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Aluminum vs Carbon for newbie

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Aluminum vs Carbon for newbie

Old 01-28-19, 12:42 PM
  #1  
Roadie64
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Aluminum vs Carbon for newbie

I understand that carbon is all the rage but is the cost worth it? The aluminum bikes are slightly heavier (depending on how you define heavy). My big concern is the fragility of carbon. Will a bad wreck or cranking down a bolt to hard destroy the frame and or lead to costly repairs.

Currently I am looking at both. Specialized Allez Elite (Aluminum) and Trek Domane SL5. There is about a $1000 difference between the two. I anticipate I'll 75-100 miles a week on average, hopefully more if time and family allow .
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Old 01-28-19, 12:44 PM
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Old 01-28-19, 01:37 PM
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Decide on your budget and get the best bike you can within your budget.

CF is Not fragile unless you regularly hit your frame with a sledgehammer. If you Ride your bike, it is fine.

Is it "better"? No way to evaluate. Better is irrational.

I prefer lighter bikes but I won and ride heavy bikes. And the difference of a couple pounds is pretty minor.

I'd look at the best groupset available (with Ultegra being my personal top end---Dura-Ace is little value for a lot more money, IMO) and DI2 being unimportant but something you will really like if you get it.

I'd say, strong, light wheels are more important than a 500-gram lighter frame. In my experience light wheels Feel faster, and well-built wheels are reliable.

If I were buying my Main bike, the one I planned to ride most of the time, I would spend every penny I could afford. It tends to break down to pennies a day in difference, for a reliable, fun and easy to ride piece of machinery that delivers every time. I wouldn't go for the diamond-encrusted bling bikes, but up to a few thousand, (or maybe more, I haven't been tracking new bike prices) you are probably getting value for your dollar.

For a back-up bike, I'd find a balance between economy and performance, simply because i don't need to have two awesome bikes with one that doesn't get ridden (in fact, I stopped buying or building bikes because I have too many awesome bikes and little time to ride.) For a back-up bike, to be ridden for variety, when the main bike is down for some reason, when the roads are sloppy ... save the $1000 and spend it on a commuter.

But foer a main ride, where you plan to spend a few hours at a time several times a month, don't even worry about frame material. Look at the build sheet.

Finally, if you are the type who would buy a bike with some trepidation, ride it a while, and determine that there is nothing to fear, then buy the lightest frame with the best components.

If you are the type who will be ruled by irrational fear and wince over every bump ... buy a metal bike.

After all, what matters (to me at least) is The Ride. if you enjoy the ride I don't care if you are riding a Mattel Big-Wheel. if you don't enjoy the ride, all the data from the ride---the average speed, the peak power, all that---is just trash.
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Old 01-28-19, 01:43 PM
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A bad wreck can damage a lightweight aluminum bike just as badly as a carbon bike. Good quality carbon bikes are pretty durable (mine is more than 10 years old and still going strong). Most manufacturers use aluminum only on their budget-priced bikes, so you get a heavier frame as well as heavier components and the total weight is usually a few pounds heavier than more expensive bikes. If you don't mind the weight and the cheaper components, these bikes do ride well and the components work well enough for most recreational riders. Modern aluminum frames are not as noodly or harsh riding as the 20th century aluminum bikes.

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Old 01-28-19, 03:43 PM
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How fat is your wallet?

Lots of people write here trying to make a decision by asking others to make it for them ..

Yes Carbon fails by breaking ..all or nothing Unseen is Delaminating , less invisible the bonding to metal usually aluminum inserts comes loose ..

Aluminum bends dents and corrodes and suffers metal fatigue and then breaks..


Steel rusts.. you cannot win..






...

Last edited by fietsbob; 02-05-19 at 12:07 PM.
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Old 01-28-19, 05:02 PM
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Actually there is no way around it CF is fragile and stressed shatters.
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Old 01-28-19, 05:41 PM
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A local bike shop owner, very knowledgeable guy, told me if you crash a CF bike and something breaks, an aluminum bike would also break.

Ride before you buy. And remember that fit and feel is #1 to the rider. Then components.

