HT Ride: Carbon vs. Steel- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    HT Ride: Carbon vs. Steel

    So I've got a Superfly hardtail wonder bike. It flies. I'm old-ish. It beats the tar out of me. Lately, I've been thinking about a short travel FS, but I've already got a Sultan that I love, so I'm covered there.

    I'm wondering for those who have ridden both materials a fair bit, do you think that a good old steel frame would have significantly more "give" than the Fly?

    Since this is just kind of a flyer idea, I'm thinking budget, and the Vassago Bandersnatch and Curtlo have both caught my eye -- especially the Curtlo with the curved seat stays for a bit of give.

    Thoughts?
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  2. #2
    Kosher Princess
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    Quote Originally Posted by kosmo
    especially the Curtlo with the curved seat stays for a bit of give.
    Give? Do you think curved seatstays will give enough that you'll actually notice? Perhaps. Another thought, if you haven't done so, are wider rims with wider tires at lower pressures.

  3. #3
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    Good suggestion form Natalie. My SS steel is really comfortable - I too ride a Sultan - and I credit much of that to riding lower tire pressures. Below 30#. I am 195#, and have few flat problems like this. I know I am letting the itres do a lot of the work, and I am quite happy on the shorter rides (2 hours seem fine to me).
    bikeone

  4. #4
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    Tire Pressure

    Yup, got the lower pressure idea covered. A very good idea. I run tubeless conversion around 26 front, 28 rear, with RTR weight of 195 (on a good day ).

    More opinions on steel vs carbon, please, especially for longer rides of 4 hours or more.
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  5. #5
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    You've ridden my Curtlo road frame, way smooth compared to your plastic Specy.

    Forget about hardtails on the trail, but get yourself a steel cross bike, hang some 105 parts on it, then use it to continue to kick all the roady's asses.

  6. #6
    Daniel the Dog
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    Beat down fest

    I have owned a 26er Curtlo HT and a Kona HT 29er and they both toasted my back and butt. They would make more sense in Bend then Hood River. Just my two cents. By the way, Curtlo's really are sweet bike frames.

    Jaybo

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by fallzboater
    You've ridden my Curtlo road frame, way smooth compared to your plastic Specy.

    Forget about hardtails on the trail, but get yourself a steel cross bike, hang some 105 parts on it, then use it to continue to kick all the roady's asses.
    Darnit, man, you are not helping keep this thread on topic!

    Plus, I don't need a cross bike to kick roadies' asses.

    The Superfly HT with 28mm slicks does a fine job of that.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by kosmo
    Darnit, man, you are not helping keep this thread on topic!

    Plus, I don't need a cross bike to kick roadies' asses.

    The Superfly HT with 28mm slicks does a fine job of that.
    Sounds like I need to make a return to the Saturday morning rides.

    On my Nevegal-shod Anthem.


  9. #9
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    For me its obvious, STEEL IS REAL but CARB' IS FAST.

    The carbon does the job very well, its light and stiff, the power transfer is great I just do every thing with it.
    The steel is great as well but heavier.
    Let say that for two to four hours ride I will go with the carb more then that the steel will do a better job.
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  10. #10
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    I've ridden a vassago jabberwocky, superfly and my Ti RaceDay frame back to back. Hands down titanium is the best bump eating material of the lot and would be the smoothest on the trail. The superfly with the stiffest laterally and the jabberworky was easily the heaviest. You should definitely consider titanium as alternative to steel if you want lite weight and smoother ride.

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  11. #11
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    You'll get more compliance and a much better ride quality out of a higher end steel frame than the inexpensive ones. They use thicker steel than necessary usually for safety across all riding types and sizes. Custom steel is going to ride much better. I would just use the Superfly for shorter rides and the FS for longer ones. Or maybe just get a Thudbuster or perhaps a Ti post.

  12. #12
    CB2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schmucker
    You'll get more compliance and a much better ride quality out of a higher end steel frame than the inexpensive ones. They use thicker steel than necessary usually for safety across all riding types and sizes. Custom steel is going to ride much better. I would just use the Superfly for shorter rides and the FS for longer ones. Or maybe just get a Thudbuster or perhaps a Ti post.
    Agreed.
    If you go the Curtlo route, you can specify what you are looking for in terms of ride quality, and he can build it accordingly based on your weight and riding style.

