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NOW I understand (aluminum v carbon)

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NOW I understand (aluminum v carbon)

Old 04-14-12, 09:41 AM
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NOW I understand (aluminum v carbon)

Have an aluminum cross bike and an aluminum road bike. Both have carbon forks. I have poo-poo-ed CF frames, since they are expensiver than AL and asplode at the slightest twitch. I have been and continue to be happy with my bikes (the rigid mtb is a different story).

Well, here in Alabama for a week, I rented a Fuji Carbon bike (low-end, tiagra-equipped). Did the shop ride this morning, on good old Alabama country roads, some of which make the worst Oregon chipseal I've ridden on look like a freshly finished velodrome. Very tiresome - some of the cracked/heaved surface, will flat wear one out (made me marvel even more at the performance of Tom Boonen last weekend).

Back to the frame. YES there is a ride difference!!! A HUGE difference when comparing apples and apples - meaning same size tires (23 v 23).

And, as my road bike seems to want to "jump" out there when I try to accelerate (compared to my CX bike), the light CF frame wants to hop out there even more. I had fun dropping back from the group and accelerating back to the group just for that feeling.

Now, whether that difference has me running out to buy a CF bike, that is to be seen. First, since I have two sons in college. Second, cuz if I bought a CF bike for me, my wife would want (no, DEMAND) one as well (n+1 = n+2 at my house).

So, now I understand. It won't change what I ride in the near term, but I do understand.

Slim, feel free to chime in on steel as soon as you wish....
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Old 04-14-12, 09:51 AM
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I rode a steel bike in the 1990's. Seemed ok . As a runner I stopped cycling for 4-5 years bought an Al frame bike which was nice but felt every vibration in the road. After 6 months bought a CF Bottecchia and is was night and day difference. The CF bike just soaked up the vibrations would never return to AL bike. If the CF asplodes and I live through it I would go to steel or TI but never ever AL.
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Old 04-14-12, 10:54 AM
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Ironically, I had the reverse experience today. Finally built up my rain bike - a Planet X Kaffenback steelie and took it for a spin. The steel fork simply doesn't inspire the same level of confidence on fast descents on rough roads. And while I get the whole "lively" thing of steel, I prefer the stiffness of carbon.

That doesn't mean I am NOT going to buy a Pegerotti or Colnago Master X in the not-too-distant future though
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Old 04-14-12, 11:53 AM
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I noticed a huge difference between my Defy and the Colnago, as far as the ride quality and response goes. The CF is definitely much quicker to respond and a much better ride. I still like riding my Defy but haven't done so in the last month.
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Old 04-14-12, 12:32 PM
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I have two road bikes, same tires.

Cervelo carbon and Giant alu.

The Cervelo is by far the harsher ride. It's so harsh that when I bought it the guys at the LBS warned me about it - they've had customers take it back because they were so harsh. While I do believe all the data on carbon's superior dampening characteristics, clearly the frame design can really alter this property. Racing bikes are meant to be super-stiff, so no surprise when I bought my bike - the Giant is a 'relaxed geometry' frame (I definitely don't ride relaxed rides on it!) but it ends up damping more than the carbon.
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Old 04-14-12, 12:36 PM
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I just went from aluminum to carbon and have become amazed at the difference in the ride quality also.
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Old 04-14-12, 01:02 PM
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I was of the same mind: Carbon frame "ride quality" was nothing more than marketing trying to convince us to spend $$. Two weeks ago, I upgraded my Felt 7005 aluminum frame with a carbon one. The carbon rides WAAAY smother, night and day more comfortable. Also, my carbon frame is substantially stiffer. I road both on the trainer and my aluminum frame would flex like crazy - carbon, very stiff. Can't miss something you never had I guess. This is why I refuse to ride a bike with anything better than Dura Ace 9 speed. I don't feel like upgrading my group anytime soon...
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Old 04-14-12, 01:25 PM
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dampening
damping "dampening" means it is getting wet.

clearly the frame design can really alter this property
Indeed.

All bikes can change ride characteristics through changes in tube configuration and cross-section. It is easier to do this on a carbon bike because it is laid up in a mold, where metal bikes will either need tubes to be extruded in those shapes or hydroformed. In addition, you can change the material properties of carbon by changing the type of carbon fabric, the layers, and the orientation of the fabric in the layers relative to each other. A clever carbon layup can be springy in one direction and stiff in the other just by changing the fabric and/or bias, whereas a metal bike has to do that via changes in tube cross section.

