Aluminum or carbon bicycle? Shopping guide

Choosing between an aluminum frame or a carbon frame is essential to get your purchase decision right and get the most out of your new acquisition.

Buy a carbon or aluminum bike. What is better?
To help in your purchasing decision we leave you with some basic tips accompanied the main advantages and disadvantages of bicycles aluminum and carbon bikes.

Aluminum or Carbon for MTB
From here it is interesting to differentiate between modalities. If your discipline is mountain biking you should keep in mind that the requirement to which you are going to subject your bike is much greater than that of a road bike. The bumps, the change of terrain, the stones are some obstacles that your bike will have to absorb along the route.

Precisely for this reason mountain bikes are heavier than road bikes because they must have more solid structures and resistant to vibration. For this reason, a carbon mountain bike will offer you an incredible feeling of lightness compared to an aluminum one, especially in the uphill sections where the weight is most noticeable.

At the same time a mountain bike (MTB) made of aluminum will have something more maneuverability and probably impact resistance . If you choose an aluminum mountain bike you will surely have to deal with a few extra kilos but it is also likely that the duration and reliability of the frame will be somewhat greater. Precisely for these two reasons the majority of XC (Cross Country) runners opt for lightweight carbon bicycles, while cyclists of other free ride modalities such as downhill or enduro will choose more rigid and resistant bicycles made of aluminum.

Aluminum or Carbon for road
As for the road bike the thing goes by similar roads but with some nuances. Carbon bicycles are lighter than aluminum bicycles, but they are also considerably more expensive and, at the price-performance level, aluminum may occupy a somewhat higher position.

For a rather lower price you can have a bicycle with better components that present, at most, a couple of kilos of more. On the road the differences in weight are not as prominent and you can find aluminum bicycles clearly below 10 kilos .

Analyzing other aspects we must say that in favor of carbon is the best absorption of vibrations on equal terms and an aluminum bicycle may be somewhat less comfortable especially for those who ride on roads somewhat secondary and in a worse state of conservation.

The carbon stiffness is given by the interlacing of fibers that has in its structure so that a cheap carbon can have a performance clearly inferior to a more worked aluminum.

The best brands of bicycles are committed to both materials and although high-end bicycles are always associated with carbon, more and more improvements are also noticed in the field of aluminum, since it allows manufacturers to offer bicycles at a lower price and with a higher ratio. quality-price difficult to match for carbon.

Weight difference between aluminum and carbon frame
The main fear of most users before making a decision is around the weight of the bicycle . Specifically about the weight of the painting .

In this sense, the clear and convincing idea that ” carbon bicycles are light and heavy aluminum bicycles” has been established . A theory that although it has some truth is well worth putting into context and nuancing some aspects of it.

It is true that in comparative terms carbon is lighter than aluminum . But there are a number of factors to keep in mind that increasingly equal the two weights.

The carbon appeared a few years ago with great force in the sector and everything suggested that it would relieve the aluminum to a second or third plane practically marginal, but after some years of struggle the thing has not ended up being much less the expected one. Currently each material retains its public and its part of the market. The manufacturers bet in practically all cases for both materials and the improvements are evident in both materials.

As we said the carbon is somewhat lighter but most carbon bicycles, especially in the case of MTB, require certain reinforcements and layers of union that make the total weight of the frame increase considerably, while in aluminum the finishes of the Different points of union do not require so many reinforcements as it is a slightly stiffer material by default.

The difference in weight of aluminum and carbon is important but we must not forget that the final weight of the bicycle is determined by something more than the frame. If you have a big budget and you want a light bike, the most normal thing is that you choose a carbon bike with high-end components and good wheels , but if you want a light bike for an average price perhaps you should consider the possibility of buying a bicycle. aluminum with good components, before choosing a carbon bike with more basic components and therefore heavier.

The carbon fiber continues to evolve each year and are lighter alloys. Aluminum does not stay behind and nothing has to do with weight, the aluminum of 10 years ago with that of now. Most manufacturers offer bicycles with similar assemblies in both versions. Aluminum and carbon , and the truth is that although the best bicycles on the market are still carbon fiber, there are aluminum models that far exceed some carbon. The difference in weight between a good aluminum and a mid-range carbon can be really small, so it would not hurt to let yourself be guided by the most generalized opinions. You will appreciate the assembly of the bicycle in its entirety.At the weight level, the differences between both materials are getting smaller and on a road bike you hardly get more than 2 kilos difference.

As you may have noticed, there is no argument with sufficient weight to affirm that aluminum bicycles are better than carbon bicycles . Each bicycle is a world and each material can fit into a certain audience. So remember that although carrying an aluminum bike is in many cases have to ballast with a few grams may more than compensate for its excellent reliability or price more adjusted.

Before deciding on one or another material, take a break and calmly appreciate what use you are going to give to your bike and, above all, what your priorities are. As an example:

If you are an occasional cyclist who simply looks for fun and sports on a bicycle do not have any doubt that your choice should be aluminum, while if you are a competitive cyclist and something more amateur carbon may be your material .

The previous example may seem very basic and it is true that most of you will find yourself in an intermediate situation with what your choice should come after a general assessment of different independent aspects of the weight. Among those likely to be the price, rigidity, absorption or warranty.

Precisely the price is another factor of great importance for most people. Carbon frames are more expensive than aluminum frames , which in many cases will be a matter of assessing if you prefer a mounting with a lightweight carbon frame and more basic components or if you opt for a more economical table of aluminum and some better components . Finding the point of balance between both ends is what will allow you to make a decision with guarantees.