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Carbon repair: Options for repairing carbon bike frames

Here’s a little secret: that beautiful carbon frame is easily repaired, provided it is administered to by the right hands

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Want to see grown men cry? Waltz over to your local weeknight crit and wait for the inevitable: the mass pileup. It’s pretty likely that someone in that tangle of bikes and limbs just broke their pretty carbon frame, and their despondence upon this realization will know no bounds. Don’t forget the tissues.

But here’s a little secret: that beautiful carbon frame is easily repaired, provided the cure is administered by the right hands. In fact, repairing carbon is easier and more effective than any of its metallic brethren. The repair itself will be stronger than the surrounding frame, adds just a tiny bit of weight (we’re talking the equivalent of a decent sized loogie here), and, if you’re willing to pay for it, can be made almost invisible.

Forget $1,000-plus crash replacement policies: get your baby fixed.

The following pages detail the offerings of seven different carbon frame repair companies. Five are here in the U.S., plus one for our readers in the U.K. and one in Australia. To help you compare, we sent the same photo — a top tube cracked by spinning handlebars — to each repair shop and asked for a quote. We asked for only what they consider the bare minimum: fix the bike so we can ride it again. Add-ons like paint and decal matching will all set you back a bit more. More damage is going to add to the price as well, of course.

The only way to get a truly accurate quote is to get the damaged frame in the hands of one of these professionals, though. So keep in mind that the prices listed here are nothing but approximations.

How it’s done

Precise techniques will vary slightly, but the major steps are all the same: inspect for damage, sand or cut away the damaged area, lay down new layers (attempting to closely match the existing fiber orientation), compress the new layers until they set, sand the area again to match the shape of the original frame, and finally apply clearcoat or paint. Testing has shown that repaired tubes are at least as strong as they were originally, and are often even stronger.

A quick note on your warranty: chances are, getting your frame fixed by any of these companies will void your manufacturer’s warranty (though Calfee is an official repair shop for a few companies). Before all else, it’s always a good idea to find out what your local shop and frame manufacturer can do for you.

Calfee Design

Calfee is the gold standard in carbon repair, with by far the longest palmares — over 5,500 frames have been through their repair shop. They’ve been at it since 2003, and have built carbon frames since 1987. All Calfee repairs come with a ten-year warranty.

The company has a network of 50 shops across the country that take care of the shipping process for you, or you can just send your bare frame straight in.

Response to the frame:
Calfee never responded to two separate attempts to get a quote, but their pricing system is relatively straightforward. Pricing is split into four categories based on the extent of the damage. $100 covers nicks, gouges, or small worn areas. Smaller cracks (1/3 of tube diameter or smaller) are $200. Medium cracks (fractures greater than 1/3 of the tube diameter) are $300. $400 will fix major damage (missing carbon, damage greater than 6 inches along the tube. The frame would likely fall into the $300 range.

Paint is extra, of course — starting at $75 for the highly recommended clear coat (which protects the new carbon from UV rays that can break down the resin), all the way up to hundreds for new decals and perfect paint matching treatment. They’ll also do internal Di2 retrofits for $500.

The guys behind have more than 20 years of experience repairing composites, from U.S. Air Force aircraft to molded epoxy surfboards. They now apply that extensive knowledge to bringing broken frames and wheels back to life.

While some shops use tape to compress the patch, the company “vacuum-bag most of our repairs, which helps us achieve maximum compaction, squeezing out as much excess resin as possible.” That means a lighter, stronger patch.

They’re also experts in finishing and detailing, matching paint, clearcoat, and decals perfectly so only you will know your frame has been repaired at all.

Prices are based on the damage present, ranging from under $200 for a partial tube patch to $400 for “missing chunks of carbon or partially flattened tubes.” Clear coat is $75, and is required to gain’s 5-year warranty. One color of paint is $100, and $250 will get you decal matching and up to 3 colors of paint. offers a 5-year warranty on repairs, and a 1-year warranty on paint and detail work. Be aware, though, that “the warranty does not cover normal wear and tear, defects or failures from abuse, neglect, being an unmitigated hamfist, tightening carbon components with a 3-foot long breaker bar or doing some crazy ass MacGyver modification to your bike.”

