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What can you tell me about Calfee frames?(22 posts)

What can you tell me about Calfee frames?Erik W
Feb 8, 2002 8:43 AM
Anyone out there with first hand (or second hand for that matter) knowledge of Calfee carbon fiber frames? Tell me what you think?
Erik W
top notchColnagoFE
Feb 8, 2002 9:55 AM
If I was in the market for a new bike the Calfee would be on the top of my list. Good guarantees (unlike Colnago C-40) custom available. Have only heard good things about them.
top notchVandenburg
Feb 8, 2002 10:41 AM
Way overpriced in my view. Their construiction technique is very little different than Trek and Look yet they attempt to make it sound as if it's some world beating technology. Basically just carbon tubes, they don't even build their tubes inhouse, connected at the joints by carbon fiber wrap and epoxy which is heat pressurized molded and then manually sanded smooth, whereas Trek uses lugs and glue then glasses over the joint with carbon fiber epoxy.

The cheapest Calfee frame you can buy with a 1 1/8th inch headset - (why would anyone want a carbon fiber bike with a 1 inch headset like the Luna, I have no idea) is the Tetra at $2000 for frame alone. Then they charge you another $150 to get a 1 1/8th inch headtube instead of the standard 1 inch, ridiculous! Now you are at $2150 and you still don't have a fork. Add in a fork like a Reynolds Ouzo Pro and you are now looking at about $2500 just for frame, fork with a 1 1/8th inch headtube and the frame is still unpainted! They charge more if you want paint, totally ridiculous price. By the time you get done with paint, grouppo and wheels you are looking at a bike which approaches 4k, meanwhile you can buy a Trek OCLV with full Ultegra and Bontrager Racelite wheels for $2200-2500 depending on where you shop. Ridiculous price for egomaniacs with money to burn, the bike rides no better than an OCLV.

A lot of the Calfee guys claim their bike rides better than the Trek OCLV's and I think they are for the most part full of it, just their egos talking trying to convince people their bike is better simply because it is more expensive, similiar to the C-40 crowd of hot air blowers. I testrode one for 2 hours and it felt the same as the Trek OCLV.
You sound kind of enviousspeterson
Feb 8, 2002 11:20 AM
I don't know, but you sound resentful that you can't have one so you try to justify your purchase of an OCLV, which I'm sure is a great bike, by bashing the Calfee. I've heard nothing but great things on the Calfee. The people who ride them love them and the warrantee seems excellent (25 years). Your statements crack me up, like bashing a 1 inch headset. Like that hasn't been good enough for the past 50 years. Colnago refuses to use anything but a 1 inch headset and last time I checked, people riding Colnagos seem to win plenty of races and aren't held back by a 1 inch headset. Of course, these same people would be winning on any well built bike, regardless of the brand.
Don't steer this guy wrong. Calfee is a great product and if he wants to pay the price for it, let him do it if it makes him happy. Him buying the Calfee is not going to make you enjoy your OCLV any less...or is it?
I disagreeSteve Burby
Feb 8, 2002 2:24 PM
There is a big difference between running a 1 inch steel fork versus a 1 inch carbon fiber fork with a carbon steerer tube. Most guys who are buying a Calfee or any other carbon bike for that matter will not be satisfied running a steel fork on their bike. Most of them will want to run a carbon fork with a carbon steerer tube. In this case, there is a big difference between 1 inch and 1 1/8th inch. The 1 inch carbon forks with carbon steerer tubes tend to be far too flexy and lack the stiffness necessary to provide proper front end contol from my experiences. There is a definite reason why most carbon, aluminum and now even steel bike makers are switching to 1 1/8th inch size headtubes and it isn't simply for the fun of it. They are doing this so that the users can run the larger diameter carbon fiber forks and get the necessary stiffness needed for performance biking. Recently, Pinarello has received an awful lot of complaints for not making their EOM Opera frame with a 1 1/8th inch headtube. Riders have complained that the 1 inch headtube with carbon fork and steerer tube is simply too flexy for serious out of the saddle riding. When it comes to carbon fiber bikes, there is a big difference between 1 1/8th and 1 inch fork setups. I'd be real interested in seeing what most Calfee Tetra owners have to say. I'm guessing that just about every one of them runs a 1 1/8th inch setup, at least those guys who are seriously racing.

