Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby Duck! » Wed Nov 29, 2017 12:49 pm

Calvin27 wrote:I rekon the carbon frame would come out on top - theoretically it has infinite fatigue life unlike steel or alu. However the former cannot be easily repaired.

Contrary to popular misconception, carbon is one of the most readily repairable materials of the lot.
I had a thought, but it got run over as it crossed my mind.

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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby trailgumby » Wed Nov 29, 2017 2:10 pm

Calvin27 wrote:A environmental impact assessment would be interesting. I rekon the carbon frame would come out on top - theoretically it has infinite fatigue life unlike steel or alu. However the former cannot be easily repaired. The problem however is no one makes really robust carbon frames, they are almost exclusively race weight weenie stuff. A Hard nosed carbon I suspect might last a pretty long time.

However all of this pales in comparison to the environmental damage of bloody bicycle standards. Meaning it forces the consumer to change bike more frequently than they would.

Not sure where you get that from... Carbon fibre is more easily repaired than steel and way more so than aluminium. While a bit more intelligence is required, the technique is similar to surfboard repair.

I hear you on bicycle standards. They've learned from the motor industry.

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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby g-boaf » Wed Nov 29, 2017 2:27 pm

Calvin27 wrote:A environmental impact assessment would be interesting. I rekon the carbon frame would come out on top - theoretically it has infinite fatigue life unlike steel or alu. However the former cannot be easily repaired. The problem however is no one makes really robust carbon frames, they are almost exclusively race weight weenie stuff. A Hard nosed carbon I suspect might last a pretty long time.

However all of this pales in comparison to the environmental damage of bloody bicycle standards. Meaning it forces the consumer to change bike more frequently than they would.


I think there are plenty of heavy carbon frames out there at 9kg or so. Or unless you want a 20kg bike, which in any case is the fault of the market for not buying heavy carbon bikes. If the general public wants it, the manufacturers will build it.

Surely the boutique manufacturers could create these very overbuilt frames?

Race weight / weight weenie are two different things now. Race weight is 6.8kg, and weight weenie is anything from 3.0kg to 5kg. 6.8kg bikes these days are quite dependable.

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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby duncanm » Wed Nov 29, 2017 2:38 pm

RonK wrote:Our very own polluter - the aluminium smelter at Boyne Island, Gladstone.

Image


I'd much rather have a local smelter than one with lax/no environmental controls in China or India.

Or do only poor people get to pay the price for industrialisation?

(This is not a dig at you Ron - I get you're railing against pollution in general)

(ps:most of that stuff you can see is steam)

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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby cyclotaur » Wed Nov 29, 2017 2:59 pm

Don't beat yourself up.

Any bike used for utility (commuter/transport, holidays) still beats any motor vehicle for environmental footprint.
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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby RonK » Wed Nov 29, 2017 3:06 pm

duncanm wrote:
RonK wrote:Our very own polluter - the aluminium smelter at Boyne Island, Gladstone.

Image


I'd much rather have a local smelter than one with lax/no environmental controls in China or India.

Or do only poor people get to pay the price for industrialisation?

(This is not a dig at you Ron - I get you're railing against pollution in general)

(ps:most of that stuff you can see is steam)


Nope, Australians get to pay it too.

Yes, it may be steam, but there are two points to observe:
1. Aluminium smelters consume huge amounts of electricity which is generated by dirty coal-fired power stations
2. The Boyne Island smelter (and no doubt other Australian smelters) has a long history of environmental pollution issues as a little research will reveal.

My take is that the article original poster referenced is little more than marketing spin by a company trying to leverage environmental issues to sell their brand of (steel) bikes. The environment practices that the writer observed are typical of Chinese industry generally, not just the carbon fibre bicycle manufacturing industry. The manufacture of steel and aluminium bicycles in China is also a heavily-polluting exercise, and recycling is a joke.
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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby Comedian » Wed Nov 29, 2017 3:29 pm

g-boaf wrote:Funny thing, I never saw any of those stereotypical commuter bikes in Europe. It was all just mountain bikes or regular old flat-bar bikes, but nothing looking like a step-over bike or any of those bikeshare bikes we see all over the streets here in Sydney.

