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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I bought a fuji cross bike last fall. I put on a cheap set of smooth 25x700 tire and have been doing a lot of road riding with it. I've been thinking about getting a nice carbon road bike, thinking the carbon frame would give me a more comfortable ride. After about 30 mi on the crappy roads around here my hands/feet start to feel it.

I just test road a trek madone 5.2, and a cervelo r3. Both very nice bikes to be sure, but to be honest there wasn't much of a difference in feel between them and my $900 fuji. Maybe its just hard to tell from a test ride?

One other thing, both of those bikes were probable 10 pounds lighter than my bike. But again when I was riding the bikes I really couldn't feel a big difference that I thought I would.

Now I'm not really sure what to do. Keep mine, and forget about it, look at aluminum frame road bikes, or go with a nice carbon bike and hope it will be worth it the more I ride.
 

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I have a cheapo aluminum road bike and a $3200 carbon road bike. The carbon is DEFINATELY NOT a placebo. It is smoother and "quieter " on the roads. I can feel the carbon giving a little bit to absorb road harshness over my aluminum
 

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I'm sure some people can feel the difference, and some think they can. However, I couldn't feel the difference between a 1300 bike w/ an aluminum frame vs. a 4000 bike w/ a carbon frame.
 

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I can't really tell the difference between my current system six's aluminum rear end and my old full-carbon argon 18 on most roads. However, when I hit some really rough stuff my rear end jumps more. Still, it could just be that a stiff rear end does that.

Basically, as long as I'm not riding Paris-Roubaix, I think my Al rear end will do just fine.
 

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Maybe go for a "comfort" or performance oriented geometry if you are looking for plush. I started with Canondale Synapse but they were sold out for the summer, tried many others( including Trek) but ended up with Gary Fisher Cronus ( CF /105), I switched to 25c tires and I believe the wheel base is 10mm longer. I am still giddy when I take it for a ride, it really is wonderful.
 

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Did the test bike have the same size tires, at the same pressure? Tires make a bigger difference in shock absorption than any other component, including the frame. It's very hard to draw meaningful conclusions from a brief test unless you control the relevant variables. Frame geometry and construction affect these things too; it's not all about material.

If you really think you need some more shock absorption, your cross bike will probably handle even bigger tires. Worth a try.
 

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you'll only notice the lighter weight on acceleration, you should have a top speed that's close enough to the same on any weight bike that you wouldn't notice a difference

climbing and getting up to speed is easier on a lighter bike, but top speed isn't going to be much different at all
 

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IMHO it depends on the type of riding you are going to do. A full aluminum frame can be tough on centuries, but an aluminum fram with carbon fork and carbon seat stay could offer as much comfort as a full carbon frame.

You mentioned your hands started to feel it, well that probably has a lot to do with the vibration coming throught he fork and handle bars.

I like long rides and my full carbon bike is set up for a relaxed fit and I feel no pain, I mean no pain. I have an aluminum hybrid, that I like, but can not ride the distances that I ride on my road bike and I do feel a little discomfort when riding it over 40 miles.

I really think it helps to define the type of riding you want to do.
 

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I think it's going to vary depending on how the carbon bikes are designed. My original bike was an aluminum fuji roubaix with carbon fork and seat stays, i upgraded to a mongoose bosberg which is a very light weight and stiff full carbon bike and i did not notice any improvement in ride quality. My current bike is a full carbon time speeder and the ride quality is night and day difference, it is much smoother and more comfortable to ride.

The point i'm trying to make there is just staying a carbon bike is or isn't going to be more comfortable is impossible to say as one carbon bike could be designed to be ultra stiff and not very forgiving where as another carbon bike could be designed more for long distance comfort and offer a smoother more comfortable ride.

Try to check out some full carbon bikes that are designed more towards being comfortable long distance bikes. Just for a quick example Specialized bikes has their "competitive road" line of bikes and their "endurance road" line of bikes with the endurance line designed to be a bit more comfortable.

Another problem with test rides is that so much of the ride quality depends on your tires and so trying to compare two bikes with different tires is going to be very difficult.
 

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Where you'll really notice the difference between carbon and aluminum is after longer rides. When you get off a carbon bike after a few hours, you won't feel as beat up and useless. Carbon dampens little vibrations you can't really detect or feel (maybe you can) but these vibrations and "micro-bumps" in the road take a toll on joints and contact points (hands, feet, butt) when you're riding for a long time.

