Join the ranks: Intense Bicycles made their mark with handcrafted aluminum-framed race
bikes. Founder Jeff Steber saw the writing on the wall, and Intense accepted the challenge
to join the carbon fiber generation. As expected, it is a work of art. Very fast art.
a sticker work as well as plastic or
Craig: The polyurethane stickers
do help, as do guards. Their necessity depends on whether places
like the underside of the downtube
are designed for normal abuse and
whether you tend to crash frequently. If you “ride like you can afford to
get it repaired,” then the guards can
save you money.
MBA: Is carbon fiber damage
always obvious, or can it be hidden
beneath the surface?
Craig: Except in extremely rare
cases, damage is visible on the surface of the carbon. But, on mountain
bikes, that surface can be hidden
under accessory clamps on handlebars, stickers or things like saddle
MBA: How do you determine if
carbon fiber damage is repairable?
Craig: If we can replicate the fiber
orientation in the damaged zone and
apply pressure from both the inside and
out, we can generally repair it. There
are some special cases where we don’t
feel confident that the repair will be
fully effective or where the design or
craftsmanship of the frame is not something we want to be associated with.
Also, with handlebars, rigid forks and
a few other parts, the liability risk of
those parts failing and causing injury
is too high, even if we are confident in
MBA: When a bike company
claims—and they do almost every
year—that a carbon fiber frame is 20
percent stronger than last year’s frame,
is there any way to prove that?
Craig: It depends on how you define
“stronger.” Impact strength, tensile
strength and compression strength are
quite different, especially with composites. And many people confuse strength
with stiffness and toughness, which
are completely different properties. I
tend to look closely at the actual tests,
if published, and see if I find their test
parameters are useful in real-world
MBA: Will a rider even feel a difference in a frame that is 20 percent
Craig: If the stiffness is also
increased, then yes, but generally you
are not going to notice increases in
strength until the part is stressed to the
Tougher terrain: Carbon fiber was once thought of as a material to be applied to
lightweight (and fragile) cross-country race bikes. That sure isn’t the case anymore.
Carbon fiber is used on everything from long-travel trailbikes to downhill race bikes.
R E CARBON IQ