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Old 07-04-06, 06:31 PM   #1
sour01
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Titanium vs Carbon

I am going to eventually upgrade to a more modern bike---probably before this year is over. I have an 80's Univega Gran Premio with a steel frame and downtube shifters. It is a good bike and I have enjoyed it a lot---but want to experience some of the newer technology. I have watched DG's struggle with great interest. What are some of your thoughts about titanium frames vs carbon frames. Seems like titanium would stand up a bit longer than carbon in a fall or other type accident. If carbon breaks you are looking for a new bike. Is titanium too expensive?

Any thoughts or experience?
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Old 07-04-06, 07:10 PM   #2
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Not much difference between the two in cost. Both are horrendously expensive but since there is only 2-2.5# of material in the frame material costs could triple without doing much to frame pricing which has more to do with manufacturing costs and R&D and what the market will bear. Judging from the trends, carbon is definitely on the upswing as a frame material. Carbon frames are very tough but their impact resistance, though large aint nothing like Ti which is the closest thing to a lifetime frame among present materials. Of course Ti will dent where carbon cracks but hits heavy enough to destroy a frame are likely to be pretty damaging on your 50+ bod as well so I would not be too concerned over frame material.
You realize that you are in the $2500 and up (way up) range with these materials for new bikes. No one really knows what the life span of a carbon frame is because the manufacturing technology is continually changing and definitely improving so any statement to that is opinion. The rate of technology transfer from aerospace to bike making is fairly high and planes are a lot more hostile environment than you will ever be on your carbon steed.
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Old 07-04-06, 07:12 PM   #3
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I was in much the same situation as you a few years ago. Here are my two cents:

Test ride a lot of bikes. You may be surprised that two highly regarded bikes made from the same material will have significantly different rides.

Get a good fit. A good-fitting "crappy" frame is far better than a poor fitting "great" frame. But it's best to hold out for a good fitting "great" frame.

Check the warranties. Most of the top marques will replace a carbon frame if it fails. Others will have a lot more to say than I on this subject, since I don't own a carbon bike, but it seems like they're pretty reliable these days.

Shop for a good deal. I ended up buying a left-over 2003 LeMond titanium bike right before the 2004 season. I paid less than 2K. Since I wasn't in a hurry I just kept looking and looking and looking. Think of it like dating before you make a commitment.
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Old 07-04-06, 07:22 PM   #4
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Nothing wrong with steel.
The most recent bike that I bought is built on a steel frame, it is as light as most anything out there (custom lugged steel frame built from a Deddacai Zero tubeset) - rides better and should outlast me. As I get older, comfort becomes more and more important, I have never found something as comfortable as steel.

FWIW, the bike weighs in at a bit over 17lbs.
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Old 07-04-06, 07:53 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sauerwald
Nothing wrong with steel.
The most recent bike that I bought is built on a steel frame, it is as light as most anything out there (custom lugged steel frame built from a Deddacai Zero tubeset) - rides better and should outlast me. As I get older, comfort becomes more and more important, I have never found something as comfortable as steel.

FWIW, the bike weighs in at a bit over 17lbs.
Make? Builder?
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Old 07-04-06, 09:16 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackberry
Since I wasn't in a hurry I just kept looking and looking and looking. Think of it like dating before you make a commitment.
What, you mean buy a bike after five minutes???
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Old 07-04-06, 10:05 PM   #7
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Damn, Paulie, most of my life decisions are made in about 5 minutes.......but it takes me arduous time to pick out a pair of tires. Ah, the humanity of it!
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Old 07-05-06, 07:11 AM   #8
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I think you need to ride both and see which YOU like. I have a friend who had a CF Kestrel for years and loved it. He decided to get a new bike, got rid of the Kestrel and got a great deal on a Litespeed. He likes the Litespeed but if he had to do it over again he would go back to CF. I know people who are just the opposite as well. You really have to figure out what works best for you, any bike in those price ranges is going to be a good bike.
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Old 07-05-06, 07:33 AM   #9
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I suggest you go to Seven cycles and have a custom frame made just for you. You can get a ti frame, a steel frame or a frame with a mix of carbon and ti. Anyway you go for material, you'll find that the custom fit is the best move. There's nothing like a bike that fits perfectly.
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Old 07-05-06, 08:40 AM   #10
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I ride full carbon, however, I'm saving for a ti bike too... not because I think it will be better. It will be different. The first titanium bikes I rode were not stiff enough for me. Anytime I stood to climb or sprint the chain would just rub up front with a grinding noise that drove me nuts. However, lately the titanium builders have done a much better job with getting the right tubes in the right place to get rid of the sloppy flex. I figure it will take just shy of two years of cutting back on lunches out and the savings I'm hoping to garner from only drinking water (no more of the carbonation in any drinks for me) before I can have both carbon and ti. So maybe the post shouldn't be titanium vs. carbon. Maybe it should be titanium and carbon. Of course, you'll still have to determine which to get first.
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Old 07-05-06, 08:53 AM   #11
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I believe that the bicycle business is pretty competitive. If you go to a bike shop, I think any bike you see with 105, ultegra or dura ace will be a good bike. Now some bikes have kind of plain vanilla frames to get the components and others go the other way. Even so, I think the frame gives more of a "feel" to the ride and not a whole bunch else.

