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Durability

Old 02-08-21, 01:42 PM
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am0n
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Durability

I'm on a (long) quest to figure out what my next bike will be. Originally I was thinking Carbon as I currently only ride on the road. However, I've been thinking it might be fun to be able to do some (light) gravel riding. Think hard packed dirt trails, crushed stone trails (like The Great Allegheny Passage). At this point in time, this wouldn't be a large part of my riding, but something I'd like to have the flexibility to do without worrying (much) about a stray rock or branch ruining my frame. That, and while I will take care of my bike, I don't want a random fall when I didn't balance it on the wall perfectly to break it, either.

From reading, it *sounds* like Carbon can be a bit fragile. Good, but fragile. I may be buying into Ti hype, though. I did do a search and I don't feel like my question was answered.

How much concern is the durability of Carbon for (light) gravel? In general? I'm less worried about the weight (seems like most materials are within ~2 lb., which honestly even at 184 lb., I could afford to lose 10 around my waist before I worry about the bike... plus the frame pump loses me all street cred). I do care about ride quality and since most of my riding will be road, I won't be on 34+ mm tires all the time, but when I decide to do something non-road, I'd either swap the wheels or the tires as appropriate. Obviously the price point of Carbon vs. Ti is nice, but if I needed to buy a second bike to do the other stuff, then am I really saving anything?

Posted here instead of Road cycling because really I am looking for insight into durability, which I suspect people doing gravel might prioritize more than people doing pure road riding.
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Old 02-08-21, 01:49 PM
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Zero worry. You could have just as much damage inflicted into a steel or aluminum bike, and if it's aluminum the frame is junk. You can patch steel and carbon fiber.
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Old 02-08-21, 02:04 PM
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Zero worry. Carbon isn't as fragile as people make it out to be.
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Old 02-08-21, 03:01 PM
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For something that wont be a large part of your riding, the odds of a rock strike cracking a carbon frame is seriously small. And the type of riding you describe wont have many(any?) instances where a large rock strike can happen. Packed down crushed limestone paths just dont have many huge rocks in em.

What constitutes a gravel bike is really varied. Its anywhere from a road race bike with room for wide tires, to a relaxed frame with dozens of mounting points for trendy bikepacking, to geometry that looks similar to modern mountain bikes.
Knowing that, if I was wanting a bike for what you intend to ride, I would figure out what style of gravel bike I want and then find one in my price range with the geometry and setup I want. After that, I would focus on frame material.
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Old 02-08-21, 03:24 PM
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I wouldn’t necessarily worry about it either, but yeah, you can crack a carbon frame with an odd tip-over fall. My buddy’s Felt went out that way, getting knocked while it was leaned against his workbench. Ti won’t break like that. But those are rare, freak accidents, so if the bike you like happens to be made from plastic, don’t worry about it.
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Old 02-09-21, 07:10 AM
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Thanks for the responses. The bike I get will be a road bike, but likely Endurance geometry (I am a T-rex, so that's a "normal" fit for me). They do tend to offer slightly wider chainstays for fatter tires. I think I'd like to get Ti, not because of some magical ride quality, but due to the fact that I'd like the peace of mind that it will last (not assuming this is my last bike, but it'd be nice to get 10-15 years out of it without worrying), but the price point comparison just isn't even close (I think Moot's frames alone are 5k where I can get an entire bike with Ultegra from Canyon for 3k).

Sounds like, though, that for what I think I'll be doing Carbon is likely going to be perfectly fine. If I ever decide to venture into more serious gravel, a different bike may make sense (material is one reason, but I may also want straight up different wheels/tires/gearing as well and not have to be replacing parts constantly).

Edit: Can you fit paneers or similar on pretty much any bike? Or do they need special mounting points? Again, road is going to be my main staple, but if I do decide to do one of those bike packing trips, need to figure out what my options are for carrying stuff. May just be those oversized saddle/handlebar bags is good enough (I'd be staying in hotels, not camping).

