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  1. #1
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    The Carbon Advantage???

    I'm just writing to see what experienced riders think the real advantage Carbon has over Aluminum? I'm a newbie, and have been hearing different things about the advantages such as reduced road vibrations, decrease in weight etc. But is that a difference a non-competitor rider can realize? Is is something that has a place outside of racing where every tenth of a second counts?

    I'm asking this to get to my next concern - Which is does this supposed advantage trump the fact that Carbon is brittle, and once there's a crash there could be major structural damage eventhough the "actual" physical damage may seem minor. I'm wondering all of this because the bikes with the carbon components are much more expensive than the bikes without, and was wondering if the hype was worth it?

  2. #2
    Dog is my copilot. GGDub's Avatar
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    For long rides its great having a carbon fork and seat post. For commuting, I'm in and out of the saddle quite a lot so I don't really notice my aluminum for/seatpost. Older carbon used to be brittle, but that's not the case anymore. I once hit a ditch doing 35 mph and the carbon fork blades were fine, me and the aluminum steering tube didn't fair so well.

    Its also hard to find carbon forks with eyelets.
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  3. #3
    Get the stick. darkmother's Avatar
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    It's mostly marketing. I think you will be better served spending your money on other things.

    I've ridden a number of $$$ full carbon road bikes, and honestly, if there is a difference in vibration transfer compared to either of my metallic road bikes, I can't feel it. I even went so far as to try my wheels on a full carbon bike, just to make the test more significant, as I ride slightly larger tires.

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    I would not ride a carbon bike for a commute. My commute is a my daily wake up and I'd much rather wreck my $300 MTB doing something stupid than a $4k carbon road bike. Plus, in bad weather, a cheap bike helps you to not feel bad about the bike and thus you are more likely to ride anyway. I've ridden my carbon bike to work once just to show a few people who were interested but that's it. Without mounts for a rack and fenders, it can't be an every day bike for me.

  5. #5
    DNPAIMFB pinkrobe's Avatar
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    Hey, did you post this same question in the Road forum?
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  6. #6
    52-week commuter DCCommuter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pinkrobe
    Hey, did you post this same question in the Road forum?
    I'd be interested to see how roadies answer the question compared to commuters!

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    Quote Originally Posted by darkmother
    It's mostly marketing. I think you will be better served spending your money on other things.

    I've ridden a number of $$$ full carbon road bikes, and honestly, if there is a difference in vibration transfer compared to either of my metallic road bikes, I can't feel it. I even went so far as to try my wheels on a full carbon bike, just to make the test more significant, as I ride slightly larger tires.

    That's what I was thinking. When I test rode some of the bikes, I couldn't tell a difference, at all, even the weights seemed to be similar. I just think I may be able to get something with better components by buying an aluminum bike...

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    Quote Originally Posted by pinkrobe
    Hey, did you post this same question in the Road forum?

    Yeah, actually I did. I just wanted a different perspective from commuters. I thought most of the people on these forums would overlap, but just in case I wanted an opinion from a commuter's perspective. It's interesting how people answered the questions slightly differently from each point of view. But there are some similarities... The road forum folks focus more on racing, which is to be expected, and they believe that every second counts as far as racing. So for them Carbon is good...

  9. #9
    Senior Member ken cummings's Avatar
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    If CAYMAN is an indication of where you live ignore this post. I have lived in places where it has reached -25 degrees F. In those temperatures the resins holding the carbon fibers together might become much more brittle. The US Army found that the plastics used in early tank corp hard-shell helmets became rigid below +50 degrees and would not absorb impact. Could somebody from Fairbanks tell us what carbon bikes do in extreme cold? Carbon has one big advantage when you get cold on a long ride. You can burn it to stay warm .
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    I used to have an aluminum road bike and put a carbon seatpost on it, afterwards I could definitely feel a difference in vibration, the ride was much more pleasant. For commuting though, it just doesn't seem necessary, durability and strength are more important. Also, if carbon gets scratched it can lead to serious structural issues.

