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Aluminium vs. Carbon Fibre
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Boogerd_Fan



Joined: 07 Oct 2006
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Location: Bratislava, Slovakia

PostPosted: Tue Nov 19, 2013 11:55 pm    Post subject: Aluminium vs. Carbon Fibre  Reply with quote

I'm totally torn. There will be some budget next spring to buy a light race steed. Without mega bucks to spend, so there is a glass ceiling on my fantasy bike, of about say, 2500 EUR

I was totally FOR getting a Carbon bike during the summer.. was looking at Bianchi, Wilier (both seemed overpriced), Felt F4, Fondriest TF3, Ghost Lector Pro, but now i've seen bikes like Canyon's Ultimate AL SLX 9.0 for under 2000 with a really strong finishing kit, it looks like too good an opportunity to pass up.

The only real advantage for paying more for a Carbon bike would be additional weight reduction (i'm currently riding 10kg aluminium Fuji Roubaix so i doubt i'm going to regret any comfort issues).... but as the Ultimate AL is only 0.7kg heavier than the Carbon model for a similar price..

Carbon models: avg 6.6kg
Ultimate Al: 7.3kg

Does anyone have experience of racing or heavy duty riding on Carbon Fibre?? I've heard some horror stories, but looking at the wannabe pro's around here, it doesnt put people off - despite the shi* condition of slovak roads!

I quite like the idea of having a bit of extra robust security, that i won't need to be worried about writing off my bike every time there is a crash.... etc... on 2nd thoughts, i'm worried going for another Alumium bike will be a step sideways, not forwards... towards competitive edge.

Any thoughts?
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SlowRower



Joined: 22 Nov 2006
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Location: 62 West Wallaby Street, Wigan

PostPosted: Wed Nov 20, 2013 12:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Boogie - I'd be a bit dubious about the average Canyon weights above. My neighbour and his son have a carbon and aluminium Canyon between them, and though I've not weighed them, the alu one feels similar to my Wilier (8.2kg with lightweight wheels, inc pedals) maybe a bit heavier. It is a lot smaller than mine too. The carbon one is noticeably lighter, similar to Mrs SR's Ruby, which is half a kg lighter than mine.

That said, the alu one is great value for money. The Di2 is apparently nice, reliable, but completely un-necessary, given how easy decent gears - even Shimano ones - are to keep aligned.

I've only raced on my carbon bike, though I've done club runs, which are harder than Cat 4 races, on carbon, alu and steel, with bike weights around 8.2kg, 10.5 kg and 11kg respectively. The carbon bike on its light wheels is much more reactive, whereas on its winter wheels it is much more sluggish. The alu bike, despite its weight, is pretty responsive when kitted out with slick tyres.

If you're racing short, sharp stuff on the flat, then a decent frame with the stiffest, lightest wheels you can afford would be my suggestion, as this gives the best acceleration. For longer races, carbon makes most sense, as it is much more comfortable than alu, extending the "time to fatigue" by a significant amount. For hilly races, the lightest option makes sense, though the relationship between wheel weight and the rest of the weight is interesting. My perception is that a given amount of weight is more noticeable off the rims than other parts of the bike, particularly when acclerating or trying to arrest deceleration.

Ultimately though, you have to buy a bike you want to ride. My Wilier is the only thing I've bought in living memory where I went with heart over head. I could have got the same standard of bike or better for less via Ribble or Planet X etc. but I wanted to ride Italian branded Taiwanese carbon, not UK branded Taiwanese carbon. Don't know why, but I still smile every time I see a reflection of the Wilier as we pass a shop window etc.
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Boogerd_Fan



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 20, 2013 1:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good to know that the benefit of the lighter bike was noticeable (Wilier vs. 10/11kg models). This is exactly what I want to experience with whatever I end up choosing too. Basically anything in this price range is going to upgrade from my existing ride.

The spec of my Fuji:
Frame: NEW Fuji Altair 2 custom butted aluminium,
Fork: FC-770 Fuji Bonded Carbon Integrated Alloy steerer
Cassette/Derailleurs: Shimano 105
Shifters: Shimano 105 shifter/brake
Cranks: FSA Gossamer MegaExo
Chainrings: 39/53 tooth 7075 AL rings
Bottom Bracket: FSA MegaExo Exterior Bearing System
Cassette: Shimano 105 10 speed with a 12-27 tooth range
Brakes: Shimano 105 STI
Handlebars: Fuji CGC Double Butted 6061
Stem: Fuji CGC Alloy 3D forged, +/-7 degree
Headset: Tange IS-24 1 1/8" Integrated Road
Rims: Alex ALX- 200
Front Hub: Alex ALX- 200
Rear Hub: Alex ALX- 200
Tyres: running Mavic Yksion at moment
Saddle: Fuji CGC Racing
Seatpost: Fuji CGC Butted Oversize Alloy, 250mm
Weight: 20.43lbs (9.27kg) approx.



