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No Love for Aluminum?

Old 01-04-17, 11:17 AM
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puma1552
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No Love for Aluminum?

Just reading through the Ti Cachet thread and noticed lots of talk about Ti, CF, and steel. But I don't ever seem to see a lot of discussion about aluminum road bikes, why is that?

We know carbon is the lightest and stiffest, but generally not considered a lifetime bike (disposable?) due to being brittle and most likely to crack (I think I've seen discussion here of major manufacturers indirectly suggesting the frames are really only good for two years?). We know Titanium is light, not as light as carbon, but more durable and could be a lifetime bike - also hard to work with an expensive. Steel is, well, steel - heavy and durable, and inexpensive.

So where does aluminum fit in and why does it seem to be a redheaded step child in the road bike world? Just looking at Specialized's site, their most expensive aluminum road bike is a $2k Allez and comes with 105.

As someone who would like a carbon bike next time around, I am also not someone who is going to buy a bike every few years, I'd probably buy one really nice one and keep it for 20 years, so there's a good chance I'd be looking at aluminum.
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Old 01-04-17, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by puma1552 View Post
Just reading through the Ti Cachet thread and noticed lots of talk about Ti, CF, and steel. But I don't ever seem to see a lot of discussion about aluminum road bikes, why is that?

We know carbon is the lightest and stiffest, but generally not considered a lifetime bike (disposable?) due to being brittle and most likely to crack (I think I've seen discussion here of major manufacturers indirectly suggesting the frames are really only good for two years?). We know Titanium is light, not as light as carbon, but more durable and could be a lifetime bike - also hard to work with an expensive. Steel is, well, steel - heavy and durable, and inexpensive.

So where does aluminum fit in and why does it seem to be a redheaded step child in the road bike world? Just looking at Specialized's site, their most expensive aluminum road bike is a $2k Allez and comes with 105.

As someone who would like a carbon bike next time around, I am also not someone who is going to buy a bike every few years, I'd probably buy one really nice one and keep it for 20 years, so there's a good chance I'd be looking at aluminum.
I think it just comes down to what you want out of the bike. There are some great aluminum frame'd bikes out there, like the cannondale CAAD10 and CAAD12. For being aluminum, they are really light. But I'm a weight weenie, I want to get mine as light as possible, without sacrificing things like durability of course. I have not heard of a carbon frame cracking or breaking in a couple years, but I think for any bike frame to crack you would have to be doing something very out of the ordinary.

The CAAD10 and 12 are lighter than some of the cheap carbon bikes out there.

I like carbon because it is more comfortable as well. When I ride my aluminum trek 1200 vs my specialized tarmac, or a kestrel talon carbon tri bike that I used to have, there is definitely a big difference between all the bumps and vibrations that I felt in the road.

To summarize, there are some good aluminum frames, but I would not go for the cheaper ones that weigh 25 pounds and up. Just my preference.
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Old 01-04-17, 11:29 AM
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It's A long winter so were back to another frame materials Topic again..

Look up all the Collectors of Vitus and AlAn aluminum race bikes From the 80s..

And Now the manufacturing has advanced , with such techniques as Hydroforming,
to re shape all the portions of a frame to be stronger where that is beneficial without much weight increase ..


Aluminum comes in all sorts of alloy mixes Too ..

SBI , Trek And a Bunch of other brands sold in Bike Shops, have materials and workman ship warrantees , so New bike Buyers are covered .

(even though Merida And Giant and other companies make their Bikes, for them)

[ have a 7005 alloy framed Koga World Tour , Now , had 2 AlAns back in the 80's ]





...

Last edited by fietsbob; 01-04-17 at 11:32 AM.
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Old 01-04-17, 12:26 PM
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Aluminum is the default option these days, sort of like tap water, so people don't go out of their way to discuss it. I have an aluminum road bike and have no issues with it.
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Old 01-04-17, 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by puma1552 View Post
I'd probably buy one really nice one and keep it for 20 years, so there's a good chance I'd be looking at aluminum.

3 aluminum bikes...........2 cracked frames (1 broke at 13,000/1 at 14,000 miles), 1 still doing well with about 15,000 miles.

2 carbon bikes...............both still doing well, 1 with 12,000 miles, 1 with 12,000 miles

1 steel bike....................doing well with 16,000 miles


I wouldn't specifically look to aluminum for a lifetime bike, everything breaks. I was told years ago big guys should look to aluminum. I don't believe that any longer.

Though I do not get the hype of the smooth heavenly ride of carbon (my alum felt just as good), I had to go carbon after my aluminum frames cracked. No crashes.

