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Tech FAQ on carbon in the cold and under water

  • By Lennard Zinn
  • Published Feb. 8, 2012
Giant uses its PowerCore on the Defy. The Pressfit BB86 bottom bracket now features full carbon cups. Photo: Nick Legan

Dear Lennard,
I live in Holland and today the temperature plummeted to -18 degrees C. But being the diehard MTBer that I am, my mate and I hit the trails with enough body protection. We did not do any extreme riding because there was fresh snow in the forest so you can’t see any roots or obstacles in your path.

I have a Carbon Frame and at a certain point I heard “crack!!!”  I immediately feared the worst, and indeed, I now have a crack in my frame
at the triangular point where my seat post enters the frame … damn.

Now my question … I have done much more extreme riding and have never experienced this before. Is Carbon affected by the cold temp we are experiencing, and could it be that it was weakened by this?

I am going to have to see if the factory guarantee will cover this, otherwise I shall buy a new frame and transfer all the components.

But I need to know if the cold affected my frame, if so…I am never buying carbon again…I don’t cycle in active volcanoes, I don’t Cycle in reactor containment buildings…or even close to the sun for that matter.., read this in an earlier posting..  :-)…

But I do cycle in -18 Celsius.
— Pieter

Dear Pieter,
I’ve answered the question about storage of carbon bikes in cold temperatures before, and that does not damage them, according to a number of carbon frame engineers.

As for riding in the cold, I’m surprised it happened, and I can’t say for sure that the cold was to blame. It sure would have been a remarkable coincidence, though.

It’s possible to imagine the carbon matrix becoming more brittle as the epoxy holding the layers together became brittle with cold. But I don’t think the fibers themselves would be affected by the cold. And it is possible to make a carbon matrix that does deal well with cold, since there are now lots of skis and ski boots (probably ice skating boots as well, but I’m not familiar with that sport) made with carbon layers in them, and they don’t snap at -18 Celsius.
— Lennard

Dear Lennard,
My question is in regards to a carbon fiber bicycle frame.  Recently the frame was submerged in water due to a flood.  Are there any concerns that I should in regards to damage to the frame because of it being under water?  Obviously the frame can get wet because of washing and normal riding conditions just mainly concerned about internal part of the frame.  Thank you for time.
— Eric

Dear Eric,
If the frame has aluminum inserts in the bottom bracket, head tube, seat tube, or has aluminum dropouts, then you have cause for concern. The glue bonds holding those parts to the carbon could be weakened, and the aluminum itself could have corroded.

But if the frame is completely carbon, I don’t see any cause for concern after submerging it.
— Lennard

Dear Lennard,
I have a 2009 Trek Madone 5.2 with a somewhat oval seat mast which the seat post comes over. As I understand it, this was a one year only design feature and Trek moved away from at least the oval shape the following year. Trek offers three posts with varying amounts of rear offset. I have the one with the most offset but want to get my saddle back further yet to get my knees closer to being over the spindles. Are you aware of anyone who makes such a post or whose lawyers would let them modify one to meet my needs? Or do you have any other suggestions? I’m already using 175 mm crank arms.
— John

Dear John,
I don’t know where to get a seat mast cap with additional setback. I know Trek made some of those caps with a lot more offset for Taylor Phinney when he was on Livestrong and RadioShack, but I never have seen them available for sale.

You might experiment with different saddles that allow you to both move it back further as well as has the wide part further back (the new Turbomatic comes to mind), thus allowing you to sit further back.

Another option is a longer crank. I assume you’re a tall guy, hence the problem, or you at least have very long femurs. Either one could justify a crank longer than 175mm.
— Lennard

Dear Lennard,
Would it be possible to use a 52×34 chainring combination on a double crank?  I currently have a 50×34.  I would like to use a 52 big ring since I live in Mississippi, and it is flat, but would like to keep the 34 when I travel and ride some mountains.
— Dennis

Dear Dennis,
You can definitely do this. I saw a number of teams setting up their riders with that same chainring set for the Monte Zoncolan stage of the Giro d’Italia in 2010.
— Lennard

Dear Lennard,
What are your recommendations for someone buying their first tool kit for maintenance at home? I would like to spend under $300.
— Vernon

Dear Vernon,
I actually have starter tool kits listed in Chapter 1 of both Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance and Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance.

