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I have a questions about steel frames, old and new.

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I have a questions about steel frames, old and new.

Old 08-02-12, 10:33 AM
  #26  
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Originally Posted by jr59 View Post
How about you PM me when you find another Litespeed MTB in XL for that kind of $$$.
The price you paid for that frame and the stump jumper makes the cost go WAY down.

It's still a very good deal for a huffy!
Deal!
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Old 08-02-12, 11:03 AM
  #27  
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I think you can build a very nice mid-late 80's steel bike with modern-ish components for around $1,000 & it will be superior in ride and performance (from the perspective of an average rider) to anything out of a bike shop costing twice that much. Just completed a Miami Vice bike for a customer- 10 speed 105 (much of which was new), nice used Shimano R500 wheelset, Vittoria Pro III tires, all new Jagwire cables and housing, Truvativ crankset, Tektro brakes, very pretty, very shiny & a bike anyone on this forum would be proud to ride (assuming they were in touch with their Miami Vice side). Total cost out the door = $973. No donor bike was involved.

You mentioned Schwinn Peloton, and am in the process of collecting parts for one of those for myself. This is an '85 and will have 10 speed 105 (again, mostly new), an FSA Vero crankset, Tektro brakes, new wheelset w/Shimano hubs, Mavic CXP22 rims & DT spokes, very nice bar, stem and seatpost, all new Jagwire cables and housing, a titanium Flite saddle and Pro III's. Total cost = $900 and that included what I would consider to be a premium price for a frame in outstanding condition.

When you start talking about premium framesets, the price of the frame and the components you will feel compelled to hang on them go, well, through the roof. Please don't ask me what I've got sunk in my Merckx CE/Professional.

Long way around to answer what was really a simple question, but yes, you can build a bike (with donor bike or individual parts) for much less than a comparable performer from a store.
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Old 08-02-12, 12:15 PM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by sced View Post
A new well bought <$1000 aluminum bike will ride better and be lighter than any older steel bike. That said I have multiple new aluminum and old steel and love them all.
Boy, that's a fire starter....

OP wants steel. OK, my 2c worth today:

Modern, look for a used Moser.
Older, look for a Centurion Ironman.
Put the best components on them you can, and ride 'em like you stole 'em.

As far as competition, when you think the bike is holding you back, upgrade.
99.99 % of the time, it's not the bike.

For value/price/performance, best I've seen.
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Old 08-02-12, 12:27 PM
  #29  
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Some quick advice: Buy a complete vintage bike. Only buy one with high end components. That pretty much guarantees it's a good frame and if the bike has super record or dura ace or something on it, you can sell the group for enough to cover a substantial portion of the new parts.
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Old 08-02-12, 12:38 PM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by rccardr View Post
I think you can build a very nice mid-late 80's steel bike with modern-ish components for around $1,000 & it will be superior in ride and performance (from the perspective of an average rider) to anything out of a bike shop costing twice that much.
Sorry but you can get a new cannondale caad10 with 105 for $1500 and a caad10 with ultegra and better wheels for around $2k. If we're talking performance there's absolutely no contest between a modern racing frame and any vintage steel frame, unfortunately. I have well under $1k into my colnago with campy 10 speed and fulcrum racing 5 wheels and while it's great, for actual racing or even a hard group ride it wouldn't be my first choice over my aluminum bike. For the less aggressive riders the difference would be negligible, but it's not fair to discount it entirely. I know lots of people that rode vintage steel and immediately notice a positive improvement in modern bikes. A guy I know with a nice ciocc prefers his new carbon bike which I believe was ~$1500. Just something to think about anyway.
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Old 08-02-12, 02:58 PM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by mazdaspeed View Post
Sorry but you can get a new cannondale caad10 with 105 for $1500 and a caad10 with ultegra and better wheels for around $2k. If we're talking performance there's absolutely no contest between a modern racing frame and any vintage steel frame, unfortunately. I have well under $1k into my colnago with campy 10 speed and fulcrum racing 5 wheels and while it's great, for actual racing or even a hard group ride it wouldn't be my first choice over my aluminum bike. For the less aggressive riders the difference would be negligible, but it's not fair to discount it entirely. I know lots of people that rode vintage steel and immediately notice a positive improvement in modern bikes. A guy I know with a nice ciocc prefers his new carbon bike which I believe was ~$1500. Just something to think about anyway.
Thank-you. There are very good reasons why aluminum eventually beat out steel in the very slow to change bike business. Aluminum is a far better material for dialing in structural properties because of its formability and weldability into complex shapes. Think rockets, jets, and racing cars. It only lost out to composites because they offer higher strength per weight and are by nature amenable to manufacturing complex structures. This should be obvious in 2012.
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Old 08-02-12, 03:00 PM
  #32  
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I always thought it beat steel out because it was cheaper and the bike manufacturers moved to aluminum to cut costs for consumers and production. My old aluminum Cannondale certainly couldn't have won converts for ride characteristics...the thing was awful.

