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Hi,

I'm looking at possibly getting new road bike. Have decided on Merida Juliet model. Spec is good on both the 94 and carbon 904. Price difference is £500+ for CF. Additionally the CF has Fulcrum wheels (though I don't know that much about wheels). Is having a carbon frame and upgraded wheels worth the extra £500? The aluminium frame has full CF fork and head tube as well as seat post. Just not too sure if CF is for me. Any help/explanations about pros/cons of having a full CF vs aluminium with carbon bits are appreciated. Thanks

22 comments

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drsupple [1 post] 2 years ago
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I went for an Alu bike with carbon fork - my garage has bikes for me, my wife and 4 kids in it, and to be honest I don't think a full carbon bike is going to be too happy being scraped by an 8 year old parking his bike. If I ever get a bigger garage, and I can ensure the frame won't get any knocks, then I'll reconsider!

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TheHatter [770 posts] 2 years ago
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I went for carbon just to see what all the fuss is about. Personally I think you get a much better deal with Alu - see if you can up the wheels for around 2-300 more if you really want to
There's a lot of nonsense talked ("soaking up road buzz", "lateral stiffness/vertical compliance" etc etc ) about how great carbon is but ultimately unless you're looking to get every possible advantage you can then it probably isnt worth it.
And If you still want to spend the money then consider buying some really top end clothing which is far easier to appreciate.

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mtbtomo [179 posts] 2 years ago
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Aluminium is having a bit of resurgence - Cannondale CAAD, Kinesis, Giant all doing frames that are almost as light as cheaper carbon frames and alledgedly aren't like harsh aluminium frames of old.

I have an alloy Giant and alloy Kinesis, having previously had carbon frames. No real reason for having alloy as opposed to carbon, just what I like the look of.

The £500 difference would allow you to buy a fairly decent set of wheels (better than the fulcrums on the carbon too) for the alloy one - and would have more effect on the ride than having the carbon frame.

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parksey [343 posts] 2 years ago
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+1 to what mtbtomo said.

I've recently bought aluminium at the same £1k price point (Trek) and am more than happy with it. Yes, you feel the road whilst riding, but no more so than similarly-priced carbon frames I've tried, and it's far from uncomfortable.

The overwhelming consensus when I was taking advice on what to buy was that, even above a grand, alu + decent groupset > carbon + cheaper groupset.

Ok, the issue here is whether to pay more for carbon rather than go alu or carbon at the same price, but if it was me then I'd probably save the money and go alu.

Have you ridden them yet?

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Colin Peyresourde [1637 posts] 2 years ago
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A good carbon bike is worth every penny. Weight and stiffness is way better. Literally, the bike floats under you.

I let my girlfriend by the bike she thought she wanted. Aluminium frame, carbon forks, a nice bike. Less than a year later she's riding full carbon and cursing me for not going to the bike shop with her.

Weight is a big issue, but carbon does absorb what some one else called road noise. The only downside in my opinion is the price.

I hear there are bad carbon bikes, but I've never ridden one.

Remember: when you want to make a commitment you do it with carbon......

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Roberj4 [214 posts] 2 years ago
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I've been running a Cannondale Caad3 for approx 15+ years from new adding a Super6 carbon four years ago. For the first time last year I felt the real benefits to carbon after a winters training/commuting meaning I was really fit and flying, the Super6 was so nice to ride finally justifying the £2700 price tag (Ultegra equipped).

The Caad3 rides just as responsive and is a joy to ride on club runs. I won't be buying another carbon frame again (do I need to - no) Aluminium is superb, bomb proof with better levels of kit per ££. I see Specialized are reinvesting in newer welding technics with Aluminium frames for 2014!!
Cannondale Caad range leads the market .Caad 9 last of the USA built frame sets 2012 if you see one second hand or the Caad 10 a mate picked one up in last years sales with Dura-ace mechanical 10 speed £1699!!!! Westbrook Cycles

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Roberj4 [214 posts] 2 years ago
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One of the biggest 'bull shit' statements manufacturers mention with their latest carbon creation is their frames are 10% lighter and stiff than last years model happens every year. Never fall for that total garbage!

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parksey [343 posts] 2 years ago
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Colin Peyresourde wrote:

A good carbon bike is worth every penny. Weight and stiffness is way better. Literally, the bike floats under you.

