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Carbon vs Steel: 800gm frameset difference

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Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like : "Unbound Gravel". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

Carbon vs Steel: 800gm frameset difference

Old 12-24-16, 04:05 AM
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Carbon vs Steel: 800gm frameset difference

I'm looking at my first gravel bike.
Both framesets have similar geo, with threaded BB.

I'd be looking at fitting a 650b wheelset.

Regarding the weight difference, would I be missing the carbon frameset's lower weight, in general riding feel?
Have never ridden a steel bike before (there's no shops in my area with them).

Am riding a carbon road bike at the moment.

Or once I get used to the ride, the weight difference wouldn't really be noticed throughout the day?

Am 135lbs.
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Old 12-24-16, 07:18 AM
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I have a carbon road bike and in 2016 purchased a carbon gravel bike. The weight difference is already noticeable. I would not imagine trying to consider a steel alloy carbon bike. But I would not be riding a gravel bike as if its a mountain bike either.

That Norco brand you have looks nice.

https://www.norco.com/bikes/road/adv...rch-c-ultegra/
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Old 12-24-16, 08:07 AM
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I have both a carbon Cyclocross bike and a steel gravel bike.

You would notice it on the climbs and when accelerating. If you can afford the bike with the carbon frameset, I'd recommend purchasing it.

If you buy the steel bike and don't like it because of the weight, you will have made a bad investment.

You might consider an bike with an aluminum frame and carbon fork. The weight difference between comparable carbon and aluminum bikes is less obvious. With the cash savings you might further upgrade the wheelset.
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Old 12-24-16, 08:08 AM
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One full water bottle is about 600 grams. So your 800 gram difference isn't too significant. Gravel tires (and tubes) do weigh more than road tires, so the total bike weight will be higher anyway.

I usually have fenders and a lightweight rear rack on my gravel bike, so the total weight is considerably higher than my lightweight carbon road bike. The gravel bike with road tires is definitely slower if I take it on group rides where I'm trying to keep the pace.

But on slower gravel or all-day solo road rides, I don't think about the weight difference. It's probably 5-6 pounds heavier, that's more than 2500 grams. (And I'm often bringing a third water bottle, for even more weight.) The gravel bike has lower gears, and I need them on gravel, it takes a lot more power to climb on gravel than on smooth pavement.

I got a Ti gravel bike, partly because there wouldn't be any concern about frame damage or paint chips from the rough handling. I don't think that gravel riding would normally damage a carbon frame, but that's one less thing to worry about if the frame is metal.

Last edited by rm -rf; 12-24-16 at 08:16 AM.
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Old 12-24-16, 08:30 AM
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Not worth worrying about, at all. Also, after you crash for the fifth time in one ride on yet another sketchy bit of gravel, do you want to be on steel or carbon?
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Old 12-24-16, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by tangerineowl
I'm looking at my first gravel bike.
Both framesets have similar geo, with threaded BB.

I'd be looking at fitting a 650b wheelset.

Regarding the weight difference, would I be missing the carbon frameset's lower weight, in general riding feel?
Have never ridden a steel bike before (there's no shops in my area with them).

Am riding a carbon road bike at the moment.

Or once I get used to the ride, the weight difference wouldn't really be noticed throughout the day?

Am 135lbs.
What frames are you referring to?
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Old 12-24-16, 11:10 AM
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I wouldnt be as concerned with the weight of the frame as much as how stiff the frame is.
Will the carbon frame have a laughably large bottom bracket making it insanely stiff? You are a lightweight...i would think a bit of spring in the frame would be appreciated on gravel, i know i like it since I wouldn't want anything stiffer than my current steel frame.
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Old 12-24-16, 03:03 PM
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On-One Bish Bash Bosh Carbon Adventure/Gravel Frameset | On - One
(T800)
https://www.curvecycling.com.au/coll...rovel-v2-frame
(Zona -nivachrome- tubing specs are down the page)

I've read up on the BBB; mentioning a nice compliant ride (with lower tire pressure of course).
Not sure how the Zona tubing specs/thickness would ride at my weight, with maybe 5kg or so added weight of gear.

Would be purchasing the 52 Curve, or the small BBB, by courier.

The Curve is quick-release / the BBB is thu-axle.

I won't be riding crazy-style, just steady/gentle all day rides.

The plan is to use fairly light-weight parts/wheelset for the build, but not stupid-light.

That point about the weight of the water bottles is a good one I suppose, as I'd see myself carrying at least three.

Have looked at other frames (including alu), but its down to these two because of price/availability and they would fit me very well (tall-stack/short-reach).

Thanks for your thoughts, everyone.

Last edited by tangerineowl; 12-24-16 at 03:25 PM. Reason: text
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Old 12-24-16, 05:29 PM
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Assuming bike + rider + gear weighs 176 lbs, you're talking about a 1% weight difference. If you're not racing, you can prioritize just about everything (including frame color) above weight.
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Old 12-24-16, 09:34 PM
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Make sure you fit the on-one. On the surface it doesn't seem like a broad range of people it'll work for.
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Old 12-25-16, 01:47 AM
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Originally Posted by tangerineowl
I'm looking at my first gravel bike.
Both framesets have similar geo, with threaded BB.

I'd be looking at fitting a 650b wheelset.

Regarding the weight difference, would I be missing the carbon frameset's lower weight, in general riding feel?
Have never ridden a steel bike before (there's no shops in my area with them).

Am riding a carbon road bike at the moment.