  13. #13
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    I'm typically a steel guy, but I test rode a Superfly. It seemed to dull vibration nicely, but no frame material is going to make a big difference on big hits. How about a Thudbuster? You can easily swap it on and off if you get tired of it.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Natalie Portman
    Another thought, if you haven't done so, are wider rims with wider tires at lower pressures.
    I agree completely with Natalie on this. Wider rims & lower pressures make a world of difference. IMO more of a difference that the frame material is going to make. I have Kris Holms Rims/ with Rampages on my SS bike. I run 20 lbs in the front & 22 lbs in the rear with tubes at 210 geared rider weight. I tried a set of Cane Creek Zonos wheels with Ignitors on my bike for one ride, it will never have skinny rims on it again. I just had a wheelset built for my Xcal with Salsa Semis. (Would like to have went to Salsa Gordos however I think the front der. would have rubbed)


    Quote Originally Posted by seat_boy
    How about a Thudbuster? You can easily swap it on and off if you get tired of it.
    Another very good idea. I have the Thudbuster ST on my Xcal too. I stay in the saddle a lot on my geared bikes, it makes a big difference for not much cabbage.
    "I ride to clear my head, my head is clearer when I'm riding SS. Therefore, I choose to ride SS."~ Fullrange Drew

  15. #15
    artistic...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Natalie Portman
    Give? Do you think curved seatstays will give enough that you'll actually notice? Perhaps. Another thought, if you haven't done so, are wider rims with wider tires at lower pressures.
    wheels will make a huge difference in feel but comfort comes from geometry.
    it does not matter if it's carbon, stell, aluminum, paper of frozen ice cream. once you have those half ton 29er wheels on all material subtle "feelings" vanish away.
    longer chainstays, laidback seat angles, tall bars and most of all... good physical condition.
    it's how you seat on the bike, how long are your chainstays and how much pain can you endure. that's cycling.
    btw: full suspension should be about going faster over extremely rough terrain. not about comfort. like the bonytrager ad said: if you want plush, buy a couch.
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  16. #16
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    I've got the Thudbuster. It kind of works, but is very hideous. Plus, it seems to quit helping on downhills when I stand up? Ended up with a ti post, and it is a good compromise, but also with the standing up limitation.

    I just suspect that with me being so used to rear sus, I'll never really find a HT that satisfies, though I'd love a ti one just because who wouldn't!

    Jaybo, I'm with you on the old guy's back issue, as well as Bend. After a long ride on the HT, the post-ride fatigue is HUGE compared to full suspension, and boy, the Superfly is an absolute blast on Bend's "Sidewalks Through the Forest" style of trails.

    And Duke, you're on. I think a few of us just might be able to keep you in sight if you bring the Anthem. But those Nevs are pretty expensive to burn up on one 50 mile road ride!

    Thanks for all the input, guys!
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  17. #17
    Daniel the Dog
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    On thing

    Quote Originally Posted by kosmo
    I've got the Thudbuster. It kind of works, but is very hideous. Plus, it seems to quit helping on downhills when I stand up? Ended up with a ti post, and it is a good compromise, but also with the standing up limitation.

    I just suspect that with me being so used to rear sus, I'll never really find a HT that satisfies, though I'd love a ti one just because who wouldn't!

    Jaybo, I'm with you on the old guy's back issue, as well as Bend. After a long ride on the HT, the post-ride fatigue is HUGE compared to full suspension, and boy, the Superfly is an absolute blast on Bend's "Sidewalks Through the Forest" style of trails.

    And Duke, you're on. I think a few of us just might be able to keep you in sight if you bring the Anthem. But those Nevs are pretty expensive to burn up on one 50 mile road ride!

    Thanks for all the input, guys!
    One area I really enjoyed my Kona 29er HT is on Hospital Hill. I remember one memorial ride down Triple Bypass in the Fall with the leaves down on that bike. It was really magical. I get the HT thing but it just hurts me on most rides....

    Yes, Bend is such a surreal place to ride. The descent down Mrazk is so unbelievable.