You can find the books at your local library, bookstore, bike shop, or online.

For a more professional setup, check out Nick’s column where he discusses the contents of his toolbox.
— Lennard

Followup on last week’s column:
Dear Lennard,
I just read the recent “Tech FAQ” and I have a follow-up question regarding the removal of the glued Vittoria tubular.  I’m a big fan of Continental tubies myself, and I’ve been faced several times with the task of re-gluing tires/rims between the road and cross seasons.  After I’ve removed my cross tubulars, which I have just done, I now must re-glue my road tubulars.  Since they have a bit of dried glue on them, as does the rim, is it proper procedure to do a general cleaning on the rim before re-gluing it?  That is what I do, and it’s simple enough, but my real concern is with the tire itself.  I’ve been hesitant to use any solvents or cleaners on the tire to remove excess dried glue, and I’m just wondering the proper procedure to glue and mount a previously glued and used tire and rim.  What’s your recommendation?
— Peter

Dear Peter,
You’re wise in avoiding using solvents on your tubulars. You can cause the base tape to loosen and eventually peel off that way. Not good.

Just scrape the big hunks of glue off and generally smooth the lumps off with something like a butter knife. Then re-glue it.
— Lennard

Dear Lennard,
Thank you very much for your column and always excellent advice. As a 6’8″ cyclist I appreciate the most your insights when it comes to clydesdales in a world of jockeys

Regarding the letter about a continuously slipping seatpost on a Kestrel Talon, I’ve experienced this issue on 2 bikes and in the end solved it with Loctite. I completely degrease/depaste the seatpost and the inside of the seat tube and apply Loctite liberally. No slippage, no creaking, and the seatpost can still be removed if needed. Might be something to try before using a more permanent solution.
— Stéphane

Dear Lennard,
Our mounting spray Carbogrip is normally solving similar problems, as it provides a good adhesion when it sets (two minutes after spraying it)… the big advantage is that you can still remove the seatpost if you need to, unscrewing the bolts. All the details here: 
www.effettomariposa.eu. There’s also a tech video available (the video shows also how to use it for mtb grips):

Cantitoeroad.com should have some Carbogrip in stock.
— Alberto

Dear Lennard,
I read David’s account of the problems he’s had with the Campy UT press fit cups migrating in his Cervelo.

Unfortunately it is a problem common with many frames, and the UT BB30/PF cups do seem on the smaller side. An additional problem is that the PF cups seem to result in a slightly narrowing spacing. Why, I’m not sure, but I’ve observed it in several frames.

A quick fix, which will also ensure the cups stay put, is to use a second Campy UT wave washer on the non-drive side. Without this, the cups may still migrate even if bonded in.
— Paul

Dear Lennard,
I put in an FSA BB30 adaptor (to use a Shimano crank in an Orbea Orca Silver) with the instructions requiring the use of Loctite Bearing Mount 609.
— Chris

Dear Lennard,
I was looking at your December story about leaking valve stems. What Wayne S. was referring to is the AC valve.

See www.amclassic.com. In stock, tubeless tape and valves.
— Ellen Kast
General Manager
American Classic
www.amclassic.com

FILED UNDER: Bikes and Tech / Technical FAQ TAGS: / / / / /

Lennard Zinn

Lennard Zinn

Our longtime technical writer joined VeloNews in 1987. He is also a framebuilder, a former U.S. National Team rider, and author of many bicycle books, including Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance and Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance, as well as Zinn and the Art of Triathlon Bikes and Zinn's Cycling Primer: Maintenance Tips and Skill Building for Cyclists. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in physics from Colorado College. Readers can send brief technical questions to Ask LZ.

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