I have put quite a few miles on aluminum and now a titanium frame. Both work fine. I have never ridden a CF frame. But I know plenty of people who do who really like them. But there are some people who like chocolate and others who like strawberry or vanilla or pralines and cream (in ice creams of course). I think something like ride "feel" is like ice cream flavors, pretty much a matter of personal taste. I would suggest that you go and ride some CF and titanium frames and see which you like better.
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Old 07-05-06, 09:29 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sour01
What are some of your thoughts about titanium frames vs carbon frames. Seems like titanium would stand up a bit longer than carbon in a fall or other type accident. If carbon breaks you are looking for a new bike. Is titanium too expensive?

Any thoughts or experience?
Ok, just lost reply, trying again.

If you can afford it, get TI. It's a wonderful ride, smooth and body friendly. CF is almost as friendly but doesn't stand up to hard shocks, i.e. hard pot holes, curb jumping, etc. You might get a new CF bike if it fails, but it depends on manufacturer warranty. Best Ti bikes are: Guru, Lightspeed and Quintana Roo.
Seven isn't bad, but it's not as aero as Lightspeed or Guru. Both Lightspeed and Guru make custom bikes for you.

If you're above 215+ lbs, it's either Guru beefed up CF frame or a Ti frame. Ti will cost about $1,400 more than CF. The problem with higher weights is lateral stability tends to be a problem. I really want an Ti and was looking for a CF, i.e. cheaper alternative. The problem is only one CF will work for me. Steel is too heavy. Al is too harsh.
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Old 07-05-06, 09:31 AM   #13
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Forgot to mention, I traded bikes for about 5 miles and rode a Giant TCR, CF frame. I hated it because it had too much side to side flexing. Ride before you decide.
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Old 07-05-06, 09:49 AM   #14
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[QUOTE=Pat] But there are some people who like chocolate and others who like strawberry or vanilla QUOTE]

Speaking of Vanilla, these look pretty yummy:

http://www.vanillabicycles.com/
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Old 07-05-06, 10:24 AM   #15
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[QUOTE=Blackberry]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pat
But there are some people who like chocolate and others who like strawberry or vanilla QUOTE]

Speaking of Vanilla, these look pretty yummy:

http://www.vanillabicycles.com/

REALLY yummie!

another New Frame? Divorce?
tough decision

back to your regularly scheduled pencillead discussion...
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Old 07-05-06, 10:32 AM   #16
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Moots is a premier Ti frame builder... check them out.
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Old 07-05-06, 11:13 AM   #17
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Ti and Cf are the top of the range materials for bikes- If you are used to Aluminium- then it rides a lot differently and steel can feel a bit firm still.

Main thing is to Test ride the two materials and in a many different manufacturers as you can. If You want someone to come down on one or the other- Then I would go for Titanium. Reason is that Any form of resin bonded material has a major flaw in that Damage starts from the inside- Where you cannot see it. Any hard knock has to be inspected thoroughly and If any dammage is seen- Or suspected- Then scrap the frame immediately.

However- Both these materials are the dream of most riders. I know TI is mine. But if after the test ride- Carbon Fibre is your favourite- Then just take a little more care with the bike and Ride it into the ground- In about 20 years I should think.

