Road Frames… "Good" ally Vs "Cheap" Carbon debate…

Home Forum Bike Forum Road Frames… "Good" ally Vs "Cheap" Carbon debate…

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  • Road Frames… "Good" ally Vs "Cheap" Carbon debate…
  • druidh
    Member

    mboy wrote:

    All largely subjective

    If you want FACTS you have to buy a Specialized carbon frame / fork. They don’t do alloy facts. 😉

    doof_doof
    Member

    I think the main point of frames like the CAAD10 is instead of spending your budget on a high end carbon frame and compromising on the components, buy a CAAD10 and throw as much as you can into the wheels.
    The argument being wheels have a larger effect than the frame.

    The CAAD10 is pretty much universally praised, there aren’t many alu frames in that category.

    JCL
    Member

    Giant. Done.

    Premier Icon mboy
    Subscriber

    If you want FACTS you have to buy a Specialized carbon frame / fork. They don’t do alloy facts.

    NICE! I’m impressed… Brilliant how Spesh managed to bring FACT’s into their marketing guff too! The guy who thought of that got a big bonus that year I’m sure…

    The argument being wheels have a larger effect than the frame.

    I see where you’re coming from, but then there’s all sorts of evidence to suggest that unless you’re riding billiard table flat roads all the time, and well above 20mph, you’re better off on lightweight low profile rims than deep sections anyway. So kinda throws the expensive wheel debate out the window also, as expensive = deep section carbon in wheel terms surely?

    The CAAD10 is pretty much universally praised, there aren’t many alu frames in that category.

    True, but I was wondering what else gets close possibly. There’s plenty of hydroformed high end 6000 series ally frames that weigh nearly the same as a CAAD10 does, coming on bikes that cost circa £1k all up now. Just wondering how they’d compare to the Cannondale roughly.

    Giant. Done.

    If I had my way, I’d be inclined to agree. Don’t stock Giant though sadly at work, my current Ally Defy2 is a very nice bike for the money it cost mind.

    Premier Icon mboy
    Subscriber

    OK, so we’ve all heard some of the more mainstream manufacturers wanting to make a few quid chipping in and saying “our premium ally frames are better than a cheap carbon one”, but does there seem to be any sort of rule to this?

    Cannondale are persisting at least with their high end CAAD10 ally frame, but what tubeset or grade of ally could you actually compare that to from another manufacturer? And at what point does an ally frame become better than a cheap carbon one, or a carbon frame become worse than a high end ally frame?

    All largely subjective I know, but I hear a lot of marketing guff, and not much science to back any of it up…

    And ultimately, if everything else on the bike was the same (wheels, groupset, components etc.) but the carbon bike (1100g frame) was £1500 and the ally bike (1300g frame iirc) was £1000, the small weight saving aside, how subjectively worth it is the carbon frame (assuming good quality) over the ally?

    Opinions please… Or even better, FACTS if you’ve got them (with a source preferably!) to back an argument up!

    umop3pisdn
    Member

    you’re better off on lightweight low profile rims than deep sections anyway.

    My understanding was that research indicated that the opposite was true. Never ridden a carbon frame, but my £550 Cinelli ally frame is a world apart from my £99 Dolan frame.

    trail_rat
    Member

    “So kinda throws the expensive wheel debate out the window also, as expensive = deep section carbon in wheel terms surely?”

    Nope.

    your the mountain bike guy at the shop right ?

    aP
    Member

    It’s mostly just fashion and marketing. And I think that you dont quite know as much about road bikes and wheels etc as you’d like to think you do.

    Premier Icon njee20
    Subscriber

    So kinda throws the expensive wheel debate out the window also, as expensive = deep section carbon in wheel terms surely?

    Errr, yes, pro-riders always use shallow section alu wheels because they are actually the best. Oh wait…!

    I’ve never actually seen a brand say ‘our overpriced alu is better than cheap carbon’. No facts whatsoever, but I’d buy a Planet X over a £1000 alu Spesh or Trek. My Allez is horrible to ride compared to my Madone.

    I assumed that you need to put a bit of effort into a alu frame to make it any good, most alu frames these days are for the budget bikes and are rubbish. I had one that conformed to the harsh riding stereotype. Carbon seems easier to get light without much effort but ride varies a lot just like any material. I have a cheap carbon bike that is like a block of wood, not great at all. But I guess some of the budget carbon frames will be last years high end frames so should still be pretty good??
    I can only say that my caad 10 is great. It does not even ride too shabby compared to my super £5k carbon road bike. I think when I was looking Canyon were the only other people who still seemed to be putting effort into their alu frames- is it the ultimate al?? these get a good writeup.

