Have you ever held or rode a carbon fiber bicycle? Were you surprised by how light it was? Were you in awe at its speed, control, strength and comfort? Indeed, carbon fiber bikes have proven its mettle in a lot of tough racing conditions like the Tour de France and the 24 Hour Mountain Bike World Championships.
However, unlike steel or other metals, carbon fiber bicycle parts do not bend or deform when damaged--- they could suddenly break or fail and might cause serious injury or even death to its rider. Carbon is actually a synthetic composite material made up of fibers that have been soaked in epoxy resin which were then compressed, heated and cured. It is essentially a super strong fabric that should be maintained and cared for quite differently as compared to steel, aluminum and titanium. As long as you treat your carbon gear properly, there is really no reason for concern and you can enjoy riding it for a long time. Here are some tips on maintaining and caring for your carbon fiber bicycle parts.
Thoroughly read and understand your owner's manual. All vital information, like torque settings, special tools or techniques, warranties, contact information, about your specific gear is there. This also ensures that the parts you are putting together are compatible with each other.
Make sure that there are no rough spots, dirt or metal shards that could cut or harm the carbon when the carbon fiber bicycle parts are being assembled and tightened.
Over torquing causes a lot of cracks in carbon fiber bicycle parts. To avoid this problem, always use a torque wrench and the company's torque chart when working on your bike.
Park it safely. You could either lay it down in a safe place or leaning against a wall, making sure that it doesn't fall on its side or slam into anything.
If you ever crash your bike, have them checked out immediately. Most shops are trained to inspect carbon fiber bicycle parts for damage which may not be visible to most people. Do not ride your bike until you are sure of its safety. Even if you have never crashed it, always inspect for any deep scratches, gouges, cracks or loose fibers. When cleaning your carbon bike, pay attention to any snags that your rag makes since it could be a sign of damage. Creaking, cracking or popping sounds could also be a sign that there is a problem. You should also stop and check your bike carefully if there is a change in your bike's ride quality or handling or if it isn't shifting or braking properly.
If you live near the ocean, clean and rinse the salt from the carbon fiber bicycle parts thoroughly to prevent corrosion of the metal parts. You could use warm soapy water but never directly aim the water at bearings since it could wash the grease out. After drying add some bike polish or spray wax for extra protection.
If you experience chain suck with your mountain bike, stop pedaling immediately and try not to use the gears that are causing it. It could saw into the frames and damage it. Clean, adjust or replace the faulty carbon fiber bicycle parts or bring your bike to a mechanic. If you did pedal and mar your frame, they should also take a look and make sure it's okay.
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