Is there a noticeable difference between 100% carbon and fiberglass backed carbon?
Aesthetically, they are identical on the finished side of the part. They are less expensive to produce than full carbon parts because the carbon layers are built up on a fiberglass inlay. Carbon with fiberglass parts represent a more modest weight savings that range in the 20 to 50% of OEM plastic parts. Please note that weight savings can vary substantially depending on the requirements of each part and that some parts may have only marginal weight savings benefits. Most aftermarket carbon that is sold is actually this composition although few vendors make this known.
For those looking to upgrade their motorcycle with a premium product, full carbon fiber (100% carbon) is the product of choice as it is anywhere from 25 to 50% lighter than carbon with fiberglass. OEM carbon parts are offered in this composition. Note that our parts are produced using pre-peg (dry pre-impregnated carbon) in autoclave (under precise pressure and temperature ) which in itself produces parts that are 20 to 40% lighter than through the vacuum bagging process alone. Weight savings become more significant as the size of the part increases. It may also be a consideration for those looking to shave a maximum of unsprung weight. Certain parts like some windscreens and front fairings where the unfinished side is visible are aesthetically more appealing where the weave of the carbon of the 100% carbon is apparent instead of a black epoxy finish of the carbon with fiberglass. Full carbon is also strongly recommended for parts exposed to heat such as heat shields and exhaust guards as carbon is far more heat resistant than fiberglass.
Full carbon is also stronger than the carbon/fiberglass option, which can in certain instances make it more challenging to install as it doesn't flex very easily. These parts are also thinner than the OEM and/or carbon with fiberglass parts, and may occasionally require spacers, washers or grommets during initial installation.
Our "Carbon Options" tab on our Home page provides photos comparing both products.
- Other than aesthetics, what are the particularities and required care relative to glossy /vs/ matte finishes?
Just as it will highlight the texture of the carbon weave, matte will show the slightest imperfection in the finished part, has a very light painted finish where scuffs and scratches are more evident, and should be washed with a mild detergent and water only. Care should be taken before using any kind of finish or protectant, or unnecessary rubbing which can make a matte finish go glossy. Only the best made parts will be successful in matte. Matte parts are also slightly lighter than glossy due to the lack of a clear coat finish. Extra attention must be given during the installation of these parts to avoid scratches.
Glossy parts are slightly heavier, but more robust than matte parts. Minor scratches can be buffed out. The clearcoat can provide a sense of depth when looking at the finish, especially in twill weave where it can look three dimensional. There are a wide variety of waxes, polishes and protectants that can be used on a glossy finish.
It is recommended that matte only be used for areas that are less susceptible to scuffing from road grit and use.
- When placing an order from outside of North America, why can I not get a shipping estimate directly in the shopping cart ?
Our shipping costs are based on volumetric and not actual weight. Even if we assigned values to each product, they would be cumulative in an estimate when the actual cost may be much lower ( or sometimes higher) depending on the parts. We try to give an idea under our "Shipping" tab about our typical costs on the smaller parts, but it's impossible to do so on the larger ones. Furthermore, different countries have different requirements, cost structures and available services. And we may use a different carrier depending on circumstances in order to reduce costs. That is why we ask you to contact us for a quote. It's often a lot of work for us to do so, but we try to make international shipping as cost effective as possible and it has become a sizable portion of our business as we do not profit from shipping.
- Why do your prices appear to fluctuate from day to day? Why is the amount charged on my credit card sometimes different from the amount shown in your store ?
Our store is denominated in U.S. Dollars and currency conversion fluctuations will be evident in all other currencies. Our store shows the approximate going exchange rate at the time of the order, however some credit cards and banks may charge a different exchange rate as well as a built-in fee for the exchange transaction that we cannot anticipate.
- Can I order only one side of a set to replace a damaged part?
