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Carbon or metal frame?

Old 04-06-18, 03:24 AM
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Dart10
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Carbon or metal frame?

Building up a track bike for return to the track - previous experience was in days when carbon was rare... I'm large (sprinter) build, so any thoughts on whether carbon or metal might be better? I've got my wheels built so looking at buying a frame. I've seen, e.g., Planet X carbon, but have also looked at alloys such as Condor, Basso, Cinelli and Dolan.
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Old 04-06-18, 04:17 AM
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Hi, Dart! Welcome to the forum and back to the sport!

Some tips from a fellow big guy:

Avoid problems:

A sexy frame that has mechanical issues sucks and you'll curse it when it fails on you when you are going hardest (usually in a race). Failures include slipping track ends, seatposts dropping into the frame several millimeters, seatposts tilting, not being able to align the rear wheel easily (frame note aligned properly), etc... Issues like these usually occur to many people, so asking around will help.

Fit over materials:
You'll undoubtedly be faster on a properly fitting steel bike than an ill-fitting carbon super bike.

All carbon isn't the same:
The density of the weave of the carbon can be different. The layup (how the carbon sheets were positioned before hardening) can be different. Both of which affect the properties of the bike. Not to mention quality control (or lack thereof) of the company making the product. Again, reviews and feedback will help here.

Fixies vs Track Bikes:
There are a lot of street fixies out there that may or may not be good for racing. The geometry for ideal street use is somewhat different than what's ideal for track use. YES, the stuff will work just fine. But, if you are spending money, you will probably want to know the difference.

Materials:
A builder can make flexy or strong frames out of steel, aluminum, or carbon. It comes down to the individual manufacturer and model. Reviews are vital in this regard. Aluminum is generally the happy medium in terms of price, availability, weight, features, and overall value.

There is a lot of hype out there. There are cheap frames that are crap. There are expensive frames that are crap. There are cheap frames that are awesome. There are expensive frames that are awesome. I imagine that you know this because you started the thread.

Bike frames are a journey. Very few people that stay in the sport buy 1 frame and never upgrade (or side-grade). Usually people will have a frame for a period then figure out what they like and don't like then look for a new frame that has what they like and not what they don't. The start of the season is like the first day of school. Everyone is checking out everyone else's new stuff.

A common mistake is for new (or returning) riders to buy a frame that is too small for them because it's comfortable. This is part of the journey. It doesn't happen all of the time, but it happens. I started on a 57cm frame and now I own 60 and 61cm frames.

There is a good bit of info in this thread: https://www.bikeforums.net/track-cyc...ete-bikes.html Track bike offerings don't change much, so the thread is still somewhat relevant.

Also, if you want to see what people are using on the track, look here: https://www.bikeforums.net/track-cyc...es-2014-a.html Generally, that thread is reserved for bikes that are actually used on the track, not street fixies.

Maybe ask questions in this thread to help with your equipment choices: https://www.bikeforums.net/track-cyc...ions-here.html There are no dumb questions. We were all new once and the best practices continue to evolve.

As far as what you should get, it really depends on your budget and what's available to you. I think when you narrow your choices down to particular make/models, you'll get solid, actionable feedback.
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Old 04-06-18, 04:22 AM
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What kind of wheels are you using?

I think at least some of the carbon frames are stiffer than at least steel, and that should be an advantage.

I can't say how much of a difference aero shapes make. Most of the new CF frames use OS tubing, so perhaps it is a mix of making a frame with greater cross sectional area more aero

In the end, it may well be simply a style choice unless you are a top competitor.
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Old 04-06-18, 04:41 AM
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Thanks for the welcome, advice and links - really useful. In terms of budget, I'm looking at $600-800 dollars for a frame. I've seen a Basso alloy frameset and know that there are some carbon frames in the UK like Planet X available at a similar price . I'm getting wheels built for me (they'll come in about the same price as the frame budget) by a wheel builder using Pianni aero rims and razor spokes - he built me a pair of road wheels which are the best I've ever ridden. He has built for pro track and Tour riders, and I go with the theory that these are at least if not more important, $ for $, than any other bit of the bike. I know from road and tri that there's carbon and carbon, so my instinct (and age?!) is to go for alloy and more classic. As you say, it'll be a journey and if it goes well, then maybe lighter, thinner and, in theory... faster....
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Old 04-06-18, 07:32 AM
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I think for that budget, you can get a much better alu frame than carbon frame. And, frankly, I don't see drawbacks to alu frames for track racing.

