Carbon is the undisputed champion when it comes to bike frame materials. It’s lighter, stiffer, more comfortable… the list goes on. While it’s simply not black or white, carbon does offer a variety of benefits over your typical aluminum frame bicycle. Here is a list of the most common reasons carbon is worth the extra money.
Carbon is lighter and stronger making it a great material for bicycle frames. According to Bicycle Magazine, “by far the most commonly used bike frame material for higher-end mountain and road bikes (including virtually every bike being raced at the professional level), carbon fiber is a composite of carbon sheets that are bonded together in a mold using resin. The primary advantage of the material is that at a given stiffness, carbon fiber is significantly lighter than aluminum, steel, or titanium.” Carrying less weight on your bike means less energy on your part!
Stiffness Where You Need It
Carbon fiber can be stiff in one direction and flexible in the other. This special attribute of carbon fiber lends well to the design process of bike frames. Engineers have poured hundreds of thousands of hours into optimizing the placement and direction of carbon fiber layers to make the ultimate ride. We’re no scientists, but trying to do this with metal would be a tall task. Adding carbon where extra strength is needed and shedding it where it’s less important helps keep the weight down and tunes the overall feel of the bike.
Comfort With A Caveat
Carbon fiber is less dense than metal and will transmit less chatter and vibrations. While this is true, carbon fiber is stiffer and can feel harsh when riding in rough terrain. This can be especially true on bikes that have carbon wheels and carbon cranks, so there is certainly a balance when it comes to comfort and stiffness. Overall, however, carbon will help reduce the buzz from the road and bumps on the trail making it more comfortable.
Carbon fiber offers many benefits when it comes to the feel and performance of a bike. This light and strong material gives engineers the freedom to optimize construction that would be nearly impossible to do with metal. If you are looking to upgrade your next bike, consider one with a carbon fiber frame for a lightweight high-performance ride. As an added bonus, when you enter the price range of carbon bikes they come with upgraded components that add to the overall experience of your bike!