Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Commuting
Reload this Page >

Is a carbon road bike overkill for commuting(vs aluminum)?

Notices
Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

Is a carbon road bike overkill for commuting(vs aluminum)?

Old 07-24-20, 10:28 PM
  #1  
zlsanders
Newbie
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2020
Posts: 2
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Is a carbon road bike overkill for commuting(vs aluminum)?

I'm looking at getting a new road bike for a 11 mile commute each way and can't decide on whether to get a carbon or aluminum Trek domane 5. I'm looking to put panniers on the back to carry my laptop bag(for the sl i'd get a rack from trek that connects to the axle), about 10 pounds. I'm about 300lbs and the isospeed on the rear seams nice. I've only ridden similar bikes(cause everything is out of stock). Do you think the carbon will be worth it? I do have a secure place to leave it

Last edited by zlsanders; 07-24-20 at 10:33 PM.
zlsanders is offline  
Old 07-25-20, 12:52 AM
  #2  
Darth Lefty 
Disco Infiltrator
 
Darth Lefty's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Folsom CA
Posts: 11,081

Bikes: Schwinn Paramount, Salsa Timberjack, Diamondback Expert TG, Burley Samba

Mentioned: 65 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2026 Post(s)
Liked 606 Times in 421 Posts
The problem with that bike specifically is that the couplings are designed to flex under a person half to 2/3 your size and you are likely to bottom them out and not get much benefit. Itís often hard to find a weight rating for bikes but when you do itís often 275 for racing bikes.

I would think a bike shop would try to steer you to a touring bike or hybrid, something easier to sit on and built with capacity in mind, but still mindful of the need for speed on a 22mi RT.

added on edit:
__________________
Genesis 49:16-17

Last edited by Darth Lefty; 07-25-20 at 12:58 AM.
Darth Lefty is online now  
Old 07-25-20, 01:15 AM
  #3  
Toespeas
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2020
Posts: 150
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 79 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 17 Times in 16 Posts
wooo you a big boy lol you are going to need a bike and wheel set for your weight , you might want to look at something more rugges like a specilized diverge , or a trek check point , and go aluminum , its just going to be better over time than a carbon frame !
Toespeas is offline  
Old 07-25-20, 09:02 AM
  #4  
BobbyG
Senior Member
 
BobbyG's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
Posts: 5,012

Bikes: 2015 Charge Plug, 1997 Nishiki Blazer, 1984 Nishiki International

Mentioned: 52 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1077 Post(s)
Liked 690 Times in 339 Posts
zlsanders Regardless of weight, commuting can be tough on a bike. Rough roads, potholes, curbs, etc. Bicycle frames will be stressed in directions they weren't designed for especially with racks and panniers. And wheels and spokes will have to be up to the task. And when you add your personal weight and the weight of your laptop, gear and possibly street clothes, etc, you are looking at stresses that the frame or wheels or hubs can't handle and while carbon may be better at handling repeated flex than aluminum...nothing holds up on the long run like steel.

I know you said pickings are slim, but if it were me, and based on the cost of the bikes you mentioned, you would pay the same or less for a steel-frame touring-style bike like a Salsa Marrakesh or Surly Long Haul Trucker or similar. The brand doesn't matter, but rugged wheels and a steel frame do.

For one thing, a touring-style bike has longer chain-stays, which puts the rear wheel back further, so you will have fewer (or no) heel strikes against the panniers.

For another, you want a frame that can fit wider tires. Wider tires equal more cushion which will be easier on you and your laptop and gear, when you hit potholes, etc. In fact, I believe the Surly LHT can be ordered with 26" wheels which allows for even wider tires. And wider tires do not necessarily mean slower speeds, as long as you get smooth tires.

I may not have answered you question, but that's my two cents.

I can't tell from your post if you are just starting to commute or not, or if you have been riding for a while, so please excuse me if I came off as condescending, but my main commuter since 2015 has been a semi-touring steel frame Charge Plug, and I couldn't be happier, (except for the flimsy rear hub which failed after three years). And my former commuter for 18 years prior was a 1997 Nishiki Blazer Mountain bike which is now my snow bike, but it still gets ridden in the warmer months with fat 26x1.85 slicks and it is fast and fun!

I had commuted for 17 years before I found this forum 11 years ago, and the difference it has made towards better, safer, more enjoyable commuting has been life-changing!