Comedian wrote:
duncanm wrote:If you want to do the right thing - buy used, keep it running for as long as practical.

I have a 25yo carbon composite bike which does me fine.


There is one lady who races locally.. she's on her third CF Giant in 12 months. I'd say she's not as much of an outlier as you. :mrgreen:


What on earth is going on? Third CF Giant in 12 months? Mine are absolutely trouble free and I do heaps of kilometres on them. Mine I've had for a lot of years. I use them for commuting, fast rides, one has gone overseas with me and survived air-travel no problem.


One little thump of the handlebar on the TT and poof! She broken! :shock:

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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby Duck! » Wed Nov 29, 2017 4:17 pm

^^ Completely, very easily repairable.
I had a thought, but it got run over as it crossed my mind.

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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby Comedian » Wed Nov 29, 2017 5:19 pm

Duck! wrote:^^ Completely, very easily repairable.

Sure.. I would have thought so too.. but it's not my place to say.. she made the decision.. I assume she took some advice from her Giant retailer. Maybe she didn't feel she'd trust it afterwards...maybe she felt it would be more expensive than she felt it was worth.. or more likely (IMHO) she didn't want to wait for a couple of months as the carbon repair places in BNE seem to be very very busy these days... :roll:

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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby Kronos » Wed Nov 29, 2017 6:44 pm

g-boaf wrote:
Comedian wrote:It would appear the best thing you can do is choosing a bike that lasts longer and replace them less often - rather than when the colours change.


Actually, it would seem the best thing you can do is not buy bicycles of any sort. Just walk.

All bicycles have to be manufactured somehow, and that manufacturing is not good for the environment either. There is inevitably some negative impacts of this manufacturing.

What is the environmental impact of using titanium?


Filings to filings rust to rust. Ride a steel bike instead.

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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby Smithstreet » Wed Nov 29, 2017 7:47 pm

silentC wrote:I've given up worrying about this stuff. Humans as a species are beyond saving. Individuals are motivated and conscientious but collectively the apathy is overwhelming.


THIS, is the most sensible comment on this thread.

All I'm hearing is people trying to be do-gooders and justify their own existence.

Don't worry, Kimbo and the Orange Don Burke will blow the crap out of everything and you won't have to worry about how bad your 'bike footprint' was. :wink:

as you were...

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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby Lukeyboy » Wed Nov 29, 2017 8:46 pm

silentC wrote:Image


I've seen one of them cracked before. Let me see if I still have the photo and join me in the other thread for a good laugh... :lol: :lol:

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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby duncanm » Thu Nov 30, 2017 7:40 am

Comedian wrote:
Duck! wrote:^^ Completely, very easily repairable.

Sure.. I would have thought so too.. but it's not my place to say.. she made the decision.. I assume she took some advice from her Giant retailer. Maybe she didn't feel she'd trust it afterwards...maybe she felt it would be more expensive than she felt it was worth.. or more likely (IMHO) she didn't want to wait for a couple of months as the carbon repair places in BNE seem to be very very busy these days... :roll:


n ot only repairable, but if the break is always in the same spot (I'm guessing at a clamp) - then sleeve the bastard with another 100g of carbon tubing and make it indestructible.

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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby Comedian » Thu Nov 30, 2017 2:53 pm

duncanm wrote:
Comedian wrote:
Duck! wrote:^^ Completely, very easily repairable.

Sure.. I would have thought so too.. but it's not my place to say.. she made the decision.. I assume she took some advice from her Giant retailer. Maybe she didn't feel she'd trust it afterwards...maybe she felt it would be more expensive than she felt it was worth.. or more likely (IMHO) she didn't want to wait for a couple of months as the carbon repair places in BNE seem to be very very busy these days... :roll:


n ot only repairable, but if the break is always in the same spot (I'm guessing at a clamp) - then sleeve the bastard with another 100g of carbon tubing and make it indestructible.

Nah.. the top tube gets popped by the bars as they spin in crashes. I agree it's repairable but each time she's chosen to grab another one just like the other one. Maybe insurance are paying? I can understand she might not be keen to wait for repairs too...

