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  1. #1
    Senior Member GFish's Avatar
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    Why Carbon?? What am I missing??

    Please help me understand, why buy a carbon bike?

    Sure, the Pro's ride them, but if your a recreational rider, even a serious one, I still don't understand the rational for buying a carbon bike.

    I've read comments and threads on carbon bikes, seen the pictures of cracked frames, and understand the idea of lighter, faster and ride comfort, except steel and Ti can achieve similar performance, carbon bikes just don't add up.

    I could go on, but I'll wait to read what others think.........
    Last edited by GFish; 01-25-12 at 12:42 PM.

  2. #2
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    Weight, they can weigh a lot less than most metal frames; design your not restricted by tubing, and can make areas stiffer (bottom bracket shell) or not as needed; Cost, Carbon has got cheaper and cheaper, yes the high end ones are still expensive, byt the lower end are now as cheap / cheaper than their metal alternatives.

    For breaking, realistically, most of the cracked frames you see would have failed regardless of the material used.

  3. #3
    Senior Member jmccain's Avatar
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    I'm not sure what your definition of a recreational rider is, but that's what I consider myself. I'm not training for anything but life. I do ride nearly every day on mostly bad roads. I just bought a carbon fiber bike, which is what I think you're derisively calling plastic, and after a couple of rides can report that it does ride very well indeed on crap roads.

    And...it's a lot of fun!

  4. #4
    Senior Member gear's Avatar
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    Your insistance on calling carbon fiber plastic means you do not really want any serious answers to the question you pose.

  5. #5
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    Gear, in the post above, makes a good point. You say you've read threads before about carbon fiber, yet still ask. Sounds more like trolling.
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. - S. Wright

  6. #6
    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    I honestly had a similar opinion until I rode some. I'm a clyde and the weight issue isn't the allure. I ride oil and chip roads that have a very course surface. The CF bikes were just so much smoother and didn't transfer near as much vibration through the handlebars. Numbness and hand fatigue dropped to almost nothing. There's probably steel bikes that could do this but I didn't find any.

  7. #7
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    If you don't want it, don't buy it. Great bikes are made from many different materials. For a multitude of marketing/engineering/economic/whatever reasons, carbon is where the mainstream of the bike manufacturing industry is focusing most of their development nowadays, so most of the commonly available nice bikes are made with carbon.
    Steel is real and plastic is fantastic. Read this thread to see a retrogrouch's tale of stepping out of his self made box and trying something different (and loving it).
    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...ic!?highlight=
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  8. #8
    Senior Member John_V's Avatar
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    I had the same questions as the OP on CF bikes and couldn't understand why someone would spend that kind of money and take that risk of a frame failure. I was judging that by the posts that I have read here on BF and the photos that were shown. I ride with two different clubs on the weekends and 9 out of 10 road bikes in these groups are CF. No one I talked to has reported any problems with their CF frames. I have also talked to several people at the MUP that I ride at, as most of the bikes there are also CF (and no problems reported), and yesterday ordered a new CF bike to replace my aluminum Defy. Any material can fail given the right circumstances. Look at how many booms on construction cranes have failed under stress.
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  9. #9
    Semper Fi, A way of life. qcpmsame's Avatar
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    I just made the decision between CF and aluminum in purchasing my CAAD 10, the CF bikes I tried were so light and in most cases very stiff, so is my new scoot. I chose Aluminum because it stands a better chance with my clumsiness of surviving for 10 years, my minimum time for a bicycle to last me. My R500T was a 97 model and now my son is enjoying it, for goodness knows how long. The CF bicycles can smooth out seriously rough roads and I suspect the CF fork on my CAAD 10, along with the SAVE frame spec do a lot of the smoothing out on my bicycle.

    I work with a former, retired nuclear industry metallurgist and failure analysis guru, I grilled him relentlessly about aluminum alloy properties and CF materials he has knowledge of before I decided. Just doing my due diligence. CF could work for me if I strictly raced or fast recreational rode, I am sure. Many friends have CF bicycles.

    As said, I suspect this is a troll, if you read as much as you said and then just set up a question to bring out an argument then you loose in the 50+ forum. We can discuss this rationally and see the good points to steel, CF and aluminum as well as titanium, or any other alloy of polymer that is out there, as well as the negatives we have experienced. YMMV

    Bill
    Last edited by qcpmsame; 01-25-12 at 06:13 AM.
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  10. #10
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    This discussion would probably do better in the Road Cycling forum.

    They're much more accommodating to discussions about plastic bikes.

