Carbon fibre bicycle components require more care and concern than aluminium and steel parts. Use caution when adjusting seat posts within a carbon fibre frame or tightening the clamp holding a carbon fibre seat post. Bicycle mechanic and online bicycle information resource Jim Langley suggests knowing the proper torque for individual components; unfortunately, most companies utilise different thicknesses of carbon and a variety of bolt sizes and clamp designs for the frame to seat post juncture of a bicycle. No index of various carbon torque specifications exists as the bicycle industry lacks torque standardisation amongst carbon components.
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Carbon to Carbon
Carbon fibre frames paired with carbon fibre seat posts may use several frame design choices, which alter the torque specifications required. For example, according to online Trek bicycle company documents, a carbon Trek bicycle utilising a carbon fibre seat post clamp only withstands torque from 65 to 80 inch-pounds while a similarly designed aluminium clamp on a carbon bicycle requires 85 to 125 inch-pounds for safe adjustment. The more carbon components involved in the juncture, the fewer inch-pounds of torque the material withstands. Contact the frame manufacturer to ensure proper torque specifications. Too loose and the seat post constantly slides into the frame. Too tight and the frame, seat binder clamp or seat post will crack and need immediately replacement.
Carbon to Carbon-wrapped Aluminum
Many companies utilise carbon skins wrapped around aluminium cores for bicycle seat posts. These posts often require slightly more care than aluminium posts yet nowhere near the care needed for carbon posts. In cases of carbon frames, exercise care and ensure frame torque specs. Replacement carbon fibre frames typically cost thousands of dollars yet often break long before less expensive seat posts when over-tightened. Carbon-wrapped aluminium requires care with the finish similar to full carbon components. Carbon, essentially graphite in plastic form, breaks down when exposed to air. This can cause delaminating or breaking in carbon components. Cover all scratches with protective clear coat paint to slow or halt such deterioration.
Carbon to Alloy
Whether inserting a carbon seat-post in a steel or aluminium alloy frame or using an alloy post with a carbon frame, it is important to follow manufacturer torque guidelines for all carbon components to ensure no cracking or breaking occurs. Many cyclists complain of carbon components slipping even when using proper torque, especially in carbon to alloy junctures. Do not over-tighten in such instances. Several companies manufacture carbon component "grease" containing small rough particles similar to sand suspended in a gelatinous mixture not harmful to carbon components. Carbon grease provides a film of abrasive material and prevents the slippage of carbon components.
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