Fair point, but what does one class as good carbon?

Does it genuinely exist at this price point, as opposed to, say, £2k or even £3k upwards?

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pepita1 [175 posts] 2 years ago
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Thank you all for your comments. If I take the plunge and go for a new bike, I'll probably go for the Alu and upgrade wheels at some point. My old Trek Alu will be turned into an around town bike to which I will attach a rack and panniers (it has eyelets and a triple chainset).

I think what Parksey said re: "Fair point, but what does one class as good carbon?" And what is the "price point"? Does £1500 get me a good carbon frame?

Thanks

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arfa [696 posts] 2 years ago
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I commute on aluminium and ride for pleasure on carbon. No question in my mind, carbon is a smoother faster ride but I wouldn't want to hammer a crabon frame around town (one serious prang and the frame is done for).
I reckon £1500ish is a starting point to get a carbon frame and for it be worthwhile (no point in my mind buying a great frame and running an entry level groupset & wheels).
Canyon seem to be appreciated for value for money & quality but I'd look around for a 2013 clearance bargain.
Good luck !

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adamthekiwi [95 posts] 2 years ago
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There are so many variables in a bike's makeup and geometry that I personally doubt that anyone could tell the frame material in a truly blind test (and this is coming from someone with titanium, aluminium, Reynolds 853 and full carbon framed bikes). The differences in frame material characteristics are often less than the deflection of a tyre. That's not to say that there isn't a difference between aluminium frame A and carbon frame B, but that difference will not necessarily be greater than between aluminium frame A and aluminium frame C or carbon frame B and carbon frame D.

The ideal for anyone, irrespective of what or where they ride, is the bike that they love so much that they want to ride it all the time. That might be because of the way it looks, the way it feels, the looks it gets from mates, the kit on it, the paint finish, the cost, the perceived value, the name on the downtube, or any combination of all of these - whatever. Test ride as many as you can within your budget (or slightly outside it if you can). Buy the one that makes you smile the most.

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philtregear [102 posts] 2 years ago
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i love my cheap ( £400) second hand raleigh carbon bike circa 2007. it is a lovely ride, especially with mavic kysriums fitted. i also have an ali bike and a retro steel one. all are of a similar spec. i think the carbon one is best. it feels light, responsive, solid in handling and quick. that's partly me kidding myself, but i do think its better.

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wellcoordinated [201 posts] 2 years ago
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adamthekiwi wrote:

The ideal for anyone, irrespective of what or where they ride, is the bike that they love so much that they want to ride it all the time. That might be because of the way it looks, the way it feels, the looks it gets from mates, the kit on it, the paint finish, the cost, the perceived value, the name on the downtube, or any combination of all of these - whatever. Test ride as many as you can within your budget (or slightly outside it if you can). Buy the one that makes you smile the most.

..great comment!

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Shep73 [211 posts] 2 years ago
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I have a carbon road bike, I was going to get a second bike for winter, I tried the Stevens Stelvio (ali) and a Specialized Tarmac (carbon) the Stelvio felt horrible, buzzy, harsh and not comfortable when compared to my own carbon bike and I didn't feel the Tarmac was as responsive as mine either. I ride a Stevens Izoard and absolutely love it. I would look at the carbon each bike is using and research it.

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pants [218 posts] 2 years ago
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imo most people don't really need carbon frames, modern alloy frames are good enough for most of us mortals. In a interview on this website with Mike Burrows has said that it's a myth that alloy frames are harsh to ride. Listen to Mike Burrows, not people posing outside coffee shops head to toe in carbon  16

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joemmo [1146 posts] 2 years ago
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adamthekiwi wrote:

The differences in frame material characteristics are often less than the deflection of a tyre.

Exactly. The road bike industry is guilty of some horrendous pseudo scientific BS when it comes to describing the magical properties of various materials. I have yet to see a single one that puts a figure on how much vertical compliance their frame has under a given force. It would be perfectly possible to measure this but they don't because admitting that their frame only moves about 2mm would break the spell.

Love the rest of your comment Adam.

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koko56 [330 posts] 2 years ago
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My comments come from having ~ 24000km on Specialized Allez 10 and about 14000km on a Canyon CF 9 12.

