What to do... aluminium or carbon?

mrmacmusic

Über Member
Location
Tillicoultry
Thanks to everyone for their input in my earlier post :thumbsup: I'm not sure I'm any nearer making a decision, but things have moved on in the last month, and I've also made a few decisions about what I like, want and need. Quick update...

• I'm fortunate (if everything pans out like it should) that I'm no longer going to have to find my own money to fund the upgrade, and the budget may actually stretch to a wee bit more than £1k.

• I still want a more exciting, responsive ride than my Flight01 (after all there's nothing wrong with commuting on a "GTI" is there?), although I don't want to sacrifice comfort too much. The new stead needs to be sportive-ready too – I figured the 140 miles a week I do commuting was enough to be going on with this year, but I want to do some big miles in 2013.

• I will want to fit mudguards of some description (be they roadracers/raceblades etc) but no longer want to fit full-time rack and guards as I'm happy as Larry with my new Vaude backpack. Having been used to Marathon+ (25c) on my Flight, I would prefer to be able to fit 25c Durano Plus. Had a lot of punctures this time last year.

I have managed now to see quite a few bikes, and this has only helped and hindered in equal measures!

It may be a sensible commuting choice, but I just don't like the look of the Boardman CX Team, and the fit was strange – the Medium seemed unexpectedly long (my Flight is a 56cm, I'm 5'10). Although the primary use for my new bike will initially be day-in, day-out commuting, I've decided that I don't want a 'cross bike (Focus Mares, CAADX etc) as they just seem too chunky. I used to be chunky, and much prefer the skinny me ^_^

Whilst I've not been able to see a Giant Defy 1, I have seen the new 2013 Defy 2 and Defy Composite 3 – I really like the Defy, and the aluminium 105-equipped 2013 Defy 1 (in white) is number one on my shortlist. However, the LBS is suggesting that it's worth spending a wee bit more and getting into the Defy Composite... are they right? I can still pick up a 2012 Defy Composite 2 in the sales (same price as a 2013 DC3), but I'm not sure about SRAM Apex – in my head, my next bike was going to have 105, and I've never used SRAM.

I saw both the Cannondale Synapse (Sora) and CAAD10 105, but not the CAAD8 105 that was on my original viewing list. I definitely don't like the Sora thumb shifter, and wasn't particularly taken with the Synapse styling, especially when compared to the 2012 CAAD10 in white (liquigas?) which I really liked the look of. I'm not sure if the Synapse is too relaxed and the CAAD10 a touch too aggressive, and what was strange was that the 56cm Synapse and 54cm CAAD10 both seemed to fit. I guess geometry is at play here, and that a CAAD8 may well be spot on... just not sure which size I'd need!

Thinking about the LBS recommendation to 'go carbon', I have to confess I really like the look of the Carrera Virago, however it seems to be lambasted by other bike retailers as "cheap". Is it really any better or worse than the 'mainstream' offerings at a few hundred pounds more (e.g. the Giant Defy Composite)..? On paper, the Virago seems like great value, but would spending money on top-end aluminium (Defy 1) rather than budget carbon (Virago) be money better spent..?

To carbon or not to carbon, that is the question... well one of them :blush: The other questions are: which mudguards will fit the Defy 1/Composite 2 and CAAD10; and would either take 25c tyres?
 
Is it too late to suggest steel?
 

Rob3rt

Man or Moose!
Location
Manchester
I would take a CAAD10 or even a CAAD8 over the Carrera Virago any day of the week (top spec Alu frame which is likely to be as stiff as, if not stiffer and probably lighter than the bottom end carbon frame)!

I have a CAAD9 and quite frankly, I wouldn't part with it while it is still roadworthy! It will stay with me and be upgraded as time goes by. (I also have a carbon bike - hard to compare directly though as the carbon is a speciality bike and will feel different by default).

As for explaining the fit of the CAAD vs Synapse, the Synapse has a longer head tube, it is a "sportive" bike. It is made to be a compromise between a full on racer and comfort (i.e. its not a race bike, but it is dressed as one). It also has SAVE seat stays which act as micro suspension.

