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Does Specialized's higher grade of Aluminium(i.e. E5 or M4) provide a better ride?

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Does Specialized's higher grade of Aluminium(i.e. E5 or M4) provide a better ride?

Old 09-11-15, 07:49 PM
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ColonelSanders
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Does Specialized's higher grade of Aluminium(i.e. E5 or M4) provide a better ride?

Where Specialized uses their higher grade of aluminium, it is also on a bike that has better specs than its A1 brethren, so excitement about the better spec'd bike could be influencing an overall more favourable view on the bike's ride quality.

For people who have ridden both an A1 and E5 framed Sirrus or an A1 and M4 framed Crosstrail, did you find there was any difference in ride quality from the different grade of aluminium used and if so, which grade of aluminium gave the better ride or could you not tell a difference?


*Inspiration for this thread came from a poster on these forums who has had both an A1 and M4 framed Crosstrail and he had the inkling that the A1 framed Crosstrail provided a slightly better ride.
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Old 09-11-15, 08:09 PM
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I not know or never i have ride spesialized bikes but one LBS tell me the specialized allez elite is the best bike. is has aluminum frame but i not know the grade.
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Old 09-11-15, 08:35 PM
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Why not read what Specialized has to say about it? SPECIALIZED | What are the differenes between A1, M4, E5, and M5 aluminium?
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Old 09-11-15, 09:32 PM
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Not a big fan of higher grade aluminium because its just too stiff. Higher end means stiffer and faster off the line and usually has a harsher ride quality. At least that has been my experience with the Allez Smartweld I had last summer as well as the Giant Fastroad SLR which has Giant's highest end alluminum frame. I prefer the mid level aluminum if I was to ever buy another bike. I need another bike like I need a hole in my head, but the thought of buying a bike is a great mental escape!
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Old 09-11-15, 10:26 PM
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From my experience, its more about the frame design than straight out tubing tier.

For example, tubing diameter directly affects stiffness and wall thickness. A beefy bottom bracket and downtube connection will be stiffer than a spindly one regardless of tubing hierarchy. There are many ways to create a compliant rear triangle, such as opening up the dropout junction, flattening the stays to induce verticle flex, and so on. In a nutshell, size and shape affect stiffness.

Aluminum frames dont use tubes anymore per se, each member is formed to create a different thickness and profile shape to obtain a certain effect.

This manipulation adds manufacturing steps, and thus expense. Most Al bikes now use 6000 series alloy, the difference being the level of manipulation of each tube to create higher end tubesets.

Flex is not a bad thing. You want verticle flex for comfort but not horizontal flex because it saps power. However, the inherent geometry of triangles make this easier to do the opposite way.

The bicycle industry seriously lacks scientific quantification which makes many claims on stiffness subjective.

Higher end tubing is more likely to be vertically compliant and laterally stiff than low end tubing
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Old 09-12-15, 12:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Grey. View Post
Why not read what Specialized has to say about it? SPECIALIZED | What are the differenes between A1, M4, E5, and M5 aluminium?
Thanks for that reference.

My default belief had been that there would have been a small advantage or no difference in ride quality between an A1 Crosstrail & a M4 one, just that the M4 Crosstrail was lighter, however one poster here suggested otherwise, hence this thread to get opinions from others who have owned both types of aluminium framed bikes.
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Old 09-12-15, 07:13 AM
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Originally Posted by ColonelSanders View Post
Where Specialized uses their higher grade of aluminium, it is also on a bike that has better specs than its A1 brethren, so excitement about the better spec'd bike could be influencing an overall more favourable view on the bike's ride quality.

For people who have ridden both an A1 and E5 framed Sirrus or an A1 and M4 framed Crosstrail, did you find there was any difference in ride quality from the different grade of aluminium used and if so, which grade of aluminium gave the better ride or could you not tell a difference?


