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Old 06-26-11, 07:13 PM   #1
teachme
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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?
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Old 06-26-11, 08:17 PM   #2
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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.
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Old 06-26-11, 08:20 PM   #3
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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?
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Old 06-27-11, 12:59 AM   #4
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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.
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Old 06-27-11, 04:03 PM   #5
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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.
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Old 06-27-11, 04:22 PM   #6
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Trying to decide whether or not to shell out the extra bucks for carbon or will aluminum do the job?
Yes
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Old 06-27-11, 05:20 PM   #7
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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?
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Old 06-27-11, 05:32 PM   #8
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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.
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Old 06-27-11, 05:44 PM   #9
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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.
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.
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Old 06-27-11, 05:50 PM   #10
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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?
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Old 06-27-11, 05:58 PM   #11
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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.
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Old 06-27-11, 06:02 PM   #12
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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.
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Old 06-27-11, 06:13 PM   #13
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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.
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Old 06-27-11, 06:14 PM   #14
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What "Job" did you have in mind?
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Old 06-27-11, 06:22 PM   #15
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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
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Old 06-27-11, 10:34 PM   #16
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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.
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
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Old 06-28-11, 04:33 PM   #17
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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!
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Old 06-28-11, 07:59 PM   #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
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Old 06-28-11, 10:47 PM   #19
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Ohhh, this topic is sure to get lots of replies (and debates).

Someone pass the popcorn . .
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