Thursday, October 11, 2012

How to care carbon wheels and other parts

Drop by our shop and hold a carbon handlebar, seatpost or fork, or better, lift one of our full-carbon dream machines, and you'll be startled at how little they weigh. The real surprise, though,prepreg comes on rides, when the featherweight and beautiful miracle material transfers more of your effort to the ground, dazzling you with acceleration, climbing, control and even comfort, superior to anything Best Wheelset you've pedaled before.
Carbon is so light and tough that Boeing picked it for their 787 "Dreamliner" jet. It's over 80% carbon, including the fuselage, which seats 300-plus passengers. And, perhaps the ultimate Roue Carbone 38mm ever, carbon sheetis the 197-foot-wide wing. With the Dreamliner's 360,000-pound takeoff weight and Mach 0.85 cruising speed, this amazing and gossamer carbon structure must withstand a lift force of some 450,000 pounds.
Yet, even with incredible strength and toughness like this, with a single indiscriminate act like clamping your carbon wheels wonder wrong in your repair stand, over torquing with an Allen wrench, carbon clothor letting the handlebars swing around and smash into the top tube, you can do some serious damage.
It's possible because carbon bike wheels has very different qualities than steel, aluminum and titanium, which you've probably ridden before. Unlike these metals, carbon is a synthetic composite material comprised of fibers soaked in epoxy resin and then compressed, heated and cured. Essentially, your carbon jewel is made up of a super-strong fabric, which requires a little new know-how on your part. The foremost being that while metal shows signs of damage, typically bends,carbon prepregdents or bulges, carbon bicycle wheels may appear normal, yet, if compromised enough, even though you can't see the defect, the component could fail without warning. Another issue is notch sensitivity, which means that deep cuts, gouges or scratches can cause carbon to break and should be inspected by a pro immediately (and avoided!).
Now that we've got your attention, there's really no reason for concern as long as you treat your carbon gear correctly. To help, we asked our mechanics for their best tips, picked the brains of every industry carbon guru we know, and culled information from the major Bicycle Wheelset and component leaders' websites to bring you this guide to caring for and maintaining your carbon bicycles and components.

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