles rough conditions with ease so there's no need to expose the Trek unnecessarily. For what it's worth, the Trek is new this year and I have no desire to elevate the risk of damaging it due to cold temps or risk of crash.

I was unable to find anything credible on the web on carbon frames in cold temperatures, other than a few old BF posts. Your personal opinions are welcome but I'm also looking for something with a scientific backing that can educate me on carbon frames in cold temps.
Thanks and happy riding.
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Old 11-03-18, 11:12 AM
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I have no scientific studies to offer you, but I will point out that modern airplanes make extensive use of carbon fiber on wings and rudders and other outside surfaces that routinely are exposed to -30 and -40 temps, and maybe colder. Carbon is also used in various fat-tire bikes that are designed specifically for winter riding.
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Old 11-03-18, 11:13 AM
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Honestly...your screen on your Edge will cease functioning....as will your fingers and toes before you harm CF from cold.
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Old 11-03-18, 11:37 AM
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Carbon composites are used in spacecraft. Orion will carry four people to Mars in a carbon fiber shell.

Not a problem for a bike. Put it out of your mind. Ride on.

Biggest issue in the northeast is crashing due to ice. Wear your helmet.


-Tim-

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Old 11-04-18, 09:45 AM
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OP here. Have spent more time searching for info and come to the following conclusions:
  • Lots of references to how CF holds up on aircraft and spacecraft. That pretty clearly tells us what CF can do in a billion dollar application, but it doesn't tell us how my $3500 CF bike will hold up. Saying it's the same thing is like saying that a condom can carry 10 people across the lake just like a Boston Whaler because both are made of polyurethane (don't try that at home).
  • What little I did find about CF and temperature focused more on the potential for issues due to overheating, which in theory would affect the resin at some point. Cross riding into a volcano off the bucket list.
  • Did not find a single mention of "I rode my CF bike in the Minnesota winter and it cracked in half" or any similar story. So it appears that the CF itself is not really a concern...
  • ...but Tim's point on ice and crashing is really applicable here. It's not unusual in the winters around here to be cruising on dry roads and run across a patch of ice. Any crash to a CF bike is not good.
  • I didn't mention the additional challenge of salt and chemical mixtures used on roads, but the conclusion is probably the same. CF is probably not the concern but other bike parts might be?
I'm turning the Trek into an indoor trainer as soon as we start getting winter precipitation, and will ride the Salsa.
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Old 11-04-18, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by cj19 View Post
OP here. Have spent more time searching for info and come to the following conclusions:
  • Lots of references to how CF holds up on aircraft and spacecraft. That pretty clearly tells us what CF can do in a billion dollar application, but it doesn't tell us how my $3500 CF bike will hold up. Saying it's the same thing is like saying that a condom can carry 10 people across the lake just like a Boston Whaler because both are made of polyurethane (don't try that at home).
  • What little I did find about CF and temperature focused more on the potential for issues due to overheating, which in theory would affect the resin at some point. Cross riding into a volcano off the bucket list.
  • Did not find a single mention of "I rode my CF bike in the Minnesota winter and it cracked in half" or any similar story. So it appears that the CF itself is not really a concern...
  • ...but Tim's point on ice and crashing is really applicable here. It's not unusual in the winters around here to be cruising on dry roads and run across a patch of ice. Any crash to a CF bike is not good.
  • I didn't mention the additional challenge of salt and chemical mixtures used on roads, but the conclusion is probably the same. CF is probably not the concern but other bike parts might be?
I'm turning the Trek into an indoor trainer as soon as we start getting winter precipitation, and will ride the Salsa.