Response to the frame:
Kurt Gensheimer responded quickly to our query, but was hesitant to put a definitive number on the repair without seeing it first hand:

From just the photograph, a ballpark estimate for repair only would be $250-$300. But it’s impossible to tell the extent of damage to a frame by what’s visible on the outside. That crack could potentially wrap halfway or all the way around the tube, which would alter the repair cost. We wouldn’t know for sure until we inspected the frame or actually cut out all the damage.

Although the frame would be repaired and rideable, clearcoat is really a requirement because if left unpainted, UV rays can damage the resin system holding the carbon fiber, causing delamination and compromising structural integrity.

That clearcoat would add $75 to the cost, putting the total at $325 assuming the damage isn’t more extensive than what’s visible in the photo.

KirkLee carbon frame repair

KirkLee, like Calfee, is a custom carbon frame builder turned carbon repair shop. As their website explains, they simply couldn’t bear the sight of carbon frame owners’ tears, knowing full well that they had the ability to repair those broken frames. They now pride themselves on both the structural integrity of their repairs and the quality of their finish work.

KirkLee repairs appear at first to be a bit more expensive, but that’s because they refuse to leave repairs raw, so the price includes finishing. It seems to be a point of pride, actually, from a company that creates some of the most beautiful carbon frames in the business.

Response to the frame:
KirkLee’s Brad Cason responded within hours of my email, and explained in detail what the frame would likely go through to get into racing shape once again:

(It will cost) $400. We will shoot it with clearcoat and maybe a black fade depending on how the weave matches up. I should be able to save or stay out of the logo.

This bike has a flat clear coat so expect a subtle difference in flatness and texture and maybe a slight haze where I pull the gun away and the paint drifts down. If I did not tell you then you may never notice but some are looking for perfection. Turnaround time is generally two weeks, and we never like to leave repairs raw. I cannot recall ever leaving one unfinished.

Broken Carbon

Engineer and pro bike racer Brady Kappius has been making and repairing composite parts for five years, and has become a fixture in the lively Boulder, Colorado, cycling scene for his frame-saving skills. Broken Carbon is a new venture, and offers repairs of a worn area for as little as $100, or repair of a completely separated tube starting at $225. Rush delivery is available, with a turnaround time of only 24 hours in most cases, for a 75 percent surcharge.

Broken Carbon will do small, single-color paint touchups and clearcoat work, but isn’t a paint shop. If you want a perfectly matching paint job or decals, it’s best to take the repaired frame to an expert finisher.

Kappius is happy to fabricate components for customers, too. Quite a few dirt-oriented Boulder pros are riding around with his custom carbon downtube protectors, which add impact protection with minimal weight.

Response to the frame:
Responding to emails while in Malaysia for the Langkawi International Mountain Bike Challenge, Kappius quoted us $175 to repair our broken top tube, with a turnaround time of 1-2 weeks.

Carbon Bike Repair

Melbourne, Australia

Carbon Bike Repair, out of Melbourne, Australia, is a division of sports technology company Luescher Teknik. Raoul Luescher built his first carbon frame in 1992, and has 20 years of experience in aerospace composites.

Carbon Bike Repair offers some of the most advanced inspection techniques anywhere, including ultrasound scanning and the use of dye penetrant. They also use a fiberscope, which allows them to visually inspect the inside of your frame.

Response to the frame:
Despite the time difference, Raoul was among the first to respond to our inquiry. Like others, he cautioned that an accurate quote could not be achieved through a photo alone:

As you can imagine it is very difficult to quote on this without fully knowing the extent of the damage. We use ultrasound scans as used in aerospace repair to determine the damage area. I have seen quite a few frames with similar looking damage where the majority of the top tube was delaminated, which would probably have been missed without the ultrasound scan.

I also would recommend at least a basic clear coat finish with UV inhibitors to protect the new material from environmental exposure and breakdown of the resin over time.

With this in mind, if the damage is confined to what is shown visually in the photo the repair would typically cost approximately $350 with a clear-coat finish.

Carbon Bike Solutions

Great Britain
Owner Darren Bancroft’s years of experience in the motorsport and aerospace industries are now being put to good use building and repairing carbon frames out of his central England workshop.

Carbon Bike Solutions focuses on repairs and some finish work, though they send major paint refurbs elsewhere.

Response to the frame:
Bancroft kept his response brief, writing, “I can repair this for £150 plus return postage.”