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  1. #1
    Senior Member teachme's Avatar
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    Aluminum or carbon?

    Trying to decide whether or not to shell out the extra bucks for carbon or will aluminum do the job?
    Official member of the Brotherhood of Clyde...

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  2. #2
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by teachme View Post
    Trying to decide whether or not to shell out the extra bucks for carbon or will aluminum do the job?
    Why not steel? If you are looking to save weight then first look at yourself. Most of us can stand to lose 10 or 20 pounds.

    Carbon followed by aluminum are prone to catastrophic failure. If something fails with carbon, you will get almost no warning. You will get a bit more warning on aluminum. That said thousands of people ride carbon with no problems.

    But a good shop will be able to fix an aluminum failure. Almost anyone competent in welding will be able to fix a problem with steel. Most touring cyclists only ride steel for this very reason. If they have a problem, someplace remote, there is a very good chance that they will be able to find someone to fix it. Not so much for aluminum and impossible for carbon.

    I ride aluminum with a carbon fork for a better ride. I have been considering switching to steel fork just for the peace of mind on any failure.
    "The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."

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  3. #3
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
    I have been considering switching to steel fork just for the peace of mind on any failure.
    So what are your rims and hubs and handlebars made of?

  4. #4
    Senior Member Ediblestarfish's Avatar
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    What job is the bike doing? If it's racing, then heck, I'd get the carbon. If it was commuting and general use, aluminum or steel; metal takes scratches and nicks without much detriment.

  5. #5
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
    So what are your rims and hubs and handlebars made of?
    Did you read my post? If you did you would see the type of fork and frame I have.

    Aluminum frames can be a bit stiff. Carbon forks are used to soften the ride. A decent replacement would be steel or an aluminum fork with carbon inserts but I do not trust the bond and in my opinion all carbon would be the better choice. Though there is a bond between the carbon and the aluminum dropouts.
    Last edited by spinnaker; 06-27-11 at 05:18 PM.
    "The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."

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  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by teachme View Post
    Trying to decide whether or not to shell out the extra bucks for carbon or will aluminum do the job?
    Yes

  7. #7
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
    Did you read my post? If you did you would see the type of fork and frame I have.
    .

    I read it but it does't state what your rims and hubs and handlebars are made of. Maybe I'm missing something?

  8. #8
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Beanz View Post
    I read it but it does't state what your rims and hubs and handlebars are made of. Maybe I'm missing something?
    What does that matter? The issue here is carbon frame / components vs. other materials.
    "The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."

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  9. #9
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ediblestarfish View Post
    What job is the bike doing? If it's racing, then heck, I'd get the carbon. If it was commuting and general use, aluminum or steel; metal takes scratches and nicks without much detriment.
    Actually, quite a few racers I know (myself included) have gone the other way. A top of the line Al frame (Cannondale CAAD#, Cervelo Soloist/S1, Spooky, Salsa Podio, Cinelli Xperience, just to name a few), are stiff and light and much less expensive than carbon.
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

  10. #10
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
    What does that matter? The issue here is carbon frame / components vs. other materials.
    I didn't ask the question, I was curious as to why your response was totally irrelevant to his question.

    Carbon frame/components, I think I understand RetroG's question but you don't. Are hubs, rims and handle bars not components?

  11. #11
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Beanz View Post
    I didn't ask the question, I was curious as to why your response was totally irrelevant to his question.

    Carbon frame/components, I think I understand RetroG's question but you don't. Are hubs, rims and handle bars not components?
    My response was not irrelevant. I have a carbon fork and am considering replacing it because of the potential of failure. A complete carbon frame has that potential for failure multiplied. Not that carbon frames are failing all over the place, just the aluminum is safer and steel safer still.
    "The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."

    Albert Einstein

  12. #12
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
    My response was not irrelevant. I have a carbon fork and am considering replacing it because of the potential of failure.
    OK, whatever but if someone asked me what my handlebars, rims and hubs were made of, I'd answer aluminum. I wouldn't respond with details of my frame and fork.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Ediblestarfish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by caloso View Post
    Actually, quite a few racers I know (myself included) have gone the other way. A top of the line Al frame (Cannondale CAAD#, Cervelo Soloist/S1, Spooky, Salsa Podio, Cinelli Xperience, just to name a few), are stiff and light and much less expensive than carbon.
    I guess it depends on your disposable income. A decent run of the mill carbon frame isn't a whole lot more than an Al frame with upper end components, since the components cost so much. Al is a lot more attractive at an average price point though, and you don't feel as bad wringing the machine out since it's not as pricey.

