Friday, April 30

So, You Got a Carbon Bike?

Point 4 Illustrated
It happens to a lot of people nowadays. Even Wally World sells carbon bikes, so they are definitely mainstream. Now your objective is to get the best value out of it. Most of this is evident from past posts in this series. For my reader that has read all of this series, this is review - except for #4.

#1DON’T put the bike in situations where stuff gets banged. Make sure your front derailleur won’t throw the chain into the chainstay and damage it. When you lock the bike, avoid throwing a heavy, uncoated, metal locking chain against the frame. Be doubly careful if you are one of those people that carry your bike around on a car. I have noticed that my bikes are MOST likely to get damaged when either loaded into or unloaded from a motor vehicle. Your first line of defense is to avoid impacts that might cause substantial weakening of the carbon – weakening that may not be readily visible. This approach has the side benefit of keeping your bike’s paint nice, and looking much better than a bike you just toss around. If you are going to bang a bike up, steel is the best material choice.

#2KEEP the bike clean and dry. A clean and dry bike gives galvanic action little opportunity to eat up the metal bits. The simple act of cleaning causes you to look at things more frequently and closely, noticing possible problems before something collapses on you. I’m not suggesting you avoid riding such a bike in the rain, and through mud, but avoid the old horse problem of “ridden hard and put up wet.” It is LONG TERM wet and dirt that is the killer. You have a large investment in that carbon bike. Wipe it down when you put it away, and don’t store it in a humid swimming pool maintenance shed.

#3PROTECT the bike from UV. Store it somewhere where it won’t experience the daily sun damage that causes paint on old cars to fail. If you want to go even a bit further, wax the bike occasionally. Wax has UV resistant agents so it’ll help keep that carbon like new, as well as making the bike easier to keep clean and dry.

#4SHOW SELF RESTRAINT*. The whole point of having a carbon bike in the first place is to enjoy an unusually spirited, lightweight ride. Your carbon bike should be kept that way as much as possible. Racks and fenders, and all the other paraphernalia you might want to load a utility bike down with should be kept AWAY from your carbon bike. There is a REASON that Dutch bikes are not made from Carbon. More often than not, utility bikes even dispense with things like carbon forks. Keep your carbon bike pure, and light, and fun.

* This is one item in which I’m not really following my own advice when it comes to Buddy. Buddy’s frame is mostly aluminum, but Buddy has a carbon fork, seat stays, seatpost, a carbon crank, and a carbon front wheel hub. Buddy also (for the moment) has a rear rack and trunk, and fenders. I’d have been better off with a low end Tricross with none of the add-ons. HOWEVER, it’s now getting to the warm season and all that stuff will be coming OFF of Buddy soon. It COULD have been worse, however. I notice the 2010 Tricross S-Works all-carbon frame has now got rear rack mounts, so you’ll have the opportunity to load up your $6000 racing bike until it’s heavier than the $1000 version if you so desire.


Rantwick said...

Thank goodness I won't ever have to find some self-restraint, because I am positively abusive with my bikes. A bike made of something I can't ding is a bike don't want. This dovetails nicely with my lack of money... Yay!


Chandra said...

Having never owned a carbon bike, I am curious about this topic: Will carbon bikes exposed to lots of UV during extensive riding be also affected as do bikes stored without protection from UV? Thanks.

Steve A said...

Chandra, no. In the year I've owned it, Buddy has been exposed to maybe 500 hours of direct sunlight, with most of that not at peak light. There has been over 4000 hours of daylight in that time. It's like a garage-kept car. The OE paint is still fine on my 76, but is shot on my 91 that got kept outside.

Ham said...

Now that I'm using the road bike for the commute some days (no luggage except for a bum bag) I'm thinking of mudguards ( ) but I can't bring myself to add them on. Thanks for the vindication ;-)

Velouria said...

I must admit that I would not be able to follow these instructions. My bikes get banged around, they get wet, they stand in the sunlight. Thankfully, they are steel. I think a carbon bike would run away from me in horror after a week of ownership.

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