Lubomir Stefanoff | freediving and UW photography

Leaderfins ‘carbon’ blades

by on Aug.20, 2009, under Freediving

I haven’t written for a while in my blog – everything is fine, I’m training and diving.
Some time ago a friend of mine broke his stereo fins – Leaderfins Carbon blades with Omer footpockets. It’s definitely not a pleasant experience to break a 260 EUR fins, but it was completely his fault and he admitted it.
The interesting thing is what he found out after he broke the fin:
Leaderfins 'carbon' bladed contain more fiberglass than carbon! As you can see, white layers of material (definitely fiberglass) significantly outnumber the black layers (carbon). It turned out that the ‘Carbon blades’ are not made from carbon, but from another, less expensive and lower quality material. It’s ironic, cause my friend had used those fins for two years considering them to be made from carbon…
Here is the description of these fins on Leaderfins’ website:
Carbon stereoblades with the angle in front of the blade.
The blades are available in 4 standard levels of stiffness, however we can add more stiffness upon request
The blades measurements are 20cm x 75 cm, but we can customize the dimensions according to your special request.
You can choose different kind of design for the end of the blade.
All our blades come with a one-year full warranty for materials and craftsmanship.’

I don’t see any hint pointing to the fact that they are putting more fiberglass than carbon in their ‘carbon’ blades!
leaderfins_crappy_carbon_blade Can we rely at the product’s description on the manufacturer’s website? Or we’d better break our fins to find out the truth about the materials used?
We have to do a thorough research on consumer opinion before we buy any ‘carbon blades’, especially if they are made by Leaderfins…
I got to go to the pool for my dynamic apnea session. Feel free to spread the word about the Leaderfins crap. Maybe they’ll learn a good lesson.


8 Comments for this entry

  • Sanne

    This is not what you'd expect from fins of that price indeed. Good of you to post about it. Did he contact leaderfins about this as well?

    How did he break them by the way?

  • Volodya

    Hi, everybody!

    Let's tell the whole story. I bought Leaderfins stereo carbon fins in more than 2 years ago because they were the only company to allow the customer decide on the blades width and length and cost only 259 Euros… After some time I felt I need softer blades and more efficient fins as a whole. So I noticed the area in front of the toes is bending very little. Meanwhile I tried to learn about carbon fiber features… So I started to carefully and gradually weaken the stiffeners by cutting them and test swimming vertically and horizontally. When I felt the effort to move the fins was decreasing I completely removed the stiffeners. The fins were much much better, until one morning I was showing a friend how not to move his legs before his fins went under water and just when I had my foot in the water and the blade still above the surface as I moved my leg the fin broke where Lubo has shown above – at the bended zone.

    Of course I overstressed the blades, of course I was experimenting, etc.

    But, Leaderfins did never mention that they offer essentially fiberglass blades covered with a single (as far as I can see) layer of carbon above and beneath. If I new that I would never do such experiments, I would not even buy those fins… There were other companies who clearly state what are their blades made of…

    To my letter they answered that fiberglass was added for strength…

    This is the whole story. I do not think I am going to by anything more from that company.

  • Adrian

    I use Leader fins for Lifesaving sports here in Canada. I have a set of the Carbon fins, Mine are definitely Carbon, as the material is so thin you can see through the blades. And by see through I mean when you hold them up to a light any place where the weave was picked and distorted in fabrication you can see the light. By the sounds of it, where you choose to have a stiffer blade, the only way to do that was to add extra layers. I have cracked mine at the tips, and it was all black inside. Just my thoughts. I agree with you that if you bought a carbon fin it should be all carbon, so in a way you were cheated.

  • Klaus

    If your fins would be all carbon, you wouldn't be able to a) afford them and b) use them due to their stiffness. Nonetheless – a crappy experience

    • stefanoff

      Klaus, you can find high-quality carbon fins (C4, XX One, etc) at ~320 EUR, less than the price of good hyper monofin :) I've tried several all-carbon fins and in fact they were quite soft, which is arguably better…
      The point in my post is not that the fins are crappy (they're good, actually), but that Leaderfins sells them with the label 'Carbon' instead of 'Fiberglass'. It's obvious that there is a catch with low price – but you don't have to break your fins to find it :)


  • Dave

    You will find unless stated fins are pure carbon, they will be a mixture of resins – this aplies to virtually all manufacturers. The mixture of fibreglass and carbon actually makes the fins stronger!

  • stefanoff

    259 euro, not 130 – it's the expensive model. And 50/50!? I'd say it's more like 90% fiberglass to 10% carbon. You are right, they do the 'trick' – Leaderfins successfully deceives its customers that the blades are made of 'carbon'.
    Don't get me wrong – the fins are fine, it's the marketing approach that sucks. I'll never buy from a company that consciously deceives its customers – there are more market players to choose from.

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