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  1. #1
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    How much better are carbon frames today?

    I have an '07 Trek Madone. It has tube and lug type construction. My steel Ritchey weighs the same. How much better are frames today? Are one piece molded frames better?

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    Quote Originally Posted by mfdemicco View Post
    I have an '07 Trek Madone. It has tube and lug type construction. My steel Ritchey weighs the same. How much better are frames today? Are one piece molded frames better?
    Next time, please try to be less specific in your question By "better" do you mean how much lighter, stiffer, durable, "better riding," or "better looking"? Some things are easy to measure but don't mean much while some things that are hard to measure are critical.

    Design and construction details are more important than fabrication technique, so monocoque frames, while quite common, is no more definitive than choice of frame material.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kerry Irons View Post
    Next time, please try to be less specific in your question By "better" do you mean how much lighter, stiffer, durable, "better riding," or "better looking"? Some things are easy to measure but don't mean much while some things that are hard to measure are critical.

    Design and construction details are more important than fabrication technique, so monocoque frames, while quite common, is no more definitive than choice of frame material.
    Well, yes. Lighter and at least as strong. I'm wondering if it's worth upgrading to a newer frame. I'm not a fan of internal cable routing though.

  4. #4
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    Your steel Ritchey frame weighs the same as your carbon Trek Madone frame? Really?
    I work for some bike racers
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by mfdemicco View Post
    Well, yes. Lighter and at least as strong. I'm wondering if it's worth upgrading to a newer frame. I'm not a fan of internal cable routing though.
    You'll feel more of a difference changing your tire size/pressure. Bored with the paint, get it re-painted.


    The biggest "improvement" to CF frames in the last 10 years....a million "standards" of pressfit BBs that love to creak and be annoying and that in 5 years you'll never find parts for. If that doesn't sound like an actual improvement or better in any way, that would be because it isn't.
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    There is no doubt that 11 years of research, development and manufacturing improvements mean that a 2018 Madone frame is"better" in almost every way than a similar 2007 model.

    The problem is, no one can really quantify or assign a value to those improvements because they are mostly subjective.

    I would suggest going to a bike shop and riding some bikes and see if you think they are "worth" the cost to upgrade.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marc View Post
    You'll feel more of a difference changing your tire size/pressure. Bored with the paint, get it re-painted.


    The biggest "improvement" to CF frames in the last 10 years....a million "standards" of pressfit BBs that love to creak and be annoying and that in 5 years you'll never find parts for. If that doesn't sound like an actual improvement or better in any way, that would be because it isn't.
    +1....in a major way.

    The number of riders of carbon frames over here (much like I suspect it is Stateside) is quite enormous when showing up at large group rides, randos, and/or events & local/regional races.

    Equally, the number of riders (which are not sponsored) of those carbon frames (both brand spanking new and/or only a few-to-5-6 years old) b!tching & complaining about the incessant creaking, groaning, crackling, etc of that cabon frame in the bottom-bracket and/or headset and/or seatpost/seatstays connection, is equally large.

    Most of these people have come to accept it as a fact-of-life now.

    I went the opposite direction recently.

    I bought a Trek Emonda 300 Alu, and with high-end components the bike is not only equal to any high-end carbon today in every respect, it is actually better imho. How? Basically it boils down to this: the bike is dead silent over both smooth roads and/or rough tarmac, no matter what I do. For example, it is silent when standing in any gear and/or ring, or when climbing as hard as you can. It is silent when sprinting.

    I cannot say this about any carbon bike I have ever, over near two decades, ridden.

    It's just my 2 cents.

    Imho, carbon frames (and trust me, I will get flamed heavily for saying this here) are a load of bullsh!t that's been foisted on the public. Carbon in components is great. Carbon in frames. Meh. Not so much. I don't care what manufacturer you are. And I don't care if your RBR.com earning ad revenue from those carbon frame manufactuers. Carbon frames suck when it comes to total rider pleasure & enjoyment.

    Anybody that tells you any different is/has done nothing but fool themself into believing all is ok.....even when it is not.

    Let the flaming begin.....

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    Some are better some are worse and some are the same.

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    Be careful of the surprise, no warning fatigue of that alu frame. They do tear just like a soda can given the right impetus.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
    Your steel Ritchey frame weighs the same as your carbon Trek Madone frame? Really?
    I thought the same thing.

    I also agree with the other comments: While carbon frames have gotten stiffer and lighter, stiffness is over-rated and the weight savings is virtually meaningless in the overall scheme of things.

    Even 2007 vintage frames were stiff enough and light enough.

    Monocoque construction vs. tube and lug construction; again no difference. There are some very high end custom carbon frames being made today with tube and lug construction.
    Last edited by Peter P.; 3 Weeks Ago at 03:14 AM.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter P. View Post
    While carbon frames have gotten stiffer and lighter, stiffness is over-rated ......
    Let me just put my two cents in here. I have a 2007 Trek Pilot 5.0 (OCLV) and a 2014 Cannondale Synapse Carbon. The Pilot feels like a noodle in comparison to the Synapse. Weights are about the same.

