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Old 27-06-2019, 08:09   #1
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Carbon Fiber vs. Aluminum bikes

I was curious about how do CF bikes hold up in a marine environment compared to Aluminum? I spoiled myself with nice CF road bike, but I dread to think what would happen to a CF bike with Di2 components if I take it traveling with me.

Anyone tried a CF bike in marine environment? How quickly did it disintegrate?
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Old 27-06-2019, 08:45   #2
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Re: Carbon Fiber vs. Aluminum bikes

Carbon fiber is not going to disintegrate in a marine environment at all.
However many CF bikes seem to have aluminum drop outs and aluminum and CF donít do well I donít think, or CF and SS due to galvanic corrosion.

The downside to CF is damage tolerance, itís not very damage tolerant and yet is easily damaged, so as long as you keep it below in a well padded bag and donít damage the tubes, I think you should be fine for a very long time.

I would also suspicion that CF depending on what kind of material is used on the outside may not be good for extensive exposure to UV, it may be epoxy and I believe Epoxy will degrade over time in UV, but who would leave a very expensive, nice bike on deck anyway?
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Old 27-06-2019, 09:37   #3
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Re: Carbon Fiber vs. Aluminum bikes

So carbon fiber with whatever coating it has will stand up better to the salt environment compared to an aluminum bike?
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Old 27-06-2019, 12:01   #4
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Carbon Fiber vs. Aluminum bikes

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Originally Posted by Alex_V View Post
So carbon fiber with whatever coating it has will stand up better to the salt environment compared to an aluminum bike?


In my opinion CF should be pretty much impervious to salt water. Very similar to fiberglass, just like glass though it will need to be UV protected if it is left out continuously in UV, and I do not know what itís costed with, likely nothing as CFís look has been highly Marketed, fake CF is found everywhere, fiberglass is I believe almost always painted or gelcoated. Only thing I know of that isnít is the chemical hopper on Thrush Ag planes, and it does degrade in the sun, itís left clear so you can see though it to see the level of the chemical.
As I said there may be issues where metal is joined to the CF as you have to have metal dropouts etc. Or I think you do, maybe things have changed, but I doubt it.
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Old 27-06-2019, 12:45   #5
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Re: Carbon Fiber vs. Aluminum bikes

Great info. Thanks.
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Old 27-06-2019, 13:06   #6
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Re: Carbon Fiber vs. Aluminum bikes

Re CF in a salt water environment: Consider the CF masts and hulls seen on race boats for quite some years now... they seem to get along pretty well. However, A64's comments about corrosion where metal bits attach are well taken. Fresh water washdown after exposure to salt would be a good idea.

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Old 28-06-2019, 09:27   #7
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Re: Carbon Fiber vs. Aluminum bikes

A couple of factors should be considered.

First carbon fiber bikes are more expensive than aluminum framed bikes. Cruising and riding bikes extensively in the Eastern Caribbean, I lost two bikes to theft. The first was in St. Thomas, USVI. Locked up at a local market while I shipped. Local police were extremely reluctant to take a report. The last bike was in Deshaies, Guadeloupe. The gendarmes said that the proliferation of rechargeable angle grinders had made thefts of many items easier. So, know the area you are going to ride in and make an informed decision on how much you are willing to risk. Would you ride your carbon bike in downtown LA or San Francisco and expect it to be there when you finished shopping?

Prior to cruising, I had a couple of carbon fiber road bikes. One frame failure was at the top tube where it connects to the headset. Top tube cracked. Manufacturer did replace the frame with no questions, but I did all the labor to switch out the components. Another suffered a knick on the downtube from another bike falling on it while locked in a bike rack. Got about a block from the bike rack when a total failure of the downtube occurred. In both cases, replacement of the frames was the only option. The aluminum framed bike I lost in Deshaies had previously suffered a crack at the chainstay/bottom bracket junction. A boatyard welder in St. Martin rewelded it for the US$45 minimum. No problems with the frame after that, except for the loss due to theft. Not sure I would ever trust a "fixed" carbon frame.
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Old 28-06-2019, 09:47   #8
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Re: Carbon Fiber vs. Aluminum bikes

Carbon frame will do great as long as you keep from stepping on the tubes when bike is stored. Your Di2 components are what I would worry about in a marine environment.
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Old 28-06-2019, 18:25   #9
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Re: Carbon Fiber vs. Aluminum bikes

Iíve had a CF bike for about 3500 miles and itís been trouble free. Great bike. While shopping for it I rode some $5k+ aluminum bikes but they were very rough compared to the soft riding CF bikes.
I love my CF bike. Itís a KHS.
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Old 28-06-2019, 19:15   #10
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Re: Carbon Fiber vs. Aluminum bikes

Aluminum bikes have always been harsh, the old Cannondales for example, but they were cheap and therefore easily replaced if you crashed in a criterium.
Steel was of course heavy, but still a very excellent material, a good Columbus steel bike with brazed investment cast lugs is still sort of the gold standard for many.
Titanium is I believe the best frame set, but due to cost to manufacture you just donít see it anymore, Carbon Fiber offers most of the advantages, at a fraction of the cost. Carbon fiber is actually not expensive, Titanium isnít really either, itís the machining and hand welding required that makes Ti not cheap.

The big disadvantage of carbon fiber is itís easily damaged, and if itís an expensive lightweight frame set, it wonít tolerate much damage at all, and Carbon Fiber has a nasty habit of being just fine and then one millisecond later it completely fails. I wouldnít put an expensive Carbon Fiber frame on a boat myself, something would damage it Iím afraid.

If I were wanting an honest to goodness good boat bike because I was still a bicyclist, Iíd talk to the folks at Bike Friday be measured and have them build me a custom bike.
But Iím not so my inexpensive run of the mill aluminum Dahon will have to do.
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Old 28-06-2019, 21:23   #11
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Re: Carbon Fiber vs. Aluminum bikes

Have you considered bamboo frame bikes, not a joke, bamboo is very strong and last i looked at least one company was making them and a cousin in Singapore had riddem one and liked it. I have CF bike at home and aluminum on the boat and not thathappy with the dahon altho it kept goinh for several years before it was stolen. Might still be the best overall choice.
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Old 28-06-2019, 21:56   #12
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Re: Carbon Fiber vs. Aluminum bikes

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Have you considered bamboo frame bikes, not a joke, bamboo is very strong and last i looked at least one company was making them and a cousin in Singapore had riddem one and liked it. I have CF bike at home and aluminum on the boat and not thathappy with the dahon altho it kept goinh for several years before it was stolen. Might still be the best overall choice.
I was just about to suggest bamboo bikes too then I read your post. Bamboobee do some good kits for the DIY'er. https://bamboobee.net/
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