aluminium vs carbon & gears

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
AlastairS
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aluminium vs carbon & gears

Postby AlastairS » 6 Feb 2015, 8:41pm

In my LBS, comparing 3 road bikes around £1000 :
Giant TCR Advanced 3 2015, (Carbon frame , tiagra components) £1100
Giant Defy 1 (Alu. frame, 105) £899
Giant Defy 0, (Alu. frame , Ultegra) £999

the assistant recommended the Defy 1 or Defy 0 over the TCR because they have better gears. His opinion, the frame is less important (i.e. whether carbon or alu.) than the choice of gears "which you will be using all the time". I never thought of that before. Would anyone agree with the assistant ?

nicmarsh
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Re: aluminium vs carbon & gears

Postby nicmarsh » 6 Feb 2015, 9:01pm

Don't worry about it, get on a bike....any bike .... and enjoy!!

AlastairS
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Re: aluminium vs carbon & gears

Postby AlastairS » 6 Feb 2015, 9:28pm

One of the bikes I was thinking of is the Boardman Road Team, but I can't test ride that one.
I am thinking of this bike, but comparing it with other bikes e.g. Defy, specialised, etc. to me the frame looks 'fragile' and not as curvy as some other bikes.
Anyone else agree ?
This bike is carbon and has mainly tiagra gears.

Brucey
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Re: aluminium vs carbon & gears

Postby Brucey » 7 Feb 2015, 12:16am

AlastairS wrote:...the assistant recommended the Defy 1 or Defy 0 over the TCR because they have better gears. His opinion, the frame is less important (i.e. whether carbon or alu.) than the choice of gears "which you will be using all the time". I never thought of that before. Would anyone agree with the assistant ?


traditionally, that assistant would have been considered an complete idiot by most experienced cyclists; gear parts are easily changed but the frame rather less so. He may be imagining that 11s is 'better than' 10s is 'better than' 9s or something, which is basically nonsense.

If you test ride these bikes (and you should do for sure) then you will notice they all ride differently. Some of that will be in the frame, some the wheels, some the tyres (so be sure that the tyres are inflated the exact same way if you are making a comparison).

If you (say) trade a nice frameset with 9s gears for a crap (overly stiff) frame with (say) two more gears then you will have made a monumentally dumb choice IMHO. You are 'using' the frame all the time; only someone who is wet behind the ears starts thinking about their bike specification in terms of STIs or rear mech first.... :roll:

hth

cheers
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

SteveHunter
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Re: aluminium vs carbon & gears

Postby SteveHunter » 7 Feb 2015, 12:35am

It's easier to upgrade gears, but probably pointless, once you own a bike than it is to upgrade a frame, having said that do you need a carbon frame, it may be a fraction lighter but that doesn't mean it's better.
I am not familiar with the bikes in question but it's possible that Ally frame is better than what would be a low range carbon one.

What you haven't said in your post is what you plan to use the bike for, any good salesman will have asked and that may have swayed his recommendations.

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bikes4two
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Re: aluminium vs carbon & gears

Postby bikes4two » 7 Feb 2015, 7:16am

+1 for what Brucey says.

And yes, what do you want to use the bike for? Is this your first bike or do you already have some and/or have you ridden other bikes much?

In my modest collection of bikes (4 + 1 tandem), they are all different e.g. Steel, Alu, Alu/carbon forks, all carbon. The gears are all different too e.g. cheapo no-name through various Shimano to Campag Record and Rohloff. All the bikes ride well for what I got them for (otherwise I would not have them in the bike shed would I :P ).

There's every chance that what you think is right for you today will, after a while not be so and you'll be looking at something else before long. :)
Without my stoker, every trip would only be half a journey

AlastairS
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Re: aluminium vs carbon & gears

Postby AlastairS » 7 Feb 2015, 11:29am

I would use the bike for day rides at the weekend into the countryside (maybe 50miles or more, i'm 48) .
To me carbon has the reputation of being lighter and more comfortable than la. as it dampens vibration from the road, so I would up to now, choose a carbon frame bike over an aluminium frame almost regardless of the gearing used. In this case the gearing is Tiagra which as you know is not the best spec, but is I believe , generally acceptable.

Dave W
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Re: aluminium vs carbon & gears

Postby Dave W » 7 Feb 2015, 11:35am

Your money - your choice. Expensive components are great until the time comes and they have worn out then you'll wonder why they cost so much. The aluminium frame with what was it Ultegra? Is the best it will get - you won't improve it much. The carbon framed bike could be improved in time by upgrading the components - but will you ever do that?
me I'd go for the top spec aluminium bike (probably) although I ride carbon.
A lot of the reviews and write ups comparing different bikes is rollocks really. I bought a carbon Cannondale Synapse to replace my carbon Specialized Roubaix - by the time you've set them up the same there's miniscule difference - let some air out of the tyres and you'll get a 'compliant ride' pump them up hard and you'll get a harsh ride. Most of us can't tell the difference between them as far as frames go. You're generally getting what you pay for. Having said that search for last years models - you could pick up a carbon frame with 105 for the same money. I was looking at a Trek Domane in carbon just before Christmas - £700 off!!!
There's a guy in our group who gets left behind on his aluminium tri-cross - he's blamed the bike and has just bought a carbon racer. He'll still get left behind because it's his fitness that's lacking.

iandriver
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Re: aluminium vs carbon & gears

Postby iandriver » 7 Feb 2015, 1:32pm

I see you don't mention race. I don't race and no longer own a road bike. A good cylocross bike can ba just as light and fast and is a heck of a lot more flexible. With good tyre choice, a darn sight more comfortable too.
Supporter of the A10 corridor cycling campaign serving Royston to Cambridge http://a10corridorcycle.com. Never knew gardening secateurs were an essential part of the on bike tool kit until I took up campaigning.....

