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Racing with carbon HT or FS

1022 Views 6 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  briscoelab
Hello. Im about to buy a new race bike and cant decide between a sette phantom carbon HT or a FS bike, my top options are giant anthem 1 and jamis dakar xcr team both 2008 models. If I go with the sette and change my current components the bike is going to come down to 21lbs, I think both FS are going to be around 24lbs.
I currently have a 2005 Specialized sworks ht aluminum frame, the whole bike is 22.5lbs but most of the races I end up beaten because of the ht. I have to mention that Im 42 with a windsurfing, skateboardinfg background (lower back issues) and race in the open over 40class.
Most of the carbon frame owners argue that the carbon frame reduces stress on the back, is this really true or the carbon frame is going to feel pretty much the same as my aluminum HT. I dont want to spend $$$ and find out that I was faster with my older bike or end up just saving 1lbs. I rather invest probably on a suspension seatpost and a little bigger tires (with less psi).
I use as my everyday bike a santacruz heckler with AM build that I absolutely love, I can ride it for hours with no back problems, that bike is 29lbs and have compare loop times and Im around 3 minutes faster in a 30 minutes loop on the HT, but even with slower times the heckler is a lot funner ride (jumps, dh faster) and I have the feel that I just charge on the climbs without really picking lines .
The frame is only $600 and the complete bike is going to be around $ 2000, but both are in my price range, Im not going to spend $7000 on a scott spark or a specialized epic.
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I use an Anthem X2; albeit it took a while to find the right settings for me. But, when I did, i can honestly say for most xc courses/trails the hard tail and FS feel equal to me. Then again my anthem is down to about 23.5 lbs. So the weight difference between my FS and HT is damn close.

I don't think most FS bikes are worth investing in. Make sure you find the bang for your buck. Money wise it takes 3000$ + to have a level playing field with an HT. Anything less and you really gimp your race rig. I tried out a low end specialized epic for about 2800$ Canadian and it definitely had it's weight way up there!

Can't go wrong with an Anthem X2 (pro pedal function is something I could never live without now), so I consider saving a bit more cash.
Concentrate on the source of your problem: Lower back.

Integrate core work daily. Yoga once or twice a week.

Lots cheaper and you'll ride stronger.

The Anthem is a great machine. I owned one in the past, and I'd be on one now if my team/shop carried Giant.

If the HT beats you up, no amount of carbon fibers, thudbusters, or 2.4 tires are going to change that... I have owned a couple Alum and Carbon HT's, and the differences between them were minor...not a transformation. I tried a 26" HT a couple times and I never could quite get my fragile torso to take the abuse on race day (training was fine).

As far as weight, go check out a cycling calculator online. The 2 lbs in frame difference (non rotating) will only amount to seconds on a 30 min hill climb. You likely lose more than that from your back issue.
My experience is that a switch from an aluminum hardtail to an aluminum full suspension made a huge difference in how I felt after riding, and I probably tripled the amount of hours I was riding. I got a lot faster because I could ride more and enjoyed it more.

I have since gotten a carbon full suspension bike. While it is definitely an improvement over the aluminum full suspension, I'd say the switch from the hardtail to the full suspension was much more noticeable and made a bigger difference than the switch from aluminum to carbon. So my advice is go with the full suspension bike. A carbon bike alone isn't going to do it for you.
Honestly a carbon frame is not going to feel that much different then you aluminum bike.

Before you spend a small fortune on a dually try tubeless tires. The ability to run low air pressure (20-30 psi) and not flat transforms a hardtail. Low air pressure makes a huge difference in the ride and feel of the bike.
I agree with LMN that the carbon bike won't make that much of a difference. I had an Alu Stumpjumper HT for a while and then a carbon fiber Orbea Alma. They were both stiff bikes.

I've raced most of this season on a Yeti ASR aluminum frame (carbon rear triangle) and I'm much faster on it than I was on the Orbea from last season. Some of this is fitness and handling, but some of it is being not as beat up. My ASR is under 22 lbs though, so I'm not paying much of a weight penalty.

I just built up a Niner EMD 9 though, which is just a basic aluminum HT and am loving it so far. I'm noticeably faster on that bike on my local loop, compared to the Yeti. I think it's kinda a middle ground between the 26" HT and FS. Nice rigid rear end for climbing, but you can let it fly on the descents and rough stuff because of the larger wheels. It's still a little rougher than the FS bike, but not by much. No real weigh penalty with it enough, 21.9 lbs ready to ride, fully geared and sus fork, with real tires. Just something else to consider.

You honestly can' go wrong with the Anthem though... it's a really nice bike. If you ride a size large, PM me... I might be wanting to part with my ASR in the near future, if I keep getting good vibes from the Niner :)
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