By William Clarke
My no-name carbon frame arrived as I was out riding the morning of Oct. 5. The first comment from Madeleine was that she couldn’t believe the almost-weightless cardboard box contained a bicycle frame.
I was equally surprised at how light the box was, but it didn’t take long to begin assessing.
Yes, shipped by EMS from Hong Xing’s Pet Products Ltd. in China, the carton was a standard corrugated cardboard box sealed with packing tape around all of the seams. It contained no markings (like ‘fragile’) and gave no clue to its contents. The total weight was marked as 2.9kg with the frame itself supposedly weighing less than half of that total at 1.2kg.
Putting that into perspective, we purchased a new oven roaster over the weekend that weighs more than this 54cm frame!! Anyway, the frame tubes were wrapped in closed-cell foam while the head tube was also enclosed by corrugated cardboard. All of this was inside of a foam bag, but their was no overpack inside the carton so the frame was literally at the mercy of the carrier.
(Perhaps Canada Customs removed the overpack during inspection? There has been a major drug bust recently in Halifax involving Chinese connections, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised at heightened dilligence regarding packages from there.)
The photos point out little details I thought to share, but overall the frame is indeed 12K carbon weave and seems to have been finished with a pristine clear lacquer top coat. Even though it’s dark gray to black, the frame sparkles from all angles.
Every major opening also featured a cap and I noticed a small bur at the bottom of the headtube. It will probably to be covered up by the in-transit carbon headset. I was pleasantly surprised to find cable stops cleanly installed and the added bonus of a cable guide beneath the bottom bracket.
One oddity is the left chainstay appears to have been “flattened” in the middle. Because it’s beneath the lacquer, I wonder if this is by design? In any event, I positioned the frame beside my GT, aligning the rear dropouts and bottom bracket.
The top tube does not appear to drop as much as the Specialized-type frames. However, the frame is only a 54cm so that might account for the top tube remaining relatively level as it sweeps to the seat tube.
The head tube angle does lengthen the wheelbase in relation to my GT, so I expect once it’s on the road the steering won’t be as tight.
Overall, I have to say the frame appears to have been well turned out and next is the build-up. I’m also dabbling with the idea of getting another frame to have when this one fails.
Did I just slip something in there? Let me explain; I’ve been following the blog, Busted Carbon, and checking out what happens when these frames are involved in some sort of mishap. Typicaly, riders have been doing something, like riding into concrete posts or meeting motor vehicles, that causes sudden failures of their carbon components. The bikes literally explode on major impact!
In some cases, riders have reported doing absolutely nothing when next they know they’re looking up at the sky. That is pretty scary when you consider carbon has gone everywhere to make stupid light (and expensive!) bicycles. Even now I wonder if this feathery light frame really has the ability to carry me safely over the roads, let alone stand up to the juking and jumping involved in racing. I guess the jury will be out on that for a few months, but check out Busted Carbon with a small caveat; understanding the many, many, many carbon frames and accessories in daily use around the world, maybe we’ll be the lucky ones?
The build begins!