Carbon fibre frames- beyond the hype?

You look at road frames these days, and it’s all carbon this, carbon that. Even the low-end models are made of carbon.
I have a aluminium/carbon frame that’s been good, albeit quite a harsh ride at times. I’ve never riden a full carbon frame, so I’m interested to learn a bit more about them, beyond the annoying marketing hype.

So what’s the deal?

-What’s the difference between ‘cheap’ carbon, and ‘expensive’ carbon?
-When you look at a certain brands product line, you notice the frame on the cheap model is almost identical to the expensive model- does that mean the difference is not in the frame, but in the groupset?
-Is it a bad idea to buy a relatively cheap carbon frame- ie will it break in a minor prang?
-I hear the ride quality is better with carbon than aluminium. True?
-Is it true that many of the frames are coming out of the same factory in Taiwan?
-Is it true that a CF frame will last for 5 years before you need to throw it out?


Sometimes Horatio, it’s hard to believe from your questions that you’ve been around as long as you have :wink:

Just trying to learn mannnn… :slight_smile:

So what’s the deal?

A-expensive carbon is a better weave and more durable (less flex) usually

B-again see above. better frame looks the same but has higher weave count


D-carbon is no better than half half ive found. rear stayus, fork and seat poast are enough.

E-Yes most frames apart from certain high end come from same factories; hillbrick,generick,principia,karbona, and few other track frames all come out same moulds.

F-Depends on quality of carbon

No-one ever reads what I reply but here goes;

A) The same difference between cheap steel and expensive steel, or cheap tyres and expensive tyres.

B) A V8 supercar is almost identical to a SS commodore - the difference is in the groupset, right?

C) Probably not. Will a Huffy break in a prang?

D) Riding a plywood bike is better than aluminum. Carbon does feel better than al, but steel is real.

E) Boeing 787 wings are made in Japan, then flown to the USA to be bolted onto a plane. Reason? The japanese make great wings but shitty planes.

F) Before you need to sell it you mean :slight_smile:

i read it… just dont always agree :wink:

I do spud!

True. I follow you there.

Well the difference between the base Commodore and the HSV 500kW range topper is essentially the ‘groupset’. The bodywork IS the same, while the engine is tweaked.

If Huffy offered a carbon frame, I would expect it to break!

Plywood is better, really? I understand that steel is real, but it’s heavy too?

I think I follow you here- Taiwan is the centre of the bike world etc.
The thing is though, I just feel a bit suspicious of the manufacturer who makes both Karbona and Colnago frames in the same factory- am I to believe that they use the special ‘nano carbon powder’ for the Colnago, but leave it out for the Karbona?

Hell yeah! “Never raced or crashed” :smiley:

How carbon fork manufacture scares me…but I never ride Fill Carbon bike before.

Not sure if this is on topic but I recently sold my only carbon bike and now have a collection of all steel bikes.

My first roadie was an alu/carbon frame that was perfectly fine to get me into riding - however I upgraded to carbon within 12 months as it was pretty uncomfortable on longer rides 2+hrs due to harsh ride and felt like a log in the weight department.

My second roadie was a scott CR1 which was a well priced very light ex-top of the range frame. It was generally really comfortable to ride and awesome for going up hill. However it gave me the shits going downhill as it was very (too) stiff and used to ‘bounce’ over bumps, cambers etc. - nerve-wracking when you are moving at speed. My steel bikes don’t do that.

In all the marketing hype a lot of attention is paid to how light carbon is and how great it is for going uphill, not so much attention is paid to how it performs going downhill, which imho is as important if you are looking to ride hills a lot.

So in summary I sold it because I prefer the feel and road characteristics of steel - while is heavier going uphill (easily solved by getting fit/strong) its waaay better (solid) going down. Some would say its a dumb reason to sell a bike but it was good enough for me…

My observations are of course based on only riding one model of carbon bike so I’m hardly an expert.

And yes carbon is more comfortable than alloy.


It’s hard to break through the marketing hype, i agree. Just get something with some sort of warranty and hope for the best.

I know at least Specialized has a lifetime guarantee on their frames. Break it - if you can - and get a new one.

Check the fine print. Bike manufacturers usually have a flexible definition of ‘lifetime’.

The thing is though, I just feel a bit suspicious of the manufacturer who makes both Karbona and Colnago frames in the same factory- am I to believe that they use the special ‘nano carbon powder’ for the Colnago, but leave it out for the Karbona?

it’s all in the quality control i imagine.

just out of interest
on the weekend i found the end i cut off my isp bike and put it in my 6" vise to see what would happen.

anyway it took was more abuse before it split/squashed and that gave me a lot more confidence on the frame as its uber thin in places. thats a HM 12k carbon. its the same mould as the karbona monster lite.

i had a principia 7020 alloy frame which was ROUGH. i hated it was soo stiff. the carbon roadie (3k carbon weave Toray 700) i have now is much much smoother to ride. it seems to absorb vibration much better than the princ.