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Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

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Old 04-05-10, 10:56 AM   #1
SpeedWell
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Thoughts on bike frames

Hey guys,

I am still relatively new to this forum, as well as single speed/fixed gear bicycles. I have been a daily commuter for some time now, and have been riding bikes that are near death and are only found at my local bike coop. Needless to say, I break a lot of these bikes. Over the last few months, I have found myself becoming more and more interested in building a single speed. I wish to build my bike for the reason of quality control (not having to replace parts that I am unhappy with) and also to 'build my own horse,' as I have found a tremendous sense of empowerment through cycling.

I have been reading through this forum, and I have been scouring the internet like a madman in search of information on current bikes and bike parts. I have also been checking all the local sources for parts, including the random guy who recycles bikes in his spare time.

What I am asking about:

I am looking for a bike frame in the $300-$600 range. Price isn't the biggest concern; build quality, weight and looks (of course) are all very important to me. I was wondering what opinions you guys had on frames in this category.

So far the bike frames I have found that have piqued my interest are the following:

http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/M...?ModelID=45917 Like it, looks spiffy is made of a decent (not the greatest but not terrible) aluminum alloy. Scared of it because I have not seen any sort of review on this frame anywhere.

Kilo TT, seems to be a classic... Do I need to link to it?


One thing I am having trouble wrapping my head around, is how a cro-moly frame can run anywhere from $200-$1000 and not look any difference. I am really attracted to aluminum right now because I can understand the difference. If any of you can help me out with this, that would also be appreciated as this would surely help me make a decision.
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Old 04-05-10, 11:14 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpeedWell View Post
......
One thing I am having trouble wrapping my head around, is how a cro-moly frame can run anywhere from $200-$1000 and not look any difference. I am really attracted to aluminum right now because I can understand the difference. If any of you can help me out with this, that would also be appreciated as this would surely help me make a decision.
Ride quality.

Al: great on the track - very stiff for smooth surfaces; ride on a not-so-smooth surface for a while & you'll notice.
Steel: more compliant & cush than Al; rusts, meaning it's real
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Old 04-05-10, 02:05 PM   #3
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First of all, if you want a single speed, why are you looking at the BeOne? It is also a rather obscure brand.

Regarding Cromo, there are all sorts of branded tubes--- and that is where the price difference comes in. I wouldn't pay much for generic cromo tubing...

I have easily dented the tube tube of a light weight AL road frame. However, from what I have seen, most track bikes are not particularly light.

Also, why mention just one steel frame? There are all sorts of brands out there.
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Old 04-05-10, 02:23 PM   #4
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read up either on here or on sheldon browns page on bikes and metals... the gist is that it comes down to the geo and tubing size... if you had a large tube steel frame it would be stiffer than AL but much heavier, so they use AL to cut the weight down... there is lots on this topic all over the place and lots of old myths too... im going with AL myself after reading up on it a lot and talking to many people on here...
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Old 04-05-10, 03:10 PM   #5
wearyourtruth
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it sucks that your co-op only has frames near death. ours has a bunch of good stuff.
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Old 04-05-10, 04:28 PM   #6
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I'm just going to throw this out there because, one, they're awesome bikes, and two, they fit your budget. Check out Wabi Cycles. I bought a complete Classic, but you can get their frame and fork with headset and seatpost clamp in either Reynolds 725 steel or scandium enhanced 7005 aluminum for well under your budget. If you choose your components as carefully as the ones included in the complete Wabi models, you should have no problem building a reliable sub 18lb steel or 16lb aluminum ride. They look sweet, and I can vouch for the Classic having a really smooth ride.
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Old 04-05-10, 04:36 PM   #7
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The first frame you linked to is a very common style. You'll find all kinds of variations on it in all different price ranges. I believe the same people that sell Kilo TT frames (bikeisland) have a very similar frame for sale.

I'm not really sure I understand your questions about aluminum vs chromoly. Aluminum frames can run anywhere from $200-1000 as well. As you seem to understand, it has to do with the quality of the alloy, as well as construction (TIG-welded in Taiwan? Fillet brazed in the US?).

To give you an idea of the difference between a $200 steel frame and a $1200 one:
Your $200 frame is probably chromoly steel, but may be hi-ten (cheap as it gets, see republic bikes). Hi-ten is basically just regular old steel, its gonna be super heavy (but likely damn near indestructible, at least). There are different grades and brands of chromoly tubing, but I wouldn't worry too much about that at this point. $200 is going to put you at the lower (heavier) end of that spectrum, but at least your bike doesn't have derailleurs weighing you down, right? For $200, you may be dealing with straight-gauge steel, which essentially just means regular old steel tubes, but maybe not—production costs have gotten cheaper in the last 30 years. It is definitely going to be welded, which is not a big deal these days and has more to do with style.

