Saturday, December 12, 2009

Busted Carbon

No - luckily not a picture of my bike, but one of the many examples of carnage you'll find on the Busted Carbon site - not recommended for the squeamish or worrisome types. Being bit of a gear head and semi-old school, I find the pictures and horror stories of breakage fascinating, especially since carbon fiber is so prevalent nowadays. Even most lower end bikes sport carbon forks. No way a steel fork would have snapped like the carbon example above.

Many of the pics and stories on the site are the result of a serious crash - that doesn't concern me. With impacts like that you're going to be sampling pavement, no matter what your frame is made of. Carbon frame busted in a few pieces, aluminum frame cracked beyond repair, steel frame twisted into a pretzel - who cares - they're done. No frame or fork is indestructible.

What does concern me, as you scroll though the various pictures and stories, are the "just riding along" or low impact scenarios - where the fork, handlebar or other carbon component catastrophically fails - resulting in accompanying x-ray photos for some posted stories. That's scary stuff.

Carbon is the (semi) new wonder material for bikes. When designed and manufactured correctly, incredibly light and strong. There's some amazing things being done with it for sure.

Along with a few old school steel bikes and some aluminum mountain bikes, I also own and ride a carbon road bike. The carbon bike rides fantastic, well enough to make me wonder what a carbon hardtail (mountain bike) would be like (please send money) - so, total retro grouch I'm not. My main mountain bike has carbon handlebars as well, compete with carbon bar ends (call me XC Dork Boy).

Still, when it comes to carbon fiber, probably not a bad idea to check components occasionally to give you a little piece of mind - I hope.

Something to think about the next time you're bombing that 50 mph downhill.


  1. Interesting sight (busted carbon). I am not a fan of carbon, I've seen to many "cracks" some from just tip overs. But now when I am wheeling down a hill at 40 mph, on my aluminum road bike, I'll be thinking about my carbon fork. :0

  2. Yeah - I sometimes think about the carbon steerer tube on my Ibis, usually on a fast downhill - more to amuse myself, then actually being concerned. I'm sick that way.

    I get a kick outta the "steel is real" crowd - since most are running carbon forks anyway. I'm allowed to say that, since I fall into that camp at times.

    Thanks for checking out my blog. I stopped by yours - pretty cool. Pretty hardcore riding in the cold weather - makes us look like weather wimps here in the Seattle area.

  3. Recently got a Motorcane Fly Ti 29er,which I love by the way, and being a bit of a weight weenie, bought a Hylix brand seatpost off fleabags. Unfortunately, this frame doesn't have the best grip on posts and the soft carbon not only slid down but the ti tube actually cut in and pushed away a layer of the post at the split area of the frame. I knew this wasn't good and raised the post enough to be at an uneffected area of the seatpost, tightened even harder and hoped for the best. Still slid and more damage. Went for a ride and heard a crackle, looked and saw a cracking around the post about a third around and removed it. No more soft carbon for seatpost. I will keep my carbon stem and bar but I think it's the wrong stuff for seatpost s.