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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby bychosis » Thu Nov 30, 2017 3:13 pm

Comedian wrote:Nah.. the top tube gets popped by the bars as they spin in crashes. I agree it's repairable but each time she's chosen to grab another one just like the other one. Maybe insurance are paying? I can understand she might not be keen to wait for repairs too...

That would be a design fault then wouldn't it or is it designed to sell more bikes? Trek MTB's have a 'knock block' in the headset that prevents the bars spinning that far that the fork crown hits the down tube. Simple inclusion that would prevent the damage.
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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby duncanm » Thu Nov 30, 2017 3:36 pm

Comedian wrote:
duncanm wrote:
Comedian wrote:Sure.. I would have thought so too.. but it's not my place to say.. she made the decision.. I assume she took some advice from her Giant retailer. Maybe she didn't feel she'd trust it afterwards...maybe she felt it would be more expensive than she felt it was worth.. or more likely (IMHO) she didn't want to wait for a couple of months as the carbon repair places in BNE seem to be very very busy these days... :roll:


n ot only repairable, but if the break is always in the same spot (I'm guessing at a clamp) - then sleeve the bastard with another 100g of carbon tubing and make it indestructible.

Nah.. the top tube gets popped by the bars as they spin in crashes. I agree it's repairable but each time she's chosen to grab another one just like the other one. Maybe insurance are paying? I can understand she might not be keen to wait for repairs too...


ok - I misread 'tt' as 'time trial' or something.

Maybe she just needs to adjust (or change) her bars ever so slightly so they don't impact the top tube when spun around.

Either that - or stop crashing.

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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby Lukeyboy » Thu Nov 30, 2017 5:06 pm

If its mechanical shorten the cabling :P

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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby Duck! » Thu Nov 30, 2017 10:04 pm

bychosis wrote:
Comedian wrote:Nah.. the top tube gets popped by the bars as they spin in crashes. I agree it's repairable but each time she's chosen to grab another one just like the other one. Maybe insurance are paying? I can understand she might not be keen to wait for repairs too...

That would be a design fault then wouldn't it or is it designed to sell more bikes? Trek MTB's have a 'knock block' in the headset that prevents the bars spinning that far that the fork crown hits the down tube. Simple inclusion that would prevent the damage.

Individual setup rather than design fault. On any given model of bike, some riders will have the bar set up so that in a full swing the hoop of the bar will be the point that contacts the top tube, others will hit with the curve at the tops, while others, moreso endurance setups with a high front end & compact drop bars, can hit the tube with the end of the bar. It also takes a bit more than a "little tap" to damage the tube; a very decent whack is what's needed. Plus a ding of this type does not necessarily need immediate attention, and definitely is not automatic reason for replacement (as I stated above); in the "stone chip" thread I mentioned that my carbon MTB bears a similar bite mark from a stack I had somewhat over a year ago. I'll observe it and will repair it if it progresses at all, but so far it hasn't changed from when it happened.

The rider could also do with some thorough introspection to get to the root of the problem and work out why she's causing such frequent damage in the first place.....
I had a thought, but it got run over as it crossed my mind.

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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby AUbicycles » Fri Dec 01, 2017 6:19 am

China is not (yet) the best reference point for Carbon Fiber manufacture. Taiwan is recognised and the primary producer of quality carbon fiber bikes and parts. Because it is a high value market there is significant interest from China - while there are a handful of producers who are going for quality, the general focus for many Chinese producers is fast and cheap... so quality and environmental impact is a concern.

Brands like Giant, Merida, Specialized, Scott... infact most of the big ones generally manufacture in Taiwan but there is interest in China and potentially some manufacturing because of the lower costs.

Carbon Fiber can, technically, be recycled but in Australia this is probably non-existent or economically prohibitive. The other end is the manufacture and in both cases consumers can directly influence brands and best is by writing / enquiring. Indirect methods (e.g. boycott) generally won't be as effective and it is also best to communicate (contact) the head office directly and they carry more weight over distributers and subsidiaries.