Or once I get used to the ride, the weight difference wouldn't really be noticed throughout the day?

Am 135lbs.
With the further info you have provided, you should be fine which ever frame you pick, but do you have any preference for colour?
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Old 12-25-16, 03:15 AM
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Fit-wise both bikes are perfect for me (has been a long search).

Colour-wise, I'd be choosing the orange BBB or the yellow Grovel. The orange is a bit 'in your face', but I like orange.

Tough decision, although with the BBB price (on special) I'd already be a few hundred up for parts.

I suppose the tube thickness on the Grovel wouldn't bee too jarring at my weight? (I've looked at some other 'gravel' bike steel frames online, and most seem a bit thinner in/some of the tubing diameters when you look at the frame pics).

Last edited by tangerineowl; 12-25-16 at 03:16 AM. Reason: text
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Old 12-25-16, 02:00 PM
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I don't consider frame stiffness for comfort on a gravel bike. If anything, I'd be happy with a stiff frame for the possible handling improvements.

It's all about tires. Large air volumes and the appropriate low air pressures. If I wasn't too worried about cutting the sidewalls on really rough gravel, I'd pick flexible, supple tires to help the ride even more.

My bars are set pretty high, so I can easily ride in the drops, and that's better for my hands on very bumpy roads--the load is spread out over my palms. And I have cushy bar tape.

(I mentioned water bottle weights just to have something to compare to. When I'm riding, I don't really notice the difference on climbing if I have two full bottles or two empties. It would probably show up as a few seconds faster to the top of a one mile climb.)

Last edited by rm -rf; 12-25-16 at 02:13 PM.
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Old 12-25-16, 02:10 PM
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That Curve steel frame has rack and fender mounts.

I ride my "gravel" bike mostly on paved roads, there's not many gravel roads nearby. So it usually has road tires, rack and fenders mounted.

The fenders are great, I went riding two days ago when it had just finished raining. The streets were still wet, but I stayed completely dry. I only saw a few riders that morning. I can even blast though puddles and not get wet. EDIT--another heavy overnight rain today, but very warm, 65F, Dec 26th. The roads were soaking wet, but it was great to be riding and staying dry.

The rear rack is nice in colder weather or on all-day epic rides. I can add or remove layers, bring a rain jacket, extra water, and food. And with the fenders, I'm more likely to go ride anyway if the forecast shows it might rain later.

Low gears
The Curve build has a 44 front - 42 rear low gear. I have a triple, with a 30 front - 29 rear, about the same ratio.
My low gears are fine on the road, but I'd like even lower gears for steeper gravel roads. I can easily sit and pedal up 10% grades if they are paved. But I ended up bailing out on a rough gravel road ride. I was working hard at 5-6%, and almost stalling out at 10-11%. The larger, loose gravel pieces take a lot of energy.

My 39 middle chainring and 12-29 cassette is really nice on all-day, fairly flat roads. There's lots of close shifts to get just the exact cadence I want. A single chainring is nice for gravel racing, where that's one less thing to break, but I'd want more gears in the middle of the range, I think.

Last edited by rm -rf; 12-26-16 at 09:21 PM.
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Old 12-25-16, 04:39 PM
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Originally Posted by rm -rf
I don't consider frame stiffness for comfort on a gravel bike. If anything, I'd be happy with a stiff frame for the possible handling improvements.

It's all about tires. Large air volumes and the appropriate low air pressures.
If you dont consider frame stiffness when decidi g on a bike's confort, you are missing a lot of the formula for comfort.
The op is a featherweight, neither frame will flex so much that handling will be adversely affected. Its not like modern steel frames are whippy limp noodles. They simply arent so rigid they are unforgiving.

I do agree that tire volume will help a ton, especially when they are used on an unforgivingly stiff frame.
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Old 12-26-16, 03:31 PM
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Thanks everyone for your thoughts.

I've decided to get the Grovel.
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Old 01-03-17, 09:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Hiro11
Not worth worrying about, at all. Also, after you crash for the fifth time in one ride on yet another sketchy bit of gravel, do you want to be on steel or carbon?
I love steel. I have felt the weight difference between the 2 (carbon and steel) and while very noticeable, I don't trust carbon at all. On steel I don't worry so much about failure. Hell on Ragbrai this year I hit a piece of gravel on the pavement and it shot across and hit my neighbors bike so hard it made a loud PING. The guy to my left heard it and laughed about it. I kept thinking about if the frame I shot was carbon, aluminum, or steel lol. Idk but that stuff is what scares me about carbon. Otherwise it's good stuff. To be fair my friends madone fell off his bike rack in the interstate at 75 mph and it survived so.......
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Old 01-03-17, 09:32 PM
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Gravel & Steel go together like Peanut butter & Jelly. Get the metal bike and enjoy the ride.
You will thank me later.
I ride and OLD 1974 Raleigh that weighs somewhere like 2 stone or about 30 lbs......ride like a caddy.
My other road bike is a full carbon comfy beast and the steel is just sweet.
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Old 01-04-17, 04:28 PM
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If this thread is not dead yet...

Carbon cost more and is lighter. Steel is cheaper and heavier, but we are only talking a 2lb difference on a 25lb bike.

Here is what I did: Take the money saved from carbon and purchase a steel bike with better components. Cost is the same, weight is the same. All of the benefits of steel with none of the carbon drawbacks.
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Old 01-04-17, 10:10 PM
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Good idea chas58
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