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  1. #1
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    General carbon question; where to start

    EDIT: original question was basically answered last week...continuing discussion with specific idea down towards bottom


    Feeling flush with lust for carbon. Currently all I have is in my XO shifter

    I've talked to a few people and got the response that the ride characteristic isnt super noticeable until you go carbon frame. Interested to see what others have to say who have been buying and riding on carbon stuff for a while.

    My question is: how and where to best spend money on carbon and get the best ride quality per dollar spent (and some weight savings)? Bars, wheels, frame, wait and do full build, etc...

    wheels and frame would be long range, but thinking about bars in fall. Could anyone distinguish different ride qualities among the various 750mm wide+ 9* & 5* sweep options?

    i want the deity but race face and easton can both be found around 120...
    Last edited by ride the biscuit; 08-26-2013 at 11:56 AM.

  2. #2
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    carbon bars definitely kill some buzz from gravel and small trail chatter. they do not do anything for anything resembling a proper bump, root or rock. it's way more noticeable on a CX or road bike since they have no suspension and tiny tires; on a full suspension MTB with many times more tire air volume, it is pretty much trivial.

    besides weight, and maybe appearance, there's nothing significant to be gained from almost any carbon part *except* the frame. that is where all the advanced shapes and weave types can be used to make certain areas very rigid and others with some give.

    a frame that is ultra-rigid everywhere is typically not a good thing. they figured this out a long time ago, because at first carbon bikes were noodles, and then they were ultra-rigid. now they have it dialed in... at least, the better frames do. I can't speak authoritatively for the cheap generic carbon frames, but I wouldn't expect they have a lot of stress engineering built in, and I would expect them to be either noodles or rigid.

    Summary & TL;DR shortcut:
    carbon parts have relatively little advantage other than weight. carbon frames are nice if you can afford them.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by ColinL View Post
    carbon parts have relatively little advantage other than weight.
    I respectfully disagree with you there. I know you hinted at other benefits in your post, but saying that weight is the main benefit isn't accurate. That used to be the case, but nowadays, weight loss has not been nearly as big a goal as it used to be. They are now overbuilding carbon bikes and components to the point that the weight savings is rather minimal. On the first gen V-10 carbon, you only saved a bit less than a pound. If that were an xc bike, that would be a very big deal, but it's a dh sled so it isn't a night and day difference. Notable for sure, but not a shocking difference like bikes of years past. The most tangible benefits of carbon bikes are the rigidity it offers, and the ability to place that rigidity in specific directions. You can get a very damp, quiet, almost steel-like feel from a carbon frame, but it won't flex laterally at all when you apply pedaling forces because carbon is a directionally dependent material. I love carbon to death, but i get it for the vast increase in performance, not the minor weight savings.
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  4. #4
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    To the OP, if you want to get into the carbon stuff, first rule is not to go cheap eBay Chinese carbon. Some people have had great luck, but many have broken their stuff very quickly and have little to no recourse if things fail.

    Now where to spend your money is the harder part. If you have good, light yet strong wheels, you're going to have to spend a LOT of money to get any improvement from a carbon wheelset. If you have a heavier or more flexy wheelset, a carbon wheelset can definitely help performance. Just be prepared to spend up to a few thousand on a set.

    Things like carbon bars, seatposts, stems, etc are nice, but don't offer massive gains in performance (other than mental awesomeness gains, of course).

    A frame probably will give the biggest per-dollar gains in performance, provided you are used to mediocre bikes. A very good aluminum bike will still rival carbon in terms of stiffness and efficiency, and sometimes even weight. But a good carbon frame is not cheap either.

    If you're just looking for carbon style points (and there's nothing wrong with that at all), a good set of carbon bars, cranks, and a seatpost will do very nicely.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by ColinL View Post
    Summary & TL;DR shortcut:
    not too long and i did read. good stuff, thanks

    gets me pumped just thinking about how dialed carbon frames will be in two-three years when i get around to buying one

  6. #6
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    General carbon question; where to start

    Best thing in carbon next to a frame are carbon fiber rims. Also you can now get very nice hoops for as low as $150 each (AM version) and $180 for DH, from Light-Bicycle (Chinese carbon part manufacturer, look hem up on the forum), or $700 for a made to order wheelset, shipping included.

