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Cycling Bull

Discussion in 'CycleChat Cafe' started by Disgruntled Goat, 29 Feb 2008.

  1. Disgruntled Goat

    Disgruntled Goat New Member

    I have noticed in the last few weeks that there are people on this and other forums who claim that the ride quality of a carbon frame is not only comparable with titanium and steel - but actually surpasses it!

    How did this all come about? Have the millions spent in marketing Taiwan baked carbon-reinforced plastic finally paid off?

    Or am I deluded? Are integrated headsets a really good idea? Are OS bars and stems really, really necessary? 100% waterproof jackets are fully breathable as well? Helmets don't protect you in a crash?

    I'm no Luddite and I like a new shiny bit as much as the next person but it starts to bother me when people convince themselves and then try to convince me of stuff I know not to be true.

    What next? CDs sound better than vinyl, Carling tastes better than a Belgian artisanal ale, Westlife are better than the Beatles?

    Where does it end?
     
  2. trustysteed

    trustysteed Guest

    ;)
     
  3. trustysteed

    trustysteed Guest

    Pirate to Tavern Keeper: "This belgian beer is a bit cheeky!"

    Tavern Keeper to Pirate: "Arrr, tis anal ale, that be!"
     
  4. mr Mag00

    mr Mag00 rising member

    Location:
    Deepest Dorset
    ^ rofl!
     
  5. Arch

    Arch Married to Night Train

    Location:
    York, UK
    To return to the OP...

    I think that for each of us, there's stuff that's the bees knees, and stuff we don't give a stuff about. I guess we all have our own foibles, and some of them will be utterly incomprehensible to others. And it doesn't really matter what I choose to ride, if it suits me, or what you choose, as long as neither of us look down on or ridicule the other. I don't happen to see a benefit, for me, to Aheadsets, or anything carbon, but if you (generic 'you', not aimed at the OP) do, then fair enough....
     
  6. Disgruntled Goat

    Disgruntled Goat New Member

    But some of it's plain wrong and there seems to be a sad trend that if you repeat the lie often enough, it becomes truth.
     
  7. TheDoctor

    TheDoctor Man-Machine Staff Member

    Location:
    Stevenage
    Aheadsets have the advantage that they can be adjusted with a 5 mm allen key, rather than a couple of dirty great spanners. The integrated sort don't need presses, drifts etc to get the headset installed, just your fingers.
    Generally, though, I suspect a lot is gimmickery. How many times have straight pull spokes been reintroduced? None-round chainrings? We must be due a return of L-shaped cranks soon.;)
     
  8. Arch

    Arch Married to Night Train

    Location:
    York, UK
    One of my lecturers once said, "If you think you've had a new idea, you haven't done enough research" and I think the same applies to cycling. Very often people really do seem to think they've had a new idea, and it's something the Victorians played with (only then it was made out of cast iron and rhinoceros leather)

    And there's nothing wrong with a gimmick, unless you are really flogging something that is utter bunkum, deliberately to defraud folk. If someone gets a buzz from saying "my bike has the very latest unobtanium evo-cranks, you know", good for them. And we get to laugh about them later in the pub...:thumbsup:
     
  9. TheDoctor

    TheDoctor Man-Machine Staff Member

    Location:
    Stevenage
    You've seen my pub bike then?:thumbsup:
     
  10. domtyler

    domtyler Über Member

    Integrated/A headsets look far neater.

    Carbon gives a very comfortable ride, different than other materials, but still very good, stiff, light, compliant, strong.

    What is the problem?
     
  11. Gerry Attrick

    Gerry Attrick Lincolnshire Mountain Rescue Consultant

    Do I detect a little mischief-making in the OP?
     
  12. Tim Bennet.

    Tim Bennet. Entirely Average Member

    Location:
    S of Kendal
    The problem is compounded by the fact that a total lack of knowledge about materials and engineering has never been a bar to every cyclist feeling entitled to an opinion about what constitutes a 'comfortable bike' and what makes it so.

