Ask Pinkbike: Carbon or Aluminum, Norco Sight or Optic?

Apr 4, 2017
by Pinkbike Staff  
Ask Pinkbike Header

Here at Pinkbike we get inundated with all kinds of questions, ranging from the basic "Can I have stickers" to more in-depth, soul searching types of queries like if you should pop the question or what to name your first child. Ask Pinkbike is an occasional column where we'll be hand picking and answering questions that have been keeping readers up at night, although we'll likely steer clear of those last two and keep it more tech oriented.

Carbon or Aluminum YT?

Question: @wrymn asks in the All Mountain, Enduro & Cross-Country forum: Is it worth spending more money for carbon MTB over an aluminum one? The advantage would be 800 grams lighter and some vibration resistance, and a tiny bit better parts. The cost difference is 800 Euro. I have not ridden full suspension, nor any carbon bike, so I seek advice of more experienced users. I ride XC and trails several times a week (20km+). The choices: YT Jeffsy CF One (carbon) or YT Jeffsy AL One (aluminum).

bigquotesBuy the carbon version if you have the expendable cash. If there were no price difference between carbon and aluminum frames, aluminum mountain bikes would be extinct, except for those built by bike makers, or for customers who adhere to religious beliefs about the cosmic virtues that steel and aluminum bestow upon otherwise ordinary fabricated structures. There is also a real need for designers to quickly cob up test mules to try new geometry or suspension configurations, and metal makes that an easier task.

Inflammatory statement, perhaps, but carbon's immense strength-to-weight ratio over steel or aluminum alloys provides frame designers more options to build in durability, strength, stiffness and yes, impact resistance, than are available when using metals at similar weight targets. Top designers who work in both mediums will tell you that they can make an aluminum chassis that will approach the performance of a carbon version, but the cost to construct that metal wonder would also match its carbon sibling. (Liteville furnishes an excellent example.)

Carbon requires more up-front engineering and testing, but once it is in production the frames come out of a mold perfectly aligned and close to completion. That accurate alignment is paramount for suspension components. If a weakness appears, extra carbon can be layered in that area, or the mold can be altered to provide strength. And, if a lighter version is desired, less material can be used. Carbon composite is wonderfully resistant to chemicals and weather, and when stored, it sits in rolls in a freezer.

By contrast, aluminum frames are assembled from a number of forged, bent, butted and manipulated pieces which must be pre-manufactured for each frame size, which adds to delivery times. And, the parts are melted together, barbecued in a furnace, and then bent into alignment, which creates production variables. Aluminum frame makers err towards heavier weights because, if a problem arises or a change is required, new tubes or forgings must be manufactured, and lead times for a fix often exceed the effective model year of the product.

There are places on a mountain bike where aluminum or steel are better applications, but apples to apples - comparing two high-end frames from a reputable bike maker (like your YT Jeffsy) - the only reason to buy an aluminum framed version is to spend significantly less money, knowing that you will be riding the same geometry and enjoying nearly the same performance as the carbon version delivers. Aluminum is the better value. Carbon is the better performer. 

YT Jeffsy CF One
Carbon framed YT Jeffsy CF One 29
YT Jeffsy AL One
Aluminum framed YT Jeffsy AL One 29

Norco Optic or Sight?

Question: @tomerzaz asks in the All Mountain, Enduro & Cross-Country forum: I'm looking to buy a new mountain bike and I've always been a Norco guy. I'm weighing my options between the Sight or the Optic. I've tried the 29er Optic but didn't love it so sticking with 650b and most likely aluminium rather than carbon. I mostly ride technical, man made, rooty, North Shore type of riding. Anybody have experience with either? Any opinion is much appreciated.

bigquotesAlthough they may look similar from a distance, there are several key differences between the Norco Optic and the Sight. The amount of travel is the most obvious one – the Optic has 120mm of rear travel that's paired with a 130mm fork, while the Sight has 140mm of rear travel and a 150mm fork. Will the Sight's extra 20mm of squish be noticeable out on the trail? Absolutely. It'll help smooth out some of those rooty, technical trails you mentioned, and there will be extra travel in reserve to help out on those really big hits.

Of course, both bike can handle technical trails, but for the type of riding you described I'd steer you towards the Sight. The longer travel and the slacker head angle (66.5 vs. 68-degrees) help create a bike that feels more stable and composed at higher speeds and on steeper terrain. You might lose a little bit of liveliness when you're poking around on flatter trails, but the Sight's still a very well-rounded bike that's doesn't sacrifice too much on the climbs or the descents. 
Mike Kazimer

Norco Optic C7.1 2017
The 27.5" Norco Optic has 120mm of rear travel and a 130mm fork...
Norco 2017
...and the 27.5" Sight has 140mm of travel and a 150mm fork. The carbon models are shown, but there are aluminum versions of both.

Have some unresolved tech questions? Jump in the Pinkbike Forum and we'll look to answer it for next time.


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 Grabs popcorn.
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 grabs keyboard.
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 @kanasasa: we found donald trump guys
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 Grabs the cat.
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 @adrennan: Logged in on mobile just to upvote this post.
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 @BaeckerX1: I literally, not figuratively, leaned over and picked up my cat right after posting that. She started purring and we were both happy!
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 @XCMark: I was talking about the Trump comment. Pure gold. Ha.
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 Grabs toilet paper.
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 Grabs jizz sock... wait wut???
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 If you had an aluminum bike, and a carbon bike side by side, and gave each one a solid whack with a hammer, then asked which one I'd prefer to ride down A-Line - I'd take the alloy thanks.

This is the reality for most people out there who can't afford to replace their carbon bike every time they crash it, every alloy bike I own (5 in total) has at least one dent in it, and is fine.

I'll keep my antiquated technology, thanks.
  • 116 2
 No you want 4130 steel.. and a new hammer Smile
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flag Wouldhaveletmego (Apr 4, 2017 at 13:49) (Below Threshold)
 Your comment made no sense. If you whack the frames with a hammer it's the aluminum one that will break. With carbon, you buy one frame and it will be tough enough to where you dont have to replace it after a crash like can happen with aluminum. Did you even read the article?
  • 61 3
 Is this accurate? I remember a video where a guy was trying to destroy a carbon frame with a hammer and couldn't make a dent in it?
  • 83 5
 You should probably watch this video, especially the end.
  • 44 1
 If someone was GIVING you a new YT and you could choose between carbon and aluminum frame, which would you choose? That being said, my carbon bike has zero dents in it, and is fine.
  • 45 2
 @laynehip: Hammers probably wouldn't do much to it. Scraping them on sharp jagged rocks - you know, as opposed to riding your bike down a mountain of hammers - would probably result in a different outcome
  • 123 4
 Every alloy bike you own has at least one dent in it, and is structurally weaker because of it, ready to fail at the most inopportune moment. Stop hitting your bikes with hammers.
  • 31 1
 @benman3000: the only thing I don't get about that video is...

I had to destroy a carbon Nomad 3 frame (for warranty's sake - they gave me the choice of mailing it to them or cutting out the BB area and sending them a photo). Before I cut the BB out with a hacksaw, I smashed it multiple times into a curb the same as in the video - on the downtube. I did carbon damage with just a few hard whacks. I don't know why this video doesn't show the same thing. Not to say carbon is or isn't stronger, just that when I smashed my carbon Nomad against a concrete corner, I was able to really damage it.
  • 17 20
 The advantage of aluminum is this, that can dented. Carbon always breaking.
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 @benman3000: That was the video that convinced me to buy a V10!
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flag whitebullit (Apr 4, 2017 at 14:24) (Below Threshold)
 RC was looking to start some shit with that one... carbon doesnt and never will make sense to me, id cringe everytime i had to press in/out a headset, and pressfit bb's are BS. The main issue for me is the nature of carbons strength compared to aluminum, torsional rigidity is my main concern. Bikes flex, its what happens when multiple moving parts are bolted together and then ridden like a banshee downhill at mach chicken... and when your flexing that rear end and nailing rock gardens with super stiff carbon, something has to give somewhere. Aluminum handles the torsional flex much better, im really surprised at how bias RC is about carbon.
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flag RedBurn (Apr 4, 2017 at 14:40) (Below Threshold)
 @benman3000: yeah but its santa cruz you pay the price .... i would be curious to watch the same tests with Kona carbon and aluminium bikes ... Big Grin their safety coefficients arent the same in the bike's design thats sure ..
  • 34 14
 If carbon was the super strong material it is claimed to be, why are 99% of rear triangles on FS bikes built out of aluminum?

