The dangers of carbon...

andy531pro
andy531pro Posts: 11
edited July 2013 in Road general
I was chatting to a mate this weekend - he's just had a very nasty crash - snapping his collar bone and dislocating his shoulder in the process - not to mention broken ribs and a broken upper arm. AND all because the down tube on his carbon frame snapped in two on a downhill blast through the South Downs. He landed in the road doing 30mph - luckily there were no cars coming! How common is this sort of failure? I regularly check my carbon forks for cracks - should I be concerned or is this just a freak accident?
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Comments

  • farrina
    farrina Posts: 360
    As an old fossil (well about to hit 50) and having been brought up on a diet of various incarnations of Reynolds tubing (currently riding 853) this is the main reason (apart from expense) that I avoid carbon.

    As I understand it when it goes it can fail catastrophically whereas in my experience with steel you normally get some form of warning ie cracks first.

    Given that (nearly all) the pro's all ride carbon it can't be unsafe as such but when they have any form of a bang on a bike I am sure their frames are replaced without a second thought.

    The average joe's carbon frame has to last a lot longer so I assume has time to degrade and impending failure is much more difficult to identify (short of specialist scanning kit).

    Hope he recovers rapidly.

    Regards

    Alan
    Regards
    Alan
  • thegreatdivide
    thegreatdivide Posts: 5,803
    Non thread.
  • chris_bass
    chris_bass Posts: 4,913
    had he crashed before? carbon wont just snap for no reason! thats why its used for formula 1 cars, planes, high end cars etc etc

    if it had a crack already then if he hit a pot hole or hefty bump in the road at speed it could have been the final straw!
    www.conjunctivitis.com - a site for sore eyes
  • giant_man
    giant_man Posts: 6,878
    ridiculous thread, there are no dangers in riding carbon frames, how many times do we see this nonsense. alu, ti and steel frames fail too, you know ...
  • lawrences
    lawrences Posts: 1,011
    If you want to keep pretending carbon will explode underneath you then by all means carry on. But I've had enough of the countless threads, carbon is stronger than metal mostly.

    http://www.pinkbike.com/news/santa-cruz ... t-lab.html
  • dnwhite88
    dnwhite88 Posts: 285
    giant man wrote:
    ridiculous thread, there are no dangers in riding carbon frames, how many times do we see this nonsense. alu, ti and steel frames fail too, you know ...
    ^this. Carbon is certainly no more prone to failiure than other frame materials and it will usually crack first, which would have been picked up if you clean your bike regularly.
    "It never gets easier, you just go faster"
  • Wunnunda
    Wunnunda Posts: 214
    The username andy531pro may indicate an axe being ground...an agenda being worked...or a troll under the bridge...?
  • MattC59
    MattC59 Posts: 5,408
    Utter horse sh!t.

    The frame was either seriously damaged prior to the crash, or it didn't happen.
    Science adjusts it’s beliefs based on what’s observed.
    Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved
  • jotko
    jotko Posts: 457
  • MattC59
    MattC59 Posts: 5,408
    jotko wrote:
    It must have got wet

    aah, good point well made !
    Science adjusts it’s beliefs based on what’s observed.
    Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved
  • farrina
    farrina Posts: 360
    MattC59 wrote:
    Utter horse sh!t.

    The frame was either seriously damaged prior to the crash, or it didn't happen.

    I think you have hit the nail on the head, which is not that carbon is more prone to failure (although I do wonder if it has a potentially shorter life span than other materials - thinking responsiveness/ flex here more than failure) but that it may be harder to identify problems post crash.

    After all I cannot imagine many people would deliberately ride a suspect frame and take the chance of eating the Tarmac.

    Regards

    Alan
    Regards
    Alan
  • pkripper
    pkripper Posts: 652
    you should not be concerned, it's a freak accident.

    Think about the number of miles ridden every day on carbon bikes - if they were that dangerous we'd be seeing them fail left right and centre, and clearly we're not. If you crash, by all means be concerned by the frame integrity, but if not, you have to assume it's all fine. And give it a periodic visual inspection. That period can be defined by how risk averse you are.
  • gozzy
    gozzy Posts: 640
    MattC59 wrote:
    jotko wrote:
    It must have got wet

    aah, good point well made !