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Old 02-09-21, 08:43 AM
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If you're not riding road competitively, and Ti is too expensive, consider steel or aluminum. There are plenty of off the shelf bikes that can suit your needs. The CAADX comes to mind.
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Old 02-09-21, 09:04 AM
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Originally Posted by am0n View Post
Thanks for the responses. The bike I get will be a road bike, but likely Endurance geometry (I am a T-rex, so that's a "normal" fit for me). They do tend to offer slightly wider chainstays for fatter tires. I think I'd like to get Ti, not because of some magical ride quality, but due to the fact that I'd like the peace of mind that it will last (not assuming this is my last bike, but it'd be nice to get 10-15 years out of it without worrying), but the price point comparison just isn't even close (I think Moot's frames alone are 5k where I can get an entire bike with Ultegra from Canyon for 3k).
Well you certainly can do better on Ti pricing than Moots. For example, you could snag a 12spd SRAM Force fitted Planet X Ti bike, complete with fender and rack mounts, discs, carbon fok and post for sub $3k. There are other options, too, especially if the definition of “even close” is a few hundred bucks. https://www.planetx.co.uk/i/q/CBPXHU...nium-road-bike

Originally Posted by am0n View Post
Sounds like, though, that for what I think I'll be doing Carbon is likely going to be perfectly fine. If I ever decide to venture into more serious gravel, a different bike may make sense (material is one reason, but I may also want straight up different wheels/tires/gearing as well and not have to be replacing parts constantly).
Totally; CF is not what I’d call fragile, and I’m always down for an “N+1” opportunity!

Originally Posted by am0n View Post
Edit: Can you fit paneers or similar on pretty much any bike? Or do they need special mounting points? Again, road is going to be my main staple, but if I do decide to do one of those bike packing trips, need to figure out what my options are for carrying stuff. May just be those oversized saddle/handlebar bags is good enough (I'd be staying in hotels, not camping).
Yeah, you can put all kinds of paneer and other cheese on bikes. Panniers will all need to be fitted to a rack, so the question is really of what it will take to fit a rack to a particular frame, and there are options for almost any bike, so I’d not worry about that. It might be worth more consideration that a frame is long enough to comfortably fit panniers out back, giving heel clearance when pedaling, but probably if you keep to the Endurance and Gravel segments, that’s not an issue.
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Old 02-09-21, 09:10 AM
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Originally Posted by am0n View Post
I think I'd like to get Ti, not because of some magical ride quality, but due to the fact that I'd like the peace of mind that it will last (not assuming this is my last bike, but it'd be nice to get 10-15 years out of it without worrying), but the price point comparison just isn't even close (I think Moot's frames alone are 5k where I can get an entire bike with Ultegra from Canyon for 3k).
You are comparing a boutique custom sized titanium option to an internet consumer direct stock sized carbon option. They will for sure be different in cost. Look up Habanero Titanium or other less customer and less US-made titanium options. Pricing will be lower.

As for 'endurance' geometry, that means something different for each brand. Some endurance marketed bikes are as aggressive as another company's race bikes.
Check out Ribble's CGR options. They come in carbon, steel, aluminum, and titanium. You can swap out some components before delivery and have color options too. CGR is Ribble's gravel option, but if the geometry works then ignore what category its called and enjoy a bike that works for your needs.

It was mentioned that maybe aluminum should be considered and yeah- for sure its a great option that shouldnt be ignored. There is nothing magical about carbon as a frame material at this point.
And since you asked about cargo, mounting points can be designed to hold more weight on steel and aluminum, compared to carbon.

One last thought- you havent really said what tire size you want to fit. You mentioned not needing over 34mm tires often, but does that mean you need em sometimes? If the widest tires you will have is 32mm, then many endurance road bikes will work. If you want to fit 40mm tires, most endurance road bikes wont work.
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Old 02-09-21, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
Well you certainly can do better on Ti pricing than Moots. For example, you could snag a 12spd SRAM Force fitted Planet X Ti bike, complete with fender and rack mounts, discs, carbon fok and post for sub $3k. There are other options, too, especially if the definition of “even close” is a few hundred bucks. https://www.planetx.co.uk/i/q/CBPXHU...nium-road-bike


Totally; CF is not what I’d call fragile, and I’m always down for an “N+1” opportunity!


Yeah, you can put all kinds of paneer and other cheese on bikes. Panniers will all need to be fitted to a rack, so the question is really of what it will take to fit a rack to a particular frame, and there are options for almost any bike, so I’d not worry about that. It might be worth more consideration that a frame is long enough to comfortably fit panniers out back, giving heel clearance when pedaling, but probably if you keep to the Endurance and Gravel segments, that’s not an issue.
That's quite the cheesy comeback.

