When I first moved to Colorado in 2004, one of the first people I met was this guy, slightly older than me, who continually beat the crap out of the Masters fields…Rus Kappius. I’d watch he and his 15 or 16 year old son at the time, Brady, ride, talk and genuinely ‘dad-and-son’ together at our local races weekend in and out. My boys could barely walk let alone ride at the time but these two demonstrated what it ‘could’ be like for me. Not all about the biking per se…but the time a dad and son could spend together in bliss. And so years later, it gives me a complete rush to see Brady chatting up my boys at the race courses asking about their races and to this day, I remind Brady and Rus they have been a model for me as I raise these boys on and near the race course. They are core. Believe that.
So blushing aside, Brady has gone on to immense things. We’ve all been so proud of his racing accomplishments here in Boulder, but his education at Mines and now applying a true entrepreneurial spirit in his own start up is laying upon him new dimensions of respect by all of us in this community. Not unlike the layers of carbon he adds to repair the war-torn bikes saddened owners bring to him in a last ditch attempt to resurrect their pride-and-joys. Brady has started ‘Broken Carbon’…a carbon repair service which puts to use his extensive bike racing experience as well as his left-side-of-brain engineering acumen. I wanted to get the word out about what he’s doing as it’s incredibly cool. I just hope I never have to use the service! Ha! But should my carbon meet a tragic demise, I know who can bring it back from the dead.
With that…”5 Questions with Brady Kappius”
OK, Brady, tell me about the genesis of Broken Carbon. What was 'the spark' to get you into this biz?
Broken Carbon (www.brokencarbon.com) has been a project of mine for about the last 5 years. Bicycles have always been part of my life. I started racing at age 4, going to the kids races with my dad. Tinkering with bikes has been a part of it as well. This helped me drive myself towards an education in engineering, cumulating with a masters in mechanical engineering from CU Boulder and a bachelors in materials engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. My dad and I started playing with carbon about 7 years ago or so. Trying to make some carbon bottle cages for fun, stuff like that. My coach had a carbon track bike that was crashed and I offered to repair it for him. That's where the first repair really started and things have grown through word of mouth. I felt like there were plenty of people out there with bikes and components that could use repairs so I started offering my services.
I’m not a metallurgist nor do I play one on TV. But I ride carbon. So from your educated perspective, why is (or isn't) carbon the uber-material to work with for cycling applications?
Any material selection decision is a trade off between properties: strength, stiffness, weight, repairability... etc. There is no way to say one material is or isn't the best material for cycling, it all depends on what you are looking for. With carbon we are looking at excellent strength to weight ratios, the ability to optimize ride qualities based on fiber orientation but relatively poor impact resistance and high price. The reason I have a business is because of the repairability. Broken or damaged metallic frames are quite a bit harder to repair without welding in a new tube then subsequent re alignment, heat treatment and repaint. With carbon, I can patch over the damage quickly and relatively easily and you can be back on the road or trail in no time. All at a price much less than a new frame and quicker than a new frame could ship if needed.
What is the repair process like for typical issues? Analysis, how you go about repairing, typical turn around time, etc.
The repair process has 3 main steps. Preparation: where I remove paint, clear coat and damaged fibers bringing out the raw carbon. Lay-up: I select the carbon fiber size and type that I want to use based on the damaged areas size, stresses and cosmetics, wet it out with a 2 part epoxy resin, then apply it to the frame and apply uniform compression. The final stage, and probably the most time consuming, is the finish work. I sand down the repair to a smooth, tapered finish and apply clear coat and paint in some cases.
Are there any 'common' issues you are seeing in carbon...e.g. areas of weakness across manufacturers that should be advanced vis-a-vis better engineering, carbon lay-up, etc? In other words, where is carbon falling down?
I have really yet to come across a single most common failure point. Most major manufacturers have plenty of engineering behind all of their frames which use finite element analysis to optimize the fiber layup schedules and maximize the strength. Along with plenty of prototype testing. Most repairs are due to user error. A crash or bike falling down at the wrong angle, enough to crack the frame. I've also have rock impacts to the down tube on mountain bikes, torn out bottle cage bosses and damaged cable stops. A pretty wide range of damage. If the failure is from manufacturer error I usually suggest trying to get a warranty through the manufacturer first. In the case of user damage, the cost of a repair through Broken Carbon is usually much less than a 'crash replacement' through the manufacturer. They still make a decent margin on those bikes!
What has been the single most complex repair job you have done to date?
I think the most complex repair I have ever done was a truly vintage Trek carbon mountain bike. It had a complete fracture of the chainstay. I had to re-align the rear end, tack the tubes together with epoxy then complete the repair as normal. Now the owner has one of the coolest townies out there!
What would it cost a customer to work with you to resurrect a bike?
Rate estimates for tube repair start at $150 for a chain stay or seat stay, $200 for a seat tube, down tube, or top tube, $75 for a bottle cage repair. It's best to send a photo of the damage to get a specific repair estimate. I've done other crazy projects as well such as carbon fiber insoles, aero bar arm rests, bottle cage repair, carbon down tube protectors... If it's carbon, there is a chance!
So enough about you (grin) tell me about your dad’s business!
Ah! Yes, Kappius Components: The brain child of my dad, Rus Kappius. After seeing the first SRAM Red cassettes, then the same technology in the XX mountain bike cassettes he had a revelation. Why not use all that empty space inside the cassette for an oversized, more widely spaced drive system that offers a stiffer wheel, a more durable drive mechanism and quicker engagement? He started about 3 years ago with some chicken scratches on paper and is now at the point where we are selling production mountain bike front hubs in 9mm, 15mm, and Lefty options. He won 2 national championships this summer on his rear prototypes. We hope to have those in production within the next year, along with a selection of matching road hubs. We work together bouncing engineering ideas off of each other with him spending plenty of hours in the garage at home manning the homemade CNC lathe. I'm going to be in charge of social media, the website and the such because I'm young and supposed to be hip with all that!
The current web info for Kappius Components is: www.terraformasports.com, hopefully redirecting to www.kappiuscomponents.com here soon. You can read more here in a recent VeloNews article link: http://singletrack.competitor.com/2011/06/bikes-tech/new-gear-terra-forma-evolution-hubs_17332
Please also visit our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/kappiuscomponents
What about contact details? Give us the deets!
Some before and after goodness:
Seat collar before:
Seat collar after:
Repaired Cannondale TT:
Repaired seat mast: