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  1. #1
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    Bianchi aluminum frame or steel

    I have a previous thread about the perfect bike size for me. I have a 2001 Bianchi Veloce that's 57cm. It's just a hair too big. I've got a 90mm stem and the seat pushed forward. I can put my feet flat on the ground, but the top bar is right up against me. I feel no pain when riding in my back or shoulders or anywhere. After a long ride, my hands get a little tired from the slight extra stretch and forward pressure, but it's nothing too horrible.

    I've been to a bunch of shops and have ridden about 6-8 brands in sizes ranging from 53 to 57. 53 is just a hair too small. 57 is just a hair too big. I can accommodate pretty much any 54/55/56cm frame to fit me. Actually, most bikes that I tried a 54 and 56, the 56 was just a little better.

    Well, I'm planning on doing an upgrade and rebuild from the ground up and want to start by transferring a lot of my current parts over to a new frame.

    I've been searching for the exact model of my bike, just in a 55cm frame. I've found a couple Bianchi Veloce's that are steel frame with a steel fork, mid-90's. I can use my current carbon fork as they are both 1" threaded. I've also found my exact bike just in 55cm. I'm talking to him about price. He's asking WAY more than I was even thinking of selling mine. I offered half of what he's asking. He's asking 925 and I offered 450. I only paid 600 for mine three years ago.

    Well, I also found an early 2000's Bianchi SL Aluminum Reparto Corse Frame in a 55cm. The price is around 250, which seems really good. It's got a carbon fork and a seatpost already so every component from my current bike could transfer, for the most part. I could then be riding a better sized bike as I work towards upgrading the wheels and then the components over the next year or so.

    I'm not really a hardcore cyclist, just like riding alot with my wife and like taking mechanical things apart and learning how to put them back together. We typically only ride 20-30+ miles with the hopes of building up to around 50 miles or so.

    Here's a picture of a steel framed Bianchi Veloce similar to mine that I've found.



    Here's a picture of the Aluminum frame that I'm looking at.



    Here's a picture of the early/mid-90's(?) frame that I'd use my current carbon fork, stem, etc. on. It's a Campione D'Italia.



    Any thoughts on any of the frames. Is that aluminum frame a good deal at 250?
    Last edited by mad5427; 05-06-09 at 09:53 AM.

  2. #2
    GO BIG RED norwood's Avatar
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    After your previous thread I had thought you were pretty well satisfied with the fit of your bike but I guess not. You may as well pay the bucks and get a good fit. Personally I prefer steel over alum., but like fit, that can be a personal choice. A aluminum frame is likely to ride harsher than a steel frame. Those mid 90's steel frames are lugged and ride very nice IMO. A 57cm Bianchi measures more like other manufacturers 56cm. Buy whatever works for you. A frame is only a good deal if it fits.
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  3. #3
    Great State of Varmint Panthers007's Avatar
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    I'd agree with norwood and take the steel-frame every time. Aluminum I like for hybrids and mountain-bikes where their stiffness is appreciated in varying terrains and road-surfaces. For an all-out road-bike, steel gives me that spring in my step as it were. Just feels so nice!
    How do you keep an idiot in suspense?

  4. #4
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    Do you climb much? Stiffness is more important if you are pushing hard like going uphill trying to spin or push for all you are worth. The second question is how important is weight to you? If none of this is important, flip a coin.

  5. #5
    GO BIG RED norwood's Avatar
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    quote:
    I feel no pain when riding in my back or shoulders or anywhere. After a long ride, my hands get a little tired from the slight extra stretch and forward pressure, but it's nothing too horrible.
    I'm not really a hardcore cyclist, just like riding alot with my wife and like taking mechanical things apart and learning how to put them back together. We typically only ride 20-30+ miles with the hopes of building up to around 50 miles or so.


    The best advice I can give you is to JUST RIDE. If your rides are 20-30 mi. and not much more, then you're not really "conditioned" yet. I'm NOT implying that you're out of shape. I'm overweight, and not really in shape, but I have no problem riding 30+ miles. However, when this 52 year old body is done with the ride, I know I'm going to have a few aches and pains for a while. On the occassion that I get to put in a 100 mi. ride, I know the pain will be worse. But the pain is not due to bike fit. Are you sure your pain is due to bike fit and not just "conditioning". Sounds like your discomfort is "just around the edges" so to speak and not a chronic problem. I have a feeling you are wanting justification for buying something new. Just ride.
    1996 Bianchi Veloce
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by norwood View Post
    quote:
    I feel no pain when riding in my back or shoulders or anywhere. After a long ride, my hands get a little tired from the slight extra stretch and forward pressure, but it's nothing too horrible.
    I'm not really a hardcore cyclist, just like riding alot with my wife and like taking mechanical things apart and learning how to put them back together. We typically only ride 20-30+ miles with the hopes of building up to around 50 miles or so.


