Frame materials - is today's carbon really that strong?- Mtbr.com
Results 1 to 12 of 12
  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Posts
    39

    Frame materials - is today's carbon really that strong?

    I haven't been following product and materials developments in cycling for quite some time. Other than shopping for my fat bike in 2016 I have no idea what is "hot" and what is "not" for 15 years. While looking for hardware to convert my tires to tubeless I got a little exposure to today's fat bike offerings. I was surprised to see many carbon fiber frames and forks. From boutique name brands to Chinese factory direct generic frames - carbon fiber is plentiful.

    Has carbon fiber advanced so much that it is durable enough to withstand the beating from a rough trail? I rode up to Burnside Lake and and back today. The AllTrails site doesn't show the trail itself very well. It's short, steep, rocky, and a little wet. My butt, bones, and bike took a good thumping today - especially my bike! It's not hard to catch enough air while sailing downhill for the bike to land with a serious thud! I just couldn't imagine a carbon frame withstanding that much stress.

    I can understand steel having ridden it for a good 20 years. It's strong. Titanium is a no-brainer for me since I see it as a "forever" material. Even aluminum can last for really, really long time.

    I don't mean to denigrate or disparage carbon. If it really is that strong then that's excellent! I'm glad to see it has advanced so much.

    -=- Boris

  2. #2
    Elitest thrill junkie
    Reputation: Jayem's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    33,472
    I raced this one hard for a few seasons...then the chainstay had an unfortunate encounter with a mallet. So I sanded it all down, used a few strips in long lenths and wrapped opposing helixs around and then a layer or two on top for costmetic. Sanded it all back down...back to racing it hard and no hiccups. One thing about carbon fiber is that much of the "damage" you would encounter is repairable, which it wouldn't be with aluminum due to the heat treating and it may be repairable with steel, but still not something that many can do at home.

    Titanium is not a "forever" material. It is very hard to weld perfectly, ends up brittle, so even though it may hold up for years, there are lots of cracked welds, both not long after purchase, and long after purchase. Titanium frames fail for the same reasons that aluminum frames do, which is either an over-stress event (rare, but like casing a gap, giant drop, etc.) or an under-stress event where it fails below the intended design parameters, due to flaw, weld, etc. Although aluminum is limited by "cycles", effectively it's not an issue unless we are talking about a hard-used 20 year old or more frame. It's not why they fail. They fail because of flaws, poor design, welds, etc.

    Carbon has drawbacks too, it's not as impact-resistant. A hard impact can cause delamination and significantly affect structural integrity. Does it happen often? No, of course not.

    Frame materials - is today's carbon really that strong?-0134c5fe3c5de34e0d99254092ad48b08df57fd9b4.jpg

    Frame materials - is today's carbon really that strong?-010e8698692037c29440270fd5d749df727c025c9e.jpg

    Frame materials - is today's carbon really that strong?-01f25db76defb7433a79c5c3413ab74de31540681b.jpg

    Bottom line, strength to weight of carbon fiber IS better. It's not the right material for every application. It's easier to have rack fittings and other metal parts on metal frames. It's easier to make geometry-changes to production models with jigs rather than molds. But it does save weight and it's strong. It's also nice that carbon parts don't transmit heat well in the winter, which means grabbing them is not like grabbing a big block of ice (unlike aluminum).
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

    You're turning black metallic.

  3. #3
    Rippin da fAt
    Reputation: BansheeRune's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Posts
    6,855
    The largest cause of trouble with Ti is inferior welding practices as well as contamination of the weld itself. To my knowledge there is no "forever material" for bicycles, simply put.

    Too much UV exposure can cause catastrophic failure of carbon, piss poor workmanship can cause any metal frame to have the same. Then there are the bikes that participate in RedBull Rampage...

    It really gets down to which frame material gives ya the largest boner, just sayin'...
    Get fAt, Stay fAt, Ride fAt
    Doctor recommended...

  4. #4
    Elitest thrill junkie
    Reputation: Jayem's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    33,472
    Quote Originally Posted by 6BQ5 View Post

    Has carbon fiber advanced so much that it is durable enough to withstand the beating from a rough trail?
    A few years back I rented a carbon Kona Operator at Keystone and beat the F-out of it on the hardest trails there. Keystone makes Trestle look tame.

    Whether it will "hold up" to a rough trail is not the question. They wouldn't be putting the frames out there if they didn't "hold up" to a rough trail.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

    You're turning black metallic.