A $1200 steel frame is probably going to be all old school. Name brand tubing (Reynolds or Columbus... maybe Tange? I have no idea) of very high quality (meaning lighter, stronger alloys). The tubing will certainly be butted (as opposed to straight-gauge), which means that while the ends of the tubes (where they meet each other) are full thickness, the centers (which are under far less stress) have some of the metal shaved out to improve the weight. I would hope that a $1200 frame would be fillet brazed or lugged (not necessarily superior to welding anymore, but hella old school and since its so much more difficult and rare anymore, it indicates a high level of craftsmanship) and hand-made.

Basically, the most quantifiable differences you're going to see are in weight reduction and craftsmanship. However, I think anyone who has ever ridden a Schwinn Varsity and a Schwinn Paramount would agree that the Paramount is just a nicer ride, in ways that can't be specifically tied to weight or triple butted tubing or fancy polished lugs. Its just... nicer. You know?

If you really want to learn about what makes a really nice steel bike, you should check out the Classic and Vintage forum. They shouldn't give you too hard a time for riding a fixie (as long as you don't shave off the braze-ons!) and they're far more knowledgeable about really nice steel bikes. The best answer you're likely to get here is "steel is real."
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Old 04-05-10, 08:01 PM   #8
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Hey everyone, thank you so much for the replies on my thread.

I apologies for the obscurities in my question regarding aluminum vs steel, but essentially you guys hit the nail on the head with your responses. I intend to ride on the road and on the (polo) court, so given what you guys have told me I am leaning more towards steel. As for the BeOne, I think I was a little taken by the design of the frame. But as it so happens the brand is sketchy and I think I may avoid it.

I would have posted more frames I had seen online, but it's ultimately a cluster***k of what is quality, what isn't and I find myself overwhelmed every time I go online to research parts.

Brian, thanks for the hit on wabi, They seem to be on the same page I am. I may actually purchase one of their frames.

jgotsjets, Thanks for the followup on my confusion. You seem to have sorted out for me exactly what the differences are. I think I will search out the vintage forum and see what I can read up there before making a new post, but it's always nice to have something new to read.
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Old 04-05-10, 08:15 PM   #9
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Other makers in the same ballpark are Iro, Soma, or Pake. Don't write off the big names necessarily- Cannondale is one to keep in mind.
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Old 04-05-10, 09:44 PM   #10
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Some to check for toughness for polo/tricks and such if you're breaking bikes...

http://www.volumebikes.com/frames-cutter.html Volume Cutter

http://www.leaderbikestore.com/pd-v2...rack-frame.cfm Leader Trick Track

http://allcitycycles.com/bikes/dropout_framesets/ All City Cycles Dropout

http://nsbikes.com/ NS Bikes Analog - (flash site, have to click thru to products and frames and the analog)

http://www.eighthinch.com/scrambler_frame.html Eighth Inch Scrambler

I'm sure I missed a bunch but it's some to consider.
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Old 04-05-10, 11:18 PM   #11
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If you want a polo bike, I would stick with a beater. You will want very different gearing for polo.
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Old 04-06-10, 11:27 AM   #12
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For me I went aluminum because I'm a heavy guy. Steel frames that didn't feel flexy under me were either boat anchors or very expensive. People really play up the road buzz of aluminum too much. Before I got my carbon seatpost I thought that my SST AL might have been a bad choice. It was super buzzy. But the carbon post really helped a lot. An aluminum frame with carbon fork and seatpost will damp out the road buzz and feel a lot stiffer compared to the same weight steel bike.

The ride is certainly not as plush as the old steel touring bike I have kicking around but even with the 23mm tires I run at 130 psi I can ride my aluminum frame all day. Of course if you want a plush ride there's really no substitute for tire volume. Some 28mm tires will make a world of difference. I've ridden a bunch of shell rock fire roads with 28s though the 38s I can put on my cyclocross bike work a lot better for that.

If you're a lightweight person the difference between the stiffness of steel and aluminum probably won't be noticeable and steel may be better if you can find a nice light one but if you're part of the big and tall set of people, IMO, AL is a much better frame material and carbon is king. I won't even get started on the magical gray metal titanium, so pretty...
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