Results 1 to 25 of 25
  1. #1
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    18

    Aero Aluminum Versus Comfy Carbon

    I've been riding a lot of bikes lately in attempt to find a dedicated race bike to have along side my everyday Roubaix. I've narrowed it down to two very different bikes:

    '10 Cervelo S1 Stock Build with Ultegra
    '09 Giant TCR Advanced SL 2 also with Ultegra

    The Cervelo has been on my radar for years since I'm a triathlete. But then I started demo riding carbon and I was intrigued. Then I rode the Giant at my local shop and with $500 knocked off the price tag I was really intrigued. Now I'm torn. Here's a breakdown of my thinking:

    Cervelo:
    • Aero and reversible post for TT
    ° Indestructible
    • Stiff and responsive
    • Surprisingly not an overly harsh ride compared to my Roubaix
    • Crappy stock wheels
    • Attractive $2200 price
    • I have a place in my heart for this company and it's philosophy.

    Giant:
    • Stiff and responsive. I LOVE the way this bike climbs.
    • Light
    • Very smooth rode feel
    • Not at all Aero. But at 215# and on the hilly courses of the Northwest, this may not be as much of a factor.
    • Decent Mavic ksyrium elite wheels
    •*$1200 MORE than the Cervelo but full Ultegra versus FSA crank and Cervelo brakes on the S!

    Anyone ride these? Opinions? And before someone suggest this, I've ridden the S2 and loved it but it's just not in my budget. Even the S1 is testing the patience of the household CFO.

  2. #2
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    573
    Why don't you just race the Roubaix?

  3. #3
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    18
    That's what I've been doing for the last three years. It's been decent but it's built for comfort more than speed.

    Mostly I want to dedicate the Roubaix to rainy days and commuting. I currently have to strip the fenders and lights off it for race day. And if the wear and tear of riding in the NW conditions demands replacing components, I'd rather downgrade to 105 or Tiagra than replace the Ultegra parts.

    The second bike would be strictly for fair weather riding and races.

  4. #4
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    1,929
    Personally, I wouldn't spend much on a frame for racing, and I certainly wouldn't race on a CF bike. One good crash and you're frame is toast. With Al, at least you stand a chance of not having to replace the frame. Less cost is also better as you'll be out less if it needs replacement. Wheels are where I wouldn't skimp.

    I'd just buy a frameset and build it up myself.

  5. #5
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    302
    I agree with Joel.

    The difference in weight between a carbon bike and aluminium bike is often less than two pounds. The difference between a good steel and carbon it is only about three and one half. Get past the marketing and try riding a steel or titianium bike with a light weight steel fork.
    Fai Mao
    A Proud Retrogrouch

  6. #6
    banned
    Reputation: dhfreak's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    109
    Those who say don't race carbon are crazy. It has been my experience that those who live by that philosophy are upset because they don’t have a carbon frame (if the shoe fits wear it). My race bike is carbon, and yes a crash could break a carbon frame, but Calfee does an outstanding job repairing carbon (if it comes to that). Honestly though, I have seen a few nasty crashes during crits and have never seen a carbon frame break. Now, and not to sound like a prick, but I would be more concerned with my body weight than how 'aero' my bike was as having less body weight will have more of an effect plus it's cheaper

    As for the two bikes mentioned, they are both very nice. It really comes down to how you plan on using them. You mentioned you were a Tri-guy, and if the bike is just for that and that alone I say go with the Cervelo, if not go with the Giant.

    Mike
    Last edited by dhfreak; 06-07-2010 at 06:50 AM.

  7. #7
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    1,929
    Quote Originally Posted by dhfreak
    For those who say don't race carbon are crazy. It has been my experience that those who live by that philosophy are upset because they don’t have a carbon frame (if the shoe fits wear it).
    Nope, that shoe isn't mine and don't fit. I have a CF bike and I'm getting ready to buy another to replace a steel Colnago that was destroyed in a collision with a car (fault of the driver). Looking at a BMC Pro Machine (I'll post pictures in a month or so when it's built. Waiting for the insurance check to arrive and a demo bike at my LBS).

    Racing is inherently more dangerous than just going out for a ride. Crashes happen often. Last one I was at (about a week ago), there was a massive pile up and a couple of frames busted. High dollar frames. Maybe you have enough money to replace your frame when it happens (just a matter of time). I don't. I'll stick with a cheap Nashbar Al frame for racing. Replaceable for very little.

  8. #8
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    2,746
    I think you're giving "aero" way more credit than it's deserves there.

    If you litterally meant you have boiled this down to Aero vs Comfort you're basically talking about Nothing vs Comfort and the choice would be obvious.

    And I'm not implying aerodynamics don't matter as they certainly do......but the difference between two bike frames is all but meaningless. Especially compared to comfort and fit.

  9. #9
    gh1
    gh1 is offline
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    958
    Saw something in velonews on evaluating the beni's of different aero parts on a TT bike and now this was a full on TT bike and the frame shape was less beneficial than aero shoe covers in a 40k TT. Without a doubt I would take comfort and I love my TCR so I am biased but in an actual race I cant see where it would be any adv at all.