  5. #5
    Hybrid Leftys aren't real Moderator
    Reputation: MendonCycleSmith's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    16,160
    Carbon has a place in cycling, it just isn't in MTB (IMHO).

    What you gain in weight reduction, you give back in cost, impact resistance, etc.

    It's "magical properties" of buzz cancellation are also lost through suspension and big fat tires at low pressures.

    Road bikes are a fine place for it, components too if that's your jam.

    But I see a fair number of failed carbon, and yes, other stuff too, so if it can be decently light, moderately priced, and reasonably durable, well, that works in my book.

    The industry loves that they've made consumers think it's a must have, more money in their pockets "per unit". Noticed a big uptick in bikes well north of $10K? Well look no further, you found why.
    Cannondale Lefty and HeadShock servicing, wheel building, etc...


    www.mendoncyclesmith.com

  6. #6
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Posts
    60
    The following video was an eye opener for me:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5eMMf11uhM

    If the bots eat the link, search for video:
    Carbon vs Aluminum Frames - Which is Stronger?
    and Pink Bike

  7. #7
    Elitest thrill junkie
    Reputation: Jayem's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    33,472
    Carbon fiber designs also free up frame-designers to optimize shapes and thicknesses to degrees that are not possible with metal. Yes, you still see this with hardtails, although you see it even more with FS bikes.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

    You're turning black metallic.

  8. #8
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
    Posts
    9
    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    Carbon fiber designs also free up frame-designers to optimize shapes and thicknesses to degrees that are not possible with metal. Yes, you still see this with hardtails, although you see it even more with FS bikes.
    yeh your right, most unique frame design's right now uses carbon material,even the e-bikes right now most of it uses carbon

  9. #9
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Posts
    39
    Thanks for the replies! This makes me want to rethink my thoughts on various frame materials. That video posted @Kitty13 was an eye opener for me too. I thought aluminum would hold up better against the static and dynamic stresses. These were name brand frames too! How well would a generic Chinese frame from eBay hold up?

    -=- Boris

  10. #10
    mtbr member
    Reputation: serious's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Posts
    3,380
    It is not Chinese carbon that fails. It is low quality, poor manufacturing standards and just cheap stuff that will fail. Plenty of high quality carbon comes from China.
    My rides:
    Lynskey Ti Pro29 SS
    RM Suzi Q 90 RSL
    KHS Team 29
    S-Works Roubaix
    KHS CX 550 cyclocross

  11. #11
    Rippin da fAt
    Reputation: BansheeRune's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Posts
    6,855
    Quote Originally Posted by serious View Post
    It is not Chinese carbon that fails. It is low quality, poor manufacturing standards and just cheap stuff that will fail. Plenty of high quality carbon comes from China.
    How many "high end" bikes are made in China and badged by Company X and Company X turns out to be a chinese bikes clearing house since they make nothing and nothing they offer is made in the country Company X has listed as their address?

    There are plenty of poor workmanship issues going on regardless of plastic, beer cans, or Ti being the substance a frame is made of.
    Get fAt, Stay fAt, Ride fAt
    Doctor recommended...

  12. #12
    roots, rocks, rhythm
    Reputation: Dawgprimo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Posts
    757
    It does not matter the type of material used, any frame can fail.
    Due to numerous issues and circumstances.
    However if you do your homework and go to a quality frame builder that backs their frames with a good warranty. Is a good start.

    As I say in the construction industry........

    You get a good job (or a product or whatever) or you can get a cheap job.
    But you can't get a good cheap job.

    My 2 cents.......
    97' Brodie Expresso
    00' Turner RFX
    08' Turner RFX
    13' Surly Troll
    15' Surly ICT

Similar Threads

  1. I really really really need a {34 tooth} 9 or 10speed front chainring
    By squareback in forum Drivetrain - shifters, derailleurs, cranks
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: 10-16-2014, 09:59 PM
  2. Replies: 8
    Last Post: 10-22-2012, 09:50 PM
  3. Really, really, really cheap shocks-
    By Ultra Magnus in forum Shocks and Suspension
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 09-12-2006, 08:50 PM
  4. My strong + Firemen = Strong Barbie
    By BThor in forum Singlespeed
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 03-26-2005, 08:25 AM

Members who have read this thread: 105

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

THE SITE

ABOUT MTBR

VISIT US AT

© Copyright 2020 VerticalScope Inc. All rights reserved.