By the way, I do think Calfee makes a quality product, however I would not say it is better than a Trek because its more expensive. I think it's more like Trek has economies of scale and can thus produce a similiar quailty product at a lower price in my opinion. Both bikes are very good quality bikes from what I have seen. I rode a Look carbon fiber bike which developed a crack on the driveside chainstay near the bottom bracket in the first year. Getting it fixed was a warranty nightmare experience, I won't even go further into that!
Why can't a 1" CF steerer be just as stiff?ColnagoFE
Feb 8, 2002 2:48 PM
I mean theoretically now...The tube is hollow right for both 1" and 1 1/8" steerers? So why not just make a 1" steerer tube a bit thicker to compensate for stiffness? Seems like it should be doable.
doesn't seem to be the caseCT1
Feb 8, 2002 5:51 PM
My LOOK and TCR both have 1" carbon steerers and they are both a bit noodly in the bars.

My CT1 has a steel steerer and WOWWWWWY that bike just RAILS going down twisty mountain roads!!!! :) Right out of the box I was absolutely cranking on that bike. Now is it the steerer tube or the whole "deal" that makes the 'Nago so bitchen .... ????

Apples vs. Orangesgrzy
Feb 8, 2002 6:01 PM
You're comparing different bikes with different forks and attributing it all to the fork. Try to imagine how much force, thus applied torque it takes to flex a CF steerer. Grab a pair of handle barsand place one side on the floor and under your feet, now pull upwards and press downwards on the other side of the bars.

The reason why you feel the bars are noodly is b/c they are. Sharpening a pencil and knowing something about materials you'll soon realize that the diffference in flex between a 1" vs. 1=1/8" CF steerer, over such a short length (maybe 1" of spacer stack?), is minute. if you really want to know the stiffness of the steerers then you should measure just the stiffness of the steerers. It's simple enough to do for those that are inclined. Next consider how flexy some of the cheesey stems are.
I'll forgive your ignoranceCT1
Feb 8, 2002 6:47 PM
Because I didn't state the whole story. I've said this several times I figured the regulars had read it:

Both bikes, the LOOK and the TCR started with longer steerer stacks and the noodlieness went WAY down once I got the stack height under 1cm. The TCR is now at zero and the LOOK is at 0.75cm.... and both have a significantly stiffer Hbar "feel". I'm not a materials engineer but I know the diference in stiffness was ONLY due to the length of steerer tube! Perhaps you should sharpen your pencil.

I'm done on this subject!

I'll forgive your ignorancedry pasta
Feb 8, 2002 9:14 PM
Let's see, a 1 inch carbon fork, steel fork, yada, yada, is like a noodle!?!?! How the f#@$ did most of the peloton ever finish a ride before!!!!!! Oh, I'm sorry. I forgot we're all engineers. Can someone please tell me what a noodle rides like, or a wooden frame!!! It's a freeking bike riden by your basic normal human. Not some gifted superhuman. Or have I missed reading your name in Velonews or Procycling. etc, etc.
the key to stiffness...mickey
Feb 9, 2002 8:39 AM
Is to use no spacers at all, if possible. I've never used over .5cm with a 1" steering tube. Without spacers there should be no significant difference between the two steering tube sizes.

There is a commonly used formula for the deflection of a cylindrical beam with one end fixed and the other bearing a point load. I ran the numbers once, assuming equal wall thickness, and the 1-1/8 inch tube would have 1.5 times less deflection than the 1".
give us a review of the CT1!!!C-40
Feb 9, 2002 8:49 AM
Now that you've got it together, how do you like it? I assume you are using the Flash fork. A previous post by someone, claimed that the CT1 has poor workmanship; poor welds and pits in the Ti tubes that showed through the paint. How's the workmanship on yours?
give us a review of the CT1!!!CT1
Feb 9, 2002 11:38 AM
Maybe I'll guts up and start a new thread. I'm sure that will bring the Colnago haters out of the closet. It should be good for a few laughs, right!

Why can't a 1" CF steerer be just as stiff?Semtero
Feb 8, 2002 6:48 PM
It is absolutely doable. The problem is, the purpose of getting that carbon steerer with fork is to also shave weight and manufacturers to date have been reluctant to properly build up the 1 inch carbon forks with carbon steerers to provide adequate stiffness. A larger diameter tube gets exponentially stronger and stiffer as diameter increases, thus you would have to greatly increase the wall thickness of a 1 inch tube to give it the same strength and stiffness of a 1 1/8th inch tube - this is the build concept behind oversized tube aluminum bikes and why they are so stiff, yet also very light. This is the same reason why builders are by the droves switching to 1 1/8th inch headtubes - the larger diameter tube exponentially increases strength and stiffness of the bikes front end in conjunction with the larger diameter fork without exponentially increasing overall frame weight. It's basic physics. From my own experience I used to run a 1 inch Look HSC carbon fork which was a complete floppy noodle compared to my current Look HSC-3 1 1/8 fork.
Check out the...PsyDoc
Feb 8, 2002 10:30 AM
...Calfee discussion board. You can access the board from Calfee's homepage at:
I think they're great.MrCelloBoy
Feb 8, 2002 11:07 AM
And many others agree.
Sure they're not inexpensive (the best usually isn't).
We ride a Tetra Tetra tandem. The only other bike that came close in performance, when we were doing extensive test riding, was a Seven Ti.
Try a KestrelMax Vint
Feb 8, 2002 1:18 PM
They are one of the very few who makes a true monocoque 1 piece design, the strongest and most structurally sound design out there. They ride smoother than other carbon fiber bikes also. Calfees are very similiar to other builders who use separate carbon fiber tubes where you can have bonding issues rather than the more expensive and stronger 1 piece monocoque design.
Try a KestrelCT1
Feb 8, 2002 5:53 PM
That's got to be one of the most over-simplified statements I've ever seen about CF frames.

