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Carbon frame question(27 posts)

Carbon frame questionNeo
Nov 7, 2001 11:53 AM
I know this question will have some of you rolling your eyes, saying "not again", but here's my question. I am 34 and have a comfortable income now. I have been riding a red Trek 5200 that is 5 years old. I race Cat IV, but am mainly pack filler, finishing in the top 20-30%, but not really any higher. I am not a pro, nor ever will be. Because of that, I vowed to ride my 5200 into the dirt. But now I am re-thinking.

I will stay on a full-on carbon bike. If I remain on my older Trek, I would want to upgrade to a threadless stem/fork, but that would mean getting rid of the cool red color matched fork, even though the older Trek fork was a pig and the worst part of the bike. I would also definately upgrade to Dura Ace, as my ultegra shifters are junk, having too much play and rattlin' hoods despite all the fixes. i dont know if I want to put that much into that bike, or just go all new, with a nicer 1 1/8 inch steerer as opposed to the 1 inch that is on my Trek.

Frames I am considering are Parlee, Calfree, Trek, Colnago, the new De Rosa and maybe Look. I want a bike that has a good rep, is fairly light (even though I know I need to loose a few) and does not have customer service nightmares. Its the cust serv nightmares that I have heard that has prevented me from getting a Colnago C-40 to this point. If I go with the new Trek 5900, it WILL be repainted, as I dislike the colors Trek offers stock and refuse to advertise for the USPS, unless I get a killer deal on a bike. I am looking for feedback on your carbon frame experience with makers, as this is a big investment and I dont have the local dealer availability for any test rides, other than Trek.

re: Carbon frame questionbikerduder
Nov 7, 2001 12:23 PM

I can't comment on the brands you are thinking about, except for the Trek. I have a 4 year old Lemond carbon Maillot Jaune, which is basically the same frame as you have. I picked the Lemond because of the beautiful paint job in the last year they carried carbon, and I'm not a fan of advertising for USPS, even though I love the team. I too have Ultegra and pretty much think the groupo is crap - rattles and never stayed in adjustment. I agree with your comments on warranty. Mail order bikes are just customer satisfaction nightmares waiting to happen. I have owned 3 Treks + the Lemond and they really do back up their products, with no questions asked, plus your LBS gets paid to disassemble/ship/reassemble the bike. In both cases where I need frame fixes, they repainted the bike to the original colors.

When my Lemond needed some minor frame work this summer, I used the opportunity to upgrade upon reassembly. I went with the Dura-Ace triple and basically replaced everything that was worn-out or scratched up. The bike is like new now, with 11,300+ miles and I couldn't be happier. The complete upgrade cost me in the neighborhood of $1,500, less than half of what a new bike would cost if similarly equipped. If you like your bike, I'd go with the upgrade and save the jack. That frame is guarranteed for life ad is a keeper. Have you considered a custom paint job from someone else? By the way, I chose to stay with the threaded, but upgraded to a Chris King headset. I find that as I get older (comin' up on 45), I am less flexible, and the threadless headsets force me into an uncomfortably low position. Good luck with whatever you go with.
Nov 7, 2001 7:24 PM
So you got the DA Triple installed now! How do you like it?
Nov 7, 2001 8:50 PM

Your handle sounds like North Carolina - my brother lives in Raleigh. I love it. I immediately noticed a difference in shift quality. It's quieter and more precise. I especially like the 39/53T middle/large chain rings, as they make the 12-23 cogs more friendly than the 42/52T on the Ultegra. I've hardly used the small ring yet. The new bottom bracket for the DA triple is also a sealed bearing unit like the Ultegra. I also put in a Chris King headset and sprung for the DA hubs, which I plan on combining with Mavic Open Pros (I think) this winter. I also like the gear indicator on the right shifter with the DA. Combined with a new paint job, bottle cages and bar tape, my bike's like new.
Nov 8, 2001 5:01 AM
I AM your brother! (Does anyone else call you Dino?) Your LeMond sounds great. Can't wait to see it.
Nov 8, 2001 5:13 AM
Trek 5500Len J
Nov 7, 2001 12:32 PM
I have a 2001 trek 5500 w full D/A. It's light (16.7lbs) Laterally stiff and vertically compliant. You also can get a pretty good price on a 2001 leftover. I paid $3,200 in April (W/ flight deck, Cages & Speedplay X/2's). I Got the Smoke Carbon (as opposed to the UPSP colors) and like it more now then when I got it. I test rode the 5900 but didn't think the slight increase in stiffness & .25 lb weight savings were worth $1,000.

It's been bulletproof thru about 3,000 miles. I'm getting ready to changeout stem & Bars but this is more because I like to tinker than need.

BTW, if it were me and I was looking at the high $ assortment you were looking at, I would set up a road trip and go somewhere for a long weekend to make sure I test rode all bikes possible. It's a big investment and there are suttle ride differences that may make a difference to you but not to someone else. I test rode about 9 different bikes for about 5 miles each on a Saturday & couldn't believe the differences bike to bike. I bought the Trek because it spoke to me.

