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Alu v Carbon?????

Advice required from a wiser person please....

In my first proper season of triathlon and currently use the same bike to train and race, a carbon-framed road bike. However, I'm getting a bit fed up of people appearing to cruise past me on the bike on tri-bikes without being out of breath. Obviously the aero position is beneficial so I'm considering buying one.......

.....should I get a cheaper alu framed bike for a few years and then upgrade or go straight for a carbon one which would cost me a small fortune? Is there much difference betwen the two in terms of race times?



  • wyno70wyno70 Posts: 189
    A tri bike won't immediately make you lots of mph faster. Yes it'll certainly help but is a big financial commitment, especially when you are more than likely to want something different in a year os so's time!

    Personally I'm in my 4th season of tri and have only just got one. I love it and it has made a difference but I'm not sure it would have done 2 years ago!

    I lusted after all sorts of different bikes, got the road one I wanted and now have the tri bike I want. As such, I'm now a happy man and no longer spend hours drooling over pictures of bikes . . . . . . for now!!

    I guess ultimately it depends on how much cash you have to burn. If you want it then go for it, but my guess is you'll want something different when you've done a couple of seasons and have improved as a triathlete!!

    Good luck.
  • Bucko75Bucko75 Posts: 47
    Thanks for the advice, I think you might have a point.......my road bike is a Cube, £1600 so not the most expensive but niot a cheap one either!

    I've had my eye on a Planet-X Pro Carbon Stealth as they seem to be great value however haven't got the cash to buy one at the moment, hence the thoughts about a cheaper Alu bike - its probably been compounded by the fact my mate has just got one of those Fuji tri bikes at £1100 from Evans and I'm green with envy and worried he'll now be able to go quicker on his bike leg than me and have the bragging rights!
  • ZacniciZacnici Posts: 1,385
    It all depends how comitted you are/want to be. A tri bike is definiteky the way to go but we all have different circimstances and priorities.

    My first posting on this forum was because I had reached a plateau on my road bike (a humble Giant SCR2 that I still have) and sought advice on which bike to get. I went for a Focus Izalco Tria and immediately saw a benefit. I absolutely love this bike, it is an alu frame and well specced and most important of all it looks good on the photos

    Putting it bluntly I am a middle ranking (52 year old) age grouper who is not setting the world alight but a tri bike has definitely helped pull me from the bottom third into the top half. This is a combination of a faster bike ride and a better run due to the tri geometry which is (the run is my strong discipline). I am a poor swimmer but regularly pass younger people on road bikes but not many people on road bikes pass me; the ones that do pass me are ones that should do i.e. young guys on tri bikes.

    If you do go for a tri bike should it be alu or carbon? After 3 years on my alu tria I am going carbon only because I entered the Outlaw and a carbon should give a smoother ride and hopefully be a little bit faster. If I was sticking to Sprints ODs then I personally would stay with my alu Tria. I am swapping over most of the compnents to the new frame as the Tria is well specced.

    So from my own perspective I am glad that I went down the route that I have taken, it has given me a great sense of achievement and although I have 'tweaked' the Tria I am not overly obsessed with the 'I need new bling' mentality - whoops does that mean i am not a proper triathalete?

    So what are your immediate and long term goals, if Sprint/OD and you are not in the top ten a switch from a road to a tri bike is unlikely to get you a podium place. You will in all probability still be passed even if you do ge a tri bike but the guys who do will be the podium chasers and hey you never know the right bike might just get you that quantum leap.

    If you are looking to do an Iron distance then from what I understand a carbon bike helps reduce the road 'buzz' hence my decision to swap the frame.

    An alternative is to reconfigure your carbon road bike. Bopomofo did exactly that, he ditched the drops and put on a tri cockpit and I believe a reversible seatpost to get a 76-78 deg angle.

    Hope that helps
  • Bucko75Bucko75 Posts: 47
    Well, I am very much a beginner and have only raced sprint distances so far, coming in around the 1hr 20min mark......the bike leg has taken 35 minutes in the Tatton Park Sprint and 45 minutes for the Thames Turbo series races (no idea why I am so slow on that course, though its always got a sidewind - thats my excuse anyway!). I've entered the Tatton Park Olympic this year and will race more Olympic distances in the future so its not a case of buying a posh bike and then never using it.....Its a case of being able to afford the Alu now or having to wait until next year to get the sexy carbon bike....I must admit seeing all those bling bikes in transition does make me a little bit jealous. I have no ambitions to do an Ironman distance so won't be spending hours and hours on the bike....my concern is that I'll get an Alu bike and love it but then want a carbon one soon after!
  • ZacniciZacnici Posts: 1,385
    Well Bucko IMHO you have a nice bike in the Cube and I think you may miss the carbon if you get an alu bike and would be itching for a carbon in no time although again IMHO a decent alu Tri bike is fine for Sprint and OD.

    Your options seem to be:

    1. You get your alu Tri bike and ensure that the components are as good as possible and then in a couple of years time get a carbon frame, swap the components over and sell the alu frame.
    2. Go straight for a carbon Tri bike.
    3. Explore reconfiguring the Cube; Bopomofo rides a tasty looking carbon Dolan Mythos and I hope I am not being too presumptious by suggesting that you may want to ask his advice.

    Good luck with Tatton
  • graham33graham33 Posts: 265
    If you don't mind I'll add my two penny's worth:

    I have a alu giant frame, which I've had for 3 years.....

    I bought a Carbon framed bike which I LOVE riding.....but it's so fragile, scratches and marks so easily. If the worst happens and you carsh - it's almost certain that the frame will be written off!

    But my 3 year old winter/training bike looks immaculate.....i've dropped it, fell off it and still there are no marks on it...

    So my thoughts are a good alu frame will likely to be same/similar weight, but last much longer.....
  • Bucko75Bucko75 Posts: 47
    Some good advice here guys, I appreciate it..........

    It does appeal to me that the alu bike is a bike more robust and as I've never ridden one before there is a high probability I will fall off at some point. I'm currently looking at a second-hand 2008 Cube Aerium alu with SRAM Force groupset for less than a grand. Might be a good introductory aero bike.....obviously I will still drool over the carbon delights in transition!

    I've caught the bug for this triathlon lark so I will end up getting an aero bike its just a case of when and how much!
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