*Inspiration for this thread came from a poster on these forums who has had both an A1 and M4 framed Crosstrail and he had the inkling that the A1 framed Crosstrail provided a slightly better ride.
Good Morning ,

Having owned/rode a 2010 Crosstrail Sport (A1) AND currently riding a 2015 Crosstrail Expert(M4)(2000 miles so far), I can say that the Expert just has an overall better "feel" to it. Not that the Sport was not a pleasure to ride, but jumping onto the Expert was quite a difference . The weight reduction has a lot to do with it. I can feel the bike jump forward with each "push" on the pedals when I am accelerating. The bike just "jumps" ahead. As far as ride quality, The Expert model seems smoother. It's hard to compare both bikes due to the considerably upgraded Suspension Fork on the Expert. When this fork is "locked out" , the ride, IMHO, is similar. One thing you must consider --- you must compare Apples to Apples. Tire brand/tread/inflation changes the constants. I take an XXL frame since I am 6'4", am 66 years young, and weigh in at 260#s. Rider weight alone will affect ride smoothness. All this being said, The lighter M4 frame on the Expert is definitely more nimble in quick direction changes, as in a fast "S" turn. I should also add that I only ride paved roads in my local State Park. Many steep hills and valleys, and a lot of flat also. Abrupt direction changes are frequent in the Camping areas, which accentuates the nimbleness of the lighter frame! I expect the Crosstrail Expert to last me many years, but if the time comes to replace it, I would always select a bike with the M4(or equivalent) frame material.

Last edited by bigjer2; 09-12-15 at 07:17 AM.
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Old 09-12-15, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by bigjer2 View Post
Good Morning ,

Having owned/rode a 2010 Crosstrail Sport (A1) AND currently riding a 2015 Crosstrail Expert(M4)(2000 miles so far), I can say that the Expert just has an overall better "feel" to it. Not that the Sport was not a pleasure to ride, but jumping onto the Expert was quite a difference . The weight reduction has a lot to do with it. I can feel the bike jump forward with each "push" on the pedals when I am accelerating. The bike just "jumps" ahead. As far as ride quality, The Expert model seems smoother. It's hard to compare both bikes due to the considerably upgraded Suspension Fork on the Expert. When this fork is "locked out" , the ride, IMHO, is similar. One thing you must consider --- you must compare Apples to Apples. Tire brand/tread/inflation changes the constants. I take an XXL frame since I am 6'4", am 66 years young, and weigh in at 260#s. Rider weight alone will affect ride smoothness. All this being said, The lighter M4 frame on the Expert is definitely more nimble in quick direction changes, as in a fast "S" turn. I should also add that I only ride paved roads in my local State Park. Many steep hills and valleys, and a lot of flat also. Abrupt direction changes are frequent in the Camping areas, which accentuates the nimbleness of the lighter frame! I expect the Crosstrail Expert to last me many years, but if the time comes to replace it, I would always select a bike with the M4(or equivalent) frame material.
+1 I have ridden both and bought the crosstrail comp based largely on my wanting the M4 frame. I find it to be quicker, more responsive with improved agility. I guess a good question is "how are you defining 'ride quality'"?
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Old 09-12-15, 09:34 AM
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I have the 2015 cross trail comp with a small M4 frame, spouse has dimensionally the same size frame in a 2015 Arial sport disc, which is the same as the crosstrail sport disc except for color and saddle. They were built within a month of each other. Both are great bikes, the real world difference is somewhat subjective. My 63 year old body weighs in at 195 and am 5-8. Originally the bikes had the same tires and pressure, currently Almotions are on the comp. They roll better.

The comp is much more satisfying to ride, primarily due to weight, brakes, and drive train. But, IMHO, its like comparing a high to mid performance sports cars. Both are excellent and fun, but the high performance model usually compromises ride harshness and creature comfort for more road feel, technically tighter handling. I avoided bumps when I drove my Vette, but didn't bother with my BMW. Thats been my experience with A1 vs M4 in a crosstrail type geometry.

Unless I am moving faster than the average bear, the comp handle bars feels harsher/sharper than the sport. There is also more road feel. I feel this harshness with the fork locked or unlocked. Dunno if its the short travel fork or the M4 frame material. The fork itself is made of something else. The Comp seems to have more fork flex horizontally. On smooth asphalt surfaces there is little difference, but cracks and such feel "sharper" through the bars. Seat feel is about the same between bikes. Running 40-50 lbs tire pressure will soften some of the harshness, but the bike differences are still there.

One has to test ride bikes on various types of surfaces to see if they are right for you, it is subjective. What feels harsh to one is not noticed by another.

Let me say again, as eloquently described above, that the Comp is so much more fun to ride. I'm thinking the Comp provides more surface feedback through the handle bars, which can sometimes feel harsher.

Last edited by ColdCase; 09-12-15 at 10:38 AM.
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Old 09-12-15, 10:26 PM
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Assuming that stiffness is what determines ride the no, because all aluminum alloys have the same Young's modulus.
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Old 09-13-15, 08:28 AM
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Originally Posted by WVU_Engineer View Post
Assuming that stiffness is what determines ride the no, because all aluminum alloys have the same Young's modulus.
Eeeks! Reading about that will put you to sleep!
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Old 09-13-15, 11:26 AM
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You are right, and in practical terms it means that hi ten rides more similar to tange prestige than any aluminum frame.