Good luck with whatever you choose, let us know how it all works out!
BobbyG is offline  
Likes For BobbyG:
Old 07-27-20, 07:52 AM
  #5  
NormanF
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 5,737
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 147 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 6 Times in 6 Posts
People in Europe just buy a city bike. Theyíre ubiquitous over there to the point no one rides a road bike to work.

A bike is like a tool. Get one that does what you want.
NormanF is offline  
Likes For NormanF:
Old 07-27-20, 09:28 AM
  #6  
wolfchild
Senior Member
 
wolfchild's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Mississauga/Toronto, Ontario canada
Posts: 6,327

Bikes: I have 3 singlespeed/fixed gear bikes

Mentioned: 22 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1870 Post(s)
Liked 556 Times in 303 Posts
Carbon is too weak and fragile...Go with steel or aluminium.
wolfchild is offline  
Old 07-27-20, 10:01 AM
  #7  
Phil_gretz
Journeyman Bike Commuter
 
Phil_gretz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Alexandria, VA
Posts: 5,917

Bikes: '71 Jeunet 640, '74 Fuji Special Road Racer, '79 Peugeot PXN10LE, '88 Fuji Saratoga, '13 Motobecane Fantom29 HT, '16 Motobecane Turino Pro Disc, '16 Motobecane Gran Premio Elite, '18 Velobuild VB-R-022

Mentioned: 16 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 984 Post(s)
Liked 641 Times in 364 Posts
I'm recommending aluminum for you. Disc brakes. Get a good set of cyclocross wheels to go with it. Make certain that every part is robust enough to be reliable with your expected use. Larger, durable tires. Strong racks that are well mounted. All of that kind of thinking.
Phil_gretz is offline  
Likes For Phil_gretz:
Old 07-28-20, 12:18 AM
  #8  
yamsyamsyams
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 291
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 44 Post(s)
Liked 26 Times in 14 Posts
Would also consider an Ebike - typically stronger frame setup and made to take heavier riders and withstand potholes at the same time.
yamsyamsyams is online now  
Old 07-28-20, 11:40 AM
  #9  
chas58
Senior Member
 
chas58's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Michigan
Posts: 4,339

Bikes: too many of all kinds

Mentioned: 35 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 978 Post(s)
Liked 223 Times in 179 Posts
ZLSanders - where are you at?

Specifically for you, carbon sounds like overkill. Personally, I would go for something that can take high volume tires (~40mm, maybe 50mm). That is going to help a lot with comfort, load carrying, and minimizing pinch flats.

Some good advice above- especially from BobbyG and Phil Gretz If you are carrying some stuff - longer wheelbase (and lack of heal strike) are items to consider. A touring bike or hybrid would fit the bill.

I love commuting on Carbon (and on steel and on aluminum). All of them are "up to the task" of commuting, although steel does best with the dings the bike will get. But carbon is really only good for light and fast (20mph). If you are carrying a load, you have negated the benefit of light.
I do love commuting on an e-bike sometimes.


Also some bad advice with the one liners.

Generaly, a bike designed with mounting points for racks is designed to carry racks (although heal strike is a valid concern) If it doesn't have rack mounts, its very likely to handle wonky when loaded up.

Aluminum is not "stronger" than Carbon. That isn't a reason to make the choice.
Bikes with mounting for racks are not "not designed for

European comment is irrelevant. You are not in Europe, correct? If you live in a place where there are tons of bike paths and public transportation, and where you can't ride over 10mph and don't need to go more than 5 miles (i.e. < 30 minutes) - ya a "city bike" works great. Been there, done that.


Originally Posted by zlsanders View Post
I'm looking at getting a new road bike for a 11 mile commute each way and can't decide on whether to get a carbon or aluminum Trek domane 5. I'm looking to put panniers on the back to carry my laptop bag(for the sl i'd get a rack from trek that connects to the axle), about 10 pounds. I'm about 300lbs and the isospeed on the rear seams nice. I've only ridden similar bikes(cause everything is out of stock). Do you think the carbon will be worth it? I do have a secure place to leave it
chas58 is offline  
Likes For chas58:
Old 07-28-20, 12:06 PM
  #10  
alan s 
Senior Member
 
alan s's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 6,926
Mentioned: 16 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1468 Post(s)
Liked 158 Times in 109 Posts
Get a touring bike designed to carry heavy loads. If someday you decide to take up bike touring, you’ll already have a suitable bike.
alan s is offline  
Likes For alan s:
Old 07-29-20, 04:16 AM
  #11  
jsilvia
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Fairhaven Ma.
Posts: 95

