Cheap chinese carbon frames - Explain it to me

Discuss light weight issues concerning road bikes & parts.
geebee2
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by geebee2

They lied to you.


That's entirely possible of course.

But how much does carbon fibre actually cost nowadays.

Google search for "carbon fibre cost" says

"The price of the basic material has been dropping steadily, though. In the mid-1990s a pound weight of carbon fibre cost over £60. Now it's more like £3 - very competitive with steel."

http://archive.carkeys.co.uk/features/technical/632.asp

So about £6 for a frame (in 2003, probably less now). I think this materials cost is a red herring.

My impression is that these frames are pretty well made and quite durable. I don't see why they would try and develop a direct business and then ship a bad product, it would just be making life difficult for them and bad business. It's not really any harder for them to ship something decent. If someone reports a failed FM015 my view would certainly change. That's the real test.

by Weenie


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prendrefeu
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by prendrefeu

Okay, serious question:

How do you, as a rider, as a consumer, actually know what carbon is being used in the frame aside from a label?
Pinarello, Wilier (and perhaps others) put on a label that has "60 Ton Toray" carbon or similar that indicates what, as claimed, is being used in the manufacturing.

How do you really know though? We have a few people visit a factory, maybe they take a picture of a box that read "Toray" on the side. Great. Who is to say that they only brought out those boxes for that visit? Who is to say that the company/brand (not the manufacturer) didn't switch to another brand of CF to save some money...?

A label is just a label, they can be added, removed, and as a brand has higher cachet it is rarely questioned.
We can easily put on a label that says "Made in Italy" when clearly we know it's made in Taiwan... oh wait, that's already being done.

Afterall, I doubt anyone here can ride a bike "blind" and really determine what type or brand of carbon was used in the build given the same geometries, design, and build.
Can we get a factory to use a known, brand-name mold but older model from a famous brand such as Pinarello, Wilier, etc, and do two sets: one using "high end" carbon and the other using the "other stuff" ? Test ride them both... is there really a difference? Honest queston, I don't know the answer personally and I'm interested in finding out.

In a related note, there is a certain point where frame and components are quite stiff - and far 'stiffer' than any of us really need, and it would be difficult to have a rider determine which is actually stiffer, so we rely on numbers and data from testing. Does it really matter? Obviously there is a big difference between components and frames that are clearly noodles vs. pillars, but as things near the upper end of the stiffness scale we're not able to perceive a noticeable difference at all. If anything, some 'perceptions' that may come up when judging between components on the upper end of the spectrum could be subject to other factors such as tire pressure, road, environment, fatigue of rider, etc:. ... so we rely on instruments to give us numbers, but so much of that becomes imperceptible.

Discuss.
Exp001 || Other projects in the works.

phallenthoul
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by phallenthoul

showdown wrote:"Facts" without sourcing are speculation at best...

Please provide some supporting documentation regarding your assertion about taxation of imports and exports as it related to carbon fiber...

According to your logic if a Chinese factory imports Toray fiber from Japan and then sells the product to the US they would NOT have to pay the import taxes. As such, all of the product bought from these factories outside China would be exempt from these taxes and ergo would be cheaper.

http://www.jkck.com/tarrif/ma68.htm
68159920 duty tax and VAT total 34.5%
yes.cheaper. than frames with tax paid and made of the same material

Mr.Gib
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by Mr.Gib

prend. Closest to your test would be Cervelo R3 and R3SL. My understanding is that that the difference in carbon consists of only a few different wraps here and there. Not surprising that no one is able to notice a difference between the two. I guess the same applies to Super Six and Super Six Hi Mod. Again, no one seems able to tell them apart in terms of ride.

As for the bike being made of the material as claimed by the manufacturer, that comes down to brand credibility. The bigger question is what percentage of "the good stuff" is used?
wheelsONfire wrote: When we ride disc brakes the whole deal of braking is just like a leaving a fart. It happens and then it's over. Nothing planned and nothing to get nervous for.

phallenthoul
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by phallenthoul

geebee2 wrote:
They lied to you.


So about £6 for a frame (in 2003, probably less now). I think this materials cost is a red herring.

My impression is that these frames are pretty well made and quite durable. I don't see why they would try and develop a direct business and then ship a bad product, it would just be making life difficult for them and bad business. It's not really any harder for them to ship something decent. If someone reports a failed FM015 my view would certainly change. That's the real test.


Do more research on CF cost ....
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the bike is bad. Just giving you facts to prove they are not Torey as claimed to be.

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Rick
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by Rick

In a related note, there is a certain point where frame and components are quite stiff - and far 'stiffer' than any of us really need, and it would be difficult to have a rider determine which is actually stiffer, so we rely on numbers and data from testing.

Speaking for myself: That is why I simply don't worry about stiffness. I am old enough to remember Sean Kelly winning classics on a 1"dia. tubular aluminum frame with epoxied aluminum lugs. Stiffness is just not a big deal. Everything today seems just "ridiculously stiff" to me.
I want light and reliable, but stiff is sort of irrelevant...to me.

geebee2
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by geebee2

Do more research on CF cost ....

Hey I've done mine, if you have other info, post away.

Incidentally the place we are talking about is Shenzhen.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shenzhen

It seems to be an extension of Hong Kong, on steroids.

