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Cheap plastic parts that are better than metal

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Cheap plastic parts that are better than metal

Old 07-13-18, 11:43 AM
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livedarklions
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Cheap plastic parts that are better than metal

Two areas where I definitely feel like I get a better working part when I buy cheap plastic:

Water bottle cages--whenever I've biught cheap or expensive metal ones, I invariably end up replacing them with cheap plastic ones, which last forever. The metal ones get bent out of shape if I try to put large bottles in them, while the plastic ones just don't deform. Although I've never weighed them, I find it hard to believe there's any significant difference in weight. There also seems to be no correlation between price and usefulness. he cheap plastic ones work as well as the expensive plastic ones, and the cheapest plastic one outperforms and outlasts themost expensive metal ones.

Fenders: As far as I can tell, there is nothing other than looks to recommend expensive fixed fenders, plastic or metal, over cheap detachable plastic fenders (do they even make detachable metal ones?). I have never had a detachable fender work its way loose while riding, and I've had them on for thouands of miles. Fixed fenders, on the other hand, have multiple points of attachement, and for some reason, the screws that attach them seem to want to work themselves loose far more than any other part I can name. Perhaps it's because of the uneven forces that get exerted over the fender and the relatively great distances betwen attachment points, but I don't have comparable problems keeping cargo racks attached.

Am I alone in thining the cheaper versions of these products are as good or better than their more expensive counterparts? (Esthetics aside)

Are there other parts where this is true?
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Old 07-13-18, 11:50 AM
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Plastic is pretty ubiquitous in manufacturing today.

I was skeptical about plastic brake lever bodies, but so far they seem to be doing well. At least the better made ones.

I've grown fond of some of the plastic rim tapes (vs cloth?)

Seats have a few different materials. I still like a good leather seat, but there are some very good vinyl and plastic covered seats. And, most modern seats have a plastic base layer. Unlike the vintage seats that would have had an all metal frame.

Plastic covered (and plastic lined) cable housings?
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Old 07-13-18, 07:02 PM
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I also use plastic water bottle cages. I buy the "50 Strong" brand. They're less than 5 bucks each at Walmart, are darn near indestructible, and they fit a variety of bottles that aren't true cycling or athletic bottles (like 16.9 oz water bottles or Gatorade bottles).
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Old 07-13-18, 07:54 PM
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I have a Peugeot. made in France in 1985, that uses a plastic headset that you can take apart with your hands, once the headset nut is loosened. Even the fork crown race is plastic and pops right out. Uses roller bearings. Very light, has held up fine for 33 years, pretty slick design, I think. FWIW.

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Old 07-14-18, 06:26 AM
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Pedals. I like the new crop of composite flat pedals like the Race Face Chesters. Less expensive than machined aluminum and durable too.
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Old 07-15-18, 04:16 PM
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Originally Posted by JonathanGennick View Post
Pedals. I like the new crop of composite flat pedals like the Race Face Chesters. Less expensive than machined aluminum and durable too.
I use even cheaper nylon pedals off of amazon. Light weight durable matte black and when I scrape them they are still durable matte black.
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Old 07-15-18, 04:46 PM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
Two areas where I definitely feel like I get a better working part when I buy cheap plastic:

Water bottle cages--whenever I've biught cheap or expensive metal ones, I invariably end up replacing them with cheap plastic ones, which last forever. The metal ones get bent out of shape if I try to put large bottles in them, while the plastic ones just don't deform. Although I've never weighed them, I find it hard to believe there's any significant difference in weight. There also seems to be no correlation between price and usefulness. he cheap plastic ones work as well as the expensive plastic ones, and the cheapest plastic one outperforms and outlasts themost expensive metal ones.

Fenders: As far as I can tell, there is nothing other than looks to recommend expensive fixed fenders, plastic or metal, over cheap detachable plastic fenders (do they even make detachable metal ones?). I have never had a detachable fender work its way loose while riding, and I've had them on for thouands of miles. Fixed fenders, on the other hand, have multiple points of attachement, and for some reason, the screws that attach them seem to want to work themselves loose far more than any other part I can name. Perhaps it's because of the uneven forces that get exerted over the fender and the relatively great distances betwen attachment points, but I don't have comparable problems keeping cargo racks attached.

