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What does an expensive frame get you?

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What does an expensive frame get you?

Old 09-14-20, 11:00 AM
  #51  
Zaskar
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Originally Posted by swifty View Post
Sure, but I don't think this thread is about comparing fakes to original frames.
it is when people refer to “brands” and “marketing” as being expensive... and that generics get you the same for less.
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Old 09-14-20, 11:09 AM
  #52  
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My experience. I upgraded my 2006 Gerolsteiner S Works Tarmac last year to the lastest DA DI2, new Boyd 60's etc.
Very nice bike. After a few months I found a 19' rim brake SW Tarmac frameset I could live with. This was a weight
weenie build and slammed. The first thing I noticed was how comfortable the ride was (140lbs 25's 55lbs). Then
how responsive to pedal input. Want to go faster just grab another gear and it goes. Very dramatic difference. I ended
up with a 10kbuk bike for about 7k with all the components I wanted bars, stem, saddle, wheels and brakes.
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Old 09-14-20, 11:13 AM
  #53  
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe View Post
Yep, this is just another thread where an OP really just wants to let everyone know that they have precisely determined the location of the point of diminishing returns.
Actually he's asking if there is a noticeable difference between his Ally CAAD12 and a high end carbon frame.

So my comparison between a Emonda SL and SLR frame didn't answer his question.
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Old 09-14-20, 12:16 PM
  #54  
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Originally Posted by GlennR View Post
Actually he's asking if there is a noticeable difference between his Ally CAAD12 and a high end carbon frame.

So my comparison between a Emonda SL and SLR frame didn't answer his question.
Actually, you did help answer the question, and thank you.
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Old 09-14-20, 12:26 PM
  #55  
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Robert A "Actually, you did help answer the question, and thank you."
Gotta be a first time a post actually helped
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Old 09-14-20, 12:38 PM
  #56  
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If you're comparing low end to high end in the same brand and product family, you'll generally get lighter weight and more aero as you go up the scale. Different carbon fiber can help with that (ie, aero tends to be heavier, but use a better CF and you can make the same shape lighter).

Higher end frames may get different ride tuning for more "comfort" - ie, I believe a midrange 2018 Bianchi Intenso is the same bike as the older Bianchi Infinito before Bianchi started making the Infinito CV with ride dampening characteristics. At least, the marketing says it rides smoother, I don't know.

You may also get different cosmetics, ie internal cable routing.

But really, if you're starting at a $2k bike and going into a $10k bike, you're already deep into diminishing returns territory. Going from $1000 to $2000 on a frame could save you 500 grams or more; going from $2000 to $4000 might save you 200 grams or less. Same can be said with many pieces of hobby equipment - you can buy a working 60" LCD for $500, but an LG OLED will run you $3k (or $10k). Some of us will appreciate the difference, others won't. A $500 sound system sounds great to some people, others aren't happy until they get B&Ws hooked up to McIntosh.
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Old 09-14-20, 12:43 PM
  #57  
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Originally Posted by aliasfox View Post
If you're comparing low end to high end in the same brand and product family, you'll generally get lighter weight and more aero as you go up the scale. Different carbon fiber can help with that (ie, aero tends to be heavier, but use a better CF and you can make the same shape lighter).

Higher end frames may get different ride tuning for more "comfort" - ie, I believe a midrange 2018 Bianchi Intenso is the same bike as the older Bianchi Infinito before Bianchi started making the Infinito CV with ride dampening characteristics. At least, the marketing says it rides smoother, I don't know.

You may also get different cosmetics, ie internal cable routing.

But really, if you're starting at a $2k bike and going into a $10k bike, you're already deep into diminishing returns territory. Going from $1000 to $2000 on a frame could save you 500 grams or more; going from $2000 to $4000 might save you 200 grams or less. Same can be said with many pieces of hobby equipment - you can buy a working 60" LCD for $500, but an LG OLED will run you $3k (or $10k). Some of us will appreciate the difference, others won't. A $500 sound system sounds great to some people, others aren't happy until they get B&Ws hooked up to McIntosh.
Very helpful answer -- thank you.