This means that two visually identical carbon bikes can ride completely differently. Alternatively, a carbon bike can get away with structures difficult to replicate in metal (like those pencil-thin seat stays on the Cervelo R bikes)

That doesn't mean that a carbon bike will be de facto superior to a metal bike, because the engineer who designed the frame and layup may have got it "wrong" - plus there are some very good metal bikes out there. It does mean that the engineer who works in carbon has a lot more design freedom than the engineer who works in metal.

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Old 04-14-12, 01:27 PM
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Placebo effect
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Old 04-14-12, 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by david58
Have an aluminum cross bike and an aluminum road bike. Both have carbon forks. I have poo-poo-ed CF frames, since they are expensiver than AL and asplode at the slightest twitch. I have been and continue to be happy with my bikes (the rigid mtb is a different story).

Well, here in Alabama for a week, I rented a Fuji Carbon bike (low-end, tiagra-equipped). Did the shop ride this morning, on good old Alabama country roads, some of which make the worst Oregon chipseal I've ridden on look like a freshly finished velodrome. Very tiresome - some of the cracked/heaved surface, will flat wear one out (made me marvel even more at the performance of Tom Boonen last weekend).

Back to the frame. YES there is a ride difference!!! A HUGE difference when comparing apples and apples - meaning same size tires (23 v 23).

And, as my road bike seems to want to "jump" out there when I try to accelerate (compared to my CX bike), the light CF frame wants to hop out there even more. I had fun dropping back from the group and accelerating back to the group just for that feeling.

Now, whether that difference has me running out to buy a CF bike, that is to be seen. First, since I have two sons in college. Second, cuz if I bought a CF bike for me, my wife would want (no, DEMAND) one as well (n+1 = n+2 at my house).

So, now I understand. It won't change what I ride in the near term, but I do understand.

Slim, feel free to chime in on steel as soon as you wish....
Hey! I'm with you, David!
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Old 04-14-12, 02:29 PM
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I love my placebo! If I went back it would be a suppository effect My butt shoulders, arms and hands love the change
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Old 04-14-12, 02:43 PM
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Placebo effect: +1. Not that that's a bad thing: recent research has shown amazing improvements in patients due to the placebo effect, in some cases indicating that much, if not all, of the benefit of a given pharmacological regimen derives from the placebo effect. Enjoy those carbon frames; I'll enjoy my aluminum frames.
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Old 04-14-12, 02:56 PM
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You can build a soft or harsh riding bike from any of the materials they use for frames. It is pointless comparing them on the basis of their materials only.
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Old 04-14-12, 02:58 PM
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faster might be placebo.

ride comfort on chipseal and potholes is not a placebo effect. it's exactly what you would expect to find in most carbon frames. today there are relatively few stiff-as-hell carbon bikes, and a whole lot of them that soak up bumps moderately to superbly.
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Old 04-14-12, 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Dean V
You can build a soft or harsh riding bike from any of the materials they use for frames. It is pointless comparing them on the basis of their materials only.
+1. Also the components, wheelset and tires. I remember a noticable difference when I switched a FSA Carbon Crank to an entry level Shimano Alu Crank.
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Old 04-14-12, 11:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Dean V
You can build a soft or harsh riding bike from any of the materials they use for frames. It is pointless comparing them on the basis of their materials only.
+2 This is an endless thread topic that is especially prevalent when the cycling masses start buying new rides. No offense OP but this topic never fails to bring out the subjective and inflexible opinions. It is always fun hearing the objectively meaningless comparisons based solely on materials. Very rarely does someone get to ride the same model/geometry AND components with the only difference being CF versus aluminum. That is the only true apples to apples, objective comparison. Of course people who have owned and ridden many different styles, geometries, and materials in their bikes generally have a far more objective outlook than most. Far more important is the intended design and geometry of the bike itself regardless of material.
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Old 04-15-12, 12:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Dean V
You can build a soft or harsh riding bike from any of the materials they use for frames. It is pointless comparing them on the basis of their materials only.
+3 Cannondale Supersix is stiff and has a harsh ride. The Synapse has different geometry and it really dampened the road. I only race myself and still mostly lose. I don't know how the ride of the aluminum Synapse would compare to the carbon Synapse. If I can tell the difference, it's certainly like night and day, since I lack the experience to notice small differences.

