Looking for a comparison between aluminum vs carbon vs steel vs titanium frames for big guys like myself (6'3" - 225). I'm curious about the ride and responsiveness of each as I have only ridden an alloy frame. What weight limits on carbon frames? How about durability? Any input/comments appreciated. I have a Giant tcr (alloy) now but I'm considering upgrade to carbon or titanium if that is a realistic option.
At your weight, you should be fine on any frame, as long as it isn't an ultralightweight racing frame....
Ti is great, as is Aluminum. The only thing I have against Carbon Fiber is one crash that might only scratch up a metal frame could destroy a CF frame, or create hidden damage that can cause failure at a critical time (like when you are bombing down a hill!).
My personal preference is lugged steel, preferably Columbus or 531 and above alloy!
Most will claim that Alu has a stiffer, harsher ride, although higher-grade aluminum used on mid-level bikes (say $1k up) is a little more compliant. The only place you really feel it is in the fork (both mine have steel forks) and in the behind, if you sit a lot. FWIW, I love how stiff it is.
Steel is very traditional, and comes with a small weight penalty. It's more compliant, though you need to take care if you get nicks etc. and think about rust. A good choice for a clyde.
I have never cared for carbon, including in just forks. The phrase "catastrophic failure" does not appeal to me. The issue is not out-of-the-box strength, it's what happens if you hit something. Small nicks on carbon can lead to big failures.
I've ridden them all (except magnesium) and at your weight, no frame material is off limit, with the exception of some of the Al pro bikes. I put almost 30,000 miles on a C-F frame and I am heavier than you. As someone above mentioned, Al gets a bad rap (deservedly so imho) as uncomfortable, but with more expensive Al frames and C-F chain/seat stays + forks you should be ok. Ti and steel are both very comfortable in a good fitting frame. Steel has the disadvantage of rusting, so Ti wins there, but at a significant cost.
There is some truth to the C-F debate, but I think it is overblown and good C-F frames are very tough. And any material can have a catastrophic failure. I've had sudden breaks in both Al and steel with no warning. As far as C-F goes, I've never ridden a more comfortable bike on long distances, although my current Ti bike comes very close.