My Experience.

re: Carbon frame questionzelig
Nov 7, 2001 12:35 PM
I'm a long time steel rider and in the last few years, Ti rider so personal experience is limited to testing Looks and Treks. Personally, I'd be looking at the Colnago C-40 and the newest, as in 2002, Looks for the following reasons. I like how they look (a matter of personal taste), they both have lots of frames in the field, FWIW they've been proven in Div 1 pro racing, and they've been making them for a long time. For me this translates into experience in carbon layup and bonding, even if they outsource some of these skills and correct geometry for given sizes.

Warranty issues are just that. Issues whose outcome are never certain. Customer service is always an issue but you're talking about racing machines so I accept that things may break. That being said, you might be better served by an American manufacturer who offers you comfort of mind and locale so you can escalate your complaint in country, and in English. As for the DeRosa, I'd wait until they get into some sort of meaningful production. My guess is that they've outsourced the work completely to Columbus, Dedacciai or Presenti.

A lot of people swear by Calfee, they've been at it a long time and they'll build to specification. Also, you can't argue with Trek's success at the Div. 1 pro level with USPS.
re: Carbon frame questionzero1
Nov 7, 2001 12:58 PM
i own a colnago mxl...i just like a steel frame and the craftsmanship of italian bikes...but i would not hesitate to purchase a trek...they make great bikes... i would never order a bike by mail even if it costs a little more at the lbs..i just like the one on one thing....have u been to, i guess it is treks custom page...the website is only other advice i can give u is just test ride as many bikes as u can...ride safe, gary
re: Carbon frame questionTroyboy
Nov 7, 2001 1:01 PM
I can't see any reason to get anything other than a Calfee if price is no object. Having seen and been on them, and having personal discussions with Craig, I cannot imagine going elsewhere.

I like having multiple bikes, so I recommend keeping your existing bike and getting something entirely new.
Nov 7, 2001 1:10 PM
You're not getting any younger, you can afford it, what the hell, buy a dream bike and keep the 5200 around as a beater. Its what I've done and I definitely don't regret it. I've got an 8 year old Kestrel 200 Sci that I still ride regularily commuting. A few years ago I upgraded the thing from 8 speed Ultegra to 9-speed DA because the components wore out. I didn't go all out and replce the fork though. A few years later I got a C-40. Its a dream bike, I really like it.

Everyone wastes their money on something. A dream bike isn't a bad way to spend it. Besides, how can you only have one?
Hey, Troyboy and pmf, et allNeo
Nov 8, 2001 11:36 AM
I'd have to marry you guys, because my wife already has a hard time with me owning the road bike, a Manitou mountain bike, a Waterford 'cross bike and a Trek "Cylde" city bike........ She doesnt understand why I need more than one bike.....and two of the same discipline would be right out. I wish I could keep the 5200 and get a dream bike.

To all who voiced an opinion, thanks!!! I appreciate your time and I'll keep you up on what happens....

re: Carbon frame questionLC
Nov 7, 2001 1:21 PM
I love my Look KG386, and have yet to find a bike that beats it for ride quality, vibration dampening and stiffness. Can't really say anything about customer service with Look, because I have never had any problems. The Trek is lighter though, and for serious hill climbing I would still like to have a Trek in my stable.
Trek offers "Custom" paintKStone
Nov 7, 2001 1:48 PM
Trek now offers custom paint on OCLV frames. My Trek LBS has questioned the factory about this custom paint for repaints. Trek's not ready to offer custom repaints but may in the future.

I've been riding an OCLV frame since the weird copper and and butt ugly green color options. The warrantee has been great because I've needed it!

A brief history:

(1)Butt ugly green 5200 frame developed a loose bottom bracket "shell" after 2 years, Trek dealer called the factory...3 days later-free new clear coated nude frame with new design fork, reassembled free.

(2)rear brake cable guides fell off (I swet battery acid) clear coat refinish,updated cable guide location, stickered as 5500!

(3)clear coat corrosion under the top tube-seat tube junction...paint only warranteed for 1 year-damn waited too long- $160 for refinish plus shipping.

I would suggest you stick with Trek, update to the fork of your choice, get your position dialed in, then bug Trek to give you a custom repaint.

I have not checked but the paint options can probably be viewed on the trek website.

re: Carbon frame questionsherpa23
Nov 7, 2001 2:13 PM
Having seen all of the frames that you mentioned and having ridden most of them, the Parlee is the way to go. Bob has tons of experience with carbon and his technology is the best IMO. His bikes are better made than the Calfee, from what I have seen, and they are built to last.
re: Carbon frame questionsherpa23
Nov 7, 2001 2:24 PM
I forgot to mention that I don't like Calfee's gussets and that is a factor for me. Also, a lot of people with OCLV's will weigh in with their opinion, as they are right to do, but keep in mind that a gizillion people own OCLV's and much less own some other bikes like the Parlee or the Fondriest. The biggest problem with the Fondriest or the DeRosa is what to do if something goes wrong (i.e. breaks). Sending it back to Italy for 10 weeks is going to be a best case scenario. The C40 isa nice bike but is way too much money for a frame supposedly made in Taiwan.
re: Carbon frame questionElefantino
Nov 7, 2001 4:26 PM
I have heard some chatter about Leader Bikes out of San Diego, although I haven't ridden one. They are throwing out frames here and there on eBay just to drum up interest (apparently contractual agreements have kept them from marketing their own frames until now). Might be worth checking out. 619-425-6452.
what do you value?C-40
Nov 7, 2001 6:19 PM
I got a C-40 for the looks, the fit and the ride. The paint job has amazing detail. Even a custom painted Trek will pale in comparison to a C-40.

