Durability of carbon frames: success stories

Mar 15, 2009
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Even though my own experience with the material doesn't invite to optimism, somehow I believe that discussions on carbon frame durability are biased towards failures, be it by crashes or by defects in origin. Today many frames more than a decade old must be on the roads, and I would like to hear from people who have logged thousands of miles with them without problems. I think it could be interesting to know nice stories about long-lived carbon frames, wouldn't it? Or there isn't any? :rolleyes:
 
Feb 10, 2010
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I have no doubt there's plenty of long-lived carbon being ridden.

Technically, straight by the numbers, the lifecycle of carbon is much longer than alloys. No contest. The problem being carbon is not multi-factor/multi-purpose like alloys. And when it fails, KAPOW! Worse still, it can and does affect casual riders.

That said, plenty of expensive alloy frames where the assembler pushed the limits of the material to failure. It doesn't tend to affect casual riders though. There aren't as many alloy frames sold any more since the carbon honeymoon is in full-swing, so definitely not as many stories retold.

There's so much misinformation out there! The sell-side of the industry is famous for pushing all kinds of misinformation to get people to consume more. I've even heard the old B.S. applied to carbon frames "going soft" after some years to sell more equipment.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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1999 Look KG 281: I still ride it, yes its the beater bike and at one point was considering selling it because of the supposed softening/failure stories but a new set of wheels put that to rest in one ride with those wheels. Miles/K's? A lot, ~20K, crashed a couple times, bent the hanger back, some paint chips but still intact.

2009 Ciocc Blade: Not as old as the Look, nor as many miles but still the primary bike and feels like day one.
 
Sep 30, 2009
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All the carbon frames I have owned/own are still going today. I've broken a steel frame, had a lug peel away on another, and have had cracked welds at the bottom bracket on two Specialized frames (M2 and M4). I have owned steel and Alu bikes that haven't broken, but carbon is batting 1000 compared to the metallics in my lifetime.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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I have 2 carbon bikes. One is around 10 years old and wears the fenders. The other is a 2007 and was raced by a Pro for the season before I bought it.
My wife had a 1998 Lemond that we replaced for a warranty issue that should have been caught in the shop. It was a flaw in the rear brake bridge during the moulding process. It was never a safety issue and had I not replaced her rear brake calliper I think she would still be riding it.

The only carbon parts i ever had problems with are campy Record bottle cages. The bottom stop eventually breaks and bottles slide through the cages. Arundle rules for hold. Cateye plastic cages are lighter than most Carbon cages and hold too well. They only cost $12.00 or less and you can even step on them without a breakage. Way too practical.
 
Mar 18, 2009
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twothirds said:
All the carbon frames I have owned/own are still going today. I've broken a steel frame, had a lug peel away on another, and have had cracked welds at the bottom bracket on two Specialized frames (M2 and M4). I have owned steel and Alu bikes that haven't broken, but carbon is batting 1000 compared to the metallics in my lifetime.
Didn't all those M2s eventually break? Sorta like Yeti FROs.
 
Aug 16, 2011
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I've ridden over 6,000 miles on my main carbon racing bike since getting it last year. I've crashed on it 3 times, in the worst one breaking half the spokes on my front wheel. And so far the frame is still in great condition and still works great. BMC makes a durable bike. :)
 
May 4, 2010
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I put almost 11,000 miles on my 2012 BMC Team Machine since I got it last March. I would still be riding it, but took a bad spill on Christmas eve. :( I broke my left hip, requiring a complete hip replacement. The BMC is waiting...
 
Jun 15, 2010
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DirtyWorks said:
I have no doubt there's plenty of long-lived carbon being ridden.

Technically, straight by the numbers, the lifecycle of carbon is much longer than alloys. No contest. The problem being carbon is not multi-factor/multi-purpose like alloys. And when it fails, KAPOW! Worse still, it can and does affect casual riders.

That said, plenty of expensive alloy frames where the assembler pushed the limits of the material to failure. It doesn't tend to affect casual riders though. There aren't as many alloy frames sold any more since the carbon honeymoon is in full-swing, so definitely not as many stories retold.

There's so much misinformation out there! The sell-side of the industry is famous for pushing all kinds of misinformation to get people to consume more. I've even heard the old B.S. applied to carbon frames "going soft" after some years to sell more equipment.
The lifecycle if carbon may be longer than alloys but it is the resin that is the weak link.
 
simo1733 said:
The lifecycle if carbon may be longer than alloys but it is the resin that is the weak link.
My 2007 Cannondale System Six is still going very strong. If anything, the alloy sections in the back are looking worse than the carbon front end. It still feels and rides great though. Best crit bike I've ever owned.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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simo1733 said:
The lifecycle if carbon may be longer than alloys but it is the resin that is the weak link.
Since no carbon product can be separate from the resins I think that the separation of the resin from the fabric is accounted for in breakage stats. So what do you mean for us to take into account? There is no indication that resins are failing where the fibre has not?
If there was ever a weak link in CF bikes it was the engineering. CF is not a material made for iterative engineering. Build a frame and see where it breaks. Make it stronger and see where it breaks now, etc. Many things are made better this way but a lot of early CF products revealed their design deficiencies in abrupt ways.:)
 
Jan 13, 2010
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Ten years from now I'll let you know how my Madone 5 is holding up.