    The best advice I can give you is to JUST RIDE. If your rides are 20-30 mi. and not much more, then you're not really "conditioned" yet. I'm NOT implying that you're out of shape. I'm overweight, and not really in shape, but I have no problem riding 30+ miles. However, when this 52 year old body is done with the ride, I know I'm going to have a few aches and pains for a while. On the occassion that I get to put in a 100 mi. ride, I know the pain will be worse. But the pain is not due to bike fit. Are you sure your pain is due to bike fit and not just "conditioning". Sounds like your discomfort is "just around the edges" so to speak and not a chronic problem. I have a feeling you are wanting justification for buying something new. Just ride.
    I'm only trying to add my experience, not directly argue against what you're saying, but I know personally I have a situation similar to the original poster where I could ride without back pain and such but at the end of my ride my wrists would hurt because I was so streched out, and wasn't able to solve the problem despite an expert bike fitting. Moving to a frame 2cm smaller did fix it.

  7. #7
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    Ha. I have to admit that I am looking for justification to get something "new". Could be because my wife has bought two nice new bikes in the time that I bought one used one. I guess I just want some kind of new toy too. Thank you guys though for the advice and input.

    The discomfort in my hands could very well be from just not being "conditioned". That does make a lot of sense and I'd probably adjust just fine, maybe. But after riding so many bikes in shops recently of differing sizes, I just know that a 55cm frame is just right.

    I have been wanting to slowly upgrade my bike and have been apprehensive about starting with this frame. I know it would work, but I just have this feeling that if I start from a frame that truly fits right, not just something I'm settling with, I'll be happier in the long run. In reality though, I could upgrade all I wanted and then transfer to a new frame later anyways or move everything over now and upgrade slowly from the new frame. In the short term anyways, the only upgrade that I plan on doing right away is wheels which have no bearing on what frame I'm on at all. All the components on my bike are in good shape while the tires are a hair out of being round. They are true left/right, but not in the round. A decade of many miles by the previous owner and the much smaller bit of miles I've put on them has just taken their toll. It makes a very slight bumpy ride. Nothing endangering, just something I should address at some point.

    With all that said and before there were any responses to the thread, I went ahead and purchased the aluminum frame. I felt the price was right and I think the frame is in fantastic condition. The only difference between the frame that I got and the new frame besides size and material is that it is 1 1/8" threadless, while my current frame is 1" threaded. Everything else is the same, so all I need to buy is a stem, cabling and tape. I'm going to do all the work myself as the only tool I need that I don't have is the Campy BB tool. If I run into any major snags, I'll just defer to the experience at my lbs. My wife is buying me a stand for my birthday as I also want to do a bit of work on our mountain bikes as they are pretty old and could use some love and I've got everything else, toolwise already. I'm a pretty quick learner of mechanical things and have found some great resources to help with any work I'll be doing, ie. Zinn's book and Sheldon Brown's website, among the countless other resources on the web.

    For the time being, I'm planning on keeping my current frame, fork and stem and can always go back to it if I want to. I know there is a market for it, so I could sell it at some point. The good thing about the frame that I just got is that I've seen similar frames sell for about what I paid for it plus shipping, so if I decide to keep or go back to the steel frame, I shouldn't be out much money if any at all. I'd mainly be out the time, cables, bike tape, etc. which, worst case, just gives me experience working on the parts.

    I don't do any real climbing at this point. We ride in a mainly flat area and most our rides are in the same region. Will I notice a huge difference between the aluminum frame and the steel frame considering the level and type of riding that I do. I've only ever really ridden the steel frame. They both have carbon forks if that makes any difference.

  8. #8
    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    Since your "itch" is strong listen to it 'cause it's telling you that you need a bike "your" way.
    That said, I'd recommend that you buy a Rivendell Alantis built to your size set up the way
    you need it. You'd be amazed at how well money spent once on what you want in your heart
    can save lots of money later trying to scratch that same itch.


    I know I did when I bought my custom built trike. I no longer lust after another bike 'cause my
    trike (or bike in your case) is more than "Enough".
    My preferred bicycle brand is.......WORKSMAN CYCLES
    I dislike clipless pedals on any city bike since I feel they are unsafe.

    Originally Posted by krazygluon
    Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?

  9. #9
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    I definitely can't afford anything custom like that.