In other practical terms, we are not riding ingots. Shape matters. For example, a rectangular piece of metal will deflect more in the shorter dimension than the long dimension.
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Old 09-13-15, 04:54 PM
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Originally Posted by DorkDisk View Post
You are right, and in practical terms it means that hi ten rides more similar to tange prestige than any aluminum frame.

In other practical terms, we are not riding ingots. Shape matters. For example, a rectangular piece of metal will deflect more in the shorter dimension than the long dimension.
Typed that reply with my tablet last night and the website was giving me crap so I didn't elaborate.

The higher strength alloys only allow less metal to be used to obtain the same strength frame, that said any alloy that is weldable by traditional means is only marginally stronger than 6061-T6. Now if you want to get into welding techniques like friction welding or adhesives you are opened up to the stronger alloys such as 7075, but even in the aerospace field if you require repair ability via welding, just stick to 6061. I can weld 6061 in my garage with a cheap harbor freight welder if I needed to, steel is even easier to repair.
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Old 09-13-15, 06:07 PM
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I havent figured out how to get quotes working on my fondleslab either.

Higher strength does mean less material can be used. Since stiffness in a tube is primarily a function of outer diameter, this means that higher strength alloys can be made thinner and this results in a lighter frame. There is a limit to how thin you can weld a metal tube, and very thin tubed frames are notoriously easy to dent

Higher end Al frames used to be made in 7000 series, I still have one. In practical terms, Al frames need to be heat treated to regain their strength which is why they are rarely repaired. The welding is not the issue

In the end, it comes down to the engineering of the frame. Mechanical properties tell us what materials are suitable for usage but it comes to the application of the materials. Old Vitus aluminum frames are notoriously whippy and many are still around.
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Old 11-11-15, 12:08 PM
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I have a 2014 Sirrus Elite Disc and a 2015 Sirrus Elite Disc. According to the specs both are E-5 aluminum. The frame shapes are very different. The fork on the 2014 is "Cr-Mo steerer, aluminum crown/lowers" and the 2015 has "Specialized FACT carbon, alloy steerer/crown, Zertz, post disc mount". The 2014 has "Specialized Nimbus, 26TPI, wire bead, Flak Jacket protection, 700x28c" tires while the 2015 has "Specialized Espoir Sport Reflect, 60TPI, double BlackBelt protection, 700x30mm" tires. They are both Sora and the gearing is close enough to be of little consequence.
There is definitely a difference in the feel of the two bikes. The 2015 is less twitchy and seems to "flow" better. The 2014 is quicker handling and more responsive.
Unfortunately there are variables so there is no way to tell which makes the most difference.

1) Is it the tires ? (tread design, 26TPI vs 60TPI, 28MM vs 30MM)
2) Is it the difference in frame design ? (slight differences in specs, curved top tube vs straight, curved seat stays vs straight )
3) Is it the fork ? (Chrome/moly vs carbon)
4) Is it weight ? 26.5 pounds for the 2015 vs 28 pounds for the 2014
It's probably a combination of all four.
A tire swap would be easy but can 2MM in extra width and a higher thread count make that much difference ?

To further complicate things my wife has a 2015 Sirrus Sport Disc with 28MM tires. It has the A-1 frame and same fork as my 2014 Elite Disc. I can't really feel any difference in the ride qualities of my 2014 Elite (E-5) vs her 2015 Sport (A-1).

All three bikes are medium frames. What is the real difference ?

Is the carbon fork the key or can tires really change the feel of a bike that much ?



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Old 11-11-15, 04:21 PM
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I would say its less the material than the frame geometry and the ride the bike is designed for. Bike manufacturers design a frame to suit a specific ride requirement and bikes will ride differently depending on the requirement.

I have a medium 6061-T6 aluminum frame. Its a light and responsive bike yet also rugged for the city and the trail.
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Old 11-25-15, 12:36 AM
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Boy am I glad that I didn't swallow that glob of BS before I went to the Specialized dealer. Riding the base Sirrus model with A1 alloy felt
about the same as several more expensive E5 alloy models. From $500 to $800, not enough of a difference to pay for.

Along the price jumps other components get better; then along about $850, ahhh it gets a lot better. It takes more than an alloy upgrade.
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