    Premier Icon iainc
    Subscriber

    I test rode a Giant Defy (alloy) with 105 and also the Composite carbon one with Ultegra and better wheeels. There was very little in it – the carbon one was a bit smoother, but I think the wheels had a lot to do with that. I bought the composite one, largely due to the deal offered on it, plus slighlty better kit.

    justatheory
    Member

    I’ve got a Cannondale Six and a CAAD10 (same wheels and finishing kit on both). The Six is slightly more comfortable on rough roads, but the difference is hardly noticeable. I actually like the feedback from ally.

    There’s an S-works Allez this year. Alu seems to have had a bit of resurgence as a material with a ‘hardcore racer’ image. I.e. unsponsored riders buy them to race day in day out rather than some fragile 700g carbon frame.

    I think the main point of frames like the CAAD10 is instead of spending your budget on a high end carbon frame and compromising on the components, buy a CAAD10 and throw as much as you can into the wheels.

    This I think is exactly it. Most good aly frames are ~1150-1300g, most carbon frames in £2k complete bikes are ~1150g (supersix, deda nerrissimo, etc). A 105 groupset is 3080g, ultegra 2300 and the cost between carbon and aluminium is usually about the same as one tier on the group set ladder when buying complete bikes. So even if you ended up with the same wheels you’d be 1.5lb lighter on the alloy bike.

    jonjonjon3
    Member

    For the average rider I don’t think there is much benefit from deep section carbon rimmed wheels, if you are racing and averaging higher speeds e.g. over 20mph then the aero benefit probably outweighs the slight weight increase over some super-light alu wheels.

    Not sure what a “good” ally frame gives but the cheap ones are generally light and stiff, probably too stiff if you are cycling on rougher roads where there could be more compliance from a well designed “all-day” carbon frame.

    Not sure what a “good” ally frame gives but the cheap ones are generally light and stiff, probably too stiff if you are cycling on rougher roads where there could be more compliance from a well designed “all-day” carbon frame.

    You’re implying that aluminium can only be stiff?

    jonjonjon3
    Member

    You’re implying that aluminium can only be stiff?

    Well, I’ve never heard of anyone saying a aluminium road frame was “noodily”, where as people have been on here saying they have swapped their cheap carbon frames for aluminium as the carbon ones were not stiff enough. Of course carbon frames can probably be as stiff as you want them to be (track frames for example).

    mike_p
    Member

    I test rode a Giant Defy (alloy) with 105 and also the Composite carbon one with Ultegra and better wheeels. There was very little in it – the carbon one was a bit smoother, but I think the wheels had a lot to do with that.

    I did someting similar (alu Defy 1 vs carbon Defy 2, identical wheels) and thought the carbon one was noticeably better in terms of both comfort and responsiveness. Bought the alu one in the end because it is still very good (rides better than the rediculously-priced Spesh Roubaix IMO), had Shimano instead of SRAM’s plastic crap and was half the price

    alexathome
    Member

    I’ve a carbon bike, (cervelo r3sl) and that’s a pretty nice, light bike. I’ve also a kinesis racelight rc2. The frame of course is a bit heavier, maybe 500 grams heavier. However the racelight is head and shoulders better than my old BH full carbon. To be honest I don’t feel that there is a massive difference between the racelight and the cervelo when I run wheels of the same weight, climbing times are the same, descending is just as stable. The only thing that I maybe do notice is that acceleration on climbs feels a little more immediate on the cervelo, but I’ve a feeling that that might all be in my head. Alu is out of favour, that’s all. Easy to see why, when under paid Asian women can pop them out of a mould in no time flat, no pesky tubes to miter, jig up, welders to train up, etc.

    If you want to go fast, it’s not what the bikes are made of, it’s how much drugs you are willing to take, has Pantani taught you nothing?

    tinsy
    Member

    Surely, when talking about stiff with regards to this frame debate has a lot more to do with power transfer to the wheel than comfort compliance?

    It seems some of you have your stiff & stiff a little confused.

    rudebwoy
    Member

    I have just recently bought a Cannondale Synapse, for me its a much more enjoyable bike to ride than my Alu ALAN, i suppose there is a different geometry, but the carbon absorbs a lot more shock than the alu, i wouldn’t get to hung up about any bike, if it feels good then it is!

    phil.w
    Member

    There are good frames and bad frames, price and material doesn’t guarantee anything.

