How To Repair A Chip in A Carbon Bike Frame – Is My Frame Still Safe?

Tips for testing and repairing chips in your carbon frame

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Chris: I damaged the chain stay near the chain rings when the chain got wedged between the two (from the bottom up, not the top down). There is a “chip” missing from the carbon, no hole and no crack that I can see. What are my options for repair?

Hey Chris! Sounds like you were laying down some serious watts. So, first, pat yourself on the back for being awesome. Next, pat your bike to see how the carbon’s doing. You might be just fine to just repair the cosmetic damage with a method like the one we wrote about here. To see if it’s really just cosmetic, or something more tear-inducing, I’ve laid out a few options for you below.

As an aside, if you’re having trouble with the chain jumping and causing this in the first place, you might want to check out a chain catcher as well as a your high-low limit screws. But that’s preaching you didn’t solicit.

Step 1: Check the Carbon’s Integrity

by Nick Nguyen

The easiest way (and probably the best idea) is to take your frame in to your LBS for your trusted mechanic’s advice. They should be able to tell you if the carbon is unsafe or the chip is merely cosmetic. The other good idea with this is that if your frame has any type of warranty, you’ll be able to find out through your LBS.

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You can do a quick check yourself, though. Take a quarter and tap it gently around the chip–if you hear a difference in the sound (like a dullness) from other parts of the frame, then you’ll likely need to repair the carbon.

All in all, the only true way to be able to tell whether the carbon is structurally damaged is to have a repair shop do an ultrasound or something else as equally fancy on the frame.

Step 2: Get That Chip Repaired Properly

If you do need to get that missing chip put back somehow, you’ll want to find a credible repair shop. In my experience, it’ll run you around $100-250, but that’s just a ballpark. You will find self-repair kits online, but without really knowing what you’re doing, these could be dangerous. Trust me, a little knowledge makes for nervous descents at 45mph.

Be sure to go with some trusted repair companies too. Not just Blake’s Bestest Bike Repair (although Blake does true a mean wheel). Your LBS might also be able to recommend a good local repair shop. Barring that, here are two composite fixers that have years of experience and offer guarantees for their work: Ruckus Composites and Calfee Design. Grab a free quote or two online and go from there.

Here’s Luck

Chances are, it’s probably not structural or a big deal at all. The key here–be safe. Get it checked by someone who’s properly qualified, and I’ll keep my fingers crossed for ya.

About Alpha Ninja 16 Articles
Former pro racer, current roadie with an edge, Alpha Ninja once rode 100km without a saddle just to deliver a patch kit to a stranded cyclist. Alpha Ninja's identity is our secret--once they take off the cowl and cut out the Batman voice, we'll figure out who they are. Until then they're our resident vigilante in the fight against bike snobbery--kicking skinny tires and taking names.

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