I never gave customer service any consideration. It's highly unlikely that you'll ever need warranty service (it's only 1 year). I would be reluctant to buy a brand that has great warranty service - seems like a lot of Trek owners need it.

I don't race, but if I did, I'd use a disposable frame for racing. Too much chance of crash damage and thousands down the drain. There are many race-worthy aluminum, aluminum/carbon and carbon frames out there at a fraction of the cost.

You didn't mention your frame size, but the geometry should be analyzed to be sure a C-40 will fit. They come in 1cm increments, so there's no excuse for getting a poor fit. If you have short legs/long torso, Colnago may not be for you. The top tubes are about 1cm shorter than a lot of other brands, in sizes 57 and larger. The smaller sizes have steep seat tube angles that effectively lengthen the top tube.
re: Carbon frame questionCT1
Nov 7, 2001 8:18 PM
I can highly recommend the C40, Calfee, and LOOK frames. IMHO, all of these are a SIGNIFICANT step up from a Trek. The best bike for the money is by FAR the LOOK. Euro pricing is under $1200 with a fork.

good luck
re: Carbon frame questionCT1
Nov 7, 2001 9:20 PM
I can highly recommend the C40, Calfee, and LOOK frames. IMHO, all of these are a SIGNIFICANT step up from a Trek. The best bike for the money is by FAR the LOOK. Euro pricing is under $1200 with a fork.

good luck
Trek 5200 = Trek 5500breck
Nov 8, 2001 8:04 AM
Those of you riding either have the same exact frame set & fork, or at least it was back in 1996. The 5500 was grayish in color for to be sold w/ Dura-Ace gruppo; the 5200 was ice-tea color to be sold w/ Ultegra gruppo. Otherwise they were the same exacto frame set & fork before factory paint scheme. Mine is the 5200 frame/ fork built up with my own kit piks.

Am considering the re-paint also at Cycle Art in San Diego & put a shield on the BB housing as the rare but happened chain suck ate the carbon a tad or more.

My bud Road Dog has the Calfee w/Metronic & luvs it. His Audi A8 prob puts 'em in the cat of "comfortable income" :)

Does the same color scheme/ gruppo match w/same frame & fork hold true with the current model ???

Thanks & cheers,
Trek 5200 = Trek 5500Len J
Nov 8, 2001 9:59 AM
still true.

2001 5200 was Black 5500 was smoke carbon color. (in addition to the USPS White)

Calfee gets my carbon voteTig
Nov 8, 2001 8:13 AM
I look around me on each ride and am surrounded by Trek 5200 and 5500's, so I don't plan on buying one myself. The 5900 is a nice ride, but I like the 2.5 pound Calfee Tetra better for the feel (not the dead, wooden OCLV feel), $1900 frame price, and uniqueness. If money is not a concern, go for the new 2-pound Dragonfly model. They claim the lateral flex is the same as the Tetra's. The Tetra compares well with the C-40 and Look's KG-281, but much cheaper than the C-40.

The $2900 Dragonfly frame might kick booty on all the other CF bikes if it lives up to it's promises. I wish I has the $ to buy and try it.
looks like a . . .BM2
Nov 8, 2001 9:06 AM
Scattante CFR Carbon! Save your dough.
looks like a . . .Tig
Nov 8, 2001 11:09 AM
While Scanttante (part of Cinelli, right?) makes a decent, basic, and very affordable frame, the 3 pound CFR is not in the same league as Colnago, Look, or Calfee. Appearances can be deceiving!

Craig Calfee is considered one of the very best designers of CF frames. Not just because he made them for Lemond and the Z team, but from a technical point of view. Give one a test ride and you'll know what I mean. It takes quite a nice frame to rival a C-40.
Colnago C40 B-Stay / CT-1 B-Stay + free Carbon Crank and WheelsPrince
Nov 8, 2001 11:22 AM
Contact me and I''ll give you the most fantastic deal on the Colnago C-40 B-Stay 2002. I'll throw in a free Campagnolo Carbon Crank and a free set of wheels (Campagnolo Neutron - Mavic Ksyrium SSC SL - Campagnolo EURUS)
Colnago C40 B-Stay / CT-1 B-Stay + free Carbon Crank and WheelsPrince
Nov 8, 2001 11:24 AM
Contact me and I''ll give you the most fantastic deal on the Colnago C-40 B-Stay 2002. I'll throw in a free Campagnolo Carbon Crank and a free set of wheels (Campagnolo Neutron - Mavic Ksyrium SSC SL - Campagnolo EURUS) - email -