John in Canada owns frames made of all the different materials; steel, aluminum, and steel, but never carbon. He wants our thoughts on where he can read up on carbon frames and he also wants to know if painted carbon frames should be avoided?
Carbon frames… I have titanium, aluminum and a steel bike. Where’s the best reader reviews for deciding on buying a carbon frame. For example, I am told painting of carbon frames could hide flaws and imperfections so one should not buy painted frames. True or not?
There are many reader reviews of all the different frame materials and manufacturers, have you tried Google or another search engine? The problem for you will be that you will read as many “FOR” as “AGAINST” having a carbon frame. This is the same for just about everything you read on all subjects.
We have ridden all the different frame materials and of all of them, we prefer (at the moment) carbon for strength, lightness, and performance. There are good and bad frames made in all materials, it all depends on the measurements and angles, if you buy a well known and trusted brand of the frame it should be correctly built to handle all road situations that you might throw at it.
Carbon has many of the qualities that the other materials have, it can have the comfort of steel and titanium, the stiffness of alloy and its lightness is difficult to beat by anyone of them. You do need to be careful not to damage the frame because if a tube is damaged it could unravel the weave of the carbon and unlike steel, it is not easy to repair. A replaceable rear gear hanger is a must because then if it gets bent its just a case of bolting on a new one is damaged if you can’t well you have to find a good carbon repairer and there’s not many of them around.
As to your question on the paint covering up things the manufacturer doesn’t want you to see, well this used to be the case with steel tube frames that have been badly welded and alloy frames that have not been finished off properly at the joints. If the tubes are well made and have been joined properly then there shouldn’t be any problems and just like the frame geometry if you buy a well-known frame it will be good if it is painted or not!