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Old 10-11-07, 10:14 AM   #1
cpsqlrwn
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Frame Life

What is the mileage life expectancy of a steel frame (Columbus TSX tubing on a Pinarello). Discounting other factors (assuming this is a fair weather bike only), if someone says they have 4,000 miles on the frame, is that a non factor in evaluating the value of the bike?
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Old 10-11-07, 11:26 AM   #2
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What is the mileage life expectancy of a steel frame (Columbus TSX tubing on a Pinarello). Discounting other factors (assuming this is a fair weather bike only), if someone says they have 4,000 miles on the frame, is that a non factor in evaluating the value of the bike?
Non-factor, assuming the frame hasn't seen a REALLY hard crash. A well-built steel frame will have a nearly infinite lifespan. Be sure to check for rust, bubbled or cracked paint, etc. Light surface rust can be sanded away; you can prime, re-paint and clearcoat the bare metal.

Deep rust, or rust inside the tubes, though is bad news...
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Old 10-11-07, 11:42 AM   #3
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Life expectancy-till it rusts away which for all practical purposes, is forever unless you leave the bike outside in the weather. Mileage doesn't matter but obviously he more mielage, the more likely it has been crashed, but a crash that caused any damage is readily apparent.
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Old 10-11-07, 02:52 PM   #4
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Even though a fair weather bike, as close as you are to salt water I'd take some tools to remove the seatpost and stem and peer down with a flashlight.
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Old 10-11-07, 03:54 PM   #5
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In theory a steel frame can live forever (unlike some other metals *cough* any alloy of aluminum *cough*). In practice, my steel frames have never failed me. One has over 100.000 Km in it (pre-owned steel MTB frame I use as a $hitbike) the other has 20.000 Km. The third one is from 1990 and I don't know for sure, but it must have various tens of thousands of Km on it (also pre-owned, Specialized Allez).

I also have a brand new Redline Monocog 29er which I'll probably leave to my grandchildren. One day.


TO BE HONEST an aluminum frame alloyed with scandium has a very much prolongued fatigue life. But what I wrote above is true: steel CAN, in theory, support a certain amount of compressive or tensile stresses without ANY (=0) plastic deformations. Titanium is the same. Carbon fiber, in a sense, is like that, too. Aluminum isn't. There even the smallest stress will cause SOME crystal structure displacements/plastic deformations.

Last edited by wroomwroomoops; 10-11-07 at 04:05 PM.
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Old 10-11-07, 05:09 PM   #6
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Steel and Ti frames can last nearly forever if not crashed or abused. I have a Litespeed Ti frame with 70,000 miles and it is still in perfect condition so 4,000 miles is not even broken-in.

I also have an '83 Trek lugged steel frame with God-knows how many miles (I got it used) and it's also perfect.

Aluminum frames, particularly very light, thin wall ones, have a finite fatigue life and are always questionable in used form.

Last edited by HillRider; 10-11-07 at 06:40 PM.
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Old 10-11-07, 05:27 PM   #7
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Nishiki frames had a 25 year warranty, but mine look like they'll last at least twice that long.
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Old 10-11-07, 05:30 PM   #8
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Nishiki frames had a 25 year warranty, but mine look like they'll last at least twice that long.
Litespeed has a lifetime warranty and will repair a frame for the original owner forever.
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Old 10-11-07, 05:55 PM   #9
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I have a custom made columbus sl since 1987 maybe. No problems with him ever. And probably it will last long enough to be used by my kids in a few more years. So such a thing of a lifespan is so relative. For example years ago many italian bikes had failures in their tubes or lugs, since day 1 u knew the bike was going to last 2 or 4 years like for example atala's. A Miyata Dura ace i had (this model never came to the us) used to get craked in the middle of the BB after 6 months, all of them got the same issue so the solution was take the bike straight to a frame builder to get the BB reinforced, repaint and then the frame last forever, after more than 25 years a friend still have his. Alan's were famous for having issues in the their forks. Aluminum Vitus had similar issues and other related with bonding.

Now a days with carbon u can get lifetime warrantee from some brands but only a few brands deos that, for example Pinarello gives you 6 months i believe in their carbon frames, so no wonder why is hard to see Pinarello's moving around.

Thanks.
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Old 10-11-07, 06:06 PM   #10
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Total non-factor. People have daily riders with 40 + years on the frame.
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Old 10-11-07, 06:07 PM   #11
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I have two 1941 Schwinn chrome moly fillet brazed New Worlds. I ride both of them with regularity. 66 years and still going strong. Roger
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Old 10-12-07, 05:40 AM   #12
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Age and rust are much more important (unless there is crash damage). I only say age because you want to take more care checking over a 5 year old frame than a 1 year old one.

