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Unfortunately I managed to smack a metal flashlight with quite sharp edges and a bit of movement force against my carbon fork when I wanted to check something on the bike. Although the damage is really minor and I know there are tons of questions like this I'm still concerned because of the spot being directly on the fork. I managed to make a picture with a pocket microscope and it looks like only the paint is somehow broken/cracked I suppose because of the opposite indentation where the flashlight edge hit the fork (visible as a straight line in the images below).

I'm a little concerned because I read that especially sharp hits or drops on edges can result in internal damage with the potential to cause delamination. Should I do anything about this or have my LBS look at it? Honestly without magnification I almost couldn't photograph it but the mark can be felt with a fingernail easily and I'm a little paranoid with a fork failure.

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  • That's a really well-documented question, thank you.,
    – Criggie
    Apr 16, 2023 at 21:47

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It is superficial, cosmetic paint damage. If that concerns you, you should replace the fork with a aluminum or titanium one. Reason for saying this is you need confidence in you bicycle to enjoy riding it, and you clearly have little confidence in carbon componentry, ergo, you will never enjoy riding your bike.

From an legal perspective - if a microscope mark on a carbon bicycle component could lead to failure, how many bicycle manufacturers would have been sued out of existence? How many have been?

From an engineering perspective, all carbon components are built to withstand 'typical' use. A carbon consumer product such as a bicycle is built very differently to parts in an F1 race car (where they design to the limits) and an aircraft - where failure is unacceptable, but high levels of defect monitoring and maintenance occur. Even bicycles built for pro racers are very different to bicycles sold to consumers in terms of robustness.

The fork of a bicycle is a major safety critical component, and bikes are designed by the manufacturers to withstand more abusive consumer use than a typical rider would subject a bike to. Accidentally banging a fork with a metal object fits squarely in the 'expected to happen' category for design specification.

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  • Thanks for your reply. I expected this could leave the impression I'm not enjoying the bike and am just nitpicking. I know that a minor scratch or paint chip probably isn't a problem. In this case the direct impact of the flashlight was just a little concerning because it didn't scrape the surface but instead more like crushed/dented the surface. Just wanted to ask for some other opinions here.
    – conste
    Apr 16, 2023 at 21:55
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    "Even Bicycles built for pro racers are very different to bicycles sold to consumers in terms of robustness." Source? Most pros race the same frame as it is sold to consumers. There are exceptions, but very vew.
    – airace3
    Apr 17, 2023 at 7:40
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    UCI even has rules that a bicycle used in a competition must be available for purchase from the manufacturer. Of course, that still leaves the possibility that it is a very special bike like the Team GB Olympic track bike, but for road racing it is typically the bike people do indeed buy. It is a great advertisement for the manufacturer. Apr 17, 2023 at 9:12
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    @airace3 I believe the pros get frames which are cherry picked from the consumer lineup, but are otherwise identical.
    – MaplePanda
    Apr 17, 2023 at 9:15

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