If your concern is winter chemicals...get full coverage fenders. Makes riding much more pleasant.
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Old 11-04-18, 09:22 PM
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Originally Posted by cj19 View Post
OP here. Have spent more time searching for info and come to the following conclusions:
  • Lots of references to how CF holds up on aircraft and spacecraft. That pretty clearly tells us what CF can do in a billion dollar application, but it doesn't tell us how my $3500 CF bike will hold up. Saying it's the same thing is like saying that a condom can carry 10 people across the lake just like a Boston Whaler because both are made of polyurethane (don't try that at home).
  • What little I did find about CF and temperature focused more on the potential for issues due to overheating, which in theory would affect the resin at some point. Cross riding into a volcano off the bucket list.
  • Did not find a single mention of "I rode my CF bike in the Minnesota winter and it cracked in half" or any similar story. So it appears that the CF itself is not really a concern...
  • ...but Tim's point on ice and crashing is really applicable here. It's not unusual in the winters around here to be cruising on dry roads and run across a patch of ice. Any crash to a CF bike is not good.
  • I didn't mention the additional challenge of salt and chemical mixtures used on roads, but the conclusion is probably the same. CF is probably not the concern but other bike parts might be?
I'm turning the Trek into an indoor trainer as soon as we start getting winter precipitation, and will ride the Salsa.
The concern about the grade of CF might be valid but my gut feel is no. While they aren't using aircraft grade CF in our bikes (saw a YouTube last year said aircraft grade CF is 20X more expensive) a modern resin SHOULD be able to handle those temps.

BTW thanks for this thread, I'm thinking of getting a new pair of skis : You can get a "craft" pair of CF skis for $CDN1300 like these bad boys:

https://foon-skis.myshopify.com/coll...-custom-carbon

Lots less CF than in a bike but we'll often be out there in -30C in Whistler and these are designed and built just up the road for Coastal Mountain conditions. They don't carry low temperature warnings.

Salt on the metal bits is the bigger concern as it'll accelerate galvanic corrosion.
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Old 11-05-18, 07:59 AM
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Originally Posted by cj19 View Post
  • ...but Tim's point on ice and crashing is really applicable here. It's not unusual in the winters around here to be cruising on dry roads and run across a patch of ice. Any crash to a CF bike is not good.

Crashing any bike, ever, is not good and any material can be damaged in a crash.

Down hill mountain bikes are made of carbon fiber. Riding a downhill mountain bike is basically a series of crashes.

Ride whatever you want in winter but as you yourself have pointed out, the material itself doesn't matter. What matters is how its made.

I beat the living crap out of my Niner carbon gravel bike and crashed it three times in the snow. The frame is built to mountain bike specs. I would not do the same to a Pinarello Dogma F10 or a Cervelo S5, nor would I do it with my 1400 gram custom S3 steel frame bike.


-Tim-
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Old 11-05-18, 08:33 AM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
Trainer use is very stressful to a bike frame. Search the forums for cracked frames in trainers. Lots of cracked chainstays.
I’m skeptical that a trainer is overly stressful on a frame. I’ve always used carbon bikes on a trainer as have most who use trainers without any problems. I’ve seen very few reports of damage that could be attributed to trainer use vs general failure from riding.
Zwift’s take: https://zwiftinsider.com/will-indoor...-carbon-frame/

