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  1. #1
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    For those riding aluminum frames...

    Actually I guess this is open to anyone really. Ive grown fond of the IRO Jamie Roy recently and looking to prehaps order one. As soon as I mentioned this to a couple friends of mine all I heard was "aluminum frame...nah man theyre a harsh ride...", etc... I did some searching on the forums but couldnt find enough good information to hopefully base a deicision on. So my question is, is the ride on an aluminum frame really THAT bad? Im riding a converted 80s KHS thats about 3 sizes too small for me and I have bad knees so I cant imagine a brand new IRO, sized correctly, is going to be in comparision at all. Should I go steel and never look back? All opinions welcome!

  2. #2
    poser/hipster/whatever xthugmurderx's Avatar
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    i loves me some aluminum. i don't get what all this harsh stuff is about. they're (it's) great. and mine is a cheaper one, i guess...i dunno. get an aluminum one if that's what you fancy. gotta love it.

    please don't steel my bike.
    -jason

  3. #3
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    I ride both a steel and aluminum frame, and neither is really harsh. No need to worry.

  4. #4
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    My CX bike is aluminum and it beats the crap outta me. Girls like me because I'm sensitive.

  5. #5
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    I just switched from an old steel track frame to a GTB and really, there's not a huge difference. Your choice of, say, wheels or bars or stem will probably have more of an impact on the perceived harshness of the ride than the frame will.

  6. #6
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    My dolan is aluminum wth aluminum bars- at times it can be a bit rough. I had a jamie roy a while back and the 130mm back dropout killed me.
    P.R.B.

  7. #7
    psn
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    I have a Jamie Roy and a Steamroller. Between the two, I'd say the Jamie Roy is more "harsh", but I think that is partially a function of its tires. The biggest difference to me comes on rough roads, e.g. ones where the top layer of asphalt has been stripped off for repaving. On these types of roads, the aluminum seems to have much more high frequency (or at least, as high frequency as it's going to get for a bike frame) vibration going through it. When it comes to hitting bumps, I don't think there is much of a difference, though I suppose the steel could take the "edge" off the hit. And to put it all in perspective, my Jamie Roy is never so harsh that it's a problem. I agree with r0cket - it seems like your wheels/tires, bars/stem, and saddle/seatpost "influence" the ride quality at least as much, if not more than the frame.

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    Cool thanks guys. I went ahead and ordered the Jamie Roy...I cant wait for it to come!!

  9. #9
    Loose Member
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    You sure did.

    Tony
    I only drink on two occasions ... when I am alone and when I am with some one.

  10. #10
    psn
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    Welcome to IRO Owners Anonymous. The first step is admitting you have a problem...

    But seriously, I love my Jamie Roy. I'm putting an easy 150 miles a week on it these days (just ask jrowe), and I plan to use it for most (all?) of my off-season training this fall.

  11. #11
    ogre
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    read sheldon's talk about frame material, i think he does a good explanation

  12. #12
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    There's two sides to this aluminium coin: an Al frame (made of oversized tubes) might be a harsher ride, but it will also be stiffer, ie. transmit power better, esp. when yo're out of the saddle. The difference is more pronounced in large frames: long steel tubes bend all over the place, and there is a significant weight advantage to Al, too (up to 2 pounds!)
    Plus it doesn't corrode much, though its lifespan is shorter than a steel's anyway.

    At least that's the theory. Anyway, I will pick Al over steel any day.
    Quote Originally Posted by dutret
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  13. #13
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    isn't steel stiffer? They also look more classic compared to AL frames.

  14. #14
    psn
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    As best as I can imitate a materials scientist/engineer, yes, steel is the stiffer material. However, to keep the weight down, the steel tubes used on bikes are quite thin and also pretty small in diameter. Since aluminum is a much lighter material, you can build oversized (in diameter) tubes that weigh less, but are potentially stiffer than the same-sized (length) frame tubes would be in steel. Hope that made sense on paper...it did in my head, I think.

  15. #15
    Aluminum. justin79's Avatar
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    Rock you aluminum and don't mind the haters; they're just jealous.

  16. #16
    Displaced Yooper GrodyGeek's Avatar
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    THe aluminum versus steel versus tintanium versus unobtainium is a debate that has been around for years.

    And for the aspect of "harshness" I believe it to be baloney because the comparisons are never equal. Changes in tire, rim, spoke count, saddle, frame size, fit, and surface ridden all contribute. Then again, why believe me?

    Read what smarter people have to say:

    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/rinard_frametest.html
    Gordy
    just a modern guy, of course I've had it in the ear before

  17. #17
    B17
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    There's some interesting info on steel and AL frames on the Rivendell site. They don't make or sell AL frames, so there's always the chance that they're saying some of what they do to hype their product, but it can't be that far off the mark.

    One thing that's always concerned me about AL is the "immediate and (possibly) catastrophic" failure of AL -once it begins to crack- compared to steel. I've never owned an AL frame long enough to really judge the ride quality, but I'd like a bit more warning than AL provides before a frame comes apart. A well-made, well-maintained steel frame can and should last a lifetime.

  18. #18
    Retro-nerd georgiaboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrodyGeek
    THe aluminum versus steel versus tintanium versus unobtainium is a debate that has been around for years.

