Bikepacking with a carbon bike
I am about to pull the trigger on a new bike and waffling between the carbon and aluminum frame choice. Do you bikepack with a carbon bike? is there anything I should know before I pull the trigger?
All advice is welcome.
I can't think of any regular reasons not to bikepack with a CF bike. Pinkbike has a video of the Santa Cruz lab demonstrating that rigidity-wise, they are very sturdy. My main concern for bikepacking with a CF bike is related to protective coatings - my frame bag scratches the sh*t out of my frame, such that there's no paint in some places. CF is typically coated in a protective clear coat. I haven't looked in to what happens when that protective coating is removed, but I don't ever remember it being good.
If your worried about it getting scratched up just buy the clear (clear bra) 3m frame protecting film and you will be good to go. They have kits that will cover the entire bike if needed.
I put some tape on some cable rub spots of my Ibis Mojo... but after a couple years of use the brush and rocks and dirt et al have scratched other random places on the frame. It works the same either way, I'm just not vain enough to worry about it.
My shins OTOH could probably use more of that protective tape. :P
"...Some local fiend had built it with his own three hands..."
I ride a carbon tallboy and have had no issues. I use electrical tape on my frame for where the frame bags rub.
My bikepacking bike is steel, previous one was AL and I probably would not buy a carbon bike to tour on, but I freqentntly have to push and haul my bike up stuff so it gets banged around a bunch. With a steel frame I don't have to worry too much about that.
Originally Posted by xycarp
If I owned a carbon bike and wanted to do some touring I wouldn't stay home because of the frame material though.
The most important thing with touring is to get a bike that fits well and that you enjoy riding.
Hi carp, what kind of trails will you be bikepacking on?
If my trails were loaded with babyheads and I though I might go down a lot I would worry about a carbon bike. If my trails were smooth and flowy with a mix of pavement and dirt I think a carbon bike would awesome and it would sure help on the climbs.
04 Azonic Saber
08 Yeti AS-x
12 Rocky Mtn 29er Alt 970
The actual trail is still quite a bit TBD. I expect fireroad type trails mostly - so pretty open. I am sure we will take every turn out we can to get some rumble...
don't worry about wrecking in rocks with a carbon frame. do it all the time and no issues at all.
Got rocks? no prob
We've got a fair amount of volcano puke to navigate in places. In fact this was my first 'real ride' I did with my Ibis, and I knocked a few teeth off a brand new big ring on some basalt chunk hiding in the sagebrush.
Mountains got it too. So far so good (and I did ride a little bit of this... then I pushed the rest, lol....)
"...Some local fiend had built it with his own three hands..."
I am pretty sure what i ride will be less rocky than that...
BTW, I went Carbon. I will post a trip report after the ride... in two months.
If I had the funds and my wife would let me have yet another bike building a carbon bikepacking climber would really be fun. Looking forward to reading about your build and trip.
04 Azonic Saber
08 Yeti AS-x
12 Rocky Mtn 29er Alt 970
Originally Posted by Liza2
This was my response to another thread about a seperate topic (cheap bike setup for bikepacking)..
Spammer and now banned.
Originally Posted by RandomGuyOnABike
There was plenty of carbon at this year's AZTR.
I am using a carbon bike for bike packing and just use a bob trailer, nothing touching the frame to worry about.
I recommend covering any part of your carbon frame with ISC RACERS TAPE Surface Protection Tape / Helicopter Tape. I've had the same layer of tape on my carbon frame for 3 years, abused it and it still looks good.
If you are going to use backpacks, then the carbon frame wouldn't pose a problem. If you are going to have bags all over your frame, then it's a different story - in fact, I don't recommend it for either alu or CF.
If you are going to use racks and panniers, you are going to run into the problem of pressure points: Carbon is super strong (overall strength) but very week on any single pressure point.
The Carbon frame is a great idea if you are going to use a trailer. If that's the case, you'll LOVE IT.
Hi all. Following up to this thread i started some weeks ago.
I did end getting a carbon bike, and bikepacking. All went great for my 100 miles of fine tuning rides, and my first 250 mile ride. :l
I used a good saddlebag, handlerbar bag, and full size frame bag. I put a bit of helicopter tape on the frame bag contact points. I put most weight off of the seat or handlebars, only keeping smaller relatively light stuff in the frame bag.
All worked fantastic.... Thanks for all the advice.
Glad you went with the carbon bike. For any one else in the same boat, I road both the AZT and CTR at a race pace on my Specialized Stumpjumper Comp Carbon. I never had any doubt of its durability when it was fully loaded. I just wish I had a full suspension
"problems with alum and carbon, pressure points"
I can not comment on carbon but. As a former union tinknocker,welder,fabricator I would appreciate an explanation in regards to aluminum frames and pressure points.
