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New to Carbon Fiber Game, about to pull a trigger, school me before I do!

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New to Carbon Fiber Game, about to pull a trigger, school me before I do!

Old 08-06-23, 10:48 PM
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Rookie Carbon Fiber Question..Help!

Hello all!

I am in process of getting myself a new road bike/frame as a whole or a project, but instead of my typical steel stallion, it will be Carbon or Titanium (more on Titanium later..)

This is new territory for me. I am looking into a Trek Madone carbon fiber frame. However, I found out the frame of interest is a 2016 model (7 years old?!), and after some reading, I am having my concerns..

Point blank, should I invest in a 7~ year old carbon frame? Or should I look for something a little newer? I have some 2020-2021 models in sight as well.

Thoughts?

Also have been looking into Titanium as well. Came across a brand called Blackhearts Ti Bike Co. Fairly priced, and was hoping to get any input on Ti frames and not the company in specific.

I want to venture into Carbon or Titanium. I am very excited for this new terrain and would love all input!

Thank you again!

Edit. Realized my questions had lots of 'preferences' within them.

Last edited by shuru421; 08-07-23 at 02:44 AM.
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Old 08-07-23, 04:05 AM
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The 2020-2021 carbon frames will probably have wider tyre clearance and disc brakes, unless you are specifically looking to avoid those features. If rim brakes and narrower tyres are your preference then a 2016 Trek Madone is a reasonable choice. Just be aware that it has a lot of proprietary parts, including integrated "aero" brake calipers I believe.

A titanium frame is about as far away from a Trek Madone as you can get. Round tubes vs ultra-aero etc. So I presume aero is not really a high priority for you, in which case why consider a highly proprietary aero frame like the Madone? I would consider carbon frames without proprietary aero seat posts etc. and I certainly wouldn't go all-in for proprietary aero rim-brakes at this point in time.
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Old 08-07-23, 05:17 AM
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I bought a carbon 2017 Domane and I love that bike but: if I had to do it over again, I'd probably go with an aluminum Domane. For me, the 2 lbs weight savings is 1% of my body weight and came at a high price premium! Had to buy a set of torque wrenches and an add on to my work stand to deal with carbon, too.

In 2019, I did the Seattle to Portland ride and rather than ship the Domane I rented an aluminum Fuji that had similar dimensions and components - I really couldn't tell the difference in ride but others say they can.

If the weight savings is worth the $$ to you, one reason in 2023 I'd be tempted to go carbon with a Domane is the storage compartment in the down tube - that is really handy.
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Old 08-07-23, 05:52 AM
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This is WAY too nuanced to give definite answers or even a good opinion. But fools rush in...

A well cared for, never crashed 7 year old CF frame is fine. But one that has been abused or crashed is NOT fine, and it's tough to tell just by looking so you have to go by the previous owner and see if you trust him/her.

Titanium is a fine frame material, more durable but slightly heavier than CF. There are TONS of threads/opinions on merits of different frame materials.

Regardless of what you choose, make sure the sizing/fit is done right. That matters even more than the material.
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Old 08-07-23, 06:02 AM
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Be aware of what you are buying...
Owner reviews are usually valuable when the bike brand is not well known.
Ti frames can be good or not so good. It depends on the Ti...not all Ti tubes are the same. Some may be straight gauge tubing with adequate welds resulting in a 'dead' ride feel.
Carbon has been around for quite a long time and has been said a well cared for, never crashed, etc. frame can last a long time. But carbon frame technology and materials has improved year after year and were it me I'd go for a newer frame.
Also keeping in mind brake type...mech/disk...drivetrain...mech/electrical...etc.
Good luck and keep us informed.
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Old 08-07-23, 07:08 AM
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As long as you're considering something different..you might take a look at Vaast. If I were to buy a bike today(I have steel, aluminum/carbon, and titanium bikes..I've ridden carbon and didn't care for the ride) I think I'd give Vaast a hard look. Lightweight, supposed to have a great ride, and can handle wider tires.

