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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Cheap carbon parts? (NOW WITH UPDATES)

Hey guys, so don't tear me apart for this, but just wondering. I know usually you get what you pay for, but in some instances the prices for something can be so astronomically high, often for no reason. Now, that's not to say that for instance a $50 carbon drop bar will be of the same quality as a $300 one, but sometimes the differences are not worth the added cost.

What I am wondering is for these cheap china carbon bits, has there been evidence of these things just snapping or breaking? There ARE companies like LightBicycle based in china that make GOOD and INEXPENSIVE carbon parts that many have had great success with. In regards to stems, bars, seatposts, other odds and ends, are there any companies that make decent, yet inexpensive components, kind of like LightBicycle?

The reason I ask is that I need to do a slightly shorter stem, and possibly a compact handlebar, so if there are decent inexpensive carbon alternatives, I may consider them. I can fathom spending a few bucks more on something that's lighter/"carbonlusty", but with the riding I do, it's unlikely that'd I'd spend $300 on a carbon bar if a light aluminum one was $50-100, even if that bar was a little lighter. I do also know that in some cases like with my Miata, carbon hoods are generally not used as a form of weight reduction because the stock aluminum is lighter, but carbon hardtops which weigh 1/2 of what an OEM one does, do sell very well.

So in short, are there are decent inexpensive carbon components/companies, or should I just stick to aluminum? I can't imagine I'd save a ton of weight in those components (which is why I wouldn't spend big bucks on them), but it would be cool to get my 19lb bike (carbon frame, fork, steerer) down a bit more. I know ditching my Oval 327 wheels for a set of the light bicycle ones would net the most weight savings, free up rotational mass, and make the whole bike feel more lively overall.
 

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Never Give Up!
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Sorry I can answer your question about Cheap carbon Part and where to buy from... however I think these something to be said about Aluminum, my 17lbs bike only has 4 carbon parts (Saddle, 2cm Spacer, Forks and Brake Levers), all others are Aluminum
 

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I don't trust superlight aluminum bars and stems. Too many stories of failures.

Forget the counterfeit pieces, they could be dangerous (totally unknown quality) and we shouldn't support the chinese rip-off culture.

Nashbar often has brand-name closeouts for around $100 (with 20-25% off sales) like these: Easton EC70 SL3 Carbon Road Handlebar
Today the sale is 20% off so they'd be $80.

I bought these but haven't installed them yet: Nashbar Ergo Carbon Road Handlebar

At their sale prices there is no reason to buy the cheap imports.

And many believe that "carbon" stems aren't worth the money. Not much lighter, not really any stiffer, nothing more than expensive bling.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
So that's actually a really nice price for a carbon bar. Let me ask you this then, in the interest of actually saving weight, what components ARE worth carbonizing for a considerable gain (or loss). Wheels are obvious
 

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Cranky Old Bastard
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I bought a lower-level Trek CrossRip when I got back into cycling a few years ago. It weighed 24.5 lbs new and I've upgraded almost everything to get it down to just over 19 (with the aluminum frame and disc brakes).

I bought a couple of scales from Harbor Freight when they were on sale for $10 each. You have to weigh what you have now to get an idea of where you can trim weight.

It depends on what you're starting with but there are lots of parts that will take a few ounces off here or there. I won't spend crazy money for titanium/carbon pieces because you can get 90% of the weight loss with fairly inexpensive upgrades.

I got the Nashbar carbon bars and their $50 seatpost that cut about 5 ounces. The FSA Energy crankset is about six ounces lighter. An Ultegra cassette took off almost 4 ounces.

But as you said, wheels are the best upgrade and should be done first. Going from 32 spoke wheels with 32mm cross tires to Easton wheels and 25mm road tires took over 3 pounds off my bike and totally transformed the performance.
 

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As mentioned, carbon doesn't necessarily mean lighter. Carbon stems and non-deep clincher wheel rims are often not lighter than the similar aluminum versions. Carbon lets you make deep section rims without the weight penalty you would incur from aluminum.