Try a KestrelSemtero
Feb 8, 2002 6:52 PM
Lots of statements in here are oversimplified, LOL. If you eliminated all the oversimplified statements in here the thread would be extinct like a dinosaur.
Try a Kestrelnothatgullible
Feb 8, 2002 10:52 PM
Met a guy the other day at the shop who was riding a Calfee. Everything top notch, Campg Record 10 speed, Bora wheels, etc. Very nice and clean bike. I asked him what he thought of it and he said that he liked it but no more than his OCLV. I guess he had the money to afford one and he got it. He also told me he has a run of the mill steel cyclocross bike that he really likes. So, don't expect a spiritual experience just because you are getting an expensive bike. I was really surprised at his comments. I figured he was going to tell me how it was the best bike he had ever ridden. Oh well.
Well lets get a couple things straight here about bike qualityJoe Horton
Feb 9, 2002 3:40 AM
First of all , simply because a bike is made of carbon fiber by no means guarantees that it is better than any other material. A super high quality bike can be made out of any of the 4 major frame materials assuming the designer and fabricator are very skilled at what they do. Anyone who believes differently is either totally misinformed or trying to sell you something or both.

As far as carbon fiber bikes are concerned I'd put Colnago, Trek, Look, EPX and Kestrel right there alongside Calfee as far as quality is concerned, just that they each fabricate their bikes using different methods.

I went to the Calfee website and I thought it was interesting that Calfee discussed problems with Colnago's and Treks but conveniently failed to mention some of the issues his riders have had with their bikes, and yes, he has had joint failure issues and bonding issues in the past just like the others, if you think not your kidding yourself. Trek's problems with aluminum/carbon denegration were about 7 or 8 years ago, since they have changed their fabrication techniques they have virtually no no such issues in recent memory and you would expect them to have more complaints than Calfee becasue they are producing far more bikes on an annual basis than Calfee, it's called statistics and population size folks.

As far as the often mentioned White Paper is concerned lets be serious folks. That paper is a marketing tool disguised as scientific proof that Calfee bikes are superior. Superior in their materials used and superior in their fabrication technique. That paper in reality is the worst kind of "voodoo" science going, because it is being passed off as real science and real fact when in fact it is nothing more than a marketing tool. The paper itself is filled with ridiculous generalizations about frame materials and construction methoods all of which completely ignore the quality of the bike designer, his choice of tubes as far as butting, shaping, wall diameter and thiickness and overall frame geometry and the quailty of the fabricator himself. The paper is meant to lead one to believe carbon fiber is the best frame material and high pressure lamination of the joints with carbon fiber impreganted expoxy is by default the superior fabrication method. The paper makes one unfounded assertion after another, after another, after another, after another... and so on, you get the picture. In not one place in this so-called scientific paper does the author bother to reference even a single laboratory test, any scientific test for that matter, and no real world empircal data samples to provide even a smidgen of true scientific support his multitude of generalizations and unfounded assertions. If that paper were presented as an freshman level Engineering thesis on design or materials at any respected college in this country I'm pretty sure the author would be failed miserably for lack of any real scientific data supporting akll his assertions.

As easily as he wrote that paper, I too can right a paper where I assert that titanium or steel or aluminum with Tig welds, filet brazing or lugging makes the best all around bike and fill my paper with a multitude of completely unfounded assertions to support my marketing position.

I'm very surprised that so many bikers who are purportedly "in the know" have bought into this document and it's complete subjectivity, lack of real scientific composition, and multitude of opinioned yet unfounded and unproven assertions.

I'm sure Calfee makes a nice bike, but to try to say it's better than other carbion fiber bikes or frames from other materials is pure opinion. I have yet to see even a single person support this papers positions with a single shred of real proof be it laboratory, or real world empirical samples.

I apologize for going off folks, but when I see marketing pamphlets being passed as "scientific" or "factual" papers I tend to get a little peeved.
Here-here! MANY excellent points! ........ nmCT1
Feb 9, 2002 1:25 PM