Santa Cruz Bike Torture Testing…

26 02 2012

Photo: Pink Bike - click on image to jump to original page...

Click on the image above to read a cool Pink Bike article about testing AL & carbon Santa Cruz Nomad frames to failure. I think it’s neat to see some of the tests they run. However, I would caution that these tests don’t tell the whole story. What they say is that carbon can be very strong in the face of some specific forces. What they don’t tell you is how happy you’ll be with your carbon MTB frame 3yrs into your expensive relationship.

For example what happens when you crash 4 or 10 times onto some sharp rocks cracking the surface of your carbon frame and then you ride it hard for another year? Will the crash impact combine with the repeated stress cycles to cause a frame failure?

We have a pretty good handle on how steel or AL MTB frames respond to typical use and abuse. I don’t feel the same level of confidence with carbon. That’s not to say you’ll never see me on a carbon bike, but it does mean I’ll be hesitant to throw down the big $$$ to run my own torture tests!

Don’t take this to mean I am anti-carbon. To me it’s just another potential frame material that deserves due consideration.

What would really be interesting is if Santa Cruz would release their warranty/crash replacement stats for the AL and carbon Nomads. That would clearly demonstrate how each frame material performs in the real world.



3 responses

26 02 2012
Greg Weber (@onespeedgreg)

A few of my friends have had issues with carbon here in the mid-atlantic , in regards to rock impacts. Its very rocky here, and falling in rock gardens presents a real problem. Oddly enough its the slow speed falls while still clipped in that do the most damage.

Something to think of is the waranty factor. Most of the companies I have dealt with (and this experience is from working in a shop) balk at a frame waranty if it smells of rock impact. Or any impact for that matter. Depending on where you live, carbon may, or may not, be your best bet.

I know the bike I ride now is vastly different than the bike I rode in AZ when i lived there..I think its important to look where you do most of your riding and base a purchase on that.Not just for frame material, but geometry , bb height etc. If you are new hopefully you have a shop that pushes you in the right direction, although I have found that always isnt the case.

For what ever its worth, In my years of wrenching, the only Santa Cruz failure i have seen is one driven into the garage while on top of a SUV..(that happens more than you think…..)

26 02 2012

@Greg – you have some great points. Any damage that’s caused by a crash isn’t covered by a warranty. Some companies like SC have decent crash coverage policies, but they aren’t free – just a discount on damage parts.

27 02 2012
Greg Weber (@onespeedgreg)

Oddly, some of the smaller companies are better…Some of the big ones , that make good money are pretty horrible. I will let them remain nameless. I have had two Morewoods.. They offer great service., along with some nice riding bikes.. Just though i would throw that out there.

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