    Jaybo

  18. #18
    jms
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    Quit whining

    Quit whining Tom [total sarcasm].

    I did CCP and the HC 100 on a Ti hardtail this year. No thudbuster, just a Ti post w/ lots of extension, tubeless tires, and a Fizik Gobi saddle. I found it @ the same discomfort wise as an RX 29. Frankly, I prefer the hardtail, and I'm ancient [52 yo.]

    Geometry and fit trump frame material choice IMO. Go with the custom Curtlo steel frame and a good Ti post.

    See you @ CCP next year - at least until you vanish with the leaders @ 50 ft. beyond the left onto #1910.

  19. #19
    Rider and Wrench
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    FWIW I ride a Sultan and an El Mariachi as a full rigid, and the EM always suprises me with how comfortable it is (with a susp. fork even more so of course)- it does not have the shortest CS but this combined with the OX Plat. steel, along with alot of the other stuff that any HT/Rigid riders do (much of it mentioned already) offer a decent ride- springy and forgiving but not sloppy. The ti post, big squishy tires, ti bars, thick grips... are all nice and help make the package complete but the frame design and purpose can only be masked so much- a spade is a spade-

    It is no secret that steel is heavier than ti and carbon but a 1X9 29er at 24lbs built to hold my 210# without comprimise is not all that bad- As much as I love the feel of the Mariachi I don't use the EBB and in the future would seriously consider a Curtlo- Unless Salsa decides to make a special edition w/o the ebb.... it would shed a bit of weight and simplify it even further-
    I Just wish I could ride more!


  20. #20
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    I think there are many things going on with ride quality and frame material.

    1- Flex. A frame that flexes will ride differently than a frame that is more rigid.

    2- High frequency vibration transmission. Carbon is supposedly different in this regard. I don't know; I haven't ridden a carbon bike.

    3- Tuneability of tubing. A good frame builder or designer select the tubing diameter and butting profile, and can select the proper tube thickness, and the geometrical combination of all this, that works best for a given rider under given conditions. This tuning is somewhat limited by the material properties of what is used to build the frame. If you tune an aluminum bike by using thinwall small-diameter tubing that flexes a lot, you can expect a shorter frame lifespan. Steel tubing is available in a very wide range of tubing diameters and thicknesses, but there's a limit to how light you can get with a steel frame because it is a heavier material and you can only make the tubing so thin before the beer-can effect comes into play.

    4- The degree to which the tuning is actually done. On a custom frame, the bike is tuned to you and your riding. With a stock frame, the frame is built to withstand riding by the largest person the builder might expect to buy a given size frame. In other words, unless you're a heavy guy, stock frames tend to be overbuilt.

    Steel can be made into some very nice-riding frames. Carbon can, too, so I hear. Your Superfly is a light frame. You can make a stiff and punishing bike out of carbon fiber like you can anything else, but your Superfly is on the lighter end of such things. I'd expect it to be a pretty plush ride for a hardtail. I very much doubt you'd get a more supple ride by going to a stock hardtail like the Vassago, which is built with pretty stout tubing.

    You might be able to get Curtlo build you a frame on the lighter edge of things for your weight and riding style. You might find it to have more give than your Superfly. Or you might not. Probably, it would ride differently.

    I don't think it is likely you'll find something with significantly more give than your Superfly. Maybe those who have spent some time on a Superfly can chime in with some advice specific to that frame. I'd look at saddle choice, tire choice- and not expecting your hardtail to ride as smoothly as your FS.

  21. #21
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    Carbon = Fast
    Steel = Cush
    Scandium = Fast + Cush

    Go for Scandium!
    Sit and spin my ass...

  22. #22
    Daniel the Dog
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    So many more variables

    Quote Originally Posted by Zion Rasta
    Carbon = Fast
    Steel = Cush
    Scandium = Fast + Cush

    Go for Scandium!
    I have ridden all the HT materials and found tire pressure and size to be a lot more meaningful then frame material when it comes to ride quality. I had a Ti Litespeed that busted my butt because I rode IRC Mythos tires that were very skinny. Later, I rode a steel Curtlo that rode nicely because of the wide Nevegal tires. Frame material is way overrated in my experience.

    Jaybo

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