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steal and carbon(14 posts)

steal and carbonthe greek
Aug 24, 2003 5:47 PM
What are your thoughts on putting a carbon fork on a steal frame?

I have an old Schwinn Paramount that needs to shed a few lbs....I realize I should get a new bike but the old steal frame has treated me well for years. Would I be a total FRED if I upgraded fork, stem, handlbar, etc.. to carbon?

On another note, if I upgrade to a new frame - is full aluminum the way to go or is it better to have aluminum frame with carbon seat stays?

your thoughts will be greatly appreciated
It all depends...Synchronicity
Aug 24, 2003 6:37 PM
...on what you think looks nicer. We can all tell you to get carbon, but ultimately you've got to be happy with your own decision. I think a lot of it comes down to aesthetics. If you're a tech-freak, you'll like the carbon weave look.
If you're not, it will be hard to convince you to get anything made from composites.
Personally I think you either like steel and therefore METAL, and would rather not add on any composite parts (with the possible exception of a composite fork) - OR you're not that nostalgic when it comes to steel and you'll get parts made from anything. However, it sounds to me like you're fairly open minded.

I would keep in mind this fact: If steel, titanium and aluminium is so terrific, how come all of the manufacturers are using carbon stays, etc??? I never thought I'd see the day when merlin and klein went over to carbon. Why don't they just make the whole damn bike from carbon??? They know it's better!

Recently though, I have come to think that there is something appealing and timeless about an all-metal bike.

Bottom line is that sounds to me like you need/want a whole new bike!!
Carbon stays are cheaper to build...russw19
Aug 24, 2003 7:48 PM
That's why you see them on so many bikes. They are cheap to build for the manufacturer, and they add carbon to a bike, making a lot of people think it must be that much better. It costs a whole lot more to weld Titanium stays onto a bike than to glue on Carbon ones. If you don't believe me, email Merlin and ask them which way is cheaper?

That's also the same reason you see them on such cheap aluminium frames too. If it was expensive, you surely wouldn't see them on Douglas or Leader frames...

Well with all due respect, I disagree.Synchronicity
Aug 24, 2003 8:46 PM
I think it is cheaper to weld the stays on there. I mean the rest of the bike is welded. And all those really cheap bikes are entirely welded. You don't see Kmart composite frames do ya?
Composites are more labour intensive in the layup process which also includes cleaning/bonding, etc.
chineese titanium frameskneebreaker
Aug 24, 2003 8:55 PM
what about those $399 titanium frames made in china. are they cheaper to weld?
Well this is getting a bit off the topic a bit.Synchronicity
Aug 24, 2003 9:58 PM
Regardless of whether it is actually cheaper to weld or not,
you're saying that Merlin & Klein /only/ do it cos its cheaper? I think that is a tad cynical.

Until now they've been staunch metal manufacturers. I say that so have their supporters. They may not be that supportive any more - I know I wouldn't like it if I owned a Klein. I don't think a successful company like Klein or Merlin would risk losing customers just becasue they've found a cheaper way to make a frame. They're not cheap to start with. They do things differently because they think the consumers will think the change is advantageous.

Although I like carbon composites, I like the look of the old Kleins better. Considered getting one but never rode one. Just that they're more traditional. The frames these days don't know what they're trying to be- They're hybrids.

Gosh it is like Porsche making their offroad car.
All comes down to what you prefer :-)
Well this is getting a bit off the topic a bit.brian n
Aug 25, 2003 6:15 AM
I think Russ' point was that you order the rear end "stock" from the carbon supplier, instead of cutting, mitering, welding, finishing, etc. the numerous tubes to make up the rear triangle. There are only a few suppliers of the carbon rear ends, and essentially once you pick a supplier it locks in the geometry of the rear of your bike. Once you take that variability out of half the bike, it becomes a cheaper build process.

On a semi-related note, I think that the reason you see this carbon trend is mostly marketing. It looks cool, and certainly doesn't HURT performance, so when one manufacturer starts selling a lot of bikes with this new feature others will offer a bike too (to get in on the sales spike). Its the same with compact frames.

Well this is getting a bit off the topic a bit.russw19
Aug 25, 2003 7:38 PM
Until recently both Merlin and Klein were well respected companies that cared less about the bottom line and more about making a perfect product. Cost effectiveness be damned!

Both companies were in severe financial trouble and bought out by companies that are very good at turning a profit. Merlin was sold to Litespeed, and Klein to Trek. Both companies now make bikes with carbon stays, when they didn't in the past.... you add it up. I know you could say it's that the technology is newer, but now that this process has become cheap, everyone is doing it. Including Merlin and Klein.

You really should look into this's eye opening. Do you really think that the bike companies wouldn't try to sell you something that costs them less and improves their profit margin even if it didn't benefit you? No, of course they wouldn't do that.... they really do care about you over their profit margins...

If that sounds cynical, you really should look into it yourself, the bike world is still a business after all. The best part about this whole thing is that it was bigger and more respected companies that started this whole mess, that's why most consumers bought into it. If Huffy was the first to bond a carbon rear stay to an aluminium frame instead of Pinarello, this issue may look totally different.

Do you actually know anything about welding Titanium?russw19
Aug 25, 2003 7:28 PM
It is very difficult to work with. Welding Ti properly is more of an art form than welding any other material... and if you can actually weld Ti, you can demand over $10 per hour more for your labor than someone who can just weld steel or alumium.

