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  1. #1
    ultralord
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    How well do carbon frames take impact?

    Have you crashed or hit your carbon frame? Any damage? How well does it survive crashes compared to other frame materials?

    It is my suspicion that carbon frames are not as crash worthy as other frame materials. But I don't really know. Any knowledge or experience out there?

    francois

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by francois
    Have you crashed or hit your carbon frame? Any damage? How well does it survive crashes compared to other frame materials?

    It is my suspicion that carbon frames are not as crash worthy as other frame materials. But I don't really know. Any knowledge or experience out there?

    francois
    Geez, it's pretty tough to say. Depends on the modulus of the graphite, the number of fibers for a given area, the number of layers, the type of epoxy used. Also, add on top of it that some mfr's may use different materials within the final product, like Time used add Spectra (or was it Vectra) to its graphite weave to improve impact resistance.
    Damon Rinard had a site up a long time ago, talking about carbon frames and how to make them. I think you have to search around Sheldon Brown's site to find it, though, since Damon could no longer maintain it.
    Guess you could always start reading the composite engineering magazines!

  3. #3
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    Here are some pics of a Parlee from the College Road Nationals:
    These pics were taken at the end of a three block straight and heading into the second to last turn on the last lap of the Men's Division II crit.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails How well do carbon frames take impact?-1-small-.jpg   How well do carbon frames take impact?-2-small-.jpg   How well do carbon frames take impact?-3-small-.jpg   How well do carbon frames take impact?-7-small-.jpg   How well do carbon frames take impact?-8-small-.jpg  


  4. #4
    rock n rolling resistance
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    The Joints...

    Quote Originally Posted by StormShadow
    Here are some pics of a Parlee from the College Road Nationals:
    These pics were taken at the end of a three block straight and heading into the second to last turn on the last lap of the Men's Division II crit.
    Looks like the HT joints came cleanly apart...I see no real damage to the tubes themselves(Parlee could probably repair that frame fairly easily).... A monocoque frame might not have come apart like that but then I'm sure there would've been other kinds of damage... somethings got to give as the impact energy has to go somewhere... hey but maybe not... you get lucky sometimes as I've crashed my Look before and the only damage it took was a wee bit of paint came off...the ergo lever took most of the impact....
    “nobody hears about dick cheney having an existential crisis.” - MKUltra3

  5. #5
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    questionable construction...

    Looks like the TT and DT are just glued onto the head tube! A lot of other brands have sturdier one piece head tubes with lugs molded in or some other sort of internal support. Looks like the price you pay to save a few ounces.

    Carbon frames are actually less likely to suffer from damage that would dent the tubes on an aluminum frame and maybe even Ti or steel. Drop a wrench on carbon frame and all it will do is chip the paint or clearcoat.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by C-40
    Looks like the TT and DT are just glued onto the head tube!
    OMG

    Can that really be how they are made? The only thing providing any strength is the glue?

    While that certainly is what it appears by the pictures I would be hard pressed to believe it.
    Joined the other team in the name of the economy

  7. #7
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    No Glue Used on Parlee Frames

    I saw this frame first hand at Parlee two weeks ago. All things considered shy of the head tube separation, the frame is in reasonable shape.

    Parlee frames have mitered joints that fit the shape of the adjoining tube. The tubes are fitted to a jig with the appropriate geometry to be used. Approx 5 to 7 hand laid, Pre-Preg heated carbon cloth (0-90 weave) are applied to each intersection. This is truly a hand-laid-up-in-place carbon lug. From this point the lugs are thermally heated as well as pressure applied via thick aluminum forms. The temperature is monitored accurately and pressure applied evenly.

    Parlee lugs ARE NOT pre-made and then glued and fitted together. And this is not to say that is wrong or bad, it simply is not how we construct them! Carbon will fracture, break or crack with a heavy impact. The tubes generally will be the strongest as their structure is continous and uninterupted.

    The picture speaks for itself how violent the crash was. I highly recommend a field trip to Parlee to see for yourself what goes into these frames. Thanks for reading this.

  8. #8
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    Crashed my Madone

    I just crashed my Madone 5.2 on Memorial day. I have described the crash in this post:

    Memorial day weekend rides - how was yours?

    I was worried that I had cracked my frame. I gave it a good looking over myself and then took it into my LBS for them to do the same. No damage to the frame whatsoever--a few minor scuffs to the shifter and rear deraileur and bar tape though. I hit the kid pretty hard--at about 19mph full-on, rolled my bike. Maybe I'm just blessed, but no significant damage to my ride.

