ALUMINIUM OR CARBON FRAME?

Nowadays, given the great variety of possibilities in relation to the arrangement of materials, be it for MTB, road, urban cycling and others, it is possible to select between different structure options (in carbon fiber, aluminum, steel and other combinations of compounds).

However, as it has resulted in recent times, around cycling, the wide variety of selections may well be more confusing than making us appreciate the benefits and particularity of each option.

Carbon vs aluminum  frame

Thus, we would like to comment on the carbon fiber bicycle models and their comparison in relation to aluminum alloy machines; a couple of materials that dominate the catalog of most manufacturers, and that the best option can influence the results you want to obtain.

Now, although it is true that we are dealing with a couple of manufacturing materials with different characteristics and with particular natures (one, metallic material, and the other, synthetic fiber material). In the end, the main purpose is to create a structure that allows maintaining the most essential details for the assembly of a bicycle; Although they will come to present some specific differences.

In this way, we must begin by highlighting that aluminum alloy is a metal and its production is not natural, although certain mechanical properties can be obtained with its malleability (such is the case of the degree of rigidity, hardness and ductility).

Currently, thanks to the impressive steel advances, different variations of the aluminum alloy can be obtained (such as the 7000, 6060, 6000 and 5000 series – just to mention a few -) that initially presents a somewhat weak material, especially when compared to the strength and stiffness of steel, but which helps keep weight records lower (almost similar to those of carbon fiber).

Meanwhile, carbon fiber is a completely elaborated material that can be adjusted to what each client or manufacturer needs or requires. While its production is of particular interest, for the formation of a structure it is necessary to make it as layers of fabric (allowing the interlacing of the braid and the mixture of various carbon fibers), in order to obtain modules that represent different degrees stiffness and flexibility. With this, this type of material can present an unlimited universe of construction options.

Comparison of characteristics and benefits of carbon vs aluminum frame

The rigidity

Generally speaking, aluminum alloy tends to have a lower degree of hardness compared to carbon fiber; although at a certain limit, the deformation of both materials is quite homogeneous and the natural state is quite smooth, especially when the forces decrease after deformation.

Although in general terms, carbon fiber is a much stiffer compound, in terms of deformation in its original state, and the reactions may be more unexpected.

The absorption of vibrations produced by the driving terrain

Whether due to the terrain or the number of hours they have been riding, the accumulation of vibrations may well affect the rider’s performance.

Thus, a material such as aluminum alloy can act in a more natural way to dissipate vibrations, and it is limited to transmit this type of defect to the driver’s arms and body.

Meanwhile, carbon fiber is a much less generous material and can create a greater accumulation of vibrations that are transmitted to the cyclist; in this way, the resonance of this type of defects can influence the direction (which accumulates a considerable amount of vibrations and affects the overall performance)

The level of shock absorption

It must be taken into account that any type of vibration represents certain movements, in low intensity and high frequency, that can produce some impacts that are the product of the terrain of movement (such as defects such as potholes, uneven terrain and much more).

Thus, at this point, materials such as aluminum alloy can absorb details such as vector forces in the worst possible way; while, compared to carbon fiber, the situation produces a damping effect when crossing by bumping with different irregularities.

Greater or less resistance to fatigue

Perhaps, one of the main unknowns to be solved, by each user, is in relation to the useful life what each material can offer, an answer that translates into whether the frame is resistant against cracks and cracks (and thus know the resistance of complete tubes in each section of the frame).

However, due to its metallic properties, aluminum alloy is much more vulnerable in relation to fatigue and the degradation of its compounds. Similarly, deterioration, in relation to mechanical details, is linked to oxidation and various other factors related to degradation.

In this way, carbon is a much more resistant material against fatigue; and is that, due to the use of synthetic fibers, together with a lower density in its structure, not to mention the elastic properties, a platform can be obtained that can better withstand the ravages of time, regardless of the intensity of the work that is applied.

Even so, carbon fiber can present a great disadvantage, and that is that in the face of a serious impact the damage is more difficult to compensate (inclusive, in most cases, serious breaks represent leaving a bicycle unusable). And it is that, at this point, the manufacturing quality and the production standards established by each brand take great relevance (therefore, it will always be more advisable to acquire recognized brands that pay great attention to the client and important guarantees – in the end, they are quite worthy purchases-).

The importance of weight

In general, carbon fiber is associated with low weight, depending on the thickness of the surface and the volume of the material; however, it should also be noted that there are different areas that require different layers of tissue in areas of bonding and that require homogeneity with materials such as resin or any type of adhesive, a series of characteristics that can influence to equalize the weight compared to an aluminum alloy structure (of course, this always compared to top versions).

Although in general features, carbon fiber can always save a few grams on the scale. But although the weight can be very similar, the main peculiarity of a carbon frame, in relation to one in aluminum, is the solidity that can generate greater pedaling efficiency.

Conclusion

In the end, although we can well take into account the quality and benefits in relation to a carbon fiber and an aluminum alloy structure, one of the main factors that can decide a purchase is the final price. Since the main objective, in any type of purchase, is to obtain the best investment, with a tight budget.

While, generally speaking, if you are one of those fans who constantly seek to perform tests at a competitive level, they could very well end up obtaining a lightweight set that offers the best possible benefits, as carbon fiber can provide.

Meanwhile, in the other range of the spectrum, if you are one of those riders who practice for fun and sports, and just want a machine that covers a certain compliance, then the aluminum options can be very interesting.

Written by https://www.little-dragon-bikes.eu/

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