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Results 1 to 11 of 11
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Posts
    1

    Carbon vs. Titanium?

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    Hi all,
    I am in the market for a new road bike. I have a 10-yr. old Serotta, ti/carbon, that I love. When I chose the Serotta I tried out a few all-carbon frames and they felt really pingy to me. My former bike was a steel frame that was heavy but I liked the feel of it and that it was pretty forgiving on long road rides. I do a lot of climbing/hills/mountains where I live so therefore also a lot of descents. The ti/carbon combo seemed like the perfect combination and sturdy overall. Now I am considering an all-carbon Specialized or Cervelo frame, or possibly a custom Titanium frame from a local shop. The Titanium bikes seem pretty lightweight these days. I don't have any special fit needs but to get a comfortable/less aggressive geometry I would probably go custom, and am willing to invest in what I hope will be another 10-year bike. My question - does anyone have experience riding a titanium bike vs. full carbon? If so, how would you describe the differences? My other concern is that I am relatively light in weight and there are times on descents where I feel tossed around a bit by the wind - I suspect this will be even worse with a lighter carbon bike - does anyone have experience with this??

    Thank you in advance for any experience or insights to share!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Traveling Nomad
    Posts
    6,576
    Hi BoulderGal and welcome to TE!

    I really can't answer your question as I have never had a ti bike, but I've had a couple of full carbon frames and love them. Yes, if it's windy, you may get blown around a bit (I am also light in weight), but having a lighter bike for climbing offsets any negatives, to me. My only advice is to test ride anything you can get your hands on that fits you and see what you think. That said, I have never followed my own advice, as I am short and have ended up buying my last few bikes online. Still, after a few tweaks, I've been super happy with them.

    I hope you find what you are looking for!
    Emily

    2011 Jamis Dakar XC "Toto" - Selle Italia Ldy Gel Flow
    2007 Trek Pilot 5.0 WSD "Gloria" - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow
    2004 Bike Friday Petite Pocket Crusoe - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,764
    My experience is with carbon or aluminum, so I can't answer your questions. FWIW, when I got my carbon bike, I didn't really notice much difference between it and the old aluminum one other than the carbon offering a smoother ride on rough pavement. I don't feel particularly blown around by the wind on the carbon bike, unless it's very very windy in which case I prefer not to be riding at all. But I'm not exactly lightweight.

    One thing that comes to mind, since I've discussed different frame materials with a friend who has a fleet of steel bikes, does lots of long rides including some tours and tends to carry lots of gear on his bike -- with carbon you are very limited on your ability to add racks for trunk bags, panniers, or larger handlebar bags. If you think you'll want to have that type of gear on your bike, I think ti would be a better choice.

    I'm curious, on your Serotta, which parts are ti and which are carbon?

    - Gray Trek Madone 4.7 road bike, mystery crack in top tube repaired by Calfee, Bontrager Affinity RXL saddle
    - Red Trek 6000 mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver Trek 2000 road bike
    - Two awesome and worn out Juliana saddles

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Concord, MA
    Posts
    13,010
    Welcome and I can maybe speak to your question, as I have a carbon Trek Silque and a custom Ti Guru (which are not made anymore). I like them both. The feel of the ti is smooth in a different way than carbon, and really not heavy at all. I think my ti bike weighs 2 lbs. more than the carbon. Maybe less. I just don't notice a lot of difference. I mostly ride the carbon bike, though, but it has nothing to do with the material, it's the geometry. At the time I had the custom bike made, there weren't any relaxed geometry carbon WSD road bikes. My ti bike is only 6 years old, but a lot has changed in the bike industry in those 6 years. I got a new carbon bike at the end of 2014 and it is just better fitted for me. However, whenever I finally get on my ti bike, I always say "this feels so nice." I ride a lot of hills, too, and it does well on the hills. I have really low gearing on that bike, though.
    2015 Trek Silque SSL
    Specialized Oura

    2011 Guru Praemio
    Specialized Oura

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    california
    Posts
    1,155
    The ride quality of a frame is about the material and also how tubes are used and the geometry of the frame design. A custom builder can match ti, carbon or both to your individual needs. It’s easier to individualize with Ti, Ti/carbon or custom tube sized/shaped carbon. Your Serotta is probably like my Seven. The ti/carbon mix of my Seven gives me a comfortable long ride and good power transfer for climbing and steadiness for descending, one of my best money investments for my health and sanity too. I’ve found descending is also about tires, wheels, body technique, frame design and especially keeping a mental/body fluid-ness with the ability to respond and correct quickly for things like wind, road surface etc. Strong buffering wind on a long descend and i'd slow down, relax and be glad that gravity was on my side.

    My wife has an all Ti for climbing and it leaves her not wanting. I’m sure Serotta had good customer/builder discussions as the design was put together…..one of the bigger benefits of going custom for some.

    ‘An all carbon bike could get destroyed easier than Ti” was in the back of my mind when I made my decision.

    welcome and post about your boulder area climbing sometime!!!!!!
    ‘The negative feelings we all have can be addictive…just as the positive…it’s up to
    us to decide which ones we want to choose and feed”… Pema Chodron

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    6,392
    The carbon lay-up and Ti alloy mix makes a big difference, as well as geometry, fit, and frame stiffness versus flexibility. You might look for something with a bit more flex if you are a lighter rider. But that also depends on your height. A larger bike naturally has more flex than a smaller bike, all other design aspects being equal. You don't want a bike that lacks power transfer (so has too much flex), but you don't want a bike that is too stiff, and the force is transferred to your body. (Where the bike beats you up as you ride).

