I am not sure about full carbon frame

Hi folks,

I have been riding happily on a rather cheap alloy crossbike with roadwheels for some years, cheap, sturdy, 105 group.
Took a lot of beatings and did not bend.

Now I am a bit curious to upgrade to a much different class: full carbon road frame, hopefully with latest di2 or eTap shifting…

I have worked my ass off the last years so I am willing to invest… is 5-6k a reasonable range?

I am just not sure: is carbon sturdy enough for me? Do I need to be superpicky and nervous about every road bump ahead? Do I need to take special care of the frame other than just wipe it clean?

thanks for your input

Most carbon bikes these days are pretty robust. I wouldn’t go throwing it around but you shouldn’t have to baby it any more than you would any other bike that you like and don’t want to damage.

5-6k will get you a pretty darn good carbon bike with Ultegra Di2 from most every manufacturer (except maybe the boutique-y ones). They might come with more entry level wheels than compared to the 7-8k models but they’ll still be a sweet ride, especially compared to your older, “cheap” bike.

Here’s a Specialized Tarmac in your price range as a reference: Tarmac SL7 Expert - Ultegra Di2 | Specialized.com

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thank you - i will have a look

Going from a cheap cyclocross to a 5-6k bike is a big jump, any (ok most) bikes in this region are going to be a great bike, so saying “is this a great bike”, yeap, is it a great bike for you … who knows, it’s a bit like if I ask is a Porsche 911 a great car, you say yes, I buy it, and then complain that I’m 7feet tall, live in the middle of a forest, and most weekends I take the wife and kids camping … in which case it’s the worst sort of car I could buy

I’d visit my local bike shops , they are the ones that are going to be looking after it, what are they selling, if you buy local, will they do a bike fit ? number of people who buy online and then 3 months after they buy, have a bike fit and find it’s the wrong size (the best bike is the one that you are riding, the worst is the one you are riding that doesn’t fit properlly) I was going to buy a Bianchi aero bike, after riding one, to low at the front (long legs , short body) what do you friends ride, are you looking aero / endurance / climbing / tt / gravel … cyclocross ?

Test ride …

No insult intended, and hope I didn’t offer, as I work with computers I often get “is this a great computer, I’ve got 2k to spend”, my usual response is , yes … why are you buying that, and spending 2k on it ?

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My 2013 carbon cross bike has literally been crashed hundreds of times. It’s not babied and has survived even though it’s covered in battle scars. I’ve broken carbon bars and derailleur hangers but the frame has survived

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Just ride. Don’t over think it.

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A couple things. Well made carbon’s fatigue life should be infinite, I believe. It is robust enough that they make airplanes out of it; those planes are admittedly getting inspected frequently and with equipment not available to the bike industry, but they are carrying a lot of fuel and people and going much faster. So, the material itself is not necessarily fragile. It’s very sturdy. It’s true that you can crash it and damage it in non-obvious ways. The same could be said of aluminum - I was at a cyclocross practice once, and we were sprinting, and one guy’s aluminum frame just tore in half across the downtube. Most likely that was precipitated by a prior crash.

In the unfortunate event that your frame breaks, then you can take heart that actually, carbon fiber is pretty repairable. I don’t mean you should do it in your garage. I mean that a skilled repairer can cut out just the damaged bit, and repair that area, and it will be more or less as strong as the old tube. On a metal bike, you would have to cut out the entire affected tube and weld or braze a new one in. I’m pretty sure that for aluminum, the requirement to heat treat the frame renders this completely uneconomical. For ti and steel, it’s a thing, but it’s not exactly cheap.

One bona fide area of hesitation I have is around the fully integrated cockpits. They look slick and they save you watts. However, servicing the front end of the bike, e.g. replacing the headset bearing or even changing your stack height, is a lot harder and can involve a lot of disassembly and reassembly. For the proprietary stuff, you aren’t guaranteed that replacement parts will be available down the road. I don’t know how the industry is going to evolve on this. It mainly applies to the top end racing models right now, though.

The other thing is that for indoor training, you want a cover to catch your sweat, and you want to wipe your bike down. Sweat will cause galvanic corrosion with any aluminum inserts, and there will always be a few of those. Of course, you’d want to do that to a bike of any material.

