Carbon Fibre Construction
Why are Azione frames not made from woven carbon fibre?
At Azione, strength and durability of our frames are a priority. That’s why we now use unidirectional carbon fibre (UDF) to build all of our frames.
Unidirectional carbon fibre is the perfect tool to build a bike frame because it is twice as strong and twice as stiff as woven carbon fibre. This is because the weave of woven fabric crimps the fibres and they are constantly bent in an “S” shape to go over and under each other. When force is applied to a woven fabric, the fibres bend and try to straighten out which reduces strength and stiffness.
UD fibre lays flat and there is no flex when force is applied. The result of flat, straight, UD fibre is a stronger, stiffer bike. Also, because UD fibre is twice as stiff and twice as strong, you only need half the amount of material therefore the frames are lighter too.
The layup of these fibre panels are not however absolutely linear - in a bicycle frame forces are applied in many directions and combined strength is critical. The fibres are therefore layered across the principle fibre direction - giving the benefits that woven carbon offers, but in a far stronger configuration. This is our Linear Asynchronous Fibre Technology (LAF Technology).
Caring for your Azione carbon fibre bike
Some simple steps can ensure that your carbon bicycle becomes an heirloom. One of the easiest is parking it safely. Never lean it in such a way that it can roll and fall on its side or slam into anything. For example, don't rest the seat or frame against a pole and think it's safe (no matter how gently you placed it there), because the bike might move letting the frame crash against the pole, which could easily damage it. Or, the handlebars might swing around all the way and smack into the top tube. To prevent these risks lay the bike down in a safe place when you park it or at least ensure that it's resting on a level surface and leaning against a wall.
Also, some companies recommend avoiding exposing your bicycle and components to high temperatures such as leaving them inside a parked car in the sun or storing them next to heat sources or radiators. Similarly, if you live bythe sea where there's lots of salt in the air, or if you're a person who sweats excessively, you should take extra care to clean and rinse the salt off your bicycle and components to protect them from any possible corrosion of the metal parts.
Cleaning and Washing
It's fine to wash carbon bicycles and components like you would any other using warm soapy water and a hose. Yet, as with any bike, it's never a good idea to aim the water directly at bearings (headsets, cranks, etc) because that can wash the grease out. For especially greasy components any bike-safe degreaser, will work fine and won't effect the carbon in any way. After cleaning, rinsing and drying, we recommend adding a little protection with a bike polish or spray wax (Pledge furniture polish works nicely and you simply spray it on and wipe it off).
The mechanical clamping action of repair stands concentrates powerful loads in a small area so you should always clamp your carbon bicycle safely. Never clamp the frame. Instead, if you have a round aluminum seatpost, clamp that. If your seatpost is carbon, the safest thing to do is to purchase an inexpensive aluminium seatpost that's the same diameter as your post and then use it for clamping when you work on your bike.
You can hold the bike by the carbon post if it's round and you clamp it gently, but you may scratch it unless you're very careful and the jaws of the repair stand clamp are safe (keep them clean of dirt and wrap a piece of wax paper around the seatpost to help prevent scratches).
Working On Your Bike
Over torquing is probably the biggest cause of cracks occurring in carbon products. And, it's much harder to determine the torque on a bolt by feel with carbon than it is with aluminum. The best way to avoid problems and do the job correctly is by getting a torque wrench and always using it and our torque chart when working on your bike.
Another important step is to check parts during installation and assembly to ensure that there are no burs, rough spots, dirt or metal shards that could cut into and harm the carbon when the components are assembled and tightened. The surfaces must be smooth or you should smooth them with fine sandpaper or by cleaning.
You also need to work differently than you may be used to. For example, you may have got in the habit of putting a part on and then twisting it to see if it's tight and then tightening the bolt a little more if the part needs it. But, this is a recipe for disaster with carbon because by twisting/turning the part, you can cut into the carbon damaging it! With carbon you want to align parts once and then tighten completely. Or, if you need to fine-tune an adjustment, you should loosen fully, reset the part and tighten fully.
Another metal-bicycle technique that won't work on carbon is trying to change the frame spacing. It's set to accept modern wheels perfectly. Never try to stretch or compress your frame more than 2mm or you may damage the frame or dropouts (it's impossible to bend carbon frames). Also, it may seem obvious but you should never drill holes in your frame for any reason, no matter how logical it may seem at the time.
Car racks that clamp to the frame tubes should not be used because of the enormous loads concentrated in a small area. Likewise, when using racks that clamp the fork, never pull sideways (and be careful not to lose your balance, which can cause this) when removing the bike because this can break the dropouts (fork tips).
Always fully loosen the fork mount and then lift until the fork is clear of the mount before removing the bike. And with tall-section carbon wheels, you may need to use a different, longer strap. Use caution to protect the rim with pipe insulation or something that keeps the strap from compressing or chafing the rim as it gets jostled when you're driving.
Touching up the Paint
Stone chips and scratches aren't usually anything to worry about in terms of strength and longevity. Our carbon bicycles feature clear-coat finishes, which are easy to touch up. All you need is a little clear nail polish or model paint and you can cover the spot to seal it and restore the finish.
