Carbon Fibre Bicycle Frames

Road Bike Frames In Carbon Fibre

carbon fibre bicycle frames

Carbon fibre bicycle frames make use of a newer and extremely popular new material, and it has a lot of advantages. Also commonly spelled 'carbon fiber', it is touted as being as strong as steel without anywhere near the same weight. 

Since it became a viable and affordable option, carbon fibre bike frames have become super popular, especially in cycling fields where low weight is important for performance. They really are light as a feather. 

If you're considering a carbon fibre bicycle frame, you should be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of your choice.

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What is Carbon Fibre?

Carbon Fibre Bike Frames And How They're Made

carbon fibre weaving

Carbon fibre is comprised of woven threads, smaller than a human hair. These threads are woven together and twisted into sheets, which in turn can be molded and flexed into virtually any shape (such as a bicycle frame!) Once the shape is assumed, it is coated in a resin and then heat-hardened to lock it in place.

Carbon fibre is actually supposed to be five times stronger than steel. In addition, it is considerably lighter than a comparable piece of steel. Low weight, high strength, sounds pretty good. You can see why a carbon fibre bicycle frame would be appealing to any road or mountain biking enthusiast. 

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Disadvantages of Carbon Fibre

carbon fiber bike frame

Carbon fibre in bicycle frames does have its downsides. First off, carbon is pretty expensive. Pound for pound, it's about 10 times more expensive than steel. Anything made out of carbon fibre, including a bicycle, is bound to cost considerably more than its steel counterpart. However, that price is coming down as technology improves, and the material itself is getting stronger.

Carbon fibre isn't exactly environmentally friendly. It's difficult and expensive to recycle. Compare this to steel, which just needs to be melted down or reshaped. Still, if you treat it well, a carbon bike frame or wheels, if treated well, should last a long time and not require recycling. 

Topeak RX Beam Rack CB Carbon Fiber Bicycle Seat Post Rack
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(price as of Jul 27, 2016)

Carbon Fibre in Bicycle Frames

Ok, so now let's look at how carbon fibre shapes up in a bicycle frame. The advantages are strength and light weight, the disadvantages are cost and environmental burdens.

Your bicycle built with carbon fibre is bound to cost quite a bit more than a comparable steel or aluminum frame. Consider that the manufacturer will have to spend ten times more on a carbon frame than a steel one.

A very light steel frame may weigh 3.5 or 4 pounds. A carbon frame can weigh less than 2 pounds. This is a considerable weight saving percentage-wise, but in the grand scheme, 1.5 pounds isn't that much. However, if you race, or have to carry your bike any distance, the weight savings can add up and make it worthwhile. Carbon bike frames really are unbelievably light!

Another factor is repair costs. If you crash and smash your carbon fibre road bike frame, you'll find it very difficult to repair. Carbon fibre frames, when broken, tend to splinter and crack. The frame integrity may be compromised, and even if it isn't, you'll need to pay for expensive repairs. A steel frame is more likely to bend in an accident. It may not look as pretty, but steel can almost always be hammered back into shape. 

Planet Bike Carbon Fiber Bicycle Waterbottle Cage
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(price as of Jul 27, 2016)

Happy Frame Hunting

I'm not trying to make your choice for you, so I hope this article has helped inform your decision. Both steel and carbon fibre are fantastic choices for bike frame materials. 

Good Luck!