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Advice on carbon.(14 posts)

Advice on carbon.Mr.Mick
Apr 10, 2001 5:22 AM
I'm looking into buying either a Trek 5200 or 5700. I have ridden 5200 and love the way it feels. Here's the problem, I'm 6'1 and weigh between 210 and 220 depending on how strict I am with my training. Some people have told me that big guys should be on either steel or aluminium, and stay away from carbon. As I said, I love the bike, but if it isn't the right thing for me, that's a lot of money to pay for a clothes rack with wheels...any suggestions.
re: Advice on carbon.MMaggi
Apr 10, 2001 6:13 AM
I don't think 210 or 220 is too heavy for carbon. I know of one cyclist who rides a Giant carbon fiber and he's taller and heavier. He has no complaints about the frame being too flexy at all. According to him, it's stiff and comfortable.

I do think that as the weight of a rider goes up, the better the performance he'll get from a steel frame rather than an aluminum or Ti frame. I believe steel will remain the stiffest for the longest period of time. The others will get flexier sooner, thus performance will go down.

Strictly based on performance, I would say steel first for heavier riders followed by carbon fiber, Ti and aluminum.
re: Counterpoint...BillieJo
Apr 10, 2001 6:55 AM
........It is not so much what the material is that determines its suitability for a given application,as it is how that material is engineered, configured,manipulated and built into a frameset. Any material can be either suitable or unsitable for a 210 pounder. And , aluminum and Ti do not get softer with use. All materials have a fatigue life. Aluminum is relatively low and Ti is high.
re: Counterpoint...Jofa
Apr 10, 2001 10:15 AM
I read an article somewhere by Jobst Brandt in which he said that steel, if it never passes its elastic limit, has an infinite fatigue life (something to do with the molecular structure never breaking down). I am not an engineer of any sort, and I'm sure he's right- it kind of makes sense anyway; however, can this be said for al and ti? anybody know?
carbon does not get flexier with timeIxiz
Apr 10, 2001 7:25 AM
Where did you get info like "getting flexier"
If you are talking bout fatigue life maybe but then again i can flex a thin sheet of steel and flex several magnitudes of a sheet of rubber and wont fail. Therefore material and design has to go together insted of just material alone.

Carbon is not like leather and it doesnt get softer/flexier with time
IF it does that means its weakening or fibers/layers are cracked.
carbon does not get flexier with timeMMaggi
Apr 10, 2001 11:31 AM
I was refering to fatigue life in re to all materials I mentioned.
i just got the 5200junebride
Apr 10, 2001 11:34 AM
and let me just say that i am *loving life* right about now. :)