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I’ve put a lot of km on my 2011 or 2013 carbon bike (not sure the year tbh) and it’s been bagged up in a clear plastic bag and flown across Canada twice and the Atlantic once. I ride it on gravel too and have only had one minor crash but the only thing that bent was the aluminum handlebar. The only thing that makes me want another frame is so I can run fenders and 32mm tires… otherwise it’s been a champ, hoping to get to 50000km on it.

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I’ve got a 2010 Cannondale Synapse Carbon 4 with 53,000 miles on it, and it’s still going strong. I’ve ridden every surface in New England except (obviously) snow. Including lots of lousy pavement, gravel, and even the (very) occasional single track. The only issue are cosmetic where bits of the clear coat are flaking. The resin underneath is fine.

One caution for carbon is crushing or impact forces, especially as you get lighter and more racy. Tube walls get thinner, and more susceptible to crushing or hard side impacts. It’s not a reason to baby the frame, just be aware of things like work stand clamps (don’t clamp the frame), and dropping heavy things on a frame in the car.

As was mentioned in a previous post, carbon is very repairable. A friend of mine crashed his Dogma and wound up with a hole in the down tube (we think it was another bike’s pedal that penetrated, but aren’t sure). He had it fixed, and the repair is invisible, and has no noticeable difference in performance.

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Also, on most frames you get life-long guarantee, right?

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The belief that carbon bikes are weak is unfounded.

I beat the SHIT out of all my bikes, all my bikes are carbon.

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Many do, but not all. Do keep in mind that the typical bike frame warranty (not a guarantee) is almost always restricted to workmanship issues from the manufacturer. That only applies if the failure is one that was caused by, or a direct result of the manufacturing. It will not cover user damage, crashes, etc.

Noting the above, many makers offer a “crash replacement” option that is a lower cost option if you happen to damage the bike yourself.

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I don’t get some of the apprehension around carbon, I guess I can see someone would be nervous but there’s so much info out there about it. Most manufacturers offer lifetime warranties against defects (used one when I had a stress crack, trek gave me a new project one frame in 4 weeks no questions asked). Crashed my carbon road bike and it’s fine. Know guys that have snapped carbon frames and had them repaired and still riding them. I broke carbon bars out on the road and they slowly tore off instead of snapping like aluminum may have.
I know a guy who broke his carbon MTB chainstay in a race crash and didn’t realize it until several laps later when the race was over

Meanwhile it seems like guys permanently trashing aluminum MTB frames is commonplace. I remember one guy put a huge dent into his down tube from resting his aluminum MTB on one of those tailgate pads and hit a bump on the road. No thanks. Personal opinion: most of the people who argue aluminum is better than carbon do so from a personal budget perspective and not objectively

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Agree with the others that carbon is not that big of an issue. On a related note, test ride every single bike that you can before deciding!! I did this two years ago and was surprised just how differently bikes in that price range felt and handled.

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This is how strong carbon can be:

One of my pet peeves are those spindly thin and fragile seat stays on modern road bike frames. On the plus side, those seat stays don’t do a lot structurally and can be repaired pretty easily.

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Hi and thank you all for your input.

Yea, I will testride a couple of bikes and alsogo to a fitter to simulate some frames and the various sizes.

I am still not sure about it, not because of the carbon, but leaving behind my old trusted and reliable current bike might break my heart :slight_smile:

Just as a reference one of our local ladies caught a stick in her back wheel which came around and broke both seatstays in multiple places. We’re setting her up to get the frame repaired and she was able to stop safely and even get a lift home and finish her ride on the backup bike.

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Sample size of 1, but I crashed my weight-weenie carbon frame. Hit a random rock with only one hand on the bars. Didn’t even know what happened.

Everything is fine. A couple of small scuff marks.

Carbon is fine.

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My new gravel bike is aluminium but its the only frame material I’ve had fail on me during my cycling career. If it fails I’ll transfer the parts to ti frame.

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After 30+ years of production it’s strange to read someone questioning the integrity of carbon. I’ve owned Ti, steel, aluminum and carbon. All good if made well. All bad if production is questionable. I’ve seen every material fail. I’ve enjoyed each material.

My only recommendation is stay away from knockoffs. Whether that be socks, bike frames of any material, cleats to sunglasses.

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