Another possible risk is throwing the chain during shifting, either onto the bottom bracket or off the large chainring. This won't damage anything as long as you stop pedalling right away, though we would recommend letting us check the shifting since a properly adjusted bicycle shouldn't toss the chain. Should the chain nick or chip the finish, simply clean the area and touch it up to protect it. Tip: to protect the bottom bracket area from dropped chains, you can put a strip of electrical tape on it, or buy one of our chain catchers.
Should your bike need repainting at some point, it must be done correctly and carefully. We recommend using a professional bicycle painter who understands carbon frames, such as If you need to get damaged paint repaired, we recommend our partner Shelby Art. Caution must be used because any paint stripper that will remove polyurethane/urethane paint will also damage the epoxy resin matrix holding your carbon together. So do not use paint stripper. Also, you must not sandblast, bead-blast or blast with any other media to remove the paint because that can remove structural material ruining the frameset.
If you do decide to repaint, the correct approach is careful hand sanding to remove the decals and scuff the topcoat to receive the new finish. Finally, do not bake a carbon frame at over 65 degrees Centigrade (baking is often used in painting metal frames) as that will damage it, too.
Crash and Wear-and-Tear Inspections
If you crash or abuse your bike, look for signs of damage, and have it checked out. Remember that damage may not be visible to the untrained eye. Do not ride until you're sure the bike/component is safe. Even if you never crash, you should frequently inspect your carbon bicycle and components for any gouges, deep scratches, cracks, loose fibres or other surface cracks and stop riding until you fix the problem.
Tips: When cleaning, if your rag snags on something, it could be a sign of damage. Also carefully listen for uncommon sounds when riding, such as creaking or cracking or popping, which could mean there's a problem. And, if you suddenly find that your bike isn't shifting or braking properly, or it's not handling the same, stop and check the bike carefully.
Remember, we're always happy to help. Also, while you may have heard that carbon can't be repaired, it actually can in many cases. For any advice or service on carbon frames, we recommend contacting our partners FibreLyte.
Which tyres should I use?
Tyre choice depends highly on user preference and conditions. To summarise, a 21mm has superior aerodynamics; a 23mm is larger and subsequently has better ride quality and rim protection, but at a slight aero penalty. Here are some questions you can ask that will help guide your decision:
- Triathlon/Time trial? In general – 21mm.
- Road racing? In general – 23mm (with the development of wider rims for road racing there is a drive toward bigger tyres too, with 25mm tyres being more commonplace)
- Training and/or daily riding? 23mm+
- Dry? 21mm at normal recommended pressure.
- Wet? 23mm at a slightly lower pressure.
- Smooth roads? 21mm at normal recommended pressure.
- Rough roads? 23mm at a slightly lower pressure.
- User prefers slight aero benefit of 21's at the expense of a little ride comfort, rim protection, and rolling resistance? Use 21mm.
- User prefers slightly better ride comfort, rim protection, and rolling resistance of 23's at the expense of a little aero? Use 23mm.
- Rider weighs less? 21mm.
- Rider weighs more? 23mm.
How to Fit Tyres on Clincher Rims
Mount one tire bead onto the rim using your hands. If tire bead will not seat by hand, carefully use a plastic tire lever to seat the tyre bead.
Note: Check your tyres for directional arrows printed on the sidewalls to indicate rotation of wheel. not all tires have directional arrows. Install the tyre with the manufacturer’s logo near the rim valve hole. This will allow you to quickly find the cause of a puncture.
Inflate the tube enough to just hold its shape. Install the tube valve into rim valve hole and align the valve so it is perpendicular to the rim. Install the rest of the tube between the tire and the rim making sure the tube does not get twisted or bunched.
Install second bead onto the rim using your hands. If tire bead will not seat by hand, carefully use a plastic tire lever to finish mounting the tire. Be careful to avoid pinching the inner tube against the rim.
Inflate the tyre to low pressure. Inspect both sides of the rim for proper tire seating and for any sign of the inner tube sticking out. Re-install if necessary. Inflate the tyre to full pressure. There should be no hops or side-to-side movement in the tire when it is rotating.
How should I maintain my carbon wheels?
Carbon Wheels - Use and Care
Maintaining carbon rims properly will ensure they live up to the light, strong and long-lasting credentials that carbon rims are known for. One way to maintain carbon wheels is by cleaning them regularly. Full carbon wheels require slightly more care than aluminium wheels, but it is neither hard nor time consuming.
Your carbon wheels are subjected to the usual debris that accumulates from training and racing, whether it’s from braking, the road surface or weather conditions. So “keep it clean!” is the best advice we can give.
Over time carbon rims will accumulate a small amount of brake pad material and if you decide not to use our recommended carbon brake pads specifically designed for our rims you’ll find that they will ‘glaze up’. Glazing happens when, under hard braking, the pad and rim heat up enough that pad material literally melts onto the rim. The surface of the pad will become hard and the rim will have a film on it. We have found that many brake pads made by well known brands have issues with glazing on the rim. This glazing will affect the performance and longevity of your rims. Grease and road debris will also build up over time.
