Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Tour magazine frame mass tests: carbon vs titanium vs steel

Here's a comparison of Tour magazine tested mass data for medium-to-large frames taken from three articles:

  1. steel bikes, Aug 2013, on-line summary
  2. "sub-800 gram" carbon bikes, Dec 2013, on-line summary
  3. titanium bikes, Sept 2014, purchased today in print version


This sample is biased in favor of the carbon since the carbon frames selected are the lightest, most expensive available, while in steel, for example, a custom builder like Rob English, emphasizing weight, can get lower than most stock steel frames, which have less emphasis on weight. But I think the Crema represents this quite well: only 1512 g for the frame.

Forks are heavier on the steel and Ti bikes, in general, but I am focusing on frames, since forks can be selected, especially with custom steel, which is still a lot cheaper than those carbon bikes.

Result: best carbon is 704, best Ti is 1350, and best steel is 1512. So the cost of Ti is around 646 grams, and the cost of steel around 808 grams, relative to carbon.

808 grams: that's not bad at all. Still within typical daily body mass fluctuations.


Todd Prynn said...

my new 2013 Neil Pride Bura SL size XL is definitely on high end of mfg estimate fr=885 fk= 333. Cool data reviews.

djconnel said...

Still, this particular comparison was with a tough crowd. The Bora XL did better in a Feb 2014 comparison I've been reading. There they combined wind resistance measurements with mass measurements and predicted time on a mountainous course. The Bora-SL actually scored well in the wind tunnel for the "non-aero" category, almost as well as the Cervelo R5 with its "Squoval-3" tubes, and combined with its respectable if not spectacular weight (your Bora SL is only 25 grams more than my size small Fuji SL-1) yielded a time only 6 seconds slower than the R5 and 4 seconds slower than the Addict SL over 100 km (these times are essentially ties, given uncertainties). So it's a solid bike, despite the extreme claims of lightness.