Also, since we are posting videos...
  • 13 3
 @Thustlewhumber: You have a point about the rear triangles, but there are prob a lot of factors that play into that, manufacturing, cost etc. But I don't think the 99% figure is even close to accurate, it might be 50%.
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 I can only speak from my personal experience. I have crashed my carbon frames countless times and have never broken one. I have cracked 2 aluminum frames.
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Click to 5 minutes to see a real life "solid whack with a hammer" test. Or watch the whole video, its cool! Then say again you prefer alloy...
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flag spaceofades (Apr 4, 2017 at 14:59) (Below Threshold)
 @RedBurn: kona doesn't make many carbon bikes; the ones that are tend to be less aggressive trail bikes.
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flag carbonbootprint (Apr 4, 2017 at 15:04) (Below Threshold)
 @Wouldhaveletmego: Are you retarded?
  • 26 1
 @Thustlewhumber: Odd, my rear triangle is made out of carbon. I must finally be a member of the 1%.
  • 5 2
 Why not both?

I want a steel HT frame with carbon protection plates.

I want an alloy FS frame with carbon protection plates.
  • 4 0
 @Thustlewhumber: That is my 7 year old son's favorite video, he now says "that's really disappointing" to everything. I'm kind of surprised that video hasn't become a meme and they rider isn't famously known as the "it broke guy" Razz
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 @Thustlewhumber: a lot of the reason behind aluminum rear ends comes down to flex as well. Please note that the spec ed has an interrupted seat tube (only on one side) to increase the tracking of the bike as a different layout may be too stiff to track. Also a lot of companies are rolling out bikes with a carbon seat stay but aluminum chain stay as chipping is less of an issue with alu over carbon. That being said if you sent alu or crack carbon neither frame is safe. (Most dents tend to be close to the stearer where there is a lot of force just waiting to exploit that thinner section.)
  • 7 3
 After cracking my rear triangle at a weld (welding aluminum makes it weaker, unlike steel) I picked up a full carbon bike in 2014. One very deep scratch on the chainstay and a little eggshell smah on the downtube and it's still hasn't failed. Best part of all, carbon can be repaired, 90% of aluminum is replaced.
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 Yeah if you can break a decent carbon frame with a normal hammer you've been going to the gym
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 @gumbytex: And I'm guessing that you wouldn't have ridden it after, with aluminium you could at least get out of the woods.

Ok the videos show the carbon (basically fiberglass) takes more load in a straight plain, fine as long as it doesn't take a hit that fractures fibres which you can't see, carbon needs to be reinforced overbuilt so impacts will not cause structural failure, so it ends up not being much lighter than aluminium, and at a huge premium.

There are lots of places carbon is great, but for bashing around rocks I don't think so, maybe if you sell it to someone else after 2yrs.
And I think the big push for carbon Is because the cost per frame will be much less to produce in the future, than aluminium. my 2cents
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 @lake-st: Did you watch the end of the video?
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 @lake-st: Unless you factor in fatigue life. In general an aluminum bike won't last as long as a carbon one in just normal riding. Impact resistance will depend on manufacturing.
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 @benman3000: The only company I'd buy carbon from because those videos.
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 @jgreermalkin: Yup sure did, carbon is shit for impacts, if you like having to x-ray your bike after a tumble down a rock pile, be my guest.

Carbon is way more expensive right now, and he Mfgs are still trying to figure quality control since they have 100th of the budget of people who know carbon fibre.

I won't say never but at this point, not for me.
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 @BaeckerX1: Like I said carbon is great, for road bikes, hockey sticks, and stuff that needs to flex.

Why start with a material that has limited impact strength for the intended use and then have to armour it to protect it.

I'm not bashing carbon I have lots of carbon sports gear
  • 5 1
 @Thustlewhumber: Anecdotally, I have a carbon Stumpjumper that has an alloy rear end. I've broken my seatstay, but never the front triangle.
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 @whitebullit: Mommy I'm confused! Please Pinkbike, tell me what to do!
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That one never gets old Thustleweiner!

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You nailed it drugsy!

Like those crappy trail bikes that Aggie and Fearon poke around the mountain on!
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 @gticket: yeah I was surprised to demo a Bronson with a 'substantial' hole in the carbon under the down tube from a rock strike or something. The shop dude in Moab informed me it was 'cosmetic' and the bike was still for sale. What the hell, I thought. The thing still rode well and was stiff as a poker. Don't know if they ever managed to sell it but it still rode really damn well with a crack in the downtube. Crazy I thought.
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 @lake-st: more about the extra margin now than the potential lower cost in the future. The industry's allz about now now now.
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 @Thustlewhumber: lack of R&D
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 I just finally replaced the rear triangle on my Wreckoning that I Smashed on a tree in Thailand while on vacation 5 weeks ago. If it had been an alloy bike my vacation would have been over. But the carbon held on through 3 weeks of brutal dh riding with a 4 in crack on the top of the seat stay and a 3 in crack on the bottom. The side was soft enough to flex by hand but it didn't affect the ride at all. An aluminum frame would have folded around that tree but the carbon held its own. I do own alloy bikes with dents in them, yes. But they terrify me. I'm pretty sure the cycles to failure of alloy is much less than carbon these days. Also, anybody want a good deal on a 2012 Dixon?
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 No coments about recycling either. What can you do with all those broken carbon bits? Next PB insider article should be a carbon graveyard...
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 @bat-fastard: Whacks frame with hammer, hammer bounces back to forehead,spends $2000 on helmet
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I've had to bail my bike a few time's when i have approached a jump way to fast, the bike has flown into trees, rocks, and i have a few dents in it. I've also did one slapshot with my brand-new hockeystick made out of carbon, it went POFF, and there went my 220 bucks up in smoke.. Now, i know you don't ride a stick down trails och slapshop with a chainstay, but still..
  • 2 3
 Each material has its own benefits. Aluminium is great but its soft - it dents very easily, My carbon enduro frame has taken numerous rock hits with a few paint chips to show for it. My Aluminum AM bike had numerous dents instead. Aluminium also hates to be abraded - probably more so than carbon. Have a look at an ali frame where a cable has rubbed - if you leave it a hole would probably form. Also, carbon can be repaired - its composite, like an airplane component or race car wing. My frame was damaged in a bike bag. I simply applied some resin to seal the area that had been scored by the cassette. A broken ali frame is a throw away in most cases.
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 @Dethphist: i would hazard a guess and say the vast majority of frame failures are the rear tri. Every frame ive ever broken (3 - one steel, one alu, one scandium) or seen broken (including lots of carbon) has been a cracked rear triangle.
  • 5 1
 @robaussie99 - The problem with your argument is which part of which make of a frame would you hit with that hammer? Let's say we take alu and carbon Jeffsy. If you give a nice hit to the bottom of the top tube or the inside of the seat stay - yea, I take alu. But if you senslessly hammer the sht out of the down tube, I will gladly take the carbon. Because by the time you'll have a wide open hole in the aluminium downtube, the carbon will still be barely delaminated. If you hit the top tube of UNNO or Antidote, I will still take them over most alu frames on the market.

Hit resistance of carbon comes from how well it is made, from what sort of material and how thick it is. Are there any air pockets in the resin making it act like two thin layers instead of one fat layer? This is why carbon rims for MTB are fkng stupid, because while they are plenty strong and will take a car crash to get out of true, they are fragile for hits. In order to make them hit resistant you need to add much more material than it is necessary to take forces acting on the wheel, in result making them almost as heavy as MUCH cheaper quality aluminium rims. A truly solid carbon rim for Trail/Enduro or Downhill is barely40g lighter than it's aluminium counter part that can also take looots of abuse.

