Monday, November 7, 2011

Magic Carpet (Fibers)

Now that's a top tube!
Carbon Fiber...often derided as Carpet here to stay for cycling products.  No doubt there.  But the last year I have been able to ride three bikes, all full suspension, both in aluminum and carbon frames, and the difference has been quite striking.  Each time the pedaling response and the overall chassis feel has been noticeably superior.

Now I am on the 'Half-Caff' carbon front/alu rear Camber Expert 29er and the difference is there too.  It just pedals 'lighter' then the scale says it should.  And stiff too, from end to end, no doubt the 142+x12 back end is helping.

I am somewhat conflicted in that carbon is quite a nasty bit of chemicals and such in the making of it.  I am not a hard-core Greenie, but even I am not so crazy about this part.  Then the cost is high and likely to remain so unless you want to buy China Direct.  And, it breaks.  The shadow of fragility hangs over the carbon component like a shroud.  But I think that is fast becoming a thing of the past.  Everything can break (and will).  I have broken alu frames.  I have seen plenty of broken steel frames.  Ti can break too and does.  And, carbon can be repaired.

So it becomes a bit of a gamble.  Carbon is really good at hiding warts under a skin of beauty...hard to see how well the lay-up went and such what.  But the bike guys that do this well seem to have a very strong track record of longevity and I think that, unless you have a track record of bike abuse and breakage, that carbon should be fine for most folks.

I know it sure is wooing me and winning me over ever time I pedal one of the little dears.  It has me wondering when the right carbon fiber SS frame will come along and tempt me over to the dark side. 

Magic carpets indeed.  They only had one gear too.  I will pass on the monkey option, though.

1 comment:

Fonk said...

The inability to truly recycle it is a concern for me, especially given how more and more common CF frames are becoming. I know Trek has started a program where they'll recycle their own frames for customers, but that's just a drop in the bucket.

It sure does ride nice, though...