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  1. #1
    Senior Member CrossChain's Avatar
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    Your Ace Bike Reviewer Confronts.......Carbon.

    Just got back from a demo-day in the park where I rode a carbon fiber Cannondale Synapse....DuraAce, zoot wheels, cf everything, etc. My first time on a cf bike. Rode aluminum once...it went "clunk" where my steel went "twang" and I didn't care for it. Ahhhh, but the carbon fiber........................

    The Synapse I was told by the rep is somewhere between a Roubaix for comfort and a Tarmac for performance. OK. It hefted, admittedly without bottles or saddle pack, like a handful of summer breeze.

    I'll skip my experiences on my 10 miler up a few hills and over every bump I could find. My impressions: the light weight (and perhaps the geometry plus my enthusiasm and the fact that I'd ridden my '93 RockHopper down to the demo) gave me the impression of really quick acceleration seated or standing. I was disappointed over the road buzz; I think my steel Romulus is more comfortable there. For that matter, I like my Ergo shifters better than STI...I have small hands and the thumb trigger and shorter lever throw and the shape of the hoods feels better. The Fizik Aliante (?) saddle, at least for a brief ride, felt good.

    Wish I'd had a Pilot 5.2 or a Roubaix Elite for comparison...maybe their slightly more laid back build would
    have suggested more comfort. The Cannondale Synapse is a fun little hot rod that would be fun to ride in a group with quick accelerations & short sharp climbs. For a longish weekend ride......I'll stick with what I have. Wagathon's take on the Pilot 5.2 was most interesting as he rode it up and over some mountains and froze his tail off in the process.....more the kind of bike I would consider at my "sensible" age.

    Altogether, I returned home, jumped on 2 of my 3 steel bikes and felt no reason to feel seriously short-changed by my lack of being on the cutting edge. Still, I would like to comparison ride an Ultegra Pilot or Roubaix beside a, say, De Rosa Neo Primato......that would be a fun aftenoon!
    Last edited by CrossChain; 09-17-06 at 06:25 PM.
    Riding and aging don't get easier, you just get slower at slowing down.] (FiftyPlus observation inspired by G. Lemond.)

  2. #2
    Geezer Member Grampy™'s Avatar
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    Last year my LBS had the Cannondale truck there for a "Demo day". I rode my Reparto corse steel Bianchi (all celeste), with my Topolino's over to the shop to try out some of the bikes..... While they were switching my pedals over to one of thier bikes a kid yells out and points at my bike, "I want one like that!"........ it was an awkward moment.
    Carpe who?

  3. #3
    Senior Member dauphin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grampy™
    Last year my LBS had the Cannondale truck there for a "Demo day". I rode my Reparto corse steel Bianchi (all celeste), with my Topolino's over to the shop to try out some of the bikes..... While they were switching my pedals over to one of thier bikes a kid yells out and points at my bike, "I want one like that!"........ it was an awkward moment.
    very cool.

  4. #4
    Lincoln, CA Mojo Slim's Avatar
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    I love impressing kids. A few years ago I was on my MTB and stopped for a coke at a little store. A kid, about 10 years old, said, "Cool bike. Are those "cnaoghobnoejhroeh" wheels?" I had no idea what he said or if they were the wheels of which he spoke, but answered "yes" and slipped into the store without looking back. Hmmm. That might have been the last time I impressed a kid.
    Truth is stranger than reality.
    '96 Giant ATX 760 MTB
    '01 Bianchi Eros
    '05 Giant OCR Llimited Carbon Fiber + upgrades

  5. #5
    Dharma Dog lhbernhardt's Avatar
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    I find that as I get older, I am less and less driven to go out and purchase the next big thang. Could it be maturity? And here I wanted to stay 19 forever... Could also be due to having been unemployed for much of the past three years. But I've already got a carbon fiber Trek and an aluminum track Dolan, so I don't feel really driven to upgrade my steel tandem.

    In fact, I'm somewhat determined to keep riding that tandem until it's thirty years old (about four more years). In British Columbia, motor vehicles that reach 30 become "vintage" cars, so I'm looking forward to riding a vintage tandem. In fact, there's a kind of reverse snobbery in having a frame designed the "old-fashioned way," where the wheelbase is below 68 inches, the stoker compartment is short (25 inches), and the lateral tube doesn't go down to the rear bottom bracket, but instead splits into two lateral stays at the stoker's seat tube and joins the seat stays above the rear dropouts. This is the way any old Italian-made tandem was designed, it makes the tandem's handling very quick (relative to contemporary designs with stretch stoker compartments), and this design is becoming increasingly rare amongst tandems nowadays. I had considered getting an aluminum tandem, but aluminum is such a harsh-riding material (great for track bikes, though), and I think carbon fiber would be an ideal material for a tandem, but I'm not excited about spending $6000 or more for another boring-looking tandem, $8000 if I want S&S couplers on it...

    So yes, never feel pressured to buy. Be cantankerous, and resist the bike industry freaks!

    - L.

  6. #6
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lhbernhardt
    But I've already got a carbon fiber Trek and an aluminum track Dolan, so I don't feel really driven to upgrade my steel tandem.

    In fact, I'm somewhat determined to keep riding that tandem until it's thirty years old (about four more years). In British Columbia, motor vehicles that reach 30 become "vintage" cars, so I'm looking forward to riding a vintage tandem. In fact, there's a kind of reverse snobbery in having a frame designed the "old-fashioned way," where the wheelbase is below 68 inches, the stoker compartment is short (25 inches), and the lateral tube doesn't go down to the rear bottom bracket, but instead splits into two lateral stays at the stoker's seat tube and joins the seat stays above the rear dropouts. This is the way any old Italian-made tandem was designed, it makes the tandem's handling very quick (relative to contemporary designs with stretch stoker compartments), and this design is becoming increasingly rare amongst tandems nowadays. I had considered getting an aluminum tandem, but aluminum is such a harsh-riding material (great for track bikes, though), and I think carbon fiber would be an ideal material for a tandem, but I'm not excited about spending $6000 or more for another boring-looking tandem, $8000 if I want S&S couplers on it...

    So yes, never feel pressured to buy. Be cantankerous, and resist the bike industry freaks!

    - L.
    Have to agree about Aluminium being a harsh frame material but I ride offroad on a hardtail and front suspension. Rear suspension is taken care of by lifting out of the saddle on the solo. Big advantage of aluminium is that harsh "No-Flex" ride. It is stiff and all the pedal power is transmitted to the rear wheel. I can hear the cries of BS already but it works for me. One of the reasons why the Lightweight custom frame had to go and why the Kona Explosif is rarely used. I, at least, can feel the difference.
    My tandem is still an offroad beastie in aluminium and front suspension is taken care off with a pair of Full Downhill Boxer forks. Rear suspension is courtesy of a Cane Creek Thudbuster and that comes into its own on every downhill that we do. This frame is strong- it has to be and the inherrant problem of Aluminium comes to the fore. That is why the suspension has to be so good- but if I were to choose another frame tomorrow- then it would be made of Aluminium- as stiff as the frames that I currently ride-and as strong- but I could do with going up a grade or two to get a lighter frame.

    Every one to their own material , but Carbon fibre is a rarity among mountain bikers. There is still the feeling that it makes for a good handling bike that is very light- but the shocks of offroading would cause those "Tremor" shakes that would cause the frame to fail- long before a steel or Aluminium frame would.
    Now on a road bike- I could see an advantage. It is lighter than the other materials, is as stiff as is necessary but the comfort factor comes in. The only other material that comes close is Titanium, and I haven't ridden one of those either for comparison.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


    Spike Milligan

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