"Which one is ultimately better Carbon or Alu?" argument is flawed. Like any other one of that kind, which wheel size, HT of FS, plus or regular and os on and so on. It depends is a very uncomfortable way to look at the world, it would be nice to just check out a box: "carbon is better but more expensive" and forget about it, just move on with life. But it isn't so.
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 @WasatchEnduro: Ya I noticed how all the Pros are riding the shit out of 3-4 year old bikes like the rest of the world.
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 @jgreermalkin: That is a great video...for showing what happens when a company does not spend enough time or money engineering and testing their product. Don't blame the ingredients, blame the cook.
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 @GRMTBR: We must be talking about a different video.
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Shuttling laps with my semipro crew
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 @Thustlewhumber: carbon fiber presents much of its advantage when dealing with larger, more open shapes (think HT/DT/TT junction or BB area). Was we deal with smaller, tighter shapes and need to build in fittings for suspension hardware, brake mounts, etc the advantages of carbon lessen as production cost (more small, intricate moulds, intricate layup of smaller sheets of carbon) increases.

Santa Cruz uses carbon rear end because the entire rear triangle is one piece. Specialized rear triangle is 3 pieces and the cost-benefit numbers just aren't there for most of their frames to have carbon rear ends.
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 @jgreermalkin: I was trying to reply to @thustlewhumpers post sharing this video...
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 @GRMTBR: You can reply to specific comments at the bottom of each block. You will know you are responding to the correct comment because the comment will start @"The user I am trying to respond to"
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 @sambs827: Interesting points on the 1-piece vs 3-piece rear. Maybe why big S only goes full carbonium on S-werks models.

But as production cost increases, it's just passed on to the consumer, so no big deal to the brand as long as they can sell 'em right? Also, is that $1,000 extra that the consumer pays the same as the extra cost to the brand? If it were me I'd build in a higher margin on the carbon frame vs aluminum, plus it'll likely be a higher spec model that I can make more on too. Of course then we're reaching $5k msrp which is what we're all (at least me) bitching about, though we know why they're charging that much..... because people will pay it.
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 I got a 2012 Trek session 9.9 (first year for that bike) I bought it used from the Whistler gravity camp. It already had a hard year of riding with a collapsed rear wheel and and scratched up fork. I learned on that bike and had a few good crashes in the bike park. I have put at least 50 days in the Whistler bike park in it and Ride every trail in the park now. I weigh 185 lb and am 6'2. The bike is hard as nails, will be hitting crab apple hits with it this year with not a worry in my mind that the carbon frame will hold up

Carbon for life!
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 @Andrewlunka: nobody said it would explode. Just like you can't say if alu Session wouldn't hold up just as long. So regardless of the material your frame is made of, it is nice to hear that you own a bike you like and that it helds up to quite impressive abuse. Nothing more to say but good luck with progress, stay injury free and keep kicking!
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 @RichardCunningham, it's not the first time I have read about the wonders of carbon here or seen people link to the Santa Cruz or Enve testing videos to prove their points. The fact is, carbon has significant disadvantages and leaves many reasons to choose aluminium. You may prefer carbon fibre, there's nothing wrong with that, but to pretend that there is no disadvantage other than cost is incorrect and misleading. Add to that your statements on manufacturing methods and it almost appears that you are purposefully using emotive language to mislead people.
1. Carbon fibre is expensive - we agree on this one.
2. Carbon fibre manufacturing is more inconsistent than metals - this affects both the strength and toughness of carbon components and even the accuracy of frame alignment. Manufacturing of metals is much better understood and more consistent. There is nothing wrong with heat treatment ("baked in a furnace"), and we are very good at welding ("melted together") and understand the mechanisms of both extremely well.
3. Carbon fibre has poor impact resistance - an impact is not a dynamic load (what the Enve video shows) an impact is when it gets hit. It is especially vulnerable to point loading - like hitting rocks. The damage is not always visible (see 4.)
4. When carbon fibre is damaged, it's hard to tell - its structural integrity is difficult to assess. Visual inspection is insufficient, you can't see an internal delamination, ultrasound or similar techniques are required to be sure. You can get your bike checked after every big crash or season, but at $300 a pop. How many poor mountain bikers are going to do that?
5. Carbon fibre cannot currently be recycled - everyone has to make a personal decision about this one. I have a fairly horrible carbon footprint but that doesn't mean I have to make it worse by choosing products which will definitely end in landfill.
I'm not saying that carbon fibre is a terrible product, and if people really want it then who am I to stop them. I just ask that Pinkbike helps people make informed decisions based on facts rather than personal opinions or what some carbon manufacturer has told you.
  • 26 5
 You had me going there, but then I saw your username and just went back to carbon worshipping.
  • 24 1
 Many good points, especially number 2. I rolled my eyes when I read the "melted together, baked in a furnace" part. You could probably make the carbon production process sound pretty low tech if you dumbed down the language.. "glued together plastic bits, blow up a balloon inside the mold," etc..
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 @dmn89: I work in the tooling industry, and here's how I explain what we do to non tech people:

Composites are like kindergarten papier mache. Rags and glue pressed into a mold, with some time (and heat) the mixture hardens into the shape of the mold. Tooling is the mold, carbon fiber fabric is the rag, epoxy is the glue.

Pretty low tech sounding to me.
  • 5 3
 @CaptainBLT: Low tech seems to be doing well on the WC DH circuit.
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 @CaptainBLT: Lol I thought about making the comparison to paper mache actually but I thought that might be taking it too far
  • 15 1
 RC's reply is a consumerist propaganda and makes me seriously question other content on PB. There are people who buy aluminum that is more expensive then carbon. Omitting questions like carbon fibre recycling and time off the bike in case you have to examine the frame for damages is just irresponsible. I don't think it is okay to support flooding of forums with topics titled "Here is a chip on my carbon frame, is it okaaay? Can I still ride iiit?"

If there is a crack on an aluminum frame, it is unridable. Period. But if there is even a chip of paint on a carbon one... Good luck figuring out what the reason is and good luck with the company's customer support, like in these random forum topics here in Germany
  • 6 1
 Good summing up! I agree with all of that and am disappointed that Mr Cunningham toes the industry line. Here's a quote from Dirt magazine from a review of a steel FS frame built in the UK:

"The same rules apply to steel as they do to any other mtb frame material be it aluminium or carbon, and that is that the material alone does not make a great bike. And equally, don’t always equate material with performance."

Surely something like this is a better summing up and may have been a more considered answer for pinkbike to give?

Full article:
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 Okay, so carbon is low tech and "simple" because it can be compared to paper mache . Welding pipes together is better because it involves all sorts of other well understood engineering processes and has been done for a long time. Ummm, okay...., actually no.

I guess composite airliners, cars and lots of other things are all low tech too? You can internet search numerous tales of cracked and failed aluminium frames. Over here, Scott developed a very bad rep because their first Genius frames cracked all the time. I was on a ride when a friend cracked his. Based on this I should have never bought another aluminium frame, but I did. The same applies to certain carbon products no doubt.

Occam's Razor applies - what is simpler (carbon mache) is often better. I'd buy another carbon frame tomorrow. I doubt I'll need to because the current one is holding up to all sorts of abuse rather well...
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 @Skinnyman: I'm right there with you Skinny. RC's propaganda-like response comes across as if it was lifted from a Special-Ed Powerpoint explaining to the Special-Ed minions how to sell carbon over alloy.

Now we have that out of the way, let's focus on one part of one sentence in RC's response, "If there were no price difference between carbon and aluminum frames, aluminum mountain bikes would be extinct..." I'm not going to debate extinction because they may or may not be true. BUT what RC nor the industry will share with us is how close the cost of carbon and aluminum really is today. The Norco guys touched upon it in the article about the development of their new DH sled.

The approximate $1000 difference between the same carbon and aluminum frame is artificial. It's a delta to create separation between the materials/models because the bike industry has nowhere to go currently.

As another commenter suggests, "I cannot wait to see what's after carbon". Both you and the industry. I'm not a betting man, but I would put good money on if the industry as a whole saw a 10%-15% drop in sales (say all dentists move onto kiteboarding), we would see the price gap between carbon and alloy close very quickly. All we have to do is look at the decline of golf and see the impact on product pricing.

