Interesting reading the age old frame material question. It never really ends, plus as bike makers continue to be in the business of selling bike frames, the truth is always added with some sales talk.
I would say that steal maybe feels the best to ride. Though I have never owned a titanium bike? Carbon probably does end up being the lowest weight. I have not rode a modern-day carbon either, they must have designed out some of the clacktyness and jitteryness or we would not see the popularity. Still I wonder how many carbon riders would compare carbon to perfect steal joy?
For me it has been truly amazing how carbon has grown in popularity? Even popular in price points where titanium could be purchased. Seeing this it seems like the industry has wonderfully forgotten about titanium. I wonder if carbon can be cheaper to build with offering higher profit centers for makers.
Gone are the so called screwed and glued aluminum tube bikes of the mid-eighties, in are the ultra-cheap hydro-formed 6000 aluminum brutes. Strong as hell, relatively low weight and cheap to make. The ride though has much to be desired and maybe always will. Lucky they have worked to make em stiff where they need to be, one great thing. The price is great. 6000 series would be an amazing material to work with if they could use technology to make the ride better. We could finally see cheap strong and great riding low-weight bikes for the masses. If things continue the way they have been going we will probably end up seeing cheap, strong, low-weight and great riding carbon bikes for the masses.
Handmade steal bikes are still cool, relativity heavy in comparison to carbon/titanium. Amazingly the price of a classic hand made Italian frame has never really gone down when prices are adjusted for inflation. If anything new ones seem to have gone up in price and abundance has gone down.
With this said, I think steel is best for heavy and/or powerful riders, aluminum hydro-formed is the value and carbon and titanium for the lowest-weight bikes and riders with the heaviest wallets.
Edited by Redcarmoose - 1/14/14 at 10:22am