Lifetime Aluminum Frame Revealed

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by dhk2, Feb 29, 2012.

  1. dhk2

    dhk2 Active Member

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    OK, for all you doubters out there, I submit the Specialized Allez Sport Compact review in the current Bicycling issue. According to no less an expert than Mark Cote, a road product manager at Specialized, in-house testing has indicated the frame will "comfortably last for at least a million miles". That's 10K miles per year for 100 years, which ought to be a lifetime for most of us.

    Not surprising, since it's built of heavy gauge triple-butted aluminum tubes, with double pass welds. Even better, it offers a "similar ride feel" and "the same torsional stiffness" as the range topping Tarmac SL4, all for merely $990. Sure, it's heavy at 21 lbs, but after the first few 100K miles on it, you'll probably be fit enough to handle the extra 5 lbs over the Tarmac.

    Only nagging questions I have: How many CF forks will I go through in a million miles? And I wonder about their in-house test regime: If I ever have to ride over RR tracks, potholes, or stand up to sprint or climb 15% grades, will that reduce the frame life? Will they offer a fatigue-life warranty on the frame? I'd settle for a conservative warranty, maybe 100K miles...surely they could throw that in for free.
     
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  2. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

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    I don't care if my CF forks last a million miles since neither nor anyone else is going to pedal that much. Surely the Specialized guy can't be right about his tests. After all his results contradict a great number of the internet bike forum frame material experts. Hmmmm.
     
  3. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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  4. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

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  5. dhk2

    dhk2 Active Member

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    Great inspiring stories from opposite sides of the cycling universe. I'd like to know more about the bike you've ridden 150K miles. Would guess it's a heavy-duty steel frame/fork, Reynolds 531 or heavier. That's a lot of miles and years. And a lot of wheels, tires, drivetrain and saddles.

    My post wasn't trying to be serious, just trying to poke fun at any claim for a "million mile bike" in the real world. If it's a million miles on perfectly smooth pavement at a steady 10 mph, sure it's possible. But the real world has hills to climb, sprints to win, rough roads, railroad tracks and more. Too many unknowns to predict anything much, which explains why few manufacturers warranty fatigue life at all.

    If I was choosing a frame and fork with the goal to last 150,000 miles over 20 years, a heavy walled steel touring setup would be an obvious choice. But there's no inherent reason why a strong, heavy-duty aluminum frame and CF fork couldn't go the distance either.
     
  6. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    It's a 84 Trek 660 with Reynolds 531cs, it was their second to the best behind the 760 back then. I test rode the 760 that had Reynolds 531p and was able to get the chain to rub on both sides of the front derailleur and the wheel to rub a brake block on a hard hill climb, the LBS recommended the 660 because it would be more stout for me...and it was. I bought the 660 as a frame a fork and then had the entire Suntour Superbe group hung on it. The only part that broke was the front derailleur band which required a new derailleur to fix, fortunately I had a the original model I bought as a back up in storage. Other then normal wear out items the bike has never had a problem mechanically. If I sat down and went through my records I would probably find that my bike is probably closer to 180,000 mile range because that 150,000 miles was figured in 2003, and I retired it in 2011. 531cs is not heavy thick walled steel tubing; when I raced it with tubulars and some other lighter components it weighed 20 pounds, it has since put on some pounds after I quit racing it.

    The million mile web sites I posted are guys riding on streets like you and I. In fact the Hoffman guy has ridden to all 48 states several times, so I think he qualifies for rough roads, RxR's, cattle crossings, climbs, potholes, you name it. When the Hoffman guy first came to light some years ago, he was photographed with a bunch of worn out chain rings, it was verified that those chain rings were used on that bike, and by the LBS he does exclusive business with; then add on top of that his diary, and the record he had to keep for his charity.

    The other site with the other guy I know nothing about.
     
  7. dhk2

    dhk2 Active Member

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    Froze, thanks for the info. You indeed put all those miles on a legendary Trek. Not sure if Trek or any other major brand sells that kind of frame anymore. Was using the term "heavy thick-walled" steel in comparison to the newer thinner stuff that is so in demand now. My Raleigh Gran Sport from 1975 is heavy-walled 531, the complete GS bike with all OEM parts weighs about 26 lbs IIRC. The 531 "CS" (club sport?) tubing in your newer Trek is likely lighter/thinner stuff. At any rate, it's proven still to be plenty strong and durable.

    Danny Chew is pretty well-known for his RAAM wins. I'd bet he rides several different race/gran fondo bikes and replaces them as needed.