When taking a look at alu and carbon frames, there are many advantages. However, their disadvantages:
*-* Alu is usually very thin on bikes - constant rubbing can become a problem when touring.
*-* Carbon (while thicker than the same alu frame - as far as I know) likes to remain "whole" - thus constant rubbing can become a big problem.
*-* Alu frames do not have the same surface strength as steel frames - they are weaker. Flick my Cannondale frame with your finger, and I assure you will dent it. Flick my steel frame and no problem.
*-* Carbon frames are reinforced on the down tube, bot too many other places. For this reason, they are also fragile in regards to surface strength (pin-point-pressure).
Placing racks on a carbon or alu frame isn't the best idea - placing 70lbs of gear on two bolts the size of a water bottle cage isn't something I would have recommended.
I suspect we look at frames from differant perspectives,with different eye's. Your experience touring long distance with quite heavy loads (photo) and mine 15 years fabricating every day for a living. Keep in mind although I designed,engineered welded black,galvanized,S.S.,Alum.etc. mig,tig,stick along with soldered (tinners iron's), silver soldered,brazed,laid out various sheet metals,rolled,formed,kicked,butted,bent,joined,etc . ,,,,,, this does not make me a bicycle frame engineer,expert nor bike frame fabricator. Yet, it is highly likely that I look at a non carbon bike frame with different eye's and mind set than you........not better nor worse but different.
~1) Myself and all others in my life I know of whom make/made a leaving fabricating do Not refer to one as steel (actual alloy in this case typically 4130) and the other as alum. as alway's done on bike forums and mags. To us, it's all steel/metal whether it is black,stainless,alum. whatever. Just as too a carpenter,cabinet maker it is all "wood" just various kinds. On these forums and in some mag. the writing's,author's,post starters, make it sound like steel is from venus and alum. mars. Typically, they have zero metallurgy nor fabrication back ground and make it sound as if one is a mountain and the other a pot hole in differences. They are all steel/metal to us............
I believe your "flicking with a finger and denting the frame " is either a) a Great exaggeration b) you have Extremely hard fingers with massive hand strength equal to swinging a ball peen hammer c) the design , engineering,fab,build of your frame, regardless of what manufactures label is on it,,,,,,,is Really poor.
As a former fabricator I like steel/metal and don't care which alloy it is made of nearly as much as how I view the design,fab,weld's,construction. I have owned at least 1/2 dozen what you refer to as "steel" framed bikes. My latest,recent is alum. the tapered/kicked tubes, butting,design-engineering are amazing. The joints,welds etc. fabricating exceptional. Where this frames "braze-on's" are, most critical,chain stay for the rear rack, weight support are at is stamped alum. then butt welded to the frame/butted tube !
Your braze on for water bottle cages...........are designed/engineered/weight load for "water bottle cages" (sorry don't mean to sound sarcastic but, it's a fact). The tubes they are fitted too can and will be thinner walled and are totally different from a structural perspective than the braze on's for your racks. Not just the tubes they are fitted too but, the load bearing angles,etc. Try looking at them with different eye's.
Critical to this "braze-on's" is the fabricator,,,,,,,that is Not an easy joint. There are highly skilled fabricator journeyman and apprentices. Regardless of tenure some tend to be good at tig welding, some brazing, some stick welding 30' in the air hanging like a monkey from steel. These skills are no longer country/origin critical. There were incredible fabricators in the USA through the 70's,,,,,,even 80's. Now they are tougher to find,,,,,,,less young American's want to work with their hands and learn a skilled trade. I have trained Many an apprentice. It got to the point seeking such we looked specifically for real working farm raised kids or someone whose father,uncle's,etc. were/are in the trades.
These days , Asia put's out........or I should say....."is capable of putting out" as fine of a fab job from a craftsmanship POV as any other region in the world......if the company seeks such and has quality first rather than production first in mind.
Nothing personal but, your Cannodale alum. sounds like a p.o.s. to me. At least that year,that frame design. I promise you it has Nothing to do with it being alum. versus steel alloy ~!
A lot of your load bearing characteristic's and ultimately part wear, are going to come from your tire choice and psi. How many dump trucks have you ever seen with skinny hard tires ? Take a look at diesel tractor trailer tires too. Both extreme examples out of context to drive home the point. If one is major loading a bike/pack tour and wants to run skinny,hard,high psi tires for speed, it is going to take it's toll,cause stress points else where.
Here is a link which you may enjoy -
Frame Materials for the Touring Cyclist
You apparently have put on a ton of miles bike touring. That is very valuable ........