Last edited by ClydeTim; 01-04-17 at 12:46 PM.
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Old 01-04-17, 12:45 PM
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Originally Posted by puma1552 View Post
We know carbon is the lightest and stiffest, but generally not considered a lifetime bike (disposable?) due to being brittle and most likely to crack (I think I've seen discussion here of major manufacturers indirectly suggesting the frames are really only good for two years?). We know Titanium is light, not as light as carbon, but more durable and could be a lifetime bike - also hard to work with an expensive. Steel is, well, steel - heavy and durable, and inexpensive.
I used to hear pretty much the same thing about aluminum bikes. Three years was the common wisdom projected lifetime of an aluminum road frame. Our aluminum Raleigh Tandem is showing no sign of advancing age at 11 years old. She isn't rode hard and put away wet, however. She might even be considered something of a garage queen. Still, I have other aluminum bikes that get harder use and I'm not at all thinking of them as disposable. I fully expect that all my bikes, regardless of what they are made of, will outlast me.
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Old 01-04-17, 12:54 PM
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Many people here seem to think aluminum bikes have a harsh ride, which I think influences it's discussion. I've never ridden an alu bike but would be willing if something nice came along.

No way I'd expect a high quality carbon bike to only last 2 years btw - I would expect that if well cared for it would last a lifetime.

Lastly, steel is not necessarily 'heavy', it can be quite light in the right frame.
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Old 01-04-17, 01:02 PM
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Originally Posted by exmechanic89 View Post
Many people here seem to think aluminum bikes have a harsh ride, which I think influences it's discussion. I've never ridden an alu bike but would be willing if something nice came along.

No way I'd expect a high quality carbon bike to only last 2 years btw - I would expect that if well cared for it would last a lifetime.

Lastly, steel is not necessarily 'heavy', it can be quite light in the right frame.
Half the problem....is that aluminum bikes=cheap bikes, in design and components most of the time.

My first experience with a real bike was an aluminum Specialized Sirrus. Had a cro-moly fork, LOL. Had a wheelset that was spoke-popping junk. And you felt like Indiana Jones surfing tank treads in Last Crusade riding on it. Deore rapid fire shifters worked great, but your hands were numb after an hour on road, even with gloves and grips and you name it. But that was a bike designed to meet a market price point-not necessarily be a nice bike (I've seen junior beginner welders do a nicer job).



These days there are some nice ones out there if you're shopping the right category, and your LBS carries it....say Niner's RLT lineup.
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Old 01-04-17, 01:19 PM
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There are some nice aluminum frames out there. Any of the CAAD frames come to mind. The CAAD 12 goes all the way up the Shimano hierarchy to Ultegra. Carbon is not disposable. Nor do you have to throw it out after a crash unless you see physical damage (and not talking about scratches) - even then carbon frames can be repairable depending on the damage.
The reason people tend to go carbon after a certain groupset is attained is that the prices end up being similar. CAAD 12 Ultegra has an MSRP of $2199.99. For 2499.99 you can get a carbon Super Six Evo at the Ultegra level. And when you are spending that much on a bike, those extra $300 aren't really an issue.
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Old 01-04-17, 01:37 PM
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My carbon bike is 15 years old (over 50,000 miles of riding) and still going strong. Maybe I ride in California where the weather damage isn't an issue (winter road conditions). I know just as many people with failed metal bikes as failed carbon bikes. The problem with high end metal bikes is that the tubes are so thin to get the weight down that they become fragile, especially at the joints where the frame flexes and twists. Not including crashes, all the of the failed metal frames that I have seen are due to broken welds at the joints.

Yes, builders can use thicker metal tubing, but that makes the frame feel deader as well as adding weight. If they're going to do that, they may as well use aluminum which is cheaper than Ti and lighter weight than steel. That is why you see aluminum used in cheaper road bikes. Some of these are good deals and if you're not a real hardcore rider, you may not mind the difference in road feel and performance vs a more expensive carbon frame.
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Old 01-04-17, 01:45 PM
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Aluminum makes great foil wrap. Just sayin'.
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Old 01-04-17, 02:36 PM
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Carbon, TI and aluminum bikes are all over the board as far as longevity, ride characteristics, etc. The new generation steel bikes are not your dad's steel bikes for sure. My fixed gear steel bike is 18 lbs., quick, nimble and handles like a Ferrari. The same bike geared is "sub 19 lbs" according to the maker.

I wouldn't shy away from an aluminum bike but I guess it depends on what you want from it. If you want to keep a bike for 20 years or more, if it were me, I'd choose a high-end steel bike...Colnago Master or Arabesque. Flat-out gorgeous!! Any top-end aluminum bike, if cared for, will last a really long time too though.

I've ridden more than a few aluminum bikes over the years and just never liked the ride or the squeaking of the frame. The new generation aluminum though, from what I've heard, has solved much of the squeaking problems.

There you have my opinion!
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Old 01-04-17, 03:05 PM
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Premium Quality Heat treated Steel is not that Heavy , the higher strength of the alloys and all those processes results in thin wall tubing is sufficient.

