Question for you bicyclists

My birthday is next week and I've decided to get myself a new bike. Road bike, drop handle bars...would you recommend aluminum or carbon frame? I don't want to spend a fortune but I'm not going to Walmart either. Any advice about what to look for or avoid? Thanks. I'm excited to get back in the saddle again after almost 20 years. Speaking of saddle, I will use the saddle and pedals from my old bike.
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Replies

  • FrankWhite27330
    FrankWhite27330 Posts: 316 Member
    Fuji makes a decent bike that's not to high
  • glevinso
    glevinso Posts: 1,895 Member
    Carbon is wonderful if you are willing to spend the money, but aluminum makes a perfectly fine material for a bike frame.
  • KettleTO
    KettleTO Posts: 161 Member
    If you know you like biking don't buy an entry level bike. Assume you are committing to riding. I also can't stress enough about going to a good bike shop that will do bike fit with you once you purchase a bike. Let them guide you on configuration and components right for you - endurance, racing, etc. (depends on the flexibility of your back and pelvis). Since your relationship with the seat will affect your enjoyment of bike the most of any component, let them guide you to seat that works with the bike you buy (ride position) and your body.

    That seat might have worked for you 20 years ago but the foam has broken down, your body has aged, etc. The seat is not the place to try and save money. If you want to keep the old seat because it worked for you, use it as a guide, but purchase a new one.

    Just saw an excellent tweet by bikesnobnyc about commit to a bike shop not a bike. Couldn't be truer.
  • mawalsh11
    mawalsh11 Posts: 14 Member
    edited May 2016
    Carbon is great and all, but aluminum is just as good in my opinion. There are some great websites online where you can purchase awesome bikes- as long as you're willing to accept a little mystery in your purchase. My bike is a "Dawes" and is made in the same factory as Trek bikes and I can only assume it fell off the back of a truck somewhere. I wasn't sure what versions of the braking and shifting components would be included. It's been a great bike for me with a few minor tweaks- and the legit trek components don't hurt! Certainly didn't hurt that it was half the price of the equivalent Trek bike!

    Your old saddle may still work! Just check on the padding. Good luck! It's great to be out on the road!
  • heathercyclist
    heathercyclist Posts: 3 Member
    Hi Barbara! Carbon aluminum...either one is a good choice. If you want to take some weight off an aluminum bike, you can swap out components for carbon versions like the seat post and stem, lighter wheels and cranks, etc.. If you want a carbon fiber, Craig's List is a great resource. I have a carbon fiber Specialized Ruby and it was an amazing bike for about half what I would have paid retail. Don't scrimp on the saddle, get good components and treat yourself to a fitting. Happy cycling!
  • roobar323
    roobar323 Posts: 8 Member
    If you have a friend who knows what they are looking at in terms of potential cracks etc. then get second hand carbon. Find your local facebook bike buy/swap/sell and keep an eye on it. Serious Racers bikes with no visible damage about 1-2 years old can often be had pretty cheap or people who buy qand never use them.

    Otherwise, mid-upper range aluminium with shimano 105 equivalent components or better (Shimano 105/ Ultegra/Dura-Ace, Sram Rival/Force/Red, avoid campagnolo on a budget as spares/replacements/fixes tend to be expensive.) is a good start but if you get really serious (100km+/week) expect to upgrade to carbon within 2 years.

    Decide if you are racing or just riding, go for enduro geometry unless you are thinking of serious racing, its a lot easier on the back.

    Ride everything you can get your hands on and work out what you like riding before you buy, but keep it to your price point.

    Find an LBS that treat you well for servicing/advice.

    For big brands Giant are generally pretty good and you can usually get some sharp pricing, but really any good bike is pretty good these days regardless of brand. Specialized and Trek tend to have a slightly higher price, but see the last point as saving a little bit and never riding is a bigger waste of money. Every brand has pluses and minus's but any of he companies with a pro team are a pretty good bet.

    Make sure the bike you buy gets you excited to ride and you want to go out all the time. Regardless of what people say the paintjob matters, an ugly bike won't get ridden as much.
  • Machka9
    Machka9 Posts: 22,213 Member
    First of all, if you posted this in a cycling forum (and I'd encourage you to join one. :)) this discussion would eventually be closed and locked. This is a discussion that gets very heated.

    However, of those two choices, I'd go aluminium ... mainly because of your budget and my perception of durability.

    Personally, given a broader range of choices, I'd go steel or titanium. I have both and like both. :)
  • andrwclem
    andrwclem Posts: 6 Member
    Why not buy second hand
    Carbon bike on ebay may be
  • BrianSharpe
    BrianSharpe Posts: 9,206 Member
    andrwclem wrote: »
    Why not buy second hand
    Carbon bike on ebay may be

    I would never buy a used carbon frame that I couldn't thoroughly inspect first.....seriously bad advice.

    OP there's nothing wrong with an aluminum bike (I'd even consider a steel frame if I could find an older Italian or Japanese bike for the right price). Unless you're riding in very hilly areas the absolute weight of the bike is probably less important than rolling resistance - investing in lighter rims and better tires will pay you more dividends than worrying about aluminum vs fibre (a decent carbon bike is considerably more expensive)

    As to your groupset.....Shimano 105 is as good as 90% of riders will ever need, You pay a lot more for Ultegra or Dura-Ace to save a few grams and you may find that the stock saddle that comes with the bike is ok - I rode the one that came with my bike for 5 years (and thousands of kms) and am just replacing it this year (I'm going retro with a Brooks leather saddle - they mould perfectly to your contours over time)

    Have fun!

