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Aluminium is more comfortable than carbon

MrtennisMrtennis Posts: 153
edited July 2013 in Road general
I'm planning on building my own bike and in deciding what frame to go for I thought I'd go into Halfords today to try out the Boardman team carbon, and the road team, which is essentially the aluminium version of the carbon.
When I got there I was disappointed to find out that Halfords won't let you test ride. I said I wanted to compare the two to see what the ride and comfort difference was between the two. I said that I had recently done a coast to coast ride and would like something that's comfortable of long hours in the saddle (not necessarily geometry but material wise). I said that I imagined the carbon was the way to go and would like to try them out so I could see what the difference really was.
The two guys looked at me absolutely stunned. They absolutely insisited that in no way is carbon more comfortable than aluminium, and that for a long ride they would always choose the ally. Are these people taking the p!$$?
I tried explaining myself that the carbon is supposed to be comfortable and that anything I have ever read says so, and they just refused.
Explain please!?!?!?

Posts

  • Lol! Good effort.
  • night_porternight_porter Posts: 888
    Surely if you want an explanation about someone else's opinion then they are the people you need to ask?
  • This is a rhetorical question?
    I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles
  • YIManYIMan Posts: 576
    The key to this theory is the key word beginning with capital H in the first line......
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 26,136
    Materials have no intrinsic comfort... it depends by and large on the frame geometry and tubs size... it might well be that in the Boardman range the alloy frame is more comfortable than the carbon one. Wheels and tyres especially will contribute a lot more than the frame anyway
  • MrtennisMrtennis Posts: 153
    You all seem a bit confused and as if I am saying this as a joke. Trust me, it happened, about 3 hours ago! And no ugo, they weren't talking about the differences between the boardman bikes. They were genuinely saying that an aluminium framed bike was more comfortable than carbon. What was really annoying was that there was two of them and they were looking at me like I was an idiot and almost laughing between themselves when I said that carbon was better!
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 26,136
    Mrtennis wrote:
    You all seem a bit confused and as if I am saying this as a joke. Trust me, it happened, about 3 hours ago! And no ugo, they weren't talking about the differences between the boardman bikes. They were genuinely saying that an aluminium framed bike was more comfortable than carbon. What was really annoying was that there was two of them and they were looking at me like I was an idiot and almost laughing between themselves when I said that carbon was better!

    As above, it is a widely accepted piece of rubbish that Carbon has any intrinsic comfort over other materials. It all depends on frame geometry, tubings, type of construction etc... the material mechanical properties in terms of modulus and compliance are very similar, for what your buttocks can tell. Try to do a Paris-Roubaix with different frames and you will see that the pain is very similar, if not identical. It's all glossy magazine hype, that of carbon the wonder material... stiff, yet compliant when convenient to the manufacturer
  • turnerjohnturnerjohn Posts: 1,249
    Mrtennis wrote:
    You all seem a bit confused and as if I am saying this as a joke. Trust me, it happened, about 3 hours ago! And no ugo, they weren't talking about the differences between the boardman bikes. They were genuinely saying that an aluminium framed bike was more comfortable than carbon. What was really annoying was that there was two of them and they were looking at me like I was an idiot and almost laughing between themselves when I said that carbon was better!

    As above, it is a widely accepted piece of rubbish that Carbon has any intrinsic comfort over other materials. It all depends on frame geometry, tubings, type of construction etc... the material mechanical properties in terms of modulus and compliance are very similar, for what your buttocks can tell. Try to do a Paris-Roubaix with different frames and you will see that the pain is very similar, if not identical. It's all glossy magazine hype, that of carbon the wonder material... stiff, yet compliant when convenient to the manufacturer

    your missing the point...carbon is far far easier to work and "engineer" the alloy (all metals) and thus a frames ride characteristics can be designed in...something you can't do (well partly but would cost a small fortune) with alloy. Vary the thicknesses and you loose a shed load of weight....something again is very difficult with alloy. All in as an engineering solution carbon is superior.
    I'd like to see an alloy version on my R5...second thoughts no as it wouldn't last a second !
  • Mrtennis wrote:
    they were looking at me like I was an idiot

    Post a picture please.
    I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles
  • MrtennisMrtennis Posts: 153
    Mrtennis wrote:
    they were looking at me like I was an idiot

    Post a picture please.
    haha I'm not going back and going through that again!
  • AlitogataAlitogata Posts: 148
    Depends on the geometry of each bike, the aluminum alloy and the composition and construction of the carbon material. ( I hope that I wrote it right).
    For example the Cannondale Caad 10 is famous as one of the most comfortable aluminum road race frames, equal and even better than similar priced carbon frames. Cheap carbon is not better than expensive aluminum, so the two guys in the store were not so wrong, if we have a broader view on the subject of course.. ( as I don't think that they had these kind of aluminum frame in their minds).
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 26,136
    turnerjohn wrote:
    Mrtennis wrote:
    You all seem a bit confused and as if I am saying this as a joke. Trust me, it happened, about 3 hours ago! And no ugo, they weren't talking about the differences between the boardman bikes. They were genuinely saying that an aluminium framed bike was more comfortable than carbon. What was really annoying was that there was two of them and they were looking at me like I was an idiot and almost laughing between themselves when I said that carbon was better!