Bikes: Trek Multitrac 750 . Motobacane Centry

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 22 Post(s)
Liked 22 Times in 14 Posts
I rotate two bikes on my commute, a 2014 Trek Crossrip and a carbon 2011 Motobacame. The Crossrip gives a smoother ride. The Motobacame gives a faster more bumpy ride. I use to use panniers on the Trek but I now ride with a backpack on both bikes.
jsilvia is offline  
Old 07-30-20, 10:49 AM
  #12  
squirtdad
Senior Member
 
squirtdad's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: San Jose (Willow Glen) Ca
Posts: 7,156

Bikes: 85 team Miyata (modern 5800 105) , '84 Team Miyata,(dura ace old school) '82 nishiski,

Mentioned: 70 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1215 Post(s)
Liked 428 Times in 324 Posts
Originally Posted by NormanF View Post
People in Europe just buy a city bike. Theyíre ubiquitous over there to the point no one rides a road bike to work.

A bike is like a tool. Get one that does what you want.
most also don't ride 11 miles each way to work it should be noted

IMHO life is too short to not ride a nice bike when you can....even when commuting (i ride vintage steel with modern gear and tubulars for my commute but that is me) I am 240 if it helps

for OP I would consider just using a backpack unless you can get a rack designed to work with the carbon frame......to avoid stress on the carbon not planned for by the designers

and on the Surly ideas I like this one
https://surlybikes.com/bikes/straggler
__________________
Looking for more time to ride what I have
squirtdad is offline  
Likes For squirtdad:
Old 07-30-20, 11:16 PM
  #13  
john m flores
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 163

Bikes: Cinelli Hobootleg, Gary Fisher Hoo Koo e Koo, Serotta Tri Colorado, Raleigh Technium

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 79 Post(s)
Liked 53 Times in 35 Posts
Carbon is strong but fragile, if that makes any sense. It is strong for what it was designed for, but knicks and scratches that utility and commuting bikes often endure in their daily life can severely weaken carbon fiber. And when it fails, it fails without warning. Aluminum and steel are more practical for commuting and utility riding.

I agree with those recommending a steel touring bike that can support your weight and racks for stuff. Best of luck!
john m flores is offline  
Old 07-31-20, 09:43 AM
  #14  
Darth Lefty 
Disco Infiltrator
 
Darth Lefty's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Folsom CA
Posts: 11,081

Bikes: Schwinn Paramount, Salsa Timberjack, Diamondback Expert TG, Burley Samba

Mentioned: 65 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2026 Post(s)
Liked 606 Times in 421 Posts
According to the OP's profile his last activity was about ten minutes after his first and only post so I guess he found an answer elsewhere
__________________
Genesis 49:16-17
Darth Lefty is online now  
Likes For Darth Lefty:
Old 07-31-20, 02:25 PM
  #15  
robertorolfo
Senior Member
 
robertorolfo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: Queens, NY for now...
Posts: 1,404

Bikes: 82 Lotus Unique, 86 Lotus Legend, 88 Basso Loto, 88 Basso PR, 89 Basso PR, 96 Bianchi CDI, 2013 Deda Aegis, 2019 Basso Diamante SV

Mentioned: 42 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 856 Post(s)
Liked 96 Times in 71 Posts
Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
According to the OP's profile his last activity was about ten minutes after his first and only post so I guess he found an answer elsewhere
Since when does that stop us from the amusing pastime of arguing about the subjective issue of the ideal commuter bike?
robertorolfo is offline  
Old 08-02-20, 02:52 PM
  #16  
Jim from Boston
Senior Member
 
Jim from Boston's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 7,384
Mentioned: 48 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 800 Post(s)
Liked 206 Times in 161 Posts
Originally Posted by zlsanders View Post
I'm looking at getting a new road bike for a 11 mile commute each way and can't decide on whether to get a carbon or aluminum Trek domane 5. I'm looking to put panniers on the back to carry my laptop bag(for the sl i'd get a rack from trek that connects to the axle), about 10 pounds.

