Leading makers of 'production' carbon fiber road frames

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

Among the several dozen makers of production (versus custom) high end carbon fiber road frames widely covered by the cycling media and supply the ranks of the Pro Tour, who are the true 'elite' brands over the past decade or so in terms of consistent overall quality, innovation, design/production excellence and customer support? Not asking for your individual favorite frame or the single 'best' frame since those are so dependent on personal preferences (ie I like ISP monocoque frames w/sloping top tubes while you may rate such frames lower b/c you prefer tube-tube frames w/a flat top tube). And I'm ruling out small, custom builders b/c their frames are not widely or immediately available. So, what makers consistently produce the best frames even as models change from year-to-year? Perhaps another way of asking the question is: what off-the-shelf brands/makers of high end carbon road frames do you most respect? One might initially think Colnago or Cervelo or Cannondale or Canyon, etc., etc., etc. So many great makers. But which ones are the true elite, the true leaders?

I ask b/c many of us only ever see a handful of high end brands and form our opinions via forums and media hype while some of you are much better informed, with first-hand knowledge of actual makers, sell/service a wide variety of brands, perhaps even make frames yourself, and go to trade shows so you see the product in person.
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ultyguy
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by ultyguy

There are many aspects of frames, what specifically are you asking?
Performance?
Aero?
Weight?
Durability?
R&D?
Manufacturing?

i.e. Cervelo R&D is incredible, most of what you're buying is the engineers, but the construction and materials of their bikes is hardly groundbreaking.

by Weenie


Valbrona
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by Valbrona

You seem to not notice that there are lots more bike brands than there are factories that make them. Large brands like Canyon or Specialized or Cervelo do not have there own factories, it is the case that they are made by other companies. Some branded names even make frames for other companies, two such examples being Giant and Merida.

wingguy
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by wingguy

I honestly don't see what the difference is between your question and "what's your favourite bike?"

Very few people are going to buy a high end bike that they don't think is very well made or designed, so really you're still just asking for personal preferences.

durianrider
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by durianrider

Easy.

Giant & Merida. They make most of the over pro tour bikes frames or tube sets - Colnago, Trek, Specialized.

Giant TCR Advanced SL always gets the best test data if you do your homework. I rode mine 200k yesterday and its mega comfy.

Lifetime warranty and stiffest light road frame around.
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fromtrektocolnago
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by fromtrektocolnago

There's something special about a company that both designs and builds its own frames. Of all the bikes that are were in the Tour De France this year, the only one that people will want to own four years from now is the C-59. Colnago brings out some very interesting technology and doesn't merely copy what others are doing. They were first on disc brakes and came up with their own solution for bottom brackets not liking what others were doing. I don't consider Cervelo or Cannondale in that league. The latter two are more marketing and design firms and aren't true bike builders, and they do outsourced to whoever can build what they spec cheapest.
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gregalfa
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by gregalfa

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Ozrider
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by Ozrider

The leading "makers" would have to be Giant and Merida as they "make" frames under their own name, as well as for many other brands.

Specialized has their bikes made by Merida

Many brands such as Cervelo and now Cannondale have pretty good design and engineering, but their bikes are made in unnamed factories in China.
Cervelo has been the market leader in "aero" road bikes

Trek has had a lot of good design and some innovation, but only their 6 and 7 series Madone and Domane and the SLR Emonda frames are made in USA, the rest of their frames are amde in Taiwan. Innovative design with the Domane and one of the more comfortable and stiffer "aero" road bikes with the Madone.

Look would have to rate high amongst companies that design and make their own frames, even down to weaving their own CF.
They have a high level of integration, with their own cranks, integrated stems and brakes, as well as making pedals.
Time would be in the same category as Look.




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Last edited by Ozrider on Mon Sep 01, 2014 2:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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davidalone
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by davidalone

In terms of manufacturing? Giant and Merida. Specialized by extension because Merida owns 49% of specialized.
BMC, Look, Time, Carrera and MAYBE Colnago are the only euro bike brands that can hold a candle to Giant and Merida in terms of CFRP bike frame manufacturing technology, and by then only BMC, look adn Time deal with raw carbon. Colnago and Carrera glue carbon tubes ( And For Colnago only for their Higher end models). I would still rank BMC and Look a level above the rest though.