I'm in the same boat. I'm readying to buy a quality bike. I like the Cannondale Synapse with Shimano 105 components. I also like the Trek Checkpoint ALR4. Both these bikes are aluminum. As for CF I like the Specialized Roubaix and the new 2019 Giant Defy Advanced 3. I'm leaning heavily towards the Trek. It's a do everything sort of bike. Food for thought....

And I agree with popcycle.... CF is not fragile. If it was, no manufacture would make bikes with it. So no, its not fragile.
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Old 01-28-19, 06:23 PM
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Although I have no real experience with carbon fiber, I see that top of the line mountain bikes use it.
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Old 01-28-19, 06:23 PM
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Is a gram scale in your pictures of bike parts revues.?. you know who you are...
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Old 01-28-19, 06:28 PM
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Op...don't be too quick to count out "steel" framed bikes.....
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Old 01-28-19, 06:30 PM
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Originally Posted by BirdsBikeBinocs View Post
A local bike shop owner, very knowledgeable guy, told me if you crash a CF bike and something breaks, an aluminum bike would also break.

Ride before you buy. And remember that fit and feel is #1 to the rider. Then components.

I'm in the same boat. I'm readying to buy a quality bike. I like the Cannondale Synapse with Shimano 105 components. I also like the Trek Checkpoint ALR4. Both these bikes are aluminum. As for CF I like the Specialized Roubaix and the new 2019 Giant Defy Advanced 3. I'm leaning heavily towards the Trek. It's a do everything sort of bike. Food for thought....

And I agree with popcycle.... CF is not fragile. If it was, no manufacture would make bikes with it. So no, its not fragile.
Came here to post exactly this.
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Old 01-28-19, 06:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Roadie64 View Post
I understand that carbon is all the rage but is the cost worth it? The aluminum bikes are slightly heavier (depending on how you define heavy). My big concern is the fragility of carbon. Will a bad wreck or cranking down a bolt to hard destroy the frame and or lead to costly repairs.

Currently I am looking at both. Specialized Allez Elite (Aluminum) and Trek Domane SL5. There is about a $1000 difference between the two. I anticipate I'll 75-100 miles a week on average, hopefully more if time and family allow .
This bike? https://www.specialized.com/us/en/al...=239803-133817

That is a lot of bike for the price. It will not hold you back.
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Old 01-28-19, 06:37 PM
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Hydroformed Alu frames are actually more expensive to make than some of the CF frames out there.. so you could consider the Alu frame special deal.
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Old 01-28-19, 08:13 PM
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Iíve been told that carbon is a more comfortable ride than aluminum. (Better flex .. bump absorbing) ?
i donít have any experience on same model aluminum & carbon to substantiate that... but sounds logical.

IMO, ďFit ď is the most important.
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Old 01-28-19, 10:27 PM
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Ride the bikes and compare how they feel to you. Both types of frame materials have advantages and disadvantages. Better shaped aluminum tubes, hydro formed, can give a very different ride than the old straight welded tubes used to give. I would also encourage you to look for a bike that has clearance for larger than 25c tires preferably 32c put those on and run slightly lower tire pressure. This will make even the stiffest frame ride more plush! Put on a set of Continental Grand Prix 5000, they are one of the tires with the lowest rolling resistance for an all round tire, and you will appreciate the ride.

I have numerous carbon bikes that have taken plenty of abuse, my main travel bike has been run into the garage on top of my car three times, I have over tightened the seatpost clamp and crimped the seatpost in two places, and lastly I drove the bike into a parking garage with the seat catching the height level warning beam picking the entire bike and rack off the top of the car, slamming it to the ground and ripping the warning beam to the ground. The racket it made was incredible! but I picked the bike up and other than a fairly substantial scar on the top tube near the base of the seatpost, the bike is still being ridden today.

So carbon takes a beating more than most people think.

If if you are the type of person that is self conscious about riding something other than carbon fiber because all the “real bikers” are riding it then get carbon because you will regret ever buying aluminum. I have steel, aluminum and carbon bikes in the fleet. All are fun to ride and each has its good and bad points.

Finally, there can be a significant difference in the ride characteristics between high end and entry level carbon frames. Entry level frames use less complicated layup schedules and typically use more low strength to weight ratio carbon fiber thus forcing them to use more carbon fiber overall and can give entry level frames a very dead or board-like feeling relative to their more premium offerings.

