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actarheel 02-20-07 05:18 AM

frame materials
Looking for a comparison between aluminum vs carbon vs steel vs titanium frames for big guys like myself (6'3" - 225). I'm curious about the ride and responsiveness of each as I have only ridden an alloy frame. What weight limits on carbon frames? How about durability? Any input/comments appreciated. I have a Giant tcr (alloy) now but I'm considering upgrade to carbon or titanium if that is a realistic option.

Tom Stormcrowe 02-20-07 06:30 AM

At your weight, you should be fine on any frame, as long as it isn't an ultralightweight racing frame....

Ti is great, as is Aluminum. The only thing I have against Carbon Fiber is one crash that might only scratch up a metal frame could destroy a CF frame, or create hidden damage that can cause failure at a critical time (like when you are bombing down a hill!).

My personal preference is lugged steel, preferably Columbus or 531 and above alloy!

adrien 02-20-07 08:42 AM

Most will claim that Alu has a stiffer, harsher ride, although higher-grade aluminum used on mid-level bikes (say $1k up) is a little more compliant. The only place you really feel it is in the fork (both mine have steel forks) and in the behind, if you sit a lot. FWIW, I love how stiff it is.

Steel is very traditional, and comes with a small weight penalty. It's more compliant, though you need to take care if you get nicks etc. and think about rust. A good choice for a clyde.

I have never cared for carbon, including in just forks. The phrase "catastrophic failure" does not appeal to me. The issue is not out-of-the-box strength, it's what happens if you hit something. Small nicks on carbon can lead to big failures.

BetweenRides 02-20-07 09:26 AM

I've ridden them all (except magnesium) and at your weight, no frame material is off limit, with the exception of some of the Al pro bikes. I put almost 30,000 miles on a C-F frame and I am heavier than you. As someone above mentioned, Al gets a bad rap (deservedly so imho) as uncomfortable, but with more expensive Al frames and C-F chain/seat stays + forks you should be ok. Ti and steel are both very comfortable in a good fitting frame. Steel has the disadvantage of rusting, so Ti wins there, but at a significant cost.

There is some truth to the C-F debate, but I think it is overblown and good C-F frames are very tough. And any material can have a catastrophic failure. I've had sudden breaks in both Al and steel with no warning. As far as C-F goes, I've never ridden a more comfortable bike on long distances, although my current Ti bike comes very close.

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