FWIW, I've owned a number of alloy and carbon bikes and am currently on carbon. I'm a fan of both materials but what I don't support is the propaganda the industry and the media (and now Pinkbike) spew upon us in this regard.
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 @WasatchEnduro: that'd be a more fair point if the average rider has access to replacement frames, training frames, and a personal mechanic.
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 @beast-from-the-east: I am my own mechanic and I beat the hell out of my one and only frame and so far I haven't needed to buy a training frame or a replacement frame. I think you'll find that the WCDH guys don't break carbon frames very often either.
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 @headshot: How do you examine the frame for internal delaminations? How do you know it would not snap the next time you "beat the hell" out of it? Are you sure the WC frames are multiple-use and do not get swapped after a race? Are you sure they have not been strenghtened for a particular rider for instance?

Composites have a place in airliners for a reason: they allow humid air inside the cabin and save significant amounts of fuel in all scenarios. For 99% of bike riders composites provide no significant advantages over aluminum.
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 @Skinnyman: I leave my tinfoil hat at home, don a helmet and go ride my bike. If it breaks it breaks. Its not a motorcycle or a plane, so the results of the failure will probably not be life threatening.

As far as the advantages to me as an average rider - well the same frame I ride in aluminium felt like a boat anchor, so I bought the lighter carbon version.

As far as the WCDH is concerned - how do you know they do get strengthened frames or aren't used multiple times?

I think that what you forget is bike companies want a good name to keep selling bikes - if carbon was rubbish and broke all the time they'd have warranty claims and little customer faith in their products. The opposite appears to be true looking at the amount of carbon on the road and trail these days.
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 @headshot: >> the results of the failure will probably not be life threatening

It's funny because every bike manual I've seen so far has explicitely stated that frame failures can be life-threatening. If 800g turns a bike into a boat anchor for you and you are not concerned about safety when riding it... then my understanding of "beating the hell of" might be different.

>> how do you know they do get strengthened frames or aren't used multiple times?

I don't, that's why I'm asking you. I have not seen any used frames being prepped for a race when I roamed the pits once. They looked factory-new at least.

>> if carbon was rubbish and broke all the time they'd have warranty claims and little customer faith in their products

A vast majority of riders barely pushes any of the bike's limits. And warranty period is usually quite short. And I see a lot of random posts on forums where people complain about their carbon frames, but probably they are willing to sacrifice reliability for not riding an anchor or whatever.
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I specifically recall a post or article in which the Giant DH teams bikes were discussed and the writer was amazed at how beaten up they were, the chainstays in particular. I agree however that the bikes all look beautiful and new in the pit pics I have seen.

My version of "beating the hell out of" is weighing 87kg, riding dh tracks and black AM trails including lots of rock gardens and casing jumps ( I'm not a very good rider sadly) and drops to flat and doing that 2-3 times a week for 2 years ( on the current frame). So far so good.

That said, perhaps my old bike being ridden thousands of KM is a better indication of carbon durability than the WC DH circuit?

For the record, I am not a carbon nerd - my frame was bought old stock for a song ( the price was a major consideration for me) and I'd happily buy another alloy bike. My experience with the carbon frame has been very good and I base my opinions on that experience. I have been on 2 rides with friends who cracked their alloy frames en route and had to can the ride. So far I haven;t seen this happen to a carbon bike :-) It hasn't put me off alloy however...
  • 2 0
 @headshot: A frame under a pro rider can start looking beaten up after a few days and Giant DH bikes have aluminum chainstays.

>> That said, perhaps my old bike being ridden thousands of KM is a better indication of carbon durability than the WC DH circuit?

Usually that is not the case :-)

So the main argument to go carbon is weight, right? And you weight 87kg. So the difference between alu and composite frame is less then 1/100th of your weight. I would say this is negligible and certainly does not turn a bike into an anchor. I am also basing my opinion on personal experience. I have never seen any frame fail - be it carbon or alu. But the fact is that for an average consumer it is way easier to safety-check an alu frame and you do not pollute the planet with non-recyclable trash.
  • 2 2
 @Skinnyman: I keep my bikes for years and years and if this frame fails, I'll keep it as an ornament - promise:-)
  • 5 5
 incompetentboob. Carbon technology has progressed beyond the present assumptions. Impact resistance, compression strength, survival when a part of the structure has been compromised, repeatable manufacturing processes - it's all off the shelf technology now. Bike makers have the choice to use it. I would suggest that carbon, at the heavier weights of an aluminum chassis could humble the implied attributes of a metal frame. Few customers, however, would be willing to pony up for the cost difference.
  • 4 0
 @RichardCunningham: 1) How should the owner inspect the carbon frame for structural integrity?
2) What is the industry's idea of recycling carbon fiber?
  • 1 0
 @headshot: I'm not arguing for or against a carbon frame. But a pro rider would get a replacement frame from their sponsor if they broke their main racing frame -- so its hard to compare their situation with an average rider. WCDH puts huge stress on replaceable frames. Average joes put less stress on much less replaceable frames.
  • 1 0

Not really.

Do the pros ride a new frame every race?

Can a company risk the damage to their brand image and riders with a cracked carbon frame during a race run?
  • 4 0
 @WasatchEnduro: you don't have to convince me, I was just making the point you can definitely make cutting edge materials science sound low tech. Carbon bike frames are relatively easy compared to aerospace anything.

Carbon Al or Steel comes down to personal preference and willingness to pay for performance. I guarantee everyone here can see some benefit from better equipment, but the vast majority of riders would get more out of a $1000 on lessons than on saving 2lbs from their frame. My 2 cents.
  • 2 0
 @WasatchEnduro: Probably not, but at the end of the day a pro WC rider has different considerations of cost, weight/performance, maintenance and durability than most everyone else. Maybe lightweight frames designed to be raced for a season aren't the best option for a broke park rat who can only replace a bike every 3+ years.
Just think that needs to be remembered when someone says, its good for the pros therefore good for me.
  • 2 0

Think you have the best point so far, a grand dropped on lessons would be of far far greater benefit then a few grams to vast majority of riders.

However I feel the need to weigh in as a shop tech, in terms of carbon frame accuracy, we reject over a 3rd of the carbon frames we have in for imperfections, and that includes some very very 'high end' brands, not just brands we supply but out of bow bikes for customers. We won't release a bike unless we believe it to be 100% of what It could be, by comparison we reject only a small amount of aluminium frames, and no steel or titanium to date. Its also amazing how many high end bikes we see from other suppliers that wouldn't live up to your standards for a new bike.

And these 'mail order' brands are just making things worse.
  • 1 0
 @bxxer-rider: Are you saying there's a quality difference for the mail order brands? Just askin' as i'm seeing people i know switch to YT, and I assume Canyon soon too.
  • 7 1
 @RichardCunningham: thanks for your reply however your statements are again misleading. Yes, you now have a bunch of contract manufacturers in China making carbon fibre structures. Does this mean the materials science has changed? No. The material still has inherent drawbacks. Saying repeatability is no longer an issue is the wildest alternative fact I've heard in a while and that is in this time of alternative facts Smile Even the top guys have problems with this. Perhaps you should go down to Seattle and talk to the guys involved with the Dreamliner. Ask them what the variance on resin usage is, or what they think of the material choice in general. Best case scenario you'll find mixed feelings.

You also fail to address recycling. Again, I believe a not insignificant point. People have linked to articles mentioning recycling programs but have either not read or not understood what happens. Firstly, most carbon fibre waste does not get recycled, especially not in China. About 30% of the raw material becomes waste (offcuts etc.). Of the finished product around one third to half of the carbon fibre composite is resin. To recycle carbon fibre they strip the resin from the fibres and dispose of it (burning or landfill). They then chop up the fibres to be used again in other types of carbon fibre constructions. So even if it gets recycled, you are only getting a bit of it back. This is unlikely to change in the near future.

As I said, I'm not a carbon fibre hater, if people want it for whatever reason good for them. However, it is undeniable that there are significant issues with it and people should be making educated decisions. For a reminder, just look at your own test bikes, or have you already forgotten about the Sender or particularly the SB6c?

