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Old 06-26-10, 09:49 AM   #1
SoreFeet
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Thinking of getting a vintage aluminum ride...

I'm looking at the GT triple triangle bike. I know they made an 853 steel. I can't find that particular model. But a local craigslist add has one for a reasonable price. It's been for sale for quite some time now.

I rode an early Cannondale MTB bike and was totally amazed at the stiffness and power I could get compared to the old steel MTB. It seems like I might need to open my mind to the possibility of aluminum.

Some people are still riding Vitus bikes without fail. It makes me really wonder about the myths of aluminum fatigue.
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Old 06-26-10, 10:30 AM   #2
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Old 06-26-10, 10:49 AM   #3
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If you think steel is flexible, try out a Vitus 979. And, even though my Vitus was very flexible, I am about to try again on my recently built 1982 ALAN.

ALAN_Build_1_Brid .jpg

To that, add that I have owned, and ridden, some of the big tube aluminum bikes which I find to be very stiff. Not the greatest bikes for around town, but certainly good when power transmission is in question.
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Old 06-26-10, 10:55 AM   #4
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See if you can test it out first. Maybe bring one of your steel bikes for the seller to go ride with you, if possible. I really regret my aluminum buy. While my steel bikes can't beat it for speed and acceleration, it just isn't as comfortable. Of course, it is a low end offering, so take that into consideration. I suppose that it depends on your intentions.
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Old 06-26-10, 12:51 PM   #5
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All aluminum is stiffer than steel. That said, Specialized has done some amazing things with aluminum frames and a little bit of carbon within the last 8 or 9 years that has a very nice ride. I had a couple of aluminum main frame and steel fork and stays Univegas. They had a very nice ride. I also had two all aluminum TREKs and two full aluminum Cannondales. The Treks and the C'dales were not comfortable, even on short rides. Both Treks and on of the C'dales are gone.
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Old 06-26-10, 02:51 PM   #6
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old aluminum with modern carbon fork. win.
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Old 06-26-10, 04:59 PM   #7
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This is just my opinion, but it is based on having owned bikes built of differing materials. Steel has a distinct quality that is hard to define. My best attempt would be to say that it does everything very well, but not superbly. It's lifespan is forever if you don't let it rust. Aluminum rides like a truck. It is just so stiff and jarring. A carbon fork will help a bit, but not much. One of the nicer bikes I have owned was a Colnago Dream that was full aluminum. I finally sold it because I couldn't stand the ride. Carbon rides a lot like steel, but it is stiffer. Will it last? Who knows. I bought a Colnago C50 after I sold the dream and it is a very sweet ride. Which brings me to my favorite material. Titanium. My Litespeed does everything superbly. It is stiff yet rides well. It has about 30,000 on it and still looks new. These are my observations and I realize that everyone measures comfort differently. However, aluminum would be my last choice in a roadbike frame.
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Old 06-26-10, 06:20 PM   #8
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Aluminum = sweet ride. Lasts forever. Super climber. Stiff, but to be honest I can't see a huge ride quality difference between my '86 Cannondale ST, my '86 Waterford Paramount, and my '84 Trek 760.
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Old 06-26-10, 07:12 PM   #9
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I think that it is a. personal preference and b. rider weight dependent... I rode a few foil road bikes, the most recent being an '89 Cannondale Black Lightning (with a foil fork and Criterium frame) and it just not for me (the frame went to a much more appreciative home and I am sure that it will be spectacularly build.) I do not mind 'stiffness'. My 2 Columbus SL bikes are equally 'stiff'. I do mind the (for a luck of better word) 'jumpiness' of a foil frame and the fact that when I climb, I feel that I will mash the whole thing, esp. the chain stays and the BB area. The other thing that ultra bugs me about foil frames, is that you do not get the (for the lack of better word, and I do not know how to describe it) 'feedback' you get from a steel frame. When you push a steel frame, you kinda feel the limits of it and adjust accordingly. Not with foil. A little more with plastic (but with those, the 'limits' and 'failure' are too close together).

But I am 210 and I am a grinder. Things might work differently with others.
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Old 06-26-10, 07:24 PM   #10
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At least for now, the vintage bikes that are climbing in value are the steel bikes. So if you want a bike you can enjoy for many years, and one that will appreciate in value, steel is the choice. Perhaps part of the reason is that there isn't much modern steel out there. In the 1980s, almost the entire Trek product road bike line was steel. Now they sell one steel road bike. And people just like the look of a lugged steel frame.
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Old 06-27-10, 10:29 AM   #11
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Bill, around here I sell every aluminum bike I finish to the first person who sees it. As you've probably figured out by now, my builds aren't cheap. And the prices are going up. So I think if you want to own a bike that you will enjoy for decades and that will at least maintain its value if kept up, then the key is not frame material but name recognition and quality of components.

Just my $.02 and dependent on the market, of course.
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Old 06-27-10, 10:38 AM   #12
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Bill, around here I sell every aluminum bike I finish to the first person who sees it. As you've probably figured out by now, my builds aren't cheap. And the prices are going up. So I think if you want to own a bike that you will enjoy for decades and that will at least maintain its value if kept up, then the key is not frame material but name recognition and quality of components.