    Other than that it’s all subjective.

    Premier Icon njee20
    Subscriber

    My Allez feels as flexy as a very flexy thing, particularly around the BB.

    asterix
    Member

    but the carbon absorbs a lot more shock than the alu

    maybe, but the feel of an Alu bike can depend a lot on the tyres you put on it. Tyres can make the difference between a very harsh ride and a much smoother, compliant feel

    rudebwoy
    Member

    tyres can make the difference between a very harsh ride and a much smoother, compliant feel

    On a road bike i find that hard to believe, they are at 110psi, effectively rock hard– can you enlighten ?

    asterix
    Member

    well you would think so, but I just replaced some old Conti GP4000 (@100psi) on my Alu Cannondale (which is as rigid as a very rigid thing indeed) with some brand new Conti 4 Seasons (@110psi) and the ride with the new tyres is amazingingly smooth by contrast – just my 2p worth, dont know what others tthink

    not to say I wouldn’t also like a carbon Cannondale like yours

    Well, I’ve never heard of anyone saying a aluminium road frame was “noodily”,

    Depends on the frame as much as any other material. Compare say a Vitus bonded frame with a CAAD10 compared to a track bike and there be a world of difference between each of them in terms of pedaling stiffness. Compare a cheep frame with a CAAD10 and there’ll be a world of difference in feel too.

    where as people have been on here saying they have swapped their cheap carbon frames for aluminium as the carbon ones were not stiff enough.

    Someone on the internet said it so it must be true.

    There’s carbon and there’s carbon
    There’s aluminium and there’s aluminium.

    I doubt anyone’s going to jump on the likes of a Felt F4 or Deda nerrissimo and complain of a lack of stiffness. Similarly a Viking from Tesco is unlikely to feel as direct and efficient.

    The difference is the good aluminium frames are cheaper than the mid range (but not necessarily any worse) carbon frames. Have a look on weightweenies where there are far more serious roadies. CAAD10’s are very popular, ditto the new Allez S-works.

    whatnobeer
    Member

    I’d agree with that. Good quality tyres are more supple and will deform more, even at high pressures. It definitely is surprising just how big a difference it can make.

    Premier Icon edsbike
    Subscriber

    I have a top end Allez from a couple of years ago as a winter bike, the one with the E5 frame and tapered head tube. It wasn’t very many years ago that the E5 aluminium frame was the S-Works.

    I think it’s great to ride, not as stiff at the BB as my other, but front to back stiffness feels like it’s on a par.

    So decent frame on a bike that cost £600. I’d rather that over a cheapo carbon Planet X any day, those things are horrendously wobbly and the build quality is pants compared to a decent aluminium frame.

    umop3pisdn
    Member

    It always amuses me when people run deep section rims with tyres like gatorskins, it’s a nice way to go ruin any aero gain. Latex tubes with decent tyres made a huge difference to both ride quality and rolling resistance for me.

    Premier Icon funkrodent
    Subscriber

    Seems we’ve morphed into two different threads, neither of which is about mountain biking! 😉 No worries though, I’ll chip in my two penn’orth. On tyres, the short answer is that just as with mountain bikes, the tyre makes a massive difference to ride feel and speed. In essence all road tyres are a trade-off on weight, rolling resistance, comfort, durability, grip and puncture protection. In essence the faster, grippier and lighter a tyre is, the more vulnerable it will be to puncturing and the quicker it will wear out. In addition, the grade of rubber used can effect comfort, with the general rule being pretty much the same, the more comfortable it is the quicker it will ear out as it will be running a softer compound. Some of these effects can be mitigated against by buying more expensive tyres, but only to an extent. Great all-round road tyre is the Continental Gatorskin.
    With regard to frame materials, as any fule kno, the geometry, design and build quality of the frame is at least as important as the material used. That said, there is no such thing as an all-encompassing alu frame, nor is there an all-encompassing carbon frame. Aluminium is a generic term covering a range of grades and so too carbon fibre. There’s a myriad of different grades, resins and construction methods. At the end of the day though, the high-end alloy frames are fantastic. I have a CAAD8 frame and it is great, I also have an aluminium Rock Lobster cross bike that rides beautifully. I hear consistently good feedback about the Kinesis frames. I don’t have a massive amount of experience re Carbon, but if I had 1k – 1.5k to spend on a racebike, I’d take the CAAD10 at the drop of a hat. At the end of the day Cannondale have spent 20odd years enhancing,refining and improving that frame. That has to count for a lot.