Gear has pointed something out- These frames are not going to be cheap= so look at the Custom build to get one that does fit you- As Gear has suggested
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Old 07-05-06, 11:27 AM   #18
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Merlin makes some sweet titanium bikes at the lower end of the "fancy bike" price range. They also do custom work for inexpensive prices.
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Old 07-05-06, 08:50 PM   #19
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Everybody recommends TEST RIDE. It sounds so simple unless you live in a mid size town which is not focused on road biking. We have a few LBS's but nothing like the bigger towns in bike friendly locations.
Now what? I need a new bike for another coast to coast credit card tour. Litespeed was the most popular bike on the last tour. Add another few Titanium frame bikes from Roark and others. Seems as if Ti is the choice of these tours, or is it not? There were several full carbon bikes also but from many manufacturers. None dominated.
My local LBS carry Trek. That is it. My weight is 195 and not much fat (6 ft).
Any comments?
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Old 07-05-06, 09:02 PM   #20
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In beaucoup years of riding, have owned steel, alu, ti and currently own a custom c/f.
All were good/great bikes for their time. Carbon is responsive, light, stiff and above all more comfortable than the metal ones.
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Old 07-05-06, 09:02 PM   #21
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I think Rivendell makes great "fast touring" road frames. Comfortable, stable, and responsive to pedal input. Not as light as carbon or titanium of course, but a high end group and a good wheelset can put them in the ball park. Plenty of room for wide tires and fenders, if you want to go that way.
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Old 07-05-06, 09:35 PM   #22
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I own a Riv Romulus. Steel. It is a great road-eating cruiser for long, paced rides and it tracks like Gary Diego on the scent of cheap perfume. I especially like its descending stability. Damped as much by its geometry as its construction, yet I can draft in our local grupetto w/o anxiety-- although it is no racing bike. Its neither light nor heavy (relative terms), but then people were racing the Tour on bikes of this weight not many years ago...as well as trekking over mountains, etc.

Still..........I plan on buying some iteration of carbon next season just because.........because I'm curious, beaten down by hype, and have noted all the many recommends here at BF.

LOL....I would also like to buy a Rans Velocity 'bent which I tried while visiting a friend.

So many bikes, so little time.
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Old 07-05-06, 09:59 PM   #23
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I would also like to buy a Rans Velocity 'bent which I tried while visiting a friend.

So many bikes, so little time.
I rode a Rans Velocity in Indiana last week. Man, I felt like a whale among minnows.
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Old 07-05-06, 10:11 PM   #24
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I test rode both CF and Ti frames pretty extensively before deciding what bike to get. I chose CF.

Both are expensive. Both are lightweight. Both are a tremendous pleasure to ride. You won't go seriously wrong either way.

For me, the difference was in how they felt when riding over rough roads, gravel, etc. The CF frames, especially the good ones, absorbed those nicely. The Ti frames, in my experience, generally transmitted more high-frequency road vibration to key contact points like saddle and handlebars. I like to do occasionaly long-ish (~100-mile) rides, and I think I'd feel a bit more beat up after one of those on Ti than I do after one of those on carbon. On my current CF frame (Trek Madone SL) I can do a century, and while the legs may be tired and sore, the rest of me feels great.

I have heard anecdotally that some Ti frames suffer from rather flexy bottom brackets. I never experienced this, but I weigh about 145 pounds, so my experiences may not be representative of what a heavier rider would feel.
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Old 07-05-06, 10:48 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackberry
I rode a Rans Velocity in Indiana last week. Man, I felt like a whale among minnows.
Yes, I can easily see the size thing...especially with that 26" wheel sticking out in front of an already lwb frame. I felt like Casey Jones driving a locomotive. Didn't much care for low speed in traffic, but when I hit some rolling hills in the country that machine really earned the name "velocity". It just flattened those rollers and ate up the road. After adjusting physically to the position and becoming more pedaling efficient, it must be a real gas to ride flats and rolling hills. Steeper climbs would probably feel very slow and awkward, but then on the downhill side..........

I've ridden recumbents before, and never really felt comfortable sitting down low in traffic. In fact, I felt anxious when passed by trucks. Can't imagine riding a trike as some do.
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