Carbon Vs Aluminium Bikes | What’s The Difference On The Road?

when buying a new bike for many of us that comes a point where we make the leap to our first carbon frame the leap that is often accompanied by a slight scream as our credit cards wither away to dust in our fingers yeah and we often make that leap because carbon is generally considered a better material for frames than aluminium but is it really how does a carbon bike feel out on the open road in real life versus an aluminium one we are going to find out next to it here we have to trek in Mondas they both got a full Shimano all type of group set and they’ve both got Bontrager finishing kit just as you’d find in fact if you popped in to your local trek dealer yeah they are almost identical almost over because one is an SL 6 may have tracks OC LV carbon fiber and the other is an ALR six made up alpha series aluminium we’re going to go take them up for a ride around our local loop and then we’re going to swap and repeat who’s going to ride what first though rock paper scissors okay we told you wanna ride first this one I want to ride this one first come on let’s get me you let’s start with that first one shall we price and you are spending a lot of your hard-earned money here so what’s the actual difference in this case is between about eight hundred to a thousand dollars or about seven hundred pounds and that is for an identically spec byte remember the difference in price is due to the fact that carbon manufacture is much more labor-intensive and also more expensive generally though I would imagine that when you walk into your local bike shop you’ll be looking at two different bikes of similar prices and so in that case your carbon frame one is likely to have componentry at least one or two levels below that of its aluminium counterpart so everything’s getting a little bit heavier and also you probably have a lower grade of carbon fiber you might otherwise want we haven’t done that in this case though because you want to be able to directly compare how these two different materials right this is a really big subject when you’re chatting about things down at your local bike shop carbon is more comfortable in aluminium isn’t it well actually this is a really tricky subject and I was talking to an engineer friend of mine recently who specializes in this kind of thing and he’s done some analyses out on the open road tried to come up with some differences and failed he’s basically said it’s almost impossible to quantify differences in comfort between two frames due to other things like your tires how wide they are what pressure you’ve got the map well how much flex you’ve got in your saddle or your seat post that’s all well and good for him but can we spot any differences but I’ve been riding both bikes around about an hour each so far with the tires exactly the same pressure and I mean the same pressure because we’ve been swapping wheels between the two bikes at the moment from my point of view the answer that question is no yeah I think you can ever so slightly carbon frame or good carbon frame should I say has a very slightly muted feel on the road in a good way but I suppose the truth about comfort and bikes is if you actually want more of it you just need to put wider tires on and drop the pressure the next thing to talk about then is stiffness which is really important for power transfer so for things like sprints or accelerating out the corners ie responsive your bike feels but it’s also very important when it comes to bike handling which is not talked about quite so much so if your front end is not very stiff it’s going to make your bike slightly harder to handle around corners and over rough ground now stiffness it can be measured in a lab but what about the here-and-now well I think it’s more expensive carbon frame is more responsive and when pushing really hard and corners on rough roads I think it’s also more composed but that is only in a direct comparison and that is a really really important point yeah the differences are subtle enough that you really only feel them in the first five minutes immediately after swapping bikes after that you notice the difference is far less but the difference is still there on the left okay so this is the big one apart from looks obviously apart from the looks obviously let’s put these two bikes on the scales so the carbon bike comes at seven point five nine kilograms this aluminium one comes in at seven point eight seven so a difference of two hundred and eighty grams not a huge surprise really given that in general carbon frames that can be made around about four hundred grams lighter and it’s acquitted an aluminium one yeah but what do those weight savings actually mean in the real world then what on our little Tesla which is about thirty grams as long with five hundred meters of ascent this carbon bike was 25 seconds faster and that’s broadly speaking with the same power output doesn’t sound like a lot does it no and actually it’s not really a lot does I mean it’s not significant well that just depends as I said it is faster that’s a fact whether or not that means it’s significant depends on you and what you want to get out of your bike so let’s finish with the most important subject of all which is of course looks now modern aluminium frame sets are often indistinguishable at a distance from their carbon counterparts take the trek alpha series and example the wording on that frame is almost completely seamless and the hydroformed tubes every bit as graceful and beautiful and shapely as any carbon frames them get up close though and you can of course tell the difference and if it is any confusion just go do the tap test see are we saying then that carbon frames aren’t worth the money no no we are not saying that in pure performance terms Carbon does have the edge is the difference though as big as some people make it out to be well no it’s not especially if you’re comparing to cracking little bikes from the same manufacturer alright then tan here’s a question mate do you get an aluminium frame bike or a carbon frame bike with cheap and componentry I would go for the aluminium with better componentry yeah I would as well but in this instance with the same component tree on an aluminium frame will come frame I would go for carbon frame yeah I think I would as well we agree on both things hey fist bump nice okay now if you want to see a little bit more information about the materials that we’re talking about here then if you click just up there we’ve got a video about things that you didn’t know a carbon fiber and conveniently up here five things that you didn’t know about aluminium make sure you subscribe to GCN before going to either those there to do that just click on the globe

100 thoughts on “Carbon Vs Aluminium Bikes | What’s The Difference On The Road?