Do you think aero really matters on a bike frame at speeds around 20-25 mph? It always seemed to me that airflow around our bodies and our positions on the handbars far outweighted the impact of frames.
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Old 09-14-20, 12:50 PM
  #58  
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Originally Posted by Robert A View Post
Do you think aero really matters on a bike frame at speeds around 20-25 mph? It always seemed to me that airflow around our bodies and our positions on the handbars far outweighted the impact of frames.
It does and if you average 20-25mpg you're doing something right.
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Old 09-14-20, 01:19 PM
  #59  
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I used to scoff at aero things too, then I realized that it's a accumulative savings. Might not be much for any one instant, but over the course of a four or more hour ride, it can be significant savings of energy to allow one to go further or faster at the end with the energy they saved.

And that applies to those that only do 16 mph and even slower speeds too.

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Old 09-14-20, 01:30 PM
  #60  
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Originally Posted by GlennR View Post
Not really true.

They use different carbon fiber, a different layup and different curing. So while the geometry is the same the frames are very different.

Most of the weight savings is that higher cost frames use a aerospace carbon fiber that's stronger so you can use less of it.There are places my bike that if you press your thumb it can see it flex. On the lower lever it's hard like a rock. If you tap on the frames the higher sound thinner.
Frames that use higher modulus CF have it strategically in places to maximize stiffness while minimizing weight. All frames using high modulus CF also use a mix of lower modulus CF, otherwise the frame would crack immediately on the first bump encountered. When Specialized says their S-Works frame uses FACT 12r, they're just saying some of the frame contains that material. They don't reveal the mix of CF they use, which is why there is no definitive proof that the lower-priced 10r-advertised frames aren't using the same layup and just end up heavier after the curing process. When people have been weighing their Tarmac SL7 frames and noticing that the non-S-Works are within striking distance or sometimes even lighter with a lighter paint job, the difference has naturally been questioned. Both S-Works and second-tier frames contain FACT 10r, after all.

In any case, if a more expensive and lighter frame indeed contains more higher modulus CF, it's likely to be stiffer but less compliant than it's lower-tier equivalent given that there's less material used to absorb road vibration. Whether that trade-off is meaningful depends on the rider, just like whether the 10s or 100ish grams difference and added stiffness are.
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Old 09-14-20, 01:30 PM
  #61  
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Another issue that may have more to do with sensible engineering than cost is cable routing.

When a friend gave me that Diamondback Podium frame I noticed it had internal cable routing. And the old cables had already been stripped. I'd heard horror stories about installing cables from scratch and didn't feel like tackling it. So the bike sat in a closet for almost a year.

With the pandemic slowdown and a soggy August, I had more time to do a little research and discovered Diamondback put a lot of thought into their internal cable routing and made it as painless as possible. Turned out to be remarkably easy to install new cables. So I threw the bike together last week using bits and pieces I had handy, including a used cable/housing set taken off my Trek 5900. Just a trial run, figured it wouldn't work, so I didn't want to waste new cables/housings. But it was a snap.

I watched a bunch of promo videos by Diamondback from nearly 10 years ago and was impressed. They were making a sincere effort to innovate at a price point to be appealing to startup teams (Phil Gaimon's former team road the Diamondback Podium 7 for awhile). And the owners and engineers at Diamondback put a human face on their product. It wasn't just another generic anonymous company that was basically ripping off other people's designs and undercutting the price by cutting corners on build quality.

As another poster mentioned, R&D is expensive. And this is a very niche market, especially at the top tier of bike frames. There's no way to make relatively minor improvements cost effective, especially in a market with so many anonymous makers given pretty much free rein to rip off other people's intellectual property.

So the main difference in an expensive frame may be imperceptible to the end users -- the cyclists.

BTW, to get a peek at the insides of carbon fiber frames and forks to see where and how corners are cut to reduce costs, check out videos by Luescher Teknik (long, unedited, a bit dry but with a low key professional tone and credibility) and Hambini (long, unedited, profane, loud, often hilariously inappropriate but also informative).

Raoul Luescher's videos of flawed frames and forks scared the hell out of me. So another reason I delayed on the Diamondback frame project was to take my time inspecting everything as best I could. I'd never handled a near-state-of-the-art carbon fiber frame before and, frankly, it felt like a flimsy piece of plastic. I'm coming from old school steel, so it took awhile to gain some confidence in carbon fiber. I got out the magnifying glass, flashlight, and scrutinized every bit of the frame and fork that I could reach. And I was tempted to buy a fiber optic inspection camera to check inside the frame. The headset seemed fine but I wanted to examine everything so I disassembled it.

