It's not that simple
Posted by: Bnystrom on Dec-19-12 10:59 PM (EST)
Safety is only a concern with CF in the event of crashes or other impacts that cause frame damage. Up to the point of failure, it's every bit as safe as any other material. Advances in resins, nanoparticles and combining CF with other fibers have improved durability substantially, and it will continue to improve over time.
I've got carbon forks that have been ridden for over 10 years without a problem, so even older CF technology was safe. The difference is that an impact that would bend a metal fork or frame will crack or break CF. That doesn't mean that you won't crash on a bent metal frame, so the actual difference in rider safety is debatable. In normal use, CF is perfectly safe and it's not going to spontaneously fail.
It's not all about weight, either. Although CF can obviously be fashioned into lighter frames than other materials, the real beauty of it is the ability to customize the stiffness to a degree that isn't possible with metals. That's been the biggest breakthrough in CF frames recently. Not only can the stiffness be tailored in location and direction, the layup can be fine-tuned for every frame size. Changing the layup using the same mold can produce very different frames, both in ride characteristics and price.
Custom frames are not only available in metals, either. There are several companies that build custom CF frames. You can have the performance of CF WITH a custom fit.
No, composites aren't perfect, nor are they ideal for all applications. However, composites have yet to reach their full potential. Like it or not, the future for metal frames is going to consist of the low end of the market, plus small niches in other market segments. Ultimately, the future belongs to composites, which will continue to redefine performance and expand their market share as costs drop.