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Carbon.Bike offers inexpensive, lightweight components thanks to forged carbon construction

Carbon.Bike forged carbon crank
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Carbon.Bike forged carbon crank, title shot

If you were offered a brand new pair of carbon crank arms for $100, would you feel a bit skeptical? One thing riders never want to do is save a few bucks (or grams) on a part they don’t fully trust to perform. However, manufacturers constantly struggle to find cheaper, yet effective means of producing products. It’s hard to imagine they would invest in new ideas if they weren’t confident about the outcome…

A company called Carbon.Bike is currently raising eyebrows by combining the low manufacturing cost of forging with the weight savings of carbon fiber. They have created some very inexpensive forged carbon cranks, spiders and stems, and all the carbon bits are American-made in Raleigh, North Carolina. Their components are pretty darn light too, as a 170mm crank with a spider or chainring weighs in at just over 500g.

Potential customers will simply have to debate the advantages versus the unknowns – Do you trust a new company with a new manufacturing process? Is their experience in other industries enough to assume their bike parts will hold up? Does the low price tag scare you off, or tempt you to buy and try? Forge ahead for the details on Carbon.Bike’s cranks and stems…

Carbon.Bike forged carbon cranks, 1x setup

Carbon.Bike’s components are made of a solid forged ‘structural composite’ which uses chopped carbon fiber reinforced with a Vinyl Ester resin molding compound. The creators claim their cranks share the same strength as forged aluminum arms but offer a much lighter weight. To describe the process in short form, advanced resins are used to bond the carbon fiber together in a high temperature and pressure mold. In about 8 minutes, a part is molded and ready for finishing.

The term ‘Forged Composites’ is a trademark of Carbon.Bike’s co-developers, and apparently they have products already being used in defense projects and elite car manufacturing. Their Indiegogo page makes no mention of how much testing has been done on their cycling components.

All threaded inserts for the carbon components are made from stainless steel, and threaded BB cups and axles are made from hard anodized aluminum.

Crank Arms:

Carbon.Bike forged carbon cranks, colors

The crank arms come in a wide range of lengths and are adaptable to almost any bike by selecting the correct chainring/spider, bottom bracket and spindle options. There are four options for different spindles, each built with the appropriate Q-factor for the application- Road, Road Disc/MTB Narrow, Boost/MTB Wide, and Fat Bike (coming soon). Carbon.Bike’s spindles fit any chainrings or BB’s compatible with Sram GXP.

Crank arms are available in the following lengths: 140, 142.5, 145, 147.5,150, 152.5, 155, 157.5, 160, 162.5, 165, 167.5, 170, 172.5, 175, and 177.5mm. Crank weights (includes arms, 156 Q Axle, preload ring and spacers, paint and screws) range from 365g for the shortest 140mm option up to 435g for 170mm and 445g for 175mm.

The cranks can be purchased with an armoured black finish or with painted stripes in ten different colors. Firearm paint is used as a finish as opposed to clear gelcoat, as it is much stronger and lighter.

Chainrings/Spiders:

Carbon.Bike forged carbon cranks, with spider and rings

If you’re running a 1x drivetrain, you might want to add a front ring. The chainrings are made of hard-anodized aluminum, and the sizes/weights are as follows: 30t /67g, 32t /70g, 34t /78g, 36t /85g.

For double ring road or MTB 2x or 3x setups, you’ll have to add a spider. The spiders are made from forged carbon with stainless steel eyelets. With paint, the Road Double 110 BCD weighs in at 65g, and the MTB 104 BCD at 69g.

Stems:

Carbon.Bike forged carbon stems

Carbon.Bike is also producing MTB stems with their forged carbon process. The company says stems are an ‘ideal product for forged carbon manufacturing’ and apparently they can produce one in mere minutes. 40, 50 and 60mm lengths are available, all with the option for 31.8 or 35mm clamps. The stem weights, including paint and screws, are as follows- 40mm/110g, 50mm/130g, 60mm/150g (weights are listed the same for either clamp size).

Carbon.Bike aluminum chainring
*Images courtesy of Carbon.Bike

As a ‘Launch Special’ customers can buy any size of crank arms with your choice of the three available spindle options (Fat Bike currently excepted) for just $99 USD. Fat Bikers will have to buck up $129 for the arms with a longer spindle.

A single front ring can be added to the arms for $35. Alternately, you can add a 110 BCD road spider with a ti bolt kit for $39, or the 104/64 MTB spider for the same price. Also, for an additional $19-29 you can slap some painted accents on the crank arms. The company is also offering a selection of bottom brackets and BB tools. Stems can be purchased in any length and clamp diameter for $89, and come with titanium bolts. Paint can be added for $19.

