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Carbon Fiber isn't that great(18 posts)

Carbon Fiber isn't that greattcr01
Oct 16, 2001 9:00 AM
I posted this link below b/c I think the article gives a realistic view of carbon fiber used in parts. I posted this link along with a little rant about CF to a thread below about seat posts.
Where is the proof of anything?vanzutas
Oct 16, 2001 9:16 AM
your rant contained one piece of anecdotal "Proof" that carbon is no good. chances are the broken seat post you witnessed was improperly installed. I have seen people over tighten carbon seatposts and it cracks them, then the post breaks while riding. these lightweight parts require care in installation and use.

That article seems to me like and opinion piece with very little evidence of anything wrong in the carbon fiber industry. Which is fine but people have opinions about a lot of things and amazingly they are all different. So avoid carbon if you like I think I am going to go out and buy a Kestrel and put a record carbon crank on it.

not is good, but is it bettertcr01
Oct 16, 2001 10:17 AM
is what I doubt. I am not saying that Cf parts aren't good. I just don't feel they are superior to some of the metal alloy parts. I think the bike industry is putting out so much CF because they can make a nive buck on it. To get you to buy it, they have to distort the truth about its performance. Oh and make it look cool. Good luck with the Kestrel. Not a bad bike, but not a great one.
Oct 16, 2001 9:53 AM
That's an interesting allegation by Mr. Willet.

First, I'd like to point out that is a wholly owned subsidiary of Excel Sports, and thus, anything you read there is suspect. I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with this particular article, but you need to think about the impact on Excel Sports of anything written on

To quote Kieth Bontrager is probably not a really solid proof of lack of R&D. Bontrager was an old-school mountain bike guy, with no R&D budget, so yes, he tested things with beer cans and strings. LOOK or Easton on the other hand, have R&D, do R&D and know what they're talking about. It always amuses me when a mechanical engineer will write a column (or write here) and say: "I'm a mechanical engineer, and such and such product is crap." I'll tell you what, Easton has a dozen mechanical engineers on staff, they designed the product, and they're usually confident that it's a good one.

This isn't to say that all CF products are top-flite. That would be like assuming that all titanium bikes are awesome. It's just an awful assumption. A lot of CF that comes out of Taiwan is absolute garbage that I would never trust with my life (in fairness, good stuff also comes out of Taiwan and garbage sometimes comes from the US or Europe). This doesn't mean, as Willet infers, that all carbon fiber is suspect. Years of research have gone into CF bike parts- how long was the Record crank in the R&D rumor mill before it came out? 5 years?

Bottom line is the same as always: it's who made it and who designed it, not what it's made, of that counts.
re: Carbon Fiber isn't that greatGalibier
Oct 16, 2001 10:25 AM
I think the point made by the cited article is a good one, and was not intended to be confined to carbon fiber. As I see it, the point was that carbon fiber is the latest hot material; as a result, many businesses are attempting to profit from that latest hot material by rushing the production of new items. Some of these products may be poorly designed and tested, some may make specious claims, some may be downright unsafe. Therefore, the author recommends closely examining the company and its product before being swept away by the latest craze. If you ask me, this is good advice with all products, whether they be carbon, titanium, aluminum, steel, or otherwise.
Oct 16, 2001 10:28 AM
re: Carbon Fiber isn't that greatmackgoo
Oct 16, 2001 10:49 AM
It sure looks nice though.
That's why manufacturers like it.Dave Hickey
Oct 16, 2001 11:35 AM
I think that's part of the appeal of carbon. Let's face it the component manufacturers need to sell new parts to stay in business. Carbon looks different than other parts so people who want to stay up to date will have to upgrade. Part of the problem with the Ti craze was Ti really didn't look alot different than aluminum, steel, or magnesium.
Content is correct, thesis is wrongChris Zeller
Oct 16, 2001 11:48 AM
I think that the content of this argument is that carbon fiber can achieve performance gains, however it requires special handelling and design different than tht required for isotropic materials like metals. Be careful of companies that do not put forth this type of research. As an aerospace engineer with some experience in testing and laying up CF, I know that this is the case. Also, being an anisotropic material they can be very strong in the drection they are designed to be strong in. This requires knowledge of the expected stresses and strains in the material that is not usually within the budget of a low-end sports product manufacturer. Manufacturing CF s easy. Quality control and expert design is expensive. That's all this is trying to point out--inflamitory statements aside.
re: Carbon Fiber isn't that greatIndiana Rider
Oct 16, 2001 12:24 PM
I believe its like the golf club business. New and imporved may be new and improved... it may be of great quality, but there will always be a market for something else "new". I like my CF parts, but then I have about 6 drivers in my garage too.
re: Carbon Fiber isn't that greattcr01
Oct 16, 2001 12:31 PM
It's funny how everyone thinks that new golf clubs feel so much better and how they agree with all the manufacturers increased performance claims, but most peoples scores never go down. I like the golf club analogy.

