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Hi. I have a fully rigid 700c urban bike which is all aluminum. I also have an old Specialized mountain bike that is 4130 CroMo, which is my wife's. The new alum bike is very stiff and jarring but the old steel bike is amazingly compliant and feels so nice to ride, as would be expected. But I do like the alum's stiffness of the bottom bracket when you stand up and pedal. So I was thinking I could take some harshness out of the alum bike by adding some carbon riser bars, a carbon fork, and carbon seat post. I have a feeling that would help some, but for that money, I could probably just get a steel frame, like a Surly, etc.

So does adding the carbon stuff make a big diff on a stiff alum bike? Or will it never even come close to a steel bike?
 

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Molly55 said:
Hi. I have a fully rigid 700c urban bike which is all aluminum. I also have an old Specialized mountain bike that is 4130 CroMo, which is my wife's. The new alum bike is very stiff and jarring but the old steel bike is amazingly compliant and feels so nice to ride, as would be expected. But I do like the alum's stiffness of the bottom bracket when you stand up and pedal. So I was thinking I could take some harshness out of the alum bike by adding some carbon riser bars, a carbon fork, and carbon seat post. I have a feeling that would help some, but for that money, I could probably just get a steel frame, like a Surly, etc.

So does adding the carbon stuff make a big diff on a stiff alum bike? Or will it never even come close to a steel bike?
The bike you're describing is the idea behind the Specialized TriCross. It has a stiff aluminum frame with carbon fork and seat post plus vibration damping elements. I have one and it is a very comfortable bike and seems to be fairly stiff -- The drive train never makes that old qwook qwook sound I used to hear on my old steel bike as the frame flexed.
 

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When you are comparing a bike with 700C wheels to a mountain bike with 26" wheels I think you need to take a look at the tires first. If your 700C wheels have small low volume tires that are run at high pressures they will not offer any of the suspension action you get from a larger volume tire being run at lower pressure. Get some wider, higher volume tires that are stable with a little less pressure. Tires used for touring bikes will be in this category. I don't know what you are using for tires on the 700C bike, but that is my first suggestion for ways to smooth the ride out. I doubt that adding the carbon parts to your bike will make any big difference. A carbon fork might make a noticeable difference.

I have a Scott road bike with an aluminum front triangle with carbon stays, carbon fork, carbon seat post and bars. I have 700x23C tires on it run at 110 psi and the thing rides like a truck compared to my Ventana aluminum HT MTB with 26x2.4 tires at 40 psi.

I don't think you can make an accurate comparison between 2 completely different types of bike. I have steel bikes and I have aluminum bikes and to be honest with you I really don't think the frame material makes as much difference as some people think. I am sure a lot of people will disagree with me on that.
 

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11 Bravo said:
When you are comparing a bike with 700C wheels to a mountain bike with 26" wheels I think you need to take a look at the tires first. If your 700C wheels have small low volume tires that are run at high pressures they will not offer any of the suspension action you get from a larger volume tire being run at lower pressure. Get some wider, higher volume tires that are stable with a little less pressure. Tires used for touring bikes will be in this category. I don't know what you are using for tires on the 700C bike, but that is my first suggestion for ways to smooth the ride out. I doubt that adding the carbon parts to your bike will make any big difference.

I have a Scott road bike with an aluminum front triangle with carbon stays, carbon fork, carbon seat post and bars. I have 700x23C tires on it run at 110 psi and the thing rides like a truck compared to my Ventana aluminum HT MTB with 26x2.4 tires at 40 psi.

I have steel bikes and I have aluminum bikes and to be honest with you I really don't think the frame material makes as much difference as some people think. I know a lot of people will disagree with me on that, but I really think the way the bike is set up is the biggest factor in how it rides.
Definitely consider tires first. Volume? Pressure?

Secondly. I have ridden steel and aluminum. I think the steel does ride a little better, but some people exaggerate the difference.
 

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Molly55 said:
My tires are 700x28 Maxxis road tires. I am thinking of switching to some cyclocross tires with some small knobbies in maybe 32 or 38 size.
As long as your frame/fork/brakes have clearance, larger tires at lower pressures will go a long way to soften up your ride.

I would not necessarily encourage knobbies if the bike will only be used on the road. Maybe look at something like a Panaracer T-Serv in 700x35.
 

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Get a Cross-Check! Surly's kick butt!

Just remember, you can try to soften the difference but Aluminum is aluminum and steel is steel. Ya can't change that!
 
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