Alloy or Carbon - What would you do?

Dickie DirtDickie Dirt Posts: 35
edited January 2013 in Road buying advice
I thought I had just about made my mind up to buy a Giant TCR Comp 1 (2012) or TCR Advanced 2 or 3 (2012), or TCR Advanced 1 (2011) but am having cold feet about carbon frames. I've seen a few photos and the videos on youtube etc but what is the general concensus on carbon?

1. Will it last?
2. What is the failure rate?
3. Do you have to handle it with kid gloves?
4. Seems that even most alloy bikes have carbon forks...

Carbon bikes certainly seem to be increasing in quantity and filtering further down the price line. Would anyone actively avoid carbon in favour of alloy? I'd consider the Giant TCR alloy bikes (prefer the 2010s though and impossible to find) or a Cannondale (though I'm not overly keen on the looks). Canyon? Lower end Cubes (Peleton - though I'd prefer better spec parts than even the high end of those gets). Any other ideas/comments welcome. Budget around £1500 - £2K max
Thanks!
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Posts

  • nochekmatenochekmate Posts: 3,460
    edited January 2013
    Like any bike if they are looked after there is no reason why a carbon-framed bike should not last years - previously had a carbon Colnago C40 which must be about 15 years old now & still rode like a dream.

    Perhaps a bit more susceptible to crash damage than other materials but repairing a carbon frame is easier than repairing alloy to my knowledge.

    Don't let youtube videos put you off - I'm sure if you search for broken alloy, steel and even the claimed 'frame for life' titanium, there will be plenty of horror stories around.
  • Firstly – ignore every single carbon fail video on YouTube.

    1. Will it last? Yes - there are people riding about on 90's carbon frames.
    2. What is the failure rate? No idea.
    3. Do you have to handle it with kid gloves? No.
    4. Seems that even most alloy bikes have carbon forks...because carbon absorbs vibration better than aluminium or steel.

    There must be literally hundreds of threads on BR forums about this topic so have a search.

    This thread will now kick off the usual arguments of my frame is better than yours and you’ll die if you ride carbon and it’ll melt...
    #f*ckwit
  • Beaten to it :lol:
    #f*ckwit
  • Thanks for the quick responses. I did notice one web site slagging off carbon was sponsered by the Ti bike makers guild or something!
    So, coming back to road bikes after an absence of perhaps 8 years and never having used clipless pedals, I won't wreck a carbon bike when I fail to unclip and fall off unceremoniously at the first junction! :lol:
  • nochekmatenochekmate Posts: 3,460
    Thanks for the quick responses. I did notice one web site slagging off carbon was sponsered by the Ti bike makers guild or something!
    So, coming back to road bikes after an absence of perhaps 8 years and never having used clipless pedals, I won't wreck a carbon bike when I fail to unclip and fall off unceremoniously at the first junction! :lol:

    No guarantees there of course but it's usually the body that hits the deck first, with the bike often protected, although components like shifters and rear mechs, wheel skewers etc can suffer cosmetic (and even greater) damage
  • I've just mentioned this in another thread but I had a head on with a car on my carbon bike back in May 2011. It survived (the front wheel didn't) and I've put in thousands of miles since.

    Our club chairman rides an old Look and he’s had two crashes involving cars and one last summer when my mate decided to cycle into a bush while in the bunch (tw4t). Both he and the bike are still going strong.
    #f*ckwit
  • Vinnyc19Vinnyc19 Posts: 202
    I'd have no hesitation with a carbon road bike, I was sold on carbon a while back when i saw this http://www.pinkbike.com/news/santa-cruz ... t-lab.html
  • randorando Posts: 285
    Thanks for the quick responses. I did notice one web site slagging off carbon was sponsered by the Ti bike makers guild or something!
    So, coming back to road bikes after an absence of perhaps 8 years and never having used clipless pedals, I won't wreck a carbon bike when I fail to unclip and fall off unceremoniously at the first junction! :lol:

    You might wreck a carbon bike if you fall off and a car runs over it !! But then this would equally apply to whatever the bike was made from. (i am sure you will be fine using clipless pedals - just have a bit of practice leaning against a wall to get the hang of it and I always unclip the same side everytime just for habit).
  • Vinnyc19Vinnyc19 Posts: 202
    I find clipless on road much easier that on the mtb, just set the spring tension on low
  • Looks like I have probably been listening to too many scaremongers over the w/end....
  • markos1963markos1963 Posts: 3,724
    I've seen several good carbon frame repairs with them looking as good as new, never seen an alloy one look as good, most alloy crash frames I have seen have been in a skip.
  • I'd have no hesitation with a carbon road bike, I was sold on carbon a while back when i saw this http://www.pinkbike.com/news/santa-cruz ... t-lab.html

    That video is very impressive and convincing although evidently carbon snaps when it 'lets go' rather than bending...
  • cyclecliniccycleclinic Posts: 6,858
    I use a 92 trek with carbon main tubes it all still fine.
    http://www.thecycleclinic.co.uk -wheel building and other stuff.
  • passoutpassout Posts: 4,609
    Only reason to get alu over carbon is price IMO. Of course some frames are better than other (alu or carbon). Giant make sound frames though.
    'Happiness serves hardly any other purpose than to make unhappiness possible' Marcel Proust.

