Low End Carbon vs. High End Alluminum- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Low End Carbon vs. High End Alluminum

    I'm looking to buy my first new bike later this year so I'm trying to get a list of bikes to demo before it's time to buy. My local LBS is a Cannondale dealer and so I'm giving their bikes a look. I noticed that the Flash Carbon 3 29er is spec'd about the same as the Flash Alloy 1 29er. The carbon version only costs a few hundred more. For a carbon bike, the Flash 3 seems on the lower end of the spectrum. I'm only using it for trail riding with pretty minimal jumps and drops. Should I be weary of the lower end carbon bike?

  2. #2
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    Usually (not always) the frames are the same throughout the spectrum of builds on a bike. For example your high end aluminum most likely has high end components, but the same frame as the low end aluminum, difference being components. The Low end carbon has the same frame as the high end carbon, but lower end components.

    My advice would be to look at the builds carefully. The frame is important; but high end vs low end wheels, drive train, and brakes will have a larger impact on your ride over frame material.

  3. #3
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    That was what I expected but the component set on the Carbon is actually superior for the rims, tires, saddle and brakes. The shifters/derailleurs on the Alloy are SRAM X9 while the Carbon has XT. which seems like a crapshoot. Everything else is the same. On the face is seems that the extra $400 buys a far superior bike. That's why I thought something had to give with the frame.

  4. #4
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    Well in this case I am confident in saying that this "lower end" carbon frame is the same as the ones on the more expensive models; though i am not 100% positive, and i am not a canondale fanboy.

    Edit: also consider posting this question in the Canondale sub-forum, thats where you will get a better answer than my gibberish

    I say check the weight, the carbon could save you 1/2lb or more. Then test ride them both, and watch for any demo days they may be having in the near future, to get a feel for the ride differences. $400 is what most people would consider a significant price jump

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    This has been posted a lot, but here is a good video to show you carbon vs aluminum:
    Santa Cruz Bicycles - Test Lab - Pinkbike.com

    Carbon Win = Weight and Strength
    Carbon Loose = $$$$

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guerdonian View Post
    This has been posted a lot, but here is a good video to show you carbon vs aluminum:
    Santa Cruz Bicycles - Test Lab - Pinkbike.com

    Carbon Win = Weight and Strength
    Carbon Loose = $$$$
    good video, but not strength measured in this test will not necessarily be an indicator of durability on a trail.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob13bob View Post
    good video, but not strength measured in this test will not necessarily be an indicator of durability on a trail.
    Well, I think the point of the article, and Santa Cruz's testing, is to show:

    1. SC tests well beyond the mandated specs.
    2. That the strength of their carbon designs is legit and is a reason why they charge a premium on them.
    3. SC's methodology on their design testing... however much stock you put in it.

    I think their conceputal methodology is just as sounds as CE spec. Unless you can quantify what "durability on a trail" is, then give me the numbers and quantitative results of tests like SC's anytime.

    Testing for "real-world" conditions is one of the biggest myths in mfg-ing. We mfg things based upon tolerances we think are within a failure statistic. That is how most everyone does it because that is the only way to scale production high enough to meet market demand for goods... by selecting a population (N - in this case bike frames) and testing the selected population against the experiment provided within a failure statistic.
    - The only thing that keeps me on a bike is happiness.

  8. #8
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    There are actually a few different things going on in those tests. At the end, impact which would simulate a crash shows what would happen. I've had a Tallboy for 2 years and have had softball size rocks slung up into the downtube (granted I have a 20mil Crankskin protector on it..its handled everything very well in the first 2 years of abuse.

    But to reiterate, The carbon frames are almost always the same from their least expensive to their most expensive, it is only the components that change the price. In C'dale's case though, I believe they do have a Hi-Mod version that uses a different type of carbon, but this is a very expensive frame that are mostly used by their factory racers.
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