To be honest, if it was within say $1k, I would be fine. I know Canyon and Giant being D2C means you can get better prices, so buying from someone else I know will require some premium and buying from an LBS (If I wanted to support one/get the perk of support/service, especially given I just got fitted by a shop and I get a credit on a bike if I buy through them + they will dial it all in to the same dimensions they just fit me to). I'm mechanically savvy and interested in being so, but buying from an online vendor is more challenging unless I really feel like they are well represented (I have a Giant dealer nearby and I see Canyon on GCN all the time, so I *feel* like those are reputable brands). I've heard of Habanero, Lightspeed and Lynskey in the Ti market, but I've heard as many horror stories as good (although, people with problems are more likely to complain than those who don't and are out riding their bike, so have to keep that in mind).

The endurance geometry has less to do with my ride style and more to do with my body proportions. I'm all leg and little arm comparatively. I need the greater stack/reach ratio.
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Old 02-09-21, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
You are comparing a boutique custom sized titanium option to an internet consumer direct stock sized carbon option. They will for sure be different in cost. Look up Habanero Titanium or other less customer and less US-made titanium options. Pricing will be lower.

As for 'endurance' geometry, that means something different for each brand. Some endurance marketed bikes are as aggressive as another company's race bikes.
Check out Ribble's CGR options. They come in carbon, steel, aluminum, and titanium. You can swap out some components before delivery and have color options too. CGR is Ribble's gravel option, but if the geometry works then ignore what category its called and enjoy a bike that works for your needs.

It was mentioned that maybe aluminum should be considered and yeah- for sure its a great option that shouldnt be ignored. There is nothing magical about carbon as a frame material at this point.
And since you asked about cargo, mounting points can be designed to hold more weight on steel and aluminum, compared to carbon.

One last thought- you havent really said what tire size you want to fit. You mentioned not needing over 34mm tires often, but does that mean you need em sometimes? If the widest tires you will have is 32mm, then many endurance road bikes will work. If you want to fit 40mm tires, most endurance road bikes wont work.
That's fair. I used Moots because as mentioned in the response I just made, they are the Ti brand rep'd by the store I got fitted at. I'm not sure they'd be willing to buy a different Ti brand for me and build something, but maybe they would. That said, I could always just buy it myself and deal with that, but there is some perk to using an LBS as long as the price delta isn't extreme.

I understand Endurance varies. The comment was due to my proportions and generally an "endurance" fit will fit me better.

As for size, normally I am a 25 right now on my Alu frame, but the stays are smaller. I'd like to get up to a 28 for road. I imagine for the type of gravel I'd like to do that a 34ish would probably be fine (packed dirt, packed crush stone, etc.). Finding a frame that can fit a 34-36 comfortably in case I want to do that is on my list. That said, it wouldn't be often I'd put those on, but an option I'd want just in case, so if it can only fit a 32 or 34, that's fine. If I needed a 40 or bigger I think my style of riding has changed enough to warrant revisiting my needs.

Edit: And yes, looking at Ribble, their "Endurance" geometry isn't endurance at all. Those stack/reach ratios are aggressive.

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Old 02-09-21, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by am0n View Post
That's quite the cheesy comeback.

To be honest, if it was within say $1k, I would be fine. I know Canyon and Giant being D2C means you can get better prices, so buying from someone else I know will require some premium and buying from an LBS (If I wanted to support one/get the perk of support/service, especially given I just got fitted by a shop and I get a credit on a bike if I buy through them + they will dial it all in to the same dimensions they just fit me to). I'm mechanically savvy and interested in being so, but buying from an online vendor is more challenging unless I really feel like they are well represented (I have a Giant dealer nearby and I see Canyon on GCN all the time, so I *feel* like those are reputable brands). I've heard of Habanero, Lightspeed and Lynskey in the Ti market, but I've heard as many horror stories as good (although, people with problems are more likely to complain than those who don't and are out riding their bike, so have to keep that in mind).

The endurance geometry has less to do with my ride style and more to do with my body proportions. I'm all leg and little arm comparatively. I need the greater stack/reach ratio.
Given that, it sounds like building up from a bare frameset isn’t for you, but buying a complete bike online would probably be just fine to consider. Usually they only need a couple of bits bolted back on, but are otherwise measured up and adjusted. The big one, if you want to call it that, would be cutting the steerer tube down, but besides not being necessary perhaps, you could easily have any shop do that for you. The bike will come with enough spacers to run it uncut, so you could put the spacers above and below the stem as needed, and ride it until you’re comfy with where you want the bar height and can get it in the shop to be cut down.