The CAAD has a shorter headtube and the CAAD8 and 9 don't have the SAVE seatstays, the CAAD10 might do, I don't recall. The difference in the CAAD10 vs CAAD8 geometry will be minor, both are race geometry, the CAAD10 is just the latest iteration of the frame with a few new features/modifications. The sizing between CAAD's would in theory be the same.

Both will be light weight and quick, but the CAAD is a purebred race machine and would be my choice. It is not uncomfortable to ride, so I don't see the need in buying into the Synapse unless you have lower back problems or something because you can not get the handlebars lower without spending silly money on stupid stems if you get a long head tube, but you can easily raise the bars a bit on a normal race geometry bike should you require.
 
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mrmacmusic

mrmacmusic

Über Member
Location
Tillicoultry
About twenty years.
LOL! Well, I thought about steel mickle – and really like the idea of one of these, but that's for n+1+1 I think (plus it's way out of budget).

Had a look at the Genesis Croix de Fer, but felt it was a bit on the heavy side, and I'm sadly just not a fan of the classic styling of the likes of the Equilibrium either (although I'd love an Austin Healey 3000). I sense a mid-life crisis coming on.... :stop:
 
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mrmacmusic

mrmacmusic

Über Member
Location
Tillicoultry
Cheers Rob :thumbsup:
I would take a CAAD10 or even a CAAD8 over the Carrera Virago any day of the week (top spec Alu frame which is likely to be as stiff as, if not stiffer and probably lighter than the bottom end carbon frame)!
I got the impression that the Virago felt heavier than the Defy/CAAD10 (although it's very hard to tell when they're not in the same shop :whistle:), and my assumption is that the top-spec alu frame would probably, on balance, be the better choice. Why though would the LBS suggest going for a Defy Composite (3) over a Defy 1...?

I have a CAAD9 and quite frankly, I wouldn't part with it while it is still roadworthy! It will stay with me and be upgraded as time goes by. (I also have a carbon bike - hard to compare directly though as the carbon is a speciality bike and will feel different by default).
....
It is not uncomfortable to ride, so I don't see the need in buying into the Synapse unless you have lower back problems or something because you can not get the handlebars lower without spending silly money on stupid stems if you get a long head tube, but you can easily raise the bars a bit on a normal race geometry bike should you require.
Thanks for the explanation – I spotted the difference between the Synapse and CAAD10, but didn't see a CAAD8. Having said that, I did see the CAAD10 and thought it looked great, plus it felt good in a 54cm too... as you suggest I could always flip the stem too if I felt it a touch too racy for the commute.

I'm not a brand snob, but I do prefer the idea of a Giant or Cannondale logo between my legs, and the aftersales service from an LBS is bound to be more valuable than that of a certain High Street chain....
 

Robwiz

Regular
All the bikes you're looking at are pretty decent. It's down to how each one feels and fits YOU when you ride it. Sizing and set-up are the top priority for what you will be using your bike.

I would be inclined to favour an aluminium frame over carbon at the same price point simply because it's more durable and will stand up better to any rough treatment when being moved between the garage, the car, etc.
 
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mrmacmusic

mrmacmusic

Über Member
Location
Tillicoultry
All the bikes you're looking at are pretty decent. It's down to how each one feels and fits YOU when you ride it. Sizing and set-up are the top priority for what you will be using your bike.

I would be inclined to favour an aluminium frame over carbon at the same price point simply because it's more durable and will stand up better to any rough treatment when being moved between the garage, the car, etc.
Thanks Robwiz :thumbsup:

I'm still curious why the LBS would recommend I go for the carbon Defy over the alu one... was he just trying to get an extra £250 out of me? Although the composite Defy 3 was on display, it'd be an order job for either, so it's not like he was trying to shift stock.
 

Robwiz

Regular
Thanks Robwiz :thumbsup:

I'm still curious why the LBS would recommend I go for the carbon Defy over the alu one... was he just trying to get an extra £250 out of me? Although the composite Defy 3 was on display, it'd be an order job for either, so it's not like he was trying to shift stock.
It's hard to work out the reason. Often, LBS staff are youngish, enthusiastic and passionate about their products and they project their own priorities and preferences on their customers. There could be some financial incentive, like a gross sales or specific model target but more likely it's just enthusiasm.
 
