MBA: Do carbon fiber frames and
components have to be black?
Craig: Carbon fiber is naturally
black. Color can be added to the epoxy
matrix, but it’s not usually noticeable.
Tinted clear coats and paint are the
only way to get any real color going.
MBA: Why are inexpensive, lightweight carbon fiber frames so harsh-riding?
Craig: The designers want the maximum stiffness-to-weight ratio for the
sales floor-lift test and the parking-lot
sprint test. This is achieved with large-diameter, thinner-wall frame sections.
The downside is that the ride quality
suffers on longer rides and the frame
can be damaged far more easily than
metal frames. This is why we’ve held
on to the smaller-diameter, thicker-walled tube concept on our frames.
MBA: What does carbon fiber bring
to the table that aluminum doesn’t?
Craig: The main advantage compared to aluminum would be fatigue
life. Carbon will last a lot longer. The
other advantages are reparability,
vibration damping, a higher stiffness-to-weight ratio and the ability to orient fiber to gain stiffness in particular
MBA: Carbon fiber handlebars and
seatposts are often clamped using aluminum hardware. Any tips to avoid
improper installation or damage?
Craig: Make sure the aluminum
parts have large surface areas for
clamping. There should be no burrs or
sharp corners digging into the carbon.
I recommend carbon fiber assembly
lube or paste. Also, always loosen clamp
bolts before attempting an adjustment.
If your handlebar or saddle slips while
on the trail, don’t be tempted to just
smack or yank it back to its original
position. Dig out your Allen wrench,
loosen the bolts, adjust the position and
MBA: Are there familiar chemicals
(like chain lubes, cleaning solvents or
grease) that should not be used around
carbon fiber frames and components?
Craig: Not that I’m aware of.
MBA: What future carbon fiber
trends will we see for mountain biking?
Craig: Thermoplastic matrix materials and lower prices. ;
Price point: A mid-priced aluminum
hardtail still holds a
over similarly priced
carbon fiber bikes
in one important
category. It may be
a category you are
willing to overlook.
On the rocks: If you are riding in rocky
terrain, you want to choose your line carefully. Why? Craig has a seldom-told tip that
might keep you from ever having to use his