Carbon: you get off the bike, take a shower, and make love to your baby mama.
Aluminum: you get off the bike and immediately feel 30 years older.
 

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I've been experimenting with frame materials. I haven't gotten to carbon yet, but thus far, it appears quality makes a much bigger difference than material.

I have cheap aluminum and good aluminum. I have cheap steel and good steel. And I have a good titanium frame (hard to find cheap Ti). Both cheap frames ride about the same. All three good frames ride about the same.

Centuries? My go-to bike is the good aluminum one. Nicer all-day geometry than the good steel or good Ti bikes, and it rides just as well as they do.

Anyway, this is why I'm unsurprised that Skyliner1004 finds a difference between cheapo aluminum and good carbon.
 

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Tommy Walker said:
I like long rides and my full carbon bike is set up for a relaxed fit and I feel no pain, I mean no pain. I have an aluminum hybrid, that I like, but can not ride the distances that I ride on my road bike and I do feel a little discomfort when riding it over 40 miles.
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With all due respect, comparing a carbon road bike and an aluminum hybrid with respect to long-distance comfort tells you absolutely nothing about the effect of materials. The frame geometry and riding positions are radically different.
 

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TheOcho said:
Carbon: you get off the bike, take a shower, and make love to your baby mama.
Aluminum: you get off the bike and immediately feel 30 years older.
That's highly debatable...

I had a full carbon frame and switched to a full custom aluminum frame. Since then I've done a 114 mile ride a 102 mile ride (both had a fair amount of chip seal roads as well) and put in 1174 miles during the month of July and 1156 during the month of June.

Honestly...I felt just as fresh after riding the centuries on my aluminum bike as I did on my full carbon bike (same components, just changed frames and forks) and could have easily ridden longer on both rides had I chosen to do so.

Here is a question for you....How much does your carbon frame flex vertically to absorb shock? 1mm? maybe 2mm on a very flexible frame. Now compare that to a set of tires that may flex 5mm + .... which do you think is going to make a bigger difference in comfort of any duration in ride length?

A frame is as comfortable as it fits...regardless of the material it's made out of. If the bike doesn't fit you, it's not going to be comfortable. If it does fit...it will be comfortable for as long as you want to ride it.
 

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As others have pointed out, a short test ride will tell you very little. Then you have to take into account other variables as well - yep, tire size, pressure, your own saddle or a stock saddle?...and more.

I have a nice carbon and a good Al bike. The carbon feels better...but that is because I think my Al is a bit big for me, too long in the TT.
 

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To do the test right two bikes would need to be made with the same geometry and the two different materials in question

I could tell a difference between my aluminum road bike and my carbon fiber. The carbon fiber is lighter but the bigger and really the noticeable difference was how the cf bike soaked up the bumps.

Those bikes are really different and their ride is dissimilar so if you get on a cervelo and have a hard time discerning a difference between it and your fuji then don't waste your money
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I was thinking about the tires too. I ride my 25's at around 95lbs. I bikes I test rode both had 23's, and I'm guessing set to max. I know he checked the pressure. Also my fuji does have a carbon fork.

The geometry of all the bikes seems pretty close. They all feel fine to me.

Most of my rides are 25-50mi. I'd like to do a cent someday, but basically I want to ride 50 as fast as I can.

I know there are cheap carbon frames, but as far as I know both the bikes I rode were high end carbon. I just wanted to be wowed I little bit more before I spend $3600-4000 for a bike!

I'd like to how they would compare to say a caad9 with dura-ace. I also wanted to ride a Giant Defy advanced, good carbon frame(I think) and the come with 25 tires.

All suggestions are welcome!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
As far as the weight goes, I know everyone says it doesn't increase your speed by much but.. when I picked up those bikes I thought for sure I was just going to fly, but didn't really seem to be the case.
 

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I think if you do an apples to apples comparison geometry wise (ie: test ride Al and CF versions of the same frame) you'll be more likely to notice the difference in handling and ride quality characteristics.
 

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I've ridden three bikes with essentially the same set-up, and size, but different materials. I couldn't tell the difference between aluminum, steel, and carbon fiber without looking down.

Then I changed tires from 23's to 25's. Do that if you want a better, smoother, nicer ride.
 
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