With some 35-38mm fast road tires on it..could be a real hoot.

https://www.vaastbikes.com/bikemodels/a1/
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Old 08-07-23, 01:10 PM
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Asking if carbon fiber frames in general are a good idea (or are recommended, or a good value... whatever) is like asking the same thing about aluminum, or steel. There are many differences from one manufacturer to the next, and even from one model to the next. The material itself can be laid up in various directions and thicknesses, and the tubes can be of various diameters and shapes. It is possible to get a carbon frame that is very strong and stiff, reasonably tough, quite light, and will last for decades. It's also possible to end up with a really sketchy or downright dangerous one. I don't know much about the 2017 Madone models, but I wouldn't have major concerns with buying any 7 year old Trek frame, assuming it has been treated well.

Does it use a press-fit bottom bracket (PF-30, BB-30, BBright, or several other standards)? I think in that timeframe they were still popular. Many people have had good luck with these designs, but many others have trouble. Some high end models have returned to tried-and-true threaded shells, just like lower end models always used, and my personal preference is to always buy a threaded one.

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Old 08-07-23, 02:37 PM
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I would rather get a Trek OCLV 5500 and have it upgraded with carbon wheels and dura ace 7800 or 9000
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Old 08-08-23, 10:15 AM
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Originally Posted by georges1
I would rather get a Trek OCLV 5500 and have it upgraded with carbon wheels and dura ace 7800 or 9000
I rode one of those bikes (full DuraAce spec from early 2000s) just before the pandemic. Not going into details, but it was nowhere near as good a ride as my 2019 Giant Defy. Tech has moved on, especially carbon bike tech. So I would take modern carbon every time. I know you only do retro and believe it is superior. But carbon bike frames have come a long way in the last 2 decades.
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Old 08-08-23, 10:59 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
I rode one of those bikes (full DuraAce spec from early 2000s) just before the pandemic. Not going into details, but it was nowhere near as good a ride as my 2019 Giant Defy. Tech has moved on, especially carbon bike tech. So I would take modern carbon every time. I know you only do retro and believe it is superior. But carbon bike frames have come a long way in the last 2 decades.
I never loved the way the old OCLV frames felt on the road (as a race bike) - kind of muted/dead. For a MTB, however, those qualities are a benefit. (IMO, YMMV)
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Old 08-08-23, 11:07 AM
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Darth Vader's mask was carbon fiber. Just sayin' ...
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Old 08-08-23, 12:10 PM
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The 2016 Madone has a range of levels.

The flagship Race Shop Limited Madone with the H1 fit and 700 series carbon was the last Trek frame built by hand in Wisconsin. Production went through 2017. It's an unusual pure race bike. Its specs allow 700x28 tires, but most 30s fit fine. If you are buying it as a frame, be aware that it has a lot of proprietary parts -- like a hella lot. Brakes, seatpost, bar/stem, cable adjusters, headset, spacers, you name it. Trek published a manual for its assembly; you should be able to find it on google.

The other 2016 Madones with 600 series carbon and the H2 fit were made in Asia. Not bad bikes, same amount of proprietary parts, lines look more like every other compact frame out there.

If you just want a carbon or titanium bike, there are innumerable choices out there. Most people who end up riding a '16 Madone were looking specifically for it.
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Old 08-08-23, 12:22 PM
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Thank you all for your inputs.

Yes, I had a feeling this topic mightve received some of these comments as there are so many factors to consider..

Weight.
So Ive never been one to compare grams..ESPECIALLY coming from steel, any of these materials will be significantly lighter I assume.

Tech.
I am running Dura Ace 9100 on my current steel road bike. I dont see it getting all that much 'techier' unless I get something wireless (Di2, eTap) and disc brakes. But Im hearing disc brakes are heavier(?).. Seems the wheels will be the biggest difference for me on this particular project, as I plan on going carbon wheelsets.

Fit.
Its all about the fit! Form over Function..or in this case, is it Function over Form..? Loll, if it doesnt fit, I wont be getting it.

Brands in consideration!
Trek, Canyon, BMC, Ritte, (Maybe given they are quite pricey Colnago/Cervelo), Blackheart Ti.

