Wednesday, October 12, 2016


Ah sweet carbon fiber. The wonder material. Unmatched stiffness to weight, and the options for shape and form are nearly limitless. Road wheels provide aerodynamic benefits that allow you to slice through crosswinds. Mountain bike wheels have unmatched stiffness for precise and confident handling. But this comes at a cost. Top of the line bikes cost above $10,000. Wheelsets can be $3000. Not to mention the fact that it is difficult to recycle thermoset resins (not to say that mining aluminum is that environmentally friendly), and we have pretty much outsourced all frame and wheel manufacturing to Asia. 
When I first started biking, I never thought that I would personally see the top of the line equipment that I had only seen online and in magazines. I thought that stuff was for the pros. But this is Alberta and the economy was booming. I'm pretty sure I saw XTR or Dura-Ace on my first group ride. Shop employees sell off "demo" bikes for great discounts at the end of the year. My point is that there lots of high end bikes out there, new and used that will make an aluminum SLX build feel inadequate.

But bicycle technology is very good at trickling down. Thru-axles, geometry updates, ever increasing cassette cog counts, clutch derailleurs, and even frames using less exotic carbon layups would make me pick today's $3000 bike over an $8000 bike from 5 years ago. But even these offerings from reputable bike brands aren't enough to satisfy some people's appetite for cheap carbon. There are stories of knockoff bikes, open mold bikes where tolerances are out of wack, and carbon layups are designed to look good while keeping costs down with little concern over strength and durability. Yes, rather than suffer the indignity of riding a $2500 105 equipped Cervelo or aluminum mountain bike from your friendly local bike shop, or gasp, a used bike, people roll the dice with no-name, Asian bikes. The bike brands can't afford to have frames fail, it could tarnish their reputation. Do the open mold manufacturers even care?

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