IMO a good bike maker can make a quality bike out of any material. Weights may vary. A bad bike maker can make a crappy bike out of any material. As far as differences between modern and vintage bike performance, I think tires and components would make more difference than the frame in most cases. I definitely do like my modern steels and ti!

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Old 08-02-12, 03:10 PM
  #33  
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Al makes a fine mass-produced beer can too. But I don't want to ride it. I drink the beer and throw it into the can...
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Old 08-02-12, 03:18 PM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by sced View Post
Thank-you. There are very good reasons why aluminum eventually beat out steel in the very slow to change bike business. Aluminum is a far better material for dialing in structural properties because of its formability and weldability into complex shapes. Think rockets, jets, and racing cars. It only lost out to composites because they offer higher strength per weight and are by nature amenable to manufacturing complex structures. This should be obvious in 2012.
It is obvious, it's just not widely acknowledged in the c&v forum since there aren't many racers around. It's not like steel frames don't have their advantages either, but like you said composites have endless possibilities and generally have better mechanical properties for building a bike frame than metal IMO.
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Old 08-02-12, 03:21 PM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by KonAaron Snake View Post
I always thought it beat steel out because it was cheaper and the bike manufacturers moved to aluminum to cut costs for consumers and production. My old aluminum Cannondale certainly couldn't have won converts for ride characteristics...the thing was awful.

IMO a good bike maker can make a quality bike out of any material. Weights may vary. A bad bike maker can make a crappy bike out of any material. As far as differences between modern and vintage bike performance, I think tires and components would make more difference than the frame in most cases. I definitely do like my modern steels and ti!
You're right that one can make a great bike out of any material. The advantage aluminum has is the strength and rigidity to weight ratio, it's also inexpensive. Modern aluminum bikes don't ride anything like the old generation of cannondales (some of which had horrible riding forks), especially now that every aluminum road bike has a carbon fork. I think you'd be really surprised if you rode a caad10 or comparable aluminum frame.
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Old 08-02-12, 03:27 PM
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Sorry but you can get a new cannondale caad10 with 105 for $1500 and a caad10 with ultegra and better wheels for around $2k. If we're talking performance there's absolutely no contest between a modern racing frame and any vintage steel frame, unfortunately. I have well under $1k into my colnago with campy 10 speed and fulcrum racing 5 wheels and while it's great, for actual racing or even a hard group ride it wouldn't be my first choice over my aluminum bike. For the less aggressive riders the difference would be negligible, but it's not fair to discount it entirely. I know lots of people that rode vintage steel and immediately notice a positive improvement in modern bikes. A guy I know with a nice ciocc prefers his new carbon bike which I believe was ~$1500. Just something to think about anyway.
Note my caveat regarding an 'average rider', but even with that you make a good point & perhaps my statement was overly enthusiastic. You're the second person in a few days to point out that there are some great deals on 105 equipped bikes (not Tiagra/Sora) out there right now. Friend out in Utah wanted a bike, asked me how long it would take for me to build himone and ship it out. KNowing he's not much of a mechanic, I suggested he take a tour of the local shops and see what they had to offer, since they would be the ones to fix his ride. Next day he bought a new aluminum GT with 105 compact for $1100, which I thought was quite the deal compared with the prices I've seen in this area.
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Old 08-02-12, 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by mazdaspeed View Post
You're right that one can make a great bike out of any material. The advantage aluminum has is the strength and rigidity to weight ratio, it's also inexpensive. Modern aluminum bikes don't ride anything like the old generation of cannondales (some of which had horrible riding forks), especially now that every aluminum road bike has a carbon fork. I think you'd be really surprised if you rode a caad10 or comparable aluminum frame.
I'm no structural engineer, but my understanding is that while aluminum is much lighter than steel...once you add in its flexibility, and that it's weaker, it ends up pretty much the same weight. Most aluminum frames aren't really lighter than most steel ones. The other issue is fatigue factor - while it may be theoretical with the stresses involved and over engineering, aluminum will break down and steel/ti won't.

