If someone claims they were just riding along (known in the bike biz as the "JRA" excuse) and they carbon fiber frame, fork or whatever failed, it's probably a load of crap. While there have been some issues with off-brand Chinese bikes that you see on Ebay and Alibaba, there have been very few issues with bikes from reputable companies, as their designs are heavily tested and even the lightest ones are designed to handle exceptional stresses. CF bikes and components only fail if they're damaged in some way and that doesn't just happen by itself.
Frankly, compared to the other risks one faces on the road or trail, the risk of a CF bike failure is inconsequential.
The one exception in my opinion is CF seatposts for off-road use. I have seen them break and even though it wasn't the horrific failure you might imagine (the post just bent backward, then sprung back once unweighted), it just doesn't seem like a good application for CF. I have and do use carbon seatposts on the road with no issues.
Warning labels are there for legal protection of the manufacturer and are simply the result of our ridiculously litigious society. It's the same reason that forks all have those ridiculous "lawyer lips" on the dropouts that effectively negates the function of quick release skewers. I remove the labels and lips from all of my bikes, I'm confident that I don't need either.
1 Canoe/Kayak Trailer
Reflective Hull Decals
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