Is A Carbon Framed 29"er In Your Future?

Editors Note: Picture courtesy of MTBR.com’s Interbike Blog

Carbon fiber, that pernicious black fabric that is seemingly everywhere is going to be making its presence felt in an even bigger way in the future of 29″ers. The two bikes most known as the trendsetters in this area are, of course, the Orbea Alma 29″er and the Fisher Superfly. However; that ain’t all folks! There’s more where that came from.

We have already seen the prototype Felt 29″er, (pictured above) and I have it on good authority that at least a few other companies are toying with the idea of hitting the 29″er market with carpet-fibre goodness. Is this a good idea?

Well, one of the main concerns for folks looking at 29″ers is weight. As we have already witnessed, a Fisher Superfly, for example, can be pared down into the low 20 pound range for a complete bike, which is certainly on par for what a lot of 26″er XC race bikes weigh. What about durability? If the past is an indication of what we can expect, I think a well designed and executed carbon fiber frame is not going to be a problem off road. We’ve seen carbon break, yes. Any material can be broken, but I don’t feel that carbon fiber need be feared as long as the homework was done on the front end of the design process.

Then there is price. Certainly a carbon frame should be a more expensive proposistion than a lot of aluminum or steel frames, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a frame only offering hitting the sub-grand barrier in the future. I feel this is exemplified by what we have witnessed in the fork market. You can pick up a really fine carbon fork for around $300.00 which isn’t a whole lot more (and in some cases less than) a small builders steel fork of comparable ride quality.

Whatever you might think of it, carbon fiber 29″ers are coming. The future of 29″er hardtails may have a “3D”, iridescent black look to it, and it will be interesting to see where this goes.

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No Responses to “Is A Carbon Framed 29"er In Your Future?”

  1. Desert9r Says:

    My fav LBS is an Orbea dealer, though I have not personally seen an Alma, I have seen the Lanza, Oiz and a number of the road bikes, …..the Alma I would chose is double the $ of the superfly, and I would pay it.

    The only concern I have is that I am NOT smooth, ditch more often than I think CF could handle.

  2. Karbaun Says:

    Excellent news ! I was wondering why only GF and Orbea have been bold enough to release a carbon 29er. It’s always interesting to see that more companies are willing to develop more great 29er bikes. Can’t wait to see a FS carbon 29 🙂 (GF HiFi could be that bike).

  3. Sevo Says:

    Properly developed carbon fiber will surprise you. The cheapo high resin content carbon weave stuff is what you should worry about, but the unidirectional less glamorous pre-preg stuff is where it’s at and much better. I’d trust a quality carbon frame done right over any other material hands down.

  4. Fort James Says:

    Will Niner release a carbon fiber frameset? That is what I want to know!

  5. Oderus Says:

    After many years working in a shop, I can say that I like carbon fiber…….for a road bike. I understand the oooohs and aaaaahs and how light it is. I have yet to see a carbon mountain frame that can take a beating. I have seen a lot of high dollar carbon frames get ruined because of everyday crashes. Before you jump down my throat, understand my reasoning……I ride aluminum bikes (a Niner EMD and a Trek EX9), I ride steel as well (Zion 737). I can ride one of these any where I can ride a comparable carbon frame. Difference is, I can crash an aluminum frame and probably end up with a dent. I can replace that same frame for under $1000. I can crash the Zion in the same way and probably just tear up the paint and scratch the metal. I could replace that frame for under $300. Anyone that rides a mountain bike will crash a mountain bike. We all trash parts and frames. It’s part of the fun. I could never justify spending so much for something that can take the abuse of another frame at a fraction of it’s cost. Hell, I’ve seen a carbon 29er just this week that was destroyed in it’s original box. $3400 wrecked before it could even get built. I can’t even sell it as a scratch and dent. I think if you have the money and don’t mind replacing your frame after a serious crash, then carbon may be right up your alley. If you want durability, I would tell you to look elsewhere………Ti, Alum, Steel…..all time tested……and still going strong.

  6. efried Says:

    Why should we go to materials which are easy to burn but not recyclable?
    better to stick to better aluminium grades or titanium…

  7. jeremy Uk Says:

    Titanium may be recyclable but it’s anything but enviromentally friendly

  8. Gary Says:

    No. Thanks for asking.

  9. Dirt McGirt Says:

    I think the thing that people don’t realize is that in order to make a mtn frame out of carbon fiber, the manufacturer has to literally overbuild each tube to get it to hold up to the stresses that the trail can dish out. Therefor, the frames really aren’t that light comparatively speaking. I mean, sure, that shXt is dope as hell, but if you really want a frame that will break just as soon as look at you, then go buy a Cannondale.

    sick burn… nooch

  10. Jim Says:

    I think it’s a good idea to know what we are talking about before we talk.
    Uh, Kalfee fixes carbon fiber bikes in most cases your cf frame is not trashed. If an alum frame is bent enough out of alignment and you bend it back in, often it will break. I have broken several alum, ti and steel frames without warning. To get the weight down alum is often built lightly with larger diameter tubes. Sometimes almost beer can thin.
    If I were looking very low cost I would go alum first due to stiffness to weight. Steel with smaller diameter tubes may give a smoother, flexy ride at a weight penalty. Many oversized cromo mix tubes are now paper thin also.
    Nothing nearly has the vibration dampening to stiffness ratio as cf.

  11. Santana Says:

    Carbon fiber well have you forgotten the Trek STP. I have raced that frame set for years and put and estimated 20,000 miles or more and it is still in great shape even after a few very hard crashes. I also own an old Scott Adrenaline which is set up as a single speed and have ridden/raced that bike for about 10,000 miles.
    I recently built an Alma 29er and love it although a bit too stiff at times. Still well worth the cash.

    Fear of Carbon NO fear of cheap carbon maybe a little bit

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