Chinese Carbon Bike Frames

This post is a work in progress. If you have additional info or corrections, please leave a comment or use the contact form. If your favorite generic Chinese frame isn't included here, let me know the details and I'll add it. Maybe someday I'll get to the full suspension frames, but don't hold your breath (they don't really interest me that much)

There's now a community of people talking about Chinese carbon frames, this will also be a good source of information for anyone interested in these frames. You can see it here.


Updates:
Apr 12, 2014: added info on the IP-256SL frame

Jul 20, 2014: I actually bought a carbon frame! Of course, it was none of these. See here.

Sep 9, 2014: I actually bought one of these frames! See here.

Oct 5, 2014: And now it's for sale. 

Oct 25, 2014: And now it's sold.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

After my very recent good time on board the Trek Superfly 9.8, I find myself seriously thinking about a carbon frame instead of YASH (Yet Another Steel Hardtail).  Since the Superfly is SuperExpensive, and I'm cheap, I'm drawn to the Chinese carbon frames of the mighty mtbr.com thread. Problem is, with over 6,000 posts on that thread, it's hard to find any information without committing several days and several beers to read through it. Instead, I'm hoping to gather up some basic info on the major frames (major, in that they interest me) in one spot. And I'll try to include some basic background data, such as what the different weaves look like. Let's start there:



Weaves:
This came from here:
 


The descriptions here talk about weight and stiffness, but keep in mind the selection is just for the cosmetic topcoat. It shouldn't have any effect on the actual frame performance.

Bottom Bracket:
Most frames seem to be available in either BSA of BB30 type bottom brackets. This is an easy choice for me; bottom bracket technology peaked with the Shimano square taper, so I would choose British standard threading in a heartbeat. But, if you think you're so strong that you can flex a tiny steel beam with only a few inches of leverage, and you like to hear your bike creak, sure, go ahead and get the BB30.

On the other hand, if you want to run a single speed without using a cheap and effective tensioner, you can run a BEER EBB with a BB30 or PF0 bottom bracket option.

Headset:
From this post, I picked up:
-Headset is integrated tapered 1 1/8" top and 1 1/2" bottom. Top is "Campy standard", Cane Creek calls this IS42. Bottom is standard 1 1/2" integrated, Cane Creek calls this IS52. I did try the more standard IS41 top, but it did not fit as well.

That's regarding an FM-056.

Xmiplay will provide a 1-1/8" bottom headset adapter for an extra five bucks.

Rear End:
135mm QR is the normal style rear axle. Some new frames offer 142mm (through axle) rear ends,  offering a stiffness benefit (which would seem to be mostly applicable for a full sus frame, where the rear end has more movement going on). Some of the early adapters of 142 rear ends on the Chinese frames had issues with the how they were constructed--the screws holding the adapters only went through a thin layer of carbon--and issues with axle availability. I haven't heard much about this recently, so perhaps this has been resolved. Anyway, I would get 135mm if I get one of those, since that matches my wheels.

Cable Routing:
This is the best description I've read of how to use the typical internal cable routing on these frames:

The plastic tube(s) that come in the frame are a tool, not a part of the bike. Feed the bare cable through the tube, pull the tube over the cable to remove it, then back-feed the housing over the cable to push through the frame. Full-length housings work here. To change cables, pull out the housing, push the tube over the cable, and pull out the cable to return to step one.

 

THE FRAMES

IP-256SL
Source: here
Price: $565 + $80 s/h + $15 headset + $18 rear thru axle + 4% paypal fees = $705
Wheel: 29"
Sizes:15.5"/17.5"/19"/21"
Claimed weight: 890g
Seatpost: 31.6mm
Headset: 1.125"/1.5"
Bottom bracket: BSA or BB30
Rear end: 135 QR or 142
Cable routing: internal



This is Xiamen's newest frame, the super light IP-256SL. 890g! My Fargo fork weighs more than this frame. They are also said to have increased the rear tire clearance over the -056/057 series below, but I don't have the detail drawing to be able to see it.


FR-211 (also LTK-023, also IP-033)
Source: ebay
Price: $290 + $70 s/h, or $355 s/h from Xmiplay.com
Wheel: 29"
Sizes: 16"/18"/20"
Claimed weight: 1300g
Seatpost: 31.6mm
Headset: 1.125"/1.5"
Bottom bracket: BSA or BB30
Rear end: 135QR
Cable routing: internal



Here's the geometry of the IP-033, looks the same as above but shows more detail:






This is a very common frame, mostly because it seems to have been around a while, is cheap, and is available on ebay.