    But I'd start off a good frame, since that's the most essential component.
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  7. #7
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    yeah i have seen the light bike stuff and it does look just fine.

    as for all the other carbon wheel options...I could stomach paying 2.5 or 3k for a frame so much easier than 1.5-2k for wheelset

    this is good feedback. in the short term at least I'll know that my impending handlebar purchase is going to be more for fashion than function

  8. #8
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    I will say please be careful with Light Cycles wheels. They are most definitely not on par with wheelsets like Easton or Enve in terms of strength or consistency of quality. People riding AM bikes tend to get the 'overbuilt' DH wheelsets because the AM sets are much more like XC rims in actuality. But even the DH sets still break every once in a while through general riding.
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  9. #9
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    yeah it just seems like some carbon hoops would be amazing but when you can get such nice alu sets for ~500, maybe it doesnt make sense unless youre a baller or dont have kids

    one thing i was kindof expecting carbon proponents to claim, though, is the benefit of carbon cranks. i always thought cranks are a component where all out max stiffosity and lightest weight are desired. but maybe its similar to the wheel situation where regular old SLX do such a great job: why drop serious coin?

  10. #10
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    Yeah, since hollow-forged cranks came out, the benefits of a carbon crankset aren't quite so large a benefit. They can save a bit of weight (usually not more than a quarter lb compared to a good alloy set). They also are subjected to a lot of rubbing from shoes, and the occasional bashing on the head of the crank from rocks. Neither of those things are particularly helpful if you want the carbon to last.

    But they are quite sexy.
    tangaroo: What electrolytes do chicken and turkey have again?
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by charging_rhinos View Post
    I love carbon to death, but i get it for the vast increase in performance, not the minor weight savings.
    On a frame, I entirely agree. With anything else, including cranks, I disagree because of your term 'vast'. I would use a term more like 'slight' or 'very moderate'. It is better than various metals, but not overwhelmingly so, for simple shapes and small parts.

  12. #12
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    I would go with carbon bars. Recently purchased Easton ec70 (2012)on sale for 50 or 60 bucks. I like high rise bars its a personal preference you just have to play around with different lengths and heights to find your sweet spot. I'll will probably go wider bars next time just because I use to it.

  13. #13
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    General carbon question; where to start

    Carbon bars absorb vibration and you can get quality brands on sale for reasonable prices. That would be a good start.


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  14. #14
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    bumping this since I had a related wild hair idea; it is something I could probably do around Winter '14 timeframe

    I am considering swapping this build I really enjoy on my beefy AM hardtail to a carbon frame in the 120-135mm rear travel class. In other words, it would be a carbon trail bike with beefy components

    General carbon question; where to start-img_20130125_163700_zps8cfe2e66.jpg
    General carbon question; where to start-img_20130125_163641_zpsb08381bd.jpg

    Really one of the only viable options I've noticed would be the '12 felt virtue LTD frame since it has a 68/73 threadded BB (i think) and 135mm rear spacing.

    What do y'all think of this idea? keep in mind i have another beefy FS for aggressive side of AM and bike park duties. any other frame candidates you can think of?

    i do love the bike as is, so i have to admit that part of this is wanting the next thing. but my local XC place did also get pretty rutted/blown out this summer with excessive rain so a little travel and lighter bike sound great.

    The idea came as i started thinking my XC bike should be the one getting the carbon frame, not my bike park / heavy riding rig...sound right???

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    I would stay away from carbon cranks. They come in contact with stuff far too often.

    Carbon frames are not much lighter these days: my Mojo HD is right around 30lbs.

    Carbon bars seem to feel a little better than aluminum and do save a little weight.

    Carbon wheels have gotten great reviews but I don't think the performance upgrade justifies spending 2-3 times more on wheels.

    All that being said, I do love my carbon fibre bike, it does have a carbon bar and everything else is aluminum and steel.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by saidrick View Post
    Carbon frames are not much lighter these days: my Mojo HD is right around 30lbs.
    When a given model is available in both carbon and aluminum frames, it's nearly always between 1.5 and 2 pounds lighter for carbon.

    The differences in rigidity and compliance are harder to quantify, but significant.

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