  11. #11
    Senior Member concernicus's Avatar
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    the benefits of carbon are its light weight, and its vibration damping. however, it is significantly weaker than any metal or alloy. i do not recommend it for commuting

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    Quote Originally Posted by concernicus
    the benefits of carbon are its light weight, and its vibration damping. however, it is significantly weaker than any metal or alloy. i do not recommend it for commuting
    Agree. Someone else on this thread mentioned extreme cold is a problem for the resin. It is also suspect after long periods in sunlight - UV is bad for it. Carbon bikes look nice though.

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    The weakness of carbon is not strength but vulnerability to damage. It is soft and can be gouged by any metal or brick surface.
    Sooner or later, a commuter bike gets dropped against a brck wall, lamp-post or another bike.

  14. #14
    Barbieri Telefonico huhenio's Avatar
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    Aluminum should be better for commuting, leave carbon for racing.
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    Senior Member curt in denver's Avatar
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    I commute on carbon when the weather is nice and the roads are clean. The bike is too expensive to risk wiping out on for everyday commuting.
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    Carbon has a huge advantage for me... it pays my salary as a bike mechanic since we are busy replacing the carbon bits that seem to catastrophicly fail from time to time on other's bikes. For commuting, I can't think of a worse material. You have to worry about every nick and gouge. Not to mention that when carbon fails, it doesn't just fatigue and slowly stress/crack/whatever... its failures seem to come in the form of something breaking on a mountain descent. I was thinking the other day of a bad crash I was in once back when my road bike still had a steel fork, and how lucky I was that I didn't have a carbon fork yet... if it hadn't of broken, there is NO way I would have ever felt safe riding on it again.
    commuter turned bike mechanic turned commuter (also a Velocity USA employee, but this is my personal account)

  17. #17
    Get the stick. darkmother's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seely
    Carbon has a huge advantage for me... it pays my salary as a bike mechanic since we are busy replacing the carbon bits that seem to catastrophicly fail from time to time on other's bikes.
    I've never actually seen any carbon fibre bike stuff break, yet. Which parts have you seen, and what caused the failure, out of curiousity? I've seen some picures of broken forks and frames as a result of a crash, but never anything that failed in normal use. With all the super-light (stupid-light?) parts out there, I'd expect there are quite a few failures though, or there will be.

    The only CF thing on any of my bikes is a headset spacer. So far so good.

  18. #18
    DNPAIMFB pinkrobe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by darkmother
    I've never actually seen any carbon fibre bike stuff break, yet.
    Yah, same here. I've seen failed Al and steel bikes, but never a failed CF frame or fork. Nothing catastrophic either, just a chainstay break away from a BB or snapped dropouts. I've seen many a trashed wheel, including a spectacular rim separation. I imagine it's because there are so few cf bikes out there compared to Al and steel...
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    I don't everyday commute on my carbon. I do go for groceries, books, beer, into town. My bike rides better than the steel before it.
    And this stuff is not soft. I've knocked it hard. Good paint, mind. But, hard.
    It was also expensive, and is my only bike so it gets used and admired.
    Last edited by Farmpunker; 02-10-06 at 08:29 PM.

  20. #20
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    To the people who have expressed doubts about Carbon bikes:

    Do your concerns extend to Aluminum bikes with a carbon fork & seatpost? The reason I ask is that I am considering a Specialized Tricross which has both of these. The fork looks very beefy - maybe overbuilt to take offroad abuse.

    Secondly - I appeciate that many posters here have more than one bike. On one hand it makes sense to use a lesser (beater?) bike for daily commuting and reserve your spiffy bike for the weekend. I, on the other hand, am I one bike person and since > 95 % of my riding is commuting I'd rather have a nice bike and use it every day

  21. #21
    Senior Member curt in denver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slow Train
    Secondly - I appeciate that many posters here have more than one bike. On one hand it makes sense to use a lesser (beater?) bike for daily commuting and reserve your spiffy bike for the weekend. I, on the other hand, am I one bike person and since > 95 % of my riding is commuting I'd rather have a nice bike and use it every day
    Makes sense to me, happy riding
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  22. #22
    Senior Member gear's Avatar
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    After six years on a alum framed bike (with steel fork, alum bar and alum seat post) I switched to an alum frame with carbon fork, carbon bar and carbon seat post. Incredable difference in ride quality, much smoother.
    I'm wondering about all the postings warning about carbon fiber failures. Don't they make sports cars, motorcycles, airplanes, jets and space craft out of carbon fiber? Why would they use that material on those machines if it fails as often as some posters seem to indicate it does?
    I've now been riding on a bike with a carbon fiber fork for three years, I hate to tept fate but I just don't think this fork is any more likely to fail than an alum fork.

