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Carbon Fiber vs Aluminum and Designated Use riders

Old 06-04-21, 04:16 PM
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mwrider
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Carbon Fiber vs Aluminum and Designated Use riders

I'm sure Carbon vs Aluminum has come up on this forum, but being new here, I can't find the thread. I'm 64 and have crashed a few times in the last 10 or so years. The last time was this week, and I still don't know how I lost control. But, I bounced back up, checked the bike, carried on. I've always had aluminum bikes and never had a problem. I've been wondering lately if a carbon fiber bike is worth my investment and at the same time, wondering if a clunker like happened 2 days ago would crack a carbon frame? I live in the San Fernando Valley. My usual route is the bike path that stretches from Sherman Oaks west to Canoga Park and north to Granada Hills. Round trip is 30 miles. I was reading the warranty on Piranello's website and it specifically states, "The Products have been designed for specific uses consistent with their characteristics. For example, the racing models will be intended solely to be used on a track or a smooth road, while MTB are intended for outdoor usage on unpaved and/or downhill roads. Therefore, each Product should be used in accordance with its characteristics and structure (“Designated Use”)."

The bike path is part poured and rolled asphalt and part concrete slabs with the inevitable uneven seams. You can't help but hit a bump. There's cracked and uneven spots along the way. Do all manufacturers of carbon fiber bikes have this type of "Designated Use" rider in their warranties? If so, I guess I'll stick to aluminum.
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Old 06-04-21, 04:27 PM
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Watch this video. Spoiler alert: carbon frames are much stronger.


As for disclaimers about intended use, all bike manufacturers state them regardless of frame material. So if you go gap jumping on a road bike and the frame breaks you can’t claim on the warranty.
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Old 06-04-21, 04:39 PM
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The aluminum frame bend and deformed, while carbon frame shattered and failed catastrophically...I'll stick with aluminum and steel.
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Old 06-04-21, 04:42 PM
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Welcome to BF! I don't know if carbon fiber frame durability has been discussed here but I expect folks may have opinions. I'd probably prefer steel if I planned to wreck frequently.
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Old 06-04-21, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by mwrider View Post
I was reading the warranty on Piranello's website and it specifically states, "The Products have been designed for specific uses consistent with their characteristics. For example, the racing models will be intended solely to be used on a track or a smooth road, while MTB are intended for outdoor usage on unpaved and/or downhill roads. Therefore, each Product should be used in accordance with its characteristics and structure (“Designated Use”)."
This is why I prefer steel framed or aluminum framed MTBs or cross bikes. You can ride them anywhere and don't have to worry about any "designated use".
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Old 06-04-21, 04:49 PM
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At 64 (same age as me) I'd worry more about breaking a hip than the bike. Not sure what kind of crashes you have experienced but if just falling over I would not really worry about either. As was mentioned above, steel is what I'd get if really concerned about it.
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Old 06-04-21, 05:00 PM
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Canyon calls it "Bike Classification" -
Bikes of this category are designed for riding on hard-surface roads where the wheels remain in permanent contact to the ground. These are in general road racing bicycles with racing handlebars or straight handlebars, triathlon or time trial bicycles. The permissible maximum overall weight comprising rider, luggage and bicycle should not exceed 120 kg. Under certain circumstances this permissible maximum weight can be further limited by the component manufacturers’ recommendations for use. Proven cyclocross and gravel bikes with racing handlebars and cantilever or disc brakes are a special case in this category. In addition, these bikes are also suitable for gravel paths and off-road trails where a short loss of tyre contact with the ground due to small stairs or steps at a height of 15 to 20 cm can occur.
https://www.canyon.com/en-us/gravel-...sl-8/2850.html

I bet most bike manufacturers put out this kind of statement to help them battle overly aggressive warranty claims.
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Old 06-04-21, 05:02 PM
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Dislocated my shoulder about 8 years ago when I fell. The blood pressure medication I was on lowered it too low, and I blacked out on the bike path. The crash I had this week was minor. Over corrected leaning away from the fence long the bike path while laid out on my aerobars. If I weighed 230 (my weight pre lockdown) rather than 195 (my weight now), I might have broken something.
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Old 06-04-21, 05:11 PM
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My wife was mad at me. I'm more concerned about that.
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Old 06-04-21, 05:12 PM
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Thanks for the video. I hadn't seen that demo before.
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Old 06-04-21, 05:20 PM
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I have a "pro" lever carbon bike and have put 26,000 miles on it. I ride some MUPs but mostly road. The roads on Long Island are far from pristine with plenty of potholes, patched section and uneven pavement.

I'm 200#, the bike is 14# and i'm 65.

Life is short, buy the bike of your dreams and ride the crap out of it.

BTW... i've you've never watched any of the "cobble" classics such as Paris-Roubaix, take a look at the surfaces they ride.

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Old 06-04-21, 05:32 PM
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If the weight and ride quality of CF is worth it to you, get it.

I would not worry about crashing it.
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Old 06-04-21, 06:03 PM
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If strength and longevity are the important features, there's no contest.

Carbon fiber beats aluminum every time.

The one weakness of carbon fiber is it doesn't like to be crushed or dented. If you expect to be smashing your frame against rocks, then pick aluminum.
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Old 06-05-21, 06:31 PM
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Thanks, for he video and the advice. The cobblestones look like a brutal ride.
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Old 06-05-21, 08:37 PM
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Unless there’s some crucial performance advantage that only carbon will give you, I’d stick with metal. It's pretty durable stuff.

