Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Carbon is to a Cyclist as Cocaine is to a Rockstar

Why, oh why do I persist in coming back to you, carbon, after being let down again and again. To put it in a literary sense, Carbon is the Estella to my Pip, and we are doomed.

Let me list my carbon failures so far during the past 4 or 5 years.

Race Face carbon seatpost--cracked while riding

USE Alien seatpost--Cracked, possibly over torqued.

Ritchey carbon seat post--delaminated

Forte Carbon Crankset--developed a crack that went all the way around the driveside crankarm near the pedal-side

Pro Carbon saddle--Cracked during my last cross race, OUCH.

Easton Monkeylite Carbon Handlebar--delaminated, started bubbling near the center of the bar

Forte carbon drop bar--catastropic failure during the 2006 USGP in Portland. Came in last as a result

FSA K-Force Crankset (older ISIS style). Broke the aluminum spine within the carbon crankarm on the drive-side during the 2007 USGP in Portland.

Luckily just about all of these were warrantied. Nevertheless you would think I would learn to avoid the stuff. Certainly, I will never do another carbon seatpost for cyclocross or off road usage, and neither will I put any pure carbon saddles under my rear after this weekend. But there is currently a certain set of wheels that sort of does it for me. And I would be using them for cyclocross.

Here they are:

Easton EC90 Aero wheels. Sexy. Dead sexy. There are other wheels too, like the Zipps that float my boat.

Not that what I have is bad. Behold, my current wheels:

These are pretty sweet wheels for cross. They worked great and they inspired confidence during some of the sketchy stuff during Saturday's race. But....deep dish carbon wheel....yum.

Yet, writing this post has helped me back away from the edge of the abyss. I just can't do it. Sure they would cut through the sloppy mud during the later cross races. Sure, they are light and would also work really well for my triathlons after cyclocross season is up. But I would be worried about them. It would not be would they break in my mind, but when will they break. And how bad will it hurt if I crash because of it. I don't worry at all about the Mavics, nor would I with another wheel with an alloy rim. But dang it, once you have tasted carbon no matter how many times it has let you down there still is some allure. Thoughts like, "Maybe now they have all the bugs worked out so that they won't fail..." or "These carbon wheels aren't as light as others, maybe they will be stronger..."

You get the picture. From now on I will try to associate Nancy Reagan with carbon, at least for use in mountain biking and cyclocross (on the road I have no worries about carbon, it has held up fine). Just say no.

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