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Bikepacking on a Carbon Fiber Bike: Go for it or not?

h.m.s.saltyh.m.s.salty Posts: 43
edited March 2017 in Road buying advice
So, my next bike will be a very long term purchase for me: it needs to last me a good 4 or 5 years and it needs to be good for all that I can throw at it (if not literally).

One of those things will be bikepacking around Europe (stints of a month and a bit at most) where I can utilize framepacks below the top tube, off the back off the saddle/seat post as well as on the handlebars. Light trail and bikepath use is also planned for these ventures.
The other main thing will be road cycling.

I've tried doing as much research as I can with regards to whether carbon fiber will be good enough for bikepacking, but all I've been met with is a mishmash of information that doesn't really give me a clear idea of what I need to know: so I want to know from you guys whether it is indeed possible to bikepack on carbon fiber or whether I should make the investment in a well built steel bicycle (to the likes of the Shand Cycles Stooshie, Fairlight Strael etc)?

Some of the Carbon Fiber bicycles in question include the Canyon Endurace CF SL 8.0 disc, Felt VR5, Trek Domane S 5 Disc.

Personal experiences would be a plus, but I'm open to any advice that you can give me.

On a side note I have seen that certain races such as the Trans-Continental and the Tour Divide have been raced on Carbon Fiber, as well as the ongoing Indipac Wheelrace, but I need to be certain that Carbon Fiber will last me even under weighted use etc.

Thank you in advance for any advice.

Posts

  • fenixfenix Posts: 5,437
    I'd probably not go with those bikes - but certainly CF on the right bike is absolutely fine -

    http://road.cc/content/news/59716-inter ... record-kit
  • Man Of LardMan Of Lard Posts: 903
    Mark Beaumont used a CF bike with Di2 to do the Cairo to Cape Town jaunt a couple of years back... It didn't melt.
  • Fenix wrote:
    I'd probably not go with those bikes - but certainly CF on the right bike is absolutely fine -

    What would make those bikes unsuitable? Yeah I read about Mike Hall doing that, was what started off my line of questioning about whether I should also consider carbon fiber for my next bike
  • ZMC888ZMC888 Posts: 292
    For long distance enduro racing I think CF is good, Mike Hall, Kristof Allegaert etc travel incredibly lightly and their bikes are probably fine. If I was racing I'd probably take the most aero CF bike I could comfortably get away with.

    However if I were spending months bikepacking I think I'd prefer titanium or steel just for peace of mind. If clamping a CF frame in a bike stand isn't advisable then I'd suspect having kilos of kit hanging off it might not be advisable long term. Could a dangling zipper damage a small area of frame and even make a hole? Also I get very clumsy when I get exhausted, so would prefer a bike that could take a pounding. You could have a few minor spills on bad road surfaces or the bike get knocked or blown over, then it would suck to end the tour with a broken bike.

    Certainly metal seat post rails and alloy bars would be advisable.
  • ZMC888ZMC888 Posts: 292
    edited March 2017
    Even some of the top bikepacking racers don't use carbon fibre:
    https://cyclingtips.com/2017/03/bikes-2 ... heel-race/
  • ZMC888 wrote:
    Have a look at Sarah's bike. I'd get something like that.

    Yeah a couple of guys doing it are doing it on the Curve Bicycles, be it Titanium or steel. The only thing that would worry me about getting a Curve is the import tax...

    But I'll have to have a look for similar ones, though the Fairlight Cycles Strael seems to be a good alternative at the moment.
    ZMC888 wrote:
    However if I were spending months bikepacking I think I'd prefer titanium or steel just for peace of mind. If clamping a CF frame in a bike stand isn't advisable then I'd suspect having kilos of kit hanging off it might not be advisable long term..

    That's the big kicker for me, is durability of the tubes used with the frame. Like with one of the riders doing the Indipac at the moment he's crashed a couple of times on a Titanium bike without problems, that's something I ideally want to have too.
  • ZMC888ZMC888 Posts: 292
    Honestly I think CF would probably be fine 99% of the time. But there's that element of risk. I wouldn't bother getting a curve in the UK, it's just because they are sponsoring the event, you could get something like a Van Nicholas or many others. Alloy bars for hanging stuff from, metal rails for the oversized bike bag.