So, write letters and emails... and show brands that the environmental impact is an important consideration. But... are you willing to pay more for a bike which is more ethical / sustainable?

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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby RobertL » Fri Dec 01, 2017 11:35 am

RonK wrote:Our very own polluter - the aluminium smelter at Boyne Island, Gladstone.

Image


Actually, that's a photo of the Queensland Alumina refinery at Gladstone, not the Boyne Island smelter. (Yes - I know that google images thinks that it's the smelter, but it's definitely the refinery. Google is wrong.)

The refinery is the plant that causes all the local pollution problems. It's where bauxite ore is mixed with godawful chemicals and heated to extract alumina powder - pure Al2O3. The waste mud and chemicals are then disposed of, mostly in a non-polluting way these days, but not so much over the years since it opened in 1967.

The alumina powder goes to the smelter where they use enormous amounts of electricity to melt it and burn off the oxygen leaving pure liquid aluminium. So there's not much pollution happening there, but lots of electricity usage - with all the problems that causes.

I know this because about half of my in-laws work in the refinery, and I have been told about it at length. If you want more detail, I can put you in touch with my father in law. He can explain it to you for hours, days even...
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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby bychosis » Fri Dec 01, 2017 12:36 pm

RobertL wrote:Google is wrong.

:shock: Wash you mouth out! :shock:
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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby foo on patrol » Sat Dec 02, 2017 2:36 pm

I guess everyone bagging on about CF frames being nasties for the environment are off the grid with their own solar panels, walk around naked or kill animals and skin them for clothing, don't drive but walk to work, don't fart because that's methane gas release...............need I go on. Seriously, I'm over all this crap on what is or isn't good for you. :roll: Get onya bloody bikes and ride them and don't give a rats arse about whether they are steel, carbon, cane or whatever the hell else you can build them out of! :idea:

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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby Ivanerrol » Sat Dec 02, 2017 2:40 pm

The amount of carbon fibre used in bicycles will pale into insignificance when it becomes mainstream for use in automobiles. Many mass produced models now feature carbon fibre panels or interior parts. U.S. originated "Sportscars" which were originally fibre glass are now carbon fibre (Camaro, Viper, etc etc.)Then there are the supercars which are primarily carbon fibre.
How many bicycles can be made from the carbon fibre used in one Dreamliner? What about all those fighter aircraft?
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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby Comedian » Sun Dec 03, 2017 11:43 am

Ivanerrol wrote:The amount of carbon fibre used in bicycles will pale into insignificance when it becomes mainstream for use in automobiles. Many mass produced models now feature carbon fibre panels or interior parts. U.S. originated "Sportscars" which were originally fibre glass are now carbon fibre (Camaro, Viper, etc etc.)Then there are the supercars which are primarily carbon fibre.
How many bicycles can be made from the carbon fibre used in one Dreamliner? What about all those fighter aircraft?

I have zero concern for the CF in the dreamliner.. or the fighter planes.

What I'm genuinely worried about is the CF that will be used in Automobile manufacture. Cars like the i3 have moved away from steel and have CF chassis. In general conventional car are disposed off and recycled at least to some extent.

Back to bikes.. I'd really like to see manufacturers introduce a CF bike disposal scheme so you at least know they'd be disposed off to best practices, rather than general landfill via the skip out the back of the bike shop.

I do agree that CF bikes are a relatively small environmental issue compared to just about everything else.

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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby human909 » Sun Dec 03, 2017 12:09 pm

Carbon fibre aside I'm still confused about the expected lifespan people have of bikes.

The two bikes that I ride are from the 90s and still going strong. One bike I've owned new from 1999. Still has many original components including rear brake cables and housings. Just replaced the front brake cable and housing yesterday. Its on its second cassette and chain wheel, probably about its 6th chain. Its spent plenty of time in rain and muck.

Why own bikes from the 90s? Cause they are still working like a dream. The Sakae Litage frame is a beauty, my Giant is just a reliable workhorse. Sure I could by $3000 or $6000 bike but the simple question how would it make me happier or my life easier? If that can't be easily answered then why would I do that vs spending the money on a something that would.

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