Many cyclists, myself included, have succumbed to the lure of carbon fiber. Carbon is lighter, stiffer, arguably stronger, absorbs vibrations (making for a more comfortable ride), and is easily molded by manufacturers to suit the aerodynamic needs of the cyclist. So, why wouldn’t you want a carbon bike? The answer lies in the fact that, unlike metal, carbon does not bend nor does it tend to show signs of pending failure. When it fails, it generally does so in a sudden and catastrophic manner. It breaks. And once broken, it really can’t be repaired.
Why do you need to know this? In a word: Safety. Preservation of your own that is. Here are some things to keep in mind when dealing with carbon bikes & components:
1. If you have a bad crash on a carbon bike, you need to have the bike inspected. Thoroughly. Small, hidden cracks may exist which may cause the bike to fail suddenly. A VERY BAD thing to have happen when you are descending at speed!
2. If you are considering a pair of wheels with carbon spokes, you may want to think again. While carbon spokes are lighter, if they are struck by a rock or other object on a ride, they may chip, crack or break. This can trigger a catastrophic wheel failure. Ask yourself – why do I want these? If your goal is to get the wheel to spin up faster, a switch to ceramic bearings will likely accomplish this better, and with greater safety in the long run.
3. Looking for the “lightest possible” frame? You may want to think again. Ultra-light frames mean thinner carbon walls. And while carbon is certainly “strong”, it has certain design “weaknesses” – the significance of which is increased in ultra light bikes.
Want more information? Here are a few articles to start you off:
As Technology Makes Bicycles Lighter and Faster, It’s the Cyclists Falling Harder
Carbon fiber forks on bicycles can hold an insidious danger
Have a legal question? Have you been injured on a bike? Contact Stark & Stark today.