I want to have a full-suspension bike, but since I already have a XC bike with very light, high-end components, I thought it might be cheaper to buy a new frame that supports rear suspension, buy a rear shock and transfer the hardware onto it. Based on this question – What's the difference between All-Mountain, Cross Country, Freeride, Downhill bikes? – what I'm basically aiming for is an all-mountain bike. I don't plan to use it for ridiculously high-speed descents, just asphalt roads with a lot of varying-size potholes, and the occasional dirt road.

Since there are now MTBs with carbon frames, I thought it was worth looking into such a frame, since it will allow me to build a full-suspension bike that is very light for its class – probably a little over 11 kg. My question is: what are the advantages and disadvantages of riding on such a frame? I'm concerned about durability and anything else I might be overlooking.

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    You say its basically being used on rough roads, so why would you build a mountain bike rather than a road/cross/gravel bike?
    – Batman
    Nov 25, 2017 at 19:50
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    Definitely wondering why you want full suspension for if you are mostly riding paved roads, are paved roads riddled with potholes where you are? Nov 25, 2017 at 22:38
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    @ArgentiApparatus Yes, a lot of the roads are riddled with potholes. There are some recently reconstructed roads, but I expect the bike will see the most action on the old roads. Nov 25, 2017 at 22:43
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    Also be very wary of no brand and counterfeit Carbon frames. Personally I would stay away from a carbon frame unless sourced from a reputable dealer. Have a read of bicycling.com/bikes-gear/components/…
    – mattnz
    Nov 26, 2017 at 6:50
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    I modified the title. I also think the OP’s riding technique is what needs upgrading, not the bike.
    – RoboKaren
    Nov 27, 2017 at 20:04

3 Answers 3


Carbon fibre is certainly a suitable material for mountain bikes. Despite what many people think carbon fibre is actually stronger than alloy, while also being lighter, stiffer and more expensive. The important thing to know about carbon fibre is that unlike alloy damage from a crash may not be visible. Also when carbon fails it snaps, whereas alloy bends in a slightly more controlled way, but that shouldn't matter to you. Durability will be vary good on both carbon and alloy frames.

But your description to the question does make me wonder why you are after a full suspension:

I don't plan to use it for ridiculously high-speed descents, just asphalt roads with varying-size potholes, and the occasional dirt road.

If you are planning on riding mainly on roads will the accessional dirt road it sounds more like you need a gravel/adventure bike for the kind of riding that you are doing.

Edit: If you are planning on riding roads riddled with potholes i still do not think that you need a full suspension mountain bike, where i live also has potholes everywhere, maybe look toward the specialised roubaix or cannondale slate, both road bikes with some form of suspention.

  • Others were wondering why I want full suspension in the comment section of the question. The roads the bike will be ridden on are riddled with potholes. Nov 26, 2017 at 23:11

Answers to the question you referenced says that all-mountain bikes are available with both aluminum and carbon fiber frames, so obviously carbon has been deemed a suitable material for that type of bike.

The issue with carbon fiber frames is that it they are more prone to damage in a crash than metal frames, and small amounts of damage can lead to catastrophic failure.

If you intend to ride on mostly on paved roads and occasion dirt roads, and you are confident that you are unlikely to crash, then by all means go for a carbon frame.

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    Yep, carbon, properly put together, is incredibly strong (and will generally withstand, eg, hitting a pothole that wrecks the rim). But if you, say, fall in such a way that the frame itself crashes into a large stone, stress that would only slightly bend a metal frame can crack the carbon one, and it may not be obvious how serious the damage is. Nov 25, 2017 at 23:10
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    Carbon is more prone to damage? youtube.com/watch?v=w5eMMf11uhM
    – paparazzo
    Nov 26, 2017 at 13:24
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    @Paparazzi I'm fully aware of the excellent structural properties of modern carbon fiber; what I meant was if a carbon frame suffers localized damage from say striking a rock in a crash, the damaged area can catastrophically fail. Nov 26, 2017 at 13:33
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    @ArgentiApparatus Every bike is crash damage prone. I don't get this fear of CF. I don't want to deal with characterization like those from Hicks. Just because a material fails in a catastrophic manner does not mean it is weaker. A metal tube fails in a catastrophic type manner (see video I linked).
    – paparazzo
    Nov 26, 2017 at 14:22
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    I certainly agree that the idea that metal fails progressively whereas CF fails abruptly is a largely incorrect generalization Nov 26, 2017 at 16:48

First thing to say is that YES you can have a carbon frame on any type of bike you want.

From my personal experience, I would not have an Aluminium frame unless it was free. I have snapped two in half.
Never had a carbon frame, but again unless given to me for free, NO. Reason is that yes it is stronger and lighter than ALI, but any damage severally weakens it and can go at any time. Not really an every day bike to hammer on rough terrain. Not to mention the price tag.

I go for chro-Molybendum frames. Yes it is heavier than you might like, but not as heavy as you think. And they are thinner framed and hella stronger. I have tested it out sad to say, and it kept on going. Worth every cent in my book.

So would depend on you. What is your wallet like? How do you take your safety? Do you want it to take a knock and keep on going? Are you in it for the looks and/or idea of saying "It is carbon ;-p "? Do you really need it to be as light as a feather?

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