I've ridden 4,000 miles in the last 18 months and I'd bet my bike is in better condition than soneone who has ridden 20 miles and left the bike to rot in the garage the rest of the time. Don't worry about distance.
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Old 10-12-07, 10:24 PM   #13
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I agree with all of the above UNLESS the bike has been raced.

I once had a chance to ride Brian Walton's spare bike when he rode for Mororola. On the outside everything looked great. When I got out of the saddle it was a noodle. Take it for a quick spin on a less than perfect road and get a feel for how solid the bike still is. If it feels ok it will probably last you for years.

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Old 10-13-07, 02:00 AM   #14
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My 1969 Cinelli is still going strong and is way north of 150K miles.
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Old 10-13-07, 03:28 AM   #15
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I once had a chance to ride Brian Walton's spore bike
I hope you didn't get a rash on your as*...
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Old 10-13-07, 06:45 AM   #16
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I once had a chance to ride Brian Walton's spare bike when he rode for Mororola. On the outside everything looked great. When I got out of the saddle it was a noodle.
If the frame was flexy, it was either built that way intentionally or something had cracked. How big was Brian? Pro riders are usually fairly small and light and have a smooth pedaling action. Perhaps you are significantly larger and heavier and his frame was rigid enough for his use but not for yours.

Frames do not "soften" or become more flexible with age and miles. That is an "old wives tale" used by riders to convince their wives or sponsors they need a newer bike but it has no basis in metalurgy. Frames fail by breaking somewhere, they do not soften gradually.
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Old 10-13-07, 08:11 AM   #17
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If the frame was flexy, it was either built that way intentionally or something had cracked.
+1
I asked a mechanical engineer friend about this once, and he said basically the same thing. With that being said, you will still have folks who swear a frame has gotten "soft." I remember Dirtdrop saying he once stripped a steel frame of its paint and discovered hairline cracks he wouldn't have known were there otherwise. I suspect something like this scenario is the cause of "soft" frames, either that or it's all in the riders' heads.

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Old 10-13-07, 10:10 AM   #18
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+1
I asked a mechanical engineer friend about this once, and he said basically the same thing. With that being said, you will still have folks who swear a frame has gotten "soft." I remember Dirtdrop saying he once stripped a steel frame of its paint and discovered hairline cracks he wouldn't have known were there otherwise. I suspect something like this scenario is the cause of "soft" frames, either that or it's all in the riders' heads.
Thirded. Metal doesn't "go soft".

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I once had a chance to ride Brian Walton's spare bike
The "spore" misstyping was so much more fun than this revisionist history here.
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Old 10-13-07, 10:23 AM   #19
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I have over 100,000 miles on a Bridgestone RB-1, and probably 35,000 miles on my Ritchey Road logic. It's gonna last.
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Old 10-13-07, 11:54 AM   #20
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One other thing:
If you do buy the bike, it wouldn't hurt to clean out the seat tube (a trombone cleaner works great for this, $5 at you local music store) and use some framesaver. I've been told that the seat tube is really the only tube that needs to be sprayed, but if you have a bare frame, it doesn't hurt to spray everywhere you can.
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Old 10-13-07, 11:58 AM   #21
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One other thing:
If you do buy the bike, it wouldn't hurt to clean out the seat tube (a trombone cleaner works great for this, $5 at you local music store) and use some framesaver. I've been told that the seat tube is really the only tube that needs to be sprayed, but if you have a bare frame, it doesn't hurt to spray everywhere you can.

Wow, great advice! Would you kindly post it in the "hints 'n' tricks"? Especially the trombone cleaner part is awesome. I'mma gonna buy me a trombone cleaner.
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Old 10-13-07, 02:23 PM   #22
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Aluminum frames, particularly very light, thin wall ones, have a finite fatigue life and are always questionable in used form.
So got any aluminum bikes? If so, ride them until you think they are approaching the fatigue limit, then ship them to me. I'll probably get another decade or two of use out of them.

Frame fatigue is an issue that doesn't blip my radar.
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Old 10-13-07, 02:47 PM   #23
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Litespeed has a lifetime warranty and will repair a frame for the original owner forever.
What's the fineprint on this deal?
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Old 10-13-07, 05:45 PM   #24
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The fine print is Original Owner.
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Old 10-13-07, 06:06 PM   #25
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So got any aluminum bikes? If so, ride them until you think they are approaching the fatigue limit, then ship them to me. I'll probably get another decade or two of use out of them.

Frame fatigue is an issue that doesn't blip my radar.
Yep, I have a '92 Trek 1420 bonded Al frame and it's not going to die anytime soon. Most Al frames made for sport and touring use (Trek, Cannondale, etc.) are made plenty durable and will last for decades so I wouldn't worry about them either.

The frames I was refering to are the ultra light, very thin wall competition frames sold strictly for racing. They are made to be light above all else and longevity isn't an issue as they are replaced every racing season. Maybe they will last a lot longer but I wouldn't spend my money finding out.
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