Following on from the discussion about carbon in the Dura Ace cranks thread, I'm genuinely interested in hearing what have to share in regards to their experiences.
Last week I totalled my steel Hillbrick. I dearly loved this bike. It was the first decent bike I bought and it has seen me through a lot of blood sweat and tears since march last year. The frame was second hand and had already done a lot of kms before me. Principally I ride with Audax. These means anywhere up to 90 hour rides. Obviously for this a bike needs to be as perfect for you as possible as it's not just a morning cruise down beach rd.
My initial reaction was for a custom steel frame. Good steel (like 853) has many great properties such as high strength to weight ratio, reasonable damping, suitable flex etc. All of which are necessary to carry you across the finish line. I sent out an email to the Audax list and there was overwhelming support for carbon (and a fair bit for Ti as well). I had previously dismissed carbon as not being suitable in a few ways (durability, lack of longer wheelbase frames etc) and that a custom steel jobbie would always be better than an off the shelf carbon frame. apparently not.
The consensus seems to be that for Audax rides, carbon and Ti are perfect (not that steel isn't) but for any sort of touring, steel is best (rock solid, repairable, ability to mount racks etc). My experience of carbon frames is extremely limited. The entirety of it is really based on taking a friend's Giant OCR Comp frame for a few laps of a car park. But from that limited experience I could instantly feel that the bike was lighter and more responsive (to pedaling) and a lot smoother over the rough asphalt. I could certainly see the merit in it.
I'd never really considered Ti and don't really know all that much about it's properties to be honest.
I'm now torn between carbon, steel and titanium. I really have no idea which road to take.
My more recent concern was with the geometry of carbon frames. I've been looking at the roubaix and the OCR comp because of their longer wheel base and more relaxed geometry. The problem for me now is that I had a look at the results of my bike fit with John Beasley and he is saying 54cm ST, 52cm TT. The OCR and Roubaix have about a 57cm TT which seems huge. From what I can tell, the Hillbrick has a 55cm TT so an extra 2cm on top of that doesn't seem outrageous. I really have very little idea about the effect of these things but am aware that 5mm to the height of a saddle can make a HUGE difference. Columbus also make carbon tubesets so there is also the possibility of custom carbon. I really have no idea which route to take and would greatly value some input.
To sum it all up:
I need a new frame that needs to be comfortable over very long distances.
I'm prepared to spend decent money on it because it's something I use a lot and I love doing it. Ultimately I want the most suitable frame I can get (without taking out a mortgage for it).