Typically the best possible scenario for Any fabrication is to have a) a highly educated yet "hands on/mech. minded" master's of engineering guy or gal in the office. Initial design etc. Working with, in Very Good Relation with, a highly skilled, journeyman "old timer" fabricator. Both feed off each other with the highest degree of respect for one another to what "can and can not be done".
Last..... the "end user" in this case - bicycles ....the rider or engine's input back into the design/fab team. It definitely has value but, imo, especially bicycles,motorcycles,etc. it is used Far more from a marketing perspective than actual design value. You Need the Highly Educated Engineer. You Need the Highly Skilled Fabricator. You Don't Need the high podium spot, rider/cycleist.
FWIW- I know very little about carbon. When I look at carbon frames besides being substantially over priced, my concern's..........from "my eye".....come at the junction/butt/joining, of the frame and other parts, especially non carbon parts. That and it's potential failure from deep scratches. Steel versus alum........they are both steel to me ........Either or , more about the design. Aircraft uses mostly alum. alloys.
Anyone would have a Very Hard Time convincing me that certain Composite SPECIALTY Aircraft use the same carbon as a CF bikes being Pop'ed out of plant China/Asia for Any bicycle. I am sure certain bicycle manufactures may want you to think otherwise and of course a rider whom just plop'ed down $5 K on an CF frame bike may want to make himself think that......for sanity reason's.
The above is just "my .2 cent" perspective and nothing more.
Enjoy the outdoors,
Carbon is fine!
Carbon is fine for bike packing. It's great if you're prioritising weight over comfort. For comfort I'd ride a steel bike.
I raced the Tour Divide this year on a carbon bike (Scott Scale 29er). In fact, I used carbon forks (Niner) and carbon wheels too (Curve Cycling). There were a few dudes at the pointy end of the field with similar set ups.
There are a few issues to think about though:
- Bags (frame, gas tank, mountain feedbag, etc) will WEAR through your frame. If you can be bothered, you can protect your frame at the contact points with the same material they protect the front of high-end cars with. I couldn't be bothered with that so I just used duct tape to protect the strapping points - looks terrible, but it does the job and it's cheap.
- Many carbon frames have a VERY small main triangle. This makes fitting Tanglebags and the like difficult, especially if you want to carry bottles too. There are ways around this though - I used some Mount Skidmore bottle cage adapter to shift my cages around. That way I could fit two bottles under my Tanglebag, or two large 1L bottles when I ride without the Tanglebag.
- The ride is harsh with carbon, especially if you're using carbon forks. You might be considering a frame with some flex in the chain / seat stays, which is good, but the front end will still be super stiff, especially if using rigid forks too. You'd get a much more comfortable ride out of a steel bike.
- You're not going to want to crash in a big way with a carbon frame, or carelessly throw it down on a big rock. It's not a great material for impact resistance. But, when you're out in the wilderness by yourself you probably shouldn't be riding in a way that will see your bike cart-wheeling off a mountain! I've never had any issues with rock damage on the underside of the down tube, but I usually use some frame protecting tape down there.
So, yeah, don't fear the carbon - it does the job!
Thanks for the insight. I too believe that at the end of the day, we make recommendations to others that are based on our experience, thus preferences.
Frame mounted-bags originally seemed like a great idea - at first. I gave them a try and here's what I found:
The center of gravity is completely OFF. If you have never been on a touring bike that is perfectly balance, you'd never know the difference, but if you guys are ever in my part of the woods, contact me and I will be happy to show you that a bike with rack is so much more stable on and OFF trails with racks and panniers. Mine are set up as low to the ground as possible, whereas frame mounted bags will automatically be mounted higher above the center of the wheels.
Frame-bags are expensive: compared to entry level rack bags with more carrying capacity.
Frame-bags rub your frame. You must use protective film or similar - or perhaps replace your frame every 4000 miles.
Carbon frames would not work for me - and here's why:
CF + FRAME BAGS
Constant rubbing (or constantly worrying about the rubbing) of the frame-mounted bags (don't need it, and don't care for it).
CF + RACKS & PANNIER
Attachment point dictates that all the weight ends on two points in the rear. As stated by thinman, those points are supposed to be stronger than water bottle cage bolts, but since few manufacturer build carbon bikes with touring in mind, those eyelets are usually non-existent on carbon bikes. This makes it necessary to install clamps on carbon bikes rear triangle and make that super frame rear stay bear all the weight - imagine a clamping carbon and then weighing it down. Sounds perfect for you? Great (but not for me, thank you).
CF + TRAILER
Here we go: that's starting to make more sense if you are going to have a carbon bike. Take a full suspension (with lock front and rear) and put a BOB trailer or similar. Hit all kinds of trails, or long roads. Not a bad scenario if using a carbon bike. It's about frame longevity and perhaps mostly about ME not wanting to replace my frame after every other long trips.
