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  1. #1
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    Is a carbon bike really faster?

    Hello everybody.

    My last few rides have been with the local cycling group on what's called the "hay ride". This is a pretty aggressive ride with several sprint points and I found myself pushing my bike harder than I ever have before.

    Just for reference, I ride a double-butted TI frame with Neuvation or Aksium wheels. I've never been on a carbon race bike.

    So, I was talking with some folks and they said that when they upgraded to a quality carbon bike, they were SOOO much faster.

    Then I spoke with others (older folks) who said the only thing they found that made them faster were light wheels with sew-ups.

    Do you really loose that much energy from a bike if you're not a pro cat1 racer? I'm not even sure what flex feels like, but there's a good chance i've been feeling it all along. This ride I've been doing (now my favorite ride) is worth upgrading my rig for -- but only if it keeps me in the top four finishers (which I already am). Now, I want to be that guy who makes a brake away at the last mile and no one can catch up. I think I'm there, but who knows.

    So, for people that actually have upgraded from AL/Steel/TI to carbon, is this something I'd notice?

  2. #2
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    might as well scream fire in a movie theater...

  3. #3
    n00bsauce
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    When it asplodes it can go hundreds of miles an hour.
    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." Voltaire

    There are your fog people & your sun people, he said. I said I wasn't sure which kind I was. He nodded. Fog'll do that to you, he said.

    "We are all ignorant about most things."
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  4. #4
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    If you don't have a real Carbon Fiber bike, you might as well just stay on the sofa. Anything else is just so...... non-CF?

    4, 3, 2, 1.........
    Just ride.

  5. #5
    Old and Fixed, Moderator
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    Is wool better than cotton?
    Is a Mercedes better than a BMW?
    Is an iPhone better than a Blackberry?
    etc,etc,etc,etc,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    There is nothing about carbon fiber, as a material, that makes it faster.... There are too many variables that come into play.


    This might sound harsh but they guys that won the sprints would of won them riding your Ti bike...
    Dave Hickey/ Fort Worth

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  6. #6
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Take the guy's comment that carbon made him faster with a grain of salt. Carbon quality can vary. Some are lighter and some are stiffer, but unless you are dealing with a lot of specifics, probably not much value to his comments. Also, since carbon is more expensive, you may find that cheaper carbon bikes aren't much lighter because the components may be downgraded to save $.

  7. #7
    Adorable Furry Hombre
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    As a means of testing you hypothesis, that CF bikes are faster:

    I'd suggest going out and spending $15,000 on a plastikwunderbik, and then seeing how
    badly you still get beat....and for kicks seeing what you buds tell ya then.
    "Refreshingly Unconcerned With The Vulgar Exigencies Of Veracity "

  8. #8
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    yes, it is

    4.1% faster to be exact. I am not sure whether these guys really believed that or if they were pulling your leg. I suggest training harder, dropping them, and telling them Ti is faster

  9. #9
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    your answer at the bottom

    Quote Originally Posted by aaronis31337
    Hello everybody.

    My last few rides have been with the local cycling group on what's called the "hay ride". This is a pretty aggressive ride with several sprint points and I found myself pushing my bike harder than I ever have before.

    Just for reference, I ride a double-butted TI frame with Neuvation or Aksium wheels. I've never been on a carbon race bike.

    So, I was talking with some folks and they said that when they upgraded to a quality carbon bike, they were SOOO much faster.

    Then I spoke with others (older folks) who said the only thing they found that made them faster were light wheels with sew-ups.

    Do you really loose that much energy from a bike if you're not a pro cat1 racer? I'm not even sure what flex feels like, but there's a good chance i've been feeling it all along. This ride I've been doing (now my favorite ride) is worth upgrading my rig for -- but only if it keeps me in the top four finishers (which I already am). Now, I want to be that guy who makes a brake away at the last mile and no one can catch up. I think I'm there, but who knows.

    So, for people that actually have upgraded from AL/Steel/TI to carbon, is this something I'd notice?
    no...

  10. #10
    Back from the dead
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    Yes. For sure.

  11. #11
    'brifter' is a lame word.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveG
    4.1% faster to be exact. I am not sure whether these guys really believed that or if they were pulling your leg. I suggest training harder, dropping them, and telling them Ti is faster
    that's only during daylight-savings time...before that it's only 3.7%
    I work for some bike racers
    I've got some bikes, some guns,
    and a bunch of skateboards

  12. #12
    Not a rocket surgeon.
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    South of he equator it is. Unless you are already south of the equator. Then no.
    Want to ride faster? Get this guy to chase you.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  13. #13
    All I wanted was a Pepsi!
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    Quote Originally Posted by mohair_chair
    Yes. For sure.
    ^^this^^.

    When I switched from aluminum to carbon fiber, I took 12% off my PR for a 40km loop I ride regularly.

