Q&A – Carbon or aluminium

Q. Are carbon frames tough enough for mountain biking?

Black Magic - carbon Ibis Mojo SL

Q. Are carbon frames tough enough for mountain biking?


I live near the Welsh border and I try to do different types of mountain biking.

I’ve been into mountain bikes for about 6 months now starting on a hardtail and now a have a full suss. My question is about carbon frames: my type of riding is anything from hillsides, moorlands and places like Nant-yr-Arian and Coed-y-Brenin.

Would I be ok to buy a carbon frame bike and still enjoy this type of riding?

Gareth, via email

A. Carbon frames will handle general cross country trails with no problem at all. In fact there’s little that a carbon frame can’t be designed to handle. You only need to take a look at carbon bikes like the Scott Ransom or the Enduro from Specialized.

The reason you don’t see many big hit carbon bikes is that they’re expensive to make considering their relative low volume of sales.

Like choosing any mountain bike the real trick is riding a design that is right for you.

You’ve progressed from a hardtail to full suspension for cross country riding. This gives you quite a few choices regarding carbon frames.

We’d recommend spending as much as you can afford to. For a few ideas you could look at the gorgeous new Yeti 575, currently being tested by Steve Worland of What Mountain Bike. Others to look at: the Epic, Stumpjumper and Enduro in the Specialized range, the new Trek Fuel EX are getting excellent reviews (check back soon) and then there’s the bikes from Scott.


Whatever your choice you’ll be getting a hardwearing, performance carbon bike that will easily suit your needs and one that should be lighter than an equivalent alloy frame.