    Some other thoughts...would you forgo a carbon fork for a titanium one?
    Disk brakes..extra weight, but extra safety?
    Mountain bike shoes and cleats?
    Tubeless wheelset and tires? Or stick with a fast reliable tire like a Conti GP4000S2 and deal with the punctures?
  • ZMC888 wrote:
    Honestly I think CF would probably be fine 99% of the time. But there's that element of risk. I wouldn't bother getting a curve in the UK, it's just because they are sponsoring the event, you could get something like a Van Nicholas or many others. Alloy bars for hanging stuff from, metal rails for the oversized bike bag.

    Some other thoughts...would you forgo a carbon fork for a titanium one?
    Disk brakes..extra weight, but extra safety?
    Mountain bike shoes and cleats?
    Tubeless wheelset and tires? Or stick with a fast reliable tire like a Conti GP4000S2 and deal with the punctures?

    One idea that's got me is to do a frameset buildup with the Fairlight Cycles Strael or something similar from the UK. I'd prefer a carbon fork just to keep the front end a little more compliant but I'll have to check out a titanium fork; but it does raise the question of whether it'll cost me too much.

    Disc brakes and wheel/tire combo wise I am wanting to go for disc brakes to accommodate a wider tire, hopefully tubeless so even if I have problems I can run tubes (I think).

    Pedals and cleats I'm still not sure. I used Look road cleats last year when I did le avenue verte but the problem I had was being unable to unclip by the end of each day when out of the saddle!

    Do you have personal experience of a setup that you've taken out for an extended trip?
  • ZMC888ZMC888 Posts: 292
    ZMC888 wrote:
    Honestly I think CF would probably be fine 99% of the time. But there's that element of risk. I wouldn't bother getting a curve in the UK, it's just because they are sponsoring the event, you could get something like a Van Nicholas or many others. Alloy bars for hanging stuff from, metal rails for the oversized bike bag.

    Some other thoughts...would you forgo a carbon fork for a titanium one?
    Disk brakes..extra weight, but extra safety?
    Mountain bike shoes and cleats?
    Tubeless wheelset and tires? Or stick with a fast reliable tire like a Conti GP4000S2 and deal with the punctures?

    One idea that's got me is to do a frameset buildup with thel or something similar from the UK. I'd prefer a carbon fork just to keep the front end a little more compliant but I'll have to check out a titanium fork; but it does raise the question of whether it'll cost me too much.

    Disc brakes and wheel/tire combo wise I am wanting to go for disc brakes to accommodate a wider tire, hopefully tubeless so even if I have problems I can run tubes (I think).

    Pedals and cleats I'm still not sure. I used Look road cleats last year when I did le avenue verte but the problem I had was being unable to unclip by the end of each day when out of the saddle!

    Do you have personal experience of a setup that you've taken out for an extended trip?
    The most I've done is three nights out with about 400 kms, due to family/work commitments. I have a steel frame CX bike with mech disks (but would love Shimano hydraulics and a titanium frame) and a long cage ten speed Tiagra with a mountain bike 11-36 cassette. Love the simplicity of steel and the higher CX BB. I have a compact crank, but I think a narrow-wide 34T with a mountain bike crank could work very well. Got an alloy fork, but I think a tough CF fork would be good.

    I've got an Alpkit saddle bag and some decathlon kit which isn't as good. Tires, I'm always in two minds; road or gravel/hardpack, although I might try out Schwalbe G One tubeless http://road.cc/content/review/190493-schwalbe-g-one as I've got tubeless ready wheels. I've got Shimano MTB cleats and shoes for bikepacking and looking at my Strava times the big plastic road cleats/pedals don't make that much difference, even good MTB flat pedals with long pins don't slow you down too much. I'd certainly hate to bring extra shoes, but campsite flip-flops do work. I think road cleats arenot going to be very convenient around a campsite and you'll gunk-up and ruin your road cleats in a few days.

    Last season I switched from a tent to a hammock and tarp, really shaves loads of weight, looking for a better lightweight tarp.

    Fairlight Cycles Strael looks ideal from stock. Excellently thought out finishing kit on it. :D Get it!
  • The most I've done is three nights out with about 400 kms, due to family/work commitments. I have a steel frame CX bike with mech disks (but would love Shimano hydraulics and a titanium frame) and a long cage ten speed Tiagra with a mountain bike 11-36 cassette. Love the simplicity of steel and the higher CX BB. I have a compact crank, but I think a narrow-wide 34T with a mountain bike crank could work very well. Got an alloy fork, but I think a tough CF fork would be good.

