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Carbon repair: Options for repairing carbon bike frames

  • By Caley Fretz
  • Published Oct. 24, 2011
  • Updated Jul. 10, 2013 at 10:23 AM EDT
A broken seat tube before repair


Want to see grown men cry? Waltz over to your local weeknight crit and wait for the inevitable: the mass pileup. It’s pretty likely that someone in that tangle of bikes and limbs just broke their pretty carbon frame, and their despondence upon this realization will know no bounds. Don’t forget the tissues.

But here’s a little secret: that beautiful carbon frame is easily repaired, provided the cure is administered by the right hands. In fact, repairing carbon is easier and more effective than any of its metallic brethren. The repair itself will be stronger than the surrounding frame, adds just a tiny bit of weight (we’re talking the equivalent of a decent sized loogie here), and, if you’re willing to pay for it, can be made almost invisible.

Forget $1,000-plus crash replacement policies: get your baby fixed.

The following pages detail the offerings of seven different carbon frame repair companies. Five are here in the U.S., plus one for our readers in the U.K. and one in Australia. To help you compare, we sent the same photo — a top tube cracked by spinning handlebars — to each repair shop and asked for a quote. We asked for only what they consider the bare minimum: fix the bike so we can ride it again. Add-ons like paint and decal matching will all set you back a bit more. More damage is going to add to the price as well, of course.

The only way to get a truly accurate quote is to get the damaged frame in the hands of one of these professionals, though. So keep in mind that the prices listed here are nothing but approximations.

How it’s done

Precise techniques will vary slightly, but the major steps are all the same: inspect for damage, sand or cut away the damaged area, lay down new layers (attempting to closely match the existing fiber orientation), compress the new layers until they set, sand the area again to match the shape of the original frame, and finally apply clearcoat or paint. Testing has shown that repaired tubes are at least as strong as they were originally, and are often even stronger.

A quick note on your warranty: chances are, getting your frame fixed by any of these companies will void your manufacturer’s warranty (though Calfee is an official repair shop for a few companies). Before all else, it’s always a good idea to find out what your local shop and frame manufacturer can do for you.

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Caley Fretz

Caley Fretz

Tech Editor Caley Fretz can usually be found chasing races along the backroads of Europe or testing bikes and gear in the mountains outside Boulder, Colorado. If you can't find him there, check the coffee shop across from VN World Headquarters.

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