Summary: is carbon fibre junk? No. Is your carbon fibre bike just waiting in your garage to kill you? No. Did carbon fibre cause Trump to be elected? No. Are there issues with using carbon fibre to make bikes? Yes. Are these issues significant? Yes. Do publications such as Pinkbike have a moral and journalistic responsibility to make people aware such issues, enabling them to make informed decisions? Yes.
  • 2 0
 The article sure seems to start with a lot of pro-carbon bike hype only to be followed by:

" the only reason to buy an aluminum framed version is to spend significantly less money, knowing that you will be riding the same geometry and enjoying nearly the same performance as the carbon version delivers"

I can think of a few other reasons to choose aluminum frames over carbon but I think this one will be sufficient for many who don't always need to have the ultimate performance at any cost. Fortunately, I've only had one MTB frame failure in many years of riding. It was a handmade steel frame with many miles of hard use (crack on down tube near head tube).

As much as I like to drool over some of the carbon options out there (Evil, Unno,...), I'll keep smiling on my handmade aluminum frame for now and will likely buy another at some point - a Guerilla Gravity would be nice. I'm definitely not ruling out a carbon splurge but it would really need to be a must have checks all boxes type bike.
  • 1 0
 I see a gap in the market for carbon recycling. How about grinding it down and using it as some kind of composite powder to add to resin - you know molded carbon fiber components?

Does anyone know what the actual mortality rate is on carbon frames - how much junk is the cycle industry putting out there?
  • 1 0
 @headshot: There is no gap really - there are companies that try to recycle carbon fibre and from what I know BMW is working closely with them, but this process is extremely ineffecient compared to aluminum recycling. First, resin and fibres loose some of their properties during recycling and second, you need a lot of energy for that process. And mortality rate seems to be pretty high, taking into account the comment above about the quality issues of brand-new frames.
  • 55 2
 buy the aluminium bike and spend the 800 difference on coke and strippers,
  • 8 1
 or a weekend on the bikepark
  • 1 5
flag bridgermurray (Apr 4, 2017 at 18:45) (Below Threshold)
 @JoseBravo: or heroin
  • 18 1
 As a responsible member of the community I feel like I should step in here. Always make sure you buy diet Coke as there is just too much sugar in the regular kind. Also, if you need to remove wall paper do your research on suitable strippers as some just really aren't up to the task.
  • 2 0
 @bigtim: also, some commercial grade strippers produce toxic chemicals and should only be handled by professionals.
  • 46 6
 Everyone who believes carbon is carbon and there aren't many variables in frame construction go vist Raoul Luescher or Luescher teknik youtube channel and instagram. Carbon has superior strength to weight ratio that is correct. What isn't is that we are not comparing two tubes being bent by some jig in the lab. We are comparing a fricking bicycle frame made in certain technology by a certain group of people and the results of their work vary. Also that carbon frame can be slammed into a rock and good luck with your tensile strength analysis Dr Volker. Raoul is a fricking magician when it comes to materials and he said it openly: there's plenty of misinformation, companies come to shows like Taipei or Eurobike and present cut outs of their frames and he sees right away how many defects there are - why are they showing shit? - and we can easily deduct, because we consumers know shit. We take it for granted: oooh they have shown a cut out, they have nothing to hide, must be good. He cut a Trek Madone 9.9 and the joint of BB and downtube was absolute shit. Good luck thinking it doesn't involve Remedy or Session 9.9. If these look like that, what chance do you get with Canyon or YT or Giant?! Why do carbon bar maker told me that they cracked several models of bars of competition on a jig and despite costing and weighing similarly they were going from great, through meh to shit?! No worries Enve were legit.

So no there is no "by average" frames made of carbon fibre are better performers, there just isn't. There are good steel, carbon, alu, ti, bamboo frames and there are bad ones. Material is not indicative of quality, durability and performance. Carbon is lighter and for some people that is enough to think better. The good old formula Step.1Get lighter bike 2.??? 3.Victories, achievements and respect.

The manufacturing process is what matters, and while you can often spot faults in metal frames, you can't see them so easily with carbon. Yes carbon... I am glad I am made of so much carbon... I am not anti carbon, I am anti bullshit.

Signed: proud owner of Antidote Carbon Jack.
  • 5 0
 the luescher videos are brilliant and were very interesting and educational for me. i feel i can make a better decision having watched them. i ride an orange because its made in england. thats enough for me.
  • 2 0
 You need to take care Waki, at this rate you'll be upvoted into oblivion
  • 5 0
 @alexhyland: pinkbike upvote dynamics for dummies - tip #12: mention a few "facts" against something expensive.
  • 39 6
 men ride metal - plastic bikes are for Strava sluts
  • 9 0
 i am stealing your strava slut insult.
  • 1 0
 @adrennan: I have to admit I sometimes use Strava - but hell to the no on the carbon bike
  • 5 11
flag iamamodel (Apr 4, 2017 at 16:12) (Below Threshold)
 My addiction to Strava has shown me that the same bike in carbon is faster than aluminium. So when it comes to the crunch on race day, I choose carbon.
  • 7 1
 @iamamodel: and then you get spanked by Wyn and the gang.
  • 2 9
flag iamamodel (Apr 4, 2017 at 22:51) (Below Threshold)
 @kanasasa: who could be faster on carbon too. Ridiculous argument.
  • 32 9
 What about 3/5 top finishers in the most recent ews running aluminum frames?
  • 25 7
 If that's what the sponsors require then I would run it also
  • 10 5
 @Wouldhaveletmego: and don't you think the sponsors would want the fastest bike? If carbon was the best, every manufacturer would run it on race day.
  • 28 2
 @ibishreddin, I'm sure if GT made a carbon Sanction then Wyn would have been riding one. But they don't, so he wasn't.
  • 2 12
flag torero (Apr 4, 2017 at 14:18) (Below Threshold)
 @Wouldhaveletmego Do not cry, accept defeat in the enduro of your beloved plastic.
  • 18 1
 Show me an example of a team with the option of carbon or alloy (of the same model), that chooses alloy. There is no carbon GT Sanction, Nukeproof Mega, or Bergamont Encore.
  • 10 3
 @NoahColorado: I forget which, but there are certainly downhill racers sponsored by Renthal who deliberately choose allot bars. May not be frames but certainly worthy of consideration.
  • 3 0
 @Wouldhaveletmego: Doesn't that just reinforce the whole idea that its not the bike, its the rider?
  • 14 0
 Gwin would ride a trolley if the money is good.
  • 2 1
 @NoahColorado: Thank you Noah for the logic. It hurts people's​ brain sometimes. (Brent , front range )
  • 4 0
 There aren't carbon versions of said bikes and they are keeping up with the aluminum bikes just fine. Those companies decided not to make their top end bikes carbon for a reason.
  • 2 0
 @Wouldhaveletmego: same argument applies to carbon frames. If a company produces an alu and crabon version of the same frame, which do you think they will encourage their sponsored rider to showcase based on price alone? Whether or not it's performance is flagship, carbons price is always flagship.
  • 23 5
 "Carbon is the better performer" is a bit misleading, and dare I say inaccurate considering the average rider. The super fast riders 'round these parts say yeah, you can feel an initial difference in materials...but after a short while you're just riding a particular geometry. Some folks also prefer to ride a easily and readily recyclable frame material. Most carbon fiber ends up in the landfill. The carbon version of my Patrol is 600g (1.32lb) fat ass can lose more than that by cutting beer consumption for a week and not snacking at night.
  • 8 2
 Weight difference is the first thing a racer notices then they notice how stiff carbon frames are, no flex! How can that be misleading?
  • 5 5
 @MX298: no flex, no traction, no thanks Wink
  • 9 2
 @MX298: The average rider isn't a racer. And not everyone prefers a stiffer frame material. I'd wager the average rider doesn't push a bike hard enough to notice or warrant the stiffer, lighter, and more expensive material. So I stand by my critique and think RC could have been a bit more detailed and real world oriented in his answer.
  • 12 3
 This whole, "take a shit before your ride and you'll lose more weight than you will with component X" thing needs to stop. Ride a bike that's a pound lighter and you'll notice a much much bigger difference than you will if you lose a pound off your body.
  • 6 7
 @skelldify: Nobody gave the "take a shit" example. I easily lose between 5-6lbs in a week by cutting snacking and limiting beer. Have done it several times and definitely notice it.
But hey if $1200 for a pound of weight savings is your jam, go for it. :-)
  • 1 0
 @MX298: what about suspension that's is what is taking the impact? The wheels are rubber and aluminum that's what making contact not the frame (hopefully).
  • 19 0
 Can't wait to see what replaces Carbon!!!!
  • 24 1
 Me too. Anyone remember when beryllium was going to be the next big thing?
  • 16 0
 Graphene.... obviously. A frame as thick as a hair and 1000 times stronger than steel.
  • 4 0
 kevlar maybe? not as stiff but alot less brittle, so will not crack as easily
  • 1 0
 @eswebster: yeah your right tho
  • 6 0
 It will be Flax Fiber composites
  • 3 2
 28.25"+ e-carbon
  • 7 1
 3D printed titanium.
  • 11 0
 @mikekazimer: I'm a carbon junkie. As in, I have a bunch of carbon windsurf gear in the garage (masts and booms are pretty much all carbon, as are fins; boards tend to have at least a couple layers of carbon in the sandwich layup). Carbon is amazing stuff.

