Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Carbon components cheaper than aluminium?

Posted by Tony | January 22, 2010 | 4 comments so far

Are carbon components cheaper than aluminium (or aluminum, as our US readers say)? Well of course not, but it’s getting ever so close. This came home to me this week when I bought two new seatpins.

For the last year or so I’ve not been quite “right” on my two hardtails. I’ve been riding but never quite comfortable, getting alot of hip and lower back pain to the point where it’s been really uncomfortable during and after some rides. Whereas riding my full susser has been much better with very little back/hip issues.

Of course I put this down to the rear suspension. Which it undoubtedly does help but at the same time it got me thinking about my position on the bike. As many roadies do, I run my saddle with loads of lay-back on my road bikes and the Trek Fuel is the same.

Looking at the lay-back at the bike harem in the garage it occurred to me that both my hardtails have in-line USE suspension seatposts and are putting me further forward over the BB. So I reckoned that changing seatposts had to be worth a try to see if it helped the back/hip pain.

After a quick trawl of the net I came up with an FSA SLK Carbon SetBack Seatpost 350mm £30 from CRC for my Orange Clockwork. Maybe it’s not the most flash seatpost in the world, with an aluminium clamp, but it’s got a full carbon shaft and very light. Reduced from £55.

I rode the Orange with this new position for a quick spin and found my pedaling a lot smoother and more powerful. Heading out for yesterday evening’s pedal I knew that I wasn’t going to be happy unless I changed the seatpost on my Inbred too.

So heading down to the LBS I bought a basic 400mm setback aluminium seatpost for £21. I know that I could of got it cheaper off the net but I was prepared to pay extra for the LBS convenience as I always am, plus enjoying my ride more was well worth the money. Moles you might have even noticed me going a bit quicker up the climbs than of late?

This has got me thinking about the cost of the wonder material compared to good old aluminium. Looking at CRC, aluminium seatposts range from £7.99 to £107.99 (Thomson Masterpeice layback) and carbon seatposts from £27.99 (Tifosi) to £209.99 (Cinelli Bianca Ram) – note you always pay more for white!

To me the point of this is that there is now a huge overlap between aluminium and carbon prices, with carbon firmly encroaching into all levels of pricing. This has got to be a trend that will continue for most bike parts with volume – except wheel rims which are very difficult to make in carbon – until aluminium maybe becomes the new boutique “steel is real” or the cheapest value parts.

The new On-one carbon frame personifies this trend best. It’s firmly into the price range of mid end steel/aluminium frames.

Is this a good thing? I’m not sure, but it’s progress and it will happen whatever.

Filed under Mutterings, Trends in January 2010


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There are 4 comments on ‘Carbon components cheaper than aluminium?’

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  1. Matt says:

    Oh dear! If Tony starts to pick up his climbing pace we’re all in trouble!

    I’m still waiting to see who will plump for the first carbon frame in the group (or crabon as the Bike Snob calls it). We have riders with carbon bars, carbon seatposts and even several with carbon forks so it can’t be long surely.

    My money’s on Dave! ;o)

  2. Dave says:

    All bets off, there will be no new frames for me this year……..maybe ;o)

    Actually this is a well timed articles as the Bike Radar article on the Carbon456 was on my screen only yesterday and at £499 as listed in that article it could be a steal!

    Also popped over to to read Guitar Ted’s thoughts on the new Carbon Carnegie bars. Nice!

    I have ordered a chain device from Cycleowrks though. Going to run the Scandal 1×9. Delivery first week in Feb…

  3. Andy661 says:

    Dear Moles

    Is there a ride tomorrow?

    If so can anyone pick me up in the Kingston/Surbiton area as the motor is off the road?


  4. PIJ says:

    don’t forget also that many people are still put off carbon as a bike material. This means that for us canny buyers we can pick up stuff that hasn’t sold at a massive discount. I found some Ritchey bars at less than half price recently, and a carbon shelled saddle at one third retail. Definitely cheaper than ally then.

    I’d never buy used carbon items though – just not worth the risk.

    As you say there are a few carbon frames creeping down the price scale, and that is very interesting. Especially now that the new safety standards are pushing frame weights up.

    Personally I’ve no problems with the material. My Pace RC36’s I bought new in 1997 and they are still going strong – even have the original seals after 30,000 miles!

    By the way, has anybody else had trouble getting onto site? I can only access it from work via a really secure server – at home with my shonky system I just get some test page.

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