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Old 11-05-18, 09:37 AM
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OP here, wrapping up the carbon frame part of this question. Here's the verbatim response from Trek...Thank you for your email! As far as winter is concerned, the biggest considerations that are needed are to your apparel and keeping the bike clean. Cold won't have an impact on the frame, but salt for deicing roads can cause a lot of damage to a drivetrain if you let it. Salt is one of the worst enemies of a drivetrain and can increase corrosion and wear. If you do intend on riding through the winter, I would want you to at least bring it in once during the winter for a checkup. My tips would be these:1: Dress for the weather2: Get some nice, grippy all-season tires3: Clean and lube your bike. Winter is not nice to bicycles, and a clean bike is a happy bike!Cheers!
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Old 11-05-18, 10:22 AM
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Originally Posted by cj19 View Post
OP here. Have spent more time searching for info and come to the following conclusions:
  • Lots of references to how CF holds up on aircraft and spacecraft. That pretty clearly tells us what CF can do in a billion dollar application, but it doesn't tell us how my $3500 CF bike will hold up. Saying it's the same thing is like saying that a condom can carry 10 people across the lake just like a Boston Whaler because both are made of polyurethane (don't try that at home).
  • What little I did find about CF and temperature focused more on the potential for issues due to overheating, which in theory would affect the resin at some point. Cross riding into a volcano off the bucket list.
  • Did not find a single mention of "I rode my CF bike in the Minnesota winter and it cracked in half" or any similar story. So it appears that the CF itself is not really a concern...
  • ...but Tim's point on ice and crashing is really applicable here. It's not unusual in the winters around here to be cruising on dry roads and run across a patch of ice. Any crash to a CF bike is not good.
  • I didn't mention the additional challenge of salt and chemical mixtures used on roads, but the conclusion is probably the same. CF is probably not the concern but other bike parts might be?
I'm turning the Trek into an indoor trainer as soon as we start getting winter precipitation, and will ride the Salsa.
You're finding out some of the same things I found a few years ago when I first thought about a CF fatbike. My next fatbike will be a Salsa Beargrease (CF) and I plan to ride it in sub-zero temps without concern. Remember Salsa is a Minnesota company. I know many people that work at Salsa (and QPB); their staff rides their bikes, they ride them hard, and in all conditions.

For reference (maybe not too helpful... ) - I like to race winter fatbike events. This video is from my GoPro at the 2018 Fatbike Loppet in Minneapolis, we race the same day as the Super Bowl in Minneapolis... you know, the coldest Super Bowl day in history (those wimps played inside LOL). You'll see steel, aluminum, CF, titanium, and combos of these at winter events.


I will not use a CF road bike in the winter, but that's more about the bike design than about the material ... I mean I don't like riding any 'pure' road bikes in the winter. I have an old beater touring bike with fenders and can be set up with studded tires for winter rides (that aren't on snowy trails).
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Old 11-08-18, 07:21 AM
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On salt and corrosion: this is a topic commonly discussed here. Some ideas on how to better deal with this:
  • Store the bike inside
  • Regularly spray it down (after each ride to once a week). No hose for that? Use a $15 hand pump garden sprayer
  • Replace steel parts with stainless steel or aluminum parts, as much as feasible.
  • Fenders AND mudflaps. Particularly long ones on the front to avoid spray against the bottom bracket. I cut out a section of an old tire to be used as long mudflap. Use a metal brace to keep it 'open'/wide.
  • There are chains with a corrosion protective coating. I'm running one of them without issues, but I'm unsure if the chain can be attributed to that.
  • Lube... really thick stuff will attract lots of gunk... I personally use very thin stuff and lube often (prolink). But will try wax based lines next when current bottle is empty.

Last edited by alias5000; 11-11-18 at 08:01 AM. Reason: corrected all those android auto-correct mistakes. grrr
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Old 11-08-18, 01:48 PM
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Originally Posted by cj19 View Post
  • Lots of references to how CF holds up on aircraft and spacecraft. That pretty clearly tells us what CF can do in a billion dollar application, but it doesn't tell us how my $3500 CF bike will hold up. Saying it's the same thing is like saying that a condom can carry 10 people across the lake just like a Boston Whaler because both are made of polyurethane (don't try that at home).
That was the funniest analogy I've read in a while. Thanks for that.

I have to second a lot of what's been said reference maintenance. I use a thin wax based lube but I clean and wax my chain and drivetrain often. (Often is like twice a week sometimes with one deep clean to the frame wheels as well as drivetrain once a month or as I see fit. It's less of a problem when it's really cold but, when the temps are ag or near the 20s and 30s it becomes especially pronounced with all the salt and chemical laced water on the roads.

I got planet bike fenders - I just added the longer flap that they make recently. On hoping it will do a much better job of keeping my toes and bottom bracket cleaner than the previous and very short mudflap.

Last edited by srestrepo; 11-08-18 at 01:53 PM.
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