In terms of Engineering, I would say Cervelo has certainly been up there every year with introducing new technology ( leader in aero frames, california series frame,s that clever alloy sleeve for fork steerers. They were one of the big pushers for internal routing as well, and execute it alot better than most other brands) The American brands like Felt, Trek, Scott, Cannondale do interersting things on the engineering front year after year, some good, some bad. ( scott addict- lightest production frame and quite a game changer when it came out- Felt with Textreme, Cannondale with BB30, lefty forks. Trek with the domane ) The Euro brands are certainly behind the Americans in terms of this. The excepton could be Look. who have tried interesting things no other road manufacturer has ( first with the bayonet style fork, unsurpassed level of integration, that wonderfully awesome ZED crank) , but whether that is a good or bad thing depends on your perspective. Colnago Has had some innovative touches over the years- but IMO they've fallen abit behind. colnago has never been particularly daring. BMC has the cash and potential ability to rock the bike world if it sorts out it's production problems with the impec, but that remains to be seen.

but currently Giant and Merida are head and shoulders above everyone else. simply because they have both design AND manufacturing capability, on a huge scale. you can design all you want, but if you can't execute and execute on a mass production scale for sales, then it's worth diddly squat. which is why next to everyone has their frames made by these two manufacturers. IMO it's really only a matter of time before Giant dominates everyone else. Giant has some the the best bike engineers, who can design AND execute well. plus, every frame that comes to them, they learn from. In terms of creativity, maybe not Giant, but if you want to know who can design and MAKE a bike well, and make thousands a of them quickly, to a consistently high standard, its Giant and Merida.

ultyguy
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by ultyguy

As a lot of highlighted here and I was going to say above, but really if you're talking manufacturing, Giant/Merida are pretty impressive outfits.

sawyer
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by sawyer

If you factor in VFM ...

- Canyon (ultimate VFM pro-tour bikes)

- Look (blend of characteristics, innovation)

- Of the mainstream guys, possibly Giant and Specialized (Some innovation and consistently very reliable products)

Much as I like Colnago I don't see what they've done that's so special, and the high cost has to be factored in

Cervelo are worth mentioning for the original R3 and S series bikes, though they have had QC issues and now lost their lead
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Stiff, Light, Aero - Pick Three!! :thumbup:

sawyer
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by sawyer

fromtrektocolnago wrote:There's something special about a company that both designs and builds its own frames. Of all the bikes that are were in the Tour De France this year, the only one that people will want to own four years from now is the C-59. Colnago brings out some very interesting technology and doesn't merely copy what others are doing. They were first on disc brakes and came up with their own solution for bottom brackets not liking what others were doing. I don't consider Cervelo or Cannondale in that league. The latter two are more marketing and design firms and aren't true bike builders, and they do outsourced to whoever can build what they spec cheapest.



Hmm... disc brakes have been on bikes for ages, and even if Colnago were first to put them on a road bike (don't know if they were) ... no big deal, as it's not really new tech and hasn't caught on.

The BB thing is minor - no advance and just another non-standard "standard"

Colnago's aces are their ride quality, QC, and paintwork, not their tech.
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Stiff, Light, Aero - Pick Three!! :thumbup:

stang1
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Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2012 8:57 am

by stang1

durianrider wrote:Easy.

Giant & Merida. They make most of the over pro tour bikes frames or tube sets - Colnago, Trek, Specialized.

Giant TCR Advanced SL always gets the best test data if you do your homework. I rode mine 200k yesterday and its mega comfy.

Lifetime warranty and stiffest light road frame around.


Point 1) they make most of the bikes yes, but Colnago c59/60 lug based are still hand made in italy compared to thier counterpart M10 full monocoque which are made in the Giant facotry. Trek 6-7 series are made in Winsconsin , USA

Point 2) Best data in? Aero? Stiffness? Comfort? Compliance?

Point 3) Stiffest light road frame around? Im sure plenty of bikes out there are on par, if not, slighter better in stiffness white paper data (from giant or thier respective company comparisons) compared to thier range of models , some models that come to mind, Scott Addict SL, Cannodale super six/ HM /evo HM, etc. List can go on however you want to compare but we arent here to teabag a brand for another.

Not trying to flame you, but theres much out there than just a single tunnel vision. But in respose to OP's question, Giant and Merida are the leaders of bicycle market production units as per what the general concensus here is.

sfo423
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by sfo423

durianrider wrote:Easy.

Giant TCR Advanced SL always gets the best test data if you do your homework. I rode mine 200k yesterday and its mega comfy.

Lifetime warranty and stiffest light road frame around.


+1

I rode the Shrek, BMC & Specialized at the same time I rode the TCR Advanced SL. All things considered (price, performance/ride, fit, etc) it was no contest (for me). Similar results may vary, but its really an outstanding bike.

by Weenie


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vmajor
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by vmajor

Ozrider wrote:Look would have to rate high amongst companies that design and make their own frames, even down to weaving their own CF.
They have a high level of integration, with their own cranks, integrated stems and brakes, as well as making pedals.
Time would be in the same category as Look.


You are thinking of Time. Time makes their own bikes, not Look. Time is one of the only true manufactories (to borrow the watchmakers' terminology) left in the industry. Even Giant outsources some of their production to other carbon factories.

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