In short, try the bikes, see if you can go for a bit longer ride than a trip around the parking lot, try some different pavement quality, big bumps, smooth, chip seal, small bumps etc. You will know your answer by the time you are done.

Lastly, while not cheap, carbon fiber can be repaired should you need it.


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Old 01-28-19, 11:08 PM
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I believe that a well made, well known AL frame is better than a no name, unknown carbon frame
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Old 01-29-19, 12:35 AM
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I ride carbon, aluminum, and steel.

Carbon is my favorite, which perhaps has less to do with the materials than the overall build and quality of the bike. My aluminum bike is intended for gravel riding, and is built to be heavier. My steel bike is not a nice steel bike; it's my bang-around commuter that gets locked to bike racks, trees, and whatever else I can lock it to.

If carbon feels right and is in the budget, go for it! A torque wrench (there are some cheap beam type ones that work great) should prevent any damage from tightening parts. And as much as carbon still sometimes scares me, I have to remember that my aluminum bikes have had carbon forks, too, and those were perfectly fine. The biggest source of issues will come from the rider, not the material of the bike.
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Old 01-29-19, 01:46 AM
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Look at the carbon bike snapping apart at 13 seconds into the video.
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...a-highway.html


Last edited by CycleryNorth81; 01-29-19 at 01:56 AM. Reason: pic added
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Old 01-29-19, 02:57 AM
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Another which frame material is better posting,
who knows?
What is great for me, might not be for you.
Have CF, Al, Fe and unobtanium bikes in our house,
each has a place.
For road bikes, my partner prefers CF, both sons like Al,
i prefer Fe.
The frame is not the only bike component associated with ride,
Frame build, wheels, tires and bike fit contribute to the ride.
Appears OP is transitioning from a hybrid to road style bike,
when I am asked about what bike to get in this scenario,
usually answer ....... One that fits.
Also suggest not investing a lot in this bike, as in a year or so
the rider probably will have a different perspective of fit and
feel, then will N+1.
Unless OP is in a warm location and is able to ride immediately, suggest
OP taking the time to check out a preowned bike or in a couple months
going to one of the bike shop swap events where those folks who bring their
often very lightly used bikes to get cash for their N+1.
Above all, make sure the fit is good.
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Old 01-29-19, 07:56 AM
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Originally Posted by MarcusT View Post
I believe that a well made, well known AL frame is better than a no name, unknown carbon frame
Yes.
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Old 01-29-19, 11:11 AM
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Originally Posted by CycleryNorth81 View Post
Look at the carbon bike snapping apart at 13 seconds into the video.
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...a-highway.html

Yep, when planning for deer jousting, carbon may not be the best frame material choice. Edited to say, then again, a broken frame would likely be the least of my worries after colliding with a deer.

-Matt
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Old 01-29-19, 11:28 AM
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Buy the bike that you believe will impress the most amount of strangers or you can buy based on your budget. You have plans right now, but those plans are fluid and will change once you actually start riding.
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Old 01-29-19, 11:34 AM
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Airliners are made out of a combination of both, then after a specific number of use hours , they make 1 last flight , landing in the desert to be stripped and scrapped..
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Old 01-29-19, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by MattTheHat View Post
Yep, when planning for deer jousting, carbon may not be the best frame material choice. Edited to say, then again, a broken frame would likely be the least of my worries after colliding with a deer.

-Matt
Yes, my feeling exactly. Obviously an aluminium frame would have survived that totally intact and a steel frame would have broken the deer in half.
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Old 01-29-19, 11:42 AM
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I expect, since you are asking for guidance, you are not a greatly experienced cyclist. Wipekitty's post makes clear that many experienced cyclists may have several bikes for different purposes. In my area, for example, some members of our bike club will have a winter/sloppy weather bike with fenders and lights. For a first bike then I would lean toward a versatile bike, one that is useful for different purposes. Some bikes will take wider tires, some can mount a rear rack to which saddle bags or a trunk bag can be attached, good for local shopping trips and even week long tours. It may help to narrow options if you hang out here and read more for a while longer.
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