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retnav94 10-28-10 11:03 AM

carbon or alloy?
I am considering a road bike yet again. The Cannondale Synapse looks to be the one I am presently zeroing in on. I intend to ride both the alloy and the carbon version of the synapse 5 but will most likely be limited to a very short ride. For those who have had the opportunity to ride both carbon and alloy bikes for distance, is there a noticeable difference for us older (54) folks or should I save the extra cash?

Robert Foster 10-28-10 11:16 AM

I haven't tried the Cannondale but I have had two Lapierres one in Scandium and one in CF. The Scandium was a bit stiffer but had a CF fork to take some of the buzz out on less than perfect road surfaces. Neither frame precluded longer rides, I have done centuries on both and still have an aluminum Jamis that I ride on easy rides on the weekend. The CF bike does seem to absorb vibration better and I am just a bit less fatigued on rides from 50 to 100 miles.

Bottom line is if I had to choose just one frame for most conditions I would pick the CF between the two materials you asked about. It will be interesting to see what direction this question takes.

kh6idf 10-28-10 11:29 AM

I'm also 54 and recently started riding a carbon bike (Cervelo RS) after riding an alloy hybrid (Marin Fairfax) for the last year. I find I can cover longer distances with less effort on the RS, but that would be true even if it had an alloy frame due to the other efficiencies (road vs hybrid bike). There is something about riding a carbon frame that is very nice, apart from the quick acceleration and ease of climbing hills, in that it seems to soak up the road vibrations while remaining very stiff. I don't see much of a downside to carbon other than the higher cost and you have to be more careful with it when tightening fasteners (get a torque wrench if you don't have one). I would be interested in reading you report after riding both the alloy and carbon synapse. I test rode 2 other bikes before buying the RS, first was a Felt Z5 (ride one of these if you can), then a Synapse Carbon 3, but after my 2nd ride on the Cervelo I knew I had to have it.

doctor j 10-28-10 12:51 PM

I have an aluminum bike and a CF bike with very similar frames, and they both relaxed geometry and have curved seat stays.

For two days in a row, I rode the same 20-mile loop after work. The loop has some chip seal and results in some road buzz. Day 1 was aluminum, Day 2 was CF. The ride was nicer on Day 2.

The CF is about 5 lbs lighter than the aluminum. That helps a little but not necessarily in terms of ride quality.

The aluminum is my old road bike. I've got a little over 10,000 miles on it and have ridden several centuries on it.

The CF is a Synapse Carbon 5. I really do like this bike.

Knowing what I know now, I would buy a CF. Back then, I was getting into road bikes and didn't want to spend any more money than I had to in order to determine if road bikes were for me. The aluminum is a fine bike. It will go the distance. The CF just rides a little better and is a little lighter.

stapfam 10-28-10 02:06 PM

2 Attachment(s)
Two good bikes Giant TCR-C and a Boreas Ignis in aluminium

Boreas is a race Geometry frame and in road trim weighs in at 16lbs. It is a lightweight frame with lightweight C.F. forks and seat post. Parts selected on the custom build are mainly Ultegra and Known durable L/W parts. Wheels are Ultegra low spoke count- 16F and 20R and "Hand" rebuilt. This bike is my ride of choice. It is comfortable up to a Metric Century but does cause a bit of Neck ache after that.

Attachment 175882

The TCR-C was built up with a similar spec to Boreas but Using 105 parts and in ride trim is 17 1/2 lbs. I Had to change the wheel to stop it skitting around as the frame is pretty stiff and with me only weighing 150lbs- it was too stiff. But this bike is setup slightly different to Boreas. It is comfortable for the longer rides and it goes uphills a dream. Boreas does climb well but the TCR just flies up hills. Doesn't descend as well though and I take care as I approach 40mph.

Attachment 175881

Then I have the Giant OCR. The basic bike that got me started. I have done 100milers on it and it has got me up mountains- but that was 4 years ago. Heavy at 19 1/2lbs- stiff as a rock and cheap components. Frame is Aluminium and pretty thick material at that. It rides well even for a lowly bike.

So test ride the bikes you are thinking of. I would also suggest trying a Specialised Roubaix as a Comparison. They are made in Ally and C.F and are a very popular bike within this group. Must be a reason for that.

The Weak Link 10-28-10 02:32 PM

Uh oh. Shouldn't this thread be over on P&R?

j/k Another vote for carbon.

AzTallRider 10-28-10 03:29 PM

Don't worry Weak... it will get there. Haven't you figured out yet that the mod's have a search to find any thread you post to, and automagically move it to P&R?

roccobike 10-28-10 05:11 PM

I went from Cannondale Aluminum to Giant CF (OCR-C). After two and a half seasons on Carbon, I can tell you I actually think hard before taking out one of the alloy bikes. I added a CF seat post to the Cannondale and that helped, but it is no match for the Giant. I also obtained a used carbon LeMond. It too is way more comfortable than the Cannondale. I tried another Cannondale, an 03 R400. It's not much better than the older Cannondale. Any ride over 50 miles and I ride a carbon bike (1st choice) or steel (2nd choice). I won't ride alloy over 50 miles.
Along the way I picked up a steel Bianchi Campione. It rides very smooth, very comfortable, but the additional weight does take a toll. For ride comfort I'll go with either steel or carbon. I'm seriously thinking of selling one of the two Cannondales I have because I don't think I'll be riding it much.
In summary, IMHO go carbon.

cyclinfool 10-28-10 05:26 PM

Now if the choice was between CF & steel....

MorganRaider 10-28-10 05:47 PM

Get the bike that you think you will "crave" to ride. In the end, it will probably make you fitter just because you will want to ride it more often.

Metric Man 10-28-10 07:15 PM


sojourn 10-29-10 09:38 AM


Shifty 10-29-10 10:12 AM

Carbon.....well worth the extra cost. It does have a nicer ride.

BluesDawg 10-29-10 10:35 AM

These days, this question comes up more often about wheels than frames.

StanSeven 10-29-10 10:41 AM

I don't think the material makes that much difference by itself. Rather it's more what the builder does with the material. CF can be formed and the fiber layed in a manner that it can provide both performance and comfort.

stapfam 10-29-10 11:57 AM


Originally Posted by BluesDawg (Post 11701207)
These days, this question comes up more often about wheels than frames.

Have to agree- My C.F. bikenearly got sold after a monthas it was not a pleasant ride. Found the wheels that stopped it bouncing all over the road and it is now fine.

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