  9. #9
    glutton for punishment
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    Thanks for posting to this thread - it's always nice when someone with actual first-hand experience contributes. I'm curious if Parlee will attempt to repair the frame or whether it's a write-off?
    On a side note, I bet it wasn't the only casualty of that crash - love the guy getting sideways in the top picture. I'd hate to see what his rear wheel looked like after he touched down.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by bike_it
    The picture speaks for itself how violent the crash was. I highly recommend a field trip to Parlee to see for yourself what goes into these frames. Thanks for reading this.
    Also, the broken frame wasn't in the crash pictured. The frame broke in another crash where it colided head on with a pole or parking meter. As to the comment about the result of saving a few grams, without detailed forensic data, there's no telling whether any other frame would have fared better. I've seen plenty of steel frames with fully separated top and down tubes as a result of head on collsions.

  11. #11
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    I assumed...

    Quote Originally Posted by bike_it
    I saw this frame first hand at Parlee two weeks ago. All things considered shy of the head tube separation, the frame is in reasonable shape.

    Parlee frames have mitered joints that fit the shape of the adjoining tube. The tubes are fitted to a jig with the appropriate geometry to be used. Approx 5 to 7 hand laid, Pre-Preg heated carbon cloth (0-90 weave) are applied to each intersection. This is truly a hand-laid-up-in-place carbon lug. From this point the lugs are thermally heated as well as pressure applied via thick aluminum forms. The temperature is monitored accurately and pressure applied evenly.

    Parlee lugs ARE NOT pre-made and then glued and fitted together. And this is not to say that is wrong or bad, it simply is not how we construct them! Carbon will fracture, break or crack with a heavy impact. The tubes generally will be the strongest as their structure is continous and uninterupted.

    The picture speaks for itself how violent the crash was. I highly recommend a field trip to Parlee to see for yourself what goes into these frames. Thanks for reading this.
    there had to be more to the story.

    Thanks for sharing.
    Joined the other team in the name of the economy

  12. #12
    Gone for a bike ride ....
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    I would never get a carbon MTB if it were to ever be ridden in the presence of sharp rocks (i.e., most places except Florida). Impact damage resulting from sharp objects hitting the sides of the frame members can easily destroy the frame. However, on the road it isn't so clear. Scraping on pavement probably would not be a death blow. However, in a big pile up, who knows what could hit your bike. Just someone's skewer or protruding pedal could inflict irrepairable damage. Probably the best advice is simply to consider a carbon frame as one that may not last a lifetime unless your'e an extremely careful rider.
    ---- Perfection is our goal, but excellence is tolerated. ----

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by harvey
    I would never get a carbon MTB if it were to ever be ridden in the presence of sharp rocks (i.e., most places except Florida). Impact damage resulting from sharp objects hitting the sides of the frame members can easily destroy the frame. However, on the road it isn't so clear. Scraping on pavement probably would not be a death blow. However, in a big pile up, who knows what could hit your bike. Just someone's skewer or protruding pedal could inflict irrepairable damage. Probably the best advice is simply to consider a carbon frame as one that may not last a lifetime unless your'e an extremely careful rider.
    Any frame that is taken down at speed can get munched. Racing, and even (to a lesser extent) large group rides are prone to accidents. The lesson is: don't race your $3000 Parlee frame, unless it was given to you by your sponsor.

  14. #14
    rock n rolling resistance
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    Still don't like what I see...

    Quote Originally Posted by AlexCad5
    Any frame that is taken down at speed can get munched. Racing, and even (to a lesser extent) large group rides are prone to accidents. The lesson is: don't race your $3000 Parlee frame, unless it was given to you by your sponsor.
    I still don't like what I see in the picture... I am not so sure about that kinda construction approach.
    “nobody hears about dick cheney having an existential crisis.” - MKUltra3

  15. #15
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    Talking about carbon, I went bike shop cruzin and a manager at one shop said he never heard of Trek repairing their carbon bikes. I thought Trek could unglue the frame and just replace a damaged tube? Does anyone know?

  16. #16
    ultralord
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    Quote Originally Posted by harvey
    I would never get a carbon MTB if it were to ever be ridden in the presence of sharp rocks (i.e., most places except Florida). Impact damage resulting from sharp objects hitting the sides of the frame members can easily destroy the frame. However, on the road it isn't so clear. Scraping on pavement probably would not be a death blow.
    You are not alone. There are very, very few carbon mtb's out there, unlike road bikes.

    That is one of reasons that makes me think carbon is not good for impact (compared to other materials). Manufacturers don't seem to trust it for mtb. Mtb chainsuck can be deadly too for a carbon chainstay if not protected.

    fc

  17. #17
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    It depends on how the material is adapted for its intended use. Lots of high impact resistant applications make use of carbon fiber. For instance, the monocoque cockpit in an F1 car is incredibly strong. At some point early on, it was made so strong that it wouldn't disintegrate during an impact, and transfer too much of the deceleration forces to the driver inside. Now the front-end consists of integrated zones with controlled failure modes.

