As you find yourself standing in the local bike shop listening to an in depth discussion regarding ‘unidirectional monocoque’ you could be forgiven for thinking you’d stepped into the wrong sort of establishment.
In fact, you have encountered the eternal cycling debate of carbon versus aluminium.
For the vast majority of amateur cyclists, the decision to buy a full carbon bike or carbon accessories usually comes down to how much money you have to burn – and most often a literal and metaphorical need to keep up with the Joneses. But, there are plenty of confusing messages out there surrounding what cyclists should go for. Some will swear blind their carbon fibre bike provides a much superior ride to the aluminium equivalent, but others will argue that there is no difference.
Starting with carbon – the pro’s choice. By nature it is very light and very rigid, which means for those looking to shave those all-important seconds off lap times this could be the choice for you. However, it can also be fragile and may not be the bike for your daily commute or regular training rides; you will have to dodge the drain covers and potholes if you are to avoid the walk of shame with a damaged or even cracked frame.
So is there any real benefit in buying a carbon bike, other than for the bragging rights in the pub? The reality is that most MAMILs – or MAFILs for that matter – don’t fit into the category of the ‘committed racer’. We simply don’t need the latest, greatest and most expensive road bike on the market. We might want one, but we don’t need one.
The alternative is aluminium (although there are the more expensive options of steel or titanium). For those on a budget and who want something that is virtually indistructable, aluminium is the frame of choice. You can easily walk out of a bike shop with a decent aluminium bike for under £1,000. The main drawback is that your frame and components will be heavier, meaning more effort on the bike and potentially slower ride times.
In my view it is pretty academic because the nominal weight savings with carbon are all too frequently offset by the extra pounds that many amateur cyclists might be carrying about their middle. Don’t worry about the bike frame, try focusing on your own frame. Eat a few less biscuits because, if you go for low carb in your diet you can go for no carb on your bike.
The weight of the bike is therefore unimportant but, if you want to go for speed, training is what you must do. So, ahead of the CBRE Great Property Cycle Ride on 30 July get yourself out on the bike, whatever it happens to be made of. With plenty of miles on the clock you property guys will soon become the masters of speed (and all you survey).
Malcolm Dalgleish, Chairman EMEA Retail
- Malcolm is cycling the 100km route in Property Week CBRE Great Property Cycle Ride 30 July 2015. To take part click here.