By Rick Schultz
Just watched a video where a mechanic discusses why he prefers one frame compared to another, in this case, Trek vs. Giant.
He considers what makes a “nice bike.” But for him, ‘nice’ means (a) does it look good, (b) what components the manufacturer put on the frame.
He asks “What would I rather have?”
- From a mechanical engineering point of view, I would look at carbon grade vs. carbon grade. If one bike uses T300 and the other T800, which do you think has the “better” carbon?
- Look at how the frame is built from the inside. Stick a camera down each of the tubes like some of the more highly technical reviewers do, and see the real quality of the carbon frame.
- Look at the roundness of the holes of the BB shell.
- Look at the tolerance of the holes of the BB shell.
- Do the center of the holes line up?
If 3, 4, or 5 are out of spec, this will not only limit the service life of the bottom bracket bearings but will add greater resistance so that it takes more force to turn the cranks.
That is what I look for when comparing frames.
Coach Rick Schultz is an avid cyclist who trains, races and coaches in Southern California. Rick is an engineer by trade, and in addition to being a coach, he’s a bike fitter and prolific product reviewer. He’s the author of Stretching & Core Strengthening for the Cyclist in the RBR eBookstore. Check his product reviews website, www.biketestreviews.com, and his coaching site, www.bikefitnesscoaching.com. Click to read Rick’s full bio.
Mike Kilpatrick says
I have been following Hambini on youtube and it was an eye opener, the majority of the so called premium brands are manufacturing(getting made in Asia) bikes that are in my humble opinion, not fit for purpose, and certainly not what you would expect from so called premium bike manufacturers. Look come out as the best, but are bit to rich for my type of riding. I am however considering Winspace should i get over my current problems with Arthritis in one of my knees.
Andrew Knox says
Spot on, Mike!
Jim Langley says
A much much better source for factual carbon fiber information – that actually talks to genuine bike industry experts and carbon fiber experts (instead of stating personal opinions) is GCN’s videos.
This one titled YOUR CARBON FIBER BIKE WON’T LAST FOREVER is quite eye-opening: https://youtu.be/ZeNX9QqN6B8
They cover carbon frames, bikes and wheels in many other videos, too: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=GCN+%2B+carbon
Zvi Wolf says
So they’re made in Asia. Is that bad? The most advanced semiconductors in the world are made in Taiwan, just like high end carbon frames. Taiwan is, at present, better at manufacturing bike frames than the US. So what? Let’s not reflexively condemn something because of where it’s made.
Darrell Goodwin says
Using carbon grade as a measure of quality is foolish. It’s all about design for purpose. It’s possible to use the highest grade carbon and create a bike so incredibly stiff it’s unrideable. For a bike frame to be ‘best’ for a rider it needs to be one that accommodates his power output, pedaling style, intended use, fit parameters, etc. This may involve a mix of carbon grades to achieve the best outcome. There are many good materials for bike frames, and there are fantastic (and horrible) examples of each. Let’s stop this nonsense of oversimplifying and look at the finished product rather than material grades, etc. Also, the frame that works for a pro-level rider with massive power output will likely be very different from the frame that works best for a recreational rider or weekend warrior.
Kerry Irons says
Couldn’t agree more. It’s like when people say “aluminum frames are too stiff” or back in the day when “aluminum frames are too flexy.” It’s about design, not about materials. Almost any design objective can be obtained with the four widely used bike frame materials with the only difference in the final frame being the weight. But the “ride” can be the same for all of them.
Andrew Knox says
Coincidentally, I’d just seen the aforementioned video and came away thinking that Mapdec hadn’t really made a case as to why he would choose Trek over Giant.