  10. #10
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: PaulRivers's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    603
    I would probably buy the aluminum bike for crash reasons as well. NOT because it was more likely to break or anything (I don't know that it is or isn't for sure, doubt it is though), but just because if you get in a crash and it does break it's less expensive to replace.

    I've personally known one person who did triathlons (he trained quite a bit), who went from an aluminum frame to a carbon frame. His bike time changed - by like 3 seconds or something. All I know is he couldn't believe the difference was so insubstantial, but it was.

  11. #11
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    302
    That shoe does not fit me either.

    I tried really hard to not say anything snarky in my first reply on this thread which is generally difficult for me. But, since I’ve just been accused of being poverty stricken because I don’t ride a plastic bike I guess I shouldn’t have. Let me simply say that whatever dhfreak can buy, I can probably buy 5 of without bothering my budget. I am probably much closer to the wealthiest poster on this list than the poorest. I do not ride a carbon fiber bike because I choose not to, not because I could not afford several. I also do not wear my wealth on my sleeve.

    The advice to race the cheapest frame that will do the job is old advice and has withstood the test of time. You race an expensive frame when your SPONSOR pays for it; if you are a racer and DESERVE a high zoot bike a sponsor will give you one. As other posters on this thread said there is essentially no mechanical advantage in speed from the bike after a certain point. It literally does not make any difference. Riders on really expensive bikes without sponsors used to be called “posers” and they were generally, not always the riders you knew you could out ride because they spent more on the bike and spent less time training.

    As to dhfreak never having seen carbon frames being more prone to breaking than other frames; well, he must ride in the special category for blind cyclist. Carbon fibre bikes and especially the forks are much less reliable than other materials. I do not care what the lab-coated researcher says in this case, I am going to believe my eyes. You never saw forks snap, you never had to replace them and you didn’t worry about them delaminating if the bike fell over. The only time a fork broke in the past was if the insertion stem was tightened with the wedge in the threads of the steering tube.
    Fai Mao
    A Proud Retrogrouch

  12. #12
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    18
    I'm not very concerned about crashes as I'm probably not racing any crits. I also don't plan on crashing. The Tri TTs are pretty much crash free.

    If it was just between CF and AI in terms of weight and aerodynamics, I'd go with the Cevelo. I've said the same things the AI defenders have said for years now. But the ride on the Giant and S2 (Soloist Carbon) were a bit of an eyeopener when it came to road feel.

    In terms of how I'll ride it, in NW Tri events (generally involve some climbing) and group rides like the Summit Challenge I'm thinking of signing up for (117 Miles w/ 7,500 elevation gain).

  13. #13
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: PaulRivers's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    603
    Quote Originally Posted by Fai Mao
    The only time a fork broke in the past was if the insertion stem was tightened with the wedge in the threads of the steering tube.
    Hahahahahahaha!

    Aaaaaaaaaaaaaah...I've read through these carbon vs aluminum debates for a couple of years now.

    Whenever they change materials, there's always someone decrying the new stuff. And frankly, usually new stuff isn't as good as the old stuff for a while, it takes time for them to figure it out, so for a while it's true.

    I've personally known several people who have had non-carbon components on their bikes break out of nowhere. One guy had a steel fork break without apparent reason (he didn't hit anything). It might have been a new fork, but the result was a broken collarbone. Another guy I know had the seatpost bolt snap just as he put his weight on it and got pretty bloody, though he didn't break anything fortunately.

    The fact is, anything can break. Though you're far, far more likely to suffer from it if the material is -
    1. Bleeding-edge new, like the first gen carbon or aluminum - I have no doubt the first steel bikes that they tried to make decently lightweight fell apart as well.
    2. Being pushed to reduce weight to the absolute tiniest number of grams.

    The last time I read through this debate, someone commented that their carbon race bike got a dent in it because something fell on it in their garage. Someone then responded about how their lightweight aluminum bike had gotten dented several years ago when something fell on *it* in the garage.

    I have little doubt that had you worked with forks, frames, and components in the age when aluminum first came around and people were desperate to make it as light as possible, you would have seen numerous failures there as well. You just weren't around for that.

    If you search enough, you'll find old threads about steel vs aluminum, with similar arguments. Last one I saw said your aluminum bike would never last you more than 5 years, if you wanted something to last you'd have to get a steel bike. I'll have to let my 15 year old aluminum bike know that. ;-)

    I don't think carbon fiber is any more fragile than aluminum in regular riding. In a crash, I cannot say for sure - I doubt it matters to your safety whether it is or not after the point at which you crash.

    I *would* still agree that if you're buying a race frame, unless you have limitless cash or a sponsor with big pockets, an aluminum frame is probably the way to go - just because if you do crash and break it, it's a lot less expensive. In terms of performance, unless you're actually at the point of winning or losing races by 1.5 seconds, the marginal decrease in weight is insignificant.

  14. #14
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: PaulRivers's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    603
    Quote Originally Posted by monkeyma
    I'm not very concerned about crashes as I'm probably not racing any crits. I also don't plan on crashing. The Tri TTs are pretty much crash free.

