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OCLV is the superior carbon. TCT is made overseas of rather generic carbon fiber, while OCLV carbon is sourced from the very people who provide carbon to Boeing, Raytheon, etc.

The process used to manufacture OCLV, however, is what truly sets it apart. Have you ever seen cheap window tinting on cars? Usually, there are many air bubbles between the tinting material and window. Most carbon frames have similar pockets of air (or "voids") scattered in between the many layers of carbon fiber cloth. These voids are weak spots, resulting in less strength, or requiring additional material.

OCLV uses a patented process that brings the level of voids down to 1% or less, if I remember correctly. To put that into perspective, the aerospace standard is up toward 4% or 5%.....so, technically, OCLV carbon is a bit more refined in that respect than the carbon fiber flying around at 600mph and 40,000 feet on $100 million jets.

In addition, OCLV frames are manufacturered in Waterloo, Wisconsin, making the workmanship and quality control superior to most frames manufacturered in China or Taiwan.
 

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singlespeed1 said:
I have a 2005 Trek 5000, OCLV Carbon 120. The 2006 Trek 5000 has TCT Carbon. Could someone tell me the difference between Carbon 120 and the TCT Carbon. Is there a difference and if so which is better.
Lance won with oclv carbon. He never road TCT.
 

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I've been told by my LBS that the manufacturing process is the same when comparing OCLV and TCT. However, The TCT is made overseas and can't comment on the quality of the CF. This being said, all the TCT frames as of March 2006 (the most recent data I have) have come from Waterloo in WI. Now this may not mean that the frame is made there, but the bike is at least assembled there prior to shipping to the LBS. So, in summary: TCT is intended to be the same as OCLV but the quality controls and guarantee that the process is adhered to, is not there.
 

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Keep in mind...

... some of the best (winning, and high end) carbon-fiber bike are made in Taiwan and China. Every Giant frame is made overseas. Some Colnago's are also made overseas (Not sure about the high end ones).

I ride a Madone. I love it. Top notch quality.

I have worked with a company that sent the majority (read Mature) products overseas for lower cost manufacturing. I would not say that the "quality just is not there". Asia is quickly becoming some of the best manufacturing in the world. The way I see it - the name TCT is just a way to differentiate where the carbon process is done. I would even go as far as to say that the carbon processes, and QC being done wherever these frames are made are the same as used in Waterloo. The only difference may be in the CF being used. I know that when we specced parts that were to be used in our products, WE dictated which suppliers, vendors, and components could and could not be used. As for processes - the engineers, and operators from the manufacturing house came to our facility prior to the transfer, to learn how to do the job, use the tools, and make the products pass our QC standards.

You have to remember - Trek is still stamping their name on these things, thus betting their reputation. This is not a case of an Asian company trying to get into the bike market, making lower quality, cheaper goods. This is what Trek needs to do to bring downt the cost of CF bikes - and bring the technology to the masses.

To be honest - I bought my Madone because I love Trek bikes for the fit, the price, the look, and the reputation. If the frames were made in Taiwan - I would probably still have bought one - providing the quality, and workmanship was there. Kudos if they can knock $500 off the price.

***The OCLV process is pretty neat BTW - I did thesis work with a bike company in University, who was working on their first CF offering.... they are a really big name - I wont name the company, but a tour contender rides this bike now. Basically (as of 5-6 years ago at least) they layed up the CF in a SS mold clamping it in place. They apply a very controlled amount of resin on the CF sheets (Which are pre-cut with the correct fiber orientation), then they put a heavy rubber balloon between the mold and the CF. Then they inflate the balloon, forcing the resin into the CF, minumizing voids. This is similar to vacuum-bagging that is used in other industries, but they use much higher pressures. Vacuum bagging is kind of limited to 1atm ~15psi. Last I heard they were using like 80-100 psi.***
 

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The 2006 5000 is made in Asia of 200 gsm carbon, while the 2005 is USA of 120 gsm.

Further, the 2006 is a "monocoque" (i.e., the front triangle is molded in one piece) while the 2005 is classic Trek "lugged" and "bonded", which can result in better quality control.

Still, the competition to produce a sub $2000 full carbon is fierce, and I doubt Trek will compromise quality.
 

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Trek says following:

I quote an answer which was given by Trek on the question:


Trek has introduced many new carbon technologies. Our OCLV carbon is the
most demanded carbon product in the bicycle business worldwide. To
enhance our ability to continue delivering high end OCLV carbon bikes
Trek has developed a new line of carbon fiber products that fall under
the banner of Trek Carbon Technology or TCT

TCT frames are designed and engineered by the same people who are
responsible for the Tour winning OCLV technology. These less expensive
TCT frames will utilize a less complex, slightly heavier (200 gsm
carbon) manufacturing process.

TCT carbon frames offer Trek engineering and quality at a lower price
point.


Greetz from the Netherlands
 

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WhiskeyNovember said:
OCLV is the superior carbon. TCT is made overseas of rather generic carbon fiber, while OCLV carbon is sourced from the very people who provide carbon to Boeing, Raytheon, etc.

The process used to manufacture OCLV, however, is what truly sets it apart. Have you ever seen cheap window tinting on cars? Usually, there are many air bubbles between the tinting material and window. Most carbon frames have similar pockets of air (or "voids") scattered in between the many layers of carbon fiber cloth. These voids are weak spots, resulting in less strength, or requiring additional material.

OCLV uses a patented process that brings the level of voids down to 1% or less, if I remember correctly. To put that into perspective, the aerospace standard is up toward 4% or 5%.....so, technically, OCLV carbon is a bit more refined in that respect than the carbon fiber flying around at 600mph and 40,000 feet on $100 million jets.