  18. #18
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    Carbon Mtn. Story : )

    I have a fairly ancient G. Fisher OCLV frame, somewhere around the Santa Cruz Mtns. this frame took a little ride off of a HUGE rock, overlooking a river about 100 ft or so bellow.
    Maybe it was just fate or dumb luck but the only "chips" in the finish are from the old XT brake levers that did a little tap dance on the TT as the bike spectacularly ricocheted off of numerous rocks all the way down to the riverbanks.
    The frameset was sent back to Trek for inspecton and given a clean bill of health. It occaisionally gets rode to this day as my mud-beater or trailwork bike and is rock solid, no pun intended.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by jtompilot
    Talking about carbon, I went bike shop cruzin and a manager at one shop said he never heard of Trek repairing their carbon bikes. I thought Trek could unglue the frame and just replace a damaged tube? Does anyone know?
    They can. I have sent several customers bikes back for repair over the years. Turn around was usually a couple of weeks.
    In a land of apes, I am the evil robot leader...

  20. #20
    jaded bitter joy crusher
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    Carbon frame destroyed by chain suck

    Quote Originally Posted by francois
    Have you crashed or hit your carbon frame? Any damage? How well does it survive crashes compared to other frame materials?
    I had a carbon frame destroyed by a single bad incident of chain suck. Actually it wasn't the carbon that died, but the rear drive-side dropout cracked when the derailleur hanger failed. My LBS sent the frame back to the manufacturer for repair and the manufacturer said that it was a total loss because they couldn't remove and replace the dropout without damaging the frame enough that it would be unsafe to ride. They called Calfee to see whether they would be able to cut out the stays and replace them, but Calfee quoted a price greater than a new frame. [Just to be clear, Calfee was not the manufacturer. The Mfg called Calfee to see if they could do a job the Mfg. could not]

    Now I'm riding steel because you can actually repair it.
    Last edited by Fredke; 06-11-2005 at 03:54 PM. Reason: Clarification
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  21. #21
    glutton for punishment
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fredke
    [Just to be clear, Calfee was not the manufacturer. The Mfg called Calfee to see if they could do a job the Mfg. could not]
    .
    Stop being so coy - who was the manufacturer? A dropout "failing' sounds like soemthing a reputable manufacturer should have covered under warranty.

  22. #22
    jaded bitter joy crusher
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    Quote Originally Posted by peterpen
    Stop being so coy - who was the manufacturer? A dropout "failing' sounds like soemthing a reputable manufacturer should have covered under warranty.
    Orbea. They said that the warranty only covers manufacturing defects, but did give me a replacement frame at cost as a "crash replacement." I don't blame them, because it wasn't their fault that I had a bad shift.
    Anything that doesn't take years of your life and drive you to suicide hardly seems worth doing. ---- Cormac McCarthy

    A man can get disouraged many times, but he is not a failure until he begins to blame somebody else and stops trying --- John Burroughs

  23. #23
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    As has been said above, I wouldn't buy a carbon MTB frame. I'm basing this on a first hand, bad experience.
    I put a hole the size of a quarter about an inch up from the BB on my C'Dale Raven bombing down a downhill. Also cracked 2 swingarms on the same bike. C'Dale replaced the swingarms as they split at the welds where the 2 sides are joined. They didn't want to know anything about the frame as it wasn't a manufacturer's defect.
    Oh well, live and learn. My local lbs really came through for me in that situation and got me a great deal on another frame.
    I did, however, just by a new Specialized Tarmac Comp which is a carbon frame. I believe this frame is made as all one piece. Not sure where I read that.
    It's a sweet ride. It's a pretty different feel from my old CAAD 4 C'Dale. I'm happy with it so far.

    I won't buy another carbon mtb wether it's a frame, seatstays, chainstays or whatever. It just takes too much abuse. From me, anyway.

  24. #24
    jaded bitter joy crusher
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scottyluck
    As has been said above, I wouldn't buy a carbon MTB frame.
    Same goes for carbon road frames for me, based on the experience I describe above.
    Anything that doesn't take years of your life and drive you to suicide hardly seems worth doing. ---- Cormac McCarthy

    A man can get disouraged many times, but he is not a failure until he begins to blame somebody else and stops trying --- John Burroughs

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by peterpen
    On a side note, I bet it wasn't the only casualty of that crash - love the guy getting sideways in the top picture. I'd hate to see what his rear wheel looked like after he touched down.
    That guy is actually my brother's teammate. On the left side of the 3rd picture you can see his Bianchi flying through the air. The bike only had minor damages and he rode it to 8th place the next day in the road race.

    Quote Originally Posted by peterpen
    On a side note, I bet it wasn't the only casualty of that crash..
    More carnage. These two bikes were intertwined. One guy's handlebars managed to find their way through the other guy's wheel.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails How well do carbon frames take impact?-dsc00326.jpg  

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