Just my $.02 and dependent on the market, of course.
One exception to the steel is best rule in my area, and I noticed it on your nickname too, are Cannondales. Every Cannondale I have picked up has gotten terrific response, and sold really quickly. Sold my R500 a couple of days ago (sold the first day). I have a C600 just about finished (about an hour left of work to do on it), will probably sell it next. I am out of town right now, otherwise that Cannondale would be selling right now.

And I just sold a typical lousy paint late 1980s Cannondale frameset. I've also moved a couple of Cannondale touring bikes, a Cannondale MTB, and a couple of other Cannondale racing bikes. They draw a crowd any time I post one on C/L.

On my short lists of bikes that just about sell themselves are steel Treks, any mixte, and Cannondales.

In general, the Cannondales sell to a different market. There is the market that is seeking that vintage "look", nice lugs, interesting details, some chrome. Those buyers flock to the vintage Japanese brands. The Cannondale buyers tend to be people looking for something more modern, but would prefer to not pay the typical $1000 plus price of a new Cannondale. Cannondales get a lot of respect around here. The buyer of my 1997 R500 mentioned her only concern was that the bike was "old". I had to laugh, as to me, a 1997 brifter bike is pretty new, and a lot newer than what I usually ride.

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Old 06-27-10, 11:05 AM   #13
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I have been giving this a bit of thought too. most of little family is steel so I thought I might try something for comparison. although you sometimes see deals on them I don't think I would like a Cdale. I've had '91ish frames in the past and they are just too harsh. I would like to try something like the afore mentioned Univegas or a Raleigh Technium with the mixed material frames.

also since my only experience with carbon was with a Giant something or other of '94ish vintage that was glued and screwed I thought perhaps I should try something like a monoque type frame but those are still quite pricey
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Old 06-27-10, 06:00 PM   #14
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I have recently been thinking about an aluminum frame with smaller diameters and thicker walls. I wonder how it would be with 1-1/8" diameter tubes with .083" wall. If you were to profile the tubes to bring the flex to the middle of the tubes in might have a nice bit of movement without the typical fatigue cracks. You could actually make lugs and dip-braze the assembly.
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Old 06-27-10, 06:09 PM   #15
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I have a Cannondale mountain bike which I haven't ridden much because it's not comfortable. I think I don't like it much because mountain bikes are not to my taste. Or maybe I'm just not used to the riding position. I don't fault Cannondale or aluminum for this. I'm sure I'd like a Cannondale just fine. I think they're very nice.

I have ridden a couple of Specialized aluminum road bikes, the Sequoia and the Roubaix. They are fantastic.
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Old 06-27-10, 06:28 PM   #16
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I not opposed to an aluminum road frame, in fact I'm kinda intrigued by it, but I just don't want a carbon fork. Not sure if there's any way around this?

I know the good old ALAN and Vitus bikes had an alloy front, but the sizes I ride might be too tall for lugged aluminum.

Actually my fascination is mostly centered around the Merckx offerings of the last 10-15 years, all of which had horizontal toptube in my size, plus some really nice paint jobs. That said, I'd never ridden any road bikes in aluminum (or carbon).

The obvious venue for trying it out on this continent would be Cannondale. While they undoubtedly are great performers from a company with huge experience in alloy bike frames, well, I'm just not drawn towards them.
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Old 06-27-10, 06:56 PM   #17
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In that case, try a Specialized.
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Old 06-27-10, 07:07 PM   #18
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I had a Cannondale T1 and put a few hundred miles on it on a tour last year. I found it to be comfortable and it handled the load very well. Building up an all aluminum Nashbar touring frame/fork now. I think with the wider tires that I run, the frame material has less of an impact.
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Old 06-27-10, 07:11 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by roccobike View Post
All aluminum is stiffer than steel. That said, Specialized has done some amazing things with aluminum frames and a little bit of carbon within the last 8 or 9 years that has a very nice ride. I had a couple of aluminum main frame and steel fork and stays Univegas. They had a very nice ride. I also had two all aluminum TREKs and two full aluminum Cannondales. The Treks and the C'dales were not comfortable, even on short rides. Both Treks and on of the C'dales are gone.
Aluminum is NOT stiffer than steel. Bike with oversized aluminum tubing is stiffer than bike with standard diameter steel tubing.

I like my C'dale if the route has a lot of hills. If it is mostly flat and long distant, I prefer my vintage steel. You need at least one bike for every occasion.
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Old 06-28-10, 09:32 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by roccobike View Post
All aluminum is stiffer than steel. That said, Specialized has done some amazing things with aluminum frames and a little bit of carbon within the last 8 or 9 years that has a very nice ride. I had a couple of aluminum main frame and steel fork and stays Univegas. They had a very nice ride. I also had two all aluminum TREKs and two full aluminum Cannondales. The Treks and the C'dales were not comfortable, even on short rides. Both Treks and on of the C'dales are gone.
No. Aluminum is easier to make in larger diameters, that provides the added stiffness.
If one wants stiff older aluminum, look for an early Klein or Cannondale.
Preference to the Klein, but harder to locate.
Some of the early Schwinn alloy bikes were stiff too, I almost forgot about those, they too do not show up much.
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