  23. #23
    the commutor / tourer mcavana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seely
    Carbon has a huge advantage for me... it pays my salary as a bike mechanic since we are busy replacing the carbon bits that seem to catastrophicly fail from time to time on other's bikes. For commuting, I can't think of a worse material. You have to worry about every nick and gouge. Not to mention that when carbon fails, it doesn't just fatigue and slowly stress/crack/whatever... its failures seem to come in the form of something breaking on a mountain descent. I was thinking the other day of a bad crash I was in once back when my road bike still had a steel fork, and how lucky I was that I didn't have a carbon fork yet... if it hadn't of broken, there is NO way I would have ever felt safe riding on it again.

    BS!!!! don't talk like this when you don't know what you are talking about. I can't stand it when someone tries to come accross as a "profesional" and then gives misinformation like this. please, share with us all what carbon parts you normaly have to replace... you know the ones that catastrophicly fail... especially when going down a mountain desent. I didn't think so. If i lived anywhere near your home town i would have to do more research to make sure you don't work in my LBS... You would never get near any of my bikes with your "knowledge"

    To the origional poster... common sense here says that for the average commuter, carbon is not ideal. true commuting happens rain or shine... day or night. you most likely will have to lock it up outside. kinda like a ferrari... sure, it could handle the rain and the dirt and the day to day dings, but would you want to do it?

    On most days I use my "tank"... an aluminum mountain bike with no suspension, bullet proof wheels, road tires, rack, and full light system. it sits in the rain, gets beat up, and works very well... if i need to stop at a store or something... no big deal. just lock it up with a simple light lock.

    When there is 0% chance of rain, and it is a nice day, and i have time to take the long way to work I will ride my Carbon Road Bike. It too has lights, but not as good of a setup as the tank. It is very nice to be able to ride it in every now and then. my employer has a secure parking lot, and i have a fantastic set of locks... however i will not stop at a store when riding it.

    If you are talking about owning only 1 bike, and using it regularly to commute, carbon would be a mistake.
    Last edited by Mike Cavanaugh; 02-11-06 at 05:35 PM.
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  24. #24
    Senior Member curt in denver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Cavanaugh
    BS!!!! don't talk like this when you don't know what you are talking about. I can't stand it when someone tries to come accross as a "profesional" and then gives misinformation like this. please, share with us all what carbon parts you normaly have to replace... you know the ones that catastrophicly fail... especially when going down a mountain desent. I didn't think so. If i lived anywhere near your home town i would have to do more research to make sure you don't work in my LBS... You would never get near any of my bikes with your "knowledge"

    I was thinking the same thing.
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  25. #25
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    old lugged carbon fails.. if anyone doubts it i will go snap a pic of a broken frame in my garage.
    it was a friends bike that could be described as "catastophically failing" though no one was hurt.

    but that said, i rain commute on lugged carbon and dry commute on a carbon/steel spine design.
    i am of the same thought that most of my riding is done on my commute and why not have a nice bike for those rides.
    the lugged frame has an aluminum fork. the road vibration is noticed immediately when swapping it from the Lemond and on longer rides it really wears on me. to be honest this lugged frame is really all wrong, it bends where it should be stiff and too stiff where it would be preferable for some give. i can't say i prefer it to the old steel bike i used to have. yes i do notice the flex though i can't say it makes me any slower.. i actually tend to be faster on it but i dislike the sensation of flex through the BB/chainstays.

    as for my Lemond.... it's as plush as i could hope for.
    Last edited by podman; 02-11-06 at 08:09 PM.

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