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Carbon Road Bike Frame Life
 cmoore member offline
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Lifetime: 76,349 mi
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Home: Dallas, TX 
Felt FC
Road bike
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posted 3/29/2019
at 5:41:09 AM
viewed 1603 times
Do they last forever or do we need to worry about sudden catastrophic failure at some point with the frame? Recently someone told me that after 10 years of heavy use a new frame is in order. I get a little creak in my Felt FC when I stand up and peddle. Thanks for your thoughts.

 Cavebear2 member not displaying online status
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Burls Custom Titanium
Road bike
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Audax Australia
posted 3/29/2019
at 7:01:33 AM
post #1 viewed 1092 times
My 2007 model Giant TCR C1 did 42500 km over about 5.5 years and was still ok but I replaced it as the tubing size was smaller than more modern frames and the ride quality terrible on rough pavement.

I think the main issues with CF frames are:
1) Accident damage - frame may require scanning for fractures
2) specifically, any mechanical compression is bad for CF.
post edited on 3/29/2019 at 7:02:44 AM

 Grateful_G member offline
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Bacchetta Corsa
SWB Recumbent bike
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posted 3/29/2019
at 7:30:31 AM
post #2 viewed 1087 times
Carbon Fiber, just like Fiber Glass, is merely CLOTH formed and made rigid using Epoxy. So the integrity and/or longevity of the frame is dependent on the Epoxy more-so than the Carbon CLOTH. Epoxy is basically PLASTIC, albeit a very strong & tough plastic - but still Plastic. It will chip, crack & break from hits and extreme stress much quicker than most metals.

It's primary appeal for bike frames is in its light weight. At the end of the day, it's far better to take a couple of pounds off of yourself and go with a high quality metal (of your choice). Today's advancements in Metallurgy makes it a no-brainer in choosing one of the "miracle metals" OVER plastic.

 GeeWizMan member offline
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Bacchetta Carbon Corsa
SWB Recumbent bike
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Secular Cycleism click to learn more about premier membership
posted 3/29/2019
at 8:08:00 AM
post #3 viewed 1085 times
Another benefit to carbon fiber bike frames, in addition to it being light weight, is minimizing road vibration. At least that has been my experience. Also, it can be a stiffer frame material than a metal one so that when you are really pushing it, more of your energy goes into moving you forward and not flexing the frame.

In terms of cmoore's original question concerning the longevity of carbon fiber, I really don't know, but a 10 year old carbon fiber bike frame is getting up there, in my opinion.

 ptsbike member offline
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Orbea Orca Gain
Road bike
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Tri-Cities Road Club
posted 3/29/2019
at 8:20:30 AM
post #4 viewed 1082 times
My first carbon frame was from China. I have over 25,000 miles on it, painted it several times, wrecked it several times and it has held up well. I am in the process of rebuilding it for a rain bike. Carbon is tougher than most people think.

 Zurichman member not displaying online status
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LeMond Victoire
Road bike
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Club Rouge Croix click to learn more about premier membership
posted 3/29/2019
at 8:49:47 AM
post #5 viewed 1079 times
I have been reading all about carbon frames on the gravel biking forums. Here is my take. If you get a carbon frame from a reputable bike manufacture there are no problems. If you get a knock off or a really cheap bike that is a different story. The reason I say this the strength of the bike is how they inlay the carbon and fiberglass or how they wrap it. The reputable Companies know how to do it right and take pride in their finish product. The knock off companies don't care and are just trying to sale a cheap product and might be cutting corners.

There is no doubt in my mind that the carbon soaks up the bumps more in rough stuff in gravel than steel as I have both in 2 different Raleigh bikes. The designer of my 2 Raleigh bikes has since left Raleigh and has formed Noble bikes. He has given some insight on how bikes are built as he had the inside scoop or boots in the field of bike manufacturing in Taiwan and China as he has visited the bike manufacturing plants there. He had posted some of my thoughts above on the bike manufacturing process. He just recently posted of all the different regions in both countries and the manufacturing plants there.

Zman
post edited on 3/29/2019 at 8:52:53 AM

 vkan member not displaying online status
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Lynskey Cooper
Road bike
'BentRider Recumbent Club
posted 3/29/2019
at 3:56:58 PM
post #6 viewed 1061 times
I know this thread is about frames, not forks, but nevertheless, here's an interesting article:

notfine.com/rivreader/RR41.pdf

by a steel advocate and a playful experiment he did with a steel and a carbon fork.

