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Old 10-15-08, 05:37 PM   #1
texraid
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Should I go with carbon? The other side of the brain says NO!!! Not the dark side!

Ok, I'm thinking of joining the 21st century in cycling. My Raleigh is a GREAT ride and puts a smile on my face, but I'm thinking about another bike other than my bank/grocery store hauler.

Of course, most under 50 say go with a modern bike...ya gotta have a plastic bike. Reynolds 531, what's that? Hmmm, steel bike probably heavy ........even thought it weighs in at 22 lbs. Friction shifting, downtube shifting, even worse.

So today I found a STEEL Waterford, several years old, asking $1200. I was thinking offering a grand. In like new condition with all Campagnola components. I know it's not exactly 21st century but close for me.

What is the general concensus? Go to the dark side or is the other side of my brain leading me in right direction?

Why or why not?
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Old 10-15-08, 05:44 PM   #2
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Buy what you like...I have aluminum and CF and really like the CF...but I don't own any steel so I can't compare that.
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Old 10-15-08, 05:47 PM   #3
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Buy what you like...I have aluminum and CF and really like the CF...but I don't own any steel so I can't compare that.
Fair enough, ok then I will broaden the question. Waterford steel (or other steel), carbon fiber, or quality aluminum?
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Old 10-15-08, 05:50 PM   #4
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After reading my post it sounded sarcastic, it wasn't meant to be. I always buy what I want and if that steel bike is calling your name, I would be all over it.
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Old 10-15-08, 05:57 PM   #5
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After reading my post it sounded sarcastic, it wasn't meant to be. I always buy what I want and if that steel bike is calling your name, I would be all over it.
I didn't take it that way Metric Man. In fact, on other boards I've been fondly known as the cranky old fart stirring up trouble....much to my delight. Your post made me realize I left out the "other metal"

I too always buy what I want, but after a 35 year cycling absence I figure it's wise to get opinions to make that decision.
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Old 10-15-08, 05:58 PM   #6
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If you can afford CF why not consider titanium instead. It's almost as good as steel (yes I ride steel) but has the "bling" factor!
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Old 10-15-08, 05:58 PM   #7
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Get full carbon. It is kind on the joints and gentle for the soul.
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Old 10-15-08, 06:01 PM   #8
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It really all comes down to the type of rider you are, how hard you push the bike and whether the bike you choose makes you happy for how you use it. I've gotten to the point where I look for a certain geometry and responsiveness in a bike but everyone is different. So it's hard to say what would work for you, that's for you to decide.
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Old 10-15-08, 06:06 PM   #9
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Unless you are racing and a bit of weight and stiffness at the expense of comfort is worth it to you, I would definitely say the Waterford. If you are riding for enjoyment, knowing you can make it up your local hill 1% faster won't make you want to ride more, but a more comfortable bike will.
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Old 10-15-08, 06:08 PM   #10
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Start off gradually at first with a CF bottle cage.
Buy a new part every 2-3 months till you have a complete CF bike.
Hang on the living room wall.
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Old 10-15-08, 06:11 PM   #11
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At the very least, RIDE a CF bike before you decide. bk
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Old 10-15-08, 06:27 PM   #12
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CF will please the body. I did ride alumium and it beat me up every ride over 30 miles. CF is light and all that stuff, but the real reason I REALLY like CF is that it absorbs much of the vibration from the road. If you do not like to ride distances, it would not be worth the extra cost.
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Old 10-15-08, 06:46 PM   #13
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Carbon frames are not all equal. Some (probably most) are built for racing/performance and thus tend toward being stiff.

Carbon fiber is actually significantly better than steel at vibration absorption. Many heavy industry plants use carbon fiber vibration dampers on machinery, where steel would largely pass the vibrations straight through. Indeed the equipment that is in need of vibration dampening is usually made out of steel.

Thus a carbon frame that is designed for comfort would yield a smoother ride than anything Waterford, or anyone else, could make out of steel.