  11. #11
    <riding now> BigAura's Avatar
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    They are fun to ride.


  12. #12
    Senior Member donheff's Avatar
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    I don't understand the weight issue. Theoretically, a couple of pounds on a bike should make no more difference than a couple of pounds on a rider. I have a good cyclocross bike (Specialized Tricross Comp - aluminum, carbon forks) and like how it rides. But I have rented light weight CF road bikes on trips and was surprised at how quick and responsive some of them felt, particularly on hills. Does the reduction in weight on the bike itself somehow count more than the overall weight of rider and bike?
    Every man is, or hopes to be, an Idler. -- Samuel Johnson

  13. #13
    Senior Member TomD77's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by qcpmsame View Post
    I just made the decision between CF and aluminum in purchasing my CAAD 10, the CF bikes I tried were so light and in most cases very stiff, so is my new scoot. I chose Aluminum because it stands a better chance with my clumsiness of surviving for 10 years, my minimum time for a bicycle to last me. My R500T was a 97 model and now my son is enjoying it, for goodness knows how long. The CF bicycles can smooth out seriously rough roads and I suspect the CF fork on my CAAD 10, along with the SAVE frame spec do a lot of the smoothing out on my bicycle.
    This is spooky. I ride occasionally with another poster here who also lives in the Pensacola area who also very recently (couple of weeks) bought the very same bike.


    About the original post, leading off with a pejorative term will hardly elicit reasoned response.

  14. #14
    Senior Member BikeArkansas's Avatar
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    I have had aluminum bikes, a very good steel bike, a combination aluminum and CF bike. For me, none are as good overall as carbon fiber. I say this even though I am one of the riders with a cracked carbon fiber frame.
    I started riding my bike to get healthy. Now I try to stay healthy so I can ride my bike.

  15. #15
    Senior Member big john's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by donheff View Post
    I don't understand the weight issue. Theoretically, a couple of pounds on a bike should make no more difference than a couple of pounds on a rider. I have a good cyclocross bike (Specialized Tricross Comp - aluminum, carbon forks) and like how it rides. But I have rented light weight CF road bikes on trips and was surprised at how quick and responsive some of them felt, particularly on hills. Does the reduction in weight on the bike itself somehow count more than the overall weight of rider and bike?
    Weight is weight and 2 pounds will cost the same watts on a hill whether on the bike or body. For someone who is as lean as they are going to be (not me) taking 2 pounds off the bike can be huge on a long climb.

    fwiw I have broken 3 steel frames and 1 aluminum frame.

  16. #16
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    I only ride steel bikes and am kind of known for the eccentricity of it in my bike club. In the club, which is mellow by the standards of what I read about here on BF. Most people aren't just recreational cyclists, they are hobbyists. Some, not all, hobbyists are as fascinated by having the latest and/or best gear for their hobby as they are in participating in the hobby's primary activity. Even I am guilty of this to an extent, although my fascination lies with vintage gear.

    Still, I rode with the fast group Saturday, on a 25-ish pound 1983 Raleigh road bike... wearing jeans.

    Nope, I'm not eccentric. Not me
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    Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

  17. #17
    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by donheff View Post
    I don't understand the weight issue. Theoretically, a couple of pounds on a bike should make no more difference than a couple of pounds on a rider. I have a good cyclocross bike (Specialized Tricross Comp - aluminum, carbon forks) and like how it rides. But I have rented light weight CF road bikes on trips and was surprised at how quick and responsive some of them felt, particularly on hills. Does the reduction in weight on the bike itself somehow count more than the overall weight of rider and bike?
    IMO: I suspect it's the reduction of rotational mass (flywheel effect) that makes them feel lighter. The Trek 2.3 Al felt as quick as the 4.5 Madone CF bike I rode back to back when making my final decision.

  18. #18
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    If CF bikes were actually less safe, or more prone to breakage, they would have vanished years ago; the bike industry is pretty unforgiving for slack standards. So it's a matter of pure personal preference -- steel, alu, ti, CF, even bamboo! -- what you want under you when you pedal.

    I'm glad for those of you that have found CF to be more vibration-forgiving; every carbon piece I've EVER used has been the opposite! So ride on, dudes -- you'll pass me as I pound along on my alu beast. Just smile and wave......

