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Chinese Carbon

Old 03-02-21, 05:41 PM
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Chinese Carbon

Over the last year, I have become very interested in the open mold world of Chinese carbon. Unfortunately, there is very little information online. As a hobby, I have decided to build 3 bikes and get a variety of components and document my experience.

But before I can get into the fun stuff, we have to address the common concerns when it comes to Chinese carbon.

Concern 1: The products are knock-offs

For every re-seller on Alibaba selling a counterfeit frame, there are legitimate companies designing their own products trying to build their own brand. I would stay away from counterfeit frames. If you want a Venge, get an actual Venge.

Concern 2: The carbon is poor quality

China probably has more skilled carbon laborers than anywhere else in the world. I have experience in the aerospace industry, and youíd be surprised by the quality that CAN come from China. Manufacturing carbon fiber is actually fairly easy; it the design of the part that is hard. Carbon frames can easily be made light or stiff, but it is hard to do both. As a rule of thumb, if the weight of the frame is too good to be true, it probably isnít very strong. Iíll discuss how to evaluate the quality of carbon later.

Concern 3: The sellers donít support their products

Contrary to this, there are manufacturers that do have warranties (and honor them). One way I researched companies was to find old forum posts of broken parts and how the manufacture responded. One company had a fork design that cracked in 2016. They ended up redesigning the fork which told me that they acknowledged their mistake and decided to change the design. Thatís an issue that traditional name brand manufacturers have too.

Ride at your own risk

In the end, there is some risk that we assume every time we get on a bike. Traditional name brand manufactures have components fail (as a Canyon owner Iím all too aware). My goal is to show people how to buy Chinese carbon while keeping that risk as low as possible. And here is a little glimpse of what to expect.
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Old 03-02-21, 05:46 PM
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if it werent for the brakes that it has, I'd inquire more of that bicycle.
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Old 03-02-21, 06:09 PM
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When can we expect the fun stuff?
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Old 03-02-21, 06:17 PM
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My Flyxii has 7000+ miles on it. I'm still waiting for the asplosion.
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Old 03-02-21, 06:24 PM
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Here's the blog section. https://www.bikeforums.net/blogger-s-forum/ I'd suggest you get the project done and then post a comprehensive write up. A coy tease now and then isn't going to satisfy most folks. Will be interested to read your findings.
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Old 03-02-21, 06:27 PM
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This isn't exactly treading new ground nor does it look to be a hot take - there are a number of well-established threads on the subject.
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Old 03-02-21, 06:45 PM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
Here's the blog section. https://www.bikeforums.net/blogger-s-forum/ I'd suggest you get the project done and then post a comprehensive write up.
Opps. Didn't see that section of the forum. Is there any way to contact an admin and get this moved?

Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
This isn't exactly treading new ground nor does it look to be a hot take - there are a number of well-established threads on the subject.
I'd beg to differ. There seems to be a lack of comprehensive and current info. Most internet search results bring up posts from 2012-2015 era and they usually devolve into "Well a friend of a friend broke their Chinese stem, so all Chinese carbon is bad." The Chinese/Taiwanese carbon frame DIY builders thread on here is massive and doesn't actually tell people HOW to buy a frame.
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Old 03-02-21, 07:00 PM
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Click the red button to the left of your initial post, tell them what you want.
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Old 03-02-21, 07:15 PM
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Originally Posted by OuterMarker View Post
I'd beg to differ. There seems to be a lack of comprehensive and current info. Most internet search results bring up posts from 2012-2015 era and they usually devolve into "Well a friend of a friend broke their Chinese stem, so all Chinese carbon is bad." The Chinese/Taiwanese carbon frame DIY builders thread on here is massive and doesn't actually tell people HOW to buy a frame.
Oh, I must have imagined the all of the threads and posts on Hongfu, Dengfu, Workswell, etc, etc. Crazy how that happens.
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Old 03-02-21, 07:16 PM
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Originally Posted by OuterMarker View Post
Opps. Didn't see that section of the forum. Is there any way to contact an admin and get this moved?



