Monday, August 4, 2008

Stop the madness!

This is obviously one of the signs of the apocalypse:

Bonty's new carbon composite mountain bike wheels.

When I was in high school I remember getting totally excited to see Kestrel's full-suspension concept mountain bike utilizing nary a lick of metal tubing for the main triangle and swingarm. All carbon composite. As Chowder would put it: "Excitement!" That bike never saw the light of day-- the light of day that filters through a bike shop's front window, that is. It remained a concept bike.

Then there was that weird Trimble thing. Brent Trimble was actually the designer/builder behind Kestrel's hubba-hubba concept bike that got me so excited (I believe). I actually saw one of those in a bike shop.

This was 1988-1989. Maybe 1987. I still have my 1989 steel Specialized Sumpjumper. I've not seen any of those composite-framed bikes anywhere in the last 15 years. Not hanging on a wall, not being ridden. I see tons and tons of 1970's steel Peugeots, Schwinns, Sears, etc. out and about. Why? Why is that? The carbon-composite proponents like to laud carbon's nigh infinite fatigue life. Where are these everlasting carbon-coposite bikes?

Hang on. I must inetrject-- I'm a total retro-grouch. I've come a long way from the drooling school-boy lusting over the Trimble and the vapor-ware Bushido racer (10 points if you can post a pic of the Bushido.) I no longer think that carbon composites have much place on bicycles.

They're too vulnerable. A scratch and effectively ruin (total?) a carbon-composite part. And I've only been racing cyclocross three seasons but I've seen enough broken composite seatposts to make my bung pucker up to the size of a pore. And the one snapped fork was one too many.

I've also read about too many snapped carbon steerers. Well, again-- one is too many. Makes me cringe.

So where am I going? Carbon wheels for mountain bikes are insane unless you're a pro and someone else is providing you with hardware. Or you're stupidly rich.

Maybe in another 10-15 years we'll have carbon composite bikes and components that won't fail in such spectacular ways and turn themselves into toxic, non-recyclable land-fill.

End of rant. Sorry.

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