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What *IS* it about carbon? (Trek 2300 vs 5200) ?(17 posts)

What *IS* it about carbon? (Trek 2300 vs 5200) ?rory1
Jun 22, 2003 7:10 PM
OK, I have posted a couple of posts recently about getting a trek 2300. I had ridden one, liked it, and compared to some other bikes, 'feels' pretty decent to me.

I had looked at the 5200, but this will be a first road bike for me (I ride MTB - have a Gary Fisher Sugar 3 ) yet looking for something to do road training, riding also.

So I see in a bike shop, that they have the Trek 5200 for $2399 - Advertised retail is $2799....... this is $800 more than what I can get the 2300 for, and I have not ridden the 5200 (yet) since it was pretty much out of my price range.

The only diff I can see in the specs from Trek is the frame (duh) and the Headset - otherwise, ALL components are identical - so it really is the frame....

What is the big difference between carbon and aluminum from a standpoint of ride?

I hate to ask a stupid sounding question, although I am fairly comfortable with bike gear and whatnot, this is just the first time I've encountered this potential opportunity.....


re: What *IS* it about carbon? (Trek 2300 vs 5200) ?gray8110
Jun 22, 2003 8:51 PM
The 5200 frame is lighter stiffer and a more forgiving ride than any aluminum frame out there.. they have even been described as being too dull or wooden. The 2300 doesn't have a bad ride for an aluminum frame but there is a very noticeable difference. Carbon as a material can be made as light as the lightest aluminum frames yet much stiffer and plush.

I haven't ridden the newer (2002 or later) trek frames but in the past they frames were tortionally stiff to begin with and after a year or two got pretty noodly.. That's aluminum.
Jun 22, 2003 8:57 PM
"I haven't ridden the newer (2002 or later) trek frames but in the past they frames were tortionally stiff to begin with and after a year or two got pretty noodly.. That's aluminum."

Regarding that statement in the previous post - I'm referring to the Trek Aluminum frames.. as the other poster says, aluminum frames fatigue relatively quickly & lose their stiffness over time. Carbon (relatively)does not.
Wrong on all counts!!!cyclequip
Jun 23, 2003 3:15 AM
"aluminum frames fatigue relatively quickly & lose their stiffness over time" - Hogwash of the highest order - ranks up alongside last week's posts on showroom bullsh1t.
Aluminium actually gets stiffer as it flexes.
Wrong on all counts!!!MellowVelo
Jun 23, 2003 12:28 PM
He wasn't referring to the properties of the metal but how Trek's aluminum bikes perform. I've had a 1999 Trek 2000 for 3 years and believe me it has become progressivly more flexy at the bottom bracket over time and I'm not exactly a powerful rider. It may be a property of Aluminum that the material becomes stiffer as it flexes but it's not the case in my experience with Aluminum bikes. That may be an issue with the shape of the tubes or something else, but that is my experience.

Regarding your "Myth" post, Trek's carbon frames are measurably lighter & stiffer than their aluminum frames.. that sounds like proof to me that Carbon frames can be built lighter & stiffer than aluminum frames. No one ever said carbon as a material is stiffer in lighter, bu in bicycle applications, it can be made to be. That Trek 2000 AL bike has become my second bike to a Trek 5900 which is a pound lighter and doesn't and doesn't flex even on a trainer.
re: What *IS* it about carbon? (Trek 2300 vs 5200) ?deHonc
Jun 22, 2003 8:51 PM
The difference is the frame as you point out- although the headset, saddle, post, tires may or may not be identical. The frame is the singularly most important part of your bicycle - components will eventually wear out - and new ones then added to your frame. So a good frame is worth having. The OCLV frames are much lighter than the aluminium frame on the 2300. This means they are far more responsive - ie you stomp the crank - it shoots forward. They are also stronger and stiffer. They have very different ride quality - the OCLV tend to dampen vibrations giving a smooth ride. The geometry might also be different. Carbon, as a material, doesn't fatigue so unless you smash it up it will last indefinately - aluminium and steel frames will eventually wear out. If you are thinking of getting one or the other - ride them and see for yourself - there is no comparison IMO - OCLV frames are very fine.
Do a search for "OCLV" . . .Drone 5200
Jun 22, 2003 8:58 PM
The pros and cons of carbon have been thrown around a lot on this board. Here's my 2 cents:

1. I find the carbon to be more comfortable over the long haul. The carbon absorbs the vibrations much better than aluminum. In the reviews people who prefer carbon over aluminum will call the aluminum "harsh." Some people don't like the feel of the carbon. People who prefer aluminum will call the carbon "wooden." You'll need some good test rides to decide for yourself whether you can feel this or not. Some people can't feel much of a difference.

2. One obvious difference between the two is that the OCLV has seen action in the tour. I'll be honest, my ego wanted a frame that had seen some action. It makes for great conversation with my non-cycling friends. My LBS carries all the high end stuff. I thought the 5200 was a bargain for a frame used by the USPS team.

