When choosing a frame material that best suits my riding style and budget, I always try for plastic — industry slang for carbon fiber. Although it sounds expensive, fragile and potentially short-lived, it’s actually better than aluminum on every level.
No disrespect intended, as aluminum has been the material of choice for me and others on tight budgets looking for optimal performance, but due to continued trickle-down technology, carbon is increasingly more affordable, plus it lasts longer and is capable of surviving some extremely big hits.
Although aluminum is initially less expensive, it possesses the shortest fatigue life of any material used to manufacture bike frames and components, with a typical life expectancy of between five and 10 years. Conversely, quality carbon fiber weaves and resins possess the longest fatigue life, with confident manufacturers such as Felt Bicycles providing a lifetime warranty.
Ultimately, when considering the tensile ride qualities and limited life span of aluminum, or the soft, whippy feel of steel, carbon fiber clearly wins with its ideal balance of compliance, responsiveness and durability.
So, if carbon technology is strong enough for F1’s, 787’s, Ibis, Felt and Santa Cruz Bicycles, I won’t look back and will continue riding plastic like I stole it!
— Team rider Forrest Huisman is the author of this week’s Marc Pro-Strava Racing column. For more information, results and upcoming events from the Truckee-based cycling team, visit http://marcpro-strava.com.