I'd beg to differ. There seems to be a lack of comprehensive and current info. Most internet search results bring up posts from 2012-2015 era and they usually devolve into "Well a friend of a friend broke their Chinese stem, so all Chinese carbon is bad." The Chinese/Taiwanese carbon frame DIY builders thread on here is massive and doesn't actually tell people HOW to buy a frame.
Here's a thought: you appear to claim some expertise in this realm, so why don't you just go ahead and purchase/build/whatever, and then report back to us all on your results? Makes sense, don't you think ... or do you?
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Old 03-02-21, 07:18 PM
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Originally Posted by badger1 View Post
Here's a thought: you appear to claim some expertise in this realm, so why don't you just go ahead and purchase/build/whatever, and then report back to us all on your results? Makes sense, don't you think ... or do you?
That's what I'm doing. What's with the hostility?
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Old 03-02-21, 07:25 PM
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OP:
Would the bicycle that you posted a picture of happen to come equipped with hydraulic disc brakes?
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Old 03-02-21, 07:45 PM
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Originally Posted by OuterMarker View Post
That's what I'm doing.
Maybe if you had FIRST done it then let us know.
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Old 03-03-21, 06:45 PM
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Expectations

Before you start looking at frames, make sure you have realistic expectations. The best carbon fiber components are expensive because of their intricate layup process. Carbon strands are only strong in one direction, but since most bike components have to accept a variety of forces from many different angles, the carbon sheets need to be oriented correctly to provide the necessary strength.

Just trying to figure out what loads a component may encounter is challenging. Rather than conduct extensive testing to achieve the most efficient use of material, most lower-end carbon components simply add extra layers in varying directions to cover their bases. The result is usually added weight to cover up for the lack of real-world testing. If there is a small company in China making carbon fiber bike parts that have similar weights to the top-of-the-line manufacturers, they probably achieved it by skipping the extra layers of material.

The best thing to do is email the manufacturers and ask about the layup process they are using. Some won’t know, but several will. A layup similar to 0,0,0,0, 45,45,45,45, -45,-45,-45,-45, 90,90,90,90 seems common as it provides generally the same stiffness regardless where the force is applied. Personally, I don’t know what layup a stem should have, but I figure that if the seller is able to provide that information, they are at least involved in the manufacturing process and know their product. But the easiest piece of advice is to stay away from those 700-gram frames. I ride a 56 and my Chinese carbon frames range from 900-1200 grams.
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Old 03-07-21, 06:35 PM
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Picking a Vendor

Make sure you get a bike fit before you order. It can be hard to return frames and it is well worth the money to find the key measurements you need. All the Chinese companies have good diagrams of the frame sizes. I simply made a spreadsheet with all the models that fit me.

Once you have a list of frames, start emailing. Ask about production times, paint options, shipping, spare parts, and warranties. Yes, warranties. I found a few that offered 2-year warranties. The customer service I received from the various companies helped narrow down my options. The ones that responded promptly with answers to specific questions made me feel more confident about the purchase. I was also surprised to find that lots would even do custom painting. I was able to send them mockups with the actual color codes I wanted.

The final thing to think about is spare parts. If something breaks down the road, it might be hard to get a replacement part. I made sure I asked for spare derailleur hangers, seat posts, and seat post clamps. Unfortunately, the demand for aero bikes means even seat post and seat post clamp are no longer standard. Most companies included those items for free.

The companies I ordered from were FlyXII and Velobuild. I will review the products later, but I will discuss working with each company now.

I ordered a wheelset from FlyXII along with an assortment of bars and stems. I figured it would be nice to have a variety of stem sizes to help with fitting the bike. While FlyXII was great about answering questions about the manufacturing process. But they were not helpful with shipping information. Shipping from China is a challenge. The products spend a lot of time in customs on both ends. While FlyXII shipped it using a Chinese air carrier, the item sat in Shanghai customs for 2.5 months before it got on a plane! I kept asking about the delay, and they didn’t really seem concerned as their policy is 3 months for shipping. I was about to start the refund process on PayPal when I found out the items arrived in the US. It then sat in customs for another 2 weeks. Covid might have played a role in the delay, but it always took several days to hear back from FlyXII and they didn’t even give me a tracking number until a month after I placed the order.

Velobuild was much better. I ordered 3 frames, 4 wheelsets, and several other small parts. We had over 30 emails discussing part compatibility, carbon layup, and paint options. My point of contact “Chris” was very responsive and always got back to me within 24 hours. There were some issues with one of the paint options as the rose gold color I wanted would not be available for 3 months. They recommended other options and showed bikes with those colors to me. Every time a frame was done, he would send me pictures of it. As they were done, he sent them out. The first shipment was sent with a boat, so it took about a month to get here. Customs in the US further delayed the process. During this time, we were waiting to ship the other 2 bikes when the final frame was done with paint. Due to the delay with the first shipment, he shipped the second bike via air to help decrease the shipping time. The first and the second bike ended up arriving at around the same time about 7 weeks after I ordered them. The final bike is again waiting in customs in LA.