I'm sure there are nice riding aluminum frames, but it's the last material I'd want a frame made from and the only benefit I've heard argued is cost.

My 2007 Kona JTS was aluminum...not a fan.
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Old 08-02-12, 04:15 PM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by KonAaron Snake View Post
I'm no structural engineer, but my understanding is that while aluminum is much lighter than steel...once you add in its flexibility, and that it's weaker, it ends up pretty much the same weight. Most aluminum frames aren't really lighter than most steel ones. The other issue is fatigue factor - while it may be theoretical with the stresses involved and over engineering, aluminum will break down and steel/ti won't.
As a practical matter none of this is true Aaron.
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Old 08-02-12, 04:20 PM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by KonAaron Snake View Post
I'm no structural engineer, but my understanding is that while aluminum is much lighter than steel...once you add in its flexibility, and that it's weaker, it ends up pretty much the same weight. Most aluminum frames aren't really lighter than most steel ones.
Compare apples to apples and that is simply not true.

A high end aluminum frame is easily lighter, especially when were are talking lugged steel.

The Cannondale CAAD 10 claims 1050 grams, a cinelli XCR claims 1420g. Good luck getting a steel frame that is less than a pound heavier than a good aluminum frame for less $ than the aluminum one. Then there is the fork issue, unless you get real lucky and find a used steel RACING frame with a 1-1/8" head tube you are limited to a $400+ Easton fork to get something comparable to the high end carbons ones coming on a top tear aluminum frame today. I would say to spend the same price on a steel build as a comparable off the shelf aluminum you are at least 2 lbs heavier.

A comparable steel frame to your Kona is say a surly cross check, I bet the surly is a 3 lbs heavier frameset.
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Old 08-02-12, 04:57 PM
  #40  
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I'll hop in here and make a quick point.

I've recently owned a 2003 Bianchi Axis and a 2006 Cross Concept.

The mix of scandium and carbon on the CC made for a stiff ride, but handled incredibly well off road.

I liked it, as I could really whip it around. The only negative on that frameset was it was way too small.

I had momentary thoughts of racing and bought into the "buy a frame size smaller" idea.

Sold it and I still see it often during the fall cross season.

The Axis was a mix of Easton Ultralite with a no name carbon fork.

Maybe Easton as well.

The fit was perfect and I loved that bicycle so much.

Had a mix of Deore XT and 105.

I really rode that biycle hard down at our river bottoms and on fire roads at the cabin.

Had another set of wheels for on road use and put in a ton of miles.

Perfectly comfortable, but very, very stiff.

What could I expect?

It was built to race and I was the weakest link, but I sure had fun with it.

Oh yeah, they were both dirt cheap.

$500 for the Axis and $975 for the CC.
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Old 08-02-12, 05:08 PM
  #41  
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Nothing to add to this great discussion, except: I don't believe that the weight of high-quality steel frames has changed dramatically over two decades. My 50cm RB-1, built-up by the PO years ago with 8-speed STI, can be rebuilt with current, lightly used or takeoff parts and a modern wheelset, and it'd weigh about the same as a new Reynodsl 631 Jamis Quest. If I'm frugal, I'd save a few hundred bucks. Worth it? Both are great long-distance rides. It comes down to how much I love my RB-1, I suppose

I bought a 2000 Lemond Zurich (Reynolds 853) some years ago for $500. Perfectly rideable. I kind of regret selling it, although I find the "overbuilt" Ishiwata RB-1 a bit more comfortable (softer?) even though the geometry/fit is similar. Subjective, or perhaps the smaller frames feel stiffer/harsher with 853.
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Old 08-02-12, 05:32 PM
  #42  
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Like I said - I'm no expert. My JTS and cannondales were not light. If I were buying new, I'd buy ti, steel or CF. I also saw price mentioned A LOT in the posts above.

