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Steel v Carbon and the inverse bling return on money.

brianonyxbrianonyx Posts: 170
edited June 2017 in Road general
Ok, so when my last cyclescheme came up for renewal I decided to buy a steel winter bike and bought a Ribble 525 with basic Sora and reasonable fulcrum racing quatrro wheels and 25mm tyres.

I thought that this would be bearable for the winter so that I could retire the carbon racing sportive, with the same wheels and SRAM force to the garage over the winter.

The problem i've got is that the steel ribble is so much more comfortable than any of my other, or previous bikes over the last 20 years, that I want to continue riding it. I've looked at my strava times and can't seem to find any trend in times on the same ride that could be attributed to the heavier bike. It's very difficult to be scientific as there are so many factors on a bike ride. Going up hills I don't seem to be much slower on the steel bike. It seems much more related to my form and my 90kg dwarfs the couple of kg difference between the carbon and steel bike.

All this is a huge problem though. A big big problem.

I dream about bike bling. I can spend an afternoon when meant to be working, daydreaming about how much benefit replacing my Deda ally seat post with a nice light carbon one.

I was hoping to hate the cheap steel bike, and to be fair the latest Sora. I was hoping to sling it into the shed in April, rather than the garage and bring it back out in December.

But I like the bike hugely. I quite like Sora as well. It now works as well as the 2010 105 that I have on my other carbon Orbea. Just misses a cog but I don't even miss that.

What can I do? I did have a bit of a brainwave. I could spend a shedload on better groupset, carbon stem and seat post, light carbon wheels and then the steel bike would not only be armchair comfortable but blingy and light as well.

Why did nobody tell me that carbon bikes aren't actually any better or faster in the real world than steel bikes.
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  • BobbinogsBobbinogs Posts: 4,928
    I got my steel bike out of winter storage last month and haven't been able to stop picking it as the 'go to' option for a ride, irrespective of how fast/lumpy I know the ride is going to be. I think enjoying a ride actually makes one ride slightly faster, which easily overcomes the minor 'performance gains' of certain bikes for the majority of the rides we all do.
  • reacherreacher Posts: 416
    I ride steel a lot and aluminium and theirs a differance between those two so it's safe to assume for what ever reasons that the pro teams must be riding those expensive carbon bikes for a reason
  • fat daddyfat daddy Posts: 2,632
    Havent ridden steel for years so cant comment on that one .... but I much prefer my carbon bikes than the alu ones when it comes to comfort over long distance.

    But I prefer the harsher Alu bikes for when I pretend to race people

    Is steel harsher or softer than carbon and alu ?
  • arthur_scrimshawarthur_scrimshaw Posts: 2,602
    I've got two steel road bikes and two carbon and I can't decide which is my favourite, generally it's whatever I'm riding at the time. However I get what you are saying and if I was pushed to choose one I wouldn't be unhappy with my Charge Juicer Hi - built with Tange Prestige tubes it rides like my Cannondale 6 and with 28c tyres fitted it glides across road imperfections but still feels racy. Also has mudguard eyelets so winter ready.
  • arthur_scrimshawarthur_scrimshaw Posts: 2,602
    ml1cDBklhivxuwrYu_QKzj2o-BldaFa6OIzMe85f9IDigqTe84VUvTpnNz_Bg0gwAagr07G1h8VIxb19n1LNmHyfslvgUZxMTJOGTBYNIXXVpXSJjw-C6el6-UAR-hIQQidlHxUvbWtrJsPmZmEYf84_fXsQHfzz3RdaqtWQoodj4juONcUpHiukRmM0hckRsMxfU78EsodlHF2Bx-EjIz7nPq4myEeVqQlv6QJ4BjSTmRget7SKyQNWdHSxmYWXAMQod_fw_ylNPPE5Q5Q9I_MkoYJMLiR8ARhA4whhJH-hFi3JrLVMgEgyCf0RLxsY3n2Dn8Bq3zr457UO9qfXf1B9oM5rg1t71EM_MYi-zIvEzvXujAL3Uw7FmxsCXKN1cIH8E8vJlsIan_eR_5KfW7znDjAF2PTCgFgGfPyEPlymJ8hC3sULNeDUBxZl8U3iHKa9XLZIeJRxBuCCkJcevZO5MN-57ivGUxU7t7J5fBysiZ8q3qmWKwznUd4MQjhG44904hTA91jNdWenkMj8IYhgpWkAU7aclb6OLz65DtHrTQgAIIYGoJLAP2Sf4EESWQLZ1kJg9HMVAFIIGTYsHNpfGo43Z_L4A7-3TmXdxIKJSdirL1i6=w1578-h886-no
  • fenixfenix Posts: 5,437
    reacher wrote:
    I ride steel a lot and aluminium and theirs a differance between those two so it's safe to assume for what ever reasons that the pro teams must be riding those expensive carbon bikes for a reason