Carbon.Bike says they will work with buyers to ensure they get the right fit for their bike before the product is shipped out. If this campaign is successful, estimated product delivery is for May 2016. Furthermore, the company has plans for several other components including forks, rims, cassettes, seat posts, bars, and eventually frames. Their Indiegogo campaign currently suggests skepticism might be outweighing interest, but if you want to learn more about forged carbon components check it out here.

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Gef
Gef
7 years ago

Isn’t bikerumor hq in NC? A factory tour would be cool and add credibility to a new face to the bike industry. Seems like this could be disruptive in price to the big guys.

Ben Hudson
7 years ago

Very interesting… will definitely keep an eye on this and see what more information comes out.

Carbon Bike
7 years ago

Oh hey, we didn’t think the press was interested. A technical director at Campagnolo has informed us they use the forged materials in their cranks. So we are certainly not the first.

The forged composite materials are headed to china via a massive manufacturing investment by the parent company. Over the next few years forged composites won’t be Lamborghini, Callaway and Campy – it will be in everything. For now, we truly have a COG near the largest manufacturers traditional carbon cranks, but made mostly (the CofO mix is in the campaign) in the US. The trade response for kids bikes and recumbents has been very positive. At any rate, thanks for sharing Bikerumor!

anonymous
anonymous
7 years ago
Reply to  Carbon Bike

Really can’t see how big the chunks of carbon are unlike Campy’s gloss finish.

edge
edge
7 years ago

Testing, testing, testing….a couple of videos showing how their parts perform when compared to trusted competitors would go a long way.

Matt
Matt
7 years ago

Those stems are heavy

Paleo Velo
7 years ago

Sounds kind of like the plywood of carbon fiber.

Seraph
Seraph
7 years ago
Reply to  Paleo Velo

More like particle board.

edge
edge
7 years ago
Reply to  Paleo Velo

Both Carbon fiber and plywood work on the same principles.

Ryan
Ryan
7 years ago
Reply to  Paleo Velo

yeah, a lot more like particle board than plywood. Having said that though, who knows? I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that it’s good stuff…unlike particle board.

Ck
Ck
7 years ago

I won’t be a first adopter without some serious, certified testing but i’ll be keeping an eye on them.

Tom
Tom
7 years ago

Very interesting (and maybe scary for purveyors of currently available carbon components).

Doesn’t Magura use a similar “chop and mold” process for parts of their disk brakes?

J N H
J N H
7 years ago
Reply to  Tom

Compression molded carbon is actually pretty common. A few brands use it for suspension linkages since it’s more tolerant of drilling/cutting than lay up fabric. If I was expecting any kind of failure it would be at the bondings for the pedal inserts or the axle insert as opposed to carbon itself.
.
I think these guys need to publish some testing, showing some figures relative to other brand’s crank and/or getting some units out to the press would help them gain some credibility. I don’t actually doubt the quality of their hardware, but bringing a new brand from scratch is always a hard sell.

traildog
traildog
7 years ago
Reply to  J N H

Thank you JNH, was scrolling for this: compression molding is a widely used process. My concerns would be more over the choice of vinyl ester resin rather than epoxy and the (apparent) lack of long fibers running the full length of the arm.

Tom, I’m guessing Magura is injection molding their lever bodies/master cylinders with a high fiber content thermoplastic, maybe 50-60% carbon filled nylon or PEEK. But that’s just a guess. Sram did/(does?) the same thing with the road hydraulic disc lever bodies, which was why they said the seal in cold weather wasn’t supple enough to cover the variations in their non-cylindrical master cylinders (because of shrinkage in the part), IIRC.

But aside from that they need to hire some new designers, it’s awesome to see them trying to get the price point down.

elvis
elvis
7 years ago
Reply to  traildog

cold weather shrinkage… heh heh heh.

sorry, I had to

J N H
J N H
7 years ago
Reply to  elvis

It’s alright, we’ve all been there…

scant
scant
7 years ago

whats the company website please?

Justin
Justin
7 years ago

I’m with edge. Prove it, then I’ll try it.

TheKaiser
TheKaiser
7 years ago

Yeah, yeah, factory tour, FACTORY TOUR!!! When I first saw this headline and the prices I thought that the similarly named “Carbonbicycle” Chinese co. was making a big marketing push to legitimize their brand. Turns out it is actually USA made carbon, which is about the opposite end of the spectrum.