Basically, properly made carbon is immensely "strong", in some ways far stronger than steel, but carbon doesn't have a good failure mode if it suffers the right type of damage, even if small.

FWIW, the only carbon bike I own is now on my trainer since after a crash, I don't trust it out on the road. There was not even a scratch on the paint anywhere on the frame, but oh well, I'm quite happy with my Titanium frame (other than the difficulty in reinstalling the rear wheel due in part to how the hooded dropouts interfere with my preferred type of quick release skewer, the traditional closed cam).
post edited on 3/29/2019 at 4:03:25 PM

 vkan member not displaying online status
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Lynskey Cooper
Road bike
'BentRider Recumbent Club
posted 3/29/2019
at 3:59:31 PM
post #7 viewed 1060 times
... I get a little creak in my Felt FC when I stand up and peddle. Thanks for your thoughts.
-- posted by cmoore


That might just mean that your bottom bracket needs tightening or replacing. It's worth a try before putting the frame out to pasture.

 ptsbike member offline
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Member No. 1761
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Home: Jonesborough, TN 
Orbea Orca Gain
Road bike
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Tri-Cities Road Club
posted 3/29/2019
at 6:26:01 PM
post #8 viewed 1048 times
I know this thread is about frames, not forks, but nevertheless, here's an interesting article:

notfine.com/rivreader/RR41.pdf

by a steel advocate and a playful experiment he did with a steel and a carbon fork.

Basically, properly made carbon is immensely "strong", in some ways far stronger than steel, but carbon doesn't have a good failure mode if it suffers the right type of damage, even if small.

FWIW, the only carbon bike I own is now on my trainer since after a crash, I don't trust it out on the road. There was not even a scratch on the paint anywhere on the frame, but oh well, I'm quite happy with my Titanium frame (other than the difficulty in reinstalling the rear wheel due in part to how the hooded dropouts interfere with my preferred type of quick release skewer, the traditional closed cam).

-- posted by vkan


Look at the source and age of the article. There have been millions if not billions of safe miles on carbon, forks and frames.

 rmillay member offline
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Catrike Musashi
SWB Recumbent bike
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RBENT
posted 3/29/2019
at 7:20:50 PM
post #9 viewed 1046 times
vcan makes a good point. That mode of failure can show on any type of frame. One other thing which can happen on a carbon frame is the breaking away of the metal mounts from the plastic.
There have been a few reports of frame failures during a ride on un-wrecked bikes. Most of these were off-brand "budget" frames, presumably due to a void in the epoxy. We may hope the big name manufacturers have better quality control.
Mike Burrows tells the story of Giant testing their premier carbon frame on their stress testing machine. They expect their steel frames to survive 500,000 cycles. They stopped testing their carbon frame after 2,000,000 cycles. All metal frames are susceptible to fatigue, aluminum most of all. Titanium is better, steel better still. Carbon appears to be better still, but for some, that's a hard sell.

 russtaitai member not displaying online status
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Giant Avail Composite 2
Road bike
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posted 3/30/2019
at 4:48:31 AM
post #10 viewed 1035 times
vcan makes a good point. That mode of failure can show on any type of frame. One other thing which can happen on a carbon frame is the breaking away of the metal mounts from the plastic.
There have been a few reports of frame failures during a ride on un-wrecked bikes. Most of these were off-brand "budget" frames, presumably due to a void in the epoxy. We may hope the big name manufacturers have better quality control.
Mike Burrows tells the story of Giant testing their premier carbon frame on their stress testing machine. They expect their steel frames to survive 500,000 cycles. They stopped testing their carbon frame after 2,000,000 cycles. All metal frames are susceptible to fatigue, aluminum most of all. Titanium is better, steel better still. Carbon appears to be better still, but for some, that's a hard sell.
-- posted by rmillay


Thanks for this...I've heard the horror stories of carbon failure, but this makes me feel so much better, as my carbon bike is a Giant, made in Taiwan. I should be good to go for a long time. (that isn't stopping me from thinking about adding a steel bike, though)
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