A recent article by Bicycling.com goes through myths and reality regarding carbon bike frame and parts. Cycle Export has summarized it for you. So what are the 10 facts we all should know about carbon fiber in bicycle frames, parts and components?
- Not all carbon bike frame and parts come from Asia… Most carbon-fiber cycling products do come from Taiwan, and sometimes from China. But there are also frame and part factories in the US and in Europe. In spite of its “high-tech” image, carbon fiber isn’t especially hard to work on a small scale.
- … but raw carbon material mostly comes from Asia. Raw carbon fiber processing is a sophisticated industrial process, handled by a few companies worldwide. Raw carbon fiber production mostly comes from Asia (2/3) and USA (1/3).
- There’s more than one kind of carbon fiber. Carbon fiber for the bicycle industry comes in raw thread, sheet fiber or short-tow fiber. Sheet style carbon fiber enter the composition of bike frames. On the opposite, chopped carbon fiber turns into cycling components like pedal bodies.
- Carbon fiber in bike parts is a composite. The carbon fiber in the cycling industry is actually a composite. Carbon fiber’s stiffness makes it prone to splitting and cracking. For this reason, a carbon frame needs epoxy resin glue that adds toughness and durability.
- Carbon fiber grades depend on stiffness. Most of the bicycle carbon is standard modulus or intermediate modulus. Higher grades only enter in the composition of the most expensive frames.
Carbon Bikes and Parts Depend on Layup Design
- Carbon bike frame and parts are a blend. Carbon frames usually result from a blend of different types of carbon fibers. Makers use high-modulus fiber, the most expensive, in small amounts where the frame needs strength and stiffness.
- Magic and cost come from the bicycle frame layup. Carbon fiber is lighter than metal and its stiffness properties can be fine-tuned through design. But frame layup optimization requires very expensive engineering device and expertise.
- The bike frame woven layer is mostly cosmetic. It’s very difficult to know what’s under the cross-woven pattern. Although a woven layer adds some stiffness, it is mostly a cover. Woven layer acts as a cosmetic skin protecting the uni-directional fiber layers.
Only Experts Can Repair Carbon Bike Frames and Parts
- Carbon bike frame and parts are all handmade. Carbon frames, wheels, handlebars, or other components request a lot of handwork. Quality control experts will individually examine every wrinkles or spots in search of potential defects.
- Only pros can repair carbon bike frames and parts. One can repair a carbon frame just like a steel or titanium frame. But only experts can do the job with an acceptable level of safety. Poorly-fixed carbon frames represent a danger for the rider.
- Beware fake carbon bike frame and parts. Fiber carbon fiber allows to easily copy frame styles. With carbon, it’s easy to counterfeit a famous bicycle brand’s visual identity. But one can’t copy materials, layup and construction methods.