  • kimdawnhayden
    kimdawnhayden Posts: 298 Member
    Go visit a good bike shop and let them help you decide. I've also heard not to buy used. Frame could have small cracks which means bad news.
  • columbus2015
    columbus2015 Posts: 51 Member
    My ride is aluminum frame with carbon fork/seatpost.. the carbon takes the road vibrations out, the aluminum helps keep it affordable. Shimano 105 components are the sweet spot of price/performance it seems. My bike is all 105 and it is quite nice
  • barbara3213
    barbara3213 Posts: 98 Member
    Thanks for the suggestions. Maybe I just need to take my old bike in for a tune-up. My exhusband has always been a serious rider, and he fitted the bike with great components. The frame is chrome-moly (I think, it's been a lot of years). At the time, it was considered a pretty light frame.
  • msf74
    msf74 Posts: 3,498 Member
    Maybe I just need to take my old bike in for a tune-up. My exhusband has always been a serious rider, and he fitted the bike with great components. The frame is chrome-moly

    Do you know what frame / components? There has been a huge upsurge in people riding steel frame retro bikes where I am and the ride is sweeeeeet.

  • barbara3213
    barbara3213 Posts: 98 Member
    We used Shimano components. I don't know how much they've improved in recent years, but they were good components at the time. Very happy. I have to admit, when I went shopping yesterday, I coveted the new shifters. I have the old thumb shifters that sit on near the stem.
  • msf74
    msf74 Posts: 3,498 Member
    We used Shimano components. I don't know how much they've improved in recent years, but they were good components at the time. Very happy. I have to admit, when I went shopping yesterday, I coveted the new shifters. I have the old thumb shifters that sit on near the stem.

    Get your old bike serviced and enjoy. Sounds v cool.

    Brifters are great and easy to use but a lot of improvements over the years are about marginal increases in performance rather than real benefits for most cyclists.
  • NorthCascades
    NorthCascades Posts: 10,968 Member
    I'm getting ready to buy a set of carbon fiber wheels. :)

    I'm going to disagree with most people who've posted here. Every aluminum bike I've had has been uncomfortable to ride over long distances. Aluminum can vibrate like a tuning fork and that can be fatiguing to ride. Carbon fiber is the opposite, it "dampens" vibrations. Photographers prize carbon tripods not just for their weight but for their stability, and that can make a well designed carbon bike more comfortable to ride. That's been my experience with the CF bikes I've had and with replacing alu handlebars with CF ones then riding the same bike over the same roads. The difference isn't huge but when you ride 50 miles at a time you feel it.

    That said, if you have a fine steel bike, you should probably hold on to your money.
  • coreyreichle
    coreyreichle Posts: 1,039 Member
    My birthday is next week and I've decided to get myself a new bike. Road bike, drop handle bars...would you recommend aluminum or carbon frame? I don't want to spend a fortune but I'm not going to Walmart either. Any advice about what to look for or avoid? Thanks. I'm excited to get back in the saddle again after almost 20 years. Speaking of saddle, I will use the saddle and pedals from my old bike.

    I'd suggest an aluminum frame, personally. Only because you'll save money, and those extra grams shaved off aren't worth it for most people. Repairs are impossible on a carbon frame. Difficult, but not impossible on an aluminum frame.

    Unless you're looking to do cycle touring: In which case, I'd suggest a steel frame.
  • MiloBloom83
    MiloBloom83 Posts: 2,723 Member
    My ride is aluminum frame with carbon fork/seatpost.. the carbon takes the road vibrations out, the aluminum helps keep it affordable. Shimano 105 components are the sweet spot of price/performance it seems. My bike is all 105 and it is quite nice

    This. Mine was a Trek 1500slr, which is no longer made. A good, solid ride. Your budget says aluminum.

    Don't ask me how much i've spent on upgrades to things like seat and wheel sets. I've more than doubled the original purchase price.
  • KathyApplebaum
    KathyApplebaum Posts: 188 Member
    My vote is for getting the bike tuned up and replacing a part or two. I popped for the major service (about $200) a few months ago, and it was like getting a whole new bike.

    I'm in the minority on this, but I don't worry about shaving every last ounce off the bike. Getting rid of the last 10 pounds I need to lose will make more of a difference than a fraction of an ounce here and there.
  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 41,282 Member
    edited May 2016
    andrwclem wrote: »
    Why not buy second hand
    Carbon bike on ebay may be

    I would never buy a used carbon frame that I couldn't thoroughly inspect first.....seriously bad advice.

    OP there's nothing wrong with an aluminum bike (I'd even consider a steel frame if I could find an older Italian or Japanese bike for the right price). Unless you're riding in very hilly areas the absolute weight of the bike is probably less important than rolling resistance - investing in lighter rims and better tires will pay you more dividends than worrying about aluminum vs fibre (a decent carbon bike is considerably more expensive)

    As to your groupset.....Shimano 105 is as good as 90% of riders will ever need, You pay a lot more for Ultegra or Dura-Ace to save a few grams and you may find that the stock saddle that comes with the bike is ok - I rode the one that came with my bike for 5 years (and thousands of kms) and am just replacing it this year (I'm going retro with a Brooks leather saddle - they mould perfectly to your contours over time)

    Have fun!

    Agree with all of this. I have both a carbon road bike and an aluminum CX bike...I enjoy them both. My road bike has 105 components and they are excellent. I do some road racing and some time trial stuff which is why I invested in carbon...but nothing particularly serious, I do it more for fun so I don't worry about being super light. I'm partial to Specialized and ride a Roubaix Elite. My wife rides a Specialized Dolce Elite which is aluminum and was a fraction of the cost of my carbon bike...and she loves it, it's a really nice ride.