    I also switched to a diet high in beets, so that could have helped too.
    "If you have the guts to be yourself, other people'll pay your price." - Rabbit Angstrom

  14. #14
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by mohair_chair
    Yes. For sure.

    Its all about the weight shaving in the end a lighter bike is going to have an edge and keep in mind the wheels play a major role IMO. Now Does it have to be a carbon bike? I dont think so but if you look at a pro caliber bike used by the big boys its a carbon frame because thats where you are going to shave most of the weight. Thats why everyone else chooses to go with a carbon frame. I am a big fan of Carbon Frame myself plus its easier to throw on top of my car rack.lols

    MidwestPlaya

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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Hickey
    Is wool better than cotton?
    Is a Mercedes better than a BMW?
    Is an iPhone better than a Blackberry?
    etc,etc,etc,etc,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    There is nothing about carbon fiber, as a material, that makes it faster.... There are too many variables that come into play.


    This might sound harsh but they guys that won the sprints would of won them riding your Ti bike...
    1. Yes wool is better than cotton.
    2. No, BMW is better.
    3. iPhone.

    Seriously, to the OP, there is sooooooo much varation between carbon bikes, weave, layup etc.

    Titanium can be built into a really, really nice bike. So can steel or aluminun. I don't know the brand or model of your bike, but I'd randomly guess that a wheel upgrade would make more of a difference than an "upgrade" to carbon, and it would probably be significantly cheeper.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by aaronis31337
    Hello everybody.

    My last few rides have been with the local cycling group on what's called the "hay ride". This is a pretty aggressive ride with several sprint points and I found myself pushing my bike harder than I ever have before.

    Just for reference, I ride a double-butted TI frame with Neuvation or Aksium wheels. I've never been on a carbon race bike.

    So, I was talking with some folks and they said that when they upgraded to a quality carbon bike, they were SOOO much faster.

    Then I spoke with others (older folks) who said the only thing they found that made them faster were light wheels with sew-ups.

    Do you really loose that much energy from a bike if you're not a pro cat1 racer? I'm not even sure what flex feels like, but there's a good chance i've been feeling it all along. This ride I've been doing (now my favorite ride) is worth upgrading my rig for -- but only if it keeps me in the top four finishers (which I already am). Now, I want to be that guy who makes a brake away at the last mile and no one can catch up. I think I'm there, but who knows.

    So, for people that actually have upgraded from AL/Steel/TI to carbon, is this something I'd notice?
    There is a difference between being and feeling faster. People with new bikes always feel faster. Their feeling increases proportional to the expense.

    However, there may be some advantages to getting a new bike. It may be lighter, it may fit better, it may feel stiffer at the bottom bracket, bars/stem. It may be more comfortable. If you happen to put these things together, you may end up getting a bike that you enjoy riding more and that is more comfortable over a long period. Ultimately you may feel faster and in a long group ride perform better overall. In other words, instead of hanging on for dear life for the entire ride, you may take some turns on the front, sprint up a short hill, etc.

    However, it is not just the carbon that will make someone faster and the difference won't be such that people with other materials will notice.

    I ride a lugged steel frame with average components. My bike with H20 bottles, a tool bag and a pump weights around 28 pounds. I regularly go on group rides with people who have spent quite a bit on the latest bike. They all say that they feel much faster. However, it is not as if they ride far ahead of me and they drop me all the time. In fact, they seem to ride just as well as before they change bikes.

    Ultimately, if you have a bike that fits you well, is comfortable and rides well, you will not travel much faster, changing bikes unless: you use aerobars, you get very aero or you somehow increase your ability to produce more wattage.

    Now, going up a hill with a 15 lb bike vs a 28 lb pound will make some difference. But from a 20 lb to a 15 lb bike, the difference will be hardly noticeable.

  17. #17
    Adorable Furry Hombre
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    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Playa
    I dont think so but if you look at a pro caliber bike used by the big boys its a carbon frame because thats where you are going to shave most of the weight. Thats why everyone else chooses to go with a carbon frame. I
    Um. No.
    "Refreshingly Unconcerned With The Vulgar Exigencies Of Veracity "

  18. #18
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    Being a 300 pound lard-arse, I was never able to manage more than a 14mph average on my steel or aluminum bikes. When I got my Scott CR-1 though, I suddenly could fly up hills and increased my average speed to 27.3mph. In an emergency, the carbon fiber frame can be used as a floatation device. In a sunny location, it can be used as a weapon. Just aim a magnifying glass at it, amplifying the sun's energy, and watch the flesh wounds happen as it asplodes.
    Other countries need to stop hatin' or we'll unfriend them. - Christine

    Apparently I left my reading comprehension glasses in my ass. - DrRoebuck

    Still, it felt great and I felt like I was sitting on some kind of vibrator -Touch0Gray

  19. #19
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    I've been riding a 20lb steel bike (both frame/fork are steel) for many years. Used to it, it fits, I like it.