    You mean the pro teams backed by the bike makers who want us to buy their expensive carbon bikes ? ;-)

    Don't get me wrong - i love my carbon bike - but it's pretty marginal over the much cheaper alu cross bike I have.
  • brianonyxbrianonyx Posts: 170
    My carbon bikes are all more comfortable than my old ally winter bike used to be. But the steel ribble is just like an armchair over jiggly tarmac compared to either of them.

    I'm not sure that a pro team preference for the best lightest carbon has any relevance. Every bit matters for them and they are sponsored to use the best bikes.

    I would really love to have been swamped by a load of people saying that their stravas show them going much faster on blingy carbon. But I don't think that will happen.

    Another bit of bling i've recently been put off are disc brakes on a road bike. I've never really felt that i've needed more braking power even down alpine descents. Just two weeks ago a friend had someone walk in front of him on the cycle path on southend sea front. As he hit his wonderful disc brakes in a bit of panic he just flew over the handlebars whilst we just stopped.
  • benjamessbenjamess Posts: 159
    brianonyx wrote:
    I would really love to have been swamped by a load of people saying that their stravas show them going much faster on blingy carbon. But I don't think that will happen.

    i ride a steel frame Raleigh through the winter and can tell you categorically that the summer bike beats it on every single type of segment, short sprint, long TT style and especially anything that involves heading away from the center of the earth!

    but i love the winter bike it is really comfortable and the 28mm tyres are brilliant over rough tarmac. I do find myself riding it in the summer months more than I planned but it is slower in every way.
  • svettysvetty Posts: 1,904
    brianonyx wrote:
    My carbon bikes are all more comfortable than my old ally winter bike used to be. But the steel ribble is just like an armchair over jiggly tarmac compared to either of them.....

    The appeal of your steel bike seems based on comfort as much as anything......

    If I want a stiff, racy, responsive bike I don't expect it to be 'just like an armchair' - you are comparing apples with oranges I think..
    FFS! Harden up and grow a pair :D
  • imafatmanimafatman Posts: 351
    brianonyx wrote:
    Why did nobody tell me that carbon bikes aren't actually any better or faster in the real world than steel bikes.

    Did you ask?

    Nobody gets dropped because of a couple kg's weight between frames.

    I ride an ultegra fitted steel bike and I love it.
  • wongataawongataa Posts: 890
    fat daddy wrote:
    Havent ridden steel for years so cant comment on that one .... but I much prefer my carbon bikes than the alu ones when it comes to comfort over long distance.

    But I prefer the harsher Alu bikes for when I pretend to race people

    Is steel harsher or softer than carbon and alu ?
    Any material can be made into a harsher or softer riding bike. That is down to the design of the bike and how the material is used.
  • fat daddyfat daddy Posts: 2,632
    brianonyx wrote:
    Another bit of bling i've recently been put off are disc brakes on a road bike. I've never really felt that i've needed more braking power even down alpine descents. Just two weeks ago a friend had someone walk in front of him on the cycle path on southend sea front. As he hit his wonderful disc brakes in a bit of panic he just flew over the handlebars whilst we just stopped.