  1. This are the two biggest liarse in youtube,estan pagados para promover productos,nada de lo que dicen es verdad,es una verguenza. GCN full of lie

  2. The black alloy bike looked the nicest. I have just retired my 2004 alloy Colnago Lux Dream , it has been a great bike equiped with Campag record kit, it has served me well, but recently, on descents over 50MPH, it has started to do tank slappers, and not wanting to end up on the tarmac, it is now on the wall of my garage.

  3. I had a giant tcx alu cx, upgraded to a gt grade carbon gravel and the ride is so much more soft and comfortable and much better for longer rides.

  4. I think the question actually becomes what is carbon fiber? Carbon fiber is a composite material of fiber reinforced plastic. It's plastic people.

  5. My mom won't buy me the carbon graphite Trek road bike that I want. It's only like $7599 and she won't buy it. Damn it.

  6. It depends on your purpose. If you are going to win a race that is very important to you, and you will spend as much as you can on your bike, 1 gram lighter is still lighter. If you are just an amateur or a weekend rider, even a cheap alloy bike suits you. I am now using a cheap 7005 aluminum frame that is priced at about $35, which also has a seamless transition design. Some people on the street not knowing bikes very much always ask me "is that a carbon bike?" or say something such as "That looks very expensive. How much does it cost?". When I tell them the price of it, they are shocked surprisingly. I am pretty happy riding on that cheap bike with that fairly good performance and attractive appearance everyday for only about $250.

  7. Carbon for fishing rods lol … might as well lose a pound , they defo not worth the difference of money .. if you are racing then save money lose weight ..

  8. Hardly any difference??!! Bullocks!! I bought a cheap motobecane al cross bike for a beater and commuting and theft prevention… i can feel every tiny crack on the road!! What a horrid ride. I stand up for every small bump or pothole or crack!! I ended up putting 700x35c tires, carbon seatpost, and cushy seat to make it feel better…. and it still rides worse than my ti road bike with skinny super light saddle and 700x23c tires!!

  9. I must say I do feel faster on a yellow bike however… a bit more royal on my purple bike; quite princely actually.

  10. Hello, thanks for the video, Can i ask what size the Aluminum frame has ? It looks to well fitting to you guys, I am 188 cm and bought a emonda alr but in size 60 , it feels to large….

  11. I had a carbon frame that gave me the confidence to lean my bike at steeper angles than my current aluminium frame that i have on the same setup ,after i broke the carbon one.

  12. Fact: Two identically equipped bikes (one metal, one plastic) will undeniably have noticeable differences (even if they're same model from the same manufacturers) when pushed to their limits. Sorry, but the truth is the truth, carbon is smoother, less fatiguing, lighter and stiffer than it's identically spec'd & designed aluminum version. It just is what it is.

  13. I ride a S-Works Tarmac DA with Zipp 303’s all season.
    Sometimes when there is salt on the roads, I take my old alu Stevens with alu wheels out.
    Then I think to myself what is wrong with this bike? nothing!!
    When I go back to the Tarmac I know what the difference is!
    Got I love that bike!

  14. Can we take a moment please to recognize how beautiful the backdrop of these shots are? Arizona is a flat desolate wasteland…

  15. What is the consensus about durability over time and resistance to frame failure from accidental damage? If you're paying 30-70% more for a frame difference, do you get that kind of life out of it. In my experience, its only a matter of time before you smack a few rocks or drop a frame that can put chips and small dents in the surfaces. Not all the roads I ride are clean. Chain jump happens. My sweat can put pits in aluminum. etc, etc, etc… Additionally, how do you spec a carbon frame for rider weight. You two look "industry thin" whereas there are a lot of Clydesdale riders that will never be below 200 lbs and quite a few at the 250 mark that are just as serious about cycling. How do you account for weight?

  16. …so basically, if you are going to buy carbon, go all in. Don't cut any corners to save on price that you wouldn't otherwise cut on an aluminium frame…

  17. I use 2 have a 1200 AUD Fuji Roubaix Aluminium and a 6500 AUD Carbon Pinarello Paris which i still have but actually enjoyed riding the Fuji more.

  18. Ok. Potential dumb question, but I'm dead serious… given that all components on both bikes are identical, except the frame of course, is there still an advantage to the carbon frame if the operator of said frame is say 30lbs heavier than that of the other? I'm looking at overall weight. Therefore, I dont see the advantage anymore though I could be wrong. After all, I'm no physicist, just a thinker.

  19. 1. If on is just going to buy one bike and keep it as long as possible, what the wear & tear & durability issues? I'd like to know how easy the aluminum dents, how easily the carbon is "injured." How easy each is to keep like new or how delicately each must be treated.

    2. With the same setup, you go carbon as better. But you did not compare, aluminum + the $$, or carbon? You can take a trip, buy a camera, or get tires for your car with that saved $800. And you should have simply stated the real total costs though I appreciate you acknowledging costs. For instance I'm not using a credit card, this would have to be saved $$.