Azione carbon wheels are engineered using the highest grade carbon materials and the braking surface has been developed with High-Temp Resins and a number of carbon layers to help reduce heat and extend the life of your wheels.
Caring for brake pads
Just as important, if not more so, for keeping the rims clean is having clean and serviced brake pads. Brake pads can collect debris during racing and training rides as they heat up, so it’s important they are regularly checked and cleaned. Pads can also glaze up a little bit, some more so than others. Using the Isopropyl Alcohol and cloth, wipe and clean the brake pad, removing dust and debris. Using fine grade sandpaper, sand the area of the pad that makes contact with the rim. This will remove any glazing and embedded debris from the pad. Around 5-10 strokes of the sandpaper is sufficient.
Alignment of pads is also vital. Pads should be in full parallel contact with the braking surface, and shold not be close to the edge of the rim. Because they do not quickly redistribute heat over a large surface area like aluminium rims do, carbon rims can develop concentrated hot spots under prolonged, heavy braking. In extreme cases, this can compromise the integrity of the composite, clincher or tubular. Once weakened, spoke tension and other forces can pull the rim apart, causing a wheel failure and potential injury. Please follow this advice and use our recommended brake pads because this is very important for performance as well as durability and warranty issues.
Using Brakes Safely
As general advice, riding road bikes fast can be dangerous - especially going downhill. We at Azione have enjoyed tearing down hills without thought to consequence. We have also crashed (tell you about it someday) and witnessed deaths on sportives in Italy (fact). Here are some thoughts therefore about use of the technology that keeps us safe going downhill.
NEVER DRAG YOUR BRAKES ON A HILL. It literally makes your brakes much weaker at the moment when you need them the most. Folks think about disc brakes being susceptible to brake fade, but even rim brakes are likely to suffer performance loss in that scenario, and as we sell bikes using carbon wheels, which by nature of the fact that carbon is a poor heat sink, the issues of brake fade here is especially relevant. Carbon rims can even delaminate when excessively hot (this is true of all manufacturers products. We just think its fair to inform you). Ignore this and you run the risk of serious injury or death.
The proper road braking technique for slowing or stopping over long distances, without exception, is to pump them in short bursts. Grip firmly then release briefly, repeat. Also, know your equipment very well and don’t make unfortunate discoveries about its limitations on ride day. Test it out in areas where you face little risk from unnecessary hazards – do seemingly tedious things like accelerate to 25mph and test your bike's full-stop abilities. And in everyday usage, use your testing knowledge and don’t take risks that your equipment cannot handle. If you notice that your brakes are a bit weak and it’s difficult to come to a stop at 35mph on a downhill, then don’t ride at 35mph downhill… begin feathering your brakes at 25mph and don’t exceed that velocity by much. Be proactive in keeping speed manageable, before it’s out of your hands. If in any doubt, get your bike checked out.
It’s basic physics: momentum is the square of velocity, which means that extra 10mph in velocity means a LOT of extra momentum – more than double. The extra speed counts more than you think. You can quite suddenly be in an unsafe situation if you exceed the operating limits of your brakes. Take care out there. You have been warned!
Technical Recommendations for Wheels
Riding a bike with an improperly installed wheel can allow the wheel to move or disengage from the bicycle, causing damage to the bicycle, and/or serious injury and/or death to the rider. Your wheels must be properly mounted to the bicycle frame. misalignment can result in problems with shifting and bike handling. It is essential that you:
- Ensure that your axle, dropouts, and quick release mechanisms are clean and free of dirt or debris.
- Ask us or a reputable bike shop to help you understand how to properly secure your wheels using the quick release mechanism.
- Apply the correct techniques when installing your wheels. make sure four or more threads are engaged in the quick release adjusting nut when it is closed.
- Never ride your bicycle unless you are sure your wheels are installed properly, and are secure.
- Do not exceed 125 psi (8.6 Bar) when inflating tires on clincher rims.
- Do not exceed the tyre manufacturer’s maximum pressure rating when inflating tires on tubular rims.
- You must use the proper brake pads for your specific rims. Use of improper or contaminated brake pads will lead to excessively high braking temperatures which can cause premature rim wear and/or failure which can lead to serious injury and/or death.
- use only the pads included with your wheels or approved pads. For a list of approved pads, refer to LINK. Do not use any other pads. Non-approved pads may generate heat that can lead to rim failure causing serious injury and/or death.
- Do not re-use any brake pads on carbon rims that have been previously used on aluminium rims as abrasive material may be embedded in the pad.
With aluminium rims, check the rim wear indicator(s) located on each side of the rim before every ride. If any wear indicator is completely worn or missing, immediately discontinue use of the wheel. The wear indicator represents the minimum rim thickness allowable for safe operation of the wheel. riding the wheel with less than the minimum allowable rim thickness can lead to structural failure of the rim and/ or wheel.
Do not attempt to use any tubeless products (excluding tubular tires) with clincher or tubular wheels.