    As above, it is a widely accepted piece of rubbish that Carbon has any intrinsic comfort over other materials. It all depends on frame geometry, tubings, type of construction etc... the material mechanical properties in terms of modulus and compliance are very similar, for what your buttocks can tell. Try to do a Paris-Roubaix with different frames and you will see that the pain is very similar, if not identical. It's all glossy magazine hype, that of carbon the wonder material... stiff, yet compliant when convenient to the manufacturer

    your missing the point...carbon is far far easier to work and "engineer" the alloy (all metals) and thus a frames ride characteristics can be designed in...something you can't do (well partly but would cost a small fortune) with alloy. Vary the thicknesses and you loose a shed load of weight....something again is very difficult with alloy. All in as an engineering solution carbon is superior.
    I'd like to see an alloy version on my R5...second thoughts no as it wouldn't last a second !

    I'm not missing any point, that's exactly what I am saying... depends on geometry, tubing and assembly... it's not about the material intrinsic properties.
    There are technologies to process metals and make pretty much any shape you want at any thickness... whether it makes sense to use them in a bicycle is questionable
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    They probably just thought carbon = stiff/strong/hard and aluminium = soft/bendy, so therefore soft/bendy = comfortable.

    If you had asked a question about a subwoofer they would probably have been more knowledgeable :lol:
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    So is a carbon seat post no more comfortable than an ali one?

    I can see why a carbon fork and seat stays (on an aluminium frame) may be more comfortable due to the manufacturing process, but a seat post is just a tube.

    Isn't the manufacturing process inherently part of the material anyway?
    Is it physically possible to make an aluminium fork as good/comfortable as a carbon one? If not then carbon is the more comfortable material.
  • inseineinseine Posts: 5,781
    I think all this talk of comfort is a bit misplaced when refering to frame materials. First thing to get right is your postion, especially the handlebars and different frames will make this more or less easy. Afterwards there is bar tape, choice of saddle, shoes and especially tyres and tyre pressure (try running the front tyre 10% softer than the rear).
    Carbon folks definitely take some buzz out of rough roads and carbon frames can help too. I depends on how much of your rides have the kind of road where that is an issue.
  • hatch87hatch87 Posts: 352
    Carbonator wrote:
    They probably just thought carbon = stiff/strong/hard and aluminium = soft/bendy, so therefore soft/bendy = comfortable.

    If you had asked a question about a subwoofer they would probably have been more knowledgeable :lol:

    But Aluminium isn't soft at all, which is why it gives such a harsh ride. If it was between Carbon and Steel I could kinda understand where they're coming from. Even if Carbon isn't any better then Ali, it can't possibly be worse as that would mean its even stiffer
    http://app.strava.com/athletes/686217
    Come on! You call this a storm? Blow, you son of a censored ! Blow! It's time for a showdown! You and me! I'm right here! Come and get me!
  • DavidJBDavidJB Posts: 2,019
    Oh no! A couple of Halfords employees thought you were an idiot...no one in Halfords knows anything at all about bikes.
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    inseine wrote:
    I think all this talk of comfort is a bit misplaced when refering to frame materials. First thing to get right is your postion, especially the handlebars and different frames will make this more or less easy. Afterwards there is bar tape, choice of saddle, shoes and especially tyres and tyre pressure (try running the front tyre 10% softer than the rear).
    Carbon folks definitely take some buzz out of rough roads and carbon frames can help too. I depends on how much of your rides have the kind of road where that is an issue.

    No way are people going to go around looking for a good position on a bike regardless of frame/component material.

    You make it sound like there are only a handful of carbon options and loads of aluminium ones, and that you could not get an carbon bike that fitted.

    If you are looking for a bike, frame material comes in the decision process way before fit.

    Anything you do to the bike re tyres/seat/bar tape etc. will increase comfort on both materials and is therefor completely irrelevant.
    All you are doing is confirming that aluminium is less comfortable and looking for ways to make up for it lol.

    What part of the UK (or world) is it better (in terms of ride quality) to have an aluminium fork over a carbon one?

    Its just about cost. Carbon is lighter, looks nicer and is a much better material for making a bike out of.

    The people whinging about carbon would have done exactly the same about aluminium when that was the newest bike frame material.
  • inseineinseine Posts: 5,781
    I've got three carbon bikes and i think they're all great, so please don't take my comments as an attack on carbon. I just think that some people (not you I'm sure) who are looking for a 'comfortable' bike think that carbon is the answer. I'm not sure, over most roads, you could really feel that much difference.
  • MrtennisMrtennis Posts: 153
    Just to make something a bit clearer for some of you.
    These guys were not talking about fit or geometry of a bike. They were saying that if you have the same bike, side by side, one in carbon and one in aluminium, then the aluminium one gives the smoother ride. They were saying it was a better material. Fit and geometry was not part of the conversation as we weren't actually comparing any particular bikes, just which material would give a smoother, more comfortable ride over a long distance, such as a c2c which I mentioned to them
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    inseine wrote:
    I've got three carbon bikes and i think they're all great, so please don't take my comments as an attack on carbon. I just think that some people (not you I'm sure) who are looking for a 'comfortable' bike think that carbon is the answer. I'm not sure, over most roads, you could really feel that much difference.

    But equally you would feel some difference and it would be better right?

    Looking at things like that you may as well get a TDF over a Boardman Carbon Pro :roll:

    Bikes are about marginal gains. Some people chose to add them all up, and some to take them away.
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