  20. I tell you one thing I'm new to road bikes and my god they are uncomfortable, I love it,but holy sheeeet my ass

  21. Funny, that while i was watching this Video, a commercial from Visa Credit Card, was shown on the bottom of the screen😄 thought i have a carbon bike already👌

  22. I heard many horror stories of carbon frames snapping, you really have to be extra careful if your bike falls. My alu frame has a couple dents in it but is still fine, if it was carbon… not so sure.

  23. This video is bullshit !

    Nothing is faster than an aluminum bike !

    The only problem is the welds !

    I have had an aluminum bike that’s faster than stink !

    I’ve never had the same performance out of a carbon bike !

    used to ride 13,000 miles a year And trained people go into the Tour de France I think I know what I’m talking

    The only thing is these bikes are far and few between so I have to try mini mini bikes I happened upon one by accident and I would take this bike over any other bike in the whole world because it was just so special !

    It flew uphill and was 25 pounds with water !

    It was so damn fast !

    Nothing can compare to this bike !

  24. Hi there,

    I think about to buy an endurance bike Cannondale synapse, or GT and still don't know what frame to buy. Aluminium or Carbon.
    I am not any racer but think about to ride seriously. I have 97kg. And that's the problem. Can anybody tell me what frame is better? Do I have to be worried about to buy carbon frame with my weight?
    My way of thinking is to buy one good bike and keep it next 20 years.

    Thanks for advise

  25. I think I'm done with carbon frames, also carbon wheels. I broke two frames. First my giant tcr advanced sl with wich I fell to the side. And then I broke my focus hardtail. I kicked the pedals so hard that i broke the downtube. And that has not to happen. The focus also had a crack in the upper tube. I go down a stairway at a trainstation and a man walked by and kicked my front wheel accidentally. The handlebar hits the frame and as a result I had a crack in the upper tube. This never had happened with an alu frame.
    I send the giant to a carbon doctor who fixed the frame for a few hundred of money. But the focus was really fucked.
    I loved the giant, it was a great feeling to ride it. Very comfortable and fast. The tcr gives you the feeling that you can ride so far and fast as you can and a lot more. You can give so much power and the bike takes it all. But don't fall sideways. At least the bike gets stolen out of my house.
    Now I have a giant ocr alu frame with ultegra r8000 group and fulcrum zero nite. Carbon frames are too expensive and too sensitive to ride every day.

  26. I'm currently looking at buying a used Cervelo P2-SL with aluminium frame for my first bike to train for my first triathlon. All my friends said not to proceed with it as they say it has no resale value on the secondhand market. Please any advise would appreciated. Peace from Malaysia.

  27. We make the leap. ….yeah if you have plenty of $$$$ ££££ €€€€.

    GCN people who live in the developing world must think that we are completely mad, spending more money on a bicycle then they earn in a few years. 😉

  28. Carbon or Aluminium. …which one gets nicked 1st?

    A "blind" test on these bikes would be far more creditable than this video. Ie C v's Al v's expensive C. …without telling the riders which is which

    Imho This is a totally irrelevant comparison as the majority of people won't notice the difference.

  29. Aluminium frame every time.. but if you want carbon.. have it.The only person you have to please is yourself.

  30. 돈 있으면 카본 프레임 사고 가성비 중요시 하면 알루미늄 프레임 사면됨. 결국 어떤 프레임이 더 빠른지는 타는 사람에 따라 케바케임. 자기 소비 능력에 따라 합리적인 소비를 하면 됨

  31. Thank you gentlemen, you just saved me a few thousand dollars. Now I know that having carbon over aluminum is relatively pointless for my application. Good video.

  32. The hydroformed aluminium has gotten really good now. They are making aero shaped tubing that looks totally carbon.

  33. General biker takes 15 million won carbon bicycle in Korea.
    a moneyless person takes 15,000~30,000 dollar bicycle at least, a person is not scandalous.
    Is the really great South Korea.

    My reply may get a lot of criticism.
    Traders will not neglect me.
    Reason is that I deter for their gains.

    But, I want to inform most of beginner alternative way.
    Buy in the foreign countries if possible.
    For example, that is the same as

    Can buy enough good bike if it is 300~600 dollars.
    In addition to tax and delivery charge

  34. Carbon forks in aluminium frames is the way to go in a faction of the price. The rest is only for the top athletes.

  35. alloy is more reliable than carbon. many carbon bikes crashed that makes it completely unsuable but thats rarely happened in an alloy bike.

  36. The only carbon material in my bike other than the fork (factory frame set) is the ring spacer on head tube…that's the only carbon component which is affordable for me 😁

  37. 만약 카본의 다른 장점들은 그대로 인채 카본이 더 무겁다면?그래도 카본을 선택할까?궁극적으로는 가벼운 무게를 원해서 카본을 타는거라고 왜 솔직하게 말하지 못하지?

  38. Aluminium is way easier on my joints! My neighbor bought a new carbon frame, he cracked it at the base in his next race.
    My nephew tells me that all carbon bike bought in France are now covered from manufacturers in the warranty for cracks in the frame .

  39. If these pair can't tell much difference then keep the extra money in your pocket or spend the money on a better alloy bike

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