What size are you? I know of a family whose very talented junior outgrew his Giant Omnium, and they're looking to move it. Size Medium, which I think is a ~55cm bike for Giant.
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Old 04-06-18, 08:21 AM
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I'm 5' 10" and 32-3" inside leg. Based in UK so might not be easy to ship tax-wise but looks a nice frame.
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Old 04-06-18, 08:45 AM
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Ah, I should have guessed that you were overseas when you mentioned Condor, Basso, Cinelli and Dolan.
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Old 04-06-18, 11:40 AM
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I'd avoid Planet X if you're one the stronger side. I found it fairly noodly when putting down power and know a bunch of sprinters that also complain about how flexy it is. The Dolan TC1 is a great bike for the money and one of my friends has ridden it to sub 11" f200 times, so it certainly won't hold you back.
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Old 04-06-18, 12:14 PM
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for racing carbon (a rigid one if you are sprinter)
alloy if you cant get a carbon frame.
steel for training.
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Old 04-06-18, 12:25 PM
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At your price point, look for aluminum. If you can buy a used frame in good condition you will possibly double your bang for buck.

Just out of curiosity, how's your fitness level and how good of a roadracer are you? At what level do you see yourself riding at in 3-4 years?
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Old 04-06-18, 12:37 PM
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Wait...is Hoy Bikes done?

https://hoybikes.com
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Old 04-06-18, 09:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Dart10 View Post
Building up a track bike for return to the track - previous experience was in days when carbon was rare... I'm large (sprinter) build, so any thoughts on whether carbon or metal might be better? I've got my wheels built so looking at buying a frame. I've seen, e.g., Planet X carbon, but have also looked at alloys such as Condor, Basso, Cinelli and Dolan.
Boardman has a track bike or frameset
https://www.boardmanbikes.com/gb_en/...9-trk-9.8.html
However it is probably an endurance frame.
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Old 04-07-18, 03:29 AM
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Originally Posted by carleton View Post
Wait...is Hoy Bikes done?

https://hoybikes.com
The spec always seemed way too good for the price. I doubt there was any money being made off these bikes.
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Old 04-08-18, 01:43 AM
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Originally Posted by SyntaxMonstr View Post
I'd avoid Planet X if you're one the stronger side. I found it fairly noodly when putting down power and know a bunch of sprinters that also complain about how flexy it is. The Dolan TC1 is a great bike for the money and one of my friends has ridden it to sub 11" f200 times, so it certainly won't hold you back.
This is interesting,
I ride a Planet X T.O.R and never found it noodley. I am a big guy, 100 + kilos coming from a Fuji track steel to Fuji Aluminium Comp to the Carbon Planet X, it has been the stiffest from my very limited experience.
After 6 months I went back to the Fuji Comp and thought I had two flat tyres when trying to sprint, I literally pulled off and actually squeezed my tyres.
Please do correct me if I am wrong but I cannot see Aluminium being stiffer than Carbon...

ps

I cannot post links until I reach ten posts...
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Old 04-08-18, 01:53 AM
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carleton
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Originally Posted by marginalgains View Post
This is interesting,
I ride a Planet X T.O.R and never found it noodley. I am a big guy, 100 + kilos coming from a Fuji track steel to Fuji Aluminium Comp to the Carbon Planet X, it has been the stiffest from my very limited experience.
After 6 months I went back to the Fuji Comp and thought I had two flat tyres when trying to sprint, I literally pulled off and actually squeezed my tyres.
Please do correct me if I am wrong but I cannot see Aluminium being stiffer than Carbon...

ps

I cannot post links until I reach ten posts...
My 2 aluminum Tiemeyers were stiffer than my Planet X Stealth Pro Carbon, and Dolan DF3 and as stiff as my LOOK 496, Felt TK1, and Felt TK FRD. My steel Snyder (the orange frame) was made just as stiff by design by the builder Seth Snyder for a man of my girth...err...stature.

Pics as proof that I've owned all of these: https://www.flickr.com/photos/carleton_hall

The Planet X is the very last photo (difficult to see).

Riding the Planet X during a standing start, I would flex the rear triangle so much the tire would rub against the chain stay and leave a mark for the first few powerful pedal strokes. It felt like someone applied some brakes. During rolling jumps, I would hear the wheel's spoke magnet clacking against the sensor as the triangle flexed for the first few pedal strokes.

Stiffness of a frame depends on the builder and the choices made than the materials. A carbon frame made for 150lb mountain goats will ride like a wet noodle under a clydesdale.