Im ready at any given second, but really taking my time/consideration seriously.

Hoping more will chime in!
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Old 08-08-23, 12:25 PM
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Originally Posted by ljsense
The 2016 Madone has a range of levels.

The flagship Race Shop Limited Madone with the H1 fit and 700 series carbon was the last Trek frame built by hand in Wisconsin. Production went through 2017. It's an unusual pure race bike. Its specs allow 700x28 tires, but most 30s fit fine. If you are buying it as a frame, be aware that it has a lot of proprietary parts -- like a hella lot. Brakes, seatpost, bar/stem, cable adjusters, headset, spacers, you name it. Trek published a manual for its assembly; you should be able to find it on google.

The other 2016 Madones with 600 series carbon and the H2 fit were made in Asia. Not bad bikes, same amount of proprietary parts, lines look more like every other compact frame out there.

If you just want a carbon or titanium bike, there are innumerable choices out there. Most people who end up riding a '16 Madone were looking specifically for it.
Ah that is great info! I believe the one Im looking at is the H1 model. Selling as frame/fork/brakes/seatpost/handlebar+stem combo.

Are these proprietary parts hard to come by? Should I ask about what other parts it comes with that is proprietary and/or what more is needed to complete the build?
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Old 08-08-23, 12:50 PM
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Originally Posted by shuru421
Ah that is great info! I believe the one Im looking at is the H1 model. Selling as frame/fork/brakes/seatpost/handlebar+stem combo.

Are these proprietary parts hard to come by? Should I ask about what other parts it comes with that is proprietary and/or what more is needed to complete the build?
If you have a Trek store nearby, you shouldn't have too much trouble getting whatever parts might not be included. It sounds like you'd be getting the most important stuff. There are a few little rubber grommets that fit into the frame where shift cables enter and little different adapters depending on whether or not you're running electronic shifting.

The brakes have little wedges that clamp to the brake cables -- I could see where these might go missing on a frameset. You might want to call your Trek shop and ask what they'd charge to build it up. If you run mechanical shifting, there will be a lot of cables to route internally through the bar/stem into the headset and through the frame. The brakes are also somewhat fussy to set up.

One other caution -- if the bar/stem combo isn't your size, it could take a while and be expensive to find the right one.

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Old 08-08-23, 02:18 PM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
I rode one of those bikes (full DuraAce spec from early 2000s) just before the pandemic. Not going into details, but it was nowhere near as good a ride as my 2019 Giant Defy. Tech has moved on, especially carbon bike tech. So I would take modern carbon every time. I know you only do retro and believe it is superior. But carbon bike frames have come a long way in the last 2 decades.
The OCLV was made in the USA back then not the case of modern Treks, Where Are Trek Bikes Made? , I quote the source: " Unfortunately, there are no more Trek bikes that are fully made in the USA. They used to produce a small number of bikes in their U.S. facilities in Waterloo and Whitewater, Wisconsin (about 20,000 bikes per year), but that came to a halt in December 2017, according to a source we have inside the Trek engineering team. Trekís last remaining American made bikes was their carbon fiber collection, where they used to get carbon fiber from Salt Lake City and make the molds in their main facility in Waterloo, Wisconsin. Now those high end carbon framesets are produced in Asia, and shipped to Wisconsin for painting and assembly. Most other models are manufactured in countries like the Netherlands, Germany, and China."
I could have chosen also Look KG 196 or even a KG 181 or a Time Helix Equipe HM Pro. I have never ridden a modern or recent carbon frame,so I can't give you an opinion but as for older carbon bikes I rode on some OCLVs , Tarmacs and Peugeot carbon race bikes, light but uncomfortable for me.
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Old 08-08-23, 03:16 PM
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Any frame I'd buy would be disc brake and work with 28-30mm tires. I have a 2017 Cinelli Superstar that's my oldest and it handles 30mm tires on 25mm IW hookless rims with no problem. I bought
two YOELEO R12 frames last year for only $1215 each, with seat post and integrated bars. They cost $1890 now, with custom paint.