    I've got an Alpkit saddle bag and some decathlon kit which isn't as good. Tires, I'm always in two minds; road or gravel/hardpack, although I might try out Schwalbe G One tubeless http://road.cc/content/review/190493-schwalbe-g-one as I've got tubeless ready wheels. I've got Shimano MTB cleats and shoes for bikepacking and looking at my Strava times the big plastic road cleats/pedals don't make that much difference, even good MTB flat pedals with long pins don't slow you down too much. I'd certainly hate to bring extra shoes, but campsite flip-flops do work. I think road cleats arenot going to be very convenient around a campsite and you'll gunk-up and ruin your road cleats in a few days.

    Last season I switched from a tent to a hammock and tarp, really shaves loads of weight, looking for a better lightweight tarp.

    Fairlight Cycles Strael looks ideal from stock. Excellently thought out finishing kit on it. :D Get it!

    That sounds like my first proper planned trip from Bristol to Lands End and back with regards to that 400km one you did.

    Pedals and shoes wise I use a pair of Giro Rumble VR cycling shoes which have a cleat in the soul which work a charm for my Deliveroo work I do. So I might try and see if I can invest in some more as they do look like casual shoes, if not for the slight increase in my height :lol: !

    How did you find the hammock and tarp set up too? Currently I only have a bivvy bag and floor mat planned for my sleeping set up, seeing as the main trip I plan to do will be in Spain during the summer. But I have been suggested your set up too which I might have to consider
  • ZMC888ZMC888 Posts: 292
    The most I've done is three nights out with about 400 kms, due to family/work commitments. I have a steel frame CX bike with mech disks (but would love Shimano hydraulics and a titanium frame) and a long cage ten speed Tiagra with a mountain bike 11-36 cassette. Love the simplicity of steel and the higher CX BB. I have a compact crank, but I think a narrow-wide 34T with a mountain bike crank could work very well. Got an alloy fork, but I think a tough CF fork would be good.

    I've got an Alpkit saddle bag and some decathlon kit which isn't as good. Tires, I'm always in two minds; road or gravel/hardpack, although I might try out Schwalbe G One tubeless http://road.cc/content/review/190493-schwalbe-g-one as I've got tubeless ready wheels. I've got Shimano MTB cleats and shoes for bikepacking and looking at my Strava times the big plastic road cleats/pedals don't make that much difference, even good MTB flat pedals with long pins don't slow you down too much. I'd certainly hate to bring extra shoes, but campsite flip-flops do work. I think road cleats arenot going to be very convenient around a campsite and you'll gunk-up and ruin your road cleats in a few days.

    Last season I switched from a tent to a hammock and tarp, really shaves loads of weight, looking for a better lightweight tarp.

    Fairlight Cycles Strael looks ideal from stock. Excellently thought out finishing kit on it. :D Get it!

    That sounds like my first proper planned trip from Bristol to Lands End and back with regards to that 400km one you did.

    Pedals and shoes wise I use a pair of Giro Rumble VR cycling shoes which have a cleat in the soul which work a charm for my Deliveroo work I do. So I might try and see if I can invest in some more as they do look like casual shoes, if not for the slight increase in my height :lol: !

    How did you find the hammock and tarp set up too? Currently I only have a bivvy bag and floor mat planned for my sleeping set up, seeing as the main trip I plan to do will be in Spain during the summer. But I have been suggested your set up too which I might have to consider
    Yeah, I was on the interweb after doing a few trips with a fairly lightweight tent. But I kept hearing about hammock/tarp setups from the experts and I picked up a cheap modern hammock from Decathlon. I thought it would be horrible as I'm a side sleeper, but I was willing to give it a try. Lets say modern hammocks have come a long long way, it's the best nights sleep I've ever had outside other than on flat grass with an inflatable mattress in a tent. The only caveat is you need two sturdy trees to set it up. With a best mate or significant other on grassy flat ground a tent still has its place.

    Giro rumble look good, but I'm not fan of laces on cycling shoes, other than on 5-10s. Maybe something without laces and a slightly stiffer sole?
  • You could also have a look at rhe Sonder Camino crom alpkit, which comes in both alloy and ti versions and is available as a frame only if you want. Alpkit will also do a custom ti frame if you want it for a very reasona le price....
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