The CAAD has a shorter headtube and the CAAD8 and 9 don't have the SAVE seatstays, the CAAD10 might do, I don't recall.
+1 for all Rob's comments.

The CAAD10 does indeed have the SAVE stays and IME is a truly remarkable bike. I'm certainly not of athletic build, yet the 'race geometry' is not aggresive and I have found my CAAD10 more comfortable than any carbon bike I've had, and I'm fortunate to have had two, so I feel I can make a decent comparison.

To cover off what Robwiz says, I'd rather have the best alu frame in the world than a budget carbon one any day of the week,and twice on Sundays :thumbsup:
 
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mrmacmusic

mrmacmusic

Über Member
Location
Tillicoultry
+1 for all Rob's comments.

The CAAD10 does indeed have the SAVE stays and IME is a truly remarkable bike. I'm certainly not of athletic build, yet the 'race geometry' is not aggresive and I have found my CAAD10 more comfortable than any carbon bike I've had, and I'm fortunate to have had two, so I feel I can make a decent comparison.

To cover off what Robwiz says, I'd rather have the best alu frame in the world than a budget carbon one any day of the week,and twice on Sundays :thumbsup:
Most useful smokeysmoo, thanks :smile: – as a CAAD10 owner, can you confirm whether or not I could fit 25c tyres (favouring the Durano Plus given my previous experiences with Marathon+), and mudguards (e.g. Crud RoadRacer mkII or SKS Raceblades)..?

Presumably as a Cannondale owner you'd recommend a CAAD10 (or CAAD8) over the Giant Defy 1..?
 
Most useful smokeysmoo, thanks :smile: – as a CAAD10 owner, can you confirm whether or not I could fit 25c tyres (favouring the Durano Plus given my previous experiences with Marathon+), and mudguards (e.g. Crud RoadRacer mkII or SKS Raceblades)..?
You can fit 25mm tyres, but you wouldn't get any guards on as well. You'd get RoadRacers or similar on with 23's though.
Presumably as a Cannondale owner you'd recommend a CAAD10 (or CAAD8) over the Giant Defy 1..?
Yep, but that is based on both my bias and the simple fact I've never been keen on Giants. Might have something to do with being 6' 5" and not wanting to ride a bike with Giant all over it :tongue:
 
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mrmacmusic

mrmacmusic

Über Member
Location
Tillicoultry
You can fit 25mm tyres, but you wouldn't get any guards on as well. You'd get RoadRacers or similar on with 23's though.
So presumably the new RaceBlade Longs might be out the question if I wanted to fit 25mm tyres?

Yep, but that is based on both my bias and the simple fact I've never been keen on Giants. Might have something to do with being 6' 5" and not wanting to ride a bike with Giant all over it :tongue:
I can see where you're coming from there ^_^
 
So presumably the new RaceBlade Longs might be out the question if I wanted to fit 25mm tyres?
I haven't seen those TBH, but I don't think you'd have the clearance for any under brake caliper style guards if you put 25's on a CAAD10.

[EDIT] just seen them online, and they wouldn't fit with 25's IMO. I couldn't even get away with the Crud ones when I tried them, and they are about as minimal under the calipers as you can get.
 

vickster

Legendary Member
I have an Avail 2 - CS tried 3 sets of guards - SKS, race blades and finally the cruds - the latter fit but they rub - that is with 25mm tyres, 23s might be better - I can't imagine the Defy 1 is any better, you're a bit stuffed unfortunately. Giant do make their own guards and I think they do fit (not sure if so with a fixed rack) but I do seem to recall reading that they are a pig to fit and are a bit fragile in terms of the fixings?

Also, and I am not sure on the 2013, the Defy 1 (2012) may not have proper rack lugs - the 2 and below do (like my Avail)

How about the Ribble winter bike? I am not sure you'll find any sort of carbon bike that will take a proper rack and guards (just don't have the fixings - although plenty do commute on carbon). My pave which is more 'sportive' style carbon has no holes anywhere for attaching things!
 
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