Today Glen Bertagnoli talks a bit about Carbon Fiber and the cost versus benefits of it. Glen has been in the bike industry for over 20 years working and managing shops and now is the bike guru for Sports Authority. He is a local DFW rider and was a regular at the Erwin Park Summer Series in 2013.
Is Carbon Fiber Worth It?
We all know that one of the most popular things to do once we ride our beloved bikes for awhile is to start looking for things to upgrade and save some weight! Wheels, bars, stems, seat posts, etc. In the MTB market these days, options are almost endless.
So what do you buy?
Well, before you put your bike on weight watchers and start swapping out components on your bike with super trick pieces, you might want to “weigh” your options…
First thing you will want to invest in is a good little scale. I use a Park DS-2 bike scale (about $30). It’s accurate to within 2 grams and will help you get a good idea of what you’re stock parts weigh.
Stock aluminum parts weighed for reference:
|Total Weight||704 grams = 1lb 9oz|
|Forged Aluminum 31.8mm Stem 90mm||144 grams|
|6061 Aluminum Bars 670mm||250 grams|
|Aluminum Post 30.9mm (350mm length)||310 grams|
Quality carbon upgrades:
|Total Weight||500 grams = 1lb 2oz|
|Ritchey WCS 4-axis Carbon/AL 31.8mm Stem 90mm||120 grams|
|Easton EC70 Carbon Bars 685mm||155 grams|
|Easton EC70 Carbon Post 30.9mm (400mm length)||225 grams|
Looks pretty decent on paper… 3 easy swaps to some awesome looking carbon goodies, and you have a quick weight savings of 7oz!
Wait… What about price?
Well, each of the 3 upgrades listed cost approximately $140/each. That’s a cool $420. Now, take that with a grain of salt because obviously carbon is more of an upgrade over aluminum on just the scale. It’s stronger, dampens vibrations better, and looks better.
But is it worth the price tag?
You could put that same $420 into upgrading your wheels where there might be a much larger weight savings and more noticeable performance gain. For just a little bit more a good set of Stan’s NoTubes Arch Ex 29er wheels will run somewhere around $500, will save the same if not more weight, and provide a noticeable performance gain over stock wheels due to having less rotational weight. The lighter rims on these Stan’s wheels take less energy to spin up than the heavier stock rims.
So, is carbon worth it? Well, that’s for you to decide.
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