Here are a few easy and cheap ways of going weight weenie: Light wheel skewers $25 for 40 grams versus stock skewers about 120 grams. Carbon or other plastic bottle cages $20 for two about 50 grams total versus 120 grams or more aluminum cages. Light inner tubes $2 each at PricePoint, 130 grams total for two tubes versus 200 grams or more for regular tubes.

Other than light rims though, you probably won't notice the weight loss while riding, only when carrying your bike instead.
 

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I run a Chinese carbon seat, post, and bars on both of my rides. There's not much point in carbon stems; they need to be strong in all directions, so by the time you finish layering all the carbon, they end up weighing the same as aluminum. I buy from AliExpress, DHGate, and EBay.

The quality is fine. There's a lot of unwarranted FUD about off-brand stuff. Frankly, I think the prices for carbon parts, particularly for items that don't require extensive engineering, are wildly overinflated. It isn't that hard to make a carbon tube. There's no reason it needs to cost hundreds of dollars. IME, you're paying for a logo and faster shipping.
 

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I run a Chinese carbon seat, post, and bars on both of my rides. There's not much point in carbon stems; they need to be strong in all directions, so by the time you finish layering all the carbon, they end up weighing the same as aluminum. I buy from AliExpress, DHGate, and EBay.

The quality is fine. There's a lot of unwarranted FUD about off-brand stuff. Frankly, I think the prices for carbon parts, particularly for items that don't require extensive engineering, are wildly overinflated. It isn't that hard to make a carbon tube. There's no reason it needs to cost hundreds of dollars. IME, you're paying for a logo and faster shipping.
Same for me on all counts. There are reputable ebay sellers (but check carefully) who sell seatposts, stem, bars, bottle cages for very reasonable prices.

I buy all my carbon bits from FlyXii when I buy my frames. Between my bikes and my wife's bike, we probably have over 10k miles on all those bikes and bits. I've also bought bars from eBay that are extremely high quality.

alexdi is also right about stems: good carbon stems aren't any lighter than aluminum. But the ones from FlyXii are really beefy, the carbon finish matches the rest of the bike, and the price is good.

Oh, and do NOT BUY counterfeit or knockoff stuff. Those sellers are *lying* to begin with (by putting some other brand's label on their parts) so don't trust them. If you want your fork to say ENVE or your stem to say 3T, then buy the real stuff. If you want well made and affordable carbon components, then buy from the factories that make them (Hongfu, Dengfu, FlyXii, etc.).
 

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Don't worry about your parts being carbon or aluminum. Get whatever works for you.
Superlight aluminum can be very risky. But good superlight carbon is very expensive.
Handlebars are the last place to buy superlight parts. You want strong and safe bars.
 

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Curiosity got the better of me on this thread.

I like a light bike as much as the next guy, but I'm not a weight weenie. I generally believe that it's better to lose a pound or two of my a$$ than pay megabucks for carbon bling that may save a couple of ounces. Heck, back in May, I took my 10Kg/22lbs rain/winter bike to England to ride the Fred Whitton Challenge.

I get it that there's not a huge weight benefit to carbon vs aluminum handlebars, however, as I understand it, the best reason for carbon is compliance = more comfort smoothing out the road buzz.

Given a typical length of 100-120mm, I really can't imagine that there'd be much compliance benefit to a carbon stem. Is it just a bling thing, or am I misinformed?

When it comes to parts (carbon or otherwise), I'm nervous about buying cheap, unbranded frames and other parts from Aliexpress and the like.

There's nothing wrong with stuff being made in China, but I want to know who's design, manufacturing and quality system is behind the part e.g. I expect 3T, Zipp and other brands to make their parts in China. The difference is that the company has a brand to protect and will invest to ensure that parts meet the required specification.

Buying from a legit source does cost more, but you're more likely to get genuine vs. knock-off parts.
 

