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carbon-gimmick?

black.converseblack.converse Posts: 56
edited July 2012 in MTB buying advice
Departing on the everquest in upgrading and altering my mountian bike, however it came to me whether its worth buying the upgrade, being carbon fibre rather than alluminium. is there much point? in fact of the whole bike, mountian bike in specific is there any parts that you would certainly look at getting carbon for sure? excluding the frame? for example i just swapped my current seat post for a carbon fibre bontrager seat post, took the saddle off and i felt robbed :oops: - the weight different was minimal and was surprised over the drama about the material. :shock:


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  • I've never bothered with carbon my self so don't know much about weight difference between carbon an aluminium, but it will depend on the actual weight and quality of both posts. If your old aluminium post was a decent post with a respectable weight, and the carbon one was of a cheaper quality then there isn't going to be a huge difference.

    Don't just make the assumption that because something is carbon fibre its better. The only time i've ridden any bike with carbon fibre it was a friends with a set of easton carbon DH bars. i really didn't like the feel and felt much more comfortable with my alu bars. you can still build up a really nice bike at a respectable weight without any carbon fibre on it if you want to.
  • styxdstyxd Posts: 3,234
    Departing on the everquest in upgrading and altering my mountian bike, however it came to me whether its worth buying the upgrade, being carbon fibre rather than alluminium. is there much point?

    Not really. Theres no real benefit over aluminium (unless you race). The only thing it gives you is increased bragging rights when sat in the cafe at your favourite trail centre (which is what most carbon bike owners seem to spend most of their time doing from what Ive seen!)

    Real mountain bikers tend to use a good quality steel frame due to repairability. You can get it welded back up if it breaks by a local welder. Not much change of doing that with carbon when you're out in the middle of nowhere.
  • cooldadcooldad Posts: 32,599
    styxd wrote:
    Real mountain bikers tend to use a good quality steel frame due to repairability.
    Bollocks.
    In case you didn't get it - bollocks.
    I don't do smileys.

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  • cooldadcooldad Posts: 32,599
    ps bollocksy about the carbon as well. Give it a few years and most frames will be carbon. You can do amazing things with it.
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  • styxdstyxd Posts: 3,234
    Give it a few years and most frames will be carbon

    It'll be the death of real mountain bikers, I tell you.
  • cooldadcooldad Posts: 32,599
    styxd wrote:
    Give it a few years and most frames will be carbon

    It'll be the death of real mountain bikers, I tell you.
    They can just carve their own from old trees and rocks whilst thoughtfully pulling their beards.
    I don't do smileys.

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  • VWsurfbumVWsurfbum Posts: 7,881
    Carbon may not be that much lighter but it does as have different carictoristics than ally, it can be designed to give flex, less vibration etc. your carbon post will probably be a much more comfortable post?
    I rode my brothers HT back to back with my carbon one, the difference was amazing, his Ally one was much more harsh ride, but thats all in the design. (same weight frames btw)
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  • styxdstyxd Posts: 3,234
    They can just carve their own from old trees and rocks whilst thoughtfully pulling their beards.

    :D
  • RockmonkeySCRockmonkeySC Posts: 14,770
    Carbon has it's place in bikes. You can do things with carbon that you can't do with aluminium. Some carbon DH frames are even stiffer than a good aluminium frame. After seeing a set of carbon cranks fail and tear open a riders leg down to the bone I think I will stick with Saint or Descendant aluminium DH cranks
  • TwellyTwelly Posts: 1,437
    styxd wrote:
    It'll be the death of real mountain bikers, I tell you.


    Long live imaginary mountain bikers!
  • thelonegrooverthelonegroover Posts: 1,073
    A properly designed and manufactured carbon seat post or handle bar will have more damping characteristics than Aluminium alloy, similar to titanium. Carbon, steel and titanium are all better at vibration damping than alu. That doesn’t mean all carbon, steel or titanium posts are equally well made.
    Have a look at this…http://www.bikeradar.com/gear/category/components/seat-post-seat-pin/product/review-syntace-p6-hiflex-seatpost-12-46314
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  • GiraffotoGiraffoto Posts: 2,078
    styxd wrote:
    Real mountain bikers tend to use a good quality steel frame due to repairability. You can get it welded back up if it breaks by a local welder. Not much change of doing that with carbon when you're out in the middle of nowhere.