  19. #19
    Senior Member donheff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jethro56 View Post
    IMO: I suspect it's the reduction of rotational mass (flywheel effect) that makes them feel lighter. The Trek 2.3 Al felt as quick as the 4.5 Madone CF bike I rode back to back when making my final decision.
    I hadn't thought about that but it makes sense. The reduced wheel weight would make it easier to spin up to speed thus making it feel more light and responsive. I assume (but don't have the engineering to know for sure) that the reverse would be true in forward motion while coasting leading to a net zero (if overall weight was the same). But that would at least account for the feel. One of the reasons I wondered about this is that I have lost 15 pounds over the past year but my bike feels the same as ever. I recognize that this is a gradual reduction but still... On this rotational mass theory, however, the spin up requirement would be unchanged so the feel would be unchanged despite my weight loss.
    Last edited by donheff; 01-25-12 at 08:56 AM.
    Every man is, or hopes to be, an Idler. -- Samuel Johnson

  20. #20
    Semper Fi, A way of life. qcpmsame's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TomD77 View Post
    This is spooky. I ride occasionally with another poster here who also lives in the Pensacola area who also very recently (couple of weeks) bought the very same bike.


    About the original post, leading off with a pejorative term will hardly elicit reasoned response.
    Tom, That would be Vaportrail, he got the CAAD 10 5 before I got mine.

    Bill
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    Community Guidelines, the FAQ is off line right now:http://www.bikeforums.net/forum-sugg...ad-please.html Read this sometime, it can answer a lot of gripes and save you from some assumptions.

  21. #21
    Senior Member bruce19's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NOS88 View Post
    Gear, in the post above, makes a good point. You say you've read threads before about carbon fiber, yet still ask. Sounds more like trolling.
    Bingo!

  22. #22
    Carpe Velo Yo Spiff's Avatar
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    I've heard a lot of people wowing about CF bikes after they've ridden then, in particular, the Trek Madone. I'm pretty happy with my steel bikes, however. I also prefer the traditional (retro?) look of a steel frame. My Bianchi does have a carbon fork, which perhaps helps the ride quality some. I'm not a racer and have no desire to upgrade. Perhaps if I had the disposable income to burn, but then again, I might spend it on a custom steel frame.

    Starting to lust after some of the bikes I'm seeing in the C&V forum, however. Always loved the sparkly red Colnagos.
    2000 Bianchi Veloce, '88 Schwinn Prologue, '88 Trek 900, '92 Trek T100, 2000 Rans Tailwind

  23. #23
    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GFish View Post
    Please help me understand, why buy a plastic bike?
    Same reason people climb mountains, cuz they are there. I currently have Al, Ti, and carbon road bikes. Had a number of steel bikes in years passed. A lot depends on the specific design and implementation, but carbon can provide a combination of mechanical properties that the other materials can't, which is why it's becoming common in many other applications like aeronautics and aerospace.

  24. #24
    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    Even the OP's screen name screams Troll, but that doesn't mean I can resist the bait.

    The three bikes I've purchased since I started riding three years ago, were, in order: Aluminnum, Custom Steel, and off the shelf CF. The aluminum was very harsh, and I can't think of a reason to buy aluminum these days. The steel is a sweet ride, but heavy, slow handling and with some lateral flex. The CF is a stiff racing bike, but still rides smooth, and it's responsive in all regards. It's a bit noisier, due mostly to what I believe is cable slapping over bumps that I've never taken the time to sort out. I just broke the frame, but I don't blame the material when the bike fell off my car at high speed. I'm surprised there is only one crack (top tube). My CF crank took a major hit, but only has cosmetic damage, and apparently the power meter embedded in it is okay. I'll know for sure later today.

    The only people who argue that frame weight doesn't matter are those riding heavy bikes.

    CF > Steel > Aluminum
    "If you're riding less than 18 MPH up a 2% grade please tell people Coggan is coaching you."

  25. #25
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Started on ordinary Aluminium road bike and it rode OK. No harshness and the bike weighed in at 19lbs. However that bike started working once I changed the OM wheels to Handbuilts and lost 1 lb. Next bike was a lightweight Race geometry Aluminium bike with mainly Ultegra and weighed in at just over 15lbs-- That bike worked from wheeling out of the shop and is still my favourite. So when you talk aluminium- it should be qualified with the Build quality of that frame.

    Then so impressed with a road bike that worked- I went CF Respectable quality in a TCR-C but not impressed at first. In at 16lbs and the only good point was it went up hills. Took over a year to sort it out and is now my normal ride- but if I am out for a fast ride- a harder ride (Don't do hard nowadays) or just want to enjoy the ride-It is back to the race Geometry Aluminium.

    And there is a difference between a light and a heavy bike- If you don't believe it--Try both for a century ride with hills.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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