Good luck! Both are a solid choice. You won't regret either one.
aluminum fatigue????CritLover
Jun 22, 2003 9:19 PM
This is the first I've heard about this happening. Has anyone ever experienced this... and what symptonms can be felt/noticed? And generally speaking, after how long a period does this begin to happen? Needless to say, I'm not happy about hearing this, but I guess it's not too bad since people don't toss their bikes away after a few years. Thanks-
aluminum fatigue????deHonc
Jun 22, 2003 9:56 PM
Dude - do a search on this site of metal fatigue (in discussions). Don't lose too much sleep over it though - you will probably buy another bike prior to your frame wearing out.
The Myth!cyclequip
Jun 23, 2003 3:24 AM
Composites have their advantages - they can be designed to give differential results from the same tube, depending on how the fibres are layered and aligned. This 'tuning' of tubes is more difficult with other materials (but not impossible). However, this type of special layering is also expensive.
Composites will dampen road vibration better than more resonant materials like aluminium. But composites are NOT lighter or stiffer when compared equally to aluminium.
Test ride them both...cydswipe
Jun 23, 2003 4:56 AM
You are the only factor in the equation of comfort between carbon and aluminum. Are you positive the 2300 and 5200 have the exact same components? I haven't looked closely lately, but I thought the 5200 had a little edge in that area. As far as frame fatigue, your guess is just as good as anyone elses. Keep in mind Trek's warranty against material defect. IF the carbon were to go haywire, that doesn't include you ramping off of the curb, they will probably replace the frame. Test ride, test ride, then test ride! Good Luck!! Don't rush in until you are positive it's the bike you love!Post pics when you decide!
same equipment...C-40
Jun 23, 2003 5:26 AM

You can do a comparison on the Trek website. The components are virtually identical.

There are minute differences in the geometry. Pretty much insignificant.

If the 5200 is out of your price range, I guess it's irrelevant how much better it rides. If you can afford it, you should try it. To get a good feel for the difference, you should include some gravel sealed asphalt to emphasize the vibration reduction from carbon. On smooth roads, you probably won't notice much difference.

As for the probability of failure, there have been plenty of reports of frame problems with the Trek OCLV. Either material can fail due to manufacturing flaws (bad welds or poor layup of the carbon material). Neither is guaranteed to last longer than the other.
re: What *IS* it about carbon? (Trek 2300 vs 5200) ?BikeViking
Jun 23, 2003 6:01 AM
FWIW...I was in the same boat you are in now about 15 months ago. I was ready to spend the cash on a 2300, but my dear wife said "Why don't you ride the 5200 and see if it's worth the price difference?" I rode the 5200 and found the frame equally stiff as the 2300, but a lot more forgiving over road irregularities.

I bought the 5200 and have never regretted's a SUPERB bike.
Think about resale valuepitt83
Jun 23, 2003 6:29 AM
I'd be very disinclined to buy a 3yr old Aluminum Trek, no matter howgood the group, but much more interested in the 5200. It would likely hold it's value much better. That money may come back in the future.
Lots of BS floating around....filtersweep
Jun 23, 2003 9:50 AM
But then again, I know people who swear by the rust-proofing package they purchased for their cars....

First of all, carbon frames are not categorically lighter than AL. Secondly, almost everyone knows that lighter doesn't always translate into comfort.

On a group ride yesterday (with people on a Colnago, Look, Merlin, Seven, and Trek OCLV) then general consensus was that the Trek OCLV series is arguably the best bang for the buck in "off the shelf" bikes. It won't be the most exotic thing but it is reliably and consistantly a solid performer at a reasonable price.

Trek is NOT known for their AL road frames. If you want AL, you might want to look at Klein (if you like the Trek family) or look to another builder. I'm not ripping on the 2300, but lets face facts. Their OCLV is what they do best.

There is a distinct difference in the feel of a carbon frame over AL... it might not be something you'd notice on a 10 mile ride, but riding all day you will. Whether it is worth an extra $800 is a question only you can answer. I ride carbon and would be happy to never ride AL again.
Lots of BS floating around....Rich_Racer
Jun 23, 2003 10:05 AM
I agree! Oh my god! Where did all this aluminum fatigue crap come from! This basically stems from people needing to justify the money they spend on their bikes!

Plus - how can a material be more stiff and more forgiving?!? It's not.

Carbon is better because it's is slightly lighter and it gives a more forgiving ride. The frames are not stiffer and will not last longer.

The 2300 has a carbon fork which will make a big difference to the ride quality over an aluminum fork.
Lots of BS floating around....brian n
Jun 23, 2003 10:49 AM

I am a metallurgist and materials engineer, and i can tell you very assuredly that aluminum frames will fatigue. it only becomes an issue if the builder designs the frame to be as light as possible (ie any of those frames that have a posted rider weight limit, a good hint that the frame won't alst forever for any sized rider). plus, a carbon frame's stiffness is really determined by the orientation of the carbon fibers in the weave, and the orientation of this weave to the tube formed from it. Thus, one companies frame will be different in stiffness and feeling from anothers. you really can't make these generalizations.