Carbon, will I ever understand you?
I almost made it two solid years without a frame made of one until accident only a cyclist could make: placing a low ball offer on eBay that actually won.
It wasn’t exactly the bike I wanted, but at that crazy price I couldn’t complain.
Riding on carbon makes me a tiny, bit nervous, but the more I rode this bike, the more I was loving it.
Now, I’ve done my best to break every part of a bike imaginable, so when I balanced my bike at the top of Verdugo Mountain, it was no surprise that it fell over onto some concrete blocks.
My bike moments before the calamity.
I’m a glass half full type of guy, but my spidersense told me to check the bike and sure enough my discovery of damage started.
On my fork I found a few scratches that didn’t look too bad, but definitely needed some touching up.
As my eyes moved up, things looked good until I gandered at the top tube.
There was a silver dollar sized scratch that didn’t look that deep, but was still unwelcoming, especially with a five mile descent ahead.
I kept searching around and when I went back to the original scratch, I found what looked like a little crack just off to the side.
Cavalcade of damage
Dang, now I have a dilemna.
The frame is a little big on me and I was weighing whether it was worth to get it fixed or to buy a whole frame completely.
In terms of carbon repair, I had a great experience with Predator when they were in Santa Monica, but even though they are now in the valley, I didn’t know when I’d be all the way out in Chatsworth again.
When I put out the call for recs, the name that came up pretty often was Hernan Montenegro or MMFG which fortunately is the same guy.
I knew he built carbon and even bamboo frames right by Chinatown, but never thought about repair.
Hernan getting down and dirty outside his shop.
Since I drive into work once a week, I knew I could make it by, so I emailed out some pics of my frame and heard back from him that night.
If the price was going to be too much, I probably would have just abandoned the frame and wait to save up, but at under $200 to fix it all, that was way less than I was expecting.
Going into his space, I felt like I was looking at those evil toys from Toy Story with a number of frames in disrepair.
Frames. Frames. Everywhere.
I felt pretty lucky mine had just a scratch next to the others and after looking at it in person, Hernan knew this would be an easy fix and that it would be stronger than before.
He told me it would be a couple weeks which was about the time I figured, but a couple days later I got an email saying it was good to go.
When I got my first look, I was pretty impressed by the work.
First, the touch up job on my fork was so clean, I had to look at both sides to remember where the damage was done.
I see nothing.
As for the more major part of the work, I could notice a tiny bulge from the extra carbon, but only when the light struck it at the right angle.
He also had to paint over some of the original graphics, but I’m not vain enough for that to matter.
Other than the missing “R” graphic, can you tell the difference?
When I gandered around his shop, he showed me a mountain bike that had a serious crack on the chainstay, but to Hernan it was no problem so I why would I not believe him?
With all the stuff he’s working on, probably the coolest thing is the bamboo frame he’s building for his girlfriend.
Who wouldn’t fall in love with this bamboo frame?
I’ve never held one of those and the idea of having an organic frame sounds unstructural, but geez this thing flipped me into thinking “why is everything else so flimsy”?
I was especially intrigued when he showed me a roll of carbon which I would describe more as a fabric.
Carbon thin like saran wrap, but opaque.
It was so silky smooth and comforting to the skin that….what? You make bikes out of this?
Shows what I know about science.
Unfortunately as I was trolling around, Hernan told me that he had just been given thirty days notice to move out as had everyone else in his building as a reaction to the Oakland Fire.
That’s a tough beat to have as a number of other shops in the warehouse will be looking for similar space at the same time.
Just a small slice of the equipment and tools needed for carbon work.
I told him I was doing this piece and for him to update me when he finds a new place because MMFG will move on.
I was so eager to get back on the bike that not only did I take the bike out the next day, but I forgot to put my helmet on from the excitement.
Recently repaired carbon and no protection for my dome should suggest extreme caution, but the bike was handling so well I blissfully ignored these minor factors of death.
I was looking for any type of excuse to ditch the frame and was hyper-senstive mistaking every sound of a rock or twig hitting my frame as a crack.
None of you are probably active in looking for carbon repair, but if the time ever comes, you know you will be in good hands.