Titanium vs. Carbon Durability Ride Quality Notwithstanding

Discuss light weight issues concerning road bikes & parts.
Posts: 62
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 3:49 am

by pamountainbiker

I have ridden both carbon and titanium. Though different I like the rides of each. My question is this. Ride qualities aside is it reasonable to expect a high end carbon bike from a manufacturer like Parlee to be just as durable as a titanium bike from a manufacturer like Moots? Let me put it another way. I have up to $6K to spend on a new frame. I could get a Z3 or I could get a custom IF Titanium Crown Jewel (for about $4K). I've ridden both and like each and they both fit fine, especially the IF, it's custom only. I'm not completely made of money, these bikes are real investments and they have to last a long, long time, like 10 years+. I am not someone who changes bikes every so often. For racing I'd continue to use my existing Litespeed which has seen its fair share of fall-overs, crashes (one at 35 MPH, thankfully not head on, the bike just cartwheeled end over end for about 60 feet), and dings and is still going strong. I'm not about to take my expensive new baby racing. This new bike would be my "training" ride, meaning the bike I spend most of my time on. But let's be honest mishaps do happen and I'd want my new bike to be able to withstand minor get-offs when they happen (I don't expect it to withstand hitting a pole at 25 MPH, for example). Any opinions? I, already have a ti bike and really like the Parlee, but it's got to last for a long time to make it worthwhile. Advice?

by Weenie

User avatar
Posts: 520
Joined: Sun Sep 23, 2007 5:06 am

by Arky

As a training ride, I would be more interested in the I.F. It is just more interesting. 10 years down the road, people will still be digging the I.F., not the Parlee. If performance is your main criteria (weight, stiffness), I would go with the Parlee.

I just think the I.F. is "cool"

User avatar
Posts: 1474
Joined: Mon Dec 01, 2003 12:35 am

by J-Nice

There are certain things that will "date" a bike, like 1 inch steerer tubes, headsets, quill stems and other minor details that mean absolutely nothing to the function of said frame.

10 years is a long time and I really don't see too many cats out there putting serious miles on frames that are that old.

My suggestion to you is to get the ti, but have it built for strength and comfort. This will mean that you may have to pay a slight weight penalty but you will have a frame that will last you for those 10 plus years and you won't have to worry about any cracks in the tubing like you would with carbon.

Also, keep in mind compatibility. BB30 is going to be the next style design in road bikes(so much stiffer, don't you know?:lol:) so you may want to get ahead of that curve if that matters to you at all. Also, it may be a consideration just for the sake of being able to purchase equipment like bottom brackets and cranks that will be compatible and available.
Check out the latest controversies in sport-


User avatar
Posts: 5771
Joined: Tue Sep 26, 2006 12:37 am
Location: Phoenix Arizona

by CharlesM

If your priority is crash survival and not ride quality / performance to weight ratio get a nice thick walled Ti bike.

The Parlee isn't like some of the super thin walled bikes like Scott CR1 Cervelo R3 etc... But it's not got the impact resistance and general thrashability of a Ti bike weight 30% more either.

Neither bike are going to "wear out" and both will survive pot holes about the same...

Impact resistance is another story and while carbon can be repaired, Ti is generaly better suited.

If you get super butted thin walled Ti though, I've seen that get battered and not be that great either... If you asked for a Ti Frame at the same weight for the soze as the Z3 for instance, you may find the Top and down tubes to be no place near as durable for crash as your old Litespeed...

Posts: 148
Joined: Sat Oct 01, 2005 11:48 pm

by Lemondpoprad

Ok you did ask for advise so take this for what it is....With how things are going with the Economy I think you should save your money for a rainy day and keep riding your Litespeed Ti bike. YOu already have a really nice Ti frame. Seems there is nothing wrong with it and it still works great. If you are worried about the dents in the frame..send it back and they will fix if for you and put new stickers on it and brush it up..New looking again.
Not sure why you want to train on one style of bike and ride another one just for race days. A bicycle is a tool use it for what it is...when your litespeed finally breaks than I would suggest getting a new bike. But doesnt the Litespeed already come with a lifetime warranty? If so than you already have a bike that should last you over 30 years.. So keep riding it, upgrade to new groupos when you need too. I think to many people just cant be happy with what they have...you have a nice bike ride it and enjoy it. But if you had to buy another bike. I would make it again Ti..Its not the lightest..But you can pull out a ti bike and a carbon bike from 10 years ago and the Ti still looks good. Carbon not so much. I personally thing carbon bikes are throw away bikes just many people havent figure it out yet....

Posts: 62
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 3:49 am

by pamountainbiker

I should offer the clarification that, yes, 10 years is a long time. Incredibly, I rode a steel mountain bike frame for that amount of time, so it is possible. I did finally ovalize the headtube on that one :(. Whether or not my next road bike makes it that long depends upon my budget and my "materialism index" LOL. Weight is important for me, but truth be told, I could get a ti bike down to 15.5 - 15.75 LBS and still have a very durable bike. That's plenty light compared to my Litespeed which is 20.5 LBS. I'm not one for super light bikes despite the name of this forum. I do like regular headsets though! The thing I like about Parlee is that it's traditional but it's made out of cutting edge materials and processes and it's ride is super. And the dropouts are awesome, yeah I'm a sucker for details like that. The thing I like about the IF Ti Crown Jewel is that it also has a great ride, and it has a lot of soul, whatever that is :). And it too has cool details like a crown pressed into thee seatstay brake bridge, you can never have to few of those!. Although I am not happy about Matt Bracken no longer being there. He wasn't the founder, but He was a great guy with whom I'd spoken to several times at length.