This stuff looks cool, although most engineering type people will tell you that with “chop and mold” carbon you are not using the carbon as efficiently, because of the limited fiber length, and somewhat of a loss of control over fiber orientation. I think Magura claims that they have proprietary tech that allows them to determine the orientation and use longer fibers, kind of like Vittoria with their claims of directionally oriented Graphene+, so there is the potential that the process can be improved upon, and it would be interesting to see what these guy’s explanation is.

Even if these things aren’t quite at a RaceFace Next level, at this price all they need to do is be lighter/stiffer than SLX/XT/FSA/etc…

Matthias
Matthias
7 years ago

I will never like the practical side of carbon parts. Bike will fall into the concrete = crack, bike will be transported on roof rack for 300 miles = crack, fall into the rock = crack, transport in the plane = crack.
Another thing is that stems and cranks specifically need the usage of something called black aluminium. In other words the strength of the carbon in almost any given direction hast to match the one of the metal cousin. This creates part that is not much lighter, but definitely much more fragile to everyday accidents like bike falling onto something hard. But hay. Maybe I am being totally wrong. People seem to replace their whole bike every two years now after all. Carbon is the perfect material in the era of capitalism. When you finish using it just burn it!

Cryogenii
Cryogenii
7 years ago
Reply to  Matthias

Yeah, you’re wrong. I’ve got SRAM carbon cranks on my MTB, which is of 2011 vintage and they’ve been smacked off many rocks with no issues.

Haromania
Haromania
7 years ago

I like a bargain as much as the next guy, but there is a point when I just assume it has to be junk if it’s to cheap. I am not sure what to make of these, but I wish them a lot of success and I hope to see a follow up article or better yet a “long term” test from BR.

Frank
Frank
7 years ago
Reply to  Haromania

This is exactly what the bike industry wants you to believe. Cyclist pay a lot of money for parts that really aren’t that special or expensive to produce precisely because they are expensive, so they must be nice!

I applaud Carbon.Bike for their efforts entering the market at a reasonable price point, but I’d like to hear more about strength, stiffness and durability before I bite.

matt
matt
7 years ago

This is a horrible use of the word forging, I’m both relieved and appalled that its not just a cycling industry marketing term. These parts are compression molded, DON’T BE FOOLED!

Compression molding makes some strong composites, it’s not necessarily a bad thing but it’s certainly not forging.

I’m with the masses, show me the Krankfax ™

Rick
Rick
7 years ago

I see BSA30 and BB30 on the site…I need a24 mm shaft do they make it in that size?

Steev
Steev
7 years ago
Reply to  Rick

I agree. Why would they not be interested in selling cranks to riders with a PBH greater than 33 inches?

suede
suede
7 years ago
Reply to  Steev

Any bike can take a 30 mm spindle, that is the BSA30 on the website, i;e; standard English threaded frame.

Rock
Rock
7 years ago
Reply to  Rick

Agreed – weirdest thing to me is that I’ve exchanged words with them and they seemed oblivious to the fact that there were bikes that couldn’t take a 30mm spindle. … which makes me question whether they’re knowledgable enough to make bike parts that will work.

ed
ed
7 years ago

interesting mix of price and weight. Weird they went down to 140mm and yet stopped at 177.5 (at least to me because I ride 180).

gringo
gringo
7 years ago

I can’t imagine buying from a company when they are, apparantly, unaware what the word FORGED means.

Marin
Marin
7 years ago

Alloy cranks don’t shatter when you hit them on the rocks.
Is it a new spider interface? Do we really need more standards?

delquattro
delquattro
7 years ago

While researching to decide which size crank arm to go with for maximum ground clearance, I came across a study that found no substantial loss in power down to around 140mm. Their lineup is interesting, and the price, for once, is reasonable.

Jeremy Moore
Jeremy Moore
7 years ago

Cool stuff. The future of injection molding is coming next. I have a feeling mostly all carbon components will be injection and compression molded and probably in not too long, lower end frames. They won’t be the best stuff at first in terms of stiffness but they’ll figure it out and be able to make things stiffer than a human needs.

Scotty
Scotty
7 years ago

“Forged Composite” is an abandoned trademark of Callaway Golf Company.

It’s kind of a misnomer. Forging aligns the grain structure in the direction you want it. This “forged composite” is the complete opposite. Random fiber orientation will produce inconsistent materials properties.

Andrew
Andrew
7 years ago

I’m curious/intrigued but not sure I wanna buy a set of these only to have them break in half and impail me in the leg…. hmmmm

Allan
Allan
7 years ago

Ok, this is pretty intriguing…not some goofball Kickstarter idea. I think time will be the best measure of these new parts, and as such, I’d probably wait a while before considering them. But yeah, cool stuff, hope it proves to be a good, reliable product! Hope to see BR doing some testing and reporting on it.

