I'm considering buying a entry level road bike for around 2000€.

I'll use it for commuting every day 20km and for long rides up to 150km.

I'll try to use an older bike when it rains, but I'll have to ride the new one sometimes. Also, on my longer rides, I can't always find a road and will have to ride on unpaved roads or even some gravel.

I'm interested in some models like the Bianchi Intenso Centaur 11v, Canyon CF SL 8.0, or Stevens Izoard Pro, and I'd change the tyres to Continental Gatorskin 700x28.

Will occasional rides in those conditions destroy such a bike? My worries are not so much about comfort, but losing such a lot of money because something gets broken if those bikes can't handle it.

I currently ride a steel single-speed bike with the mentioned tyres, and I haven't had big issues in over 4000km with some bad weather with a lot of unplanned unpaved and gravel roads.

  • 9
    €2000 is well into mid-range: you could buy a low-end road bike for a quarter of that price. You should be more worried about theft of what would be a pretty expensive commuter bike, especially if your employer doesn't have secure bike parking. Jun 27, 2018 at 18:19
  • Look on youtube for santa cruz stress testing their CF frame vs Alu, and it'll ease your worries about durability of CF frames
    – Andy P
    Jun 28, 2018 at 8:58

4 Answers 4


Carbon fiber road bikes are generally perfectly capable of being ridden on less than perfect surfaces without sustaining damage.

Obviously you want to avoid large obstacles such as potholes, rocks, kerbs etc.

28mm tires are definitely a good idea. Depending on how much poor quality surface you plan to ride on, you might want to consider looking for a 'mild' gravel bike that can take 35mm tires.

  • Much more than the riding conditions, the rider's weight and his ability to foresee and avoid obstacles like potholes will influence the bike's longevity.
    – Carel
    Jun 27, 2018 at 17:12
  • @Carel good point, made appropriate edit Jun 27, 2018 at 17:25
  • From what OP has described i'd agree a cx/gravel bike with some fast rolling 35's sound like the best answer
    – Andy P
    Jun 28, 2018 at 9:00

There's two distinct sides to this question: how does carbon fiber the material fare the way it's used in modern road bikes, and how do carbon road bikes with the features they almost all have fare.

Carbon road bikes, as they actually exist for the most part, are excellent at being structurally strong against all the typical loads on a bike, but are relatively vulnerable to incidental damage compared to metal bikes. It's relatively easy for permanent damage to be done by piercing, denting, gouging, or abrading contact against frame members. It also takes relatively less unintentional cyclic tire, cable, or rider contact with frame members to wear significant amounts of material away.

If your commutes mimic the type of recreational, sporty riding that carbon road bikes are really designed for, you're less likely to encounter issues from any of these weaknesses. If you've got more "real world" type risk factors, for example the need to leave the bike locked up on a city street where anyone can lock up next to it and gouge it with a pedal, carbon can be a liability. If the bike's economics as a means of transportation has meaning to you, i.e. if you need it to get around and replacing it if damaged would be a huge burden, carbon easily becomes an outright bad choice compared to a steel bike with none of the aforementioned toughness/fragility issues, much lower cost, and negligibly less performance.

A second factor is that the integrated headsets and various press-fit BBs now found on most carbon road bikes, and especially BB30, were really never intended to be low-maintenance and long-lived in real-world conditions, and especially with regular exposure to rain and grit. They have inferior sealing and tend to develop creaks and/or wear out quickly compared to pressed headsets and threaded shells. If you live someplace dry, these concerns are lessened. Everywhere else, they are terrible features for a commute bike.


Pro cyclists, (road, gravel, mountain) have been using carbon bikes for at least a decade.

They ride hard, really hard, and in rough environment (think cobblestones) at full speed and in the rain as well in the dry.

If you take care of your bike, it will outlive you.

Have no fear.

Just be certain that the bike you choose allows wider tires if needed (for gravel...)

  • At least a decade? Try more than 20 years.
    – Rider_X
    Jun 27, 2018 at 19:26
  • @Rider_X well, it's at least 10 ! :-) point taken.
    – Max
    Jun 27, 2018 at 19:34

Usually no problem, just make sure your carbon bike has the cables integrated into the frame and not externally routed ones. This is much more durable when riding in rough conditions. Furthermore some kind of a frameprotection is advised. (Chain catcher, the new Ultegra RD-8000 with the shadow technology for gravel roads, frame protection stickers/foil for BB-area of frame.)

  • Or full length housing to stop dirt getting in the cable housing. Jul 18, 2018 at 19:27

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