Showing posts with label Carbon Fiber Bike Frame. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Carbon Fiber Bike Frame. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Your frame on Crack

The website BUSTED CARBON is devoted to a single, sobering topic: failed carbon frames, seat posts and handlebars. You won't soon forget a visit to this site. See below and click on one of the photos for more.

Rivendell Bicycle Works
has been sounding the alarm on carbon frames for some time. I bought a beautiful all steel Romulus from them years ago and have enjoyed every minute on it. It's a supremely comfortable and ergonomic ride. As promised, I can ride all day without any aches and pains. But have I really been safer?

Here is Ken Thiessen on steel/vs carbon bike frames:

I crashed hard on my all-carbon Giant bike a couple of years ago. Before I rode the bike again, I hired a mechanic formerly with TREK (I wanted an opinion independent from the manufacturer) inspect the bike for damage. The carbon bike checked out just fine and I am riding it today. One of the reasons I choose the Giant in the first place was that the composite layup seemed to be more stout than the competition. I would not buy a super light carbon bike designed for one-month's use by a 150 lb pro racer. I do not want to live in fear of an unseen pothole.

Meanwhile, I have broken three steel bike frames. My former steel bikes were all assembled with brazed lugs at the joints. I think that in all three cases the steel was weakened by excess heat applied during overzealous brazing. The most dangerous of these breaks was on a new Raleigh Super Course (Reynolds 531) where the fork crown braze parted from the steer tube. Fortunately the brake bold held the assembly together until I recognized the problem. Raleigh replaced the entire fork. No matter the material, paying careful attention to the integrity of your bike is paramount to your safety.

Ken's an engineer, a frequent contributor to this blog and a riding buddy of mine. He's definitely not the kind of guy who beats the hell out of a bike or exaggerates for effect. And let's face it, even if you were trying for spin, a blown fork crown doesn't give you a lot of wiggle room.

Every once in a while something truly unexpected happens out there in the physical universe: a devastating earthquake in Missouri, a near miss by an unknown asteroid, the melting of an ice cap or two. True, a bike frame failure isn't as catastrophic as, say, a mega-volcano erupting under Yellowstone National Park, assuming you're not actually on the bike when the frame fails.

This bike shop sounds a warning that you'll want to read, especially if you're thinking of adding a carbon fiber seat post to a steel frame.

Yes, more data is needed. What are your experiences with steel vs. carbon bike frames?