The Cervelo S3 Ultegra carbon aero road bike
Check the pro peloton. If you want the fastest, lightest road bike, carbon composite is king. For some of the most highly rated bike companies, no other material competes. Think Cervélo.
But isn’t carbon comparatively fragile?
Its use in aerospace applications informs us that carbon is plenty strong.
Even if your thighs are Hoy-like, you can expect decades of service from a carbon frame made by a reputable bike company – as long as you understand that carbon bike frames and components come with their own care and maintenance protocols.
1. No Clamping
A carbon tube can be crushed if it’s over-tightened, so beware of clamping a carbon frame in the jaws of a workstand’s clamp. (Yet another reason to consider a workstand.)
2. Talk the Torque
Same goes for carbon components, such as seatposts and handlebars. Never over-tighten them. In fact our best advice for working on a carbon bike frame or components is to invest in a torque wrench like this, so you can be sure that every part of the bike is fitted as tight as it has to be – and no more.
3. Give it a pasting
Talking of carbon seatposts and the like, don’t grease them as you would metal components. Use a gripper paste like this. Carbon Gripper compounds introduces a measured degree of friction to ensure a non-slip secure grip. What’s more, the part you’re fitting won’t demand the tightening torque that, say, a greased metal seatpin requires.
4. Safety First
Fixing Alien Skin Frame Protector Stickers to, for instance, the frame head tube will prevent cables rubbing it up the wrong way.
5. Chain catcher
Even a properly adjusted front derailleur can drop a chain. You can avoid the gut-wrenching experience of watching your chain gouge into the bottom bracket / chainstay junction of your 4-figure bike by fitting a chain drop catcher.
6. Look after it
You own one of the most advanced bicycles ever made. You want it to look its best, so it makes sense to invest in a polish that’s made for the job such as Muc Off Silicone Shine.
If you do scratch the frame, best advice is to touch it up with nail varnish to seal it.
As with any quality bicycle, a carbon bike benefits hugely from an annual deluxe service where the bike is stripped down then carefully reassembled. This is your best guarantee that your carbon bicycle will offer the smooth, quiet ride it was built for.
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Do you have any carbon frame care tips? Share in the comments below.