    The lateral stiffness in the Synapse frame is definitely a nicer feel and more confidence inspiring than the Pilot which has annoying lateral frame flex. In this respect, I do NOT find stiffness overrated.

    However, I think the BB stiffness thing IS overrated. I can say there is a noticeable difference in the feeling of power transfer, but it isn't a tremendous difference and IMO, not worth an upgrade to achieve. It is a nice feeling, but the myth that a "stiffer BB is faster" has been debunked in a couple of articles I have read. Engineer types here may be able to describe the actual physics of it. I will leave it there.

    I have heard of and read a lot about press fit BB's developing creaks. In over 7K miles, the BB30 in my Synapse has not had this problem. My shop says while this is a problem with press fit BB's, it is still more the exception than the norm. If I had my druthers, I would still choose a threaded BB for ease of service. That was one thing I looked for when I bought my gravel bike. And strangely, while my gravel bike has a standard 24mm Hollowtech II BB, as does my Trek Pilot, I can't say I notice any flex in it. So I am inclined to think this has more to do with frame design than with BB diameter.
    Last edited by Lombard; 3 Weeks Ago at 05:36 AM.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
    Your steel Ritchey frame weighs the same as your carbon Trek Madone frame? Really?
    The overall bike weighs the same. Components are pretty similar. The Ritchey has a full carbon fork, the Madone has an aluminum steerer.

  13. #13
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    Oh hell, I might as well say it

    Steel is Real.

    That's all.
    Too old to ride plastic

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by velodog View Post
    Oh hell, I might as well say it

    Steel is Real.

    That's all.
    I have 7 bikes - 3 aluminum, 2 carbon and 2 steel. I have to say that of all of them, my favorite is my 631 Reynolds steel gravel bike.
    “Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.” -- Aaron Levenstein

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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by BelgianHammer View Post
    +1....in a major way.

    The number of riders of carbon frames over here (much like I suspect it is Stateside) is quite enormous when showing up at large group rides, randos, and/or events & local/regional races.

    Equally, the number of riders (which are not sponsored) of those carbon frames (both brand spanking new and/or only a few-to-5-6 years old) b!tching & complaining about the incessant creaking, groaning, crackling, etc of that cabon frame in the bottom-bracket and/or headset and/or seatpost/seatstays connection, is equally large.

    Most of these people have come to accept it as a fact-of-life now.

    I went the opposite direction recently.

    I bought a Trek Emonda 300 Alu, and with high-end components the bike is not only equal to any high-end carbon today in every respect, it is actually better imho. How? Basically it boils down to this: the bike is dead silent over both smooth roads and/or rough tarmac, no matter what I do. For example, it is silent when standing in any gear and/or ring, or when climbing as hard as you can. It is silent when sprinting.

    I cannot say this about any carbon bike I have ever, over near two decades, ridden.

    It's just my 2 cents.

    Imho, carbon frames (and trust me, I will get flamed heavily for saying this here) are a load of bullsh!t that's been foisted on the public. Carbon in components is great. Carbon in frames. Meh. Not so much. I don't care what manufacturer you are. And I don't care if your RBR.com earning ad revenue from those carbon frame manufactuers. Carbon frames suck when it comes to total rider pleasure & enjoyment.

    Anybody that tells you any different is/has done nothing but fool themself into believing all is ok.....even when it is not.

    Let the flaming begin.....
    I'm with ya.

    I've stuck with steel the whole time, but have ridden and taken notes on aluminum and carbon since they came out, and found the same things you did.

    There's still nothing more comfortable than skinny tubing. Steel has the right combination of stiffness/response and shock absorption that does everything well in skinny tube diameters: climb, tempo for hours, and descend like motorcycles. Carbon is all over the place determined by the layups, which explains all the creaks and groans riders complain about. Then again, there are good carbon frames that take care of the stress points and bad ones that don't.

    I've noticed lugged frames have endured in the marketplace. Colnago, DeRosa, Merckx, still use lugs in their carbon frames. They can be built in more sizes than monocoque. The tubing is closer to steel diameter, so absorbs shocks nicely. In comparison, monocoque frames are very stiff. Or if they're softened up with pencil thin seat stays and paper thin tubing, they become flippy, like Lombard's Trek Pilot, or break in a crash.

    My .02.
    Last edited by Fredrico; 3 Weeks Ago at 12:09 AM.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by velodog View Post
    Oh hell, I might as well say it

    Steel is Real.

    That's all.
    You beat me to it! Steel gives the whole thing: comfort, resilience, stiffness, strength, crashworthiness, road feel. A great steel bike sings. Working with it stimulates the senses. When you punch it up the climb, it settles into a nice rhythm. When you want to quit the century at mile 85, it says, "Keep playing big boy! I'll get you there!" What cycling is all about, yessir!
    Last edited by Fredrico; 3 Weeks Ago at 12:47 AM.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fredrico View Post
    In comparison, monocoque frames are very stiff. Or if they're softened up with pencil thin seat stays and paper thin tubing, they become flippy, like Lombard's Trek Pilot, or break in a crash.
    The stays on my Pilot are definitely not pencil thin. Maybe paper thin tubing is a possibility why this bike is so flexy. In its time, the Pilot was marketed for compliance and comfort, not for performance. The Pilot model ran from 2005-2008. If I recall correctly, there were not that many road bikes before that with relaxed geometry. This was one the the first and subsequently, the Pilot got the reputation for being the "old man road bike". This was the start of the "endurance road bike" category.

