aluminum frames,how durable?

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by Ralph Ray, Mar 24, 2004.

  1. Ralph Ray

    Ralph Ray New Member

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    I been looking at some new aluminun road bikes. They seem so light and when you thump on them with your finger they seem so thin. I own a Columbus steel road bike and a carbon fiber road bike. I never have owned a aluminum road bike. I realize they make them with beefy tubes because of the thinner guage materials. I would like to hear from owners of aluminum frame road bikes,(especially 7005 tubing) on ride quality, and those of you that have had crack and breakage problems. Also if you had frame problems, how many miles did you have on the frame. One of the makes was Coppi. Any feedback on this make? Thanks.:confused:
     
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  2. boudreaux

    boudreaux New Member

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    If you want to worry about that stuff go for one that has a lifetime warratny and hope that if it should fail, it's a covered defect. FWIW, it is said that 7005 is less druable than 6061.
     
  3. MidBunchLurker

    MidBunchLurker New Member

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    IMHO you will not have any durability problems with any modern aluminium frames. The only exceptions are some really high-end machines designed for racing a season or two, but even then this restriction rarely replies to us mere mortals that don't hammer our bikes as hard as the pros.

    How durable a frame is is a function not only of the material used, but also the quantity of the material and the construction of the frames, so its almost impossible to make generic statements that aluminum (in a bike) is less durable. There are many threads on this forum discussing the merits and demerits of various frame materials which present all sides of this argument.

    Ride quality is also affected not only by the material, but also by the construction technique, so once again its difficult to make generalisations. These days you also see more and more combination frames with, for example, carbon rear triangles on aluminum frames.

    I think the best is to get out and ride the bikes. Don't worry about what its made of, but rather how it rides and how it feels for you. If durability is still a niggling concern then buy a brand that provides a warranty that puts your mind to rest.

    And in case you're wondering, yes I ride an aluminum bike (Cannondale CAAD4), and my previous bike (an older Cannondale) was aluminum too, and was still in great shape after 6 years of abuse when I sold it.
     
  4. rek

    rek New Member

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    There is good and bad aluminium, just like there's good and bad bikes made out of just about anything else. MidBunchLurker is pretty much spot on; you need to judge the bike as part of a system ( frame geometry, construction, weight/durability tradeoff, components, wheelset, etc.), and not just based on what it's manufactured from.

    I have a CAAD5 road frame (6061 alu) and it's great. Light, stiff, and strong .. though it is rather easy to put little dents in the tubing if you drop the bike and it hits the edge of a wall or something. I have a little dent in the top tube due to something like this, but it's purely cosmetic. (I've ridden about 10000km on it since with no ill effects)

    Ride quality is not a problem either -- IMO seats, wheels, tyres, tyre pressures, and even bar tape are far more useful things to look at for ride comfort. After all, all those things are designed to flex to some extent.

    I've also got a CAAD5 MTB frame (made from 6061 alu and designed as a lightweight XC hardtail race frame) and I have abused and crashed it H-A-R-D a number of times .. absolutely no ill effects despite chainrings, cranks and wheelsets being destroyed.

    I'm convinced that I'll probably end up moving to a new frame because of the "ooh shiny new bike!" factor, rather than my current one wearing out.
     
  5. Beastt

    Beastt New Member

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    I own 3 aluminum road bikes. One never gets ridden anymore because it's about 12-years old, a 12-speed and has downtube shifters and a threaded headset. Still, about 3 years ago I was happily riding it and put about 3,000 miles on it. It only had about 1500 on it when I bought it but it's still a very nice, serviceable bike.

    I also own a 2001 GT ZR-1.0 which has the triple-triangle frame design which is claimed to be so harsh - it's not. The ride is as nice as any aluminum I've ridden. The bike has about 7,500 miles on it and, despite having riden a number of newer designs, is still my favorite.

    My third is a Fuji Professional with carbon fiber seat stays. If anything, the carbon fiber makes the handling feel a bit less spot-on. That may be a failing of the fork but I'm sure it's not the fault of the aluminum in the frame.

    I can't argue with anything midbunchlurker said. His advice falls right in line with my thinking on the subject. If you find a bike that fits you, feels good, fits your budget and happens to be made of aluminum, then go for it. Just remember, if you're not familiar with the ride of aluminum, you may find that you feel a bit more of the road surface than you do on other frame materials. To me, this isn't objectionable at all. I rather prefer the feedback but some do find it less compliant than other materials.

    :)
     
  6. DiabloScott

    DiabloScott New Member

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    I've broken three steel frames. One was the result of a crash that put a dimple in the downtube which didn't seem too important but years later the headtube cracked starting at that dimple. The other two were both in the chainstays and were probably the results of stress concentrations from initial brazing. Almost ALL frame failures are the results of poor manufacturing or trauma - not just wearing out. That being said, steel will survive in a few types of crashes that aluminum wouldn't - but not many.
     
  7. ibike73

    ibike73 New Member

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  8. Ralph Ray

    Ralph Ray New Member

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    Yeah, it sure helped. So far I have not heard anything really bad about the tubing. Thanks for all the great information. I have not been let down yet on this site.
     
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