If your pricepoint is $4k, there are definitely complete Ti options, e.g. the Twin Six Rando Ti, which if the 1x12 thing works for your road riding, is spec’d out with front and rear rack mounts and a sick, changeable dropout system that lets the frame be adaptable to various (and future) axle standards. Plus, it’s unique and cool looking:



https://www.twinsix.com/collections/...33446644744289
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Old 02-09-21, 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by am0n View Post
As for size, normally I am a 25 right now on my Alu frame, but the stays are smaller. I'd like to get up to a 28 for road. I imagine for the type of gravel I'd like to do that a 34ish would probably be fine (packed dirt, packed crush stone, etc.). Finding a frame that can fit a 34-36 comfortably in case I want to do that is on my list. That said, it wouldn't be often I'd put those on, but an option I'd want just in case, so if it can only fit a 32 or 34, that's fine. If I needed a 40 or bigger I think my style of riding has changed enough to warrant revisiting my needs.
e.
If you will have a 28 and would sometimes use 32-35s, maybe just use the wider tire and call it a day? It seems like a lot to buy an extra wheelset just to run 32s or even 35s every once in awhile.
As an example- https://www.bicyclerollingresistance...000-comparison
Conti GP5K 28mm at 80psi 9.2 watts
Conti GP5K 32mm at 60psi 10.3 watts
And when psi is equalized for comfort, rolling resistance is the same.

Rene Herse has 32 and 35mm tires and Conti GP5K has a 32mm tire. Both are consistently considered fast rolling. Sorta takes the need away from a 28.


But there is more than one way to skin a cat and if you find a benefit in a wheelset with 28 and a wheelset with 35, then cool.
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Old 02-09-21, 12:28 PM
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One area that I saw problems with regarding carbon on gravel bikes was seat posts. I'd say about once a week we would have someone come in the shop with a busted carbon seat post. Zipp, BMC, Bontrager, Giant, they all broke. None of them more than another, though. The obvious finger pointing of "over torqued" was true on most of them, probably. But I know of several people who were hyper-vigilant with regards to maintenance and care. Heck some of those guys had nicer torque wrenches than I did, and they would still crack seat posts.

Again, probably anecdotal. But that was really the only consistent issues we saw across the board with regards to carbon related bikes/bike parts, which would feed any questions of durability/fragility.
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Old 02-09-21, 04:14 PM
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Originally Posted by softreset View Post
One area that I saw problems with regarding carbon on gravel bikes was seat posts. I'd say about once a week we would have someone come in the shop with a busted carbon seat post. Zipp, BMC, Bontrager, Giant, they all broke. None of them more than another, though. The obvious finger pointing of "over torqued" was true on most of them, probably. But I know of several people who were hyper-vigilant with regards to maintenance and care. Heck some of those guys had nicer torque wrenches than I did, and they would still crack seat posts.

Again, probably anecdotal. But that was really the only consistent issues we saw across the board with regards to carbon related bikes/bike parts, which would feed any questions of durability/fragility.
Out of curiosity, do they replace with an aluminum seat post, or buy another carbon post?
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Old 02-09-21, 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by softreset View Post
One area that I saw problems with regarding carbon on gravel bikes was seat posts. I'd say about once a week we would have someone come in the shop with a busted carbon seat post. Zipp, BMC, Bontrager, Giant, they all broke. None of them more than another, though. The obvious finger pointing of "over torqued" was true on most of them, probably. But I know of several people who were hyper-vigilant with regards to maintenance and care. Heck some of those guys had nicer torque wrenches than I did, and they would still crack seat posts.

