Author Topic: Touring on carbon  (Read 16289 times)

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Offline johnsondasw

Touring on carbon
« on: November 23, 2008, 11:25:10 pm »
I have been touring for almost 30 years.  In 2005., I bought a Burley  Nomad and really prefer the trailer style.  I now ride a carbon fiber bike and used it with the Nomad last spring for a moderate 3 day ride.  Everything went great.  The bike is way lighter that a traditional touring rig and the weight of the trailer is offset by lighter bike weight and the fact you don't have pannier weight.  And the carbon is a much smoother ride, resulting is less fatigue.

My question is, why is touring on carbon never recommended.  The bike, wheels, etc seem plenty sturdy.  I ride 700/23c foldable tires.  My bike has 8000+ miles and is doing great.

Has anyone taken long tours on a carbon bike?  What are the drawbacks?  I intend to do some extended ones on this (Specialized Roubaix).

Thanks!    

May the wind be at your back!
May the wind be at your back!

Offline whittierider

Touring on carbon
« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2008, 03:36:37 am »
My only beef with carbon is that they don't put the eyelets on it.  I guess it's because the racers wouldn't be caught dead with anything that looked even remotely like touring.  After doing my research, I got a carbon fiber bike for its durability and ride.  I didn't want to crack any more steel frames, and carbon does not fatigue and crack like the metals do when you ride them hard.  Calfee has no trouble repairing carbon if necessary after an accident, according to http://www.calfeedesign.com/howtosendrepair.htm .  They can also stiffen and strengthen an existing frame.

I sent my son's Trek Madone frame there for their battery of inspections and tests after he directly broadsided a car at 25mph that turned illegally across his path in August and he landed in the hospital.  Even the front hub shell and axle were deformed by the force of the impact, but the only thing Calfee said was damaged on the frame and fork was the aluminum dropouts.  It's my observation that very few crashes damage carbon frames.

I wish my best steel bike were still usable as a second bike after I cracked it (it had all the eyelets, too!), but a frame builder's effort to repair it was unsuccessful.


Offline wanderingwheel

Touring on carbon
« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2008, 11:56:06 am »
A great touring bike can be built out of any material: steel, aluminum, titanium, and yes, carbon.  There is nothing inherent in carbon that prevents it from being used for touring, it simply has to be designed for the purpose and very few carbon bikes are.  Unlike the metals, carbon is not isotropic (equally strong in any direction) and every expected load must be considered and designed for.  It is possible (but very unlikely) to design a carbon bike that only fails while towing a trailer.

I think there is no reason not to consider using a carbon bike with a trailer, but just like other materials, stay with the stronger, stouter models.  A super-light carbon wunderbike is just as poor a choice as a similar steel bike.  It's not the material, it's the design.

Sean


Offline johnsondasw

Touring on carbon
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2008, 12:15:07 am »
Thanks for your responses--you both are knowledgeable.  If anyone out there has taken a carbon bike hauling a trailer on a tour, I'd like to hear about it. I notice carbon bikes are never mentioned on the reviews of touring bikes.  

May the wind be at your back!
May the wind be at your back!

Offline johnsondasw

Touring on carbon
« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2008, 12:15:08 am »
Thanks for your responses--you both are knowledgeable.  If anyone out there has taken a carbon bike hauling a trailer on a tour, I'd like to hear about it. I notice carbon bikes are never mentioned on the reviews of touring bikes.  

May the wind be at your back!
May the wind be at your back!

Offline Susan

Touring on carbon
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2008, 11:53:00 am »
Hi - I'm a german resident and toured the Southern Tier early this year with a carbon frame bike - it was great!  And I finally found one here called a "Focus" that has eyelets for front and rear racks,a front wheel with a self-generated light system and very light fenders. The entire rig weighs about 12 KG/26 lbs. In fact I have 3 different carbon frame bikes that have withstood various spills and rough handling without any damage - I don't mind a scratch or two.  I think it is important for the saddle post and handlebars to be made of aluminum so that you are able to attach various accessories.    Susan    


Offline ilike3bikes

Touring on carbon
« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2008, 09:07:36 pm »
I am considering much the same.  I have a Cervelo RS (carbon frame).  I have the largest acorn saddle bag and handlebar bags.  It makes a wonderful day tour or credit card touring bike.  With the trailor, you are a little further done the road than me.  But, I think, from my limited experience, that carbon makes a great touring bike.  One negative consideration: on the road it would probably be difficult to get a frame repaired.

