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Last weekend, a friend told me about a local bicycle shop(Metro Cycles) selling a Carbon Cycle of Hamilton brand. This brand is sort of known in India but only for cheap bicycles. Later I figured out that Hamilton Bicycles is an in-house brand of Metro Cycles.

So, I went to have a look at the bicycle out of curiosity. It sure is a carbon frame, but I couldn't get more information about it as the dealer as well as the website are sparse on details. I have been wondering how come they came up with one-off carbon model and who designed it and where.

Some pictures of the bicycle: Hamilton Karrbon Bike Hamilton Karbbon Frame Chipped Hamilton Karrbon Drivetrain 1 Hamilton Karrbon Drivetrain 2

This is the product page on their website: http://hamiltoncycles.in/Product.aspx?pId=10270

My notes on the first look at the bike:

  • Carbon Quality Unknown.
  • Endurance Geometry.
  • Shimano groupset: nondescript, 8 speed.
  • Saddle torn.
  • Handlebar bad. The grip is torn.
  • Brakes seem to be really bad. The rear brake has horrible stopping power.
  • JHT wheels?
  • Size not specified
  • Carbon chipped.
  • Horribly maintained

And they quoted ₹95000/-(~$1350) for this stupid thing. Surely, I can get a Carbon bike with Tiagra groupset for a little more.

Surely never buying this bike nor even recommending it to anybody but it has me wondering how to judge the frame quality. I have always relied on online reviews for known brands but when it comes to brands like these, I have no idea where to start. I faced a similar lack of information when I was looking for Java bikes, and thus let it go.

  • What do you mean by "frame quality"? It may include a lot of things like fabric weave, modulus, layup and assembly procedures, how many cavities are there and so on which is impossible to judge without specialized knowledge and tools. – Klaster_1 Dec 7 '18 at 9:28
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    Not sure what prices are in your location (India?), but $1350 for a used 8-speed would be horribly overpriced for me. $1350 can easily get me a new 11-speed 105-equipped carbon-fiber bike. – Andrew Henle Dec 7 '18 at 18:25
  • Stand next to the bike. One hand on the saddle and one on the handlebar. Put your foot in the center of the crank, so you are pushing on the bottom bracket. Push with your food and flex the bike. Look for cracks and listen for clicks. Do this from both sides. I mean, it’s a thing. It might not be really reliable, but do it enough and you’ll develop a feel. – jqning Dec 9 '18 at 5:32
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I agree with Argenti. Making carbon frames and parts is a very labor-intensive process, and is prone to imperfections due to process-control problems, etc. It's not easy to be an informed customer when the bike wasn't made by the company that put their name on it, and when the potential flaws are hidden from view.

There's an informative Youtube channel (Luescher Teknik) run by a guy who cuts up crashed carbon bikes and analyzes their construction. Even top-tier brands can have imperfections hidden from view.

Relatedly, there are some Chinese carbon bike labels that have Youtube channels where they demonstrate their frames undergoing failure testing: they clearly understand that potential buyers are concerned that they're cutting corners, and they want to "show their work."

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There are manufacturers in Taiwan and China that make bicycles for the major brands known around the world, including ons with carbon frames. It's not inconceivable that a brand known for cheap bikes could contract with one of them to make a carbon bike.

The only measurement you could easily make to judge this frame is weighing it. The highest quality CFC frames use a very careful and precise layup procedure which allows minimization of the amount of material used to get the required strength. The workers who carry this out have to be more highly skilled and take more time. Obviously this increases the cost considerably. Lower quality frames use more material as a margin of error against layup imprecision in a faster and cheaper process.

You or an experienced rider could ride the thing and get an idea of how it feels in terms of stiffness, compliance, acceleration etc., but it's subjective and influenced by the drivetrain and wheels

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