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Alloy vs Carbon

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Alloy vs Carbon

Old 08-05-02, 09:14 PM
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Alloy vs Carbon

Getting back into cycling after about a 10 year break. I'm looking to get a new bike and have been looking at Ultegra equipped road bikes such as the Trek 2300 and Giant TCR1. These bikes are in the $1,800 to $2,000 price range. Id appreciate any general comments or suggested alternative bikes to consider.

Also, since Im looking at non-carbon fiber framed bikes in this price range, is it worth the $700 upgrade to move an all carbon fiber framed bike such as the Trek 5200?
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Old 08-05-02, 09:50 PM
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That question brings up the age old debate of "want" vs "need". My personal want would be to save the $700 and get a real nice MTB on top of the road machine. But yours may be different. You can get a great bike for the $1800 - 2000 range without carbon. So like the answer to most questions it just depends.

If really want carbon then the $700 extra amortized over the life of the bike isn't that bad, but at the same time $700 buys a lot of nice stuff to go along with a great $2000 roadie. My $.02 USD
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Old 08-05-02, 09:51 PM
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I feel that carbon bikes are...well...disposable. Since I am employed in the bike business, I can tell you I've seen far more carbon frames warranteed than any other material. Aluminum is OK, I suppose. The Trek is even made stateside, unlike the Giant.

Frankly, if you aren't competing regularly, I believe steel is the way to go. I did a Gunnar Sport last week with custom built wheels and mostly Dura Ace for around $2500! A nice solid non-trendy bike that will carry you faithfully down the road with a minimum of fuss.

That's not to say that steel can't be raced on, but most of the racers I know are pretty much gram geeks. And that means something other than steel. As an aside, my steel bike with steel fork weighs under 18 pounds. But with Fuji, you can get an aluminum Ultegra bike with nice wheels and an FSA carbon cranks for about $1899. That thing weighs 15.8 lbs!

So there are my midnight musings on bike choice.
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Old 08-06-02, 05:31 AM
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I guess I'm just out of touch. My first reaction to alloy versus carbon was Chrome Molloy versus carbon steel, not aluminum versus carbon fiber.


Last edited by MisterJ; 08-06-02 at 05:46 AM.
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Old 08-06-02, 06:12 AM
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That's funny! But you're right-the lexicon sure has changed!
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Old 08-06-02, 06:43 AM
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Buy the carbon.You will always wish you had.Aluminum is for beer cans.Don't buy the hooey about CF durability.
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Old 08-06-02, 06:58 AM
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Originally posted by memphisjim
Also, since Im looking at non-carbon fiber framed bikes in this price range, is it worth the $700 upgrade to move an all carbon fiber framed bike such as the Trek 5200?
I'm new to road riding, and I purchased a 5200 this year. Again, I don't have any experience with other road steeds, but I absolutely love this bike! With no disrespect to other frame material, the carbon really seems to absorb the small stuff well, while maintaining its stiffness.

I have an aluminum mountain bike (Klein Attitude Comp) that I also love, but I can tell the difference between the frames in terms of harshness.

Good luck with your decision, I don't think you can do wrong @ your price point regardless of frame material!
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Old 08-06-02, 10:22 AM
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You have mentioned two very different materials here. A carbon fiber bike will probably be a little more forgiveing than the aluminum. The aluminum Giant will be more stiff, esp. in the rear triangle area. You need to figure which frame material is best for you. Many pros and cons here and everyone likes one or the other for a variety of reasons. Personally, I think carbon gives a bit of a muted feel, and some of the newer aluminum frames are a bit more comfy now. If your not hung up on the weight issue steel is also an alternative. Do your homework, Serrotta makes a fine steel rig, a bit expensive though. High end steel frames are very light now a days (Coppi, Pegoretti & Serrotta) to name a few. Check out some websites for various info. on bikes, www.wrenchscience has a decent site. Good luck, picking out a new frame/bike is very exciting.
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Old 08-06-02, 10:32 AM
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Originally posted by MisterJ
I guess I'm just out of touch. My first reaction to alloy versus carbon was Chrome Molloy versus carbon steel, not aluminum versus carbon fiber.
Ah, another REAL STEEL steelhead raises his head.

The difference in weight between the new steel frames and the carbons/ti are about the same differences as between the weight of a 16oz and 24oz waterbottle. Not enough to count.
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Old 08-06-02, 10:55 AM
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Originally posted by 1oldRoadie

The difference in weight between the new steel frames and the carbons/ti are about the same differences as between the weight of a 16oz and 24oz waterbottle. Not enough to count.
This is very true...either that or get the steel frame and shed less than 1/2 lb. from your own body It doesn't seem that weight should be such a factor when it comes to considering steel vs. other frame materials. Rather, the forgiving characteristics and flex of steel should be compared with the stiffer, more rigid features of others...
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Old 08-06-02, 01:16 PM
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What's wrong with titanium other than its very expensive price?

If you're willing to consider a Trek 5200, which is by no means "cheap", then why not consider a Litespeed Tuscany or Sienna titanium frame as well?

I can't say anything about other titanium frame builders, but the Tuscany was a marvel to testride and maybe this is just my obsession with Ti hehe...but try those frames as well.
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Old 08-06-02, 01:54 PM
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Two important factor to consider when evaluating frames of carbon vs aluminum vs steel vs titanium are your riding power output and style, and the frame size.

In general, for a larger frame (i.e. about 57cm and larger), Ti will be lighter but flexier than will steel. For a skinny, long-legged guy like me, a 61cm Ti frame might be OK as I tend to rely on a high cadence, whereas a heavier, more powerful rider that generates more torque might well find a large Ti frame too flexy in the BB area and therefore prefer a stiffer but potentially harsher aluminum frame.

A larger, more powerful rider will also be more likely to experience stress riser/crack problems with a carbon fiber frame, particularly in the BB area. Likewise, aluminum tends to be riskier for heavy, powerful riders.

I personally find the Trek 5xxx carbon frame to be really comfortable, but I don't much care for the muted road feel- kind of like riding a really nice handling two-by-four.
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Old 08-06-02, 05:50 PM
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I've had a cannondale aluminum road bike for 15 years now. I got it before Klein forced them to stop using oval seatstays. Before that I had a reynolds steel frame by Gitane. It was also a great bike, but smoother than the cannondale. Still, when I bought the cannondale I remember riding a ton of bikes and fell in love with aluminum. I ride for speed and acceleration, which aluminum provides. I'm now looking to buy another bike maybe next year since my cannondale won't accomodate the new STI stuff, but I still love this bike. After thousands of miles including a 4 year stint in Boulder climbing and descending hills, this thing keeps on ticking.

But the real answer to your question comes down to what you like riding. I agree with the previous post that you have to ride several bikes to know what feels best to you. It's a totally subjective matter.
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Old 08-08-02, 12:41 PM
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Giant is a less known name but it is just the same in quality, I ride a Trek and love it but I will most likely sell it for a light weight cannondale. I think you should ride both carbon and alloy and see what you like better!
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