Yet my MTB is aluminum. That's a cost-benefit consideration, and a matter of the bike that I wanted not even being available in carbon. I know that carbon, as part of a proper layup, can be way longer lived than aluminum. In windsurfing, aluminum booms tend to be noodly, and after a few years of hard use they tend to catastrophically bend. I was never able to get more than three or four seasons out of an alloy boom - I currently have carbon booms that are still going strong (and stiff) after over a decade of racing. Alloy masts, btw, went away in the 80s - even back then, they just couldn't compete with composites, and that was before people were really doing carbon masts. And if you put a protective layer on top of the composite, then the whole sharp localized impact thing that would otherwise worry me about carbon can also be nicely controlled.

Here's the thing, though - both carbon and aluminum are incredibly energy intensive. But carbon products are simply not recyclable - aluminum, on the other hand, definitely is (aluminum cans are pretty much the only part of your household recycling that's really economically self-sustaining). Over time, as those sorts of things become more and more priced into the commodities used to build our toys, that will probably start to make an impact on price. But for now, I would guess that we'll see more and more cases where a good and sturdy carbon frame is not that much more expensive than the aluminum counterpart.
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: got some old tools made out of beryllium!
  • 1 0
 I think we'll see Flax/Carbon blends first then maybe full Flax. Flax has better dampening characteristics over carbon.
  • 4 0
 @RollinFoSho: and if we crack the frame we can eat it and be healthy.
  • 2 0
 @eswebster: After graphene it will be buckytubes - if we can ever figure out how to mass produce them. I'd love a system of bonded buckytubes as my frame...
  • 2 0
 @mikekazimer: Yep. The Univega Boralyn comes to mind.
  • 1 0
 Yaaaa!!!! Eat it! Maybe flax will at least be recyclable
  • 1 0
 @g-42: I totally get the recycling bit, and I definitely try to do my part for the environment. However, one would hope that with the longer fatigue life of carbon, as long as you don't break the frame, it can be sold or passed on to someone in need for a long time into the future without having to be just thrown away. So there is that...
  • 1 0
 Just buy a Giant. Carbon front, Aluminum rear Smile
  • 1 0
 @oneplanka: Yeah Hemp too, likely all of the above. Hemp, Flax, Graphene. Could likely use layers of all 3. Add in some titanium printed parts...
  • 18 1
  • 2 0
 I agree with you @XCMark. At the same time I have carbon bikes, which I worry about what to do with. There are some ways to recycle carbon fiber. I would like the bike industry as a whole (at least the ones who make carbon bikes) to do more to promote this and make recycling available. Maybe through your LBS?
  • 4 1
 Thats the reason i stick with alloy, carbon is completely unnecessary in like 90% (guessing) of the places it used and just ends up in landfill. As far as im concerned carbon should no longer be used at all until a real recycling method for carbon is introduced.
  • 3 0
 I SAY recycle old frames into art. My 1st gen Foil will be a wall decoration in my house when it retires.
  • 13 1
 When performance is key, carbon is inevitable. Which is why the first EWS round 2017 was won on Aluminium bikes in both Men's and Women's category. No ambitious amateur should consider an Aluminium bike to be sufficent. Wink
  • 13 1
 Which is better, a carbon frame that ends up in a landfill or an aluminum frame that gets recycled?
  • 6 0
 We can keep destroying our only habitat, or we can do things to not add more waste.
  • 3 0
 I don't know about you, but I try and sell or donate my bikes when I'm done with them. Can't remember the last time I threw one away...
  • 8 2
 Is anyone else old enought to remember in 1990s when aluminum was being widly adopted and there were fears abound about how it would catastrophically fail, so we should all ride steel? The other arguement was alunimum would become noodly after a year or two. Guess what, those fears were unfounded. Carbon's track record is well proven. At the same weight as aluminum, it is far stronger and dampens vibration better.

For the record, I don't have a carbon frame (on steel and aluminum) but have used carbon bars exclusively for more tha 10 years. My son has two carbon frames. He ran a YT Tues for two years, beat the crap out of it (about 60 park days, all day long as only a kid can do, and raced it). No creaks, cracks or problems and was only sold at the end of two years because he outgrew it (bought another Tues Carbon).
  • 6 3
 I am (42 years old). I am laughing at the carbon haters/cry babies. Reminds me of your point exactly. Also reminds of blind political party loyalty (pick a party, they both have idiots). In the end, if you don't like and/or can't afford carbon, fine. Have fun riding steel/alloy. But the ridiculous arguments over catostophic failures is laughable
  • 3 1
 Damn right! Still remember people saying aluminium would never catch on because it kept failing. Aluminium bikes still give me flashbacks to 90's race carnage. Snapped frames everywhere! Steel, carbon or titanium please!
  • 1 0
 @bman33: Catastrophic failures are real. A friend of mine slid out in a corner and his brand new Carbon Trance had a meeting with a tree. Snapped top tube. Giant replaced the frame even though it was crash damage.
  • 2 0
 @rglasser: I've cracked /broken 4 alloy bikes and 1 chromoly over the years. I rode semi pro DH/BMX most of the 90's early 2000's. Not saying catastrophic failures don't happen. Just people are way over blowing it. I have had 3 carbon bikes. My current one has seen two trips to Whistler, cleared Crab Apple Hits even, and numerous Colorado bike park days ... Haven't had any issues with them
  • 6 1
 Have to say I'm surprised at the amount of paranoia that still exists around the use of Carbon given it's current applications.
Down hill racers would not run a carbon frame and wheels if they where as fragile as some make out. Heck the amount of carbon used in Formula one is amazing when you look at what areas of the car they use it in.
I think the cycling industry has finally got a proper handle on how to build frames and rims using the material and the whole "if you hit it with a hammer, see what happens" argument is dead after that Santa Cruz video.
If you don't want to use it fine, but please don't spout crap that basically isn't true as fact. Smile
Heck there was a time when super light aluminium frames where a big thing (Early Klein, Cannondale, GT etc) a LOT of these frames cracked quite easily without the need for a hammer!
  • 6 1
 I totally agree, but would like to add that sponsored racers don't have to worry about shelling out for that high-end lay up. As a rider of 18 years, I see no benefit in buying carbon with Aluminum as cheap and stable as it is. My habit is not a racers habit even though I like to move really fast on the trails.
  • 5 0
 @XCMark: I fully appreciate how the expense can put people off, but cost when there are those that can afford it besides racers is a mute point and then with the likes of YT and Canyon the price of carbon bikes has started to come down substantially. I can safely say the vast majority of bikes I see on the trails in Sheffield are carbon ranging from YT to far too many Santa Cruz
We don't need a lot of things in life...including bikes that have specific roles such as DH or Enduro but we make them anyway and pour money into technology to make them faster, lighter stronger for me that's a plus for the environment that is sometimes a negative so I respect what you are saying on that.
I don't race either and I certainly was not going to go without food and water just to buy a carbon I feel the benefit now I have one? Yes. I can sprint and accelerate faster, manoeuvre quicker and I find it easier get the bike sideways or flat in the air. So my fun factor is increased by a lot! Am I worried about breaking it? In all honesty, no. Did I constantly moan about how much carbon is before I could afford one? no, why would I!? I can't afford a McLaren P1 but having seen one in the flesh I love the fact they exist and what they are capable of.
You surprise me being a rider of 18 years and saying there's no benefit. If there was no benefit to carbon as an application various industries would have poured so much currency into it. Or do you mean no benefit to you? if so I get but there are those of us that do so we will spend the extra for it and appreciate the efforts and the technology
Agggh apologies...this got far more wordy than I intended!
  • 2 0
 *sigh* I miss those Klein's from the early/mid 90's. Fattest tubing, wicked colors.
  • 2 0
 @kennyken1015: bike companies are pushing carbon hard, salsa for example barley specs aluminum bikes well at all. Only carbon gets the sram eagle and dropper post included. I'm a junior in college and new to riding but if I were able to get a better spec bike in aluminum I would get it rather than carbon lower spec at same price. Wheels tires drivetrain suspension these things are what get you rolling, I dislike being able to get an aluminum bike with decent parts due to carbon being their main gig now.
  • 1 0
 @eddiegmtb: The industry is pushing carbon without putting money into figuring out how to recycle carbon frames, which is another thing that puts me off regarding carbon, no recycling measures!