Last edited by Rolla; 06-05-21 at 10:53 PM.
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Old 06-05-21, 10:29 PM
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I don’t own carbon, but know enough people with carbon bikes, especially mountain bikes, to not see an issue with the material.

I would be a bit more concerned with the crashes and what geometry would work best for your riding. If the bike doesn’t fit well or isn’t as stable as you want, you need to get a bike that fits your riding now and in the coming years. You don’t need to get a real dog when it comes to performance, but maybe something that won’t be an issue negotiating certain situations.

My Cannondale Criterium has steep angles and it is a blast to ride, but as I’ve gotten older I feel I need to be aware that it is less forgiving and over-correcting can have consequences. I’m not ready to give it up, but the day I do, I’ll be looking for a bike that is more stable.

John

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Old 06-06-21, 06:39 PM
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If CF isn't any more fragile or likely to fail than metal, why all the "Is this scratch/nick/scrape/whatever on my CF bike safe to ride?" threads on BF?
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Old 06-06-21, 07:16 PM
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Originally Posted by AlmostTrick View Post
If CF isn't any more fragile or likely to fail than metal, why all the "Is this scratch/nick/scrape/whatever on my CF bike safe to ride?" threads on BF?
Because..... BF.
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Old 06-06-21, 07:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Rolla View Post
I’d stick with metal. It's pretty durable stuff.
"pretty durable"

No metal is as durable (fatigue resistant), strong, or stiff as carbon fiber.
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Last edited by terrymorse; 06-06-21 at 07:35 PM.
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Old 06-06-21, 08:23 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse View Post
No metal is as durable (fatigue resistant) ... as carbon fiber.
Durability is about more than fatigue. Compare failure modes.

Last edited by Rolla; 06-06-21 at 08:34 PM.
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Old 06-07-21, 12:42 AM
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This is one of those topics where science makes no difference.

Buy whatever you like.

At our age, if you crash hard enough to damage the frame, the real problem is paying for the ambulance and emergency room treatment .... and the cast, the cane, the PT .......

Funny part to me is that we all know a lot of cyclists, and we all know a lot of cyclists who ride CF. Somehow that Actual data pool is ignored so that folks can debate stuff they searched for online to support their prejudices. And then they claim "Science."

Just for kicks watch the F1 race from Baku from 6-6-21. A couple 200-mph crashes .... sadly both drivers walked away uninjured because they foolishly put their faith in carbon fiber.

I weigh about an eighth of a ton---and most of my bikes have 20/24 or 24/28 spoke counts. Everyone says I weigh 70 pounds too much for such low spoke counts. In my ignorance .... I don't have wheel issues nor do I break spokes. if only I understood science better .......
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Old 06-07-21, 04:52 AM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse View Post
If strength and longevity are the important features, there's no contest.

Carbon fiber beats aluminum every time.

The one weakness of carbon fiber is it doesn't like to be crushed or dented. If you expect to be smashing your frame against rocks, then pick aluminum.
I agree with you. I deal with poor odds, riding in a high population density city with very poor quality roads. I've been hit by motorcycle courier several times in just one year, half of the time, I was stopped at the intersection in daytime with lights on! They were distracted by the phone GPS everytime!

A few collisions were with cars when they turned into the bike lane right next to me. Fortunately, in all these, only one resulted to injury and my all-aluminum bike only suffered scratches in all these! I fell in a badly damaged part of the pavement and piece of rock pierced my skin, into the bone and broke a bone, losing a lot of blood. Had the pavement been smooth, I'd only have road rash.

Many riders I see here don't take chances with their carbon bikes riding them around the city. They get them into their trucks to drive far away from the city first.
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Old 06-07-21, 05:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Ogsarg View Post
At 64 (same age as me) I'd worry more about breaking a hip than the bike. Not sure what kind of crashes you have experienced but if just falling over I would not really worry about either. As was mentioned above, steel is what I'd get if really concerned about it.
If you crash and parts of the bike breaks into sharp pieces, it could injure you badly if it lands on you or if you smack on it.

The side glass windows used on automobiles is designed to break into many small squarish shapes which is much less lethal than long, knife-shaped pieces. The windshield is held together by plastic laminate so the wind don't blow the broken pieces to your face if it breaks while driving.

Unfortunately, you can't do the same thing with carbon fiber plastic, at least, not yet. I do have pieces of carbon that breaks like wood, less sharper than epoxy matrix carbon but can still stab you in an accident. I think carbon fiber propellers used in aircraft also breaks in a similar manner like wood.

The problem is the epoxy plastic used. Even by itself, without carbon fibes, it breaks into sharp pieces. We need a new binder that could break into plain cuts (as if you cut it with a hacksaw) and not form sharp, pointed edges.
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Old 06-07-21, 05:50 AM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
This is why I prefer steel framed or aluminum framed MTBs or cross bikes. You can ride them anywhere and don't have to worry about any "designated use".
That is simply not true. Regardless of frame material you cannot ride any bike anywhere. In the modern world of litigation all modern bikes come with "designated use" statements. They are usually over-stated, but you can't go riding bikes on terrain way beyond what they were designed for and expect them not to break. This has nothing to do with carbon vs metal frames.
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Old 06-07-21, 07:09 AM
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Quoting:

"My
usual route is the bike path..."

and

"...while
laid out on my aerobars."

What the heck? Why in the world would you be riding aero bars on a multi use path? Are you time trialing?
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