Carbon fiber is, without a doubt, the most popular material for modern road bikes due to its low weight and incredible strength. However, what many cyclists don’t know is that there are many benefits to carbon fiber that extend far beyond the properties that make it a great material for bike frames. For example, carbon frames are extremely easy to maintain. You can wash them with soap and water and they'll look like new, and you can even hit them with a power washer without worrying about hurting your frame. In this article we discuss further benefits of having a carbon road bike. As well as our recommendations of the best carbon road bikes under $5000.
Why Choose A Carbon Fiber Bike Frame?
There are plenty of reasons for why you would want to consider choosing a carbon fiber frame. Carbon fiber is extremely light This is perhaps the most obvious reason that you should opt for a carbon fiber frame rather than any other type of bike frame. The weight of a carbon frame is extremely low. Typically, road frames weigh around 500g (just over 1lb). The best carbon road bike frames weigh in at a maximum of 360g (12.5oz). And finally, a carbon frame can be built with "tubular" frame materials. Which will allow for greater flexibility when it comes to other components such as suspension or brakes.
Carbon Fiber Road Bikes Are Durable
Carbon fibers can be woven, braided, laminated, or molded into various materials, and then it is cast into a certain shape. In contrast, aluminum is often made from rod-like sheets of aluminum alloy. This gives a quality bike frame that is scratch-resistant, strong, and durable. Theoretically because of the higher strength-to-weight ratio, a carbon frame is able to flex and bend without breaking. Making them much more bendy than aluminum frames. Also, in contrast to metal, carbon fibers are extremely light. This means that a carbon fiber bike won't weigh you down when you ride it. A carbon road bike with a carbon fiber frame has weight that is up to 80% less than aluminum or steel frames.
Carbon Fiber Road Bikes Are Lightweight
Carbon fiber frames are often mentioned as a reason why a carbon road bike is a good option. But what many riders don't realize is that a lightweight frame actually doesn't necessarily make for a good bike. As mentioned above, carbon fiber is incredibly strong. This means that you can ride a carbon road bike with a very low amount of pressure on your spine. That means that you can get away with a smaller frame. That is somewhere between the size of a fat bike and a full-blown road bike. In fact, many full-sized road bikes are designed with a very thin frame. Purposely kept very light to make the bikes easier to ride. Not that you'd notice on the flat. However during your climbing attempts you'll often find that the bike becomes a bit less comfortable.
Carbon Fiber Road Bikes Are Strong
With these advantages comes a few drawbacks. Carbon fiber is incredibly expensive and doesn't stack with other materials as well as aluminum or steel. However, on the flipside, a carbon frame can be stronger than other materials. Due to the difficulty of making and removing parts, carbon has limited space in the cross-section of the frame. This allows for greater structural rigidity. Furthermore, carbon is an extremely light material. In fact, the average carbon road bike weights around 9 kilograms (20.6 pounds). With some of the lighter models coming in at under 10 kilograms (22 pounds). If you want to take your riding to the next level, a carbon road bike is the way to go.
Carbon Fiber Road Bikes Are Fast
Many traditional road bikes are, by and large, geared towards riders who want a simple, effortless bike. That will deliver high speed performance across long distances. This is the type of rider that will often take their road bike onto short race courses like the Tour of California. And those speeds will translate well on the longer sportive routes that sportive riders take part in. These riders will often be looking for something with an incredible weight to weight ratio. With carbon fiber bike frames, you can get the same performance without the higher weight penalty associated with a heavier frame.
Carbon Fiber Road Bikes Are Responsive
The amazing thing about carbon fiber is that it is actually more responsive than a traditional metal frame. Because of this, carbon fiber is an ideal material for training bikes as they are easy to pedal, handle, and really stress one's quads. This also makes them ideal for long distance rides. According to Shimano, carbon fiber bikes have better braking performance than alloy bikes. Not only do they have stronger, better brakes, but they are also easier to spot on the road because they often appear in vivid colours. Although carbon fiber bikes don't have a monopoly on colourful frames.
Are Carbon Fiber Road Bikes Comfortable?
As you may expect, carbon fiber is much stiffer than steel. To make a carbon fiber frame stiff enough to absorb the force of hitting rough roads without being too stiff to bend your back into a bento box, it uses a proprietary mix of carbon and resin, which combines to form a sheet of hard, durable material. Of course, not all carbon frames are created equal, which is why you'll often see bigger carbon bikes with a seatpost that offers more height and less drop than bikes with lighter carbon frames. A long travel bike with a small seatpost, though, is a great choice if you want to save money without compromising on comfort. Carbon fiber is both much stronger and much lighter than any other material used in cycling.