Am I alone in thining the cheaper versions of these products are as good or better than their more expensive counterparts? (Esthetics aside)

Are there other parts where this is true?
I much prefer stainless steel bottle cages to plastic or aluminum. I tried plastic cages on one of my bikes and hated them. Stainless steel has never let me down. Buy them once and forget about them.
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Old 07-16-18, 04:05 AM
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I don't agree about the fenders; while plastic may be as good a material as aluminium or better, the fixed provide better function than the detachable ones, by simply being longer and less moving around during the ride. None of the detachable fenders I've seen provide any shielding for chainrings and front derailleur. Looks depend on the particular model, there are decent looking and ugly looking fenders of both types.
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Old 07-16-18, 05:01 AM
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Originally Posted by subgrade View Post
I don't agree about the fenders; while plastic may be as good a material as aluminium or better, the fixed provide better function than the detachable ones, by simply being longer and less moving around during the ride. None of the detachable fenders I've seen provide any shielding for chainrings and front derailleur. Looks depend on the particular model, there are decent looking and ugly looking fenders of both types.
Perfect example of preference being formed by how we ride our bikes. I don't ride through enough mud, etc. that I would care about protection of the drive train by the fenders, so what you say about that is valid, just not universally applicable. I disagree about less moving around however. My detachables stay put much better than any fixed I've ever used. I found that the rods attaching the full fenders to the frame are extremely vulnerable to getting bent and shaking loose, and I get sick of interrupting a ride to bend metal and/or tightening bolts.
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Old 07-16-18, 09:30 AM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
Perfect example of preference being formed by how we ride our bikes. I don't ride through enough mud, etc. that I would care about protection of the drive train by the fenders, so what you say about that is valid, just not universally applicable. I disagree about less moving around however. My detachables stay put much better than any fixed I've ever used. I found that the rods attaching the full fenders to the frame are extremely vulnerable to getting bent and shaking loose, and I get sick of interrupting a ride to bend metal and/or tightening bolts.
The detachables do stay put, true; however, due to less fixed points they wobble during the ride. The narrower and longer the fender, the more noticeable it is. For example, I have detachable 28'', 42 mm wide rear fender that is long enough to prevent any dirt landing on my backside, at any speeds; yet when riding across uneven surface, such as cobblestone, I often can hear it banging against the tire.

Plus, I've had the front detachable fender mount breaking off more than once, since it is the only point absorbing all vibrations of the fender.
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Old 07-16-18, 10:15 AM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by subgrade View Post
The detachables do stay put, true; however, due to less fixed points they wobble during the ride. The narrower and longer the fender, the more noticeable it is. For example, I have detachable 28'', 42 mm wide rear fender that is long enough to prevent any dirt landing on my backside, at any speeds; yet when riding across uneven surface, such as cobblestone, I often can hear it banging against the tire.

Plus, I've had the front detachable fender mount breaking off more than once, since it is the only point absorbing all vibrations of the fender.
]

My rear one stays put because it sits under a rear rack, and that holds it in place--basically it wants to flex up, and the bottom of the rear rack makes a sort of frame that keeps it secure. I may be lucky, but I have a small detachable front fender that fits my fork perfectly, and never budges unless I want it to. It's a nifty piece of design that in effect turns 2 attachment points into 4, and it just doesn't wobble at all. The attachment is just by wrapping 2 rubber strips around the fork, and I was extremely skeptical after I put it on in about 30 seconds. But I have at least 750 miles on the bike since I put it on, and it hasn't moved a mm.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I wouldn't keep anything on my bike that was banging against the tires--total deal breaker for me, I'd rather get dirty.
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Old 07-16-18, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
Two areas where I definitely feel like I get a better working part when I buy cheap plastic:

Water bottle cages--whenever I've biught cheap or expensive metal ones, I invariably end up replacing them with cheap plastic ones, which last forever. The metal ones get bent out of shape if I try to put large bottles in them, while the plastic ones just don't deform. Although I've never weighed them, I find it hard to believe there's any significant difference in weight. There also seems to be no correlation between price and usefulness. he cheap plastic ones work as well as the expensive plastic ones, and the cheapest plastic one outperforms and outlasts themost expensive metal ones.

Fenders: As far as I can tell, there is nothing other than looks to recommend expensive fixed fenders, plastic or metal, over cheap detachable plastic fenders (do they even make detachable metal ones?). I have never had a detachable fender work its way loose while riding, and I've had them on for thouands of miles. Fixed fenders, on the other hand, have multiple points of attachement, and for some reason, the screws that attach them seem to want to work themselves loose far more than any other part I can name. Perhaps it's because of the uneven forces that get exerted over the fender and the relatively great distances betwen attachment points, but I don't have comparable problems keeping cargo racks attached.

Am I alone in thining the cheaper versions of these products are as good or better than their more expensive counterparts? (Esthetics aside)

Are there other parts where this is true?
I hope the parts are not made of cheap plastic because you will have problems in short order. Would not want you to be chasing a water bottle rolling down the path or have a rivet pull out of the fender. As with other bike components made of composite materials the manufacturer usually chooses something that is appropriate for the intended use. Composites can have long service lives.
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Old 07-16-18, 01:54 PM
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Specialized Rib Cages are a good example.
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Old 07-16-18, 02:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Delmarva View Post
I hope the parts are not made of cheap plastic because you will have problems in short order. Would not want you to be chasing a water bottle rolling down the path or have a rivet pull out of the fender. As with other bike components made of composite materials the manufacturer usually chooses something that is appropriate for the intended use. Composites can have long service lives.