    Care to share how many rear rims, chainrings, cogsets and saddles you've replaced on the Trek in 150K miles? I'm just curious how long stuff lasts vs my experience.
     
  8. CAMPYBOB

    CAMPYBOB Well-Known Member

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    I'm just curious how long stuff lasts vs my experience.

    2007 Douglas Matrix, without adding up the logs, somewhere around 25K-30K miles over 5-1/2 seasons. Probably closer to the 30K mark. The driveline is kept clean and wet (probably over-oiled).

    4 Chorus cassette stacks. Mainly 19, 17 and 16 cogs worn to skipping.
    20+ Chorus and Record chains. Replaced at 1000-1500 mile intervals. Gauged for wear.
    1 worn out chorus 53T chainring (replaced with Record). Was running and shifting just fine, but it was sharp and starting to hook badly. Replaced last summer.

    Lots of Vredestein Fortezza Tri-Comp tires. Fronts last almost a complete season. Rears show cord around 1000-1200 miles.

    All other components and the frameset seem to be holding up well. This one goes into semi-retirement next month and has probably been my highest mileage bike. The component that most surprised me was the headset. I used to destroy those old Campy Record and Chorus 1" threaded headsets to the tune of at least one per year. Even the polymer cushioned ones died quickly. The Cane Creek integrated 1-1/8" steers as smoothly as the day I took it on its' first ride.

    The Litespeed had the same Chorus carbon seatpost the Douglas has and the aluminum head/clamp came unglued from the carbon tube somewhere about 1000-2000 miles into its' life. Replaced under warranty. No problems since, but I believe Campy discontinued the manufacture of seat posts.
     
  9. dhk2

    dhk2 Active Member

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    CB, thanks for info. By comparison, my '04 SANO (Columbus Zonal al/cf rear) has 32K miles now. With 9sp Shimano, I replace HG-93 chains every 4-6K, per gauge, and the Ultegra cassettes with the second chain, about 10K miles. Replaced the FSA chainrings (53/39/30) at 18K miles when the middle chainring had too much slop/play against the chain.

    GP4000 tires last about 3-4K miles on the rear. I replace the fronts every two rears. FSA headset is fine, but have replaced the press-in Megatech BB bearings 4 times; last set after 7K miles.
     
  10. CAMPYBOB

    CAMPYBOB Well-Known Member

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    I snapped the left side Campy Record alloy crank arm in two, accelerating away from a track stand...stress riser from the ball mill caused it to fracture tangent to the scribed mill mark. Back about 1985 or so with a shit ton of miles on it. Replaced under the old lifetime Campy warranty policy.

    Busted the right rear dropout (marked "Colnago", similar to a short Campy 1010B) of one of my Colnagos. I think it was a 1974 or 1975 model year, less than a year of use when it broke. Replaced under warranty. Chalk it up to bombing RR crossings.

    Cracked a Schwinn Madison track bike frame at the head tube/down tube lug joint. Three seasons of use, I think. Schwinn had stopped building the Madison at the time, so offered up cash which went towards a Gardin track frameset.

    Folded up a few wheels...abuse...more than likely.

    Broke a couple of different axle brands...never a Campy though.

    And who the hell could forget the overly heat-treated, too hard Regina America series freewheels (6 speeds or 7 speeds?). I had three or four bodies fail and stripped the gears off a couple of unused ones before pitching the bodies in the trash. The blue shipping tins were really cool though!

    I'm guessing I'm getting an average of 7,500 miles on Campy cassette cogs. The Record's large Ti cassette gears wear faster than the Chorus' nickeled steel, but that's to be expected. I don't know who manufactures Campy's chains (it used to be Rohloff of Germany), but they wear FAST! And when they are shot, you better change them out right now or you'll also be tossing a stack of cassette cogs in the spare parts bin along with the junk chains. Knock on wood, I have not snapped a chain yet.

    If anyone ever figures out a use for shiney, stretched Campy chains...I'll be a millionaire!
     
  11. baker3

    baker3 New Member

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    This is not scientifical, over the years i've owned 3 aluminum framed bikes, 3 carbon bikes and one steel. From the 3 aluminum bikes, 1 was was replaced 4 times under warranty, the other two each replaced once. The aluminum framed bikes were never crashed. I've never had a carbon or steel frame fail.
     
  12. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

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    You're right in that it's not scientific. Also, there is no information at all on the miles on the bikes, crashes, your size, road conditions, or any of the many other factors that affect the life of a frame.
     
