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  1. #1
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    Aluminum or Carbon? What to do?

    Been considering a new road bike, I'm a beginner, and I like the trek 2011 2.3 because it has a solid 105 grouping throughout and a much better than average wheel set. It's also sold across the street by my LBS! This is a aluminum H2 bike on sale for about $1,200 if I buy the trek/Jax protection plan for an additional $130 bucks. The 2012 version sells for about 1,425 and is also a consideration!

    My other option is a new 2011 Fuji SL-1-Comp Limited Edition Road Bike with a carbon frame for about $1,399. This bike is sold at a shop about 20 miles away and has a basic 105 grouping with a mix of other decent components.

    I have also seen a new 2010/11 Kestrel Talon Carbon Road Bike Shimano 105 for around $1,400 that has a full retail of $2,400. This is a sexy bike that was a 2010 Cycling Magazine Best value bike.

    What to do? Any advise from those of you that have more experience and or knowledge? Comfort and quality is most important to me.
    Last edited by Hottody; 04-05-2012 at 05:59 AM.

  2. #2
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    There are probably going to be two opinions here. First is the fact that you're a beginner. This mentality says that you should stick with aluminum, learn a bit...then move on if need be.
    The second view has to do with the properties of carbon being very forgiving. Carbon has a tremendously comfortable ride quality that aluminum cannot match.
    Ultimately the choice is yours. You are right in thinking about 105. It's a great grouppo.
    Good Luck.
    With people like Peter P. around, I am done posting on this website. Mean people have driven me off after 9 plus years. Good luck newbies beware.

  3. #3
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    i'd recommend a Cannondale CAAD10 with 105. the CAAD10 rides like many carbon bikes without the stiff price and concerns of carbon frames. as a beginner or intermediate rider, nothing beats the CAAD10.

    check it out, ride it and compare.

    just my .2 cents
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  4. #4
    Scott in Maryland
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    Carbon is better - period.

  5. #5
    Realist
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    Ride all of your choices and let your body, not mind, make the final decision.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hottody View Post
    Been considering a new road bike, I'm a beginner, and I like the trek 2011 2.3 because it has a solid 105 grouping throughout and a much better than average wheel set. It's also sold across the street by my LBS! This is a aluminum H2 bike on sale for about $1,200 if I buy the trek/Jacks protection plan for an additional $130 bucks. The 2012 version sells for about 1,425 and is also a consideration!

    My other option is a new 2011 Fuji SL-1-Comp Limited Edition Road Bike with a carbon frame for about $1,399. This bike is sold at a shop about 20 miles away and has a basic 105 grouping with a mix of other decent components.

    I have also seen a new 2010/11 Kestrel Talon Carbon Road Bike Shimano 105 for around $1,400 that has a full retail of $2,400. This is a sexy bike that was a 2010 Cycling Magazine Best value bike.

    What to do? Any advise from those of you that have more experience and or knowledge? Comfort and quality is most important to me.
    You have a bike shop across the street from you?! Man I wish I did. On the other hand maybe not, I'd be broke.

    You might want to rethink the type of bike you're getting if you want comfort. Never understood those asking for a comfortable race bike. I mean you can make certain adjustments to make your brain think it's comfortable. If you want comfort look for a belt driven hybrid

    However if you must have a fast bike IMO Buy the heavier of the two, build your legs, endurance and stamina then treat yourself to a nice carbon if you're liking it and still into it. Save the couple of hundred plus the hassle of driving it 30 miles for repairs.
    Last edited by svard75; 04-04-2012 at 01:54 AM.

  7. #7
    Not a rocket surgeon.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott in MD View Post
    Carbon is better than nothing - period question mark.
    Fixed for you

    The CAAD sugestion is validbut he is or was not shoping cannondale.

    The Trek will serve you fine. Make sure you get what you want so you enjoy it and will ride it. Above all, make sure it fits right.

  8. #8
    Endurance Cyclist
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    This will probably not be helpful, but I don't think you would be unhappy with any of your selections. Really, as has been suggested, you need to ride the bikes and go by feel.

    And I second the idea of being better off NOT having a bike shop across the street. I too would go broke. I have one 5 miles down the road and I go broke enough.

  9. #9
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    Test riding and going by feel is good, but after 40 years of riding I still find it difficult to quantify the differences. I have high quality aluminum, Ti, and carbon bikes. They're perceptibly different in ride and handling from each other but I like them all. If I had to choose between them, I'd choose the newest and snazziest, which happens to be the carbon bike. All of the bikes you mention will perform very well. If a shop sells you the bike, they will typically do a fitting and the initial break-in service for free. If you need those services, that's an argument for buying local. Other than that, get the bike you think is the snazziest and most motivating to ride.

  10. #10
    tlg
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott in MD View Post
    Carbon is better - period.
    Unless you're a beginner who falls over/crashes often getting use to his new bike.
    Carbon fiber is not better at handling dings, scratches, impacts, etc.