Chris
Chris
7 years ago

Isn’t this the same process shimano uses on their “carbon” road pedals?

Allan
Allan
7 years ago
Reply to  Chris

jinx!

Allan
Allan
7 years ago

BTW, is this process similar to how Shimano DA carbon pedals are made?

Andrew
Andrew
7 years ago
Reply to  Allan

Same here!

Phil Turner
Phil Turner
7 years ago

The chainring interface appears to be SRAM. It states GXP in a round about way. Do SRAM call it that? Testing, testing, testing, please. Show the data, and I’ll buy.

Veganpotter
Veganpotter
7 years ago

I’m pretty sure I’m buying in these things…they look awesome!!!

Bill
Bill
7 years ago

Is the spider interface SRAM’s 3 bolt? Is that standard open, or are they going to get sued over it? It’s one thing where you’ve got clone CNC chainrings all over the internet, but a crankset I’d be surprised if they let that go.

Otherwise, I see no issue here – compression molding with carbon has worked well for a long time. Shimano’s had it on pedals for years now, and I think Oakley (though a little misguided) was machining sunglasses out of it some time ago too.

anonymous
anonymous
7 years ago

I’m intrigued, the price is low, the weight is low.

But Indiegogo is a place for scammers, flexible funding means they get your money no matter what, and may or may not deliver. No one wants to buy a carbon crank of questionable durability, and they’ve provided no documentation of any sort of testing or meeting standards, which is incredibly important for any new entrant.

Evan
Evan
7 years ago

I have a few reservations – he fibres are the strong components of composites and making something from chopped strands rather than long fibres is akin to lifting a weight with a rope that’s been cut into several pieces and glued back together, rather than a continuous length. A lot of weakness in composites is introduced by short fibres which transfers more of the stress to the weaker resin “gluing” the fibres together and shorter strands also increase the area of strand-resin interfaces, which are another weak point.

The manufacturing process sounds essentially identical to a fairly standard one, but it’s usually used for parts that aren’t main, large-load bearing components i.e. not cranks. Doesn’t mean they can’t do the job, but this is, in general, a cheaper, lower-strength way to utilise carbon fibre than the more expensive woven matt or continuous strand method used in the majority of performance parts. I’d like to see some testing results or some long-term ride impressions before I’d ride them :s

mountguitars
mountguitars
7 years ago

What’s their website?

ginsu
ginsu
7 years ago

This is not new. Boeing pioneered this method along with Lamborghini for their carbon car. They said it was about as strong as aluminum and lighter, but MUCH cheaper to manufacture than both. We should be seeing ALOT of cheap carbon parts soon.

stiingya
7 years ago

I wish the finish/graphics were better. I thought about a stem as that and rims are the final carbon bits left to get. But it’s only 10gr less than the Easton Haven and actually just slightly more than I got mine for. Combined with looking like dull plastic and generic/NO branding… “I’m out” (for now at least, good luck!)

However, I’ll “stay tuned” as the cranks might be worth considering on other builds after more testing/testimonials come in…

Jon B
Jon B
7 years ago

AKA “bulk molding” and as others have mentioned, compression molding.

Benefits are WAY cheaper manufacture, stiffer parts (higher % of carbon) than CFRP (carbon fiber reinforced plastics – injection molded), easy design, and relatively complex geometry.

Downsides – it’s roughly isotropic (same stiffness/strength in every direction), which means you can’t make parts that have stiffness characteristics that are independent of their geometry, much like with metals (so, you couldn’t make a stem that’s laterally and torsionally stiff but vertically compliant without some really wacky geometry).

It’s a good process, but it will never rival the weight/stiffness ratio of layup carbon parts. That said, it also shouldn’t be anywhere near as expensive. Could be a really great process for some specific components, like brake levers, suspension linkages, seatpost rails, and maybe cassette carriers. Cranks, stems, and chainrings? I’m not convinced.