In addition, OCLV frames are manufacturered in Waterloo, Wisconsin, making the workmanship and quality control superior to most frames manufacturered in China or Taiwan.
That's not a completely accurate statement. Giant TCR and Specialized S-Works are just as good as any Madone and they are made in Taiwan and China. Cost plays the biggest role here. If you look at a 2005 and older Trek 5000s, they had the same OCLV 120 frame as the higher level 5200,and 5500 models. the difference in the numbers had to do with the component groups:5000 had 105; 5200 had Ultegra and the 5500 had Dura Ace. Labor costs are higher on the OCLV (being that it's made in the US) so to keep the 5000 profitable, they switched outsourced to Asia to get the TCT carbon frame. It is a lower quality but not because it's made in Asia but because the level of carbon used. It's still a good frame or Trek wouldn't put their name on it. It was just a better alternative to axing the 5000 model. Remember, Trek's first full carbon-framed bike was the 1989 Trek 5000. It doesn't matter anymore since Trek changed all the names of their bikes anyway. What was the 5000 is essentially the Madone 4.7 today.
 

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My 2 Cents

I've had a 4.7 for 4 months and 1000 miles. The only change I made was to swap out the Bontrager wheels for a pair of Eastons that I had. The wheels were a nice improvement but not as much of a difference as you might think.

Several years ago I had a 2004 - 2005 OCLV trek 5500 and while it was a nice bike I think the 4.7 is a big improvement especially in stiffness and ride quality. I thought the 5500 had a vague almost balsa wood type feel to it and this has been greatly improved in the 4.7.

My LBS was having a huge sale on the 4.7 when I bought it and it would have been almost another $1500 OTD to get a OCLV 5.2. I spent close to an hour on both of them and the 5.2 felt great but I didn't think that the difference was enough to justify the additional cost and I'm very happy with the 4.7.

I'm sure for a lot of people the difference would justify the extra cost, but for a middle aged hack like me the 4.7 if more than enough bike. BTW, I've owned several high end bikes in the past (Trek OCLV, Spec Roubaix, Fondriest, Pegoretti, LOOK, Pinarello, etc;) but from a cost / performance stand point the 4.7 is very hard to beat (if it fits you!)

Cheers
 

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Richard said:
Still, the competition to produce a sub $2000 full carbon is fierce, and I doubt Trek will compromise quality.
That's a funny bit there. Anybody can produce a sub-$2000 carbon frame, at the same quality as any $5,000-frame. A Madone 6.9 costs a couple hundred bucks to produce. And Trek doesn't compromise quality any more or less than pretty much any of the reputable frame manufacturers out there. Remember, this is about making money selling a product, and that's it. The prices you pay are what they are only because of advertising, and because people are willing to pay those prices.
 

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Pirx said:
That's a funny bit there. Anybody can produce a sub-$2000 carbon frame, at the same quality as any $5,000-frame. A Madone 6.9 costs a couple hundred bucks to produce. And Trek doesn't compromise quality any more or less than pretty much any of the reputable frame manufacturers out there. Remember, this is about making money selling a product, and that's it. The prices you pay are what they are only because of advertising, and because people are willing to pay those prices.
Do you have source information for that statement?
 

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zac said:
Do you have source information for that statement?

Come on. You can't truly believe that a bike a Madone 6.9 frame cost into the thousands to manufacture. My brother used to own a bike shop in Georgia. One of his old college buddies works for Orbea in Spain. My bro told me that according to his buddy, the $4200 Orbea Orca's frame only costs a few hundred to manufacture. Madone is no exception. You are paying more for labor costs and team sponsorship on an OCLV frame. Do you think that an OCLV framebuilder is making peanuts? I doubt that Trek is paying them low wages. they are an honest company and fair to their employees from what I've been told. On top of that, high end components might cost less for them to purchase but they are still expensive. Now factor in that a bike consists of a multitude of components and the fact that the company must make a profit and there you have it. Look at the hands the bike must pass through to get to the buyer and then tell me that a $7,000 bike didn't cost the company maybe $2500 to build from material to delivery. I'm thinking less money to build but I'll give Trek the benefit of the doubt.
 

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The cost of the bikes is in the custom presses and molds that need to be milled every time they change the design of the bike. The carbon process is essentially hand laying carbon fiber sheets that have been machine cut into place and then placing a resin on top of it and then sucking the air out while pressing the pieces together to form the shape of the tube. Thus the true cost of the bike you're paying for is in the $100k plus machine/molds that are needed to be produced. Not in the materials and labor to actually produce the bike. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if a bike's total frame cost was under $300 once they get 10s of thousands off the production line to pay for the machinery.

Plus, who would want to buy a $300 bike? People would label it a 'cheap' bike with no status.
 

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Re-reading my original post, I should have said that the competition to build a $2000 full carbon "bicycle" with a decent component spec is fierce.

But consider this. When Dorel recently announced the end of American production for all Cannondale frames, their CEO was quoted in Bicycle Retailer that labor costs were 20 times higher in the U.S. than China. 20 times!
 

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Richard said:
Re-reading my original post, I should have said that the competition to build a $2000 full carbon "bicycle" with a decent component spec is fierce.

But consider this. When Dorel recently announced the end of American production for all Cannondale frames, their CEO was quoted in Bicycle Retailer that labor costs were 20 times higher in the U.S. than China. 20 times!
That doesn't surprise me at all. Still to be competitive, Cannondale had to do it because everyone else is doing it. Trek did it with the TCT and they'll probably do it with the OCLV one day. For die hards, hopefully not soon.
 
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