Why are we polluting the beautiful earth, our habitat, with bike frames we can't recycle, while many of us in the sport are environmental activist, or just environmentally concerned people.

Carbon frames and the lack of recycling carbon seems contradictory to supporting the current areas societal measure to cut waste and manufacturing materials and processes that are not ecologically sustainable .
  • 8 3
 This is really a debate of rich vs poor. I would love to believe that with a 10K budget most riders would stick with their story and go "aluminum all the way", but I don't. If money was not a factor the vast majority would choose carbon.
  • 4 3
 Interesting? For my cousin money is no object, he just pulls it out of his butt. Though, for a person with a disposable income he sure does his due diligence and studies what he wants before making a purchase.

Several years ago I talked my cousin into getting a MTB to go on rides with me. And since money is not an issue for him I tried to steer him to carbon. This is back in 2014. While I was attending business he went out and bought a Giant Reign X0 thinking I would try to stop his buy if I went with him. However, when I finally saw the bike I was stoked, didn't even care that it was an alloy bike, it's a Reign-XO!

I didn't even get to ask why he bought the alloy bike instead of a carbon bike, he just made a statement. The statement was humbling... "Aluminum will tell me when it is about to fail, more so than carbon." I didn't realize how much thought he would put into his purchase, I was just trying to get him on the trails with me as quick as possible knowing he had the resources to do so. At the end of last season he did a fork and shock replacement. The Reign is looking nice after two years of abuse from casing multiple landings and is still using the OE wheels.
  • 6 5
 @XCMark: So your cousin would fall in the minority. I have seen some amazing aluminum builds on the trails but they are few and far between. If you look at the rides of those claiming "aluminum all the way" on PB, they are usually on a 10yr old 26er that weighs 40lbs. I think everyone should get out and ride no matter what you budget is but don't bash a superior product because you cant afford it.
  • 2 0
 @jgreermalkin: Are you claiming that I "bashed" a material?
  • 2 1
 @XCMark: No, I was speaking to the general theme of carbon "haters" on this thread. Sorry for the confusion.
  • 1 0
 @jgreermalkin: NP! Have an upvote.
  • 3 0
 @XCMark: He also had no clue what he was talking about. Aluminum will fail due to fatigue, which typically happens suddenly and unexpectedly. There will be some micro-crack from a huck to flat, that just keeps growing unnoticed, then you're just riding along and crack the frame fails, or the chainstay breaks. It might be 6 months after the last big drop you did. Happened on my aluminum Transition Preston. Happened on my aluminum Trek Fuel 100, they even found an additional break during the warranty inspection. That's the same type of misinformation people use to justify buying aluminum that RC was talking about. Aluminum fatigues, gets brittle, and cracks unexpectedly. That's one of the reasons I prefer carbon.
  • 1 0
 @TucsonDon: same thing happened on my buddy's Trek Fuel this past weekend. Snapped both sides of the chainstays, just aft of the weld. Probably five years and a day after the purchase.
  • 5 0
 I've owned 2 carbon bikes, a GT Force Expert and a Santa Cruz Bronson. Both were amazing bikes, especially the Bronson. But the one thing that annoyed me the most with both was the constant creaking under high tork such as pedalling uphill. Even after many visits at the lbs and precise torque adjustments of every bolt on the bikes, regreasing and checking/cleaning of the bottom brackets and seatposts or whatever else it could be, the creaks would always come back. I actually felt ashamed sometimes, like if I was riding a kid's plastic Fisher-Price bike. The 3 bike shops I had working on the bikes all concluded to weaknesses or microstress fractures that developed over time in some areas of the frames, probably internal also, as thorough external inspections did not reveal any weaknesses. So like some have said, I guess the layering process for carbon is probably inconsistent atm. Hopefully it will improve over time. For now I'm back on an aluminum frame. The only noise I now hear is the sweet melody of tires rolling on dirt. No more f***ing creaks!
  • 3 0
 Cool story, Hansel.
  • 4 0
 I think we just need to make a bike with a carbon frame that is inside of an aluminum frame. If the carbon fails, you have an aluminum frame surrounding it that is still good to go. Why has no one thought of this?
  • 1 0
 Hi, Bike company from my country in 2011 made HT bike with aluframe coated with carbon... it is called Capriolo MATRIX Reptil.
  • 3 0
 just a small test for CARBON bikes, leave your carbon bike for few months on the balcony exposed on sun and high temp especially if its painted black, then leave it over the winter too, then check its strength and have an proper DH run on it..
  • 2 0
 For the limited number of years I've been biking, I've only known 1 alu frame breaking. However at that same time especially the last 4 years I've known more than 10 frames breaking around me either from the stress of normal riding or other means - e.g. crack from transporting over the tailgate or crashes. Santa Cruz, Scott, Yeti, you name it, I've seen it. Enough to stick to Alu for now.
  • 2 0
 "Aluminum is the better value. Carbon is the better performer." I agree with the value portion of this statement, but the performance claim is short-sighted. Strength to weight ratio is the only meaningful difference of carbon, and the application of that can be good OR bad. All bikes are fun, let's go ride them.

Here's an example this reminded me of...
  • 7 2
 An aluminum frame can be recycled. End of story for me.
  • 3 1
 Maaaaaaan. Of all the bikes I own, the only carbon I have is in the back end of my Devinci Wilson. And I've destroyed and replaced the rear triangle twice in two race seasons. Not worth it.
  • 1 0
 I agree with you. My carbon bike gets beat to shit, and its been every bit as durable as my AL frame bikes were. I do not worry about it like i did when i first got it. I dont get however the statement about carbon bikes not doing well in races. Bikes are so good today, the frame material is not going make you better or worse. That comes down to the rider. If carbon frames were failing during races regularly, that would be one thing, but they are not. All it means is some racers riding carbon bikes may not be winning, but thats on them , not the frame material. I like both frame materials, and really dont favor either over the other.
  • 1 0
 what about wood. There's got to be some exotic wood that is 3 times lighter than carbon and 20 times stronger than steel and aluminum and yet has massive dampening characteristics and is extremely inexpensive and abundant in availability
  • 5 0
 Pick a material and be a d!ck about it
  • 1 0
 And a wheel size!
  • 2 0
 I've seen both alloy and carbon frames fail. When I bought my latest bike, I had a set budget and have chosen better components with an alloy frame over a carbon frame with lesser components for the same price.
  • 1 0
 My frame is not available in carbon, would I buy it I case there such option available? Yes - cause lighter stronger and nicer bike are always better, even if it not ridden apropriate!