    The only reason I would not get carbon is when the bike is more of a everyday machine that needs to handle some abuse. The soft coating on a carbon frame won't take scratches and nicks well as you lock it up in a rack, or drop it. Not usually an issue when you're just using it for events and weekend riding, but I'd not take out a lightweight carbon bike for errand running or commuting.

    If you're not riding competitively fast and need utility, you won't find many bikes out of carbon that can take racks and stuff, which is another issue. However, they make Al road bikes that can take 'em.

    I use a fancy (albeit heavy) steel sport-touring road bike for my all around-er. I have all sorts of things attached to it for everyday usefulness.

  14. #14
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    What "Job" did you have in mind?

  15. #15
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    I'm always thrown by this topic. I had a Lemond that was all aluminum, the frame snapped. I now have a mostly carbon, 3/5 of tubing, fork and seat post with no problems and is very solid compared to the aluminum frame. I've always heard aluminum was better than carbon but in my case, the carbon has done a much better job.


    My alum frame



    ...and this was my ride parnter's STEEL DeRosa


    steel2 by mrbeanz1, on Flickr


    steel1 by mrbeanz1, on Flickr

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Beanz View Post
    I'm always thrown by this topic. I had a Lemond that was all aluminum, the frame snapped. I now have a mostly carbon, 3/5 of tubing, fork and seat post with no problems and is very solid compared to the aluminum frame. I've always heard aluminum was better than carbon but in my case, the carbon has done a much better job.
    Hi Mr Beanz, I enjoy your ride videos, keep 'em coming!

    I found this interesting on Aluminum vs Carbon Fiber. This video is about the Trek Madone 5 series, but I'm sure it applies to pretty much any quality carbon fiber frame. Jump ahead to the nine minuten mark:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2nVbmcnsXXs
    2012 Trek 5.2 Madone
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  17. #17
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobertL View Post
    Hi Mr Beanz, I enjoy your ride videos, keep 'em coming!

    I found this interesting on Aluminum vs Carbon Fiber. This video is about the Trek Madone 5 series, but I'm sure it applies to pretty much any quality carbon fiber frame. Jump ahead to the nine minute mark:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2nVbmcnsXXs

    Thanks for the video, I watched the entire thing. I wondered about some of the comments posted above claiming alum to be more durable than CF, video verifies my knowledge of past readings etc.. Plus I've read once an alum frame fatigues and breaks, it shouldn't/can't be repaired. This video is pretty informative about the CF frame and process.


    Thanks for watching and enjoying my ride videos!

  18. #18
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    Everything breaks given the right circumstances.

    Steel can get water into the b-bracket shell and cause rust that you may never know is occuring, with a failure the result. Aluminum can fatigue and suffer corrosion as well, ditto titanium (I'll send a photo of my cracked Lemond Ti). And carbon can suffer hidden stress fractures that only become known when the part fails, no advance notice. Which is why I, being a heavy rider, will not use carbon in a handlebar, stem, seat tube or wheels. Frames and forks I have no problem with. Nore will I use a fork with a carbon steerer, if only due to the warranty limitations using non-compliant stems.

    In reality though, there are what - a million carbon frames out there, US, Europe, etc... and damned few fail catastrophically, just like damned few aluminum frames fail.

    I got into cycling about the time the Cannondales and Kleins, both top of the line aluminum frames, were getting popular and remember well the concerns about failure. Reality was, years went by and the frames kept on being ridden with no issues. Carbons's the same way.

    Buy whatever you think is appropriate to your budget and needs. Only thing to be aware of with carbon, unlike steel or titanium, is don't clamp the tubes in any kind of clamp and if you suffer a crash, take the frame in to a shop to get all checked out. With those 2 caveats, ride the hell out of it.

    SB

  19. #19
    6 miles per taco, w00t! HappyStuffing's Avatar
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    Ohhh, this topic is sure to get lots of replies (and debates).

    Someone pass the popcorn . .

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