    If it was just between CF and AI in terms of weight and aerodynamics, I'd go with the Cevelo. I've said the same things the AI defenders have said for years now. But the ride on the Giant and S2 (Soloist Carbon) were a bit of an eyeopener when it came to road feel.

    In terms of how I'll ride it, in NW Tri events (generally involve some climbing) and group rides like the Summit Challenge I'm thinking of signing up for (117 Miles w/ 7,500 elevation gain).
    And you couldn't have written that before I wrote out this long response?? (lol)

  15. #15
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: PaulRivers's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    603
    Quote Originally Posted by monkeyma
    I'm not very concerned about crashes as I'm probably not racing any crits. I also don't plan on crashing. The Tri TTs are pretty much crash free.

    If it was just between CF and AI in terms of weight and aerodynamics, I'd go with the Cevelo. I've said the same things the AI defenders have said for years now. But the ride on the Giant and S2 (Soloist Carbon) were a bit of an eyeopener when it came to road feel.

    In terms of how I'll ride it, in NW Tri events (generally involve some climbing) and group rides like the Summit Challenge I'm thinking of signing up for (117 Miles w/ 7,500 elevation gain).
    I thought there were triathalon-specific bikes? I read that they had same change in geometry that kept your legs in good shape for running after biking...hmm...

  16. #16
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    18
    I think position is probably the most important factor versus bladed tubing. I know that aero bars have allowed me to drop my buddies easily on our weekend rides.

    The TCR could not be less aero though. That big square downtube is the antithesis of the Cervelo. And I wonder what it will feel like with clip on aero bars on it.

  17. #17
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: PaulRivers's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    603
    Quote Originally Posted by monkeyma
    I think position is probably the most important factor versus bladed tubing. I know that aero bars have allowed me to drop my buddies easily on our weekend rides.

    The TCR could not be less aero though. That big square downtube is the antithesis of the Cervelo. And I wonder what it will feel like with clip on aero bars on it.
    That is an excellent question. Forget questions about aero or aluminum vs carbon fiber - "Was the bike designed to let you ride with aero bars?" might be the biggy...

    I am not totally familiar with the subject, as I am not a triathlete, but it seems to be a pretty important subject whenever the topic of aero bars or triathlon bikes comes up in a thread....

  18. #18
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    18
    I looked for a long time at the Cervelo P2SL or P1. Its their aluminum TT/Tri bike and it's really a bargain. But A: I don't like climbing on a TT bike. B: I didn't want just a one trick pony.

    The S1 comes with a reversible seat post that puts you in a more forward aero position and the bike looks a lot like the P1 in terms of the bladed tubing. It really fits the bill of how I intend to use it.

    The TCRs ride however felt even stiffer and more responsive, yet with a smooth road feel.

    It's funny though, I've read a lot of posts talking about how Cervelos are less common than Giants. These folks have obviosly never been to a Tri. Cervelos are everywhere.

  19. #19
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    18
    I really need to go back and ride these bikes one more time. I don't have an unlimited budget but I think both bikes are an excellent bargain. Both frames are pro-level and have won their share of races. In my heart (and wallet) I hope that on a second ride the Cervelo feels superior.

  20. #20
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: PaulRivers's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    603
    Quote Originally Posted by monkeyma
    I really need to go back and ride these bikes one more time. I don't have an unlimited budget but I think both bikes are an excellent bargain. Both frames are pro-level and have won their share of races. In my heart (and wallet) I hope that on a second ride the Cervelo feels superior.
    I wonder if you could put aero bars on both for the test ride?

  21. #21
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    18
    Thanks.

    I just need to ride them again. Unless I get some more S1 or TCR riders chiming in.

  22. #22
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: PaulRivers's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    603
    Well, I do know of a Triathlon part of a bike forum.

    Somewhere...

    http://www.bikeforums.net/forumdispl...?191-Triathlon

  23. #23
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: PaulRivers's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    603

  24. #24
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    18
    For anyone still reading, I went for the Giant.

    I just installed my computer and will report back when I have some race data.

    After riding them at the shop I will say that the Giant advantage in road feel and was the most responsive bike I rode. Also, it's compact geometry felt familiar after riding a Roubaix for years.

    The carbon debate does seem silly considering how great this bike rides. It practically bike seemingly disappears beneath you. Yet it feels its most amazing sprinting and climbing.

    Time will tell.

  25. #25
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    18
    Quote Originally Posted by Fai Mao
    I agree with Joel.

    The difference in weight between a carbon bike and aluminium bike is often less than two pounds. The difference between a good steel and carbon it is only about three and one half. Get past the marketing and try riding a steel or titianium bike with a light weight steel fork.
    The Question I always have with these posts is where are these affordable steel and titanium bikes? It's not a question of marketing, it's manufacturing. CF is available in quantity and stock builds offer tons of savings versus building up a frame.

    In today's market, steel seems to be the choice of the rider with the capital to get a custom frame built.

    And while I once though CF was all about weight savings, actually riding the bikes made me realize it has as much to do with the smooth feeling of the ride.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

Sea Otter Classic

Hot Deals

Contest


Latest RoadBike Articles


Latest Videos

RoadbikeReview on Facebook