  11. #11
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    Thank you looigi. Good advise! When taking test rides I too have a difficult noticing the difference in ride quality. I then wonder if carbon will show it's performance characteristics after a few months of experience! I do know that all these bikes feel good. It is true, even as a beginner, one gets sucked Into all the details involved in making an informed decision.

  12. #12
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    Good aluminum (e.g. Cannondale CAAD 10) is better than cheap carbon. At any given price point, you'll generally get a better component spec with alu vs. carbon. But (given enough mileage) components are what wears out. I'd rather put lesser components on a good frame than top-of-the-line stuff on a lesser frame. You'll pretty much be just as fast on a 105 or Apex specced bike as the same frame with DuraAce or Red.

    Bottom line though is fit.
    Anyone who believes there are no stupid questions never worked in a bike shop.

  13. #13
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    Hmmm

    I have a full carbon scattante that I got for super cheap, and it's super light. I also have a fuji roubaix pro that is alum with carbon seat stays and fork. I'm fairly new to roadbikes as well, and honestly I like the fujI better. It handles better for me. I also have a steel centurion that is freaking awesome. To be honest with you, I think it depends on the rider, not the bike. But what do I know, I'm a rookie.

  14. #14
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    Awesome.

  15. #15
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    aluminum frames will fatigue over time and not feel the same as when you first bought it
    . Instead of spending 2000bucks every 3-5years for a new aluminum bike, buy a carbon which will last forever, and upgrade it.

    carbon - last longer, stronger, 2x more comfortable, light, good looking. Why do the pros use carbone?cause its the new, and better technology. CAAD is nice but look at their new top line models.... all carbon

  16. #16
    tlg
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    Quote Originally Posted by hoblxblood View Post
    Instead of spending 2000bucks every 3-5years for a new aluminum bike, buy a carbon which will last forever, and upgrade it.
    That's a bunch of phooey. New aluminum bike every 3-5yrs? Absurd. Aluminum doesn't just magically go bad in a finite ammount of time.
    I wonder why thousands of aluminum aircraft, which are decades old, are flying over our heads every day and not falling out of the sky? Planes see far more faigue than bikes ever do. As well as the aluminum engine in my 6yro car. Is it time to scrap my car?

    Carbon fiber, and the epoxies use to bond the fibers do NOT have an endurance limit. Thus, just like aluminum, they will not last forever.
    Last edited by tlg; 04-05-2012 at 10:05 AM.

  17. #17
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    I would recommend a 105/Apex equipped carbon frame as well. The entry level Tarmacs/Roubaixs/CR1 are trickle down tech and pretty good bikes. I would also shop for last years model to get the best deal as this is your first bike. Now this is based on just how much you plan on biking. My daughter learned the hard way and bought whatever would get her by, a decent aluminum frame, and a year later wanted the lightweight and stiffness of the carbon bike for more aggressive riding...so she sold her aluminum and went with a Specialized Roubaix. If it is something you believe you will get into get a bike you can grow into...CR1, certain Trek Models, Felt, Specialized, all brands make a decent bike...which one do you fit into the most and are most comfortable with and can get the best deal on....if you like your local bike shop support them as that is key to my biking purchases as well...several shops out there friends have experienced will sell and forget....good luck and whatever bike you get...if you ride it tons...you scored.

  18. #18
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    Its been said already but I will say it again. Test out each if you can and let your body decide. They ride very differently from each other and you may find you have a preference. I am actually in the process of switching to carbon as well, so have fun!

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by hoblxblood View Post

    carbon - last longer, stronger, 2x more comfortable, light, good looking. Why do the pros use carbone?cause its the new, and better technology. CAAD is nice but look at their new top line models.... all carbon
    Wrong. Pro's ride what they are paid to ride.

  20. #20
    Patrick Sullivan
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    Im with Svard go with the aluminum trek frame. build up your legs and when you put some serious miles in and know what you like and dont like in a bike you'll be able to have a better reference in a few years when you think its time to upgrade. as a beginner you really dont have much in appreciation for carbon and it will be a costly upkeep if like tlg said you take a digger or let her get scratched up. Also after a few thousand miles carbon bikes are subject to crack. for your first frame I'd say go aluminum and beat it up on long rides and learn what you as the rider would want in your next bike.
    -Patrick

  21. #21
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    Ashe has great advice. To those saying carbon is more comfortable, that's generally true, but not always. My 2011 carbon BMC has the same ride quality as my 2009 aluminum BMC. My older Trek 2100 carbon main triangle with aluminum everything else has a considerably more comfortable ride.
    My carbon footprint has cleats