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Some on this thread are assuming that carbon is inherently not as strong as aluminum. But that's just not true. Obviously it all depends on the design and layup, but I think some people would be amazed at how STRONG a properly built carbon bike part is. My carbon stems (very thick, and not that light) seem much less pliable, much stiffer and stronger, than my light aluminum stems.

And I just built my first set of carbon clinchers, and I was amazed at how strong and solid the rim was while building - MUCH stronger than even the expensive, very high-end aluminum clinchers I've built.

Also worth remembering: there are only a few factories in China that are making carbon bike parts: those 3T bars are made in the same factory as the Hongfu bars. YES, it's totally true that 3T may have different layups and they might have better quality control. There are plenty of reasons to buy the 3T part. But the parts are coming out of the same factories.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Well, a shipping error in China has led me to start experimenting with some of this stuff. I ordered a carbon saddle to try a new shape and see if I got more comfortable and got all this!

Stationery Office supplies Metalworking hand tool Office instrument Collection

Let me say the pieces look great, better than expected. Sure, there are some imperfections where the carbon "meets" but these are not too apparent.

Bicycle tire Tire Wheel Bicycle wheel rim Bicycle wheel

Blue Audio equipment Electric blue Azure Guitar accessory

Now, luckily I also have an MTB so I slapped the bars onto it

Bicycle part Bicycle accessory Bicycle Motorcycle accessories Carbon

So, what kind of "testing" have I done? Well, before I successfully completed a rather bumpy 7 mile ride yesterday in the 95* weather, I did a few tests of the bars in the parking lot. I stood over the front wheel facing the bars, grabbed on, and balanced myself on the bars (all 170lbs of me) for 5 seconds. I repeated this 5 times and everything was OK. Then, I set my fork into the stiffest setting and proceeded to do bunny hops as high as I could, first landing easily, and putting more and more force down as I landed. 10 jumps later, I felt confident with the bars and ventured into the woods.

I won't dive too much into these bars since this is the road bike forum, but I then decided to test the stem they sent me which I had put on the road bike. The one gripe with the stem is it seems undersized, so where the others I have easily slip over the steerer tube before being tightened down, this one was a really snug fit. In fact, the internal diameter of the stem is slightly smaller than the steerer tube, so it actually stretches apart a bit to slide on. Aside from this, everything torqued up nicely and the part looks fantastic. I did the same test on the road bike, balancing myself entirely over the bars, putting 170lbs of pressure through the stem. For good measure, I did little dips (bounced up and down on the stem with all my weight on it) to simulate what might happen in a hard out of saddle pedaling situation. No fuss, the stem held up great, 10 times.

I'll keep this updated with future findings of failures (knock on wood), but so far I'm pleasantly surprised. I just wish they had sent me the right seat, but for $22 shipped, all this stuff isn't bad. I was looking forward to using the non-offset seatpost on my bike but it's the wrong size for the seat tube I have, way smaller. Leads me to believe this is some kind of MTB kit that was sent to me by mistake.

If my experience stays good, I may try a set of those cool carbon aero bars
 
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Just a quick update. The bars cracked as soon as I went to snug them up after a few rides, gave my friend the seatpost and that cracked after 1 ride as well. Stem didn't fit properly, and the saddle looks nice but has zero flex so it gives zero comfort.

All in all, a waste of money, don't bother
 

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Just a quick update. The bars cracked as soon as I went to snug them up after a few rides, gave my friend the seatpost and that cracked after 1 ride as well. Stem didn't fit properly, and the saddle looks nice but has zero flex so it gives zero comfort.

All in all, a waste of money, don't bother
What more would you expect when buying counterfeit parts?
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I'm not sure counterfeit is the right word. Counterfeit would be if they said Zipp or 3T or something on them, but they don't claim to be anything other than RXL SL. It's just a shame they are poor quality. And some people have had great experiences with them, so it's quite a tossup
 
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