Carbon vs. Alloy Frames
One of the key factors to take into due consideration when purchasing a new road bike; is the frame material of that bike. There are other factors to take into consideration but the frame composition can greatly affect the feel of the ride and longevity of the bike. Two of the most common materials used to construct newer bike models are carbon fiber and aluminum derived metal compositions. There are differences in the weights, level of fatigue accumulation, comfort and even the price of a bike which come with the different frame compositions. There are lots of benefits of carbon frames.
Benefits of Carbon Frame
Historically, the technology which initially postulated the idea of carbon framed bikes was new and as with anything new, incredibly expensive – especially in the area of experimental science. However, as methods and techniques have been refined, the cost of purchasing carbon framed bikes has begun to decrease below the price of a typical aluminum alloy bike. Conversely, whilst carbon framed bikes have tended to decrease in price (within reason), the cost to produce (which directly affects the ticket price) aluminum alloy bikes has remained fairly constant.
When it comes to the longevity of bike frames, aluminum alloyed frames have the lowest lifespan, which is (depending on the grade) approximately 10 years. On the other hand, carbon fiber bike frames have shown themselves to have the longest lifespan which has been confounded with manufacturer warranties lasting a literal lifetime. Every buyer can take many more benefits of carbon frames.
The weight of a bike is directly affected by its frame, as typically this is the heaviest part of a bike. When comparing the average weights of aluminum alloyed frames and carbon fiber frames (assuming all other factors are equal and the tubes are equil-thick), benefits of carbon frames include their weight; these are lighter due to their molecular composition. In any case, the weight of a frame will also depend on the quality of the build, in that a poorly constructed carbon fiber frame will tend to weigh more than a well-constructed aluminum alloy – there is a fine balance to reach for the perfect frame.
Irrespective of the price, longevity and weight of a frame, comfort will always remain the deciding factor for most riders. Aluminum frames are incredibly stiff, which whilst is beneficial in short sprints can become uncomfortable over longer rides. Whilst carbon fiber frames are still equally as stiff, they are manufactured with forks embedded in the frame itself which dampens the impact and constant vibrations from the road when riding allowing for a lighter and much more comfortable ride.