Wm.J.Townsend
7 years ago

Nice wordsmithery. They’re just a step away from another industrial application. Carbon-carbon is a fruit cocktail of pre-preg carbon scraps, compression molded, and then heated to set off the epoxy. Then it’s really heated which burns off the 38% resin content, extra carbon is formed, and the resulting carbon whatsis is half it’s molded weight, clanks like a ceramic plate, and is unworldly strong — but when it breaks it can be spectacular. Whether the slurry they mix can be furthur processed is unknown. Fine for smaller, shorter components but so much extra resin. -Bill

Alain
Alain
7 years ago

Considering the surface finish, it really looks like injection moulded parts or bad rendered pictures. They should really explain the way they are producing the parts.

ginsu
ginsu
7 years ago

This material was used on the Lamborghini Sesto Elemento. If you want to know more about this material:

http://www.quantumcomposites.com/pdf/papers/2011-ASC-montreal-forged-suspens.pdf

ginsu
ginsu
7 years ago

This effort has culminated in the development of Forged Composite® technology, which is an advanced compression molding technique that utilizes carbon fiber sheet molding compounds. This publication constitutes the first public technical disclosure of both Forged Composite®.

ginsu
ginsu
7 years ago

Airframe manufacturers have been proposing the use of high-performance discontinuous systems that are suitable for compression molding of primary structures. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner for example makes use of AS4/ 8552 HexMC® for the window frames, as well as other primary and secondary structural elements Discontinuous carbon fiber systems for advanced compression molding have shown highly desirable mechanical properties, particularly with regards to stiffness, since the average modulus reported is identical to that of the quasi-isotropic (QI) continuous prepreg laminate used as the reference.

Open-hole and filled-hole strength is virtually identical to unnotched strength, thereby making it very useful for manufacturing structures with fastener and lightening holes. The material is also more impervious to moisture absorption, and therefore its elevated temperature wet properties are less affected than the laminated equivalent.

ginsu
ginsu
7 years ago

The Carbon Fiber Sheet Molding Compound (CFSMC) material is supplied by Quantum Composites. It is comprised of 25.4 mm long carbon fiber tows, randomly distributed into a mat, sandwiched between two layers of vinylester resin. The stack is compacted between rollers into sheet form, and spooled into rolls similar to standard prepreg. The carbon fiber content is 53% by weight. The material is designed for compression molding in a matched metal tool in a heated press. The cure temperature ranges between 270-320ºF (132-160ºC), applied pressure ranges from a 1000-1500 psi (69-103 bars), and cure time ranges from 3 to 5 minutes.

Alain
Alain
7 years ago

With this Quantum Material and your design your are passing the EN 14766 testing norm for Mountain Bikes?

bbb
bbb
7 years ago

I share Evan’s concerns (IMO the best comment here…)

The strength of carbon structures lies in long continuous fibres not a coctail of short chunks and resin.

Unless they use some revolutionary tech unknown to other established manufacturers the resulting products will be either as heavy or heavier than cold forged aluminium equivalents (for the given strength).

Carbon for the sake of carbon for a bunch of kids w******g over bike gear p**n but can’t afford the real stuff 😉

.....
.....
7 years ago

If this stays on shore and results in cheaper, better parts (which it very well might, despite all those that love to argue otherwise) this might just be a game changer. Whether those who must quibble can admit it or not, I believe I can hear certain members of a certain industry shaking.

LOTS of IF, though…. I am empiricist enough as to need to adduce some evidence… need to see some testing…

Andrew
Andrew
7 years ago

I’d be curious to know if this is the guy behind the company…. If so, he has an impressive resume! : http://compositesmanufacturingmagazine.com/2012/07/industrys-best-2012/2/

rodeoj
rodeoj
7 years ago

Lamborghini is currently using the material to cast the tubs for the Huracan. There is an interesting factory walk through of their factory where they talk using the same material in other parts due the ability to cast it versus hand laying every single piece. They also mention that the material will not replace mission critical parts that require specific layups because of engineering constraints, ie… rims.

Interesting to see it used outside of the automotive industry. I think Audi is using this now on their A8 supercars… and as Audi, ie. VW owns Lamborghini maybe we will see a much larger usage as time passes.

TripleB
TripleB
7 years ago

anyone ever get a set of cranks?

beanpole
beanpole
7 years ago
Reply to  TripleB

still waiting and it doesn’t look good. vague updates point to production bust/bad luck, but haven’t heard a word nor seen a post yet indicating cranks were delivered to any/51 backers.

Sylvain Lareau
Sylvain Lareau
7 years ago

I have order a crankset after the backers and have received it in june. It was oK but not perfect. The main problem was the chainring attach point on the spider was misaligned, They told me that they have send me a replacement part (end of june) but I never received it. The are now closed (cash and manufacturing problem) and dont answer their E-mail.

What I like from that project is that they were manufacturing crank arm less than 165 mm at a reasonable price… Now I need another source.

divan
7 years ago

whats their email?please

wildbill14
wildbill14
7 years ago

Hi Divan, the email I have is info@carbon.bike but they are not replying and looks to have closed. I ordered some cranks and they never showed and my refund never showed. I am looking into getting refunded through my Card company. Any info would be helpful.

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