I'll take the bait Ted. This is probably less "scientific" than what you had hoped for, but my life's too short to wait for me to get around to conducting anything like a proper experiment. What, me procrastinate? ;)
There are certainly others who have ridden many, many more bicycles than I have, but I like to think that I ride fast enough to be a bit demanding, but not so fast that I don't have time to be distracted by how the bicycle feels to me.
Riding a full CF wonder-bike. No experience.
Aluminum frame with carbon fork: The LBS had a Cannondale Six demo in my size, and they let me take it for a spin about 18 months ago. It was crazy light, and it felt very fast. On smooth pavement, it was an absolute joy. Unfortunately, the enjoyable cycling routes in these parts contain only the odd stretch of perfectly smooth pavement. When riding on chip sealed pavement (and not the freshly done stuff either), there was quite a bit more "chatter" in the handlebars than I was accustomed to, and it wasn't the sort of stimulation I found enjoyable. Truthfully, I can't say with certainty whether to blame the frame, the wheels or the tire pressure for the complimentary arm and shoulder massage, but I didn't see much point in borrowing $6,000 to do some more in-depth experimentation.
True temper Chrome Moly: I have a slightly OT Schwinn traveler that's set up as a fixed gear, and a more OT Surly Long Haul trucker that I use as a mile eater, with all the best intentions of applying the saved maintenance time to get caught up with a half dozen or so little projects that I seem to never quite get around to. They are both set up with wider tires, and both offer an acceptably smooth ride. I don't find exhiliration riding either of these bicycles though.
I've taken a few rides on a 1984 Trek 760 (with 531P tubing), that I think I could possibly persuade Dale to make a KOF exemption on if I were to change a couple components on it. It's quite light (I think 20 pounds, though I've not weighed it), has narrow tubular tires, and has a ride that's not all that dissimilar from the aluminum Cannondale, though there seems to be less chatter.
1977 Raleigh Super Course - straight gauge 531 tubing. Ride feels rather like 4130 Chrome Moly.
I have a couple riders with full 531. I know what the tests say, but I believe I can tell the difference - whether it is planing, or some other attribute, I'm not certain, but the ride feels a little bit livelier (not scientific, but oh well).
The final mention here, is for my 1972, Fuji Finest. I don't have any explanation for it, but this bicycle, at about 23 pounds, has the plushest ride of any bicycle I've been on. I feel the sensation of floating while riding that bicycle, yet it is pretty quick. If it had braze-ons, I'd use it for my randonneuring rig. Even after running over a yearling ground-hog (a freak incident), only a very mild bump was felt. I discount the possibility that the wheels/tires are primarily responsible, as I've ridden this frame with everything from 27 x 1-1/4" to 700c 20mm tubulars, and the sensation is always there.
I realize that none of this is especially scientific, but I also reject anyone dismissing this as being "all in my head" either.
Conclusions? Can only state the obvious. Perception is my reality. :)
John (leaving MTB experiences out of the mix) Barry Mechanicsburg, PA, USA
> From: ternst <firstname.lastname@example.org>
\r?\n> Subject: [CR] CR rider "Q"
\r?\n> To: email@example.com
\r?\n> Date: Monday, February 9, 2009, 2:17 AM
\r?\n> I've enjoyed the threads on the what do I ride theme.
\r?\n> I'm surprised no one has ventured into the ride quality
\r?\n> between the various materiels, or combos thereof.
\r?\n> That would seem to be right up our road or track as it
\r?\n> Comparing similar model bikes of each in an objective manor
\r?\n> should be a
\r?\n> great topic.
\r?\n> Ted Ernst
\r?\n> Palos Verdes Estates
\r?\n> CA USA