So far, so good. Mostly it's been a useful experience in realizing consumer price doesn't have as much to do with quality or innovation as I'd expected.
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Old 09-14-20, 01:58 PM
  #62  
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Originally Posted by Robert A View Post
Very helpful answer -- thank you.

Do you think aero really matters on a bike frame at speeds around 20-25 mph? It always seemed to me that airflow around our bodies and our positions on the handbars far outweighted the impact of frames.
Yes, aero (overall) matters. I personally don't take frame aero into consideration, but if you're holding 20+mph and you're already in snug cycling clothing and have good form, wheel and frame aero is definitely worth considering. That said, I would never let "poor aero" talk me out of a frame I otherwise love, or "great aero" talk me into a frame I otherwise hate. My Lynskey, with it's giant downtube and cable stops that stick out like ears, is probably among the least aero road bikes for sale. But I like how she rides, and that's what matters.
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Old 09-14-20, 03:16 PM
  #63  
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It seems the overall takeaway from all this is that carbon bikes, when designed for performance and stiffness, ride no differently than performance aluminum frames, such as an Allez Sprint. In comparing an Sworks vs Allez Sprint, you are mostly gaining weight savings and marginal stiffness (geometry aside). If this is the case, I, personally, don't see the value in spending the differential.
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Old 09-14-20, 04:30 PM
  #64  
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Originally Posted by Princess_Allez View Post
It seems the overall takeaway from all this is that carbon bikes, when designed for performance and stiffness, ride no differently than performance aluminum frames, such as an Allez Sprint. In comparing an Sworks vs Allez Sprint, you are mostly gaining weight savings and marginal stiffness (geometry aside). If this is the case, I, personally, don't see the value in spending the differential.
The welds on the Allez Sprint are absolutely hideous.

It's the singular reason why I decided not to get one.

So there's value in no fugliness!
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Old 09-14-20, 05:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Princess_Allez View Post
It seems the overall takeaway from all this is that carbon bikes, when designed for performance and stiffness, ride no differently than performance aluminum frames, such as an Allez Sprint. In comparing an Sworks vs Allez Sprint, you are mostly gaining weight savings and marginal stiffness (geometry aside). If this is the case, I, personally, don't see the value in spending the differential.
You are delusional. CF envy rears its ugly head again.
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Old 09-14-20, 05:52 PM
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To fully answer this question one must be able to answer the question of: what does one not get with a cheap frame?

Originally Posted by Robert A View Post
So I'm curious what higher-end frames offer the cyclist. I have a CAAD12 and love the bike. It weights 17.5 pounds without pedals and with stock wheels (which I changed).

Higher end frames from manufacturers such as Cervello and Specialized cost $4k and up. Controlling for the fact that those frames are carbon and mine is aluminum, what benefits do you achieve by stepping up to more expensive frames? Is it only weight savings, or do you get other improvements, such as better handling and increased stiffness? Are those characteristics noticeable enough to the experienced road cyclist?
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Old 09-14-20, 07:51 PM
  #67  
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Originally Posted by Princess_Allez View Post
It seems the overall takeaway from all this is that carbon bikes, when designed for performance and stiffness, ride no differently than performance aluminum frames, such as an Allez Sprint. In comparing an Sworks vs Allez Sprint, you are mostly gaining weight savings and marginal stiffness (geometry aside). If this is the case, I, personally, don't see the value in spending the differential.
You may not see the value in it which is fine.
Some people do which is also ok.
By far most people in the world would say that spending over $500 on a bike is outrageous and there is no value in spending the money required for an Allez Sprint.
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Old 09-15-20, 01:38 AM
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Originally Posted by popeye View Post
You are delusional. CF envy rears its ugly head again.
No need to hate. I'm talking about from a pure performance standpoint. If a carbon bike has some other merit than weighing less, I'm all for it. I actually don't envy carbon bikes at all. I can afford to have one, but will likely go titanium instead. Metal bikes crash better and chain drops won't total the frame out.
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Old 09-15-20, 01:41 AM
  #69  
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
The welds on the Allez Sprint are absolutely hideous.

It's the singular reason why I decided not to get one.

