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Thread: Frame Material

  1. #1
    old and in the way grueling's Avatar
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    Frame Material

    OK, I am a clyde. 242 after my last ride. I wanted to get some input to confirm or correct my assumptions about frame materials - especially for clydes.

    Here goes:
    Aluminum - very stiff and responsive, yet lots of vibration transferred
    Carbon Fiber - stiff and responsive, smooth riding
    Steel - smooth but flexy therefore not as efficient for clydes
    Ti - very smooth but very flexy, probably not a good choice for a clyde

    Any thoughts?

  2. #2
    awaiting uci approval tombailey's Avatar
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    Whilst those are reasonable assumptions for materials, the build/lay-up/geometry of the frame will usually have a greater impact on ride than the material. If you are looking for a new bike and trying to select a material, then you'll need to ride sevceral of each type. Or go custom with whatever material you like and have them build it to the required comfort, performance, stiffness, responsiveness, durability, weight etc etc.

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    The geometry and what a builder does with the material has much, much more to affect the ride than the material. I posted something a couple weeks ago now that I have a high end CF bike. I noticed it rode almost identically to a high end Ti bike as well as a 14 yo steel frame (Waterford). All bikes have almost identical geometry and dimensions, especially the tt length.
    You're just trying to start an argument to show how smart you are.

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    Kyleness
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    i'm around 260, i've got a 1979 Red K Steel Frame Fixed Gear Track bike. i love it, it's the one i ride 99% of the time, i've also got an 80's Cilo steel frame road bike, love that too. i wouldn't call it flex with steel, it's more compliant so it absorbs vibration more. I've also got an early 90's Trek 1200, it's an alu frame and it isn't as comfortable as the steel frames but it isn't uncomfortable either. And last i've got a 96 Trek 2120, which is an aluminum rear triangle with carbon main tubes in the front triangle, great bike but i just don't ride gears anymore really(unless it's a really long event). And i've ridden titanium frames, full carbon bikes as well as front alu. with a rear carbon triangle, none of them were flexy, they all felt great. I just prefer steel to the other materials because i dont' think that any bike in the other materials(that i can afford) is as pretty as a nice lugged steel frame. They provide a great ride and they have more character than any other bike(in my opinion.)
    so is there a difference between the materials? yes there definitely is, however it isn't as big as it may be in cars(i.e.- the difference between a caddy and corvette). Also it defintely has to do with the quality of each material as well as the way it was built. Yeah if you gave me crappy steel tubing and gave it to me to weld in my apartment it'll probably fall apart, but that goes the same for alum. Also if you gave me carbon to fab a bike it would end up being a shotty bike. Assuming the build/material quality is high you'll be doing fine with any material.
    It's similar with wheels, the person building the wheel counts as much as the materials used to build it.

    Cliff's Notes- By a crappy bike in any material and you're going to get a crappy bike, get a good bike in any material and you're getting a good bike.

    kyle


    sorry for the long post, hope it helped though.

  5. #5
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    I weigh 235 and ride steel bikes. I've also ridden Alu/carbon and full carbon, and I can't say that I noticed much of a difference in flex and efficiency.
    "I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
    - Mandi M.

  6. #6
    Kyleness
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    Quote Originally Posted by CliftonGK1 View Post
    I weigh 235 and ride steel bikes. I've also ridden Alu/carbon and full carbon, and I can't say that I noticed much of a difference in flex and efficiency.
    what brands/models? just curious

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    I'm 6'6" and weigh 240 and ride a ti Litespeed Ultimate which has a 6/4 front triangle and is very stiff. I would say that it is stiffer than my Marinoni CX which is steel or my carbon Specialized Roubaix. It is probably stiffer b/c it was designed as a crit bike.

  8. #8
    old and in the way grueling's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the info.

    I guess my experience with steel mountain bikes was probably the fact that they were lower end - I could feel the flex in the bottom bracket while under hard accelleration.

    It also seems that I should broaden my horizons when looking to replace my Alu frame road bike. Maybe I CAN look at the cool moots breakaway.

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    old and in the way grueling's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by smyth View Post
    what brands/models? just curious
    +1

  10. #10
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by smyth View Post
    what brands/models? just curious
    Steel
    1991 Specialized Stumpjumper rigid frame/fork
    1991 Paramount PDG Series-5
    2008 Surly Cross Check

    Alu/carbon
    1991 Trek 2100 (carbon tubes on alu fork/stays)

    Full Carbon
    A bunch of test rides up to 10 miles each on at least 5 brands of carbon frame/fork bikes.
    "I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
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  11. #11
    Senior Member lutz's Avatar
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    test

    In a German magazine they did test and measure aluminum and carbon high end and middle class road bike frames last year ( stiffness in all kinds of directions, etc; also one measurement of the vertical flex). They did not find any measurable comfort difference between the aluminum and carbon bikes. The single deciding factor regarding comfort was the geometry; compact style frames provided the best comfort simply because they require long seat posts and the long seat posts are the only part of the measured components (wheels and saddles were removed for this test) that provide any significant flex.

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