    He has a point. I've started to avoid going to the middle of nowhere because of all the welding going on. Bust your steel or aluminium frame and straight away there's always some guy on hand to weld it up, but can you find someone to do a bit of carbon relaminating on the Ridgeway? Can you 'eck
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  • Chunkers1980Chunkers1980 Posts: 8,035
    Perhaps you should buy a frame suited to its job.
  • A friend has just built up a Santa Cruz Blur LTc with his dream spec of XO and Hope components. I was suprised that although its carbon the weight saving over my aluminium Canyon is minimal.
    Still it rides beautifully, looks amazing and i'd sell un-needed body parts to own a carbon bike.

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  • njee20njee20 Posts: 9,613
    Some carbon DH frames are even stiffer than a good aluminium frame. After seeing a set of carbon cranks fail and tear open a riders leg down to the bone I think I will stick with Saint or Descendant aluminium DH cranks

    I'd be surprised if any carbon DH (or indeed any) frames are less stiff than their aluminium counterparts. Alu cranks fail as well y'know.

    There's a stupid amount of scaremongering about carbon. It's not necessarily any lighter, or stronger, or stiffer. But it can be, and it can generally be at least 2 of those, if not all 3 compared to aluminium parts. Comments about the ability to repair steel are definitely bollocks as a selling point, unless you're riding the Tour Divide or something.

    Not always lighter though, with a couple of really stupid exceptions alu stems are often lighter, and Stan's (aluminium) Podium rims are bettered only by Innolite XCC250s in the weight stakes, and by all accounts the Innolites are even more fragile!
  • mrmonkfingermrmonkfinger Posts: 1,452
    Aluminium is pretty good for making things that look like a tube (or close to it) - stems, bars, seatposts, "traditional" frames, and rims, its good for those. Hubs, its good at those too. There's about a gazillion different types of aluminium.

    Carbon can do weird shapes very well, so its good for funky aero shape stuff, plus you can put strength where you want it. Analysing and doing all that stuff costs time and money, so cheap carbon is something I wouldn't personally touch with your handlebars, let alone mine. Plus the quality of layup makes a huge difference to how reliable a part will be, and cost is a big factor there, too.

    If I had an unlimited budget I'd get as much carbon as possible.
  • thelonegrooverthelonegroover Posts: 1,073
    I would have thought it was relatively easy to make a tube out of carbon, similar to a steel, ti or alu butted tube. I also think alu is better at cast or forged items, like gear hangers or drop outs. The thinner you make it the more it shows it’s limitations and everyone knows you should know your limitations!
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  • nicklousenicklouse Posts: 50,675 Lives Here
    how can it be a Gimmick? it has been used for and on bikes for 20 or so years.
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  • Tom BartonTom Barton Posts: 516
    Not to mention that carbon fibre is now the stable of high end motor sport and many years ago was thought of in the same way by many critics. The time is coming that carbon will dominate bikes too with other materials used for their respective ride charateristics and not for issues regarding weight, reliability, look or strength.

