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  1. #1
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    weight limits on carbon frames?

    I am a true Clydesdale: 6'3" and 275 pounds. I am an endurance rider, rather than a racer. I would like to buy a carbon frame bike. I have a 20 year old Fuji steel road bike and a 18 year old Trek hybrid. It's time for a change. Comfort is my thing rather than speed. I have a budget of approx. $2,000.00. I have looked at the Specialized Roubaix Elite and Cannondale Carbon Synapse 5. However lately I am getting differing views on whether I am too heavy for a carbon frame. Therefore: Is there a weight limit to carbon frames?
    Would anyone like to "weigh" in on this?

  2. #2
    Just Plain Bitter
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    I can only tell you that I am 5' 11" and 225. I ride a 2010 Roubaix and it is rock solid. I don't feel any flex or any adverse effects of my weight I would expect if my weight was having an issue with the frame. I ride a M frame and have been told by dealer I am not close to maxing out the frame.
    Quote Originally Posted by Catzilla;
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  3. #3
    Rub it............
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    The limit is not on the frames. The weight limit would be on the wheels.

    I have a few customers that have purchased carbon 16lb road bikes that are in your size range. No problems what so ever.
    You can't fix stupid.

    Quote Originally Posted by JoeDaddio

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  4. #4
    old school drop out
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    Some frames, regardless of material, have weight limits for the rider. Super light weight steel frames are not designed to survive long-term under heavy riders. Same with carbon, titanium or any material. However, there are plenty of frames that will support your weight.

    Don't look for the lightest frame that you can find. Often more weight in the frame means more strength in the frame (assuming a quality frame). Tell your local shop that you're looking for a durable frame and durable wheels, and stay away from the ultra light stuff.

  5. #5
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    Actually the Roubaix models (with the exception of the base model) have a published structural weight limit of 240 lbs. The base model has a limit of 275 lbs.

  6. #6
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    If you sprint and ride hard you'll kill the frame. A heavy rider (200 lbs +) in my club rides a carbon Colnago since about 6 years and it now squeaks really a lot when he stands on the pedals. He destroyed it. But he can still ride it ;)
    Don't give up may the pace seem slow,
    you may succeed with another blow.

    Rest if you must, but don't quit.

  7. #7
    Cycling induced anoesis
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    In regards to Specialized, if you go to their FAQ section and do a search on bike weight limits or rider weight limits you'll get some hits on the topic.
    http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bc/sbcfaq.jsp

    Generally speaking, their frames have no weight limits, but CF components and wheelsets do. It's covered in the FAQ section.

    Cannondale may have something similar to the FAQ section, or you could contact them directly.

  8. #8
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    Agreeing with some of the above posts, you will notice more flex in the wheels than you will ever see in the bike. I really think for casual, endurance rides your weight is irrelevant. Sprinters in the TdF subject bikes to more stress than your weight will and the frames don't fall apart.
    "I'm a real athlete, I'm not trying to be the best at exercising." - Kenny Powers

  9. #9
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    Thank you and additional requests

    Thank you all for your responses to my inquiry. As to the reply from Cyclequip, when you state that the Specialized Roubaix base model has a stated weight limit of 275 lbs, is that the 2011 Roubaix Elite Apex (SL2 frame), because I believe that is the current base model.

    Similarly, how does one check rider weight limits on frames and/or wheels?

    Lastly, many of you mentioned that wheels should be of greater concern than carbon frames. Therefore, any wheelset recommendations for heavy riders?

    Thanks to all again...

  10. #10
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    Most bike companies aren't going to make that claim because of liability issues. While their are bikes that have a weight limit, most of them can carry you without any issues. Like Frdandc said, wheels should be your biggest concern.

  11. #11
    The Slow One.
    Reputation: Alaska Mike's Avatar
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    [shill]
    Given your riding style (endurance) and budget, have you considered a titanium bike from Bikes Direct? Ti is a durable material, has a reputation for comfort, and has a certain "bling factor". Bikes Direct has a few in your price range that might be options for you.
    [/shill]

    Other than that, I agree not to look for a lightweight bike. I'm not a featherweight either, and I've found the lower-level Roubaix/Tarmac frames to be a bit flexy- especially in the seatstays. Good, comfortable bikes, but I found I could really push them around without much effort, and that a lot of power could be lost in frame flex. Go with a solid, durable frame over one that has a lot of sexy lines and colors.

