Need advice on road bike frame material - alum, composite, or comp/steel

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by Mike, Feb 11, 2004.

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  1. Mike

    Mike Guest

    I am shopping for a new road bike and have been looking at various frame materials - aluminum,
    composite and mixed composite/steel.

    I am looking to ride 2-3 x/during the week (20 miles) and on the weekend (30-50 miles) working up to
    riding centuries. I have heard some of the advantages of each but I am trying to understand the best
    type of frame material for what I am going to do. Due to the weather, I have not been able to get
    out on a bike test ride the differences.

    What are key things that I need to consider? Questions I need to be asking at the stores?

    FYI - The bikes I have been looking at are: Aluminum (Trek 2200), Composite (Trek 5200/Specialized
    Roubaix) and composite/steel (Lemond Buenos Aires).

    Thanks Mike
     
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  2. David Kerber

    David Kerber Guest

    In article <[email protected]>, [email protected] says...
    > I am shopping for a new road bike and have been looking at various frame materials - aluminum,
    > composite and mixed composite/steel.
    >
    > I am looking to ride 2-3 x/during the week (20 miles) and on the weekend (30-50 miles) working up
    > to riding centuries. I have heard some of the advantages of each but I am trying to understand the
    > best type of frame material for what I am going to do. Due to the weather, I have not been able to
    > get out on a bike test ride the differences.
    >
    > What are key things that I need to consider? Questions I need to be asking at the stores?
    >
    > FYI - The bikes I have been looking at are: Aluminum (Trek 2200), Composite (Trek 5200/Specialized
    > Roubaix) and composite/steel (Lemond Buenos Aires).

    Those are all good bikes by good manufacturers. Don't worry about the material; give them a test
    ride, and pick the one which fits and rides the best. The material is immaterial.

    --
    Dave Kerber Fight spam: remove the ns_ from the return address before replying!

    REAL programmers write self-modifying code.
     
  3. Rick Onanian

    Rick Onanian Guest

    On 11 Feb 2004 04:15:40 -0800, [email protected] (Mike) wrote:
    >I am shopping for a new road bike and have been looking at various frame materials - aluminum,
    >composite and mixed composite/steel.

    Take it to rec.bicycles.tech; we haven't had a good frame material war in there for, oh, I'd say a
    couple months.

    >What are key things that I need to consider? Questions I need to be asking at the stores?

    Here's one key thing to NOT consider: Frame material. Go to groups.google.com and read the
    thousands of messages of previous frame material wars. You'll find out that material is an
    immaterial concern (hah! :).

    I'm partial to Aluminum, because I really hate the way that steel corrodes; aluminum corrosion is
    IME less common, and less bothersome when present. If I wasn't limited to inexpensive materials, I'd
    be willing to give titanium a try...love that brushed finish.
    --
    Rick Onanian
     
  4. Rick Onanian

    Rick Onanian Guest

    On Wed, 11 Feb 2004 07:57:52 -0500, David Kerber
    <[email protected]_ids.net> wrote:
    >The material is immaterial.

    Doh! I hoped I was the first to say that...
    --
    Rick Onanian
     
  5. David Kerber

    David Kerber Guest

    In article <[email protected]>, [email protected] says...
    > On Wed, 11 Feb 2004 07:57:52 -0500, David Kerber <[email protected]_ids.net> wrote:
    > >The material is immaterial.
    >
    > Doh! I hoped I was the first to say that...

    Too bad <GGG>!

    > --
    > Rick Onanian
    >

    --
    Dave Kerber Fight spam: remove the ns_ from the return address before replying!

    REAL programmers write self-modifying code.
     
  6. Ferenc Lovro

    Ferenc Lovro Guest

    [email protected] (Mike) wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
    > I am shopping for a new road bike and have been looking at various frame materials - aluminum,
    > composite and mixed composite/steel.

    Hi,

    If I were You, probably I would chose the aluminium bike. (Or more preferably even a cromo bike).
    Composite frames are not too much lighter than better aluminium ones but they cost significantly
    more. Aluminium frames can also be repaired easier. Personally I also find aluminium more
    comfortable. So I would buy the aluminium bike, and spend some extra money on buying a lighter set
    of wheels.

    Frank www.plitkorn.com
     
  7. David

    David Guest

    "Ferenc Lovro" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > Composite frames are not too much lighter than better aluminium ones but they cost significantly
    > more. Aluminium frames can also be repaired easier.

    Easier than composite frames? I've never repaired a CF frame, but I didn't think it was supposed to
    be too hard. If the aluminum is heat-treated, repairing cracks is a problem (since it needs to be
    tempered after welding). If it's not, then I suppose it shouldn't be too hard. I'm told though when
    it cracks, it's likely fatigued elsewhere, and prone to crack again.

