Carbon fiber bikes?

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    Jan 03, 2009 1:00 AM GMT
    Hey Guys, I'm looking into purchasing a new road bike in the future? Does anyone have any experience with carbon fiber bikes, or know much about them? It will be greatly appreciated!
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    Jan 03, 2009 1:35 AM GMT
    Sorry, I'm old-school. "Steel is real!"
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    Jan 03, 2009 1:56 AM GMT
    I'll be buying a carbon fiber bike this summer. I'm still debating between several Cannondale, Trek and Specialized models, all bikes I've owned and trust.

    The cost will be at least $5000 (my current aluminum tourer is just over $2000), because price increases exponentially for every pound lighter the bike becomes. I'd like mine to be around 14 pounds or less. Plus I'll be selecting top-end components.

    Carbon is light but also flexible. Frames take advantage of this flex to reduce road shock & vibration reaching the rider, for more comfort. But flex also degrades wheel tracking, and can produce a slightly "rubbery" feel at speed, especially on fast curves and with strong pedalers.

    Modern carbon frames are reasonably strong & durable, but are typically teamed with very light wheel rims, which can be the Achilles heel of these bikes. As the weight of the bike decreases, so does overall sturdiness, and top-end bikes are really not well suited for city and sidewalk riding. I've actually seen ultra-light rims collapse on rough roads.

    An important issue for you is the kind of riding you'll be doing, based on type of roads, distance & time, solo or club. Personally I prefer a longer wheelbase frame, which is more comfortable for me, and is also a bit more stable, than frame geometry intended for racing competition.

    I'll be happy to provide manufacturer links, and continue a 1/1 discussion in email about your specifics. BTW, did you see my several threads in the RJ Cycling forum about our 165-mile ride to Key West?
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    Jan 03, 2009 3:16 AM GMT
    Carbon fiber can be great for specific uses, but a nice set of wheels on a mediocre frame can really give your older rides a jolt in the arm for not nearly as much money.
    That said, I am the proud owner of an Orbea Ordu. icon_biggrin.gif This was a "congrats on the new job" gift to myself. I have two other bikes which are both aluminum, and have noted that: (1) the bike is amazingly fast on flats and downhill, (2) i can feel the frame flexing if I get going really fast downhill, and (3) my body doesn't feel the abuse after a long ride like it does on the aluminum frames. Vespa is right about the wheel sets, my normal riding set is lower range set of Mavics which I don't have to worry about evaporating under me on the Wisconsnin road ways.
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    Most of the high end bikes can be great, and you just have to get the one that speaks to you during your test ride. I highly recommend a professional fitting too, it can turn your fancy new bike into your favorite ride!
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    Jan 03, 2009 3:32 AM GMT
    I have to agree with Dark Matters. Make sure you get someone to professionally fit you for a bike. It's worth it in the long run.And like Red_vespa said you really need to look at the different options out there and what sort of riding you are going to be doing.

    I do duathlons a lot so I have a Specialized Tarmac Elite carbon fiber. The bike is really light and fast but with a short wheelbase for racing it's very "twitchy" so it would not make a great long distance tourer for instance.

    I can also suggest looking through roadbikereview.com and look at some of your favorite choices and see how people review them. That's where I did some of my research.

    I hope this helps.

    P.S. There is a BIG difference between aluminum frames which are sold with carbon fiber forks and an all carbon fiber frame. Just ride and you will see. icon_smile.gif
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    Jan 06, 2009 11:29 PM GMT
    Thanks for all the advice guys. I'm eventually going to look at bikes at a local bike shop in my area. I just hope its ok to assume I can find something for under $1000! All I'm really looking for is something to withstand normal road conditions.
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    Jan 09, 2009 2:11 AM GMT
    Buffyfan84 saidThanks for all the advice guys. I'm eventually going to look at bikes at a local bike shop in my area. I just hope its ok to assume I can find something for under $1000! All I'm really looking for is something to withstand normal road conditions.

    Full carbon under $1000? Not very likely. Realistically, you're looking around $2000 for the entry level. If you aren't ready to shell out for full carbon, there are some aluminum/carbon blends that provide a pretty good compromise of carbon performance with price point.

    I agree with Dark about the differences between aluminum and carbon. However, I also agree with sportbiker. My fixie is steel with a carbon fork and I absolutely LOVE it. It's such a nice ride. The Brooks saddle takes the cake too.
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    Jan 09, 2009 4:11 AM GMT
    Oops. I meant I'm probably going to try and find something that isn't carbon fiber. While carbon fiber sounds interesting, it is just a little too much money.