I'm about 300lbs and the isospeed on the rear seams nice. I've only ridden similar bikes(cause everything is out of stock). Do you think the carbon will be worth it? I do have a secure place to leave it
Iím a year round commuter, 14 miles one-way in Metro Boston. My favorite bike is a carcon fiber Speialized S-Works, with a aluminum Diverge road bike as a beater for bad weather.

I have been involved with several threads in general about expensive bikes, and I have posted about my conclusions after riding a nice steel bike for years, totaled in an accident::
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
ÖMy average speed stayed the same, but I think I was hampered by injuries from the accident, and I believe the new bike compensated at least to maintain my average speed. I did note that I was more inclined to sprint (successfully) to beat traffic lights before they turned red.

I further craved the smoothness of the ride, including the shifting,making cycle-commuting more pleasurable. Of greatest benefit, while long (greater than 40 mile) rides took the same amount of time as before, I felt much less tired at the end.
As you note though, bike security is a paramount consideration; my bike goes into my office.


I'm a heavy guy, but weight has not been a concern. My road bike does not have eyelets for a rear rack, but I have a nice seat pack (Arkel), though too small for a laptop, I think.
Jim from Boston is offline  
Old 08-03-20, 01:48 AM
  #17  
GhostSS
Senior Member
 
GhostSS's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Hawaii
Posts: 639

Bikes: 2012 Switch Performance BlackSkin LE Urban, 2013 Leader 725, 1975 Fuji America, 1990 Giant Cadex 980c, 1986 Peugeot PH10LE, 1995 Trek 2120 Carbon ZX

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
Liked 18 Times in 11 Posts
Just putting this out there I commuted for 4-5 years on a carbon bike from 1995 (1995 Trek 2120 Carbon ZX) and it was plenty strong, never had issues and it cost me 270 on craigslist (obviously I inspected it carefully and put a lot of trust in the seller). Hell it's still being used now as my everyday work horse bike. I wouldn't worry to much about carbon being "too weak" as some have stated, carbon is f'kin strong as long as you don't introduce weaknesses in it by crashing it 20 mph into a wall.

The only way it would be over kill is if you spent overkill money on it. Plenty of people get into bikes, buy a stupid expensive frame, find out they aren't cut out for cycling, give it up for decades, then decide to sell for pennies on the dollar. I say take advantage of that.

EDIT: Oh snap I didn't read that you were 300 lbs....I'm gonna be honest a carbon frame isn't really going to benefit you much at that weight, on top of what Darth said those frames aren't designed for Clydes that heavy.

Last edited by GhostSS; 08-03-20 at 01:53 AM. Reason: Oh wait...
GhostSS is offline  
Old 08-03-20, 05:39 AM
  #18  
vespasianus
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2019
Location: In the south but from North
Posts: 227

Bikes: Turner 5-Spot Burner converted; IBIS Ripley, Specialized Crave, Tommasini Sintesi, Cinelli Superstar

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 103 Post(s)
Liked 87 Times in 43 Posts
Originally Posted by zlsanders View Post
I'm looking at getting a new road bike for a 11 mile commute each way and can't decide on whether to get a carbon or aluminum Trek domane 5. I'm looking to put panniers on the back to carry my laptop bag(for the sl i'd get a rack from trek that connects to the axle), about 10 pounds. I'm about 300lbs and the isospeed on the rear seams nice. I've only ridden similar bikes(cause everything is out of stock). Do you think the carbon will be worth it? I do have a secure place to leave it

If you are 300 lbs, I would NOT get a carbon bike. Even if you were 150lbs, I would still recommend an aluminum bike for commuting. Carbon is great but can be fragile in some situations.

And honestly, the different between a 18 lb bike and a 20 lb bike is meaningless in this situation.
vespasianus is offline  
Old 08-03-20, 09:51 AM
  #19  
fietsbob
Banned
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: NW,Oregon Coast
Posts: 43,598

Bikes: 8

Mentioned: 197 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 7607 Post(s)
Liked 1,285 Times in 802 Posts
>Get 2< riding carbon bike is mostly about making you happy with the daily effort ,

but being late due to mechanical problems may make your job security less than solid..





fietsbob is offline  
Old 08-03-20, 10:36 AM
  #20  
Riveting
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Denver, CO
Posts: 662

Bikes: '13 Trek Madone 2.3, '13 Diamondback Hybrid Commuter, '17 Spec Roubaix Di2, '17 Spec Camber 29'er

Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 260 Post(s)
Liked 100 Times in 70 Posts
I don't think anybody has brought up the mounts on the frame for securing the rack/panniers. I know my AL frame has them on the top and bottom of the seat stays, but I'm not sure how strong they would be on carbon frames, though other mounting options do exist.
Riveting is offline  
Old 08-03-20, 05:29 PM
  #21  
Darth Lefty 
Disco Infiltrator
 
Darth Lefty's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Folsom CA
Posts: 11,081

Bikes: Schwinn Paramount, Salsa Timberjack, Diamondback Expert TG, Burley Samba

Mentioned: 65 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2026 Post(s)
Liked 606 Times in 421 Posts
Originally Posted by Riveting View Post
I don't think anybody has brought up the mounts on the frame for securing the rack/panniers. I know my AL frame has them on the top and bottom of the seat stays, but I'm not sure how strong they would be on carbon frames, though other mounting options do exist.
Carbon gravel bikes are positively warty with mounts, though they do favor bikepacking setups in the front over something like a decaleur. In the rear there are the usual mounts for the lower rack stays; sometimes the upper stays need to go to a seat collar.

The aluminum Domane in the OP has normal upper and lower rack mounts. The carbon one has mounts hidden on the underside of the stays, and a compartment in the down tube.

Last edited by Darth Lefty; 08-03-20 at 05:35 PM.
Darth Lefty is online now  
Old 08-03-20, 05:37 PM
  #22  
squirtdad
Senior Member
 
squirtdad's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: San Jose (Willow Glen) Ca
Posts: 7,156

Bikes: 85 team Miyata (modern 5800 105) , '84 Team Miyata,(dura ace old school) '82 nishiski,

Mentioned: 70 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1215 Post(s)
Liked 428 Times in 324 Posts
Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
Carbon gravel bikes are positively warty with mounts, though they do favor bikepacking setups in the front over something like a decaleur. In the rear there are the usual mounts for the lower rack stays; sometimes the upper stays need to go to a seat collar.
great description...... I may steal (or in my case steel) it
__________________
Looking for more time to ride what I have
squirtdad is offline  
Old 08-03-20, 06:18 PM
  #23  
caloso
Senior Member
 
caloso's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Sacramento, California, USA
Posts: 39,215

Bikes: Ridley Excalibur, Gazelle Champion Mondial, On-One Pompino, Specialized Rock Hopper

Mentioned: 62 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2311 Post(s)
Liked 1,099 Times in 577 Posts
Originally Posted by vespasianus View Post
If you are 300 lbs, I would NOT get a carbon bike. Even if you were 150lbs, I would still recommend an aluminum bike for commuting. Carbon is great but can be fragile in some situations.

And honestly, the different between a 18 lb bike and a 20 lb bike is meaningless in this situation.
Shrug. I rode my Tarmac to work this morning. I probably ride it more often than my aluminum CX bike. The road between my house and downtown is far better paved than your typical VeloPromo road race.
caloso is offline  
Old 08-03-20, 06:59 PM
  #24  
vespasianus
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2019
Location: In the south but from North
Posts: 227

Bikes: Turner 5-Spot Burner converted; IBIS Ripley, Specialized Crave, Tommasini Sintesi, Cinelli Superstar

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 103 Post(s)
Liked 87 Times in 43 Posts
Originally Posted by caloso View Post
Shrug. I rode my Tarmac to work this morning. I probably ride it more often than my aluminum CX bike. The road between my house and downtown is far better paved than your typical VeloPromo road race.
But to me, the question is where is the bike kept after and what is going to potential bang into it or lean up against it?
vespasianus is offline  
Likes For vespasianus:
Old 08-05-20, 03:35 PM
  #25  
chas58
Senior Member
 
chas58's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Michigan
Posts: 4,339

Bikes: too many of all kinds

Mentioned: 35 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 978 Post(s)
Liked 223 Times in 179 Posts
I laugh at the comments about carbon being fragile (although it certainly can get cosmetic wear). I never seem to sell my bikes and have a variety from the last century. The only ones I have any problems with are the Aluminum ones which seem to be more susceptible to corrosion, and are too brittle to bend without breaking (mostly an issue with dropouts and hangers) Long, long ago, I had a carbon bike fly off my car at 80mph. I checked the frame thoroughly, but no damage, and it is still going strong decades later. The aluminum parts attached to it were trashed of course.
chas58 is offline  
Likes For chas58:

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.