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  1. #1
    nimble biker
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    does carbon fiber frame break down over time?

    does carbon fiber frame break down over time?

    I know rubber compound of car tires break down over time causing tires to break apart.

    I am concerned that the carbon frame delaminate over time in to separate layers.

  2. #2
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    Yes, but only when exposed to O2.

  3. #3
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    No, it doesn't breakdown over time, if constructed properly and not ridden past it's design limits. The resin can become discolored. But, unless you leave it in the hot sun 24/7, that shouldn't hurt the structural integrity of the frame. If taken care of and ridden properly a carbon frame will last longer then you need it to.
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by tiretracks View Post
    Yes, but only when exposed to O2.
    The CF itself won't be exposed to O2, unless the resin is compromised.
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  5. #5
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    I was always under the impression that carbon had an infinite fatigue life, unlike alloy.

    But then again, not sure what a fatigued frame feels like.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bird View Post
    I was always under the impression that carbon had an infinite fatigue life, unlike alloy.

    But then again, not sure what a fatigued frame feels like.
    As far as MTBing goes, it does.
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  7. #7
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    My garage has carbon bikes from 1997 to 2010 as far as production years and I have yet so see any fatigue. In fact the failures that I have experienced have been aluminum parts on carbon frames.

    Equipment care is always a factor but other than straight up abuse carbon can handle what you throw at it and more. Any carbon damage will not come from delamination but rather impact just like metal frames. I prefer carbon for the dampening qualities and am happy that I went that way many years ago. I have had metal and carbon frames since but the carbon ride works for me.

  8. #8
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    does carbon fiber frame break down over time?

    If it does, Boeing should be informed ASAP...

    ...them, and the millions of passengers that fly on aircraft with carbon wings.


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  9. #9
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    As others have said, carbon fiber does not have a fatigue life. However exposure to UV can damage the resin and make it quite brittle, but since all frames are painted or clear coated this isn't really an issue. Also some frames are bonded together, these frames often tend to get a little flexy in these joints over time and the paint will start cracking. I personally have experienced this with an older Trek frame.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    If it does, Boeing should be informed ASAP...

    ...them, and the millions of passengers that fly on aircraft with carbon wings.


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    Airbus had a controversy a while back I believe with problems of carbon fiber rudder and tail. They had some breakage of these parts because of fatigue that was not detected. It is very difficult to detect carbon fiber fatigue because a lot time visually it looks very sound.

    I still wonder how much beating mountain bike carbon frames, wheels, and parts can take before they get compromised and can break.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by ljsmith View Post
    As others have said, carbon fiber does not have a fatigue life.
    And others would be wrong. CFRP does not have a definable fatigue limit, this is not the same as having no fatigue limit. Failure of composite materials is extremely hard to predict, and is typically due to multiple factors leading to an unexpected and complete failure. You don't get detectable stress fractures like you will in homogenous materials. The quality of the matrix surrounding the carbon fibers has a direct impact on the life of the part, but even in very controlled testing, time to failure can be all over the place.

    If you use the best materials and best layup procedures, TTF can be in the gigacycles, but I can guarantee none of the frame builders are using the same QC and materials as NASA. At least not on frames most of us can afford.

    But that doesn't really matter. As much progress as has been made in frame tech the past two decades, I think even for a MTB frame one would be hard pressed to reach a cycling fatigue limit when using a CF frame as intended. It's going to be that jump that went a bit wrong, or that time you taco'd the wheel and planted the fork at speed. I think I can safely say this as frames are still a bit heavy in comparison to what we can achieve with CFRP's. I think cycling fatigue is something to be discussed when frames are 1/3 their current weight. And I may be wrong, we may go much further than that. Nanotubes may be the material of choice by then, and 1/2 Lb frames may be considered fat pigs by industry standards.

  12. #12
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    certainly carbon can be all over the place. Who made it and how can make a huge difference. As time goes on, bike manufacturers have been getting more skilled at manufacturing carbon bikes and most components, and so their lifespan and durability have been improving.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flamingtaco View Post

    If you use the best materials and best layup procedures, TTF can be in the gigacycles, but I can guarantee none of the frame builders are using the same QC and materials as NASA. At least not on frames most of us can afford.
    I wonder how this could hold up to the abrasive and hard impacts as a golf club head.. say carbon fiber sand wedge .. or 2 iron that will hit a ball 300 yards
    With pleasure

  14. #14
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    Some of those cost as much as our bikes, so. GIGAcycles...

    Don't know much about golf, but there is a big name company here that makes the stuff used to customs make clubs. I've seen them sending out sytems to repair broken CF shafts, but I presume most of that is due to having a severely tough swing, as the shafts are supposed to flex a lot (IMO) during the swing.

    As far as CF heads, don't know that much about them, but I'm sure they've designed the metal face to distribute shock into the CF so it doesn't cause delamination issues. I've worked with fiberglass like this, metal parts with fingers that extend into (blown) fiberglass to improve adhesion.

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