    Also of note is that the Pilot has all round tubing. If I recall correctly, it wasn't until later that bike makers started making carbon tubing in different shapes in the quest for that "have your cake and eat it too" ride quality - laterally stiff, yet vertically compliant. So when Cannondale overhauled the Synapse in 2014, it then had the tubing shapes we see so often today. And it is definitely laterally stiffer, yet the vertical compliance is about the same as the Pilot.

    This all being said, tire width and pressure has a greater effect on vertical compliance than bike frame ever will. Either of these bikes will be more comfortable than the other with 28mm tires than 25mm tires.

    Break in a crash? Let me tell you, I had a couple in incidents with that bike that I thought would doom the frame, but didn't. I would trust those older OCLV frames before I would trust anything made by Trek today. I have known at least three people who cracked downtubes on recent OCLV frames - and not even crash related.
    Last edited by Lombard; 3 Weeks Ago at 04:55 AM.
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  19. #19
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    Any gains made over the last 8 years will be negated by the physiological changes your body has had. If I could I'd take my 25yr old body on my Kestrel 200sci with downtube shifters over my 51 yr old body on a new BMC teammachine with etap, but I am stuck with the latter. Any time spent riding is good time. What you are riding is secondary.

  20. #20
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    Today’s carbon frames are light years ahead of antiquated frames such as the one you find yourself riding. Think of how much a cellphone has advanced in 11 years and quadruple that advancement to arrive at the numerical difference in overall increased quality of today’s carbon frames. Some manufacturers are using such advanced carbon it is considered defense grade and they need to get special defense department approval to use it in the frame builds. The introduction of life saving disc brakes into the road bikes of today has even accelerated the carbon frame advancement. It’s a great time to buy a high quality carbon bike. These people posting that they are riding the same hulking hunk of steel for over 30 years and couldn’t tell a difference between it and an 11k bike they just test rode are simply trying to justify their cheapness.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by jaggrin View Post
    Today’s carbon frames are light years ahead of antiquated frames such as the one you find yourself riding. Think of how much a cellphone has advanced in 11 years and quadruple that advancement to arrive at the numerical difference in overall increased quality of today’s carbon frames. Some manufacturers are using such advanced carbon it is considered defense grade and they need to get special defense department approval to use it in the frame builds. The introduction of life saving disc brakes into the road bikes of today has even accelerated the carbon frame advancement. It’s a great time to buy a high quality carbon bike. These people posting that they are riding the same hulking hunk of steel for over 30 years and couldn’t tell a difference between it and an 11k bike they just test rode are simply trying to justify their cheapness.
    Today is the 2nd...you missed it by a day.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by jaggrin View Post
    Today’s carbon frames are light years ahead of antiquated frames such as the one you find yourself riding. Think of how much a cellphone has advanced in 11 years and quadruple that advancement to arrive at the numerical difference in overall increased quality of today’s carbon frames. Some manufacturers are using such advanced carbon it is considered defense grade and they need to get special defense department approval to use it in the frame builds. The introduction of life saving disc brakes into the road bikes of today has even accelerated the carbon frame advancement. It’s a great time to buy a high quality carbon bike. These people posting that they are riding the same hulking hunk of steel for over 30 years and couldn’t tell a difference between it and an 11k bike they just test rode are simply trying to justify their cheapness.
    How many friends of yours have died because they didn't have disc brakes on their road bike? In fact, how many stories have you heard or read where somebody died in a bicycle crash that would have lived if they had disc brakes instead of rim brakes on their road bikes? Or are you just using this reasoning to justify having disc brakes on a road bike?

    Oh, and when you specify this $11,000 bike I hope you realize that there are plenty of hand crafted steel bikes with rim brakes costing that and more.
    Too old to ride plastic

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
    Today is the 2nd...you missed it by a day.
    No, he missed by a lot more than just a day.
    Too old to ride plastic

  24. #24
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    It has been constantly improved over the years...but, in regards to performance for the price compared to aluminum or other material based frame, carbon is WAY overpriced and also overrated, IMHO.

  25. #25
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    How much better a new race bike will feel than a 15 year old one will depend how hard you go on it. If you're a mellow rider the difference may be lost on you but if you're fast you'll feel the difference in weight and stiffness. I think the biggest factor affecting the speed difference from my old bike to new one is aero, but again this will be more noticable to a fast rider in an aero position.

    Bonus info: There's only 1 or 2 companies making 1 piece frames. We split carbon frames into "lugged" like the C64 or "monocoque" like a Tarmac but in reality nearly every "monocoque" frame is comprised of 3 or 4 pieces bonded together. The benefit of "monocoque" over lugged is it gives the engineer more freedom to arrange the right amount, type, and direction of carbon in each spot to tune strength and stiffness. It also allows for shapes that help stiffness and aero.
    Last edited by Lelandjt; 2 Weeks Ago at 10:53 PM.

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