What Have You Learned Jeff? Carbon vs Aluminum

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    • #647910


      I’d love to have you do a podcast with yourself.  After all these years, it would be great to interview yourself and tell is what you have learned over the past years of hosting your podcast.  It would be so interesting to hear that.  But, that would probably be a ton of work for you.  Keep up the great work and love the show.

      Anyway, to my question.  You have talked with a lot of people in the industry.  The interview with Sam from Cane Creek has convinced me to spec out my new ride with Cane Creek products but, I am currently trying to decide which frame to go with.  The Ripley V4 or the Ripley AF.  On a cursory look, it seems like a number of frame manufactures are putting out aluminum framed versions of their best bikes.  Not sure if this is just targeted at cost savings, or if aluminum is making a comeback since we have “discovered” it is actually not a bad frame material since they can do so much with the material and make it stiff and compliant based on wall thickness and shape.

      If price was no object, nor weight savings, since the weight isn’t that big of a difference between the two when talking about MTBs, what are your thoughts based on what you know/learned?

      Anyone is allowed to chime in of course, and I am sure it will be a lively debate, but looking to get a gauge on the current thinking of a Ripley in carbon or aluminum.

      Thanks in advance and again, your show is something I listen to as soon as I can on my commutes.



    • #650663

      The biggest thing I’ve learned over years of interviews and reporting is that every design choice has its pros and cons, and there’s no such thing as a perfect product or perfect solution.

      I just bought a Canyon Neuron trail bike and decided to go with the aluminum version. Honestly the biggest factor was the cost, and while there are weight and ride quality differences between carbon and aluminum, the advantages of carbon weren’t enough for me to outweigh the cost, at least in this particular decision.

    • #650851

      I’m pretty fed up with creaky bottom brackets on carbon bikes.  Had a Tri bike that I could never resolve after trying 4 different solutions.  I think it was just out of round and needed major carbon repairs to fix it.  (Trek junk)  and now a new to me 2013 Scott Spark is creaking like crazy.  Yes, I checked the seat post and suspension pivots.  Its the BB.  Will be a winter project ot tear it apart and find a better BB solution for it.

      Point being, getting precise dimensions on a metal that can be machines to 0.0001″ accuracy using a CNC machine vs. carbon that it hard to even get to form a perfectly round shape in high volume production, is a big difference.   I suppose bonding was more problematic overall as Trek had issues on the first PCLV.  I wonder what the aerospace industry is doing to resolve this?

    • #653478

      When I was building frames and had converstions with engineers from the aerospace industry, I was advised to stay out of the carbon segment. Frankly, I placed a great deal of trust in their advice and still do.

      Titanium and chromo were fine materials to work with. Welding is the part that is needing most attention to detail, such as heat control during the welding process. Especially with titanium!

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