Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Carbon schmarbon

Okay, time to stir up the pot a bit. Got the latest Velonews a few days ago, and there was a humorous ad by Litespeed that had faux carbon-fiber stickers to put on your bike. Now, I've never been a fan of carbon fiber bikes for a few reasons. One, I'm a bit of a curmudgeon when it comes to cycling tradition. Two, they're expensive (although they're getting cheaper and cheaper). Three, they're no lighter than a good aluminum bike, and from everything I've heard they're no more comfortable than a good titanium or steel bike. True, carbon can be manipulated to ride like a stiff, light aluminum bike, or a compliant, light titanium or steel bike, but then why not just get the aluminum, titanium or steel bike? A good metal bike is generally going to be cheaper than a good carbon fiber bike anyway. And a cheap carbon bike is going to use kludgy lugs or mitered and carbon wrapped joints (like a bamboo hut!).
__Now of course I recognize that true carbon fans laugh at the gimmicky use of carbon fiber for the sake of carbon fiber. And I realize that carbon is good for the bike business. Bikes need the next big thing to drive margin and sales just like technology or any other business. But really, what's in it for me? Other than bling, is there really any advantage to carbon fiber frames?