We make single sides available under special order which typically takes four to six weeks to produce, at a price of half of the MSRP of the set plus a 15% premium. The part alone must represent a minimum order of US$150. Color or other special order premiums are available at additional cost. Please e-mail us with the specifics ( bike model, year, part, side, composition, weave and finish) of what you need and we will create the product for you in our store for purchase. Should your desired configuration be in plain weave and that we have a set in stock, we will break up the set for your half side. We cannot break up a set in twill weave as sets are produced in a symmetrical weave direction and that direction cannot be controlled from one set to the next.
- How can I tell which weave is used on the carbon parts already on my motorcycle so that I can match up my new parts?
Under our "Carbon Options" tab in our Home page, we have provided a number of photos to help you identify the different finishes available in our carbon fiber products. Our parts are made with a 3K weave, which is the standard weave used by most manufacturers for motorcycle carbon parts.
Also, OEM (original equipment manufacturer ) parts in carbon fiber are often listed as options or accessories to the motorcycle model and the weave and finish will vary by a given manufacturer and given year. For most bikes before 2010, glossy plain weave was the standard weave and finish.
You may also want to give your OEM parts another look as some manufacturers try to emulate carbon fiber with cheap plastic injection molded parts ( usually pretty obvious though).
As of this writing, the premium versions of certain models are the ones that will have real carbon parts and manufacturers will typically use one type of carbon finish throughout their model lines. Commonly seen finishes on recent models are:
Ducati - matte plain weave
Aprilia - matte twill weave
Triumph - glossy plain weave
BMW - matte twill weave (S1000RR), glossy twill weave (K1300R, K1300S & HP4)
KTM- matte twill weave
- I would like to modify a carbon fiber part by making a cutout. What would you use to cut it with?
There are a range of diamond and tungsten carbide cutting tools available specifically for composites, which won't pull and chip at the trimline. A Dremel like tool or a very fine toothed hacksaw can be used to cut and you can finish off with a Perma-Grit sanding block or sandpaper along the line of the cut. Carbon fiber can easily be filed or sanded, just remember to apply only very light pressure as you work. There are a number of how-to guides on the internet that go into greater detail. Of note, it is best to seal any areas that have been cut as carbon fiber can degrade from exposure to water.
- I would like to permanently bond together two parts or make a repair. What type of adhesive would you recommend?
We use methacrylate based adhesives ( also called acrylic adhesives) which are among the strongest out there. Caution is required when working with these products: it is very important to read the instructions that come with them. While a number of products can be found on the internet, we have found some in automotive parts stores as well.
- What does it mean when there is a "Racing" mention in the parts' description?
In the case of fairings, there may be no cut-outs for lights, turnsignals, passenger footpegs, sidestands, wiring and so forth. Parts may not come pre-drilled for mounting. They may also have to be modified to be compatible with surrounding OEM parts.
- Why are the mounting holes on my parts sometimes too small?
The mounting holes are always produced to exact dimensions for our matte products. The clear coat on the glossy products is often thick enough to make these holes smaller and may need to be enlarged with some light filing. There won’t be any damage to the part if you file with a light touch. If you feel that you have filed any of the fibers themselves, you may seal the carbon with a small brush of clear coat, although mounting holes are usually tight and protected by the mounting screws.
- What defects are commonly associated with carbon fiber parts?
Most of our parts are produced in a ISO9001 certified factory, ensuring that production methods and controls conform to the highest quality standards.Many of these are also TUV/ ABE (Germany) approved, although we do not hold these approvals due to being a North American vendor. While all parts are subjected to quality control, fitment issues are the most difficult to catch when they occur.