    that's got nothing to do with disc brakes ... that's due to your friend slamming on the brakes far to hrad and not putting is weight back

    you can do that with your rim brakes as well just anchor on fully and don't sit back ... well, unless you cant do that with your rim brakes, in which case you have shi1te pads, dirty rims or stretchy cables
  • charlie_potatoescharlie_potatoes Posts: 1,917
    Carbon is REAL
    "You really think you can burn off sugar with exercise?" downhill paul
  • reacherreacher Posts: 416
    fenix wrote:
    reacher wrote:
    I ride steel a lot and aluminium and theirs a differance between those two so it's safe to assume for what ever reasons that the pro teams must be riding those expensive carbon bikes for a reason

    You mean the pro teams backed by the bike makers who want us to buy their expensive carbon bikes ? ;-)

    Don't get me wrong - i love my carbon bike - but it's pretty marginal over the much cheaper alu cross bike I have.

    You could say that or you could say that when carbon came in their was some bizarre reason that all the pros started riding them apart from the pretty colours they came supplied in
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 6,120
    Aren't some of you forgetting that a carbon bike surges forwards with each pedal stroke, corners like it's on rails you find yourself climbing one gear higher?
    AFC Mercia women - sign for us
  • shortfallshortfall Posts: 2,782
    reacher wrote:
    fenix wrote:
    reacher wrote:
    I ride steel a lot and aluminium and theirs a differance between those two so it's safe to assume for what ever reasons that the pro teams must be riding those expensive carbon bikes for a reason

    You mean the pro teams backed by the bike makers who want us to buy their expensive carbon bikes ? ;-)

    Don't get me wrong - i love my carbon bike - but it's pretty marginal over the much cheaper alu cross bike I have.

    You could say that or you could say that when carbon came in their was some bizarre reason that all the pros started riding them apart from the pretty colours they came supplied in

    I suppose when Grand Tours that cover 100s of miles over 3 weeks are decided by seconds then having a frame that is fractions lighter or stiffer than the competition is important. The marketing men like to pretend that mere mortals who weigh 15 stone can benefit from this technology and spend fortunes trying to convince us of such. The fact that they can make carbon bikes incredibly cheaply and sell them with an astonishing mark up is purely coincidental, as is the fact that they can make an infinite number of funky tube shapes and carbon lay ups which go out of fashion very quickly and make us think that last years bike that weighs 100 grammes more than this year's offering is old hat. Or am I just cynical?
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 13,063
    A real return on investment is any bike you will enjoy riding for many years instead of 2 or 3.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • brianonyxbrianonyx Posts: 170
    Aren't some of you forgetting that a carbon bike surges forwards with each pedal stroke, corners like it's on rails you find yourself climbing one gear higher?

    You've been reading those magazine bike tests again. :lol:

    You missed out the 'accelerates out of the hairpins like a rocket bit'
  • reacherreacher Posts: 416
    shortfall wrote:
    reacher wrote:
    fenix wrote:
    reacher wrote:
    I ride steel a lot and aluminium and theirs a differance between those two so it's safe to assume for what ever reasons that the pro teams must be riding those expensive carbon bikes for a reason

    You mean the pro teams backed by the bike makers who want us to buy their expensive carbon bikes ? ;-)

    Don't get me wrong - i love my carbon bike - but it's pretty marginal over the much cheaper alu cross bike I have.

    You could say that or you could say that when carbon came in their was some bizarre reason that all the pros started riding them apart from the pretty colours they came supplied in

    I suppose when Grand Tours that cover 100s of miles over 3 weeks are decided by seconds then having a frame that is fractions lighter or stiffer than the competition is important. The marketing men like to pretend that mere mortals who weigh 15 stone can benefit from this technology and spend fortunes trying to convince us of such. The fact that they can make carbon bikes incredibly cheaply and sell them with an astonishing mark up is purely coincidental, as is the fact that they can make an infinite number of funky tube shapes and carbon lay ups which go out of fashion very quickly and make us think that last years bike that weighs 100 grammes more than this year's offering is old hat. Or am I just cynical?