    +1. You can't be too careful.
  • fat_cat
    fat_cat Posts: 566
    If he took it out in the rain he was asking for trouble!
  • vfast1
    vfast1 Posts: 98
    Maybe it just melted in this heat!
    Winter Road - 2014 Boardman Sport
    MTB - 2012 Canyon Nerve XC 7
    Summer Road - 2012 Cannondale Supersix 105 Liquigas Colours
  • smoggysteve
    smoggysteve Posts: 2,909
    If you knew how prone even aircraft grade aluminium was to metal fatigue you would never fly, or buy an alu bike. No one material is free from risk. Even titanium can fail at the joints, as light ans strong it may be, its hard to work with and joining it together in tubes can be troublesome. Steel is just as bad as aluminium for metal fatigue when used in the thinness that the modern tubes are made. Carbon has its positives and its negatives but its no more dangerous than the rest. So long as you buy from a reputable company with good quality controls and not a "possibly" dodgy Chinese knock off you should be fine.
  • Barbarossa
    Barbarossa Posts: 248
    Had he been riding the bike in the daytime? Schoolboy error - UV degradation!
  • denniskwok
    denniskwok Posts: 339
    Down tube was probably made from Chinese newspaper, together with the forks.
  • DavidJB
    DavidJB Posts: 2,019
    I once rode a carbon bike and contracted hepatitis.
  • paulhino
    paulhino Posts: 32
    denniskwok wrote:
    Down tube was probably made from Chinese newspaper, together with the forks.


    Very possible.
  • hatch87
    hatch87 Posts: 352
    DavidJB wrote:
    I once rode a carbon bike and contracted hepatitis.

    No way? I once rode a steel bike and got Crabs. Looks like the best thing to do it to stop riding. Ah well it was fun for a while
    http://app.strava.com/athletes/686217
    Come on! You call this a storm? Blow, you son of a bitch! Blow! It's time for a showdown! You and me! I'm right here! Come and get me!
  • chris_bass
    chris_bass Posts: 4,913
    hatch87 wrote:
    DavidJB wrote:
    I once rode a carbon bike and contracted hepatitis.

    No way? I once rode a steel bike and got Crabs. Looks like the best thing to do it to stop riding. Ah well it was fun for a while

    I'm sorry i should have cleaned the seat after borrowing your bike!! cycling naked probably wasnt the best idea either but it sure was comfy!
    www.conjunctivitis.com - a site for sore eyes
  • Karlos69
    Karlos69 Posts: 107
    I have a Look KG176. I have ridden it through all weathers for 18 years,
    The frame has only just failed - but it is the alloy lugs bonding the carbon tubes that have come loose.
    The carbon tubes themselves are still fine. So we can safely say it has a good lifespan.
    This frame design was prior to moncoque production methods.
    Cannondale Killer V
    Trek 6500
    Cannondale Bad Boy
    LOOK KG176
    Giant TCR Composite 1
  • Mikey23
    Mikey23 Posts: 5,306
    Seriously for a moment, it is worrying having recently gone from Alu entry level to carbon and you here all sorts of conflicting tales about carbon and how suddenly and catastrophically it can fail. I've just done Tarmac time and my spesh roubaix seems un damaged but I will have it checked out by my LBS. the pros probably get a new one every year and its properly maintained by expert mechanics, whereas I would hope to get several years out of mine but how will I know and what can I expect
  • slowbike
    slowbike Posts: 8,498
    Mikey23 wrote:
    the pros probably get a new one every year and its properly maintained by expert mechanics, whereas I would hope to get several years out of mine but how will I know and what can I expect
    The Pros do a couple more miles per year than you or I do ... ;)
  • racingcondor
    racingcondor Posts: 1,434
    The only way this would have happened is that there was preexisting damage or a very badly made frame (i.e. bad luck self importing through Alibaba rather than buying a Planet X and getting some QC done).

    It's not just a carbon problem, it's a problem with expecting everything to last forever. The worst component failure accident I've heard of was a club mate on our chain gang a couple of winters back riding his old steel steed. Externally it was sound but over time water had rusted the forks internally to the point that they failed at speed in a tight group...
  • deswahriff
    deswahriff Posts: 310
    ...a very similiar thing happend to my mates pal the other week, when his carbon bike just evaporated from under him...fortunately he was able to balance his saddle on the bottom bracket and bring the chainset at least to a controlled stop.....the wheels have yet to be found.
    Apparently its a well known fact that carbon atoms will, under certain conditions, react with the atmosphere (especially when its wet), and convert to carbon dioxide - Brian Cox explained it in one of his radio shows.....
    ...I just thought people should know....

    ...and don't get me started on those felt bikes.....
  • Mikey23
    Mikey23 Posts: 5,306
    Ha ha ha!
  • lawrences
    lawrences Posts: 1,011
    Hot day out today and a bead of sweat fell off my nose and melted straight through the top tube and down tube. 1k frame down the shitter.
  • thegreatdivide
    thegreatdivide Posts: 5,803
    lawrences wrote:
    Hot day out today and a bead of sweat fell off my nose and melted straight through the top tube and down tube. 1k frame down the shitter.

    Alien scene right there on the bike! Sorry for your loss :-(