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elviento
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by elviento

Geebee -- as much as I would like to win the Pulitzer on Chinese cheap carbon, the world is very small.

As for material cost, if you are NASA and buy by the ton, then you are paying one price. But if you are some random Chinese factory you may have to go through various channels to get your hands on it, the stripper bill(s) will just have to go into your frame.

As for whether you give a damn about paint and decals... well, it's just a fact. Bikes have paint and decals and they cost money. Whether they make you faster is not the question. For your manufacturers to be properly incorporated, licensed, registered, complying with labor laws and paying taxes, don't make you faster either. But companies are faced witht these costs if run properly.

I used their standard $15 headset. Not smooth means not smooth. Compared to when I turn the cockpit of my C50 using Record headset.

Your numbers GBP6 a frame is definitely not premade carbon cloth from Toray (or anybody). I think you are talking about diff things. I have not done my research beyond the carbon cloth manufacturers.

I am not saying Hongfu is NOT well made. Low grade carbon can be used to make reasonably good bikes. Not using MJ60 and T1000 doesnt mean they are shipping you a bad product. Going to extremes won't help finding out the truth. Truth is generally in the middle. Frankly, when I put on my consumer hat, FM015 is a very good value for $400 if the toptube is 2.5cm longer.

Prend -- Pinarello doesn't have to lie about using Toray (the average Dogma buyer won't understand or care). If the material costs them $200-300 extra, they just increase the price to deal with it. $5000 is a lot of money, what's an extra $200. Plus it's not worth the public scandel if people find out. It's like LV will use high end buckle that costs them $5, but the knockoff maker will use a $0.10 buckle. It's all relative.

Re your second question, there is definitely a difference, because the manufacturing process is also technology, other than the materials used. But how much does it matter, is the real question. I dont know. The same question can be asked about any premium product, or service.

As for stiffness, it's relative and personal. I am 165lbs at 5'8" all muscle, so I appreciate the sure-footed-ness of a frame when I hammer.

lecuyerb
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by lecuyerb

Well what has really changed over time here?

How do we know the old steel was actually the steel indicated by the decal on the seat tube?
Sl/SLX etc etc etc

We don't basically - and nothing has changed with manu moving from say Italy to Singapore....

There may be a slight argument to culture and business ethics but it is subjective at best.

It comes down to product history and support that is what you get when you pay for a brand.

Does it perform over time and if it fails who stands behind it.

This can easily be traded in dollars...


Brian

geebee2
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by geebee2

elviento

I wonder if you have some problem with your headset. I cannot really imagine how you could notice any "non-smoothness" when turning a correctly functioning headset. Anyway...

Will you be visiting the hongfu factory? ( Of course this pre-supposes it even exists! )

One question is whether they make the frame for the Cube Litening, which bears a very strong resemblance to the FM015.
Maybe it is just the same frame. This is the simplest hypothesis, but of course there are many other possibilities.

I also wonder if the ones sold by internet are "seconds" - mine had a tiny defect, I had to remove a very small amount of material from the drive side drop-out.

Well it's fun to speculate, but for me it's academic : I have made my gamble, it's turned out well so far, but sure it's a gamble.

phallenthoul
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by phallenthoul

geebee2 wrote:
Do more research on CF cost ....

Hey I've done mine, if you have other info, post away.

I'm a Chinese who live in Shenzhen and work in the bike industry.
I know the price but won't tell you.
Try this, search for a carbon fiber distributor on google and ask them for a quotation.

geebee2 wrote:Incidentally the place we are talking about is Shenzhen.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shenzhen

It seems to be an extension of Hong Kong, on steroids.

Where do you get that idea?

phallenthoul
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by phallenthoul

geebee2 wrote:elviento

I wonder if you have some problem with your headset. I cannot really imagine how you could notice any "non-smoothness" when turning a correctly functioning headset. Anyway...

Will you be visiting the hongfu factory? ( Of course this pre-supposes it even exists! )

One question is whether they make the frame for the Cube Litening, which bears a very strong resemblance to the FM015.
Maybe it is just the same frame. This is the simplest hypothesis, but of course there are many other possibilities.

I also wonder if the ones sold by internet are "seconds" - mine had a tiny defect, I had to remove a very small amount of material from the drive side drop-out.

Well it's fun to speculate, but for me it's academic : I have made my gamble, it's turned out well so far, but sure it's a gamble.


As far as I know, they use Nico headset. Yeah they suck.
Hongfu is not a factory, Flybike is.
Cube Litening is made by Topkey.

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kavitator
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by kavitator

So where to buy from?

Flybuy has no homepage

HongFu has

i heard on each frame tests are done (for quality control)...i dubt that

geebee2
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by geebee2

Hongfu is not a factory, Flybike is.


Right, that makes sense. So Hongfu is an exporter ( maybe one or two people I guess ).

Just to be clear, are you saying that Flybike manufacture the FM-015 one can buy via Hongfu ?

by Weenie


phallenthoul
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by phallenthoul

geebee2 wrote:
Hongfu is not a factory, Flybike is.

Just to be clear, are you saying that Flybike manufacture the FM-015 one can buy via Hongfu ?

correct.

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