Posts Tagged ‘carbon’

Winter Update

November 24th, 2012 [print] No comments

Man, I can’t believe it’s been 5 months since I’ve updated this thing.

So far, 2012 has been my highest mileage year yet, with over 6,600mi ridden so far, and a goal of 7,000mi by the end of the year.  That will totally depend on how dry it stays outside, but so far it’s looking like it might happen.

I currently have almost 8,500 miles on my cheap FM015-ISP Chinese carbon frameset, and it’s still just as much fun to ride as the day I got it.  If you’ve ever thought about buying one of these Chinese direct frames, do some research on and don’t hesitate buying one, even if it’s just for an off-season training bike.  Personally, if I could do it all over again, I’d go with the FM039, but only because it’s a little more aero than what I ride.

Back in August, I swapped some parts on my Scrambler and temporarily turned it into a track bike again, so I could go do some laps at Penrose Velodrome in St. Louis.  I can honestly say it’s the bumpiest paved surface I’ve ever ridden, and it’ll scare the hell out of you if you’re going over 25mph on the back corner.  But even so, I had a blast doing it, and plan on going back once the weather gets nice again.

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For now, I’ve set the bike back up as a singlespeed, running some 30c CX tires.  I had a lot of fun running it as a 2×10 with derailers, but since I didn’t spend as much time on it as I’d planned, I’ve decided to re-purpose some of the parts for another odd project…

That’s right, I’ve put drop bars on my 26" hardtail:

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I just started swapping parts last night, and it’s nowhere near done, so just accept this as a teaser pic; I’ll post more photos once it’s finished.

Ever since the Cedar Cross race last May, I’ve been wanting to set it up like this.  To be more specific, ever since around the 85mi mark of the race, I’ve been wishing I had drop bars on it.  After becoming so used to riding in drops all the time on my road bike, using a flat bar with bar ends just wasn’t the same, no matter how low I tried to get the bar.  All I could think about for those last 30 miles was how much I’d rather be in the drops, so it’s about time to just make the switch.  I think it’ll take me some time to become accustomed to drops on an MTB, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be as fast on singletrack with this set-up, but overall, it should be more fun to ride than it has been in the past.


FM015-ISP Carbon Frame

April 30th, 2011 [print] 9 comments

As I mentioned before, I decided to build a geared road bike to help take the stress off my knees.  After a lot of research, I decided to go with an unbranded Chinese carbon frame, model number FM015.  Many companies offer this frame, but I went with Hongfu due to extremely good feedback they’ve gotten on  As is the case with previous customers, I’m happy with my decision, and Jenny, the CS rep who all Hongfu customers will deal with directly, made the whole process go very smoothly.

Originally, I’d thought about the FM028, but discovered the top tube was longer than I like.  The FM015 is very similar, albeit 100g or so heavier.  I’d rather have fit over light weight, so that made my decision for me.  Specifically, I went with the FM015-ISP, as in, integrated seatpost.  It requires a little more work, since the seat mast has to be cut to fit, but I like the looks better.

Here are some initial photos before I begin the build:

The frameset came straight from China in about 5 days.  Hongfu did an great job wrapping the frame to protect it along its journey, and it reached me in perfect condition.  Mojo is impressed with the packaging.

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The frame and fork both come with plastic stabilizers in the dropouts, and the frame also has sturdy, plastic plugs inserted in the BB shell and head tube (sorry, I didn’t get photos of those).

Here it is fresh out of the box:

(check out that massive headtube)
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(uncut seat mast & w/o seat mast topper)
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(uncut steerer)
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I ordered a 3K glossy finish, although 3K matte is also available (glossy matches my Sram Force cranks).  They also offer it in 12K and unidirectional, glossy or matte.  The frame can also be ordered without the ISP option, and with a BB30 shell.

For more info on this frame and all other unbranded Chinese carbon frames, you should really check out the discussions on RoadBikeAction.  The discussions began about 3 years ago when Chinese sellers started offering bare carbon frames on eBay.  A few guys decided to be the guinea pigs and took the plunge, only to report back that they liked what they bought.  Since then, the number of models has gone frame a handful to maybe 20-30 models, and they’re offered from multiple manufacturers and resellers.  More info can also be found on Weight Weenies.

Do your research, as I did, and decide if it’s right for you.  Price are a fraction of what you’ll pay for a brand-name frame, and they’re built by the same manufacturers who build them for the name brand companies.  On the down side, customer support after the sale is still lacking, although it’s improving over time.

I’ll post more photos in the days ahead as I finish the build.

In the mean time, here are a couple additional resources:

Categories: Photos Tags: , , , ,

Random Links

October 3rd, 2010 [print] 3 comments

Autumn is here, it’s getting cool outside, and I’m suddenly too lazy to devote a lot of effort to some posts I’ve been wanting to get up.  So…  get something warm to drink and check the following links on your own time.