    Steel is easy to repair. Aluminum is probably the best value, if it doesn't break. Steel and Ti can
    be good values in a lifetime frame. And I guess CF is probably the lightest.
     
  8. Kevan Smith

    Kevan Smith Guest

    On Wed, 11 Feb 2004 12:18:38 -0500, Rick Onanian <[email protected]> from The
    Esoteric c0wz Society wrote:

    >Here's one key thing to NOT consider: Frame material. Go to groups.google.com and read the
    >thousands of messages of previous frame material wars. You'll find out that material is an
    >immaterial concern (hah! :).

    Except to the extent that price is a consideration.

    I have an aluminum bike, a carbon bike and a steel bike. I get different road feel from each frame,
    but the bikes all do the same thing well enough that the slight difference isn't a factor.

    --
    [email protected]
    Don't stress one thing more than another.
    97
     
  9. Mike

    Mike Guest

    Thanks for the advice...interestingly, the stores seem convinced that the frame material is very
    important.

    The shop I went to yesterday wants me to road test 4 different bikes - all have similar components,
    wheels, etc - the difference is frame material - aluminum, aluminum compact geometry, carbon,
    carbon/steel...They think that I will be able to feel the difference of the frames in ride quality,
    acceleration, etc. This makes sense to me. My current bike is a cro-moly and I don't feel that it
    dampens out alot of the road vibration (which is why I bought it over an aluminum bike).

    I'll check out the other discussion group....I did a search in this group and didn't see alot of
    recent links on frame material comparisons....

    Mike
     
  10. > The shop I went to yesterday wants me to road test 4 different bikes - all have similar
    > components, wheels, etc - the difference is frame material - aluminum, aluminum compact geometry,
    > carbon, carbon/steel...They think that I will be able to feel the difference of the frames in ride
    > quality, acceleration, etc. This makes sense to me.

    Before you test ride the bikes, you might check out this article on our website-

    http://www.chainreaction.com/roadbiketestrides.htm

    It's all about how you should test-ride bikes. What to look for, how to make sure they're set up
    properly. It's entirely brand & material neutral, and has helped quite a few people with their bike
    choice dilemma.

    --Mike-- Chain Reaction Bicycles http://www.ChainReactionBicycles.com
     
  11. Ferenc Lovro

    Ferenc Lovro Guest

    "David" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
    > "Ferenc Lovro" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    > news:[email protected]...

    > > Aluminium frames can also be repaired easier.
    > Easier than composite frames? I've never repaired a CF frame, but I didn't think it was supposed
    > to be too hard. If the aluminum is heat-treated,

    It's not hard to repair, all you have to do is to lay carbon fibre sheets and resin on the cracked
    part of the frame. but finding small cracks in layers invisible for the eye and laying carbon fibre
    _properly_ needs a bit of experience, which can still rarely be found today. when I said aluminium
    is easier to be repaired I ment that one may find more mechanics/technicians who can weld/repair
    aluminium than people who can safely repair carbon fibre. actually, my car's (fiero) body had a
    crack, and I needed to take it to a yacht-maker to fix it. :eek:)

    ----

    Another consideration for selecting a frame is the rider's weight. If I were overweighted, I
    definitely wouldn't choose a cf frame.

    Frank www.plitkorn.com
     
  12. David Kerber

    David Kerber Guest

    In article <[email protected]>, [email protected] says...
    > Thanks for the advice...interestingly, the stores seem convinced that the frame material is very
    > important.
    >
    > The shop I went to yesterday wants me to road test 4 different bikes - all have similar
    > components, wheels, etc - the difference is frame material - aluminum, aluminum compact geometry,
    > carbon, carbon/steel...They think that I will be able to feel the difference of the frames in ride
    > quality, acceleration, etc. This makes sense to me. My current bike is a cro-moly and I don't feel
    > that it dampens out alot of the road vibration (which is why I bought it over an aluminum bike).

    That's reasonable, but for a fair test, make sure they put the same tires and saddle on each one;
    otherwise those will have a far larger effect than the frame itself.

    --
    Dave Kerber Fight spam: remove the ns_ from the return address before replying!

    REAL programmers write self-modifying code.
     
  13. Rick Onanian

    Rick Onanian Guest

    On Thu, 12 Feb 2004 07:51:55 -0500, David Kerber
    <[email protected]_ids.net> wrote:
    >[email protected] says...
    >> The shop I went to yesterday wants me to road test 4 different bikes -
    >
    >That's reasonable, but for a fair test, make sure they put the same tires and saddle on each one;
    >otherwise those will have a far larger effect than the frame itself.

