Best alu frame?


New Member
Aug 5, 2012
Hi guys, I live in Sweden and have just started really enjoying road biking. Have a friend who is in to vintage steel bikes and I have owned a few steel bikes now.

For the winter Im gonna have as a project to build a faster bike using mostly used parts.

My plan is to find a pair of really fast carbon fibre weels, a good aluminium frame and new shimano 105 gears.

On a steel bike I have figured out that I prefer a top tube length of 53-54cm cc, I am 174cm tall and have 85cm legs. Will the measurements be the same on a alu frame? I was just checking out a Pinarello prince alu/carbon frame on ebay with these measurements:

Seat Tube 51cm c-c 55cm c-t
Top Tube 54cm c-c
Down Tube 61cm c-c
Chain Stays 41cm c-c
Seat Stays 49cm c-c
Head Tube 13cm c-c

It was previosly used by a team rider who was 184cm tall wich confuses me, should I look for a smaller size?

I am also intrested in general recommendations of frames, My assumption is that a top of the line frame is more fun to ride then a entry level frame no matter what year it is made. Is there any frames I should avoid or prefer?

All input apriciated!
There is no generally agreed "best" frame, for the same reason there's no generally agreed best band, beer, pizza, clothes brand or whatever - too much personal opinions, not enough measured/measurable data.

If you want to get a clone of your favourite steel frame, then you'd need the ANGLES to be the same as well. But I suppose if ALL the separate frame parts are the same, the angles would pretty much have to work out to be darn close to the same too.

And yeah, frames are measured for fit the same way regardless of material, so it's still your best bet for comparison.
Although you might want to do a net search for "stack and reach" (or something like that), it's another take on how to discuss geometries and bike fit that is gaining popularity.

A farily big thing is design styles. Vintage steel tends to have horizontal and generally higher top tubes, modern designs tend to favor sloping, lower tubes and more exposed seat post. This may make comparisons tricky. Stem design (quill vs threadless) also influences frame layout.

And don't be too concerned with what someone else rides. The fit charts will give you a place to start, that's all. And while it's unlikely to be hopelessy wrong, it's equally unlikely to be the "perfect" fit for you. If you have enough miles to be able to say "this is what works for me" then that trumps chart recommendations any day.

Either way, as you get some more miles under your belt, you may want to tweak the fit anyhow.

How much were you hoping to gain by your "really fast carbon fibre wheels"? Aerodynamic advantages don't really come into play before you start pushing 40 km/h (25 MPH) If you're not there yet, work on the engine, not the vehicle.

Likewise the frame. An aluminium frame is likely (but don't have to be) stiffer than a vintage steel. Ths may well make it feel a lot snappier at takeoff, but whether it'll actually make you faster or not is another issue entirely. Length of ride and fatigue may well play in too.

But yeah, a nice bike is always a nice bike...

Keep in mind that unless you already have a big pile of parts, or is really good at scoring killer deals, assembling a bike part-by-part is likely to be quite a lot more expensive than buying a complete bike.
For my last MTB build, the only things bought at full price were the hubs, everything else was atleast a 30% discount, or came out of my pile. And I think I just about broke even on that one.
Stick to the same effective TT measurement for sizing, and take into account the head tube length for how low the bars will be (that's the 'stack length' mentioned above). The sizing parameters used are the same on all bikes but the advent of the sloping top tube made the effective top tube, and not the seat tube length the more familiar reference.

If you are going alu, try to purchase new, nos (new old stock), or one that it is in relatively good condition with nothing more than cable burns, etc. Alu remembers trauma more so than other materials.

Try to purchase a recent model frame, alu has seen tremendous improvement in weight and ride quality over the last few years. I'm currently riding an alu Cinelli Xperience with Athena11, and love the bike. It uses a very slightly bowed chainstay shape to help with compliance and accelerates like a demon. The frame retailed for $800. I'd recommend it in a heartbeat. Apparently the 2012 model is a little more comfortable and a bit lighter.

I had an alu Colnago several years back which had snappy acceleration but a harsh ride. Sorta old school alu construction. I'd avoid similar in the future.

I've heard great things about the CAAD9 which can be found as a new frameset with a little looking. The CAAD10 also. But these are pricey and you'd be lucky to get one for less than $1100 (I don't believe C'Dale sells the frame separate). And if you can go 1100 then why not get a Franco Decker Road cf frame for 1300? On the cheaper but equally performance oriented side is the Specialized Allez alu, available as a frame-set for about $700. Only a few manufacturers offer their alu frames separately. Going to their websites is an easy way to find out.

Alu is a great choice for keeping new frameset price low. A quick search on ebay under 'framset 54cm' and set the filter to 'new' -
I'm not endorsing that bike and the buyer should always beware, but that's just an example of something that caught my eye. You should really make sure to understand your correct size if not working with a bike shop. There are also mail order shops that sell frames as well, Performance for instance. It'll really just come down to budget and preference. Good luck.
Thank you for your advice, made a new thread now :)