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Carbon vs Aluminum(9 posts)

Carbon vs Aluminummikevand00
May 8, 2001 4:56 PM
I'm in the market for a new bike, can't decide between aluminum and carbon.

Used to own a Cannondale, and it was great. Currently looking at the R1000si (CAAD5 frame), or a Trek 5200 / 5500.

Any comments on pro's and cons of carbon vs aluminum?

(My goal and reason for getting back into cycling is Iron Man competitions).
hate aluminum ..carbon is greatishmael
May 8, 2001 6:48 PM
im not going to go into it any further..its a personal feeling based on my mainly has to do with comfort
At the risk of being repetitiveKerry Irons
May 8, 2001 7:22 PM
Frame material is not nearly as important as frame design. And bike fit is most important. So first you find bikes that fit - that will narrow your choices. Then you look at what you are trying to accomplish and whether the bike is designed and equipped for that purpose. Then, if you really have come down to a choice of just frame material, you go with the cheaper bike if you feel they are otherwise comparable. However, if you want a bike that will last a long time under heavy use, you probably wouldn't get either aluminum or CF.
At the risk of being repetitiveLen J
May 9, 2001 6:06 AM
Where does the information come from to support your comment that Carbon will not last a long time under heavy use? I have seen studies that show that Carbon lasts longer under repititive stress than any other material. I realize that there have been some historical problems with carbon as manufacturers "learned thier craft", however these appear (for the major manufacturers) to be a thing of the past.

In addition, your comment ignores the lifetime frame warranties that exist for most quality frames (especially carbon).
Conclusions from dataKerry Irons
May 9, 2001 8:00 PM
Lifetime warranties are only meaningful if people keep their bikes a long time and ride them a lot. Few riders do both. Since Kestrel started the current CF bike craze 15 years ago, there have been many many more CF frame failures than steel, Al, or Ti, by any measure. If you talk to a fiber reinforced polymer guy about fiber pull-out, fiber breakage, or matrix failure, they'll say "So what's your point?" Using fiber reinforced epoxy downhill skis for the past 30 years has taught me that they always go flat, and many fail. Does this mean that CF is a bad material for bikes? No, but if you are a heavier rider who puts in substantial miles and keeps your bike for a long time, CF is not the best material for you. Perhaps the current generation of CF bikes will put the lie to this statement, but history supports it, and until manufacturers start sharing failure rate data, the anecdotal record supports it too.
from bikes to skispeloton
May 9, 2001 8:57 PM
Comparing bikes to skis is interesting. Both use composite layers for strength and take quite a beating in performing their specific tasks. A bike takes more of it's beating over fatigue put in by miles and vibrations. A ski really takes a beating that you can't even appreciate without a camera in slow motion. A downhill ski in a race vibrates at such a rate, and contorts into positions that would amaze you. The energy that is absorbed it tremendous. Studies have shown that if a human being were exposed to the amount of vibration one experiences in the downhill event over a long period that it would even cause the internal organs to bleed. The fact that a ski even stays together is really a tribute to how well composite materials can do their job if put together properly. That is really the key to any material, IF it is put together properly.

That said, even the best made composite products can fail. I've ripped bindings off of skis and bent many pairs personally. They all loss their camber over time and abuse. Bikes are the same way. Composites are great, and they can have a functional lifespan. Just don't expect them to last forever.
carbon for meDuane Gran
May 9, 2001 6:12 AM
I was actually comparing the two frames you mention and inclined toward the Trek 5200 after a lot of test riding. I think that the Trek geometry also suits me better, which is actually of greater importance, but I couldn't get past the comfortable ride of the carbon material. The Cannondale will be cheaper, but I was much more impressed by the Trek.

A little advice if you do get the Trek, swap out the seatpost on day one. You shop should give you a little credit if you do this. It isn't that the icon seat post is really bad, but it is purty heavy.
howzabout Carbon *and* AluminumET
May 9, 2001 9:15 AM
The Cinelli Aliante, for example, is a blend of aluminum (main frame) and carbon (stays and fork), supposedly supplying the benefits of each (stiffness of aluminum, comfort of carbon, lightness of both). The Cinelli logos really make it look stylish too. It got a really good review in the latest issue of Cycling Plus. However, the longer your rides, the more I'd say stay away from any aluminum. After all, the reason for creating this hybrid frame is to take out at least the perceived harshness of an all-aluminum frame.
howzabout Carbon *and* Aluminumchrisbaby
May 9, 2001 9:45 AM
a well-built aluminum frame can be very comfortable. I have a Gaint TCR and have done a couple of century rides and not had a problem. Manufacturers of AL bikes know that they can be harsh and now design them to be less so.