    Psychologically, one thing that has been sticking with me since I started questioning the size of my bike is the height of the top tube. The more bikes I was test riding, the more I noticed the difference when I stepped off the pedals. Even every single 56cm had space between me and the bar. My current frame is right very tight up against me. I've mentioned in my previous thread that I can put my feet down flat, but the bar is very tight up against me. Will it kill me, no. Can I keep riding this bike as it. Sure. Will I be ultimately happy. Not really. Also, the slightly shorter distance between seat and bars seemed very noticeable.

    The point of this thread really wasn't about the size of frame, etc. as I know that a smaller frame will pretty much make me happier in the long run and just feel better about riding the bike. I feel better, I'll put more miles in. Win win all around.

    I have seen all sorts of frames available that would be suitable replacements. I was looking more for opinions on those frames above as I'm of limited experience. Early-mid 90's steel frame that I could replace the fork with a carbon fork, Early 2000's steel frame with carbon fork already on it (my current frame only the right size), or an aluminum frame with carbon fork. Are there really noticeable differences for somebody like myself who isn't putting hardcore miles on it and doing difficult climbs, etc? The prices of these three types of frames generally is in the same ballpark and if I choose to sell my frame and fork, it'll essentially be a wash.

    The goal of this is to find a suitable replacement for not too much of an investment. I consider the cost of tools and the stand, etc. as an investment in my future bike knowledge and ability to do work myself and don't count it towards this. I was planning on getting a stand anyways as I want to work on our mountain bikes too.

    I'm looking purely at a minimal investment short term to get my bike sized right and also give me something I'd be happy to potentially build upon later. If my current frame was the perfect size, I'd be more than happy to ride it until it was no longer ridable. But, that's not really turning out to be the case. So, I'm looking at economical alternatives and the three bikes/frames I listed in the OP seem to fit the bill. I like the Celeste color and think it's kinda cool so I figured I would stay that route and I love the campy parts I currently have and would only be happier if I upgraded slightly down the road. I'd like to go from 9 speed to 10, if anything.

    So really I was looking for info on the differences in the steel frames and how they would compare to the aluminum frame. A bit of this is moot as I already purchased the aluminum frame. The older steel frame seemed a little too beat up and the guy who had the exact same bike as me was asking way way way too much. A few hundred more than I paid for mine three years ago. The aluminum frame was priced right and in seemingly the best shape, at least from photos and descriptions. I didn't think any responses were going to be made to my thread so I made a decision the following morning, a day after I posted the thread. A response was posted that night. I didn't want to wait as I've noticed that frames and bikes of this type typically have had postings last only a day or two. Good sign as there seems to be a decent market for all this.

    Anyways, I appreciate everybody's opinions as I'm not truly locked into anything. Hell, I could always put this frame on and ride for awhile and find I liked the steel better and find one of them in a 55 and do the whole process again and sell the aluminum frame, barring me destroying the frame in the meantime.

  10. #10
    GO BIG RED norwood's Avatar
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    Seems you have your situation well in hand. I hope that I didn't give the impression that I doubted the 55cm frame was the "right" size for you. I just didn't want you to buy a different frame thinking it would be the magical answer to a totally pain-free ride. It may not be, if it is, great. I know I was on a upgrade merry-go-round for a while thinking each new bit would be the answer. I tried a carbon-fiber fork for a while and found that I didn't like it at all. Many times changing the simplest things can make more of a difference than anything else. Tires for example. I finally realized that once I had a bike that fit reasonably well, the thing that needed to be upgraded the most was me. I just needed to ride.
    1996 Bianchi Veloce
    1993 Bridgestone MB-3
    1992 Trek 700
    1992 Trek 820

  11. #11
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    It does depend on the quality of the frame.

    I have a top end ally frame that is probably the best ride I have. I also have an overbuilt Ally frame that is heavy and although does not cause a problem- does not make a good bike to ride.

    Same with Steel- Light double butted chromoly (Or some that other fancy name) steel is a joy to ride. But Bikes made from thick walled gas tubing still exist.

    If given a choice though- I would go with Ally frames. Stiff without being rock solid and lighter weight. And I even prefer my L/W ally frame over C.F.

    So quality of the tubing will count- and so will overall weight of the bike.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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  12. #12
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by norwood View Post
    Many times changing the simplest things can make more of a difference than anything else. Tires for example. I finally realized that once I had a bike that fit reasonably well, the thing that needed to be upgraded the most was me. I just needed to ride.
    That's what I think too. I've got an aluminum Klein road bike and a lugged steel Bridgestone framed road bike. Both are good quality frames but certainly not in the super high end range. People go on about the difference in ride quality between steel and aluminum framed bikes but, honestly, I don't feel any difference that I can't attribute to tires and air pressure.

    In the case of the OP, I'd get whichever frame appealed to me for reasons other than frame material.

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