I’m pretty new to cycling and I discovered my passion for it only about 1,5 years ago. At the time I got an Aluminium bike (Focus Paralane) and I absolutely love that bike. I use it on my Tacx Flux and for outside.
Now as probably most of the people that like riding bikes, I spend a lot of time on websides checking for a « better » bike And here comes my question, does it have to be a carbon bike? I mean I am pretty heavy with 88kg and I somehow can’t see why a bike absolutely needs to have 1-2kg less…I obviously like beating my PRs on KOMs but I don’t do races (at least not yet…)
Is there something I miss? Why should my next bike not be an aluminium one too with a better groupset?
I know carbon bikes are more expensive so this shouldn’t be the topic here.
Absolutely does not have to be carbon. Oftentimes carbon shouldn’t be the choice. Nothing wrong per se with aluminum - some manufacturers like Cannondale do great things with it. And hey, no rust! Titanium is a great higher-end alternative to carbon as well. Heck, some small, “craft” shops are reviving steel for their custom bikes. Many, many factors involved.
The old adage is you want build quality, stiffness, and low price in your bike - but you can only have two out of the three. Obviously frame is the biggest factor in weight, but wheelsets and components matter too (as you noted). And of course, as coach used to say, you can spend thousands to shave a couple kilos’ weight off your bike, or next-to-nothing to shave a couple kilos’ weight off your backside.
My personal take on carbon is that - for non-elites - many people get carbon because it’s the “in” thing, and what they see online and at big events. Great material, and clearly a lot of benefit to both the manufacturer and the buyer, but there’s a cost/benefit with everything. As an example, build quality and long-term endurance re: carbon long-term is an open question. Issues cropping up in older, or less expensive carbon bikes with lower build quality, fiber delamination, and the difficulty and expense of detecting, testing, and repairing damage to those frames. Just recently read an article in Outside Magazine along these lines from a couple years’ back (not to scare you!):
(FWIW, I happily raced an aluminum bike for a number of years - beats you up a little on rough roads, but endured a long time).
Happy riding with whatever you’re on.
I agree with everything @CPT_A mentioned above, I would add that looks are also important (yes I said it) and carbon makes shapes possible that alu/steel/titanium cannot do.
If something like a dogma12 is your dream then carbon is the way to go. If you love the classics all materials are possible.
Can’t argue with that. To whit, exhibit A:
Thanks for the great responses! They kind of confirm my thoughts that for a « simple » rider that enjoys cycling, an alu bike is just fine. And I know you can ride anything and have fun but I was wondering if I miss a lot of fun in not jumping on the carbon hype At the end of the day it is a hobby (at least for me) and you want to enjoy as much as possible. So I think a better groupset (currently tiagra) with smoother gear changing will give me much more satisfaction.
And I don’t have a problem how the alu bikes look, found a few I would love to get right away haha
i agree with all this about how aluminum bikes are just fine but i disagree that carbon is just hype or the in-thing. A good carbon bike has a different road feel than aluminum or steel that is lively and responsive and almost feels “alive”, if that makes any sense. That said it is subtle and subjective you may not like that road feel or may prefer the stiffness of aluminum.
I personally prefer the ride of a good carbon frame; it almost feels like it bounces a little bit in response so that the output from a hard dig is greater than the sum of the parts. This could be all in my head, but that’s how it feels
But note, i am 150 lbs soaking weight so not exactly a lightweight but also not big and strong and powerful enough that the extra stiffness of metal would matter. My Pmax is not high enough to really get anything out of it.
My custom aluminum build. It’s light and fast
That is one beautiful bike.
It’s not just about weight reduction. Carbon fibre absorbs vibration much better than metal. I find less high frequency road buzz is transferred through carbon fibre components which reduces fatigue and increased comfort.
I did not say that, for the record.
I agree with your conclusion, @TheBlackKite ! I’m a recreational/touring rider and love my aluminum bike. I also love old-fashioned straight top tubes and can’t quite get into the carbon aesthetic. That helpfully keeps my n+1 urge in check! This year, I upgraded to SRAM Force and awesome Hunt wheels, and I couldn’t be happier. I just hope that, when it really is n+1 time, they’re still making this bike because I have quite a crush on it: https://masoncycles.cc/products/resolution-red-axs
Okay fair, I will clarify
So carbon is basically more for couchlandrians? But seriously this is actually one of those things I wasn’t aware of. I guess the best would be to give it a try once
That is exactly what I was going to say. Ride feel is a very personal thing. I have an AL CX bike and a carbon endurance/all-road bike and love them both for different purposes. For me, the carbon really does feel more comfortable over long distances and time (60 km+) and roads that aren’t ribbon smooth (which is MOST of the roads around where I live: potholes, road snakes, chip seal etc). I bought the CX bike as both a commuter (fitted with a rear rack and panniers) and for a little bit of CX racing I did (mid-pack C rider).
Also, FWIW, I currently weigh 93 kg. There are a host of things, as others have said that go into bike purchase with cost being one but looks, comfort and groupset quality being others. Both my bikes have a mainly 105 set up.
Dont overlook tire width and air pressure for comfort on the bike too. My CX bike is fitted with 36 mm gravel tires I run at about 50 psi and my all road I have 28 mm slicks that run at 90 psi.
My only advice is to shop around as much as you can (and CoVid must make that really really hard what with almost ZERO stock availability and or shop capacity limits depending on where you live) and ride ride ride to compare the different materials, styles and group sets.
Hope this ramble was at least a little helpful. Have fun!
As someone who rides an aluminium and a carbon bike I have to say the responsiveness and stiffness and therefore the fun of riding the carbon bike is higher.
Am I faster on the carbon bike? Hell yes! Frickin 8 seconds at the same poweroutput on my designated 20min climb! So worth every penny. Joking aside, it’s just more fun. I also don’t drive any faster in the convertible then in the mini van. Still…
Since everybody is posting weight as it seems relevant at this topic ( I m not sure it really is though) : 68kg
Edit: I also ride tiagra and 105 as I really don’t feel any difference at all compared to ultegra (even with tiagra!)
I was in a similar position. (55, female, 73kg, don’t compete). Bought a Trek Emonda Aluminium frame and spent more money on better/faster wheels. Love it - but have never ridden carbon so can’t compare. Happy hunting!
I haven’t tried carbon fibre, but nothing wrong with aluminium. Mind you, nothing wrong with quality steel either, depends what you are doing. There’s something satisfying about a steel frame that takes no nonsense whatsoever.
All the comments are spot on. I will put my two cents in for Ti. Expensive but a forever material. I have an old Ti bike as my permanent trainer bike. I’ve had to replace the group set due to sweat rotting it but the frame is forever. My road bike is Ti and is just great. I’m 71 and both will be with me until well you know
I would love to grab up an old(er) used Ti bike at some point.
Ti won’t ever corrode but it will crack eventually, I’d put money on a steel frame lasting longer if its kept dry and never ridden on gritted (salt) roads.