Fun fact, that most of the chainstays made from alu )

The only downside of carbon - rims that actually hit or miss, comparing to alu that could serviced trailside
  • 1 0
 Carbon is great if you can afford it, but for the price i'll stick to alum bikes. Been riding a 2009 marin mount vision and have beat the hell out of it, so far i've put a golfball sized dent in the chainstay and the bike is still going strong.
  • 1 0
 Carbon has wonderful properties. But bikes are made to a price point. The amount of material, resin and size of the mould multiply mistakes. Usually sub par materials are used because 10-15x cheaper than the real good stuff we all think off when the marketing says carbon. The laydown simulation software is worthless with those 50gr layups. The cheap stuff starts cracking quickly. Thats why you see elastic goopey paintjobs covering the frame and hiding the fractures. With a raw aluminium frame you know what is going on. My 20 year 8kg steel columbus framed road bike has none of the fatigueproblems of carb/alu. So yes, with carbon you buy essentially a limited life product that will fail in 1/10 the time of a steel frame or a properly designed alu frame.
  • 1 0
 Great info in this thread on Aluminum and Carbon, just go watch the Luescher teknik videos, I just did, it makes it very clear on the drawbacks of Carbon manufacturing, something I am not interested in for darn sure, and this stuff is more expensive!
  • 1 0
 I think same with tire size we need freedom of choice. My issue is the price of carbon and the lack of alloy without bottom grade specs. I just want good geometry and good components because of those break I'm walking just the same as if the frame does. Plus forks and wheel are almost the same price as a frame, why would I want a low spend alloy and if not my only other choice is literally $1000 more.
  • 4 0
 tastes great or less filling?
  • 6 3
 carbon wheels (build your own), carbon handlebar, alloy everything else. Spend your money wisely.
  • 8 0
 I've seen too many carbon handlebar failures round here first me to take the risk.
  • 3 0
 Carbon wheels, but alloy frame? That's a bold statement.
  • 5 2
 Can steel be an option? My good friend Devin at Lichen Bikes would like to have a conversation with you.
  • 3 0
 Steel is real
  • 5 0
 when you bring up chromoly around most biker they cringe for fear of to much flex. its cheaper, can be light and strong, and a smoother ride. would love to see more chromo full suspensions
  • 2 0
 @eightysixways: I get that. People have ideas about everything. Aluminum and Carbon are fine choices for mountain bike frames, but steel is as well. I think it's coming back to some exctent, my galpal just bought a steel Jamis gravel bike and it's badass. I wouldn't be surprised to see marketing departments across the bike industry pushing steel frames again. It's different enough that they can play it off as this new wonderful thing and people will buy them up.
  • 3 0
 @eightysixways: I love my chromo DJ bikes. It's my dream to own an aggressive trail bike or even DH bike made of steel
  • 4 4
 @wrymn Go with carbon; financially, it's the better choice. If for some reason you do not like the bike, you'll have an easier time selling a carbon bike compared to an alloy bike. Plus, a carbon bike is much more likely to retain a greater percentage of its value compared to an alloy bike. Thus the effective price difference is less than 800 euro.

Alternatively, if you keep the bike for a long time, you will have forgotten about the 800 euro price difference.

As for ride characteristics, I went from an alloy Warden to a carbon Patrol. If the Patrol vibrated less, I certainly couldn't tell. The only difference I've noticed between carbon and alloy is that too much carbon on my bikes makes them too stiff. I used to run carbon bars and wheels, but that setup was too harsh for me. I run alloy wheels now and it feels better.
  • 7 0
 @RichPune I would have to disagree on the resale point, I have sold both a carbon and alloy bike. On the carbon I took a massive hit, while on the aluminum (where the price was cheaper in the beginning) received not far off of what I payed. Maybe it was bad luck but I see allot of carbon bikes for sale way cheaper than retail compared to alloy which seem to hold value really well.
I think this holds true due to carbon possible having "invisible flaws" while a alloy bike will be very easy to spot damage.
  • 1 0
 @Robbie907James: I just did a quick look in Buy/Sell, it looks like you may have a legit counter point.
  • 3 0
 @Robbie907James: I have to agree with this...I've sold 3 carbon frames(or complete bike) and was frustrated by how much I lost on the resale. A $3,000 frame that is just over a year old doesn't hold value like you'd hope. Sure, I could've held out to see if any better offers came along but bikes are like computers now---you sneeze and they're out-of-date(and out of cool)
. My bike "drug habit" has come to an end
  • 2 0
 Disect my opinion as much as you want but I would never buy a used carbon mountain bike.
  • 1 0
 Alloy frame, carbon components for the win for me. I just think the price difference between a carbon and alloy frame could be used more usefully over the whole bike and I still don't know how wear and tear effect carbon
  • 1 0
 I don't know, it's pretty hard to hit the 1g/$1 weight savings on components if you're trying to lighten up your bike. Saving 800g up front for 800Euros or dollars, along with some upgraded components is actually pretty solid. You'd spend a lot more than that after the fact if trying to lose 800 grams off the bike, excluding tires.
  • 1 1
 My LBS actually used to do the hammer demonstration on an Ibis frame back when Ibis first introduced the carbon Mojo. People assumed the frames were fragile. So they needed to demonstrate that they were more resistant to denting than alloy. I took that plastic hammer and wacked the s#$t out of that mojo carbon; it did not dent.
  • 5 1
 Of course they wouldn't let you hit it with a rock!
  • 1 0
 When potential buyers of my bikes come around mine is often the first carbon bike they've considered. When they ask about the strength of carbon, I hand them a hammer and an old top tube from an Anthem Advanced. No more questions. I wish I had an aluminium top tube to compare the two.
  • 3 0
 Last shop I worked at I saw at least 3 rear triangle from those bikes come in the shop mangled and cracked. They may be tough enough to withstand blows from a hammer but I personally don't trust them in real riding conditions. Not to mention I've never seen an aluminum frame damaged beyond superficial scratches by the box huckers at UPS, like I saw with 2 Trek superfly carbon frames
  • 6 0
 I have done lots of riding all over, and have never hit a plastic hammer, now rocks sharp ones smooth ones big ones small ones all kinds, and a bit of cement as well.
  • 1 0
 @dmn89: box huckers, that is my favorite thing I have read yet.
  • 2 0
 @tomerzaz go for the sight. I got one last year and it does everything. From local trails in Ontario to the Swiss Alps and the only thing holding it back was the operator
  • 1 1
 Carbon vs Alloy...if you're not worried about price then GO FOR CARBON. The only reason why you wouldn't go for carbon would be price point or you're just anti Carbon Fiber cause you're just too cool for school. HAHA However, there are people who would take a steel bike over carbon due to the nature of steel being more comfortable and for a lot of people you get more feedback from the bike. In my opinion if Alloy and Carbon costs the same there's no question carbon is just way better.
  • 1 0
 If carbon add such clear cut advantages over alu, it had replaced them long ago. The only reason that alu still exists is because there are good founded trust issues with that carbon frames.
  • 1 1
 I love seeing that anyone with aluminum bias auto beg votes anything arguing for carbon (not necessarily against aluminum ) but all of the carbon bashers get up votes. Both materials are good in their own respect. If you hate carbon great. If you love carbon great. It's all down to personal preference of cost, ride performance and backassward conjectures. Personally I have seen the value in both. But - propping ideas or valid truths just because you like to shart over new tech isn't really fair and only holds progression back. And unlike 26" wheels most companies are offering stuff for you cavemen too.
  • 1 0
 when carbon comes down in price i will be more pump on it. For now paying apx $2000 more for a pound lighter bike is not worth it.
  • 1 0
 And the brain washing about carbon fibre continues......Thank you but I will always stick to steel or aluminium for my bikes.
  • 1 0
 1st of all, can u even get a yt if you wanted to?
For ex., the jeffsey race says out of stock until August!
  • 1 0
 wow...passionate materials engineers.......after the north county video, ill just chill on my inferior aluminum rig....
  • 1 0
 ahh.. this carbon or aluminum debate its like 26" or 27.5", flat or clips, lets grab popcorn
  • 1 0
 It's amazing how many carbon fiber experts comment on Pinkbike, half of the industry must be represented here. haha!
  • 1 0
 if carbon is so superior in all aspects and is the next new thing... why is there no lifetime warranty on the frame?
  • 1 0
 Get yourself a Kona Process. The carbon bridge makes it so stiff!
  • 1 0
 Nice explanation.
  • 2 1
 Foes or carbon ????
  • 3 0
 Foes aluminum frames are on another level. Gotta play fair! ????
  • 2 1
 Love my carbon bike
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