    You might look at the Neuvation's FC100/Rival build as well (~$1600), if you're comfortable buying online. Give John a call and talk to him about your needs and wants. The advantage is that you can customize the bike to fit your needs. You can order the bike without wheels/tires and save almost $200, then buy a wheelset that better suits you.

    Save about $300-$400 of your budget for a set of handspun 32 or 36 spoke wheels on a set of durable rims like Open Pros. I bought mine from Bicycle Wheel Warehouse (forum sponsor) and have been really happy with their durability and overall performance. Coupled with a wider (25c+) tire, you'll be amazed at the performance gains you'd get over any stock wheelset in your price range. They aren't race wheels, but they are pretty much the standard for good, solid wheels.

    Whatever you do, make sure to communicate to the salesman exactly what your goals for the bike are. How many miles per year, what kinds of conditions... lay it all out on the line and listen to their suggestions. Don't rely on any one source- especially not the manufacturer. They all lie.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by matts7
    Thank you all for your responses to my inquiry. As to the reply from Cyclequip, when you state that the Specialized Roubaix base model has a stated weight limit of 275 lbs, is that the 2011 Roubaix Elite Apex (SL2 frame), because I believe that is the current base model.

    Similarly, how does one check rider weight limits on frames and/or wheels?

    Lastly, many of you mentioned that wheels should be of greater concern than carbon frames. Therefore, any wheelset recommendations for heavy riders?

    Thanks to all again...
    As of 2010 Specialized began issuing frame structural weight restrictions - to be found in the latest 2010 Bicycle Owners Manual Appendix A. So yes, the weight restrictions apply to all the later models, including the Elite Apex Roubaix you refer to.

  13. #13
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    If you have to ask, then yes. Otherwise it'll always be in the back of your mind if your frame is going to break.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alaska Mike
    Save about $300-$400 of your budget for a set of handspun 32 or 36 spoke wheels on a set of durable rims like Open Pros. I bought mine from Bicycle Wheel Warehouse (forum sponsor) and have been really happy with their durability and overall performance. Coupled with a wider (25c+) tire, you'll be amazed at the performance gains you'd get over any stock wheelset in your price range. They aren't race wheels, but they are pretty much the standard for good, solid wheels.
    Whatever you do, make sure to communicate to the salesman exactly what your goals for the bike are. How many miles per year, what kinds of conditions... lay it all out on the line and listen to their suggestions. Don't rely on any one source- especially not the manufacturer. They all lie.
    +1.. Mavic also has the CXP 33s that are actually better than the Open Pros. I've heard many good things about the Open Pros but I also know that they are prone to developing cracks at the eyelets. Velocity Deep Vs are another choice I would recommend and they rate right up there with the CXP 33s. I personally ride Deep Vs. At 6'3, 215 lbs (not to mention I'm a big chainring guy) I've done the "walk of shame" too many times due to broken spokes and/or broken hubs. All that ended with the Velocity Deep Vs. Two years and 9800 miles later and I've never even had these wheels trued. Velocity Deep Vs are heavy but the fact that I bomb over potholes without any damage to the wheels is a feat in itself. The Vs get the job done.
    Last edited by terbennett; 10-22-2010 at 07:52 AM.

  15. #15
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    If you're a big guy and know you're going to put some wear on the frame, make sure you're buying a frame with a lifetime warranty. Many carbon frames don't come with those, so use that as a guide.

  16. #16
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    I'm 6'5'' 245 lb on a specialized roubaix with handbuilt wheels. Rock solid, although I tend to be very cautious on bumps, curbs, etc. by nature.

  17. #17
    Cycling induced anoesis
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    Quote Originally Posted by rx-79g
    If you're a big guy and know you're going to put some wear on the frame, make sure you're buying a frame with a lifetime warranty. Many carbon frames don't come with those, so use that as a guide.
    Not arguing the benefits of a lifetime warranty, but not because it'll cover frame damage sustained by something other than a defect.

    Even the best lifetime warranties are limited - in wording as well as scope.