Builder skill is required.. so the hand made steel frame fetches a Higher Price.




AlAn , Italy, and Vitus, France, Joined the High strength alloy heat treated Aluminum tubes Together with Epoxy, Not Welding.

Now the current technology , completed finished welded aluminum frame is heat treated as a whole..




....

Last edited by fietsbob; 01-04-17 at 03:16 PM.
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Old 01-04-17, 03:15 PM
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Aluminum sure, relatively light, stiff frames, durable, cheap, what's not to love about it? There aren't many threads and conversations extolling the virtues of aluminum frames because it's basically the default choice, and of course there are a lot of low end aluminum frames out there.
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Old 01-04-17, 03:20 PM
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I've got an original 1986 Raleigh Technium 440. The first year model made with bonded 6013 aluminum tubing. (All Later years came with standard 6061 tube sets). It's been one of my favorite rides. Definitely a stiffer ride than my old steel Fuji's & Centurions. But, it's light & responsive. It's been converted to a upright handlebar bike that I ride in bad weather. I figure it won't rust. Love it. Would be hard for me to let go of that one.
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Old 01-04-17, 03:35 PM
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Aluminum is the king of metals.






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Old 01-04-17, 03:48 PM
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I have an AL Masi Gran Criterium S (circa 2007). The frame is AL the fork is CF as are the chain and seat stays. I love that bike. I also have a Guru Sidero (steel w/CF fork) and neither is more comfortable than the other. Love them both. I would have an AL bike w/CF fork in a heartbeat. Especially when you consider the cost vs. CF frames of any quality.
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Old 01-04-17, 04:48 PM
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I have ridden them all and have yet to experience anything worth giving up the advantages of steel...
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Old 01-04-17, 05:12 PM
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I had my Cervelo for, I don't know, 5 or 6 years, before we got hit by a car that was going 35 to 40 mph. You couldn't tell by looking at it that it had been in an accident, and it still held my weight, but, considering, I retired it.



Originally Posted by puma1552 View Post
Just reading through the Ti Cachet thread and noticed lots of talk about Ti, CF, and steel. But I don't ever seem to see a lot of discussion about aluminum road bikes, why is that?

We know carbon is the lightest and stiffest, but generally not considered a lifetime bike (disposable?) due to being brittle and most likely to crack (I think I've seen discussion here of major manufacturers indirectly suggesting the frames are really only good for two years?). We know Titanium is light, not as light as carbon, but more durable and could be a lifetime bike - also hard to work with an expensive. Steel is, well, steel - heavy and durable, and inexpensive.

So where does aluminum fit in and why does it seem to be a redheaded step child in the road bike world? Just looking at Specialized's site, their most expensive aluminum road bike is a $2k Allez and comes with 105.

As someone who would like a carbon bike next time around, I am also not someone who is going to buy a bike every few years, I'd probably buy one really nice one and keep it for 20 years, so there's a good chance I'd be looking at aluminum.
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Old 01-04-17, 06:25 PM
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I have steel bikes, I have aluminum bikes, I have carbon bikes.

They're all pretty fun.
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Old 01-04-17, 06:48 PM
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Originally Posted by puma1552 View Post
So where does aluminum fit in and why does it seem to be a redheaded step child in the road bike world? Just looking at Specialized's site, their most expensive aluminum road bike is a $2k Allez and comes with 105.
The Allez is a great frame. Specialized knows people who are willing to spend more for an aluminum bike are going to have it built the way they want it.

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Old 01-04-17, 07:29 PM
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Aluminum just works. That's it.

So from a forum standpoint it doesn't merit much discussion.
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Old 01-04-17, 08:20 PM
  #23  
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My first Aluminum bike was a Stealth BP , SBP was a high end frame maker with sights on TT/Ironman and they had some success but I think they went tango unicorn when they got heavy into CF . Anyway the frame I had (used for cheap ebay) was nice quality , build up went smooth no fitment problems . It was not full Alum. it had CF forks and CF bars and it vibrated . That bike was ridden fairly seriously by me (150 mi. per wk.) and every 4th. wk a 60 mi. ride with lots of hills. I got to know it pretty well and I liked it a lot vibrations and all . The thing that got to bothering me was it had top tube that sloped back ward and not just a little , I was told it was a girls bike IT WAS NOT A GIRLS BIKE . but that bothered me enough that I sold the frame and built this bike all CF.
I could not believe the difference no vibrations at all .
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Old 01-04-17, 09:06 PM
  #24  
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Dude, that's a girl's bike.
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Old 01-04-17, 10:06 PM
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In my experience, a good aluminum bike gives up almost nothing to carbon in ride quality or even weight, but it's a heck of a lot cheaper. You can buy a CAAD12 frame and hang a nice groupset and race wheels on it for less than the cost of some carbon framesets. And, if you destroy it, you're out $800-1000 instead of $3000 or more.
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