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Old 08-02-12, 05:47 PM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by KDNYC View Post
Nothing to add to this great discussion, except: I don't believe that the weight of high-quality steel frames has changed dramatically over two decades. My 50cm RB-1, built-up by the PO years ago with 8-speed STI, can be rebuilt with current, lightly used or takeoff parts and a modern wheelset, and it'd weigh about the same as a new Reynodsl 631 Jamis Quest. If I'm frugal, I'd save a few hundred bucks. Worth it? Both are great long-distance rides. It comes down to how much I love my RB-1, I suppose

I bought a 2000 Lemond Zurich (Reynolds 853) some years ago for $500. Perfectly rideable. I kind of regret selling it, although I find the "overbuilt" Ishiwata RB-1 a bit more comfortable (softer?) even though the geometry/fit is similar. Subjective, or perhaps the smaller frames feel stiffer/harsher with 853.
Agreed, there are great deals to be had, but one can wait years to find the right bike in their size. One fell into my lap for $300 a few year back with 10 speed chorus but that was a heavy bike, over 20lbs... it took significant investment to get it under 18 lbs, including a new group, new wheels and a new fork.. i.e. only the frame was original and I eventually swapped it when I found a new one with a 1-1/8" stear tube.

New steel tig frames are in fact significantly lighter. Take the XCR sited above at 1420 for the 53cm frame, I can find reference to a '94 59cm bridgestone RB-T at 2296g... lets shave off 100g for size.. 2196g...the is 876 g... close to 2 lbs! now consider that a lugged steel fork might weigh say 700 grams (708 reported for the rbt) vs. the 350g carbon that comes with the Cinelli... that is a 350 g difference. so that is 2.75 roughly lbs heavier for the frame set.

1992 was 2 decades ago. The best steel racing frames are lets say close to 2lbs... 1.5 lbs to be conservative, lighter than they were 20 years ago. That is huge.
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Old 08-02-12, 06:09 PM
  #44  
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For $600 you can get a bike of BikesDirect with an almost complete Sram Apex group. or for $750 a Sram Force group.

If you found a nice vintage frame you could always buy that BD bike for parts and then sell the BD frame for a few bones.

Might not be custom tailored but it will have pretty quality parts for pretty darn cheap.
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Old 08-02-12, 07:01 PM
  #45  
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Building up an older steel frame is a capital idea...

The most noticable difference in performance between old and new is brifters and wheelsets (to a lesser degree). Take the Schwinn Peloton (for example) and put a nice wheelset, brifters (assuming a reasonably modern RD), cassette, and good rubber on it and ride happily to the bank. I can think of a dozen bikes that would be awesome modernization projects. From the mid 80's to early 90's is sort of my sweet spot. The advantage of old vs new is cost. The difference in weight is noticeable, but the extra weight is in the frame (assuming you build it out with better modern stuff). Sort of the same as having a few extra pounds on yourself, meaning noticeable but not so noticeable. It's the rotating weight that draws a more significant penalty. Hold out and find a deal on what you want vs paying up front for something where you're going to pitch many of the parts. Deals are out there. I paid $65 for my trek 760 sans stem/bars/wheels. Paid $110 for my Gitane TDF sans wheels.

And oh yeah, nothing rides like steel. Aluminum is nice and light, but the ride is not comparable and easily worth the slight weight penalty. If you're racing in a paceline and all that, then maybe steel isn't most desirable. I go on long rides on poor roads and prefer a smooth ride whenever I can get it.

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Old 08-02-12, 07:31 PM
  #46  
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Twenty years ago you simply couldn't buy a geared bike with a steel frame that weighed much less than 20 pounds.