I've ridden thousands of miles with these cheap bottle cages and they are just fine. One of them was an old cage that had been on a bike I bought on CL, and clearly had been on the bike for years. I have taken that bike apart, but put the cage on my new bike. I have at least 4000 miles with that cage without any sign of wear or stress. The other is a piece of plastic I picked up for $5 at Aldi. It's my go to cage on the down tube and I love it because it accepts all kinds of non-standard waterbottles, but it's as good a clip as I've ever had. I've been riding bikes on and off for about 50 years now, I can tell if the cage is going to work. I have never had a problem with a plastic cage, I have had several metal ones get bent out of shape, they're generally very finicky about what they'll accommodate.

My fenders don't have any rivets to detach. There's a bolt in the top of the rear fender that attaches to the frame by a hanger, The plastic on that is tough and there's no way it's going to spontaneousy tear off. The front fender is an SKS, and has no bolts attaching it to the bike whatsoever. $17, and I think it's a great piece of engineering. The plastic is quite tough.

I didn't just fall off the turnip trike, I wouldn't put anything on my bike that had a high chance of failure. I just don't think there's a correlation here between price and reliability.
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Old 07-16-18, 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
I've ridden thousands of miles with these cheap bottle cages and they are just fine. One of them was an old cage that had been on a bike I bought on CL, and clearly had been on the bike for years. I have taken that bike apart, but put the cage on my new bike. I have at least 4000 miles with that cage without any sign of wear or stress. The other is a piece of plastic I picked up for $5 at Aldi. It's my go to cage on the down tube and I love it because it accepts all kinds of non-standard waterbottles, but it's as good a clip as I've ever had. I've been riding bikes on and off for about 50 years now, I can tell if the cage is going to work. I have never had a problem with a plastic cage, I have had several metal ones get bent out of shape, they're generally very finicky about what they'll accommodate.

My fenders don't have any rivets to detach. There's a bolt in the top of the rear fender that attaches to the frame by a hanger, The plastic on that is tough and there's no way it's going to spontaneousy tear off. The front fender is an SKS, and has no bolts attaching it to the bike whatsoever. $17, and I think it's a great piece of engineering. The plastic is quite tough.

I didn't just fall off the turnip trike, I wouldn't put anything on my bike that had a high chance of failure. I just don't think there's a correlation here between price and reliability.
Then the composite must not be cheap but made for it's intended purpose. As stated.
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Old 07-16-18, 02:37 PM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
Specialized Rib Cages are a good example.
$8, but you can buy the carbon fiber version for $55 to save 13 grams.

I think I could lose 13 grams by spitting.
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Old 07-16-18, 02:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Delmarva View Post
Then the composite must not be cheap but made for it's intended purpose. As stated.

Looks like plastic to me. I have no idea what you're talking about, a composite of what and what?
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Old 07-16-18, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
Looks like plastic to me. I have no idea what you're talking about, a composite of what and what?
"Composite" is often used interchangeably with "plastic", much like "alloy" is often interchanged with "aluminum". While some plastics are composites (reinforced plastic by definition is), and while all aluminum formulations are an alloy of multiple metals, the reverse is not always true. Composites are not always plastic and alloys are not always predominant aluminum.

Many have come to call "carbon" simply "composite" now as well. As in, a "composite fork" or a "composite frame".

The sometimes confusing and often vague bicycle industry terminology game continues!!
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Old 07-17-18, 04:20 AM
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Originally Posted by hokiefyd View Post
"Composite" is often used interchangeably with "plastic", much like "alloy" is often interchanged with "aluminum". While some plastics are composites (reinforced plastic by definition is), and while all aluminum formulations are an alloy of multiple metals, the reverse is not always true. Composites are not always plastic and alloys are not always predominant aluminum.

Many have come to call "carbon" simply "composite" now as well. As in, a "composite fork" or a "composite frame".

The sometimes confusing and often vague bicycle industry terminology game continues!!
To expand on this -

Composite, by definition, is basically any material that consists of several different elements; for example, reinforced concrete is by definition a composite material (concrete+steel), and so is a bicycle tire (rubber+cords). Most plastic actually is not a composite material, as it consists of long strains of the same molecules (polyethylene etc.).

Same goes for alloys - metallic materials that consist of more then one metallic element, e.g. bronze, brass, pewter, also the chrome-molybdenum steel is an alloy.
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Old 07-17-18, 08:14 AM
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Originally Posted by subgrade View Post
Same goes for alloys - metallic materials that consist of more then one metallic element, e.g. bronze, brass, pewter, also the chrome-molybdenum steel is an alloy.
Right. I don't know anyone who could call a chrome-moly steel frame an "alloy frame" (even though it is!), while everyone would consider an aluminum frame to be an "alloy frame", and if you refer to an "alloy frame", nearly everyone will think "aluminum".
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