  13. dhk2

    dhk2 Active Member

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    baker, care to provide more info about the frame that was replaced 4 times under warranty? Were the failures all the same or similar, eg, the drive-side rear dropout cracked on each frame, or the weld at the BB to chainstay failed? Did the LBS or company rep tell you the frames were defective? Were they low-end, high-volume production frames from a major brand? Did the company finally stop replacing them, or did you just give up after four?
     
  14. davereo

    davereo Well-Known Member

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    Sorry but I dont believe your claim that you have had six frames replaced.
     
  15. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

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    What he said. I wasn't meaning to be confrontational but suggesting in a round about way that you give the that info. It's a bad tendency of people to take info, such as you've given, and use it as proof of something else or to draw the wrong conclusions from such info.
     
  16. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    CS does stand for Club Sport, though for years I thought it meant Custom Sport because that's what the LBS that sold me the frame said!! I guess he probably thought that because the CS tube set was only sold to Trek and Trek custom spec'd it, thus custom sport.

    I don't have records of that replaced stuff because I would just replace without thinking too much about it. But I only replaced the chain rings once and their due again but I have to locate some Superbe rings and right now I have other projects going and they still work; replaced the rear cogs 4 maybe 5 times; typically my chains average 15,000 miles; saddles I lost count, though my current saddle has outlasted several, it's a Brooks Swift with TI which I've transferred to my Miyata 712 road bike since I retired the Trek. Keep in mind this older stuff uses the wider chains which means thicker cogs and chain rings then newer stuff so they last longer.

    The Trek was used exclusively for training, racing, and riding in S California from 84 to 03; the sun has fried the decals and paint, Indiana sun for the last 8 years didn't seem to make it any worse; but that's another reason for the retirement so I can get it repainted, new decals etc.

    In 87 I did buy a new racing bike, a Miyata Team but about 2 months after getting it I quit racing so it never got used for much. I actually like the Miyata frames BETTER then the Trek! It has that triple butted spline tubing (as does the 1988 712, I found that one in a garage sale) that is just incredibly responsive, the team weighs the same as the Trek but the 712 is almost a pound more, but both frames are so responsive you swear their lighter then the Trek. But I now ride between 5 different road bikes depending on my mood before I go, but I do need to buy a newer light weight racing bike because I want to get back into racing when I retire and will need newer technology and a lighter bike, so I have my eye on the Motobecane LeChamp SL titanium bike, but like I said some issues came up so it's on the back burner till hopefully this summer but probably next year.
     
  17. baker3

    baker3 New Member

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    The worst was a highend Norco model in about 97 or 98 that kept randomly breaking, never twice in the same spot also never due to crashes. The other two were R800 cannondales.
     
  18. Eichers

    Eichers New Member

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    Hi Froze, please tell how do you manage to get your chains to last 15,000 miles ... btw, that's very impressive :)
     
  19. dhk2

    dhk2 Active Member

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    Froze, thanks for details. Now I understand your perspective on the "modern" equipment. The narrower 9 & 10 & 11 speed chains, cassettes and chainrings don't seem to last as long. Us consumers have of course voted with our money. We want lightweight and more speeds, not durablilty and low maintenance cost. Probably less than 1% of buyers ride the miles you do anyway, so the prospect of having to replace chains and cassettes every few thousand miles doesn't really register went we buy that new super-fast race bike.

    Can understand the appeal of Ti, but don't know about the quality of Motobecane Ti. Since you obviously value quality and durability, suggest you take a look at Lynskey frames, made in Tennessee by the original folks who started Litespeed. A couple of guys here ride them, they look great and their prices look reasonable to me. Of course, you can go into most any LBS and buy a major brand CF bike for racing. Since you've got all your other old-school bikes to ride, you wouldn't need to put big miles on the race equipment.
     
  20. dhk2

    dhk2 Active Member

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    Thanks for info. Haven't heard of Norco, but it sounds like they didn't get it right...assume they went out of business pretty quickly. Surprised about the R800 failures though. Believe the CAAD series are durable frames, but of course any lightweight frame can be broken with enough hard miles on it. Did they see alot of tough miles, and did they both break in the same place?

    Cannondale does submit at least some of their frames to that EFBE testing routine, resulting in certification to a DIN standard. It simulates out-of-the-saddle climbing for a certain number of cycles at specified load. Over the years, some of the lightest aluminum and CF frames have passed it, while some heavier ti and steel have not. The test doesn't "prove" a frame will last for X miles in real-world use of course,as there are other loads and variables that we put on a frame/fork which the test rig doesn't simulate.
     
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