3rd May 2017

How to take care of carbon bikes

Cervelo S3 Ultegra 2017

The Cervelo S3 Ultegra 2017 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 like this.)

Feedback Sports Bicycle Repair Stand

A quality stand like the Feedback Sports Sprint ensures your carbon frame won’t be crushed by a clamp.

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.

Topeak Nano torque wrench

A quality torque wrench lets you know – via the universal language of ‘clicking’ – when your clamp is tight enough. Don’t crack your seatpost.

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.

lube-muc-off-carbon-gripper-jpg

Use normal grease on carbon at your peril. Specific carbon-friendly products like this stop components from fusing.

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.

ff-alien-skin-frame-protector-stickers-clear-jpg

Clear frame protectors like these keep dings and scratches off your lovely carbon.

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.

ff-token-chain-drop-catcher-new-jpg

Sitting just to the right of your chain in this picture, a chain drop catcher will stop your chain from gouging into a carbon frame should it decide to pop off.

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 Red Ant or Muc Off Silicone Shine.

If you do scratch the frame, best advice is to touch it up with nail varnish to seal it.

Muc Off Silicone Shine

Get your carbon bike looking its absolute best with a nice shine.

7. Servicing

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.

Shop Tools & Maintenance

Do you have any carbon frame care tips? Share in the comments below.

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