My 2007 Giant TCR C0 was great for a couple seasons, and then got really saggy and creaky. I've spoken with a few riders who've had similar experiences with TCRs of that era. I'm told that the problem is micro-gaps between the lay-ups that open up with flexing. Higher compression techniques in forming fork crowns, head tubes, seat clusters, and bottom brackets is supposed to alleviate this.
 
ustabe said:
Ten years from now I'll let you know how my Madone 5 is holding up.

My 2007 Giant TCR C0 was great for a couple seasons, and then got really saggy and creaky. I've spoken with a few riders who've had similar experiences with TCRs of that era. I'm told that the problem is micro-gaps between the lay-ups that open up with flexing. Higher compression techniques in forming fork crowns, head tubes, seat clusters, and bottom brackets is supposed to alleviate this.
I had a 2006 TCR C1 for just over a year and traded it in for my System 6. The difference in stiffness was huge to say the least.

Since then Giant has really stepped up in terms of frame stiffness and finish quality though.
 
Jun 15, 2010
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42x16ss said:
I had a 2006 TCR C1 for just over a year and traded it in for my System 6. The difference in stiffness was huge to say the least.

Since then Giant has really stepped up in terms of frame stiffness and finish quality though.
I have 2006 TCR composite.I haven't had any problem with it but was considering getting a new frame anyway.
I had thought that I may not notice much improvement with a new frame, but what you guy's have said has got me thinking.
 
Mar 15, 2009
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Great info here, guys, thanks. When I mentioned my not very optimistic experience with carbon I meant my 2004 Pinarello Prince SL: after 22,000 miles the fork was rigid but creaky. That made me very nervous, and when carefully checking the frame the left carbon stay cracked easily when pressed hard to verify deflection. Now I ride a Look 585 Ultra, which after 9,000 miles remains solid but sometimes I wonder if such a thin frame can survive many miles... Maybe I'm too exigent, but I think a well-engineered frame should last 50,000 miles at least, especially with the prices asked today.
 
simo1733 said:
I have 2006 TCR composite.I haven't had any problem with it but was considering getting a new frame anyway.
I had thought that I may not notice much improvement with a new frame, but what you guy's have said has got me thinking.
It was a nice bike overall and if I wasn't racing at the time I would have kept it. I just found that it was a little soft, especially for criterium racing where you are frequently sprinting and accelerating. Great bike for all day rides though.
 
Apr 1, 2009
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My first carbon bike was my 2007 Cervelo Soloist. Loved the bike, suited me perfectly. Proabably rode no more than 5k per year as I was super precious and didnt ride in rain etc. Last year on a long ride the right hand crankset bearing insert came loose and the bike was replaced :(

Now have a Storck fenomalist rides nice but head tube is so stiff any bump kills my arms.. . . . . . . . . . .still miss my soloist
 
May 11, 2009
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FignonLeGrand said:
My first carbon bike was my 2007 Cervelo Soloist. ..................
I've never heard of a carbon soloist.
I have an 2009 aluminum Cervelo Soloist but many other riders think it is a carbon frame - perhaps because of its black anodized finish.
 
Sep 30, 2009
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BroDeal said:
Didn't all those M2s eventually break? Sorta like Yeti FROs.
Not sure about all of them eventually breaking. The M2's I had as a cadet, and the M4's I had as a Junior. Both models cracked at the weld on the top of the bottom bracket on the left side. Shame since I really liked the M2, but that's probably because it was my first real race bike.

Wonder if metal matrix composites will come back. Like Carbon, I think that they could still improve on the engineering of it. Those bikes were stiff.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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FignonLeGrand said:
My first carbon bike was my 2007 Cervelo Soloist. Loved the bike, suited me perfectly. Proabably rode no more than 5k per year as I was super precious and didnt ride in rain etc. Last year on a long ride the right hand crankset bearing insert came loose and the bike was replaced :(

Now have a Storck fenomalist rides nice but head tube is so stiff any bump kills my arms.. . . . . . . . . . .still miss my soloist
How is this a success story? You need to post that in the fail thread.
 
FignonLeGrand said:
My first carbon bike was my 2007 Cervelo Soloist. Loved the bike, suited me perfectly. Proabably rode no more than 5k per year as I was super precious and didnt ride in rain etc. Last year on a long ride the right hand crankset bearing insert came loose and the bike was replaced :(

Now have a Storck fenomalist rides nice but head tube is so stiff any bump kills my arms.. . . . . . . . . . .still miss my soloist
The 'best' warranty is the one never used.

Try bigger tires, less air for the Storck. Those are 'race frames', made to be stiff.
 
Jan 13, 2010
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42x16ss said:
Since then Giant has really stepped up in terms of frame stiffness and finish quality though.
Glad to hear that. The industry needs a company that's unabashedly Chinese and produces first-rate stuff.

I'd heard that the modular-monocoque construction of the first-generation Scott CR1 really set the standard for carbon fabrication as it's generally done now.
 
Jun 20, 2009
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None on my carbon frames have failed. First one was early 1990s.

Had the bottom bracket weld break on a steel frame after a lot of kms. Had an aluminium seat clamp shear off (that one sucked - was a looong way from home and rode the whole way back out of the saddle).

Never broken a carbon frame or component. I'm a lightweight climber tho, so ymmv.
 
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