Do we need carbon?

by logic1980   July 28, 2011  

Im a very keen cyclist and looking to upgrade from my trek 1.2 and only really wanna spend upto £1500 max

so looking at whats out there it seems that shimano 105 groupo is the set most common but that as im not a racer or even in a club do i really need the stiffness of carbon against a well made aluminium frame?

obviously people going to mention titanium in there to or even a steel frame but im still after something a little racey looking if you get me.

what am i missing with the carbon?

trek 2.1 - £900
terk madone 4.5 - £1800

is it really worth the double price tag

15 user comments

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There are comfy aluminium frames and stiff, harsher-feeling carbon frames out there, they can vary a lot so the best thing would be to try a quick test ride, ideally with the same psi in the tyres and the same seat and post. Just 500yds on a rough road back-to-back will give you an idea of whether you can feel a difference or not.

Personally If i was looking for something racy around £1300-1600 I'd rather have a good alu frame and nice wheels and parts as a complete bike deal, than a budget carbon frame with compromised spec. A Cannondale alu bike would be on the shortlist. Canyon and Cube's carbon bikes look interesting too, great vfm and the frames seem to have a good reputation.

If you can stretch a bit or get a deal on the Madone that would be a good choice, Trek do make some of the better quality carbon frames.

posted by james-o [229 posts]
29th July 2011 - 10:34


I'm going to mention steel. There you go, i mentioned it.

full 105 on a fantastic frame for UK riding. You can get one for about £1100 if you shop around, leaving you £400 so spend on some nice wheels to replace the workaday RS10s it comes with.

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7857 posts]
29th July 2011 - 10:58


IMO there's no point in having carbon at all costs. I know a few people that get suckered in by very 'okay' carbon frames with a nice paint job.
That said if it's not for racing and you want a complete bike, I'd go for the best carbon framed bike with a view to upgrading parts when required. Rather than good components on a poor frame.

If it's speed your after, look at the Planet X aluminium team frame. You could build a pocket rocket around one of those.

posted by oldgit [27 posts]
29th July 2011 - 11:29


On a budget of £1500 I would not get carbon. I think carbon is great or it can be really mediocre if you get the wrong frame. Personally if you want racy I would look long and hard at something like the Cannondale Caad 10. I dont own own one but it strikes me as a quality frame and you have no worries about stiffness of a decent aluminium frame.

Oh and if you are a keen cyclist why not join a club?

posted by ilovemytinbred [164 posts]
29th July 2011 - 12:22


Seems strange that people are really against the under £2000 carbon bikes as so many big manufacturers do them but i do see your points and maybe the Ti is the way forward - or just spend my budget on the frame.

Also im not sure why i have to join a club to be classed as a keen cyclist - i enjoy jushing myself to inprove - i didnt say i was any good - lol

how much would i need to spend to get a carbon bike that people class as good

posted by logic1980 [10 posts]
29th July 2011 - 12:44


You dont need to be 'any good' to be in a club, you dont need to join a club if you dont want to. Its just nice to rock up ride with others. There are normally good riders on hand to offer advice and insight in how to become a better rider yourself or even answer questions like the one you are asking now. Its added an extra dimension to my riding and have even taken up tting ( to a very average std)

Anyway sorry to go off topic. There are decent frames to be found on bikes at the 2k mark or possibly below from places like planet x. There are also awesome Aluminium frames at this price point. Trying the bikes is important though because carbon varies A LOT in my experience. Also fit is more important than anything. It doesnt sound like you have ridden a lot of bikes yet. Get down the shop and book a few for a test ride. Try giving it a bit of welly stood up, try going round a few corners etc. I usually find one jumps out as my favourite and often its not the one I expect to like.

posted by ilovemytinbred [164 posts]
29th July 2011 - 13:20


I do agree about the club riders helping to increase my personal riding skills with their wisdom and its only as i dont have alot of time to ride due to doing a degree while in full time employment that has stopped me up to now.