Crank length vs maximum power output:  a nerdy look at what effect your crank length has on your total power output and fatigue:

Cyclist’s helmet cam footage helps convict driver:

Here’s the video that led to the conviction:

19th Century Bicycling: Rubber was the Dark Secret

Traveling, not being traveled: 4 quotes on bicycling from the late 1800s

World’s Lightest Bike Weighs Just 6 Pounds

World's Lightest Bike -

The Secret to a Long Life – An Old Man and His Bike

Categories: Links, News Tags: , , ,

Why You Should Be Riding Steel & Not Carbon

August 29th, 2010 [print] No comments

I just came across a great (and highly biased–my favorite kind) of article comparing steel and carbon frames.  The author is obviously trying to make a point of durability and customization over light weight, and he gets it across quite well.


For more proof of why the typical rider might want to avoid plastic bike frames, check out or watch the amusing video below showing a completely unscientific, but easily repeatable, comparison between AL, steel and carbon frames.  KAPUT!

For the record, I don’t really have anything against carbon fiber; in fact, I love the stuff.  In the years I’ve been biking, I’ve ridden carbon handlebars, a rigid MTB fork, a carbon road fork, and a couple seatposts.  I wouldn’t mind building up a 13lb all-carbon bike for occasional use, either.  But, I still feel that steel is the ultimate material when you’re going for a combination of strength, durability, ride quality, price, and ease of manufacture.

Categories: Links, Videos Tags: , ,

Road Bike Trials Riding

June 17th, 2010 [print] No comments

I thought I was pretty cool doing some singletrack riding on my singlespeed road bike, but this dude has put me to shame.

British trials rider, Martyn Ashton, takes a carbon Raleigh Avanti Team road bike for a cruise around town, across beaches, over boulders, on the edge of rails, and down a crazy slope, er…  I guess, just because he can, and somehow manages not to get the bike posted on while he’s at it.

Thanks to for the awesome video.

The BikeRadar Roadie

Categories: Cycling, Videos Tags: , ,

Carbon Cycles eXotic Carbon Fork (wrap-up)

September 7th, 2009 [print] 3 comments

I gave a first impression of this fork back in May 2008, when I got it.  Since then, I’ve put ~2,500 miles of road, rail-trail and singletrack riding on it, so it’s about time for an update.

I mentioned in my initial post that it gave the impression of riding on plush carpet, all the while giving you direct feedback of the surface you’re on.  With the proper front tire (I typically used a 2.35" Kenda Kinetics Stick-E) set at less than 30psi, I often forgot that I was even riding a rigid fork.  The carbon legs do a great job of damping vibration, and have just enough flex to absorb some of the initial shock of hitting roots and immovable rocks.

I only weigh about 150lbs with all my riding gear on, so I can’t give feedback on how well the fork will handle over time if you’re a larger rider–say, 210lbs, which they state as the weight limit for the fork–but I can say that I gave it a decent beating and it never once showed signs of fatigue.  At less than 2lbs, and with carbon legs, it doesn’t sound like it could stand up to hard riding over time, but it definitely impressed me.

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Categories: Reviews Tags: , , ,

The Rigid Fork Rides Again

June 15th, 2008 [print] No comments

I just found this older post from a guy who calls himself Guitar Ted, about the resurgence of the rigid mountain bike fork.  Thought I’d share:

He didn’t really go into a lot of detail as to why it’s once again become the trend to ride a rigid fork, however.  Personally, I always thought it was pretty stupid to ride rough ground without some sort of suspension, but since I’ve been riding a couple rigid forks these last few months (aluminum and carbon), I’m a believer in fat tires and rigid forks.

Yes, it’s bumpier, to say the least.  But with that, I’ve gained a better sense of the ground as I roll over it, no longer wondering where my front tire is.  I descend a little slower, obviously, although I make up for it on the climbs due to zero energy being lot through suspension bobbing.  I can definitely see why so many 29er and 650b riders are ditching the suspension forks in turn for larger-diameter, smoother rolling wheel/tire combos.  For the time being, though, I’m more than happy riding rigid on 26" wheels and 2.3" tires at sub-30psi.

If you haven’t given it a try yet, find an inexpensive steel fork and go for a ride.  It just might change your mind about needing suspension to make up for your riding technique.

Categories: Cycling Tags: , , , , ,

eXotic Carbon Rigid Fork Review

May 17th, 2008 [print] 13 comments

I went ahead and ordered my Carbon Cycles eXotic carbon fork this week due to my lack of self-control and patience.  But before I work on my personality issues, I thought I’d pass along my first impressions of the fork.

I ordered from CarbonCycles’s eBay store on Tuesday, and received the package on Friday; total price with shipping was $190.  The first thing I do after unwrapping any new bike part is put it on the scale.  eXotic’s claimed weight is 850 grams (1.9lbs), though it actually came in slightly higher than that with an uncut steerer tube.  It’s not a huge difference, but it’d be nice if manufacturers would more accurately post the weight of their parts.

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Categories: Reviews Tags: , ,