Is Carbon Fiber Good for Beginner Cyclists?
Carbon fiber bicycles are becoming more accessible to recreational cyclists every year. This is due to a growth in popularity and improved manufacturing processes.
As many of us now have the budget and ability to purchase a bike with a carbon frame, we now face the question of “Is it worth choosing a carbon fiber bike as a beginner?”
In a previous article, we explained why we believe that you should get the best bike possible to begin your cycling journey. This way you get as much enjoyment as possible starting from your first ride.
In general, we believe that carbon fiber is good for any level. However, this does depend on how you are going to use your bike and your budget.
Why is Carbon Fiber Good for Beginner Cyclists?
The following three reasons contribute to the great experience of riding a well-manufactured carbon fiber bike. If you want to do medium to long-duration rides and can care for your bike by maintaining it regularly, then you will surely get the most from a carbon fiber bike.
Carbon fiber frames are very stiff. This means that they maximize the amount of power (energy) that is transferred from the cyclist to the drivetrain that moves the bike forward.
Less-stiff frames absorb more of that energy, meaning you don’t go as far.
Carbon fiber is very comfortable to ride due to the absorbent nature of the material. Vibrations from the road are dampened significantly by high-quality carbon fiber, resulting in a smooth and even ride.
Comfort is also dependent on the size of your tires, tire pressure, and suspension.
Carbon fiber is the lightest bicycle frame material available. Despite its lightweight nature, the material is durable and resistant to the elements (oxidation). That being said, a well-manufactured aluminum frame and components may be lighter than a poorly manufactured carbon one.
It is more difficult to cycle using a heavy bike. Using a carbon bike can make your ride more enjoyable as you do not expend as much energy. This is especially relevant if you live in an area with hills.
When Should You Consider a Different Frame Material?
To find out whether or not carbon fiber is right for you, consider the following three factors.
If Your Budget Is Too Low
Carbon fiber is the most expensive frame material to manufacture. If your budget limit means you cannot purchase a carbon fiber bike from a reputable manufacturer, then it may be better to purchase a bike made from a different frame material.
Steel and aluminum frames are usually cheaper. Bicycles with these materials may have better components than the equivalently-priced carbon bike.
If You Are Worried About Durability
Carbon fiber frames are durable and can be repaired if broken. However, they are more susceptible to some damage (lateral impacts) than steel and aluminum.
For this reason, carbon fiber bikes require more care when handling them to avoid damage that is costly to repair. Steel, for example, can be handled quite heavily before sustaining damage and can be repaired quickly and easily by any bike mechanic.
If Your Usage Isn’t Appropriate
Consider your usage before deciding if carbon fiber is right for you. The following are some situations where carbon fiber is not favorable:
- If you plan on only using your bike casually in an urban environment
- To do short rides only. The extra price tag may not justify little usage
- If you want to lock your bike outside regularly. Carbon fiber is targeted by thieves
- Loading your bicycle. Such as touring long distances with pannier bags
- If you don’t plan on maintaining your bike (buy a cheap bike/frame in this case)