Along with steel, aluminum and titanium, carbon has become one of the predominant materials used to make carbon bicycle frames. Cyclists favor carbon for being comparatively light and stiff, and today it is the material of choice among cycling's elite. Given the quality and performance attributes of the material, carbon-frame bicycles can cost well into the thousands of dollars. Caring for carbon properly helps prolong the life of the bike and prevent damage to expensive components.
1. Park or store the carbon bike in a manner that minimizes pressure on the frame tubing. Clamps and straps used in repair stands and bike racks can crack composite tubing if tightened too much. If using a repair stand, secure the carbon bike by its seat post rather than around one of the tubes that comprise the frame.
2. Clean the frame regularly. Washing the bike keeps the protective surface paint clean while also allowing for the inspection of any cracks or fractures in the carbon. Washing the bike removes salt caused by sweat, which can have a corrosive effect on aluminum parts attached to the carbon frame.
3. Avoid leaving the carbon bike in excessively hot temperatures, such as might be found inside a parked car on a summer day. Too much heat can weaken the carbon composite material.
4. Study the owner's manual to learn the bicycle's various recommended torque values. Torque is used to tighten bolts on the bike, and recommended torque pressure prevents overtightening of these bolts. Overtightening of bolts can crush delicate carbon fibers and cause the bike to crack. Along with proper torque values, a torque wrench can be used to ensure proper tightening procedures.
5. Take the carbon bicycle in for routine maintenance to your local bike shop. During maintenance of the bicycle, a mechanic will inspect the carbon frame for any damage or cracks that might be overlooked by the untrained eye.