Again, probably anecdotal. But that was really the only consistent issues we saw across the board with regards to carbon related bikes/bike parts, which would feed any questions of durability/fragility.
Were these larger riders? I can't understand how they would break seatposts just by riding.
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Old 02-09-21, 06:51 PM
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Personally for a gravel bike I'd prefer to go steel or ti and lynsky has decent pricing, from recent searches I recall it not being significantly more than a canyon. I could only find what I wanted in my price range in aluminum so I went with it. If I'd found a a carbon frame for similar or even a few hundred more I wouldn't hesitate to have bought that instead. I already run carbon forks on my old gravel bike and a cross, can't see a frame being any more of an issue.
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Old 02-09-21, 10:52 PM
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Some of the ultra light road carbon frames are on the delicate side but carbon gravel bikes are not as light and are quite durable. But the ride of carbon for gravel is really where carbon excels. It is flexible in the right places and rigid in the right places. Hard to beat for gravel. Ti just is not worth the expense and really does not perform as well as a decent carbon frame.
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Old 02-10-21, 04:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Russ Roth View Post
Personally for a gravel bike I'd prefer to go steel or ti and lynsky has decent pricing, from recent searches I recall it not being significantly more than a canyon. I could only find what I wanted in my price range in aluminum so I went with it. If I'd found a a carbon frame for similar or even a few hundred more I wouldn't hesitate to have bought that instead. I already run carbon forks on my old gravel bike and a cross, can't see a frame being any more of an issue.
I have a Lynskey gravel bike and the frame cracked. No crash, no impact, snd the bike was just over a year old.
Lynskey fixed it free, but not to my satisfaction.
The person at Lynskey I spoke with could offer no explanation as to why it cracked, other than maybe not enough seatpost in seat tube. When I pointed out it was a 400 mm post, that possibility was nixed.





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Old 02-11-21, 12:38 AM
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Originally Posted by msu2001la View Post
Out of curiosity, do they replace with an aluminum seat post, or buy another carbon post?
It varied. Just about all of them were covered under warranty, I recall one gentleman did replace his with his aluminum and sold the warranty replacement.

Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
Were these larger riders? I can't understand how they would break seatposts just by riding.
I'd say most of them were 200-ish pounds. I'm a terrible judge of weight when people are in casual clothes. Most of them broke stretching the limits of their cx/gravel bikes. The surrounding area has some pretty rugged terrain and I know these guys definitely took these bikes on the limits. But they also weren't doing downhill racing on Domanes.

Dunno how they broke. BMC claimed on at least cases that the seat post clamps were over tightened in their postmortems.
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Old 02-11-21, 03:03 AM
  #21  
tangerineowl
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Originally Posted by am0n View Post
Thanks for the responses. The bike I get will be a road bike, but likely Endurance geometry (I am a T-rex, so that's a "normal" fit for me). They do tend to offer slightly wider chainstays for fatter tires. I think I'd like to get Ti, ...
Something with proportions like this? https://www.ebay.com/itm/seven-cycle...-/154322880051

Chainstay looks like it could clear a 33mm or so.

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Old 02-11-21, 08:59 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by dwmckee View Post
Some of the ultra light road carbon frames are on the delicate side but carbon gravel bikes are not as light and are quite durable. But the ride of carbon for gravel is really where carbon excels. It is flexible in the right places and rigid in the right places. Hard to beat for gravel. Ti just is not worth the expense and really does not perform as well as a decent carbon frame.
There are definitely divergent views on that, of course, and I would say that lumping all Ti together, without distinction, reveals a problematic assumption. Ti bikes can be vastly different, and any Ti gravel frame is much different than Ti road bikes from the ‘00s, which seems to the period in which a lot of the so-called “conventional wisdom” on Ti developed.

I’d reference a reviewer like Jom at Gravel Cyclist, who rides and races a lot of Ti and CF bikes both, and yet is a Ti lover and feels that the material gives up nothing to CF other than some weight. His reviews are serious, too, based on long test periods and often race conditions, not just quick, hour-long rides at press junkets.

Check out his reviews of bikes like T-Lab X3, Sage Barlow, and J. Guillem Atalaya, and you hear top level praise for the ride quality and performance, not criticisms of sub-par performance compared to CF.

Ultimately CF can be lighter, and if your riding is about counting hundredths of a second, yeah, that’s an advantage you want. For someone like me, I can have an amazing ride on any frame I like riding and which inspires confidence and joy, regardless of the material. I mean, I haven’t ridden bamboo...

I don’t have anywhere near the experience with all the variations in construction techniques and design to say that all CF is one way, or that all Ti is that way; I’m deepest in steel, but all of my steel bikes have felt differently one from the other, so I can’t generalize there, either. I do think I generally prefer the feel of metals over CF, but I’m open to the possibility of that magic CF frame being out there!
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