When I was test riding a lot of bikes, I perceived significant differences in ride smoothness from bike to bike, even when the bikes were seemingly configured alike. That is, bikes with aluminum triangles with carbon forks, seat stays, and seat posts.

However as I have almost no experience with higher end bikes, I can't tell you which carbon bikes are smoother.
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Old 10-15-08, 06:57 PM   #14
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Followup with a personal experience.

When I was buying a bike this Spring, I came down to two finalist. A 2006 Fuji Absolute 1.0 that had an aluminum triangle with carbon fork, seat stays, and seat post vs a Gunnar (Waterford made) RockTour cro-moly frame & fork. The Fuji had "won" the contest for smoothest ride of more than two dozen flat-bar / fitness hybrid bikes that I had ridden. I couldn't find a RockTour that was already built up, but I did find a fully built Gunnar RockHound, a very similar frame that had the same fork and wheelset that I would have put on the RockTour.

In riding these two bikes over the same roads and paths, the Fuji was the smoother ride and it really wasn't that close. This despite the Fuji having thinner tires on it. I was surprised by this outcome.
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Old 10-15-08, 06:58 PM   #15
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I say forget the Waterford and buy carbon. By the way, what size is the Waterford and do you have the guys phone number or e-mail?
I have a friend who has a Waterford and he absolutely loves it. I have a Ti bike and I really like it and don't think I would ever part with it. I had a steel bike and it rode even better than my ti. If you can buy the Waterford for that price and it fits you, you will have a smooth riding quality bike that will last a long long time. Then while enjoying the Waterford you can watch for an equally good deal on a used carbon bike and you will have one of each for what you would pay for a new carbon.
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Old 10-15-08, 07:21 PM   #16
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Fair enough, ok then I will broaden the question. Waterford steel (or other steel), carbon fiber, or quality aluminum?
I have a strong opinion about one of those materials, aluminum, but the other two it's a toss up. I do some bike flipping so from time to time I have different bike brands and materials of construction in the basement at any given time. I've had a couple of all aluminum Treks and currently have an all aluminum Cannondale. They ride very stiff, with little shock absorption. My old, 96 Cannondale SR500, all aluminum but with a head shock, was my main road bike for the last three seasons. The headshock made a significant difference, but when I started to take longer rides, in the 50 to 60 mile range, that aluminum frame took its toll. I've recently acquired a Specialized Allez, an aluminum bike with carbon fork and carbon seat post. I haven't taken enough rides to evaluate it thoroughly, but the carbon fork and seat post do help. Still, IMHO, aluminum is not the way to go.
I had two all steel Bianchis that I really liked, but the frame sizes were either too small or too large. But the short rides I did, (20 miles) told me I would really like steel. Consequently I've acquired an old steel Centurion Ironman frame that I intend to build up.
About a month ago I decided I was riding enough to buy a new bike, an all carbon Giant OCR-C3. It's great. Very soft ride, very stable, handles like a dream. The differences between the Giant OCR-C and the Cannondale don't show up immediatley. However, after I'm on the bike for 40 miles, I've usually had it when I'm on the Cannondale. But I find I can ride the Giant another 20 miles before I've reached that point where I'm tired. I am going to build up that steel ride though, I still like the feel of steel. Between those two materials, I'd say go with the one you like best.
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Old 10-15-08, 07:28 PM   #17
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Carbon! Carbon is lighter, stiffer, absorbs vibration, and looks cooler. Some people complain that carbon can feel 'dead,' but that just means you don't feel the shocks like you would with steel. I consider that a Good Thing.
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Old 10-15-08, 07:31 PM   #18
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Thanks all for the good advice and direction.

Chances are I will have to take spry's advice and buy carbon a piece at a time, but then RoMad, TB, and others have good points on carbon bikes to make note of. I think I can make a deal and try it out for a day or two and decide from there.