This message was edited by ilike3bikes on 11-28-08 @ 6:12 PM

Offline whittierider

Touring on carbon
« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2008, 09:16:56 pm »
Quote
One negative consideration: on the road it would probably be difficult to get a frame repaired.

None of the materials are easily repaired on the road.  One of our neighbors is a welder with NASA certifications and does aircraft stuff all the time, but when I told him how thin-walled the modern steel and aluminum frames are, he said he wouldn't touch them.


Offline dlambert

Touring on carbon
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2008, 08:46:16 am »
I've nothing really to add to the question, but thanks for the discussion!  I have a Specialized Roubaix, and love it for day rides.  However, I took the 25 year old, steel-framed Univega (with a Bob) on a multi-week tour last summer.  I had heard too many horror stories of carbon frames.  Although the Univega did great (no surprise that!), I may try the all-carbon Roubaix on some trial tours.


Offline biker_james

Touring on carbon
« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2008, 08:34:45 am »
I certainly wouldn't be opposed to touring on carbon, but I think I'll wait until someone actually makes a touring bike in carbon.  The stresses and loads put on a touring bike are different from normal road bikes, and I have no idea if they were designed to handle those forces. Using a trailer minimizes this to a degree, but not entirely. Since I tour where there seems to be a lot of bad pavement, I need bigger tires than a lot of carbon road frames will fit, as well as fenders and at lest a rack to carry a rack pack, even with a trailer.I know that there are carbon forks out there with rack mounts, and I guess getting a carbon cyclocross bike would allow for bigger tires, and fender clearance. I just haven't seen a carbon bike designed to carry panniers, so I'll wait


Offline whittierider

Touring on carbon
« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2008, 01:57:37 pm »
I've met plenty of 350-pounders on the bike forums riding carbon, all without trouble; so I know the material is definitely up to the job.

The comments about tire clearance, fenders, rack-mount eyelets, and so on are a valid concern though.  Something else I was forgetting in my previous post is the seat-stay length, which may typically be too short to avoid having your heels hit the panniers.


Offline DaveB

Touring on carbon
« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2008, 05:55:58 pm »
Quote
I certainly wouldn't be opposed to touring on carbon, but I think I'll wait until someone actually makes a touring bike in carbon...

Plan on waiting a loooong time.  Carbon road frames are almost all designed for racing or sports riding and are likely to remain so for the indefinite future.  The touring market is too small to warrant making the molds and/or lugs needed to create touring geometry.

If you really want a carbon touring frame you will have to go to one of the few makers that build custom carbon frames.


Offline MrBent

Touring on carbon
« Reply #12 on: December 07, 2008, 02:38:31 pm »
Carbon frames seem tough enough these days, as the other posts mention.  I have, however, heard from at least one person who's frame blew apart on a trans-continental tour, something I've never heard of with steel/aluminum--not that it couldn't happen.

My ride has a carbon/aluminum front shock and has held up well.  Personally, I wouldn't take a full carbon bike on a long tour.

Cheers,
Scott


Offline whittierider

Touring on carbon
« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2008, 04:52:50 pm »
Quote
I have, however, heard from at least one person who's frame blew apart on a trans-continental tour, something I've never heard of with steel/aluminum--not that it couldn't happen.

I've cracked a steel frame, twice, without a load, or an  accident-- just fatigue.


Offline adrianlondon

Re: Touring on carbon
« Reply #14 on: July 14, 2009, 04:32:42 pm »
I know I'm reviving an old thread, and as a newbie I hope that's OK.  Someone above, also in Germany, mentioned the Focus range of bikes for touring.

I've seen the Focus Silver Haze http://www.focus-bikes.de/bike_detail.asp?active=1&lang=english&rub=fit&pr=90000189 in a bike shop near Stuttgart and it looks fantastic.  Full carbon and designed for touring.  However, I don't speak any German and hence can't understand the reviews very well. 

Does anyone own one?  It's nice and light, and I love the neatness of the design (such as the internal cable routing).  I'd love to have it customised (specifically, I'd like to buy it without the wheels and use the ones I currently have on my existing bike) but I think Focus only supplies complete bikes to their dealers.