Today, OTOH, there are a number of geared bikes with steel frames and CF forks that weigh ~15 pounds. It's a combination of stronger steels with thinner walled OS tubing and lighter components. They ain't cheap, but you can buy them.
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Old 08-02-12, 07:36 PM
  #47  
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Steel has a definite fatigue limit, so unless you load/unload it until it breaks it'll remain just as strong forever. Damages are easy to spot. Aluminium loses health points with every bump in the road, invisibly. I realize that the average cyclist will never manage to kill an aluminium frame, but I would be a bit uneasy buying a vintage alu frame a few decades down the road.
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Old 08-02-12, 07:41 PM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by cyclotoine View Post
Agreed, there are great deals to be had, but one can wait years to find the right bike in their size. One fell into my lap for $300 a few year back with 10 speed chorus but that was a heavy bike, over 20lbs... it took significant investment to get it under 18 lbs, including a new group, new wheels and a new fork.. i.e. only the frame was original and I eventually swapped it when I found a new one with a 1-1/8" stear tube.

New steel tig frames are in fact significantly lighter. Take the XCR sited above at 1420 for the 53cm frame, I can find reference to a '94 59cm bridgestone RB-T at 2296g... lets shave off 100g for size.. 2196g...the is 876 g... close to 2 lbs! now consider that a lugged steel fork might weigh say 700 grams (708 reported for the rbt) vs. the 350g carbon that comes with the Cinelli... that is a 350 g difference. so that is 2.75 roughly lbs heavier for the frame set.

1992 was 2 decades ago. The best steel racing frames are lets say close to 2lbs... 1.5 lbs to be conservative, lighter than they were 20 years ago. That is huge.
Okay, can't disagree. I might have rephrased the comparison as higher-end older steel vs. reasonably priced modern recreational bikes The advantage for the rider will depend a lot on the rider and the purpose.
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Old 08-03-12, 12:37 AM
  #49  
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My understanding is that they discovered aluminum's fatigue issues because of aviation crashes; people started to notice that planes of about the same age kept crashing and breaking...and eventually discovered the fatigue issues. It might be that aluminum bikes are so over built that this is theoretical, but it's a property of the material that I don't much care for.

As far as weight...I don't need a 15 lbs bike. In fact bikes that light scares me on descents. My Marnati is around 20 and I'm quite pleased with it (none of my bikes are weight weenie builds). The lightest bike I've owned was that Look KG 292...it was not a bike I enjoyed. If I did want a weight weenie, it would be titanium or CF, not aluminum.
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Old 08-03-12, 04:12 AM
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revchuck 
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Location: South Louisiana
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Bikes: Specialized Allez Sprint, Look 585, Specialized Allez Comp Race

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Just for context on the steel vs. aluminum weight thing...I've got one of the better modern aluminum framesets, a 2011 Specialized Allez E5 in 61cm. It's set up with a mix of ten speed parts - Ultegra 6600 brifters and brakes, Force FD, Tiagra 4600 RD (so I can use the 12-30 cassette when I need to), FSA Gossamer compact crankset, and hand built Open Pros with an Ultegra 6700 front hub and Powertap Pro rear. Ready to ride, but less the seat bag and no bottles, it weighs 21 lbs, 7 oz. The seat bag with two tubes, two CO2 cartridges, two tire levers, the CO2 head and a small mini-tool brings it up to 22 lbs. 10 oz. Two full 24 oz. bottles would weigh ~three lbs. So we're at just under 26 lbs. with a modern aluminum frame ready to roll out.

I haven't weighed my '87 60cm Centurion Ironman, but a SWAG puts it at about a pound or so heavier. It's been updated to nine speed 4500 Tiagra, and I've gone to modern bars and stem.

I could get the Allez down to about 20 lbs., but it would mainly involve losing the PT and going to light wheels, which is not an option at this time. Going to a full carbon fork would be another 200 grams or so. But then, I've got another ten pounds to lose, and that's lots cheaper.

I don't doubt that the Allez would be a better race bike than the Centurion for a strong, young rider due to its stiffness. But for anyone else, the Centurion is a more comfortable bike and quite capable of keeping up on a fast group ride. If the rider can't keep up...it ain't the bike.
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