If it doesn't work out, RoMad has first dibbs. I do like the idea of buying used though.
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Old 10-15-08, 07:37 PM   #19
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Carbon! Carbon is lighter, stiffer, absorbs vibration, and looks cooler. Some people complain that carbon can feel 'dead,' but that just means you don't feel the shocks like you would with steel. I consider that a Good Thing.
I must be too old...I think old steel looks better...I can see the advantages of less road shock though. On the other hand, the last race I did was the Honda Ontario 8 hour, but that was on a motorcycle in 1980...I'm not built for racing anymore.

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Old 10-15-08, 07:52 PM   #20
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Aluminum is the worst common bike material in terms of vibration absorption. That said, different aluminum bikes will feel different, based upon how the tubing is designed.

The fact that aluminum is the worst, was what made me all the more surprised when my AL/CF combo bike was smoother than a Gunner (and a Jamis) all steel bike. I concluded that the carbon pieces that I do have, must have been designed more for comfort & vibration absorption than many of the others that I tested.
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Old 10-15-08, 07:58 PM   #21
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I ride an aluminum bike (7,000 miles this year) with a group that has steel and some carbon bikes.
They all vibrate. I believe it comes down to PSI Level in the tire.
Most of the group has 30 plus years in bike riding and racing. They agree that tire PSI is most important for ride quality.
My 2 cents.
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Old 10-15-08, 08:17 PM   #22
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Stay away from the CF.
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Old 10-15-08, 08:32 PM   #23
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I have steel and carbon and the carbon wins hands down. They aren't even close. The steel is a custom built Davidson with Columbus SL tubing from 1981, the carbon is a Kuota Kredo with Campy Chorus. I ride the two bike with 2 sets of wheels, Campy Vento and Velomax Tempest. Usually I mix the sets up, Vento front, Velomax rear on the Davidson, vice versa on the Kuota. The components on the Davidson are a mix of old and new. Downtube Campy NR shifters and derailleurs, but a 10sp cassette. The combination shifts flawlessly and silently. When it comes to the ride though, I go back to carbon every time. The Davidson is really just a show ride at this point that I take to the park.
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Old 10-15-08, 08:41 PM   #24
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If you've got the budget for it, my vote is for a used titanium frame with cf bar and fork. Good time of the year to find a moots, merlin or litespeed road frame/bike deal. TST made some great frames too, relatively unknown and are usually an excellent value.

Ti will survive minor crashes and falls. I had a collision with a car (not my fault) which bent my steel fork, but my ti frame was unaffected. Gashed/abraded/cut cf makes me worry too much. Ti is actually a good value in the long run if you can ride it for years/10,000s of miles (i have).

Aluminum is perfectly fine too with a cf bar, fork. Giant et al have used hydroforming to really advance Al frame technology in economical bikes.

As noted by previous poster, tire selection can make a big difference too. Somehow people overlook this and go straight for a whole new bike. For greatest value, experiment with tires, then a cf bar. Both can be transferred to a new(er) frame/bike if these measures prove inadequate/unsatisfactory, so that investment is not wasted.
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Old 10-15-08, 08:44 PM   #25
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At the very least, RIDE a CF bike before you decide. bk
That's it in a nutshell.
My first bike was steel (Schwinn Varsity) and I didn't ride it or appreciate it enough.
My second bike was steel (Gitane) and intentionally so (I passed on that new fangled aluminum)
A couple of years ago I did buy aluminum but with carbon forks and seat post (LeMond)

That bike was wonderful and still is.
Sure, it's a bit buzzy but it's light, it's stiff and it's responsive, maybe too much so.

I was perfectly happy with that bike but, when I joined my wife as she tried out a couple of bikes, I took out a CF bike to keep her company. Twice. I knew it was over. It had everything my LeMond does but took less power to move and it really killed the road buzz.

That said, I have no doubt another steel bike is in my future but I am sold on carbon
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