The debate over carbon fibre and titanium bikes is common among cycling enthusiasts. Both materials are relatively new to the cycling industry, but have been perfected with elite technologies. The clear pick among professional cyclists is carbon fibre, though there are the benefits and drawbacks to both materials.
Carbon fibre bikes are stiffer than titanium bikes. Because carbon fibre is a material, bike manufacturers can lay the fabric in specific directions to target lateral and vertical stiffness. Most titanium bike builders have to rely on larger tubing to create more stiffness, which increases weight.
Titanium bikes are heavier than their carbon fibre counterparts. Carbon fibre has an incredible strength-to-weight ratio, and since it is a material, manufacturers can easily make it thicker where needed and thinner where it’s not.
The amount of force it takes to permanently deform carbon fibre is very high. However, a hard crash can compromise the frame’s strength. Titanium is a very strong material but is relatively brittle compared with other metals because of this.
Carbon fibre can be moulded into any shape imagined. This gives the bike manufacturer the ability to make the most efficient bike frame possible. Titanium bikes are limited by their tube shape.
Both carbon fibre and titanium bikes are costly. However, the increasingly popular carbon fibre frames are helping to lower their price.
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