Also, carbon isn't guaranteed to be lightweight. There are several beefy carbon frames. My carbon TK1 was heavier than my aluminum Tiemeyer (both were 57cm). A full THREE pounds heavier.

Is that correction enough
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Old 04-08-18, 01:58 AM
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Originally Posted by carleton View Post
My 2 aluminum Tiemeyers were stiffer than my Planet X Stealth Pro Carbon, and Dolan DF3 and as stiff as my LOOK 496, Felt TK1, and Felt TK FRD. My steel Snyder (the orange frame) was made just as stiff by design by the builder Seth Snyder for a man of my girth...err...stature.

Pics as proof that I've owned all of these: (had to take out URL)

The Planet X is the very last photo (difficult to see).

Riding the Planet X during a rolling jump, I would flex the rear triangle so much the tire would rub against the chain stay and leave a mark for the first few powerful pedal strokes. Same for standing starts.

Stiffness of a frame depends on the builder and the choices made than the materials. A carbon frame made for 150lb mountain goats will ride like a wet noodle under a clydesdale.

Also, carbon isn't guaranteed to be lightweight. There are several beefy carbon frames. My carbon TK1 was heavier than my aluminum Tiemeyer (both were 57cm). A full THREE pounds heavier.

Is that correction enough
Haha Thanks Carleton!
No way I am going argue that.
I guess it is back to the drawing boards. I literally had the Planet X Pro Carbon in my Basket about to purchase.
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Old 04-08-18, 02:56 AM
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Originally Posted by marginalgains View Post
Haha Thanks Carleton!
No way I am going argue that.
I guess it is back to the drawing boards. I literally had the Planet X Pro Carbon in my Basket about to purchase.
Stiffness is relative. What's super stiff for one person may be noodly for the next person. It's a function of body weight and strength.

So, if you are a small or medium-sized racer, then the frame will be fine. If you are on the heavy and/or stronger end of the spectrum, then you may have issues.

My post was more to address the "carbon is better than aluminum" thing. So, instead of looking for "ultimate stiffness", maybe look for "stiff enough for me". This will expand your options a WHOLE lot.

EDIT:
Also, there were a few YT videos were some channel was dispelling myths about road frame materials. Maybe search for "carbon vs aluminum" on YT and see what pops up.

The bike industry will have you believe that carbon is best...because it's most expensive and whatnot. The #1 benefit of carbon over aluminum is how easy it is to make custom shapes. That's difficult with aluminum. But, since the UCI has us on double-diamond frames, common shapes are OK. And as you can tell, top aluminum frames look very similar to top carbon frames.

Last edited by carleton; 04-08-18 at 02:59 AM.
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Old 04-08-18, 09:54 AM
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Fitness level in general is good - club level triathlete at present and from previous experience know what's needed to raise it specifically for track riding. In my previous spell on the track, I got to the level of training with the Scottish national sprint squad. Looking 3-4 years ahead, would want to be competing at national championship masters level.
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Old 04-08-18, 09:56 AM
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Thanks for reply - will give Dolan TC1 a serious look.
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Old 04-08-18, 09:58 AM
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Thanks for all your comments Carleton - certainly getting a feeling that I'll be going non-carbon for now, particularly at my budget and with my build.
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Old 04-08-18, 11:00 AM
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I’d probably have a chat with the guys at Brooks Cycles. They’ve got some big sprinters in their team and some of them use their 7VRN frame, 7VRN Carbon Track Frame - Frames and Forks - Velodrome - Brooks Cycles
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Old 04-09-18, 04:49 PM
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Unless things have changed, this is the bare frame that Brooks and a number of other companies use and rebadge. It is a very solid frame that is being used by some very fast guys. https://www.ebay.com/itm/fixed-gear-...-/172794595758

I would stay away from Cinelli. I have used a version of the Vigorelli and it is definitely not a sprinter machine. I had skid marks on the chain stays from efforts, and I am a whole lot stronger now than I was when I had that bike! Cinelli's line is aimed at track enduro and the fixie market.

Not sure what they go for for your budget, but I have a Duratec alloy frame. It is full custom and an enormous with a 63cm top tube, and is very very stiff.

It is a hard task to find what you're looking for. What one person may experience could be very different to what another person does. I wouldn't overthink it really, most reputable frames will be fine to get back into the game, and certainly won't hold you back. It is also very likely that down the track you will be upgrading the frame to something much better, so just dive in and get the legs rolling over
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