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by patsulli View Post
    Im with Svard go with the aluminum trek frame. build up your legs and when you put some serious miles in and know what you like and dont like in a bike you'll be able to have a better reference in a few years when you think its time to upgrade. as a beginner you really dont have much in appreciation for carbon and it will be a costly upkeep if like tlg said you take a digger or let her get scratched up. Also after a few thousand miles carbon bikes are subject to crack. for your first frame I'd say go aluminum and beat it up on long rides and learn what you as the rider would want in your next bike.
    -Patrick
    Carbon could crack regardless of the mileage if you hit it in the right spot. The notion of carbon frames cracking over time is based off of issues earlier carbon frames faced. They used a different resin which would deteriorate over time due to the sunlight, temperatures (Elements), they would even eventually discolour and or delaminate. The layup process was not as accurate so there were plenty of air pockets thru out leading to weak spots. Newer carbon tube technology along with newer resins have UV protection built right in and they are much more resilient. I would however agree that a carbon frame has different weak points in it's construction and during many falls (Hitting the same spots) could lead to a complete fracture of the resin which creates creaking and eventual failure. It takes a significant more amount of falls to fracture aluminum if the welds were done properly. My original post around why aluminum over carbon was to save the extra money plus the distance to get the bike adjusted or serviced via the warranty. Also people that used to ride and enjoy road riding in their early years think they still will, however with age comes the inevitable pains and aches and many steer away quickly especially with today's pot hole riddled roads. Less initial cost=less regrets for buying. Don't forget to ask whatever bike shop you go with for a try before you buy program too.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hottody View Post
    Been considering a new road bike, I'm a beginner, and I like the trek 2011 2.3 because it has a solid 105 grouping throughout and a much better than average wheel set. It's also sold across the street by my LBS! This is a aluminum H2 bike on sale for about $1,200 if I buy the trek/Jax protection plan for an additional $130 bucks. The 2012 version sells for about 1,425 and is also a consideration!

    My other option is a new 2011 Fuji SL-1-Comp Limited Edition Road Bike with a carbon frame for about $1,399. This bike is sold at a shop about 20 miles away and has a basic 105 grouping with a mix of other decent components.

    I have also seen a new 2010/11 Kestrel Talon Carbon Road Bike Shimano 105 for around $1,400 that has a full retail of $2,400. This is a sexy bike that was a 2010 Cycling Magazine Best value bike.

    What to do? Any advise from those of you that have more experience and or knowledge? Comfort and quality is most important to me.

    the kestrel is kind of an obvious steal, although it might be a bit aero, i think it even has tri bars standard....

    not so sure about those trek wheels, boonties do not have the best rep. i think the 2.3 is otherwise nice spec tho

    money talks a lot in this range...1400 might get a basic carbon layup, but nice alu with 105 spec. you thought about specialized at all?

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by hoblxblood View Post
    aluminum frames will fatigue over time and not feel the same as when you first bought it
    . Instead of spending 2000bucks every 3-5years for a new aluminum bike, buy a carbon which will last forever, and upgrade it.

    carbon - last longer, stronger, 2x more comfortable, light, good looking. Why do the pros use carbone?cause its the new, and better technology. CAAD is nice but look at their new top line models.... all carbon
    I see another person sold on marketing. Carbon bikes cost more not because they are better, but because they cost more to manufacture. A carbon frame will easily cost 3x4 times as much to build as an aluminum frame and with good reason. Aluminum is inexpensive due to it being the most abundant element on the planet. The aircraft comment made by another poster was impressive because the exact same grade aluminum used in aircrafts is used in bike frames. Carbon plane parts are not even the same compound used in carbon bikes. Plane: carbon/carbon; Bike: carbon/plastic. More comfortable? A carbon bike should ride more comfortably due to manufacturers adorning it with higher end components and wheels. If carbon is so much stronger, Why do you void your warranty if you pull a trailer on your carbon bike? For aluminum's "short life", there are quite a few fully loaded touring bikes crossing the country that are made of aluminum. Carbon couldn't handle that application or builders would be making a lot of them. If a carbon bike could be made strong enough to handle touring, it would weigh as much (if not more) than a steel framed tourer. Also, pros ride what they are paid to ride (like the other poster said). I own two carbon bikes but I'd be a fool to say that carbon is better. A CAAD 10 will not only run circles around a most carbon bikes, but it will do it with a fairly equal ride. One of my riding buddies owns a CAAD10 and just bought a Super Six. He said that the rides are identical and he has Zipp 404 F/C wheels on both. You want to ride a bike that will beat the crap out of you? Ride my 2009 Felt F1 Sprint. It's full carbon and that bike has an unforgiving ride.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by hoblxblood View Post
    aluminum frames will fatigue over time and not feel the same as when you first bought it
    . Instead of spending 2000bucks every 3-5years for a new aluminum bike, buy a carbon which will last forever, and upgrade it.

    carbon - last longer, stronger, 2x more comfortable, light, good looking. Why do the pros use carbone?cause its the new, and better technology. CAAD is nice but look at their new top line models.... all carbon
    You super funny guy! Ha ha ha
    San Antonio, Texas

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