What is the real difference between carbon fibre vs aluminium vs steel vs titanium…
What are the pros and cons of each material?
Most high-end bikes are made from this material and for good reason:
- Lightest, strongest, stiffest material
- Best shock absorption
- Infinitely mouldable to any design
- Flexible where it needs to be
- Won’t rust or corrode like steel
- Not all carbon is created equal
- Can crack/fracture
- Strength and stiffness depend on design
Many entry level bikes are made from aluminium because it can be made stiff and light enough for a great ride.
- Great for climbing and sprinting
- Won’t rust or corrode
- Less expensive than carbon fibre
- Harsh on rough roads
- Can fatigue over time (Leads to overbuilding which adds to weight)
- Not easily repaired
- Weak joints
Steel will last a life time. It is also the easiest to repair, making it a great bike for touring.
- Flexes enough for a soft ride
- Most durable of all the materials
- Lively feel
- Easy to work with and repair
- Prone to rust/corrosion
- Flexes too much for racing
Titanium is a metal that takes aspects from aluminium and steel. It has better shock absorption that aluminium but is not quite as light.
- Its density is between that of steel and aluminum which makes it stiff but shock absorbing
- Lively feel
- Shock absorbing
- Does not corrode
- Difficult to make aero shapes due to welding considerations
- Difficult to repair
- Stiffness is traded for reduced weight
In summary: Each material has different qualities that you should keep in mind when you go to purchase your next ride.