    More importantly, the same tire pressure, and the same geometry and fit.

    Maybe just have them use the same wheels, with tires already mounted and pumped, on all four bikes.
    That will help even it out a bit, although minor geometry differences...
    --
    Rick Onanian
     
  14. Mike

    Mike Guest

    "David L. Johnson" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
    > On Wed, 11 Feb 2004 20:11:06 -0800, Mike wrote:
    >
    > > Thanks for the advice...interestingly, the stores seem convinced that the frame material is very
    > > important.
    >
    > But they are selling you something. They will convince you that aluminum sucks. Reason: aluminum
    > is cheap. What else they try to convince you of depends on what they sell, and how far they think
    > you'd go.

    So I am not going to notice any ride quality differences? Why do people spend the big $$ for
    composite bikes? Is it merely a weight issue and they are trying to save weight for racing?

    > > The shop I went to yesterday wants me to road test 4 different bikes - all have similar
    > > components, wheels, etc - the difference is frame material - aluminum, aluminum compact
    > > geometry, carbon, carbon/steel...They think that I will be able to feel the difference of the
    > > frames in ride quality, acceleration, etc. This makes sense to me.
    >
    > How does it make sense? A frame is a rigid construction. How could it improve acceleration? This
    > presumes you have bikes that fit and are equally equipped.

    The bike shop person was maintaining that he felt that his aluminum bike was more responsive and
    more nimble than a cro-moly or the steel/composite bikes. He said that when stand up in the pedals
    he could feel a difference.

    So in theory, if I am riding different frame material bikes all with the same components, I will not
    notice any difference? By the way, I am looking at bikes with Ultegra components so I should be o.k.
    on components...

    > > My current bike is a cro-moly and I don't feel that it dampens out alot of the road vibration
    > > (which is why I bought it over an aluminum bike).
    >
    > So, you were sold a load of bugle oil (steel frames are "compliant" while still being stiff.....),
    > and now you are listening to more. See above for why you were told aluminum would not dampen the
    > vibrations.
    >
    > There is a secret way to dampen road vibrations. Get fatter tires. Inflate them to recommended
    > pressure, which is a bit lower than for skinny tires. Best improvement in ride you can get.

    When I bought my cro-moly bike back in 93, they said that it would be more comfortable for longer
    rides than an aluminum bike which let you "feel" the road. At the time, I didn't relaize the
    importance in components and got low end.
     
  15. Rick Onanian

    Rick Onanian Guest

    On 12 Feb 2004 07:03:12 -0800, [email protected] (Mike) wrote:
    >So I am not going to notice any ride quality differences? Why do

    You might, but it may be a placebo issue. You expect something, and it's easy to find when you do.

    >people spend the big $$ for composite bikes? Is it merely a weight issue and they are trying to
    >save weight for racing?

    Sometimes weight, sometimes snobbery, often miseducation. Some people just have the money to
    blow, too.

    >So in theory, if I am riding different frame material bikes all with the same components, I will
    >not notice any difference? By the way, I

    Probably not; if you notice any substantial difference, then there's likely something other than the
    frame material as a cause.

    >When I bought my cro-moly bike back in 93, they said that it would be more comfortable for longer
    >rides than an aluminum bike which let you "feel" the road. At the time, I didn't relaize the
    >importance in components and got low end.

    Components can be easily upgraded. Frames aren't too hard to replace either.
    --
    Rick Onanian
     
  16. David Kerber

    David Kerber Guest

    In article <[email protected]>, [email protected] says...

    ...

    > So in theory, if I am riding different frame material bikes all with the same components, I will
    > not notice any difference? By the way, I am looking at bikes with Ultegra components so I should
    > be o.k. on components...

    To a large extent, yes, but the fit and geometry will differ between manufacturers, and will make
    more of a difference than the material they use. Any bike, no matter what the material will feel
    stiff if they use larger, stiffer tubing, and will feel softer/more flexible if they use smaller
    diameter, less stiff tubing.

    ...

    > When I bought my cro-moly bike back in 93, they said that it would be more comfortable for longer
    > rides than an aluminum bike which let you "feel" the road. At the time, I didn't relaize the
    > importance in components and got low end.

    --
    Dave Kerber Fight spam: remove the ns_ from the return address before replying!

    REAL programmers write self-modifying code.
     
  17. Dave

    Dave Guest

    David L. Johnson wrote:
    >
    > racing. I currently have 3 bikes that I ride regularly, a titanium road bike (Habanero), a steel
    > track bike, and an aluminum mountain bike.

    How long have you had the Habanero? What do you like/dislike about it? I've considered one, but have
    been hesitant.

    Thanks,

    -=Dave=-
     
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