Just a few years ago bicycle frames were almost exclusively made of cromoly steel. Yet all experienced riders knew that all steel frames were not equal. There was a huge difference in ride quality between, for example, a Masi Gran Criterium and a mass production "fill-in-the-blank". The Masi was much smoother, more controlled, more efficient, and hugely more satisfying to ride. Today, most bicycle frames are made of carbon fiber. But just like the steel frames, all carbon frames are not equal.
At Cycles BiKyle, we search the world for the finest carbon frames made with the most advanced technologies and most intensive hand construction. For carbon to work its magic it must be laid with carefully chosen fibers in specific weaves with meticulously controlled angles and lengths.
For example, each Eddy Merckx pro frame is hand constructed of more than 100 individual layers of carbon fiber! The frames are constructed with materials and technologies certified to aeronautical standards. Each frame is of true monocoque construction finished in an autoclave to remove all excess resins. Full carbon monocoque construction means that these are one piece frames rather than a set of tubes joined by lugs or some other conjunction method. The only additions are the aluminum finishing pieces in the bottom bracket, head tube, bottle bosses and the rear dropouts. This guarantees that the frames will not start to creak and grumble as the miles mount up.
The choice of fibers employed in the lamination of the frame is derived from
careful studies of which fibers to use in the different areas of the frame. This
research insures that the frame will have the ride characteristics that Eddy
Merckx demands of his bicycles. All the fibers are pre-impregnated with epoxy
resins derived from the aerospace industry. This system of impregnation
guarantees that every cm³ of material has the same resin content, the same
weight and identical chemical composition.
4 different advanced fiber types are used in each Merckx pro frame depending on their positioning within the frame. Additionally, the fibers are meticulously varied among plain, balanced, unidirectional, twill, and bi-axis weaves.
Pinarello has an exclusive arrangement with the finest fiber manufacturer, TORAYCA, in order to stay several steps ahead of the competition. Their world-beating Dogma 65.1 frame, for example, uses 65,000 ton 65HM1K carbon for a superlight frame that is also the strongest and most efficient on the market. Each Pinarello frame is marked with its individual carbon strength so you honestly know what you are getting. Can you guess why most other makers hide their carbon specs?!
Look custom designs their exclusive carbon weaves to standards comparable to Pinarello. The fibers used in their 585 frames and above are exclusive to Look in the bicycle industry and Ferrari in the car industry. These are two companies that will not compromise with 2nd best!
The bottom line - Like cromoly frames, carbon frames are not equal, not even close. To maximize your ride efficiency, comfort, and pleasure be certain to choose your carbon fiber frame very carefully.