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Old 08-08-23, 06:19 PM
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If it was me, I'd try find a lightly-used example of a bike that was the duck's guts like ten years ago; you should be able to find one that can take a 28mm tyre without too much trouble.

Insufficient tyre clearance is the main reason to avoid older bikes; that aside if you don't ride in a lot of rain or do a lot of fast descents, older bikes are generally better in every way except aero. Way more bang for buck without discs. Think of all those dusty wheelsets you can have for a song. Modern rim profiles have been around longer than discs brakes have been de rigeur.

As an aside, have you considered going tubular for your wheels? My 50mm set weigh just over a kilo, the bike feels a total weapon wearing them.

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Old 08-08-23, 07:17 PM
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Originally Posted by shuru421
Thank you all for your inputs.

Yes, I had a feeling this topic mightve received some of these comments as there are so many factors to consider..

Weight.
So Ive never been one to compare grams..ESPECIALLY coming from steel, any of these materials will be significantly lighter I assume.

Tech.
I am running Dura Ace 9100 on my current steel road bike. I dont see it getting all that much 'techier' unless I get something wireless (Di2, eTap) and disc brakes. But Im hearing disc brakes are heavier(?).. Seems the wheels will be the biggest difference for me on this particular project, as I plan on going carbon wheelsets.

Fit.
Its all about the fit! Form over Function..or in this case, is it Function over Form..? Loll, if it doesnt fit, I wont be getting it.

Brands in consideration!
Trek, Canyon, BMC, Ritte, (Maybe given they are quite pricey Colnago/Cervelo), Blackheart Ti.

Im ready at any given second, but really taking my time/consideration seriously.

Hoping more will chime in!
Disc brakes are slightly heavier, but it will make no significant difference. Actual braking performance is generally better and more consistent. Also an advantage if you are choosing carbon wheels, especially wider modern rims.

Fully wireless eTap AXS 12-speed shifting is very nice and the easiest build possible. Di2 still has some wires to route, but 12-speed at least has wireless shifters. Both are a nice step up from cable shifting.

I have a 2022 Canyon Endurace SL8 with Force eTap AXS and DT Swiss ERC 1400 wheels. It weighs around 7.7 kg and the ride and handling is great. Super comfortable on 30 mm GP5000S TR tyres and completely rattle free ride. The carbon bars and seatpost add a lot to the comfort, damping out pretty much all road buzz. Iíve done some epic rides on this bike over the last year and it hasnít missed a beat or had a single flat. So Iím definitely a big Canyon fan and their pricing is very competitive. Like multiple thousands cheaper than an equivalent spec BMC, Cervelo etc.

Ti frames are really a ďlifestyleĒ choice at this point. If you prefer the aesthetic over the performance advantages of modern carbon then I guess why not? Personally I donít see much advantage of titanium over steel or aluminium as a frame material. Design and manufacture are much more important. Even more so for carbon with so many intricate layup designs.

Just some thoughts from a mech engineer.
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Old 08-09-23, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
Disc brakes are slightly heavier, but it will make no significant difference. Actual braking performance is generally better and more consistent. Also an advantage if you are choosing carbon wheels, especially wider modern rims.

Fully wireless eTap AXS 12-speed shifting is very nice and the easiest build possible. Di2 still has some wires to route, but 12-speed at least has wireless shifters. Both are a nice step up from cable shifting.

I have a 2022 Canyon Endurace SL8 with Force eTap AXS and DT Swiss ERC 1400 wheels. It weighs around 7.7 kg and the ride and handling is great. Super comfortable on 30 mm GP5000S TR tyres and completely rattle free ride. The carbon bars and seatpost add a lot to the comfort, damping out pretty much all road buzz. Iíve done some epic rides on this bike over the last year and it hasnít missed a beat or had a single flat. So Iím definitely a big Canyon fan and their pricing is very competitive. Like multiple thousands cheaper than an equivalent spec BMC, Cervelo etc.

Ti frames are really a ďlifestyleĒ choice at this point. If you prefer the aesthetic over the performance advantages of modern carbon then I guess why not? Personally I donít see much advantage of titanium over steel or aluminium as a frame material. Design and manufacture are much more important. Even more so for carbon with so many intricate layup designs.

