Joel had asked for a picture of my road bike. Since my baby is kinda run down (decals are faded, odd little dent here and there, etc) I thought I'd instead show her in her somewhat original glory. This is Specialized's stock SWorks E5 photo:
I bought my bike as a frameset on eBay back in 2006. I then bought the 2007 Campagnolo Record group, a FSA seatpost, better stem, etc.
These days it seems that everything out there is carbon. Even cheap, crappy bikes are using carbon frames. When I put this bike together I had a few things I was looking for:
1. Something very stiff. I couldn't give a crap about the ride quality, not that it's bad on this bike, but for how many miles I ride a week my ass is plenty tough.
2. Something that wouldn't splinter into fragments WHEN it was in a crash. I've seen way to many carbon frames disintegrate upon impact. I don't need to be riding around a criterium worrying about what's going to happen to my bike when I crash.
3. Something that wasn't going to cost a fortune.
The reason I bring up carbon being on everything is that in my experience, unless you're willing to pay big money for a top of the line carbon frame, you're going to get something that resembles a wet noodle. Or at least after a year of hammering on it, it's going to. That was my experience with my Specialized Roubaix. When I bought it I thought it was a great deal that I got a $2500 bike with a carbon frame. After a year of riding it, I could really notice the frame flexing whenever I hammered on it. It became clear to me that I could have bought a top of the line aluminum bike for less money and been much more happy.
So if you're the sort of person that rides their bike every now and then for the fun of it, yah, a cheap carbon bike is great because it's probably going to be more comfortable than an aluminum bike, but if you're going to race, or ride more than 10 hours a week I think you're going to be more happy on something made of aluminum, titanium, or even steel.