    I think weights will be more noticable (at the higher end of quality too) too as time goes on. Look at the new SC tallboy carbon vs alloy - 2 lbs lighter or almost a 1/3 lighter- thats alot of weight for an equally if not stiffer/stronger bike. The designers seem to be getting more savvy at putting the right amount of material in the right places. All we need is more competition (which is coming) and carbon production to help control the prices!!
  • angry_birdangry_bird Posts: 3,782
    Didn't Santa Cruz do a video showing back to back testing of carbon and aluminium frames against loads in their test lab a little while back. Carbon won.
  • lawmanlawman Posts: 6,868
    carbon is far from a gimmick and give it five years time and anyone with an alu bike will be considered the same as steel bike riders are now, if used right, as it is by most nowadays, its stiffer, stronger and lighter than aluminium and frankly anything you do to a carbon would write off an alu frame too. All the carbon haters need to actually ride and live with a quality carbon bike or component and see just how awesome it is, so awesome none of my bikes are actually alu anymore :lol:
  • Chunkers1980Chunkers1980 Posts: 8,035
    I's got a bits of carbon on my mech, so good, they halved the amount in the next iteration and replaced with aluminium.
  • YeehaaMcgeeYeehaaMcgee Posts: 5,740
    I would have thought it was relatively easy to make a tube out of carbon,
    It can be done, but it's non-trivial.
    Carbon is a weave, and carbon parts are usually made by essentially bonding sheets of the carbon weave together.
    To make a tube, you can either lay these carbon sheets on a tubular form, or, ideally, you'd actually weave the carbon fibres into a tube shape, then impregnate it with resin.
  • cooldadcooldad Posts: 32,599
    The first carbon frames were just tubes with metal bits holding them all together.
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  • GiraffotoGiraffoto Posts: 2,078
    cooldad wrote:
    The first carbon frames were just tubes with metal bits holding them all together.

    Ahhhh yes, nostalgia - remember the Peugeot "fibre de carbone" with cast aluminium lugs and the tubes glued in? Even the best of them still had bits of glue still visible on the tube/lug. Mind you, their aluminium frames were similar in the late 80s. Back in them days a carbon or aluminium frame was just a lugged steel frame design with glue instead of brazing.
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  • bails87bails87 Posts: 12,998
    lawman wrote:
    carbon is far from a gimmick and give it five years time and anyone with an alu bike will be considered the same as steel bike riders are now,
    I don't actually buy that second bit. I agree it's a fantastic material but...

    People pay over the cost of an alu frame to get the 'real steel' hippy experience. For almost every bike/frame/component the alu equivalent is cheaper than the CF one. CF may be better but if it's more expensive then some just won't want to pay the extra, for many the benefits won't be worth it.

    You can get a perfectly good alu XC frame for £50. CF just won't be that cheap, not in the near future anyway.
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  • mrmonkfingermrmonkfinger Posts: 1,452
    bails87 wrote:
    You can get a perfectly good alu XC frame for £50. CF just won't be that cheap, not in the near future anyway.

    As far as I know (and I could well be wrong because I basically know nothing about this) carbon has to be laid up by hand before the resin & mould is pressed together.
  • "As far as I know (and I could well be wrong because I basically know nothing about this) carbon has to be laid up by hand before the resin & mould is pressed together."

    Yes and no there are automated process

    we make some of the strongest tubes using a completely automated process and placing each fibre exactly where it needs to be without the need for cloth which is becoming the older momma end of how things are done now.

    Google "carbon forging"

    which answers the doubters of carbons impact reistance Give it 2 years and delamination will be a thing of the past
    though the internet will still be full of ill informed individuals who read an article dumbed down to basics somewhere
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    Carbon is the future of mountain biking. It is getting cheaper, it is easy to repair (should it fail), allows much more precise deposition of material so can design and form shapes you can't with others - and this is what we can do now, never mind the above which composite pro has said.

    With XC frames weighing less than 2lbs, AM frames 3.5lbs, full sussers sub 4lbs, many with lifetime warranties - little not to like.
  • ThewaylanderThewaylander Posts: 8,594
    The only thing i ahve with carbon is that depending on the weave it can be very strong but usualy in one direction. also it open to impact damage instead of stress, I.E. sharp rocks can splinter sections of frames fairly suprisingly which then comprimises the frame hence why you see so many plastic guards and all on frames.

    But thats a small trade off with weight, I still think carbon has a while before the prices tumble enough to become truly competetive with Aluminium frames but it certainly has its place. at the moment and that will expand greatly as mass production starts to move prices down :) I'd happily ride one if it was about on budget for me,

    As for finishing parts, i've not seen enough weight loss for them to be particularly that competetive in anyway yet at a reasonable price point.
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