After those Campy carbon cranks start selling like hotcakes, I wonder if Shimano will be working hard to make something out of carbon.
Double blind testsTig
Oct 16, 2001 1:40 PM
The technical aspect of the article has been covered well here already. I did like the double blind test point he made. I wonder just how well we would notice the subtle differences of many bike product comparisons in a double blind test?

Calfee designs is a good example of a smaller CF builder that has constantly R and D'ed their products. The evolution of their frames is proof. Trek has come a long way from their CF bonded to aluminum lugs design to their 5900's.

I had an early CF seat post on a steel hardtail MTB and loved the difference it made on washboard trails, rocks, and roots. The long exposed length of the post made the difference over a shorter road application. The same length aluminum post it replaced was acceptable, but not as light or comfy.
Technical Errorgrzy
Oct 16, 2001 2:40 PM
CF isn't exactly a low density material, sure it's less than steel, but so are a lot of things like ti and aluminum.. What makes it light is that you can use less of it to achieve a part of equal strength. It still sinks so it has a specific gravity greater than water which by definition is one. If i wasn't feeling lazy I'd look up the desity for carbon fiber and epoxy. Not too many people think that water is a low density material.

Ultimately the message is correct - everyone is going to be getting high zoot carbon stuff whihc is usually just a copy of a something made from aluminum or steel, and the designs haven't been tested or validated. Things are going to fail, as lots of the ti stuff did, with nasty results. If you're going to buy CF, put down the scale and do some research on the company selling the stuff.
Carbon will inherit the EarthDuane Gran
Oct 16, 2001 3:52 PM
Okay... I'm a pro-carbon person. I'll admit that up front, and I use a lot of carbon parts. The advice in the article could probably apply to just about anything a serious cyclist would purchase for his/her steed. Everyone needs to be wary of the fly-by-night company with a new product regardless of what material they use.

I'll say that Ti and Steel are probably more resistant to breaking in scary ways, and for this reason they do have a bit of an upper hand when things go wrong. Carbon parts will generally treat you fine if you treat them well.

Just a little rant on that last point... weight wenies like myself get a tad unnerved when clydesdales break ultra light materials, like carbon, and then blame the product. On the other hand, the manufacturers tend to be somewhat silent on the issue of recomended weight and stresses for their products. We are often left to guess, but it doesn't take long to develop an intuition that says that CF bars aren't a good idea for a 200+ lb sprinter. Don't get me wrong, I'm not calling someone fat or anything like that. Some folks are simply larger, and in cycling if you are over 180 lbs you have to be a more wary about your component selection.

The article has some good advice, but carbon rocks.
re: Carbon Fiber isn't that greatDutchy
Oct 16, 2001 9:14 PM
I ride both an aluminium MTB, and a carbon fibre road bike. The road bike is a
Giant CFR1 1996'. Now I can't talk for Giants R&D (if they have have any)
or there quality control, but I haven't heard anything bad about this particular frame set.
The bike is full carbon with 6061 AL lugs, even the seat/chain stays are carbon.
The bike has always felt strong, it's only had 1 crash (with a car) but I have no regrets about the purchase.
Giant don't make CF frames at the moment they only make AL frames.
Why have they stopped making CF frames? Should I be concerned over this?
Giant used Carbon frames in this years TDF(nm)Dave Hickey
Oct 17, 2001 5:14 AM
It does OK at Paris-Roubaix!!cyclequip
Oct 17, 2001 3:00 AM
The Mapei dominance of Paris-Roubaix over the past 7 or 8 years (read also Museeuw this year - with some Dutch help) had one sidebar: On the roughest roads ever raced the C40 was the winner for about 6 of those years.
Then again Museeuw said the Scandium Merckx he rode this year was streets ahead of the C40. And the story goes that the Mapei riders never used a bike after it went thru P-R.
re: Carbon Fiber isn't that greatBikingViking
Oct 17, 2001 11:25 AM
I have been wondering about the very same thing. I m in the market for a new road bike and have been looking at the Kestrel Talon, among others. I remember years ago when CF wasn't recommended for "clydesdales" like me (6'3", 200 lbs). Does the same hold true today? I specifically remember the early OCLV frames had problems around the BB. I am thinking the 2002 Trek 2300 is the way to go. Any one have some advice?