BM-01
Source: here
Price:$300 + $120 s/h
Wheel: 29"
Sizes: 16.5"/18.5"/20"/22"
Claimed weight: 1120g
Seatpost: 31.6mm
Headset: 1.125"/1.5"
Bottom bracket: BB92 (only)
Rear end: 135mm
Cable routing: internal




Not much info on this frame out there. It looks like a more modern take on the traditional XC geo, with trendy shorter chainstays and a lower bottom bracket. I was pretty excited about this guy, until I saw it came in BB92.  I checked, no BSA.


IP-106
Source: here
Price: $400 + $80 s/h + $15 headset + 4% paypal fees = $515
Wheel: 29"
Sizes: 16"/18"/20"
Claimed weight: 1260g
Seatpost: 31.6mm
Headset: 1.125"/1.5"
Bottom bracket: BSA or BB30
Rear end: 135 QR or 142
Cable routing: internal (derailer), external (brakes) (9/14 update: mine had both internal)






This is my leading candidate, even though it's about $100 more than the FR-211. I like the shorter stays, and some people have commented favorably on its ride quality. I also like the external cable routing--I wrench on my bikes too much to screw around with infernal cable routing. Also, I appreciate they sent me a real drawing, instead of some cheesy pictogram. Finally, they responded to my emails quickly and with decent English.


IP-057 (also HF-FM057)
Source: here
Price: $400 + $80 s/h + $15 headset + 4% paypal fees = $515
Wheel: 29"
Sizes:15.5"/17.5"/19"/21"
Claimed weight: TBDg
Seatpost: 31.6mm
Headset: 1.125"/1.5"
Bottom bracket: BSA or BB30
Rear end: 135 QR or 142
Cable routing: internal








The I-057 looks pretty similar to the IP-106. However, it's available in a larger size, and seems to have a bit less bottom bracket drop and a slightly slacker head angle. It's also full internal cable routing.


IP-056 (also HF-FM056)
Source: here
Price: TBD
Wheel: 29"
Sizes:15.5"/17.5"/19"/21"
Claimed weight: 1230g
Seatpost: 31.6mm
Headset: 1.125"/1.5"
Bottom bracket: BSA or BB30
Rear end: 135 QR only
Cable routing:external and internal



Xmiplay tells me the IP-056 geo is the same as the IP-057 above. The only difference is the swappable axles on the -057.


IP-029

Source: here
Price: $385 (plus s/h, etc)
Wheel: 29"
Sizes: 17"/19"/21"
Claimed weight: 1170g
Seatpost: 31.6mm
Headset: 1.125"/1.5"
Bottom bracket: BSA or BB30
Rear end: 135 QR only
Cable routing:external and internal






I haven't heard much about this one. Looking at the geo, it seems a bit odd: shorter top tube, shorter head tube, looks like it's designed for an 80mm fork... maybe an older frame design.


Carbonality

I'm not going to include much detail here. Their website is actually useful... it includes prices and geo, and the usual (for a US marketing site, unusual for a Chinese site) drop down choices to help you order stuff. I'm looking at their Orion 29er, but it looks suspiciously like the IP-056 above... although  now that I look over the geo chart, it's not quite the same (shorter top tube on the 21" size)






THE FORKS

I wasn't originally thinking about a carbon fork, but my latest thought is, why not go whole hog? If I trust myself with a Chinese frame, I can trust my dental work with a carbon fork.  I asked Xmiplay about their normal QR forks. They have two for 29ers:

Model: FK-029
Price: TBD
Length: 486mm
Offset: 38mm


Model: FK-023
Price: TBD
Length: 480mm
Offset: 40mm

The FK-023 doesn't have nearly the tire clearance of the -029. I have an idea in the back of my head to run a 3" Surly Knard on this fork, which looks like it would clear on the -029 but not on the -023.

Comments

  1. Very nice and super helpful! Thank you for doing this!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Well written and informative blog. Not sure if you knew there was a forum for Chinese carbon bikes: http://chinertown.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the feedback. Yep, I've poked my head over to Chinertown a few times. Seems like a good place for information that is more sorted than the massive thread on mtbr.com.

      Delete
  3. Grateful for doing this,but it seems another site also supplying the model like IP-256SL: http://www.fastopbike.com/bicycle-frames-forks/mtb-frame/movelite-29er-mtb-hardtail-super-light-frame.html

    ReplyDelete

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