Again, I am looking for peace of mind, but if you have that much money (or super dedicated in cycling), here's something else you may really REALLY enjoy: Tanami Xplore
Tour the world, share your experience, but let's not "impose".
If the guy / gal wants a carbon bike for touring or bikepacking, and they have the funds: "Go for it". Just use a little more care.
Glad to read you did not take my reply wrong. I don't build bike frames just fabricated various for years and attempted to convey how my eye's view steel/alum frames......
The milage you put on via Vast adventure tour's is Highly valued. I completely understand your concerns for bike balance and weight. At 52 years old, I am in a horse trading of old, updating of new bikes right now. I see a Lot of changes sense setting up my last bikes to my hearts content years ago both frame and mechanically speaking. As a whole the frame changes I like (keep in mind I am not long distance adventuring touring like yourself) The mechanical changes,,,,,"gizmo's",,,,,,I am not so sure of.......over complicated, higher maine. comes to mind......I just purchased my first bike with hydro disc brakes and at 300 miles,,,,,, I already have problems and lost pressure,,,,,,,,,,,,starting looking into the problem last night in the garage and thought,,,,,,"holy sheet is this brake system overly technical ,,,,,likely high maint for a bicycle" But, I thought they were cool at the time of purchase and liked the stoping power on trial. Hindsight,,,,,,,,,I got by "just fine" with out disc's for decades and they were more reliable, simple and now appear to be way less maint. By the time I tear them apart , bleed down, inspect pads etc...........wow......as compared.
Times change.........I see the newer bike pack gizmo's cantilevered off seat posts,hanging off frames,etc. compared to racks which I came from decades ago bike packing and "common sense" tell's me............"LOOKS Cool, but not practical having a rear trunk cantilevered off a seat post rather than a rear rack panniers,trunk etc.......IMO. It don't take much time to take a rack on/off if that is the issue Cantilevering Anything Never carries as much load and like you say "you want the weight low". Ditto with these diamond frame bags I see......"look cool" but, to my eye's they Must be like holding a sheet of plywood up into a stiff ocean breeze (go sailing) when crosswinds are present.
Last,,,,,,,,the MTB used today are fatte than ever (my time early 90's) despite more contact (700c/9er's compared to 26'ers) and more technically advanced, higher travel suspension's than ever............why does someone want or need to push around a over 2" knobby MTB tire all day, various terrain which 99% will NOT be on technical single track ..........to go bike packing / camping / adventure touring with one's bike? . Hey.........I am over 50...........if a young kid has the leg's to propel that around all day.............looking cool on mostly fire/forest service road's, double track..... to gravel .......not to mention pavement with very little tech. single track going adventure touring/camping........where a 1.5" to 1.75" tire that Rolls well..... is Plenty and modest travel suspension to No suspension.........just........"to look "KooooooL".....(plus cost waaaay more $$$)....more power to them and their legs! Not to mention the slooooow granny gears needed to push all that fat,soft resistance up hill ................
Good "old fashion" brakes did in fact work fine. I sure felt a lot better in Utah (and in the middle of nowhere) with cables than hydraulics. Braking power, even in the mud, was always nice too - but here and again, I am only 130 pounds or so. Perhaps bigger riders are loving hydraulic brakes.
I am always scratching my head about hydraulic brakes and their complexity. After riding them for about 7 years, I have to admit:
Set them up once and "forge' about it".
(they have to be bled perfectly though, and pad contact has to be exact.)
The best braking force I have seen would be Shimano line. The worst (but lighter) would be SRAM.
More suspension is relative to the type of biking a rider is aiming at. Personally, I love the single track, buffed to perfection, LONG LONG LONG rides of this sort. Unfortunately, my immediate area offers the exact opposite: We have here "extreme" rock gardens that make my last Moab trip seem gentle. Not to worry though:
With the right amount of suspension 100-130mm of travel, and the right tires (2.25+) we can ride all of this crazy-ness. The good old fashion 1.75" tire would be hurting - far more.
None-sense! I am about the same age as you, older people (60+) ride the same difficult trails. Heck, they even travel 8+ hours round trip just to check out our trails. Local "girls" rip too - on the same technical rock gardens.
I believe that we are on a nice plateau of bike mechanics realm, near-perfect geometry, and able to ride harder things with a whole lot more ease. My same bike can go onto super technical downhill (without jumps), go up, go down, hit long single track, or venture on forest roads at higher speeds. It's super versatile - unlike my Cannondale Super V2000 that was 34 pounds and good for very little.
Here's to relativity: Canaan Valley ROCK GARDENS & modernization.
I think that we can all prove that we can ride just about ANY bike; modern Carbon or not so modern. That's really the only we have in common: some sort of wheels.
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