    Most people focus on the construction material alone. But the vast majority of bikes are made up of tubes, which are then arranged into structures. The properties of the raw material is only one of a myriad of variables that will effect the characteristics of these frames. When you then add in; wheel construction, seat pin length, saddle rail length, handle bar rigidity, tape thickness, tyre build, size and inflation pressures, you have even more reasons why a very subjective view of 'comfort' will be so varied.

    But to say that carbon fibre is not capable of building a comfortable bike is just plain wrong. There are many different types of carbon for a start which can all be built into structures with an infinite range of characteristics. I incorporate carbon fibre into the most flexible structures (fabrics) and the most rigid structures (highly loaded cantilevers). No other material can meet that range of applications.

    It's no coincidence that the part of a bike most under load, where the greatest benefit can be gained from getting the correct balance of strength, flexibility and comfort and where above all, reliability is paramount (ie the forks), has been the first part to switch whole heartedly to carbon.

    And beyond the forks, there is in fact no application where carbon couldn't also build the best solution from an engineering point of view. You could have the lightest or stiffest or strongest bikes ever and some combinations of them, plus you could also have the most comfortable. A material that allows the construction of fly fishing rods, archery bows, wind turbine blades and helicopter rotors could easily cope with a bit of bike flex. In fact in different configurations, carbon is essential in the more radical 'comfort bikes' that are built when designers don't care about the UCI constraints.

    But bikes have to also meet market demand and retail price points. So far, it's been easiest to sell carbon on its lightness and 'pro levels of stiffness'. But you only have to compare the Cervelo RS and R3, or Spesh Roubaix and Tarmac, to see how you can make two similar bikes ride so utterly different.

    The same debate used to rage about 853 and 531 tubing. Everyone knew that 853 bikes were stiffer, but the two different steels had absolutely the same degree of elasticity. However as 853 was stronger, it allows thinner walled tubes to be used, which saved enough weight to use tubes of a bigger diameter without a weight penalty. And bigger diameter tubes are much, much stiffer. This was compounded by these tubes were used predominately to build race bikes where 18 or 20c tyres were the rage. The ride was bone shakenly hard, and so everyone soon knew that 853 was so rigid you couldn't build a comfortable bike out of it. But if you used the extra strength to only build thinner walled tubes of the same diameter and then made up a similarly dimensioned bike with identical equipment as the 531 tourer, then the 853 bike would be more , not less comfortable.
     
  13. Disgruntled Goat

    Disgruntled Goat New Member

    Tim, I agree with most of what you say - there are a host of other factors that go to make a comfortable bike but I still resist embracing carbon as the new wonder frame material.

    It's just that I've tried out some carbon bikes and they were all horrible. That doesn't mean that carbon bikes are horrible, just the ones I tried. I tried a titanium and it was wonderful - likewise, ti frames are highly variable.

    Now people tell me that you can have stiffness light weight and ti comfort with carbon. I just don't buy it.

    But who's telling the truth? Is there an objective measure of comfort? I guess not.

    Does it matter? Probably not, but I'll stick with ti and let everyone get on with their plastic.

    And vinyl DOES sound better than digital.
     
  14. Tim Bennet.

    Tim Bennet. Entirely Average Member

    Location:
    S of Kendal
    Titanium is actually a very limiting material for designers. Deviating from a (fairly restricted) standard series of available tubes by manipulation, butting or or other process is very difficult and hence expensive.

    Luckily the tubes that are available can be assembled by moderately skilled cheap labour into frames that have a combination of lightness, stiffness and durability that many people find suits their style of riding.

    But it's not a material that is readily adaptable to every need within the cycling world. Carbon is a wonder material. Whether it's used wonderfully well in all applications (including cycling) is open to debate. But I would be very circumspect about blaming any limitations on the material itself.

    One of the problems is that there is not an unlimited supply of raw materials. Demand (and hence price) fluctuates quite wildly and producers of volume products like bike frames are sometimes restrained in the specification they choose by the materials they believe they can source. Good news for cheaper bikes is we have just delayed our requirement for several hundred tons of high modulus fibres for a while.
     
  15. Dave5N

    Dave5N Über Member

    You just sound old. ;)