SteveHunter
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Re: aluminium vs carbon & gears

Postby SteveHunter » 7 Feb 2015, 2:44pm

I agree with Ian

If you're not racing get a comfortable bike.

The first bike I bought when I returned to cycling was a Specialised Allez which has Shimano 105 groupset and Mavic Aksium wheels and 23mm tyres.
My thinking was I wanted the lightest and best specced bike I could afford.

Along came winter and the need for mudguards and I discovered they don't fit very well on that bike, I also got fed up with taking it on and off the turbo trainer all the time.

I decided to get a cheap bike for the winter so bought a second hand Project X Kaffenback from the forum here. It has 28mm Gatorskins and full mudguards, and it has a steel frame.
Whether it is the frame or the tyres I don't know, but the ride is a lot more comfortable than on the Allez. I will be using this bike in the summer on the long sportive rides I plan on doing. It is slightly heavier than my Allez ( approx 1kg) but the added comfort outweighs that, and I've lost over 10kg since I started cycling so I don't think 1kg is that important.

If you are racing go for lightweight, if you want nice rides out in the country then go for comfort.

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foxyrider
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Re: aluminium vs carbon & gears

Postby foxyrider » 7 Feb 2015, 3:22pm

Some misunderstanding here perhaps.

One reason for advising the Al over the carbon is durability and in road tests the comfort of the Al Defy's has been seen as comparable to the carbon models. I think the gear thing is a red herring, thats what they are supplied with - the carbon gets a lower priced gear set but costs more, cheaper al frame gives more budget for higher spec kit.

Personally i'd prefer the Tiagra durability on a daily ride but the 'boast' allowance of running Ultegra if its a Sunday bike cannot be overlooked! :lol:
Convention? what's that then?
Airnimal Chameleon touring, Orbit Pro hack, Orbit Photon audax, Focus Mares AX tour, Peugeot Carbon sportive, Owen Blower vintage race - all running Tulio's finest!

AlastairS
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Re: aluminium vs carbon & gears

Postby AlastairS » 7 Feb 2015, 7:41pm

Hi, thanks for replies.
I tried the Giant Defy 1 (Alu. frame and 105) £900. I like it. It is comfortable and has a more upright position than a racer as it's a sportive bike.
I also tried Focus Cayo Evo 7.0 (Carbon frame and 105) £1300. I like it even more. Cycling over bumps the Focus was noticeable more comfortable than the Defy, though the Defy was comfortable. The Cayo is not a sportive bike, the ride position is lower than the Defy, but not too low I think .
If you are racing go for lightweight, if you want nice rides out in the country then go for comfort.
Ideally I would like comfort and lightweight. One bike I have been considering is the Spa Audax (10kg 105 £1050 with hand-built wheels). At the moment , it's between the Focus Cayo and the Spa Audax for me.
If I choose the Cayo, will I be able to add a Carradice Barley for things for a day ride ? It doesn't have fittings for mudguards, but I should be able to fit full length strap on mudguards - will they be good enough ? If the answers to the last 2 questions are +ve, then The Cayo could be a good choice for me. The Cayo is not a Sportive bike, the sportive one in the Focus Elgoride , maybe I should try that too before deciding. I'd be grateful for your thoughts.

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531colin
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Re: aluminium vs carbon & gears

Postby 531colin » 8 Feb 2015, 8:46am

For a 48 year old working up to rides over 50 miles, spa's Audax has something to recommend it.
Its deliberately a stable, forgiving ride....the "hop, skip, and jump" antics of the boy racers can be amusing for a ten minute test ride, but when you feel far from home, the winds got up and its started raining, a no fuss bike that will simply take you home is a delight.
Spa will build it with a triple, so you can have all the low gears you want, and if you go to Harrogate, you can have a test ride hours long, not just minutes.
I ride with lots of new/returning cyclists, and they love them.
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BigFoz
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Re: aluminium vs carbon & gears

Postby BigFoz » 8 Feb 2015, 9:07am

Limited to those 3 choices I'd take the 105 equipped bike. There is very little qualitative or longevity difference between 105 and Ultegra (Having owned both in the past). Pocket the £100 and buy some quality shorts / jacket for the 50 mile rides.

BigFoz
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Re: aluminium vs carbon & gears

Postby BigFoz » 8 Feb 2015, 9:14am

However, in reality, my actual choice would be a good quality 2nd hand steel bike with top of the range older gear on it for half the price. For example a Titanium Colnago with Campag Athena on it currently sitting at £410 on eBay, may go to around that same price point and would be 99 times the bike.

Or a new 725 framed Genesis Equilibrium at £800, 2nd hand (as new) for £450 also both found inside 2 mins on eBay