  18. #18
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    Regarding wheels - rider weight is the main factor leading to spoke fatigue in the long term (due to repeated un-stressing and re-stressing of the spokes as you go along). If you can't get a deal on a bike with strong wheels, just ride the stock ones until the spokes start to snap and then invest in a hand-built set with plenty spokes, i.e. designed to be sturdy.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by PJ352
    Not arguing the benefits of a lifetime warranty, but not because it'll cover frame damage sustained by something other than a defect.

    Even the best lifetime warranties are limited - in wording as well as scope.
    If a Merlin cracks, and it isn't from a crash, they don't ask to see a picture of the rider, and they don't check their calenders to see if the frame is in warranty.

    If a carbon frame randomly cracks from simple load bearing, it is going to be covered as a defect, because that's what the frame is supposed to do, at minimum. If it is in the warranty period, it will be covered. If you are a big guy, pushing the limit of carbon already, your frame is more likely to break somewhere down the line than a 150 pounder - and it would be better if the warranty was still in force when and if that happens.


    I am also taking if for granted that the maker of lifetime warrantied frames has more reason to believe the frame will last a long time than the makers of 5 or 10 year frames. I could certainly be mistaken, but anyone selling a frame that they believe has a limited life is probably not building with the possibility of 275 lbs riding it.


    ALL LBS bike used to have lifetime frame warranties, until (I think) Trek started going with 10 year warranties on the some of their OCLVs. Now it is almost expected that carbon (the strongest bicycle frame material) shouldn't be warrantied for life. Amazing.

  20. #20
    Cycling induced anoesis
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    Quote Originally Posted by rx-79g
    If a Merlin cracks, and it isn't from a crash, they don't ask to see a picture of the rider, and they don't check their calenders to see if the frame is in warranty.

    If a carbon frame randomly cracks from simple load bearing, it is going to be covered as a defect, because that's what the frame is supposed to do, at minimum. If it is in the warranty period, it will be covered. If you are a big guy, pushing the limit of carbon already, your frame is more likely to break somewhere down the line than a 150 pounder - and it would be better if the warranty was still in force when and if that happens.

    I am also taking if for granted that the maker of lifetime warrantied frames has more reason to believe the frame will last a long time than the makers of 5 or 10 year frames. I could certainly be mistaken, but anyone selling a frame that they believe has a limited life is probably not building with the possibility of 275 lbs riding it.

    ALL LBS bike used to have lifetime frame warranties, until (I think) Trek started going with 10 year warranties on the some of their OCLVs. Now it is almost expected that carbon (the strongest bicycle frame material) shouldn't be warrantied for life. Amazing.
    I think you're making a series of assumptions that aren't necessarily true. IMO if a CF frame randomly cracks, it may or may not be warrantied. That's where the 'limited' in lifetime warranty comes into play, along with any resolution being discretionary (up to the manufacturer).

    So, if the failure is deemed to be caused by something other than a defect, it may not be covered. The consumer may be given some sort of crash replacement deal (even though the bike wasn't crashed), but probably not a free replacement frame.

    I agree that (as an example) CF has a longer lifecycle than say, alu which has a finite fatigue life, but even manufacturers such as Specialized will have clearly worded language stating:
    USEFUL PRODUCT LIFE CYCLE:
    Every Specialized bicycle and frameset has a useful product life cycle. The length of that useful product life cycle will vary with the construction and materials of the bicycle or frameset, the maintenance and care the bicycle or frameset receives over its useful product life cycle, and the type and amount of use the bicycle or frameset is subject to.

    Source:
    http://cdn.specialized.com/OA_MEDIA/...arranty_r1.pdf

    Even the manufacturers with strong warranties use phrasing that leave their options open.

  21. #21
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    Aluminum frames have some of the longest life cycles of any bicycles, despite the underlying material's finite fatigue life. That is because modern aluminum bicycles are constructed so stiffly (to avoid fatiguing flex) that they do not cycle as much as frames of more flexible build, like steel, ti and carbon. This common observation about underlying materials is not born out in reality.

    Specifically to carbon warranties - a heavy guy is more likely to break a bike at the headtube junction than even a powerful rider (who is more likely to crack the BB). I would bet that nearly all non-impact headtube junction failures that are in-warranty are covered. That isn't a guarantee on my part, just an observation.

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