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Been Any Advancements In Aluminum Frames Lately?

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Been Any Advancements In Aluminum Frames Lately?

Old 08-19-22, 09:46 AM
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Been Any Advancements In Aluminum Frames Lately?

Of course Carbon is the true wiener for light weight bicycles these days. And thank goodness Carbon prices, although inflated, are becoming reasonable for regular cyclists when selective. I am just wondering if there have been new innovations in Aluminum Frames lately.

I have to admit, at my age and weight, if I were going to go light weight I would most likely select a Carbon Touring bicycle...
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Old 08-19-22, 10:25 AM
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To me, aluminum reached its peak when Scandium was being used 15 or so years ago, but that alloy seems to have become a relic. My Niner frame weighed 2.75 pounds AIR, and rides as well today as when it was purchased.
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Old 08-19-22, 10:44 AM
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Aluminum mostly fell out of favor because it moved from being a novelty to being seen as a cheap bike's material.
Good aluminum frames are labor intensive and expensive.
Carbon fiber got cheap, and labor got streamlined.
Craftspeople who wanted to make high-end metallic frames moved to either titanium or lugged steel, because the people who wanted to buy high-end metallic frames would pay more for them.

Scandium made some inroads because it was good stuff that held up better to industrial quick welding and didn't need heat treating, not because it had a lot of fans.

But if you're an aluminum fan and want something unique and a little old-school:

Frank The Welder FTW
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Old 08-19-22, 11:08 AM
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If recently means from the oversized tube era, then yes.

Modern(er) aluminum frames are better designed and hydroforming allows for different shapes to maximize the design for a better ride. It is not going to supplant carbon fiber as the top spot, but a well designed and manufactured aluminum frame is definitely better than the ones I ride.

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Old 08-19-22, 12:43 PM
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They'll pry my steel frames from my cold, dead hands!
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Old 08-19-22, 01:39 PM
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Salsa is doing some stuff with aluminum that they call Class 5 Vibration Reduction System (VRS); it might just be a different way to configure the bends on the stays, but they claim there's a comfort advantage. I haven't seen or ridden it, personally.
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Old 08-19-22, 01:39 PM
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I agree that hydro-forming was/is the big quantum leap forward for aluminum frames. For a while I was commuting on a Giant Avail with hydroformed aluminum frame, and the ride was not bad at all. Another time I bought an older Performance brand aluminum bike to harvest the groupset off of. It was made up of 70XX series tubes welded together. The ride was just horrendously stiff and buzzy. I quit after going 10 miles and couldn't wait to tear up that bike. When I started riding during the Covid shutdowns, I started on a hand-me-down aluminum town bike, also built from aluminum tubes welded together. The ride was really stiff and unpleasant as well. So from my own limited experience, I think hydro-forming is the big advance. Too bad nobody has done the same with steel,
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Old 08-19-22, 03:37 PM
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I've a Specialized Chisel aluminum hard tail that is a joy to ride. Its a shaped tubing bike, had reviews of being a tad flexy but I dont notice and I'm a clyde. So you can design ride quality into aluminum and Speicalized did it with this bike. It also weighs 26.6 lbs with the SPd pedals, so is not heavy for a modern mt, bike, many are over 30 lbs, which I dont get.
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Old 08-19-22, 04:15 PM
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At one time I had a Cannondale CAAD 4 and can remember a '90s Raleigh R500 that might have shook a filling loose and just recently if I had not know what the frame was on the new CAAD I got to try I would have swore it was some new exotic material, unreal difference.
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Old 08-19-22, 04:54 PM
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I notice that Trek added a higher-end model to their aluminum Domane lineup It's basically an Al frame with a 105 disc setup, and it's ~$1200 cheaper than the same model with a carbon frame

So someone must be buying Al frames with decent components.
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Old 08-19-22, 05:55 PM
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Old 08-21-22, 12:00 PM
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Cannondale also hasn't given up on aluminum—you've got to dance with them what brung you. And my reasonably new distance bike (from Kinesis UK) is made of scandium, so that's still around. I agree that hydroforming has been the big new thing in aluminum, which allows Specialized to form the whole head tube and adjacent "lugs" as a single piece, for example.

But I've got to say, if you're looking at buying a touring bike, weight probably shouldn't be a high priority, unless you're doing ultralight credit-card touring.
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Old 08-21-22, 02:57 PM
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old (old) school aluminum is king !
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Old 08-21-22, 04:28 PM
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Cannondale's CAAD 10 or anything later, the current generatlion Specialized Allez, and Trek's ALR frames are the lightest aluminum frames I'm aware of. They're popular with amateur racers and sport riders on a budget, and they ride better and are lighter than lower-grade carbon. If I ever break my 10 year-old Madone 5, I wouldn't hesitate to replace it with one of these. Of course, except for Trek's Domane, these are race geometries with no bosses for hanging racks and fenders.
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