    How tall are you? Does your Serotta have flex, is it really stiff? Somewhere in between? Talk to the frame-builder about flex versus stiffness, and try to determine what your bike is like.

    Suggestion. Test ride a Specialized Ruby, and then the Amira. The Ruby has a cush ride, and a lot more flex than the race-ready Amira. If you need a stiffer frameset, then the faster acceleration of the Amira might seem appropriate. If that frame works, then the Rudy might feel sluggish by comparison. If the Amira is too stiff, then your body might react with some pain over distances, whereas the Rudy will feel good. That should at least let you know what ride quality you are looking for.

    Another suggestion. Go find a Pinarello and test ride it. Pinas don't flex. So that might let you learn that quality with certainty, too. OTOH, I felt rather beat up by mine for the first week, after that, it was perfect. So adecent test period is important.

    Anyway. You are talking long term. Worth it to figure this out. If you let us know exactly the model and year of your Serotta, might be able to find a good review on ride quality. A good starting point for comparison to a new frameset.
    Last edited by Muirenn; 06-16-2017 at 07:03 AM.
    So long as the wheels are still turning, life is good.

    Battswebb

    Pinarello Quattro~CAADX~ Zurich Lemond
    Specialized Romin Saddles

    Surly Krampus!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,764
    Quote Originally Posted by rebeccaC View Post
    ‘An all carbon bike could get destroyed easier than Ti” was in the back of my mind when I made my decision.
    Yeah that too. When it comes time to replace my road bike, I will look into Ti before another carbon frame. I paid about $500 to repair a crack on the top tube of my carbon bike, and now worry about it falling over more than I did with the old aluminum one.

    - Gray Trek Madone 4.7 road bike, mystery crack in top tube repaired by Calfee, Bontrager Affinity RXL saddle
    - Red Trek 6000 mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver Trek 2000 road bike
    - Two awesome and worn out Juliana saddles

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    north woods of Wisconsin
    Posts
    579
    My only experience with a Ti bike was a Moots mountain bike that a fellow mountain biker let me take out for trail ride, one day. Since my favorite frame has always been steel, I loved it. Has a similar ride quality but is even more bombproof than steel, if such a thing is possible.

    If you're trying to add that last fraction of a mph to your average speed or squeeze max efficiency out of your bike with every pedal stroke, I think carbon is still the way to go. Definitely the lighter frame by the time you beef up the Ti to specs.

    On long road rides on pavement, though, I much prefer a steel bike to my carbon Trek Domane 4.3. The carbon Trek rides butter smooth and I love how light it is, but I have less feel for the road with it than with a steel bike and, yet, when it comes time for handling road cracks, the steel doesn't hurt as much. Go figure. I suspect titanium would be similar. I think it would be the comfort and durability choice.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Concord, MA
    Posts
    13,010
    I agree about the feel of ti (and steel), but I've had 3 carbon bikes and I am not someone who is "gentle" with my bikes. I've had crashes, too and never had any issues.
    Weight doesn't matter to me, but when I got my ti bike, it did take me awhile to match my speed to that on my carbon bike. At that point, it could have been getting used to the compact double, as my carbon bike at that point still had a triple. Now that both my bikes have the same gearing, it's not really different, except for the fact, I have my Arkel trail pack on my ti bike sometimes, or a pannier!
    2015 Trek Silque SSL
    Specialized Oura

    2011 Guru Praemio
    Specialized Oura

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    california
    Posts
    1,155
    Quote Originally Posted by Muirenn View Post
    Talk to the frame-builder about flex versus stiffness, and try to determine what your bike is like.
    Designing the proper vertical/lateral/drivetrain flex/stiffness into a frame for a persons needs is one of the benefits of a custom build in my mind. I learned a lot about how those are related to each other and the ride in the conversations during my Seven build. It’s a worthwhile issue to understand especially if you’re spending the money on a higher end custom bike.

    The transition from carbon fiber to titanium can help reduce vibration at the transition point. My seat tube/stays being carbon ending in Ti helps in that. Balanced with Ti designed for efficient power transfer and a carbon fork makes it my favorite construction design for the kind of long rides and climbing I like to do.

    Lots of choices to make a frame ride the way you want it to.....
    ‘The negative feelings we all have can be addictive…just as the positive…it’s up to
    us to decide which ones we want to choose and feed”… Pema Chodron

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Location
    Lakewood, Co
    Posts
    1,068
    I have an 11 year old Serotta ti/carbon custom frame. I've also had aluminum and full carbon. I get beat around no matter what the frame material. One year I got blown off the road on Rabbit Ears Pass while on Ride the Rockies tour. I stopped riding tours in Nebraska because I couldn't handle the wind. I attribute it my weight, 100 lbs. Good to know others have the same issue.

    Last week I had a refit done on my bike. While the bike fit well the fitter said some updating needed to be done. He recommended a newer style handlebar. He said I was "planked out". He meant my arms were stiff and I was riding in the curves of the handlebar. The new bars bring the reach closer to me, allow for a bend in my arms and seem to improve the steering. My thought is if I have better control I won't be like a "drunken sailor" in crosswinds.

    Because I have 650c wheels the seat stays are Ti. The only time I notice the stiffness is if there is too much air in my tires. I run 86 psi but sometimes the LBS will fill them higher which makes the ride uncomfortable for me.

    If you haven't had a fitting since you bought your bike it might be worth it to see if anything can be done to improve your fit. I was shocked at the changes we made to update my 06 fit to todays standards.

 

 

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