Carbon fiber parts are custom hand-made, labor intensive parts that try to duplicate the exact dimensions and shapes of parts made by plastic injection molding. This means that occasionally tabs and mounting posts on complex pieces may have to be filed down by 1 or 2 millimeters during the initial fitment process. However, if a jig is misaligned during the manufacturing process, a cutting mistake is made during layup or a mold has exceeded its serviceable life, no amount of finessing can overcome misaligned, crooked or missing posts, tabs or edges, in which case the part should be returned. Even the best made traditional resin molds have a finite life expectancy, and as a mold nears the end of its useful life, imperfections in the symmetry of the parts produced will begin to appear. Our manufacturers do use CNC machined metal molds for some parts, however the high cost of making these precludes them from being economically viable on all but the most voluminous produced parts.
Finishing flaws to look for are scratches, scuffing, dimples, pinholes, excess epoxy, running clear-coat or matte paint, and milky spots or areas.
Blemishes on matte parts or pinholes in glossy parts have been known to occur in the week after the part was finished as the part or its finish cures. This makes it impossible to detect any potential issue unless the part is held back for an additional week before being shipped.
It is normal with any carbon fiber product that the weave itself may look irregular and not be perfectly symmetrical in some bends and curves. Twill weave products will have a symmetrical weave direction within a set but may not have matching weave directions between part sets. While this doesn't bother most people, customers who find issue with this are better served by purchasing plain weave products.
Should your part have a bluish hue, it has most likely been produced with Polyester resin, an inferior product which will crack and yellow over time. Poor quality carbon fiber parts abound in the marketplace. They can be thin, brittle, blemished, pinholed, semi-transparent and poorly finished. They may be constructed of mostly fiberglass with only a decorative carbon fiber layer or imitation thereof. They may have been poorly impregnated with resin, cured, or left unprotected to UV rays. Even if they appear cosmetically acceptable at first, they may crack, fade or yellow in only a short time.
Our products are made with the highest grade of carbon fiber using the latest manufacturing technologies. Each part is verified by a quality control expert before it is cleared. We stand behind our products and guarantee both fitment and finish.
- Do you provide installation instructions, fasteners or hardware with your carbon parts?
Most of our parts are produced as replacements of the stock parts and do not normally require additional fasteners or hardware other than those used to install the original parts. Only where specifically indicated in a product description do we provide installation hardware.
Certain parts may be covers that install over the original parts and may occasionally require slightly longer fasteners than the original, same typically sourced at any hardware or automotive store. Sometimes the thinner carbon parts than OEM plastic parts may require and extra washer or grommet during installation. Certain assemblies may also require to be transferred from the OEM part to the carbon one.
As a general rule, installation instructions are not provided for carbon parts and it is recommended that parts be installed by a professional familiar with the mounting sequence of body parts specific to the model.
- Are your parts exact replicas of the OEM parts?
Our parts match the OEM in shape and appearance on the finished side but may occasionally differ on the unfinished ( mounting) side due to the strength of carbon fiber products versus the OEM bendable plastic parts. The plastic parts often require additional ribbing, contouring, mounting surfaces and tabs to make a solid and secure installation possible that carbon fiber parts do not necessarily require. Carbon parts are very strong, read unforgiving, and occasionally certain tabs may be deleted if they have the potential to pose fitment problems while doing nothing for the integrity of the installation. Also, the greater the complexity of a carbon part, the more expensive it will be to produce. We have been known to modify the specifications of some parts to accommodate fitment concerns and our customers' feed back is always solicited to help us improve our designs.
- Why is the production of my order taking longer than promised?
Carbon parts are hand made by skilled craftsmen and occasionally, parts may not pass quality control and need to be either refinished or started over altogether. Other times, it may be determined that the mold used to produce a part has reached the end of its lifespan and a new mold needs to be made before the part can be put into production again.
We develop parts and contract out all of our manufacturing with third party factories. The demand for parts is seasonal and during peak periods, production may not be able to keep up, delaying fulfillment. We have also experienced delays with specific factories over specific periods for other reasons that were beyond our control.
We understand that customers should not be subjected to unreasonable delays, and will cancel and refund any part that has exceeded 65 days from day of order upon request. We make an effort in following late parts with the factories and to communicate these delays to our customers.