But really appreciate your point about the listed weight. Just looking at the Fuji – 9.27kg turned into a round 10kilo when I weighed my bike this month.

If that’s the same for the Canyon models, then I would like to buy Carbon.

Giving up ½ a kilo edge was quite feasible for me… but giving up over 1kilo of edge over races 40-100km in length, would mean quite a difference in power output over the same distance right?

I would love to afford a Bianchi or Wilier full carbon model, but i just don't have the funds to get a 4000 EUR bike. The Canyon offers the same type of bike but in a totally different price range. They also look rather smart anyway Smile

The Mavic Ksyrium wheelset with the Canyon should mean i feel the difference compared to what i'm currently riding on... at least it will be a huge leap in quality. But yes, a future upgrade is to get also wheelset for races specifically, Mavic Cosmics or Zipp 404s. But that's next years 13th Salary Very Happy haha
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Boogerd_Fan



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Location: Bratislava, Slovakia

PostPosted: Wed Nov 20, 2013 1:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

btw it's worth noting, my closest "amater" rivals, were making the same decision this winter.. but were a bit more decisive.

3 guys opted for a Fondriest TF3 frame (it was on special offer on some czech web portal) and finished it with Ritchey cockpit, and everything Ultegra. They already had some nice Bontrager wheels. Yet put it altogether and they've still spent 2500 EUR.

Another decision i need to make is between 53/39 (current setup) vs. Compact groupset. I often use the 39x27 in training mode, but obviously even a 27 cassette is redundant in races. As a race build, i'm thinking 53/39 with a 11-25 cassette.
The guys above were riding compacts, and also opted for 53/39 for their new bikes. They always complain about struggling on the flat or rolling terrain, with their smaller gears.

While another active (but not exacty race fit) amater sourced a titanium bike from a UK hand builder.. and he is now smashing everyone's strava segment times on anything over 5% gradient. I still havent' ruled out this option, but i dont think i can get a complete bike for 2-2500.
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SlowRower



Joined: 22 Nov 2006
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Location: 62 West Wallaby Street, Wigan

PostPosted: Wed Nov 20, 2013 1:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Boogerd_Fan wrote:
Giving up ½ a kilo edge was quite feasible for me… but giving up over 1kilo of edge over races 40-100km in length, would mean quite a difference in power output over the same distance right?


Assuming they are hilly races, then the lighter bike makes sense. On flat courses, stiffness and aerodynamic are relatively more important, though carbon frames are generally pretty stiff anyway, unless you're a Greipel type who bends normal carbon!

If you're after pure value for money functionality then the less traditional brands are better, I'd say, and if you're racing, no-one cares what your bike looks like anyway, particularly not if you've just "dished it out"!
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SlowRower



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 20, 2013 2:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Boogerd_Fan wrote:
The guys above were riding compacts, and also opted for 53/39 for their new bikes. They always complain about struggling on the flat or rolling terrain, with their smaller gears.


Interesting...

A 50*11 (the biggest gear on my bike) still yields 59kmh at a cadence of 100, which sounds plenty fast enough on the flat, at an entirely achievable cadence.
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Boogerd_Fan



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 20, 2013 3:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SlowRower wrote:
Boogerd_Fan wrote:
The guys above were riding compacts, and also opted for 53/39 for their new bikes. They always complain about struggling on the flat or rolling terrain, with their smaller gears.


Interesting...

A 50*11 (the biggest gear on my bike) still yields 59kmh at a cadence of 100, which sounds plenty fast enough on the flat, at an entirely achievable cadence.


It might also have something to do with their climbers body size. Or inability to pedal 100 cadence on 50*11.
Personally i have no problem with using 53 ring, cadence wise around 90-100... responding to attacks and floating in the pack, without touching the 12, 13 or sometimes 14 cassette. So i agree a 50*12, or 50*11 should produce similar gear ratio.

Races here are undulating, but I wouldn't call them hilly. If there is a cat 2 or cat 3 hill in a race, its usually done once or twice on a longer circuit and represents 3-4 mins of suffering then its back to rolling terrain, which does have some ramps - but only 1 minute power efforts.
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Bartali



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 20, 2013 9:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In this price range all carbon frames are pretty similar, so avoid all brand premium and get a cheap as chips unbranded chinese carbon frame off ebay for about £250, group set of your choice (but avoid Di2 if you are riding a lot in crap weather) and the best/lightest wheels you can afford.
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gerry12ie



Joined: 08 Jul 2009
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 21, 2013 1:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

BF - You can take it as absolutely read that all carbon frames at your suggested point are Chinese manufacture, so as Bartali suggests, why not go the ebay route if carbon is your choice?  A bit brave I know, but if you are going to crack a carbon frame why not crack a generic one that doesn't have a 500 quid logo on it?

