MODERN CARBON BIKES & THE CONTINUAL EVOLUTION OF FRAMES

When carbon was first introduced into mainstream cycle manufacturing, carbon was seen as a ‘replacement’ for steel because it was stronger then steel (weight was still a problem) and was seen as ‘progress’. There was little consideration for the potential of ‘frame shaping’ into non conventional designs. In addition the poor relationship between alloy and carbon bonds became an issue as it turned out. There were some conceptual carbon bikes but I refer to the mainstream approach at the time. So for a while we generally went backwards in the late 80’s and early 90’s.

There are still companies such as Colnago and smaller brands who continue with carbon lug designs in some models which receive great reviews. Lugged frames allow the tailoring of frame sizes where mono-cock frames rely on mould size variety and stem lengths. Some say with lugs you can tune the ride quality best but I am not convinced.

Today’s bikes have little resemblance to the carbon bikes from 15- 20 years ago. It is such an exciting time to own a carbon bike. There is no doubt when you look at the 3 primary cycling disciplines: road, MTB and TT that road bikes, in particular from 2015 onwards, have evolved in areas such as agility, aerodynamics and comfort while making them still lighter and stiffer. I refer in particular to the higher end models where the competition to provide efficiencies are becoming harder to achieve. TT and MTB’s have carved the way for experimentation to bring new but maturised concepts to the road bike. Some suggest road bikes are starting to look more like a hybrid of mountain and TT bikes.

However –  The downside of this development seems to be where the line is drawn between the physical demands on experimental designs and consumer use. It is a mystery why some manufacturers still apply fatigue tests when they know perfectly well that carbon does not weaken with repetition as much as it does by impacts. It is the real-life effects upon the design or structure which seems to be over looked. These oversights make a common appearances in our workshops with alarming consistency. I guess it is the price you pay for progress. Just make sure your insurance policy is comprehensive enough or insure with a bike specialist insurer.