  • Nice bike but I'm 6'1 so too small....
  • pkripperpkripper Posts: 652
    The biggest risk for carbon frames is piercing them in a crash = at which point they're pretty much dead or defo need a repair. An alu / ti / steel frame can ride on for years with a dent that the equivalent incident is likely to cause.
  • ajb72ajb72 Posts: 1,178
    pkripper wrote:
    The biggest risk for carbon frames is piercing them in a crash = at which point they're pretty much dead or defo need a repair. An alu / ti / steel frame can ride on for years with a dent that the equivalent incident is likely to cause.

    Can you back that up with any actual facts (strength of material / failure rates etc)? I'm not a materials expert but I would not ride an alu frame that had received the kind of damage you state would write off a carbon frame. Why would a dented alu frame not be likely to further fail?

    Again I'm not an expert at all, but aren't alu frames not particularly easy to repair either? Someone on here will know, undoubtedly.

    You are correct about the type of damage likely to fail a carbon frame - you are likely to need a direct impact on something very hard, such as a curb or wall. I don't think these types of impact are likely, far more likely to crash on flatter roads unless commuting perhaps. I've had several spills over the years and it's always been saddles, bars and pedals etc that bare the brunt of the impact.
  • Surely a bent aluminium/ti/steel frame is going to be horrible to ride anyway!
  • markos1963markos1963 Posts: 3,724
    pkripper wrote:
    The biggest risk for carbon frames is piercing them in a crash = at which point they're pretty much dead or defo need a repair. An alu / ti / steel frame can ride on for years with a dent that the equivalent incident is likely to cause.

    Bollox basically, unlikely to 'pierce' a frame in a crash but if you did then it wouldn't matter what material the bike was made of, the force needed would require a repair. If it's carbon then the repair is usually pretty good, Ti isn't too bad either, a new section can be fitted and then polished to a reasonable finish. Steel and Ali' would both require a respray after repair of any sort so the cost escalates.
  • IrishMacIrishMac Posts: 328
    Look at the Canyon Ultimate AL 9.0 Di2, Cycling Plus sang it's praises. It's an aluminium frame, apparently lighter than carbon frames at the price point and 'handles and feels' like a carbon bike :D If you can stretch the maximum budget by £119 :D it was £1929 when they reviewed it so make your own mind up on it :wink:
    Member of Cuchulainn C.C. @badcyclist

    Raleigh SP Race
    Trek 1.2
  • Thanks for the advice - I'll take a look at reviews tomorrow...
  • IrishMacIrishMac Posts: 328
    No bother :)
    Member of Cuchulainn C.C. @badcyclist

    Raleigh SP Race
    Trek 1.2
  • smidsysmidsy Posts: 5,273
    Buy an Alloy bike for winter and a Carbon one for the better weather. :-)
    Yellow is the new Black.
  • Well actually I probably will still keep riding my alloy mtn. bike on the road in the winter. Hard work as it is I should be fitter for it and any road bike will seem like a rocket ship in the spring! :lol:
  • dwanesdwanes Posts: 954
    smidsy wrote:
    Buy an Alloy bike for winter and a Carbon one for the better weather. :-)

    You would think it would be best to get a Carbon one for winter as Carbon doesn't corrode with the weather/elements. Which then negates the reason to get an Alloy bike and then you can spend more on you carbon bike.

    People don't seem to get this!
  • Rolf FRolf F Posts: 16,126
    dwanes wrote:
    smidsy wrote:
    Buy an Alloy bike for winter and a Carbon one for the better weather. :-)

    You would think it would be best to get a Carbon one for winter as Carbon doesn't corrode with the weather/elements. Which then negates the reason to get an Alloy bike and then you can spend more on you carbon bike.

    People don't seem to get this!

    Yes, but it isn't so much about the frame corrosion as the deterioration of the components. The only reason that alloy frames are recommended for winter use is that they are cheaper. The correct answer is just to have lots of bikes so you have one for each particular circumstance.
    Faster than a tent.......
  • dwanesdwanes Posts: 954
    Components take a long time to deteriorate, majority of these people tend to sell their bikes well before this would ever happen anyway.
    If people want two bikes, thats fair enough, but excuses like this just dont make sense.
  • Just had a similar chat with a friend who owns and rides alloy, carbon and ti.
    He actually rides the alloy the most and says there is little day to day difference.
    (apart from the colgano ti, which flexed so much the chain would come off when pushing hard)
    Personally i like how carbon forks absorb vibrations and make for a smoother ride over long distances on good roads.
    If you ride over harsh roads it is going to be bumpy no matter what you are on.
  • SeeFarrSeeFarr Posts: 14
    Vinnyc19 wrote:
    I'd have no hesitation with a carbon road bike, I was sold on carbon a while back when i saw this http://www.pinkbike.com/news/santa-cruz ... t-lab.html

    A reassuring video, nice find.
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