So there's value in no fugliness!
Fugly is not a performance metric.
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Old 09-15-20, 04:26 AM
  #70  
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Originally Posted by Zaskar View Post
it is when people refer to “brands” and “marketing” as being expensive... and that generics get you the same for less.
I think you are confusing generic (e.g. hongfu / dengfu, Workswell, etc) with counterfeit. There's nothing wrong with Chinese manufacturers producing frames of their own that follow current design trends. And what you get is a tradeoff, as usual: I purchased a WCB-R-268 frameset from Workswell. What do I get for that? An original frame in my own paint scheme that bears resemblance to all current aero-infused framesets like the Venge, SL7, Reacto, Ostro, etc. The frame rides very well indeed. Bike weight is 7,75kg with Ultegra DI2 and 1580 gram wheels, including pedals and bottle cages. Similar to the models I mentioned, give or take 200 grams with a similar spec. So to me, I get exactly what I am looking for in a bike for a monetary outlay that is about 40-50% lower than if I would buy a "big brand" (these savings include lacing up my own wheels with Chinese carbon rims).

I do realize that warranty issues might be a lot more hassle to deal with, and that there is a higher risk of being left out to dry when push comes to shove. Also, I do not get the instant recognition of riding a Bianchi, Specialized, Trek, or a similar bike with broad brand recognition and sense of "heritage". But the first is a calculated risk, and the second means nothing to me. On the contrary. I love the fact that I have a unique bike. My brother on the other hand purchased a Bianchi Oltre XR3, and loves the fact that people honk and give a thumbs up when they pass by, appreciating the instantly recognizable Bianchi colors. He spent roughly the same amount that I did after getting a great deal, but his bike comes with mechanical Ultegra and fulcrum 7 wheels, and weighs north of 8 kgs. He'd never trade bikes with me, and I'd never trade bikes with him :-)

To each their own, everybody attaches different values to different aspects of a bike and the purchase / owning experience of said bike.

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Old 09-15-20, 05:35 AM
  #71  
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
As another poster mentioned, R&D is expensive. And this is a very niche market, especially at the top tier of bike frames. There's no way to make relatively minor improvements cost effective, especially in a market with so many anonymous makers given pretty much free rein to rip off other people's intellectual property.
I think this is probably ignored too much.

I recently met with a machine shop to have them build me a custom part. After discussing what I needed, we started talking pricing. It was going to cost A LOT more than I wanted to pay. Their response essentially was: Yeah, it doesn't cost a lot make this, but the design and set up is expensive. Once we make one, we can make hundreds, no problem, but the first one is the expensive one.

If there were a large enough market for the part I want, I could have had them make a bunch, then sold them to off set my initial set up cost, but there isn't.
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Old 09-15-20, 05:37 AM
  #72  
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Originally Posted by Princess_Allez View Post
Fugly is not a performance metric.
True, but it can certainly impact motivation to perform!
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Old 09-15-20, 06:24 AM
  #73  
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Originally Posted by swifty View Post
I think you are confusing generic (e.g. hongfu / dengfu, Workswell, etc) with counterfeit. There's nothing wrong with Chinese manufacturers producing frames of their own that follow current design trends...
IF they're producing their own designs.
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Old 09-15-20, 06:36 AM
  #74  
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I also have a CAAD 12 that weighs 17.5 lbs w/ Speedplay Zeros and Mavic USTs. I'm a recreational rider so a CF frame doesn't really interest me. Just not worth the money it would take to be "better" than my CAAD 12 or my Guru Sidero, actually. If I was choosing between spending a bunch of money for a CF frame or spending that money for a high end gruppo....well, the answer is easy for me.
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Old 09-15-20, 06:36 AM
  #75  
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Originally Posted by Zaskar View Post
IF they're producing their own designs.
They are. It's quite obvious if you care to look them up. This here is the WCB-R-268 from Workswell. It clearly is an original design, granted, very similar to the current crop of frames I mentioned earlier, but no more than these frames resemble each other:

Originally Posted by swifty View Post
Look, I do get your reservations because the infamous "Chinarello" examples, but there is a clear distinction between these and Chinese brands that have started selling to consumers direct in addition to selling to OEMs, with their name attached to it. These companies know how to build a frame, and have been working with carbon for decades in most cases.

Last edited by swifty; 09-15-20 at 06:40 AM.
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