Carbon is without any question more responsive, firmer but less harsh. Weight, okay a bit lighter but 1-2 kg between bikes is mountains out of molehills. What struck me in early days is how dead it felt compared to the Allez. That took a while to get used to, but in the end you get used to whatever bike you ride!

The Allez feels more alive and the flex in the frame is actually beneficial on descents and rough roads. Both bikes are fine for 200km+ though I run 25mm tires on both and 23s seemed a bit sharp for the Canyon, being honest I don't feel that surefooted with 23s on the Allez either.

Allez feels more analogue and Canyon feels more digital. From experience I also feel the more fit you are the more you will like a carbon bike whereas with aluminium it's better for starting off and while I remember the Allez feeling almost like a "noodle" as I got fitter and fitter it's in the same way as a classic sports car might feel - a bit soft and not 100% focused, a bit floaty but gives you a great feeling. The Canyon is more like F1 (sorry if too corny, but) - if you want performance carbon is the way to go, but honestly by the sound of things some of the higher end alu frames sound like they have a very good mix of both aspects that I like from the Allez and Canyon - efficient but still with a soft and familiar edge.

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Flying Scot [908 posts] 2 years ago
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Ally and carbon both break and are hard to repair when crashed.

The spec between the 2 is close mostly 105, (so that's as good as anything, if not as prestigous) the finishing kit is better in that its brand name, not generic.

Those fulcrums only usually appear on manufacturer bikes, they aren't designed as an upgrade wheel. They're only worth £130 or so, only about 50 quid more than the shimano's on the ally one which if they really do have 105 hubs,will be reasonable and rebuildable when the rims wear out.

Merida don't publish the alloy weight, the carbon is 8500grammes.

It's up to you as to what you fancy, its Ti or steel for me, but that limits your choice in female specific frames.

If you go carbon, you can always up rate it even further in the future with say Record or Dura Ace and carbon rims will be a really nice machine, whereas a specced up ally frame may leave you wondering if carbon would be faster and it leaves you wondering about another upgrade.

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Simon E [2546 posts] 2 years ago
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I have a 2007 Giant SCR (alu) and 2007 TCR (carbon). Haven't ridden them back-to-back but when I change over I can't detect any real difference. And, as someone else has said, you get accustomed to whichever you have.

Flying Scot wrote:

If you go carbon, you can always up rate it even further in the future with say Record or Dura Ace and carbon rims will be a really nice machine, whereas a specced up ally frame may leave you wondering if carbon would be faster and it leaves you wondering about another upgrade.

Maybe that nagging feeling afflicts the "if only I had a...." kind of people. Not everyone is like that. And you can pimp a bike and swap the drivetrain whatever the frame material.

I'd go for the aluminium bike, but swap the tyres for something better (the shop might even do you a deal). And if you still have a few quid burning a hole in your pocket then go for some nicer wheels in the spring. Plenty of wheel upgrade threads on the forum if you dig through.

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s_lim [168 posts] 2 years ago
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koko56 wrote:

My comments come from having ~ 24000km on Specialized Allez 10 and about 14000km on a Canyon CF 9 12.

I had an Allez 2010 bike, and when it broke, I got a Cinelli alloy bike. Massive difference between the 2, the Allez was flexy and fun, but not amazing. The Cinelli is a stiff, focused race beast, made even faster with some decent wheels. With a few upgrades, I've got the weight down to sub 8kgs. Didn't break the bank, and I'm having lots of fun with it. I don't see the need for carbon.

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koko56 [330 posts] 2 years ago
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Yeah jim exactly, more high end alu frames are good frames full stop.

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Stratman [70 posts] 2 years ago
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I ride a giant defy advanced - carbon with ultegra and giant wheels, and this week I got my 531 framed bike back, upgraded to ultegra and with Planet X ambrosio and ultegra wheels. As the steel bike was a day late, I did one commute on the giant, followed next day with the same on the steel.

The carbon is stiffer in that the bike seems to surge forward at each pedal stroke, and encouraged me to ride harder. It's at least as comfortable as the steel bike, although the new wheels have made a huge difference to it.

I'll happily ride both and enjoy both - but I'll pick the carbon for preference.