    And for the aspect of "harshness" I believe it to be baloney because the comparisons are never equal. Changes in tire, rim, spoke count, saddle, frame size, fit, and surface ridden all contribute. Then again, why believe me?

    Read what smarter people have to say:

    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/rinard_frametest.html
    In enjoyed reading the chart. What is the optimum deflection score? Somewhere in the .40's? Cannondale track bike has a value of .26, is that too stiff?

  19. #19
    Retro-nerd georgiaboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by B17
    There's some interesting info on steel and AL frames on the Rivendell site. They don't make or sell AL frames, so there's always the chance that they're saying some of what they do to hype their product, but it can't be that far off the mark.

    One thing that's always concerned me about AL is the "immediate and (possibly) catastrophic" failure of AL -once it begins to crack- compared to steel. I've never owned an AL frame long enough to really judge the ride quality, but I'd like a bit more warning than AL provides before a frame comes apart. A well-made, well-maintained steel frame can and should last a lifetime.
    The Rivendell site really does not say anything unflattering about the "ride" of aluminum. It just speaks about the difficulty of repairing aluminum and the tendency of a crack developing.

  20. #20
    Retro-nerd georgiaboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jk610
    Actually I guess this is open to anyone really. Ive grown fond of the IRO Jamie Roy recently and looking to prehaps order one. As soon as I mentioned this to a couple friends of mine all I heard was "aluminum frame...nah man theyre a harsh ride...", etc... I did some searching on the forums but couldnt find enough good information to hopefully base a deicision on. So my question is, is the ride on an aluminum frame really THAT bad? Im riding a converted 80s KHS thats about 3 sizes too small for me and I have bad knees so I cant imagine a brand new IRO, sized correctly, is going to be in comparision at all. Should I go steel and never look back? All opinions welcome!
    Sheldon Brown's website specifically says that an aluminum frame is not harsh in itself but depends on many factors.

    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/frame-materials.html

    One of the factors is frame size. A tall person who needs a large frame size might want to consider steel. A person of average height or a short person can easily have good results with aluminum or steel. If someone does ride an aluminum frame bicycle a cro-moly fork is of benefit.

  21. #21
    LF for the accentdeprived
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    Quote Originally Posted by georgiaboy
    In enjoyed reading the chart. What is the optimum deflection score? Somewhere in the .40's? Cannondale track bike has a value of .26, is that too stiff?
    I don't think there is such a thing as a too stiff trackbike. There aren't many bumps in velodromes, most races are short, and the main thing is maximum power transfer.

    BTW, why would tall people want steel? Steel gets too flexy and heavy in large sizes, doesn't it?
    Quote Originally Posted by dutret
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  22. #22
    www.onecycles.com douchebagonwhlz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LóFarkas
    BTW, why would tall people want steel? Steel gets too flexy and heavy in large sizes, doesn't it?
    I have had this conversation about AL vs. steel frames with a metals expert, he told me his title, but I forgot it, and a frame builder. The metals guy was a 150 lber, and he said he had even raced on a steel bike b/c the catastrophic failure of Al is sudden, unlike steel which you can see happening, or it will bend more or whatever...
    I don't like to belive everything I hear, but this did scare me, weighing 240.
    It is strange also that steel is flexier, and heavier for a tall person bike, which most likely is going to have longer tubes, and that tall person, built the same as a shorter person will weigh more. Where does this become off balance? should a tall person have to ride a super heavy bike, jsut cuz they're tall?
    Mostly it is just fascinating to me that people can construct these bicycles which are so delicate and strong at the same time.
    But I am patiently (read impatiently) awaiting my custom bike with steel frame.

  23. #23
    www.onecycles.com douchebagonwhlz's Avatar
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    btw- my fixed gear bike flexes like crazy when spinning downhill, it's an old schwinn 63 c-c steel, I guess that's with my 20lbs of work crap in my bag as well. wpndering what is the stiffest steel frame off the shelf you can buy....

  24. #24
    hateful little monkey jim-bob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LóFarkas
    I don't think there is such a thing as a too stiff trackbike. There aren't many bumps in velodromes, most races are short, and the main thing is maximum power transfer.

    BTW, why would tall people want steel? Steel gets too flexy and heavy in large sizes, doesn't it?
    Eh, tall people are flexy and heavy anyway.

  25. #25
    Beausage is Beautiful Fugazi Dave's Avatar
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    My original fixie frame was an AL tri frame from the '80s. After that broke (bonded aluminum lugs + 20 years = bad), I got an '02 Marin Verona made of Thron steel. After a taxi killed that, my next (current) frame was (is) an aluminum Basso Coral. Of the three I like the Basso best, and of the two materials my preference runs to aluminum. I'm running 700x23 tires at 120 psi, with aluminum seatpost, stem, bars, etc on roads that tend not to be great. Never have I felt the ride to be harsh. Furthermore, the Basso is noticeably stiffer than the Marin ever was, and I definitely value that. The steel had a nice, distinctive feel to it, but the AL just feels more...I don't know...precise?

    I don't know where I'm going with this at this point, so I will just state this: I don't buy the AL=harsh thing. Ride the bike you like and forget the song and dance about which materials are better or worse for whatever constructed reason.

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