your right though i have not been on many road bikes and again im sure if i was in a club i may have been let a go on a couple to see.

just not found a bike store with demo bikes of the bikes Im after or any really in my price range - seems to have to be nearer the £3k mark first.

iv got a couple of months to wait til the sales start and il see whats out there

posted by logic1980 [10 posts]
29th July 2011 - 13:42


I went through a very similar exploration recently and ended up with a 105 based CAAD10, it is a lovely bike. There are not a lot of them in the country though, similarly the Cube Agree GTC is nearly sold out too. If you can wait for the newer 2012 bikes to come in, you get more choice or the real end of summer sales if you're a common size.

I bought the CAAD10, as it is a great frame and worth upgrading with better wheels etc, carbon does seem to get into its stride around 2k

Cannondale CAAD10, Condor Terra-X and an orange Brompton.
Ride for East London Velo

zzgavin's picture

posted by zzgavin [208 posts]
29th July 2011 - 14:50


Rose do some nifty alu frames - leastways I love mine and at £1500 you're not far short of full Ultegra and some scope for a wheel upgrade.On the road and rolling at around the 8.5 kgs mark.....


cheers m'dears

2011 Rose Pro-SL 3000 Road
2006 Lemond Alpe d'Huez Broken
1997 Marin Sausaulito Urban bimbling/shopper
1980 Orbea project

daviddb's picture

posted by daviddb [132 posts]
29th July 2011 - 21:17


Do we need carbon? Usually, No.
Do we want carbon? Usually, Yes. Big Grin


rbx's picture

posted by rbx [243 posts]
30th July 2011 - 4:04


Take a look at the Ribble Cycles carbon stuff, dead reasonable price and I love mine with campag Athena 11 for £1300!!!!

andybnk's picture

posted by andybnk [99 posts]
1st August 2011 - 16:17


Delighted with my CAAD9 which I've upgraded over the months and years. Get a good frame and you've a base to build on as and when you have the cash.


posted by Psyclyst [23 posts]
1st August 2011 - 16:40


Thats a really good way of looking at it and i agree with the average joe maybe dont need carbon - but feeling like a pro puts a smaile on our faces and isnt that the whole point of none competitive cycling.

posted by logic1980 [10 posts]
2nd August 2011 - 20:26


Bear with me on this:

A friend of mine bought an Avalon guitar a while back. Cost in excess of £2000. He plays Oasis and Beatles songs (same thing I suppose) and he feels like John Lennon for the night.

He's a very average guitarist. He'll never reach an ability where he will truly appreciate the instrument. He'll never be whizzing up and down the frets, picking and sliding, bashing and banging - wringing out everything the instrument has to offer. But he feels good playing it.

A talented guitarist can make any guitar sound amazing. He can only do that though if he's playing a good set of strings and through a good amp.

When Sean Kelly was asked "what's the best bike you ever had" he answered "The one they paid me the most to ride".
Sean Kelly had the ability to make any bike 'go', but that was largely dependent on a good groupset & wheelset.

Personally I haven't the ability to ever appreciate what a £4000 bike has to offer. I can appreciate a good Titanium frame with a good groupset/wheelset though - that's about my level.

Do we (average Joes) need carbon? Probably not. But it just might make you feel like John Lennon on a Sunday morning.


_SiD_'s picture

posted by _SiD_ [181 posts]
3rd August 2011 - 20:50


There is a difference between buying something very expensive because it is substantially better than the cheaper alternatives that are more suited to your level of skill, in order to make you feel good, and buying something only marginally better than the cheaper alternatives, but hyped up by the marketing departments of the manufacturers, and the journalists who review them. The former is rather a hollow form of fulfilment, but if that's all you can get, fair enough. The latter qualifies you for a lifetime membership of Suckers Anonymous, and serves to perpetuate the already dangerous levels of hype in our society.

posted by handlebarcam [545 posts]
4th August 2011 - 18:56