The main lesson to learn from this is to be prepared for long shipping times. Although, it appears most of the delay is due to US customs right now.
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Old 03-18-21, 03:33 PM
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Getting the bikes

All 3 frames and 5 wheelsets arrived well packed. One box had a big tear in it, but the frame was wrapped up well enough where it didn't matter.

As far as weight goes, all the wheels, bars, and stems were as advertised. One wheelset that was 5 grams more, but everything else was on point.

Frames were harder to compare. They usually list the weight of the smallest frame without paint. All my frames were one size larger than the advertised size and were painted. One frame was 200 grams more, and the other 2 were 150-180 grams more.

So to sum it up... all parts arrived undamaged and were near enough to the advertised weight.
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Old 03-18-21, 03:55 PM
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Building the Bikes

Assembly was pretty easy. The 2 biggest concerns I had with Chinese bikes were poorly made press-fit bottom brackets and seat post sliding.

I wanted BSA bottom brackets as those are easier to manufacture and are therefore less likely to cause issues later on. Unfortunately, very few bikes I found had BSA. Press-fit bottom brackets are far more common. To account for possible press-fit bottom bracket issues, I used Token Ninja bottom brackets. For those unfamiliar, the Token Ninja is a bottom brack that comes in two pieces and threads together inside press-fit frames. You don't need any bearing presses and the fact that the two sides of the bottom bracket are connected with threads helps cover up minor alignment issues. The fact that it doesn't need a bearing press also makes it easier to remove and install again for internal cable maintenance. The other concern with cheap press-fit frames is bottom bracket creaking. To prevent that, I used Wako BPR V160 brake protector grease. This is very thick and tackey grease from Japan. I put it on the cups of each half of the Token Ninja where it interacts with the frame. Without precise measuring tools, it's really hard to evaluate bottom bracket roundness and alignment. But all three bikes did very well with the unscientific "spin" test with one of them doing far better than my Canyon and Specialized. The other 2 were on par with my name-brand bikes. Also, 2 have about 400 miles each and have no creaking, but I won't really know if I'm creak-free until a put a thousand or so miles on them.

The seat post issue seems to be pretty common on Chinese carbon bikes. 2 of my frames had no issue at all, but 1 frame did. When I did a seated effort of 500 watts or more, the seat post would slide down about 1/2 inch. The solution was simply some carbon assembly compound. A bit of that on the seat tube eliminated that problem.

Possible future issues

The only other concern I am aware of is with the wheelsets. Some people say Chinese wheels go out of true much faster. So far, they are fine, but I will keep an eye on it. Part of me is a little excited as truing wheels is the last thing I need to master in my bike maintenance journey.
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Old 03-18-21, 04:18 PM
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This is the R-086 frame. This bike was the one with the seat post issue that only required some carbon assembly compound to fix. It was made for crit racing, so I had it painted in flat white and black since those are colors I can easily touch up myself if it is in a minor crash. The frame was $389 & the wheels were $409. The money saved on those went right to the groupset. Ultegra Di2 with a 4iiii powermeter brings the total cost to $3,470. The bike comes in at a total weight of 7.95 kg.



This is the GF-001 frame. It is a gravel frame. In "road mode" I use 28mm tires with 50mm deep rims. I got a second wheelset to easily switch the bike to "gravel mode" with 38mm tires on 38mm deep rims. The fender mounts make this bike great for wet weather riding in the PNW winters. The frame was $439, the road wheels were $424, and the gravel wheels were $404. The total cost with Di2 & fenders comes out to $4,090. The road weight comes in at 8.85 kg (with 0.5 kg fenders) and the gravel weight comes in at 8.12 kg (no fenders).



The final frame is yet to be fully assembled. My wife didn't like the gold accents, so I'm going to repaint those. I'm also waiting on a few groupset parts since Shimano parts seem to be out of stock everywhere. I will probably have the bike finished in 6 weeks.
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Old 03-19-21, 08:58 AM
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Good post more information on these frames is always good. The factories in China produce all kinds of brands in the same factory. Very similar to how food production here in the US. Many ďnameĒ brands produce house brands and no name brands to keep production of the plant at a certain level to make a profit.
knowing which brands to look at is a good information.
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