    You could say that as well or you could say that for some people having a nice bike is like anything else in life its aspirational in appeal, no differant than owning other nice things and for many people what they cost is of no concern, in fact split it down to how long they last and how much use you get from it their pretty cheap compared to eating in restaurants or drinking or smoking.
    Also if your going to flog your censored up a steep climb day after day and do all the other things that riding a bike entails like riding through winter and living like a monk to keep the weight off then why not buy the perceived best bike you can afford why would you do all that and then deny yourself what you think will improve you that would be like saying i know i would be faster on a road bike but hell why make it easier i'l stay with the clapped out raleigh tourer and if your rich an fat at least you feel like you should be in a pro team.
  • reacherreacher Posts: 416
    pblakeney wrote:
    A real return on investment is any bike you will enjoy riding for many years instead of 2 or 3.

    its got nothing to do with investment for most people buying a bike, if it had everyone would just buy a titanium bike
  • shortfallshortfall Posts: 2,782
    reacher wrote:
    shortfall wrote:
    reacher wrote:
    fenix wrote:
    reacher wrote:
    I ride steel a lot and aluminium and theirs a differance between those two so it's safe to assume for what ever reasons that the pro teams must be riding those expensive carbon bikes for a reason

    You mean the pro teams backed by the bike makers who want us to buy their expensive carbon bikes ? ;-)

    Don't get me wrong - i love my carbon bike - but it's pretty marginal over the much cheaper alu cross bike I have.

    You could say that or you could say that when carbon came in their was some bizarre reason that all the pros started riding them apart from the pretty colours they came supplied in

    I suppose when Grand Tours that cover 100s of miles over 3 weeks are decided by seconds then having a frame that is fractions lighter or stiffer than the competition is important. The marketing men like to pretend that mere mortals who weigh 15 stone can benefit from this technology and spend fortunes trying to convince us of such. The fact that they can make carbon bikes incredibly cheaply and sell them with an astonishing mark up is purely coincidental, as is the fact that they can make an infinite number of funky tube shapes and carbon lay ups which go out of fashion very quickly and make us think that last years bike that weighs 100 grammes more than this year's offering is old hat. Or am I just cynical?

    You could say that as well or you could say that for some people having a nice bike is like anything else in life its aspirational in appeal, no differant than owning other nice things and for many people what they cost is of no concern, in fact split it down to how long they last and how much use you get from it their pretty cheap compared to eating in restaurants or drinking or smoking.
    Also if your going to flog your ars* up a steep climb day after day and do all the other things that riding a bike entails like riding through winter and living like a monk to keep the weight off then why not buy the perceived best bike you can afford why would you do all that and then deny yourself what you think will improve you that would be like saying i know i would be faster on a road bike but hell why make it easier i'l stay with the clapped out raleigh tourer and if your rich an fat at least you feel like you should be in a pro team.

    I have no problem with people buying what they perceive to be the best and in many cases that might well be a carbon bike. However I do question why a fat bloke would censored 5 grand on a Trek racebike when in all likelihood he'd be better served buying something made out of metal which cost half as much and only weighed as much as a good censored more.
  • Garry HGarry H Posts: 6,614
    Riddden for over thirty years, all materials, including magnesium. Give me carbon, or give me death.
  • Garry HGarry H Posts: 6,614
    shortfall wrote:

    I have no problem with people buying what they perceive to be the best and in many cases that might well be a carbon bike. However I do question why a fat bloke would censored 5 grand on a Trek racebike when in all likelihood he'd be better served killing himself and saving us all the burden of paying for his end of life care.

    FTFY

    Performance is not the barrier to buying nice things, bank balance is. If a 5 grand Trek gives said fat bloke a stiffy, then who are we to argue?
  • shortfallshortfall Posts: 2,782
    ^^^
    I see what you did there ;0)
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 13,063
    reacher wrote:
    pblakeney wrote:
    A real return on investment is any bike you will enjoy riding for many years instead of 2 or 3.

    its got nothing to do with investment for most people buying a bike, if it had everyone would just buy a titanium bike
    Possibly.
    But it is the whole point of this thread. Maybe they should.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • reacherreacher Posts: 416
    Garry H wrote:
    shortfall wrote:

    I have no problem with people buying what they perceive to be the best and in many cases that might well be a carbon bike. However I do question why a fat bloke would censored 5 grand on a Trek racebike when in all likelihood he'd be better served killing himself and saving us all the burden of paying for his end of life care.