    Premier Icon Bez
    Subscriber

    On a road bike i find that hard to believe, they are at 110psi, effectively rock hard– can you enlighten ?

    Well, pressure’s not the only number in the equation; they’ve got a *lot* less volume than an MTB tyre for a start and although the bumps are small you hit them faster on a road bike. 110psi tyres deform significantly.

    Try some different tyres. They make a huge difference, just as the carcasses of MTB tyres make a huge difference to the ride of rigid MTBs. Compare a GP4000S with a budget puncture-protected tyre and you’ll get the picture.

    Anyway, carbon vs aluminium, all I know is that I’ve had my CAAD9 for a few years now and I’ve never found it lacking in any respect. I’m not a racer but I am on the large side, and it’s stiff enough for whatever I’ve put through it; and as for being a comfortable ride I’ve done a solid 25 hours in the saddle with no discomfort whatsoever. For me, there are no weak spots for carbon to improve upon.

    How big your guns are
    Fit
    wheels
    tyres (and pressure)
    componentry
    frame material

    in that order.

    The tyres thing- it really is night and day. I notice a tyre/tube upgrade more than going from cheap r500 to dura ace wheels! At the extreme end like a veloflex record with a latex tube its awesome for racing. I even do my general riding on vittoria evo cx tyre with a latex tube when the weather and roads are nice. As people have said above something like the 4000s is a worthwhile investment for general riding. Gatorskins are much lower on the ride quality though, but what you lose in feel you gain in puncture proofing and longevity!

    Premier Icon DezB
    Subscriber

    I’d rather that over a cheapo carbon Planet X any day, those things are horrendously wobbly and the build quality is pants compared to a decent aluminium frame.

    Is this true?

    I’ve just gone back to my old alu frame (a Coppi with a 1″ headtube) and man, that thing accelerates up hills so much quicker than the carbon frame did. It was a quality carbon frame too (RM Solo), so I believe.

    Anyway are Planet X frames that bad?? Would I be better off going for a Scott (CR1 or Foil)?

    Sorry, semi-highjack there

    Premier Icon njee20
    Subscriber

    So decent frame on a bike that cost £600. I’d rather that over a cheapo carbon Planet X any day, those things are horrendously wobbly and the build quality is pants compared to a decent aluminium frame.

    Oh well, that’s 100% at odds to my thoughts – admittedly I’ve not ridden a Planet X, and my Allez is only A1, but it’s horrible to ride, flexy BB (not sure about front to back stiffness 😕 ) and very harsh ride quality – an impressive, if unenviable, combination!

    What do you mean by the ‘build quality’ too? Do you literally mean how the bike is bolted together? Or are we talking frame finish or what?

    Anyway are Planet X frames that bad?? Would I be better off going for a Scott (CR1 or Foil)?

    Scott/Spesh/Giant/Cannondale do prototypes, P-X do samples.

    I was interested in the N2a when they were hyping it up pre-launch. Until they wrote something along the lines of “designed using the latest aerodynamic sections”, basically admitting that despite all it’s aero claims that it has never been anywhere near a wind tunnel or even CFD software and is a bit of a guess.

    Although at the end of the day they’ll all be good enough and the money better spent on a coach, a £300 halfords special and a 3 month early season sabbatical from work in northern Italy to ride every day if you actually wanted to go quick, but on the one hand if you admit this to yourself then P-X makes sense. On the other hand you could equally be admitting your buying a road bike for emotive rather than rational reasons and you really want a Foil (or a cervelo, or a super six evo black, or a madone) in which case P-X isn’t quite as lust worthy (IMO).

    Premier Icon DezB
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    Thanks tinas… I just want it for riding to work (ie. completely rational) 🙂

    Premier Icon glenh
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    ez is only A1, but it’s horrible to ride, flexy BB (not sure about front to back stiffness ) and very harsh ride quality – an impressive, if unenviable, combination!

    Interesting, as my E5 alloy Allez is the opposite, compared to my previous alloy bike at least (trek alpha).
    It’s stiffer laterally and more comfortable.

    Premier Icon njee20
    Subscriber

    I’ve not ridden an Alpha Trek in any meaningful way, just OCLV ones, which is what I’m comparing it to. Realise it’s not apples/apples, but all carbon bikes I’ve ridden in the same price point (eg Boardman) have been closer to the Madone than the Allez.

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