XC Mountain Biking – Carbon vs. Aluminum Bike Material Review

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XC Carbon Mountain Bike vs. Cross Country Aluminum MTB Bicyle

What’s better: Carbon vs. Aluminum Mountain Bike

Carbon is a more advanced form of fiberglass:

It is a much stronger weave made of carbon strands. The carbon fiber is impregnated with a glue to setup the material into the desired shape. This process is done in an oxygen-free, vacuum-sealed environment to remove voids.

There are many advantages to a well-built carbon frame and a few disadvantages.

CARBON MTB Racing Bike Pros & Cons:

Carbon Race Bicycle Pros:

  • Often times a bicycle engineer actually wants some areas of a mountain bicycle to flex more than other areas. For example, if the rear of the mountain bike can flex a little over rough terrain, traction can actually be increased. The same designer may want another tube on the frame to have much greater strength than other tubes. All of this can accomplished with modern carbon technology in a fashion that is much easier and more effective than it was with other metals like aluminum and steel.
  • A weight reduction is possible from a carbon frame.
  • A well designed frame has superior dampening properties over aluminum, which tends to amplify vibration, and needs to rely more on suspension for dampening characteristics.

Carbon Race Bicycle Cons:

  • Carbon is more expensive
  • It is more prone to getting dings from rocks and cracks from heavy impact over aluminum.
  • Check the weave used; there are low end weaves and high end weaves. If you have the budget select a team bike. It’s hard to go wrong with them; these are the best bicycles made, since they are the actual XC Cross Country mountain bike racing bicycles used by the best XC MTB race teams in the world.

ALUMINUM MTB Racing Bike Pros & Cons:

Aluminum Race Bicycle Pros:

  • Many proven designs
  • Long lasting with great impact survivability
  • More affordable than carbon counterparts
  • Often very close in frame weight to carbon cousins

Aluminum Race Bicycle Cons:

  • Poor vibration dampening
  • Weight counts in cross country racing, and aluminum can be on average anywhere from 100g- 400g heavier to a similar well designed carbon frame.
  • Less control over frame tuning
  • More limitation on design, like shock placement and integration into the frame.

Final XC Mountain Bicycle Purchasing Considerations:

If you crash a lot go with aluminum. If you ride like poetry in motion and rarely crash, go with carbon. If you want to be exceptionally competitive, carbon is probably the way to go.

I highly suggest one of these XC Carbon Mountain Bikes for racing, one of these 4”–6” XC / All mountain bikes for daily training and one of these carbon road bikes for cross training.

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