Monday, December 1, 2008
OG Carbon Frame
How many of you were riding monocoque carbon frames in the age of downtube shifters? This guy was. Follow up question: how many of you would ride a carbon frame this old?
Carbon is not the only bike material to fail over time. It doesn't take much research on the web to read stories of failed steel, titanium and aluminum frames. In fact, even good lugged steel bikes (which use a manufacturing technique that really gets the most out of the material strength) fail after enough use. So why do I suggest that this older carbon bike is not trustworthy? UV degradation and catastrophic failure. Although steel rusts, you can see that form on a bike. UV degradation of plastics (not the carbon, just the resin) isn't something that most people can gauge by looking. Also, ductile metals usually give way a bit (deform) before failing completely (fracturing). Carbon fiber tends to fail catastrophically, which is to say it fails all at once without much warning.
I saw this bike at the San Francisco bike swap this weekend and I hope the guy sold it because bikes should be used, not just looked at, but it's not a buy I wanted to make myself. On a related note, it was a good history lesson for me. I thought that carbon frames really began with tube-and-lug manufacturing (with metal lugs at first and carbon lugs later) so it's enlightening for me to see this early monocoque model.