    I recently built up a CF frame/fork out of curiosity (17lb). It fits, it's comfy. Similar wheels to the steel bike. Saddles are the same, as are pedals, bars, tape, and tires/tubes. Saddle/bb/hoods are the same on both bikes.

    No change in speed from one bike to the other. They "feel" differently. They handle a bit different due to different geometries. But speed differences? Nope.

    Both are fairly high end bikes.

  20. #20
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by PlatyPius
    Being a 300 pound lard-arse, I was never able to manage more than a 14mph average on my steel or aluminum bikes. When I got my Scott CR-1 though, I suddenly could fly up hills and increased my average speed to 27.3mph. In an emergency, the carbon fiber frame can be used as a floatation device. In a sunny location, it can be used as a weapon. Just aim a magnifying glass at it, amplifying the sun's energy, and watch the flesh wounds happen as it asplodes.

    HAHHAHHAHAHAH I like your prospective Platy I can relay to you because I am a clydesdale myself and I need all the weight shaving I can get I dont care if it cost me $100 per gram.lols

    Everyone has their own opinion in the end its all about can you afford the Carbon Frame?? And if the answer is yes Just like my uncle NIKE said Just Do it. I dont care what any steel or alluminum owner say A Carbon Frame is Da Bomb. End of Story.LOLS

    MidWestPlaya
    Carbon Frame Lova lols

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoelS
    I've been riding a 20lb steel bike (both frame/fork are steel) for many years. Used to it, it fits, I like it.

    I recently built up a CF frame/fork out of curiosity (17lb). It fits, it's comfy. Similar wheels to the steel bike. Saddles are the same, as are pedals, bars, tape, and tires/tubes. Saddle/bb/hoods are the same on both bikes.

    No change in speed from one bike to the other. They "feel" differently. They handle a bit different due to different geometries. But speed differences? Nope.

    Both are fairly high end bikes.
    Joel

    I know you are smarter than that. You are trying to tell everyone here that you can travel the same distance and same time between the 20 lb steel bike and the 17 lbs carbon bike?? and no diffrence?? hmm you must have robot like legs and have cruise control that when you set it at a certain speed it does not matter how heavy the bike is.

    Platy get rid of that Scott Frame and go back to a steel frame.LOLS

    MidwestPlaya

  22. #22
    25.806975801127
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    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Playa
    Platy get rid of that Scott Frame and go back to a steel frame.LOLS

    MidwestPlaya
    I sell Scott. I have to ride a Scott.
    I also sell Gunnar. I'll be ordering a Gunnar frame soon. I also already have a 1970s Stella (steel) and a 1999 Marin something-or-other (steel).
    I've started lusting after a steel DeRosa, too. And since I also sell DeRosa....
    Other countries need to stop hatin' or we'll unfriend them. - Christine

    Apparently I left my reading comprehension glasses in my ass. - DrRoebuck

    Still, it felt great and I felt like I was sitting on some kind of vibrator -Touch0Gray

  23. #23
    Master debator.
    Reputation: nOOky's Avatar
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    A lot depends on the gel coat of the carbon frame. If the catalyst isn't within a .5% ratio of the set point, the frame will have a higher coefficient of drag and you'll probably actually go slower. If the manufacturer gets it spot on, and the paint is black with red accents, it is typically 3-4% faster than a comparable steel frame.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Playa
    Joel

    I know you are smarter than that. You are trying to tell everyone here that you can travel the same distance and same time between the 20 lb steel bike and the 17 lbs carbon bike?? and no diffrence?? hmm you must have robot like legs and have cruise control that when you set it at a certain speed it does not matter how heavy the bike is.

    Platy get rid of that Scott Frame and go back to a steel frame.LOLS

    MidwestPlaya
    Suppose that you weigh 150 and you ride a 17 vs an 20 lb bike. The difference in weight is 1.8%. 150+17 = 167 or 150+20= 170 167 is 98.2% of 170.

    all things being equal, ie, wind, drag, clothes, water bottles, position, geometry, etc. a naked 150 pound cyclist will have a 1.8% performance difference by switching from a 20 to a 17 pound bike. The question is feeling this difference between two bikes and know that it is the frame and not something else. I doubt that human beings are able to detect the difference in performance, much less, know that it was the weight of the bike and not the clothes that you wear, the meal you had last night, or the weight of the water bottle.

    An easy comparison is to ride on a bike with two full water bottles and w/o them. I doubt that people can feel the overall performance difference.

  25. #25
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    Dunno yet, but we will see hopfully this...

    week. The first road bike I got on was a GF arc pro last summer. Found out that cycling was cool, and upgraded to a P1 madone 5.9 with race lite wheels, and SRAM force group. It should be here this week, and hopfully there will be a big difference in the upgrade.

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