I paid £950 a year or 3 ago for my Burls titanium frame which was cut and built in Russia (the same factory made the Colnago titaniums in the 90s) and is a gorgeous ride.  My other half was riding a Cervelo R5 all summer and got back on to titanium a couple of weeks ago and really didn't notice a huge difference in performance, and the titanium is a much more comfortable ride over longer distances.  A huge plus is not having those niggling worries about carbon's inherent structural weakness (relative to aluminium and steels) as titanium is nigh on indestructible.  

Still, titanium will always be pricy so maybe the generic carbon option with decent wheels might be the best all-round solution...

http://www.burls.co.uk/index.php

Just noticed Justin Burls is making steel frames again (via Taiwan), which is what I wanted in the first place.  Hmmm...
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Boogerd_Fan



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PostPosted: Thu Nov 21, 2013 9:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Burls was where my ex-pat buddy had sourced his Titanium frame from too. The guy is like lightening on the hills these days, so it's an option when i win the lottery Very Happy
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Bartali



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PostPosted: Thu Nov 21, 2013 11:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

gerry12ie wrote:
I paid £950 a year or 3 ago for my Burls titanium frame which was cut and built in Russia


Does it glow in the dark?  I herd they built these from the hull of the k-141 Kursk? Wink
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Boogerd_Fan



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PostPosted: Thu Nov 21, 2013 11:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

How does the complete bike with Titanium frame stack up against Alu or Carbon race bikes?

Is it somewhere in the 7kg category?
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gerry12ie



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PostPosted: Thu Nov 21, 2013 11:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Boogerd_Fan wrote:
How does the complete bike with Titanium frame stack up against Alu or Carbon race bikes?

Is it somewhere in the 7kg category?


The ti is very light, and I did weigh the frame at at the time but just can't remember for sure what weight it was although I think 1200g or thereabouts for a 56 frame.

Bart, my buddy insists on whistling Yellow Submarine when on spins and I'm on the Burls   Wink
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Boogerd_Fan



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PostPosted: Thu Nov 21, 2013 12:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

whoa, that is the same as listed weight for Canyon's new 2014 AL 9.0 SLX
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gerry12ie



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PostPosted: Thu Nov 21, 2013 1:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Boogerd_Fan wrote:
whoa, that is the same as listed weight for Canyon's new 2014 AL 9.0 SLX


This from Burls website - maybe the 1200g was a little optimistic but not too much...

Quote:
Burls steel bicycle frames can be surprisingly light, especially when built with high end tube sets, but to put it in perspective if we take a medium sized steel frame, say a 55cm c-c top tube built from Columbus Spirit, the top end tubeset in the Columbus range with a min wall thickness 0.38mm, its weight will be approximately 1600grams. A similar sized Burls titanium frame built from plain gauge 3/2.5 with a wall thickness of 0.9 mm will weigh in at around 1370 grams.

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Bartali



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PostPosted: Thu Nov 21, 2013 1:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What size frame are you looking for BF?

Gerry .... Yellow Submarine Smile Smile
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Boogerd_Fan



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PostPosted: Thu Nov 21, 2013 1:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

58
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gerry12ie



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PostPosted: Thu Nov 21, 2013 1:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Almost totally unrelated...




Nice, eh?

http://www.paulusquiros.co.uk/#/953-sports/4574282682
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berck
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 21, 2013 4:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Boogie,

I never had an Al bike, just steel and carbon. I've had two carbon bikes. One has been extremely reliable, the other was fine until the cups in the bottom bracket separated. I went through three frames after that. The last has been good. I believe this was due to Trek's new frame design that started in 2008. The 09 frames I got all cracked, same spot along the top tube near the seat post. The 10 frame has been fine. I should also point out that none of my other friends had any of these problems. I'm a bit bigger than them in both height and weight though.

I would suggest that if you choose to go carbon, then make sure the manufacture has a good guarantee on the frame. Trek has a lifetime one, but it doesn't cover if you crashed your bike.

Personally, I much prefer the carbon frame ride over the steel. Many of the Al bikes have carbon forks and/or seat stays that help this though.
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Biosphere
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 22, 2013 7:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A few comments:

I know for a fact from personal experience that when Chinese firms make electronic components for Western firms, the components that don't meet the minimum spec. have a chance of ending up in the unbranded bargain bin rather than the bin that's destined for the furnace. I would not be surprised if the same happened with bike frames, but in fairness I've never heard anything to that effect.

There are different approaches to making carbon frames. There's the more commercial approach along the lines of using a mould with the notional aim of it coming out of the mould fully formed. Then there are approaches involving cutting carbon tubes to length and glueing and lugging together in a manner that's reminiscent of how a metal bike is put together. It would be interesting to see how the reliability of the handmade carbon frame stacks up against metal bikes that have been made using the same methodology. I think that is the fair comparison to be made on the reliability front?

I spin my compact out on downhill sections and I don't get much above 75 km/h. It doesn't bother me, but it might of I was a racer.

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