Posts: 62
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 3:49 am

by pamountainbiker

The only reason for racing one bike and training on another is that I'd like to keep the new bike out of harms way, at least for some time. Unfortunately, I'm not a pro and the local crit scene is full of crashes, stuff just happens. The bikes would be set up as identical as possible though. Yes, they'd be a little different, fortunately, I have very standard body dimensions and ride both mountain and road so I frequently change between bikes without problems.

Also, I didn't mean to make it seem like I'm crashing all over the place. In fact my last date with the floor was 2 years ago. Great, I just jinxed myself. That being said the type of durability I'm talking about is being able to take pot hole hits, (I think Pez talked about that), pebbles pinging off the frame, road grit and rain (although I guess I'd be riding the Litespeed then), the occasional gravel road when I get lost...

Put another way, I've seen Cervelos and know folks who ride them. What I just described would result in a not-so-hot-looking Cervelo in a few years. And Yes, I know Cervelo has won Paris Roubaix twice etc.

And yes, Propad has a point, with the economy the way it is maybe the best investment is to go with what works for now, my good old trusty straight gauge ti Litespeed!
Last edited by pamountainbiker on Mon Jan 12, 2009 5:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

Cyclist in the Sun
Posts: 206
Joined: Mon Mar 31, 2008 4:27 am
Location: The OC

by Cyclist in the Sun

I would get the IF.

I have a 12yr old Ti frame, the parts have all been changed a couple of times. I'd cut a carbon frame up before that point and put it in a dumpster.
A day isn't the same when I don't ride.

I work in the bicycle industry.

User avatar
Posts: 5771
Joined: Tue Sep 26, 2006 12:37 am
Location: Phoenix Arizona

by CharlesM

If it's a Ti bike you want and cost is a factor, there are a few other choices out there that could give you a bike on par with the IF Crown Jewel for a thousand bucks less...

Not bagging at all on IF, but dollar for dollar I think there are a couple other options I might consider if Ti were the material...

The list for custom carbon is shorter (about 90% shorter) and there are not many folks that could shave a thousand bucks off...

User avatar
Posts: 5422
Joined: Thu May 04, 2006 4:43 pm
Location: Wherever there's a mountain beckoning to be climbed

by HammerTime2

PezTech wrote:If it's a Ti bike you want and cost is a factor, there are a few other choices out there that could give you a bike on par with the IF Crown Jewel for a thousand bucks less...

Lynskey and Seven?

Posts: 975
Joined: Tue Feb 14, 2006 4:42 am
Location: Calgary

by c50jim

I think previous posts concerning durability are well stated. However, if cost is somewhat of an issue, there is another option you might consider. If it fits you, you might consider the Z4. I have a Z1 and Z4 and find the Z4 to be 90-95% of the bike for half the price.

As for ride, count me in the carbon camp. I haven't owned an IF ti (I do own a steel one with S&S couplings for travel), but have had two Litespeeds, two Moots and a Colnago ti. I would rate the Moots close to ti in ride but not equal.

Posts: 498
Joined: Mon Feb 06, 2006 1:06 am

by eric01

Since you qualified with "ride quality not withstanding"....

Your budget is $4k, and a target of lasting 10 years? How about buying a $1500 frame every 3 years? $1500 can buy you a quality frame these days. Arguably, 3 years from now, $1500 will buy you an even better frame (assuming technology advancements, etc...)
AX Lightness Vial Evo, Carl Strong Titanium

Posts: 396
Joined: Sun Feb 06, 2005 1:00 am

by 1centaur

Training on a lighter CF bike and racing a heavier and probably less efficient Ti bike is not a formula for race-day happiness.

Custom Moots was only $250 more than stock Moots, last I looked. If it has to be custom for fit purposes and you're not made of money, I don't see why you'd pay up for IF.

There are no guarantees in life, but training on CF frames should not result in damage that stops you from going 10 years. That said, stuff happens, and if you can't afford the downside, don't take the risk. Personally, I'd live for today, know my economic circumstances will change over the next decade, and realize that the price of getting the bike I want is the possibility that I'll be riding my Ti for practice and races if my CF breaks.

User avatar
Posts: 815
Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2005 7:21 pm

by geraldatwork

If durability is the main issue the fact you have been racing and crashing a Ti bike and it is still holding up should answer your question.
"Really fast people are frustrating, but they make you faster. When you get faster, you might frustrate someone else."

2009 Trek Madone 5.5 Project One SRAM Force 16.4 lbs w/pedals and cages.
2007 Bianchi 928 Carbon Lugged- SRAM Rival-17 lbs.

User avatar
Posts: 859
Joined: Thu Sep 25, 2003 9:11 pm
Location: SC, USA

by ras11

My 2 cents... my solid Ti frames have held up well. For me it's piece-of-mind. With Ti you can see damage, and is much less likely to be damaged in minor crashes or during transportation. While new CF frames are remarkably durable, they are easily damaged (soft/isotropic) and with minor damage you could be riding on a time bomb. Weight and stiffness are not issues for most people... unless you get paid to race up mountains and like feeling uncomfortable on long rides.
:-) Toys-R-Us

by Weenie

Post Reply
  • Similar Topics
    Last post