sorry, just had to get that in on behalf of my bike, which couldn't be with me today, due to crappy weather (not to dis my all-weather faithful). not much i could say on the sz/flex issue, as i'm a much smaller rider.
go for the carbon !quadzilla
Apr 10, 2001 12:14 PM
I weigh 235 lbs, and have been riding a 5200 since 1997. I also use easton's carbon post & ec90 bars, all with no problem The bike itself feels the same now, as it did rolling off of the showroom floor. It is a really super ride. I can pound up hills or make massive sprints with little or no flex. Keep in mind, I probably have about 20,000 miles on it !!! I've replaced almost all the components, but the frame is just awesome.
re: EC90 barsGary
Apr 10, 2001 2:58 PM
Hey! I am considering getting the EC90 bars! I ride a Kestrel please post what your opinion of these, I'd like to hear it. Write about its (or lack of) stiffness, shock-absorbing qualities and hand position (I think the shape is a bit different than the standard bars). Thanks!
stepping on my soapboxRobO
Apr 10, 2001 3:43 PM
I had a chance to compare the EC90s to the aluminum model at the dealer only version of CABDA. The EC90s were stiffer. You could put your hands on the very ends of the drops and squeeze and there was no noticeable flex. I've never ridden them, though.
re: EC90 barsQUADZILLA
Apr 10, 2001 4:10 PM
Hi Gary.. I did post a review of the bars @ the product review part of this site. But, basically, I really do love these bars. The different hand positions really work for me, but I have heard others don't like it much at all. What I can tell you is that they REALLY dampen road bumps & shocks. They are quite amazing. The first time I sprinted with them, it was a little un-nerving because of some of the flex. But then again I weigh 230 lbs, and can really put some muscle into them. I decided on these based on my experience with other easton products. Their carbon MTB bar is really indestructable also. I see that Kestrel also now makes a carbon bar. I saw it in Colorodo Cyclist. The only real drawback is the lack of cable routing grooves in the bar. I solved this by routing the cables UNDER the bar. It actually works quite well, and gives my fingers something to grab on to, and makes the cables invisible. The first time I picked these bars up, I almost threw up my lunch...they are that light !! I hope I helped. Even at $160, I think it was money well spent. You only have three contact points on the bike...your feet, butt & hands. The first ride I did with them was 53 miles... they just work so well for me.
Kestrel barsJ.S.
Apr 11, 2001 9:11 AM
Had a chance to compare the EC90 and the Kestrel and preferred the shape of the Kestrel. The Easton has an abbreviated top which would make climbing on the tops uncomfortable for me. Also the Kestrel has cable grooves and a reinforcement where the levers attach to the bars. Both bars felt about as stiff as my ITM 260's
Get your Trek.Ian
Apr 10, 2001 4:37 PM
I had a 5200 for almost one year. I upgraded to a Look KG281 w/ Dura-Ace. The 5200 was a wonderful bike and I would recommend it to anyone. I weigh 210 and had no problems with flex, it was very stiff, but had that wonderful damping property of carbon. If you are considering the 5700, I would also check out the 5500. I would not have thought so until I owned it, but the Dura-Ace is a good upgrade over Ultegra. I think the 5500 and 5700 are about the same MSRP, so you will have to decide if the lighter frame or better component group is more important. Enjoy your new bike!

Some other posts asked about the EC-90 bars. I have them and like them. They extend the STI levers somewhat, so when I built the bike, I went for a slightly shorter stem. I like the extra hand position. When pressing against each side of the bar before installing them, they seemed very stiff. As for damping, since my bike and entire fork is carbon, it is hard to tell if the bars make much difference. Hope this helps.

re: Advice on carbon.Slow Ned
Apr 10, 2001 7:37 PM
As a 200 pounder and former owner of a Trek 5200, I hope I can toss my 2-cents in without hitting you in the eye.

My 5200 was not bad. I flexed the crap out of it when out of the saddle or during hard efforts. Performance was decent, however. I traded the bike due to the fact that it was a tad too small for me. Ironically, I had the best race results of my career on that bike (but I should note that this was also before my kids were born, which gave me more time to train).

I have seen more 5000 series Treks fail that any other single type of bike - bear in mind that this is only my personal experience, not a bias. There are also loads of these bikes on the streets. Two teammates broke theirs in the past 6 months, and 2 other friends did the same. Seems like a common failure point is the bottom-bracket shell.

Trek redeems itself with a second-to-none warranty program. In every instance of breakage, they have really took care of their customers.

I am currently on a Cannondale, which is aluminum. I like it a lot - it was inexpensive (used) and is very stiff. I have owned one other C-dale, an aluminum GT (sucked), and also a DeRosa (great bike, but flexy), a Colnago (so-so), a Bianchi (OK), a Chesini (solid), a Merckx (stable and stiff), and 2 Fuji's (cheap) - all steel bikes.

I have to agree that the most important characteristic of the frame is how it is built/engineered. The material is merely another factor, along with tube diameter and shape, etc. To judge a frame solely on the material of which is constructed would be akin to selecting a frame based merely on tube thickness without conisdering material and geometry, for example. I've seen good and bad in all materials so far.

To wrap up my long-winded blah-blah-blah, the 5000 series Trek should work fine for you. It might not be the best bike you could find, but it will work well enough.