    FTFY

    Performance is not the barrier to buying nice things, bank balance is. If a 5 grand Trek gives said fat bloke a stiffy, then who are we to argue?


    So your saying that a fat bloke or girl for that matter can't have a nice bike ? Rather a strange take on who should be allowed to buy nice bikes if you ask me to pursue their endeavours to get fitter. Have you stopped for one moment to consider that their probably making just as much effort as you are on those rides or probably more considering their weight or maybe in your world fat people should not be allowed on the road when neo pros like yourself are out and about training ready for a call from th Sky team boss
  • charlie_potatoescharlie_potatoes Posts: 1,917
    reacher wrote:
    fat people should not be allowed

    Harsh but fair.
    "You really think you can burn off sugar with exercise?" downhill paul
  • shortfallshortfall Posts: 2,782
    reacher wrote:
    Garry H wrote:
    shortfall wrote:

    I have no problem with people buying what they perceive to be the best and in many cases that might well be a carbon bike. However I do question why a fat bloke would censored 5 grand on a Trek racebike when in all likelihood he'd be better served killing himself and saving us all the burden of paying for his end of life care.

    FTFY

    Performance is not the barrier to buying nice things, bank balance is. If a 5 grand Trek gives said fat bloke a stiffy, then who are we to argue?


    So your saying that a fat bloke or girl for that matter can't have a nice bike ? Rather a strange take on who should be allowed to buy nice bikes if you ask me to pursue their endeavours to get fitter. Have you stopped for one moment to consider that their probably making just as much effort as you are on those rides or probably more considering their weight or maybe in your world fat people should not be allowed on the road when neo pros like yourself are out and about training ready for a call from th Sky team boss

    Not sure if that's directed at me or the guy who edited me post? Fat guys can buy all the Dogmas they want, Im just questioning their logic. I don't​ want to stop them.
  • LimitedGarryLimitedGarry Posts: 400
    There is a good reason why riders are paying for their custom made chromoly frames.
    Firstly, there's the thing of comfort. Steel is much more comfortable than alu and in most cases more comfortable than carbon (could be the other way around if you were to compare censored steel against godlike carbon).
    Secondly, there's the thing of durability and repairs. Carbon is less durable than steel and also changes it's properties over time. And while carbon can be repaired, it's pretty expensive and such a repair may change the feel of the frame.
    The only downside is the price - chromoly frames have much worse price/weight ratio than alu and carbon. Although it's still cheaper than having a custom made carbon frame.

    So, if you have money to spend, get in touch with your local frame builder and he'll make a frame that suits you perfectly, has exactly the colour scheme you always wanted and will last you a lifetime.
    Also, having a frame done by a builder allows you to do things that are unheard of with serial frames - bottle cage mounts in exotic positions, convertible dropouts, unorthodox geometry features, cable management options by your own specification, compatibility with whatever you can dream of, optimisation for you, not the general customer.
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 28,799
    brianonyx wrote:

    Why did nobody tell me that carbon bikes aren't actually any better or faster in the real world than steel bikes.

    You have a steel ribble with Sora and do not think a light Carbon Trek (or whatever) with Dura Ace and direct mount brakes is any better?
    You are either very lucky to get the same enjoyment, or very unlucky that you cannot tell the difference.

    I think its pointless mentioning speed differences on here, but what do you actually mean by 'better'?
    Seems like you really like the steel Ribble, which is great, but why become a Carbon hater?

    Steel is a bit of a niche market now.
    People are not going to mention it any more than they would mention vinyl if you were buying a CD player.
    Well specced Carbon bikes are much more available than well specced Steel I would have thought.

    I am certainly not against steel bikes btw.
    Its just that I would not get a low end steel Ribble as an example of the materials ridding pleasures, any more than I would get a turntable from Argos to enjoy high end audio.

    Its probably more Steel + Carbon, than Steel v Carbon for me too.
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