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Old 04-15-12, 12:07 AM
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Originally Posted by RecceDG
damping "dampening" means it is getting wet.
Not totally relevant to the thread, but dampening is not incorrect in this context. Look it up.

I actually think the difference between steel and carbon is even more amazing than aluminum and carbon. I commute on steel and train on carbon, and even under my meager power steel feels noodly.

Of course, as has been stated, design of the structure has as much to do with the ride quality as material.
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Old 04-15-12, 01:06 AM
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I just started riding my carbon frame and I'm coming from AL. I'm still trying to get used to it. I'm double-thinking everything whenever I ride my Carbon. I have a 5-7lbs in weight difference between the 2 and I'm about 155-160lbs atm. My AL has a traditional geometry and my Carbon is a semi-compact.

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Old 04-15-12, 02:44 AM
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Originally Posted by RecceDG
damping "dampening" means it is getting wet.

DG
damp·ing

  [dam-ping]
noun Physics . 1.a decreasing of the amplitude of an electrical or mechanical wave.
2. an energy-absorbing mechanism or resistance circuit causing this decrease.
3. a reduction in the amplitude of an oscillation or vibration as a
result of energy being dissipated as heat.

damp·en

   [dam-puhn]
verb (used with object) 1.to make damp; moisten: to dampen a sponge.
2. to dull or deaden; depress: to dampen one's spirits.
3. damp ( def. 10 ) .

verb (used without object)

4. to become damp.
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Old 04-15-12, 05:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Young Version
Not totally relevant to the thread, but dampening is not incorrect in this context. Look it up.

I actually think the difference between steel and carbon is even more amazing than aluminum and carbon. I commute on steel and train on carbon, and even under my meager power steel feels noodly.

Of course, as has been stated, design of the structure has as much to do with the ride quality as material.
Of the three metals that frames are made out of, steel, titanium, and aluminum, they get more stiff in the order I listed them. That's why you feel that.

Also, for the rest understand that (an example was a Defy versus a Colnago) the Defy is built to be more plush and less reactive with the longer wheelbase and other differences. It's apples and oranges in frame design. Also, there are levels of carbon. Heavier and more flexy at the less expensive frame, stiffer and more efficient at the top level.

You want a stunning ride, the Defy Advanced SL is unbelievable.

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Old 04-15-12, 05:21 AM
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Originally Posted by a1penguin
+3 Cannondale Supersix is stiff and has a harsh ride. The Synapse has different geometry and it really dampened the road. I only race myself and still mostly lose. I don't know how the ride of the aluminum Synapse would compare to the carbon Synapse. If I can tell the difference, it's certainly like night and day, since I lack the experience to notice small differences.
Harsh is a relative term. I have Cannondale's last two top frames and they are really comfortable. You don't really think a rider who is putting over 30,000 miles a year on a frame would ride one he feels is "harsh"...so beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That's why they make all these different frames.
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Old 04-15-12, 06:56 AM
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Originally Posted by roadwarrior
Of the three metals that frames are made out of, steel, titanium, and aluminum, they get more stiff in the order I listed them.
not true. The modulus of elasticity (main contribution of a material to stiffness) goes down in the order you give. Specific modulus (modulus per weight) is nearly identical for those materials.
Aluminum tends to be used in bigger diameter tubes than ti and steel. That's where the reputation for stiffness/harshness comes from.
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Old 04-15-12, 07:15 AM
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Originally Posted by roadwarrior
Harsh is a relative term. I have Cannondale's last two top frames and they are really comfortable. You don't really think a rider who is putting over 30,000 miles a year on a frame would ride one he feels is "harsh"...so beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That's why they make all these different frames.
30,000 miles a year?? Where does one find time to live?
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Old 04-15-12, 07:41 AM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen
not true. The modulus of elasticity (main contribution of a material to stiffness) goes down in the order you give. Specific modulus (modulus per weight) is nearly identical for those materials.
Aluminum tends to be used in bigger diameter tubes than ti and steel. That's where the reputation for stiffness/harshness comes from.
If aluminium is allowed to flex, it breaks down quckly due to material fatigue.
Steel doesn't and can flex (to a point). That's why it is possible to make a flexier frame out of steel, than aluminium.

On the other hand: bike fitting, tyres, fork (a carbon one) can add a lot to comfort. As much as frame flexibility. I personaly would like to be able to find a cheap, light steel frame, but that's impossible nowadays.
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