Just some thoughts from a mech engineer.
Ive actually been eyeing a Canyon myself! Im hearing that Canyon is known for best bang for buck type of brand? Regardless, the bikes look very nice as well! However, you mentioned Ti being a 'lifestyle' choice? What do you mean by that exactly?

One thing about Carbon is the front rattle.
Im assuming this is all dependant of the manufacturer as not all Carbon frames will feel the same?
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Old 08-09-23, 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by shuru421
Ive actually been eyeing a Canyon myself! Im hearing that Canyon is known for best bang for buck type of brand? Regardless, the bikes look very nice as well! However, you mentioned Ti being a 'lifestyle' choice? What do you mean by that exactly?

One thing about Carbon is the front rattle.
Im assuming this is all dependant of the manufacturer as not all Carbon frames will feel the same?
Canyon pricing is certainly very competitive with their direct sales model. Quality is on a par with all the other big brands like Trek, Specialized, Giant etc. They are just genuinely cheaper. The Endurace CF SL8 eTap I have has no front rattle at all with the carbon bars. It's actually the quietest road bike I've ever owned. I also have a Giant Defy Advanced Pro and that does rattle a bit at the front over rougher roads. But it has cheaper alloy bars and the mechanical brifters and cables are a bit noisy. Not a big deal but I noticed the difference straight away when first riding the Canyon.

What I meant by Ti being a "lifestyle" choice is that the only reason to choose it over carbon is because you prefer the aesthetic and maybe a more "boutique" manufacturer. Carbon is the "technical" choice for a road race bike as proven by the entire pro peloton and down through the amateur ranks. The only reason at this point not to choose carbon for a fast road bike is because you are on a tight budget or you simply want a more classic look. But there are even carbon frames that look more traditional than the typical chunky modern aero frames e.g OPEN MIN.D. Then there are hybrid carbon/ti frames like Bastion. It's all out there at a price, but I keep coming back to Canyon for value and their bikes are as good as anything else on the market.
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Old 08-09-23, 01:26 PM
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Originally Posted by shuru421
IOne thing about Carbon is the front rattle.
Im assuming this is all dependant of the manufacturer as not all Carbon frames will feel the same?
What is "front rattle"? I currently have 5 CF bikes in my stable. Anything that rattles isn't because the frame is CF.

Ride quality is influenced by tubes shapes, carbon layup pattern, quality of CF material, geometry, and multiple other things. You are correct that not all CF frames feel the same.
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Old 08-10-23, 07:25 AM
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Lot of great input but I feel a little more on Ti is in order. Ti framebuilders have evolved as have carbon builders and as an example the considerations in tubing where manipulating the external shape of a tube can allow directional tuning of stiffness toward more desirable ride characteristics be it straight gauge tubing or tapered. My personal experience now in my 70s is my Ti bikes are getting the ride time and the steel and carbon little.
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Old 08-10-23, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by easyupbug
Lot of great input but I feel a little more on Ti is in order. Ti framebuilders have evolved as have carbon builders and as an example the considerations in tubing where manipulating the external shape of a tube can allow directional tuning of stiffness toward more desirable ride characteristics be it straight gauge tubing or tapered. My personal experience now in my 70s is my Ti bikes are getting the ride time and the steel and carbon little.
The ability to precisely manipulate directional stiffness is what makes carbon such a great frame material, along with itís unmatched stiffness/weight ratio. I appreciate that modern metal forming allows for similar manipulation, but carbon is still far more versatile in that regard.

The actual ride characteristics of any frame depend largely on the design. This is especially true with carbon as there are almost limitless layup possibilities.
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Old 08-15-23, 06:14 AM
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Your choice here is not really Ti vs Carbon (I have one of each) but of new vs old tech. Forget the aero bars and all that, but if you want wider tires and disc brakes, then go with whatever bike has that. My Ti has neither and that is the only thing I would change. I was hoping for a "forever bike," but maybe that's not gonna happen.

Ride 'em both, see which one you like.
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