I am sorry that both you and Synchronicity both feel that I am wrong, but try looking it up for yourselves. The truth behind Carbon stays is that they are very cheap to manufacture and install onto a frame. It requires less work, and less highly skilled work at that. Most of the stays for these bikes are NOT hand layered, but are machine built. When they are built to the rest of the bike, they are simply press fit via machine into a frame that is built to accept the carbon stays. The frame and stays are coated with an epoxy and press fit into frame. Then they are bolted to the bikes chainstays at the dropouts. That takes significantly less time and money than welding a Titanium tube in at least 6 places. Each seat stay needs to be welded to the seat tube and the dropouts, as well as the welds at the brake bridges.

I have been to China to see the manufacturing process and I have even considered starting my own bike line and I have looked into the actual costs of bonding carbon stays into a frame. It's cheap... and it's a dirty little bike company secret that it's done for saving money.. not adding anything to your bike. Try looking this up in something like Bicycle Retailer or a simaler trade publication. The bike companies aren't going to openly tell you that they save and you lose when you go this route, but that's the bottom line if you pay more for a frame that has carbon stays.

Enough is enough Mr Tangent !Synchronicity
Aug 25, 2003 9:11 PM
It is belligerent personal attacks like that which annoy people. Next you're going to say "How many titanium tubes have you welded, in your life? None. None as in never ever have you welded a titanium rear triangle of a bicycle IN YOUR LIFE!" Sound familiar?
My point to the original guy was this:
Why stop at carbon stays? He seemed pretty intent on carbon.
Dude, I mean Mr Greek, why not just get the whole bike out of carbon fibre?

You, russ, were the person who first mentioned the costs of Ti vs CF stays. Not me. It may well be cheaper if they were stock carbon stay units machine-made. I couldn't give a monkey's toss.

BTW I wasn't aware that both companies were bought out, but it doesn't surprise me. It sure would explain an aweful lot.

Now let's just try to answer the original post...
Enough is enough Mr Tangent !russw19
Aug 26, 2003 1:38 AM
Ok, you are taking offence to this like I am picking on you, let me tell you, I am not. The tangent came when you said...
"I would keep in mind this fact: If steel, titanium and aluminium is so terrific, how come all of the manufacturers are using carbon stays, etc??? I never thought I'd see the day when merlin and klein went over to carbon. Why don't they just make the whole damn bike from carbon??? They know it's better!"

My simple reply to that was that it is more about saving money for those companies, and your reply to that post was that you disagree and you think it would be cheaper to weld ti stays. I simply backed my statement. If you are going to challenge what someone says and tries to back, then complain about the thread going awol, maybe you should know of what you speak before you post onto the internet. You brought up the whole carbon stay issue, you brought up the whole Merlin and Klein issue, and you didn't even know their company history. If you percieved anything I said as a belligerent personal attack, maybe you should learn to check facts before you tell someone they are wrong. You are right, your personal attack did annoy me. So I backed my original post which just so happened to contradict your original theory about carbon stays and Merlin and Klein. Sorry if my correcting you offended you, but I was setting facts straight. If anything in my above posts is wrong info and someone calls me on it and corrects it, I can accept that. What about you?

As respectfully as possible in an internet forum...

Alright so you tangented to the original tangent -> a full 180°Synchronicity
Aug 26, 2003 6:55 PM
Firstly, Mr Greek brought up aluminium bikes and carbon stays. It's not like I pulled it from thin air. He didn't ask us to debate the cost implications of CF & Ti stays.

Secondly, I only said this:
"Why don't they just make the whole damn bike from carbon??? They know it's better!"
as a joke.

Finally, look russ, no one but us two are reading this thread now as it's in the "next 50" column. So I suggest we get on with the other posts. Pointless carrying this on until we are still posting in the archives five years from now. OK?

Mind you, I think they all too quickly dissappear into the second page..... bugger it I like seeing peoples replies - that's the whole point.

"A subject should resolve itself of its own momentum"
How much lighter do you need to get?kilimanjaro
Aug 25, 2003 10:19 AM
How much does your bike weigh now?

I think there is no more than 1 pound difference between carbon steer/blade forks and steel. Besideds, don't Paramounts have threaded forks. If so you will be hard pressed to find a threaded carbon fork.

Carbon handlebars will not be too noticeable since most of the bar will be wrapped.

What components do you have on it now. You could lighten things by going to a light Ti/Alum seatpost, light saddle like Fizik Aliente. Get a Dura Ace or Record hubset laced to light rims or get some botique wheels. What about getting lighter cranksets.

I think it will be an aesthetic loss if you "upgrade" the original fork (speciall if it is a nice lugged one), but I don't think you should consider this Fred.

You might be better off getting a light AL or carbon bike to trully lighten your load (and wallet)
re: steal and carbontube_ee
Aug 25, 2003 11:59 PM
First of all, putting a carbon fork on a classic Paramount is blasphemy, and you will be punished accordingly.

More importantly, keep in mind that the geometry of your Paramount was designed with a specific fork length and rake in mind. I have heard several frame builders say that the fork geometry is one of the most critical parts of bike design.

Any mass-produced fork must be a compromise that will work well enough on most bikes. Fork makers only make one rake and blade length. CF molds are very expensive.

Changing your fork will change the handling of your bike. Whether the change is good or bad is pretty much a matter of chance and personal preference.

As regards the discussion of manufacturing costs vs performance improvements, there are many examples of manufacturers making a change for cost / process reasons, and then selling it to the buying public as a "performance improvement". Threadless steerers and pre-manufactured seatstays are just a couple.

Peace and Grease,
-- Shannon