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STEEL or CARBON: Double Century Ride - Seattle to Portland

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

STEEL or CARBON: Double Century Ride - Seattle to Portland

Old 05-21-08, 01:01 AM
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Boneprone
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STEEL or CARBON: Double Century Ride - Seattle to Portland

Hey riders.

Im going to be doing my 10th, yes my 10th year of the Seattle To Portland Bicycle Classic in July. Its a 200 mile ride done in two days. (100 miles per day) Great ride.

This year I am planning to celebrate my 10th by doing the whole 200 in one day.
Ive never done a double century in one day before.
I can only imagine it will be a great expierence.

I ride on a Steel Alloy Jamis Road bike with carbon fork. I love this bike. Ive never owned a carbon or Titanuim bike. Ive never owned nice components either. I have Sora on this Jamis. It was a $399.99 clearance bike 6 years ago. Ive always had a desire to treat myself to a nicer bike.

Id like to try something new.

Id like to try Carbon or Titanium with all the latest bells and whistles like Ultegra or Dura Ace.


Ive never been much of a poser, just a rider.. But Id like to try something nicer. I think I deserve it. To celebrate my 10th year.

Do you guys advise a quality carbon or Titanuim bike for a double century? Or should I just cowboy up and continue on my classic battleship style bike for yet another year?

I was looking at the Kestrel RT700
http://www.bicycling.com/article/1,6...6192-1,00.html
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Old 05-21-08, 01:04 AM
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I hear terms like "stiffness" and "responsive" when it comes to Carbon bikes. They use it as if its a good thing.

Being a one bike man who has been married to Steel Alloy my whole life, I dont know what being with another woman feels like you could say.

Am I going to blow my socks of with a younger hotter looking bike with more features? Or am I going to be missing my old lady on my 200 mile ride wondering why I ever left her?
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Old 05-21-08, 01:09 AM
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Price is no issue. Ive just never really had the need to leave this old bike. Or I should say, never really knew what to get.
Im a long distance rider. Not a racer.. I need something that is good for long rides.

Id really like to try something new.. Soething that will give me an edge. Something that I will enjoy and is fun. Maybe not as a replacement to my steel baby, but as an alternative.
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Old 05-21-08, 01:12 AM
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I did upgrade my bike two years ago and got some new wheels for it. Some Mavic Ultegras.. They are really nice.
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Old 05-21-08, 01:13 AM
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So the basic question is, will carbon or titanuim be a good choice for an all morning, all day, and all evening 200 mile ride?
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Old 05-21-08, 02:06 AM
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"Carbon fiber frames tend to have a much smoother ride as compared to metal frames. In fact, as Rick Denney of Triathlete magazine has found, "it turns out that the ring of metal frames is in roughly the same frequency as the texture of the road, and metal frames ring more than we realize when we ride them". Titanium appears to be the quietest of the metals here, while aluminum may be the worst culprit of all: "aluminum in a fat-tubed bike may actually transmit more road buzz than other designs... which may explain some of the perceived harshness of aluminum". (3)
If you can minimize the vibration transmitted to your hands, arms, shoulders, knees, and butt, your muscles are not going to fatigue as quickly. There will be less of a need for your muscles to be reacting constantly to "road buzz". The longer we are on the road, the more crucial this factor becomes. All else being equal, carbon fiber frames provide a distinct advantage here, because of their ability to absorb and eliminate much more road vibration. "
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Old 05-21-08, 02:18 AM
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Well, I guess I bypassed all the "working my way up to a double" mentallity. In my first year of riding, I worked up and did the double my first time.

Oh, and I did it on my spiffy new Carbon bike with Campy Record, and a set of Rolf Elans.

Now that was a nice ride.

I think most carbon bikes are engineered to be pretty smooth, and absorb alot of vibration from the road, which helps on really long rides. I know mine is my smoothest ride out of all of my bikes.

My Titanium bike is stiffer, and is very smooth, but it doesn't eliminate the vibration as much. It definitely gives me more of a feel of the road. It's also a bit heavier. I love it though. It offers a differant perspective when riding.

Best thing, would be to go to your LBS, and try a couple Ti's, and a couple good Carbon bikes to see for yourself.
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Old 05-21-08, 02:55 AM
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Maybe you can take the steel bike out for it's final really-long-ride and then get carbon frame next year. I have no experience of carbon or titanium, but I've read tons about it and seems to be carbon is the one that's most comfortable. But whichever one you choose in the end, ensure it's a good quality frame. If it were me however, I would go for C.
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Old 05-21-08, 04:38 AM
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double century + comfortable = steel
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Old 05-21-08, 04:41 AM
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Just test riding some bikes will give you more and better info than asking bozos on the internet.
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Old 05-21-08, 04:52 AM
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I think it all depends upon the frame design. I just went back to a steel frame, albeit custom, with a CF fork after riding an all CF bike for a year and I must say that, for me anyway, the steel bike is more comfortable. I just finished an MS150 ride this past weekend and was comfy both days. YMMV. If you're looking for something new try a custom steel bike from a local builder.
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Old 05-21-08, 05:34 AM
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IMHO,

I dont think the frame is a critical as the compenents and wheels/tires.

I would look into a nice wide seat. I like my Selle San Marco "Rolls". I have read that is is the seat of choice for pros in training. I have no way of verifying this.

I would look for high thread count tires and use a larger size, like 25mm, and run them at a slightly lower pressure.

I would not use the off brand component stuff like Dura Ace etc.

I would use a Campagnolo Record or maybe Centaur gruppo to assure flawless function and amazing good looks.

Wheels? Campagnolo of course....Zonda or Khamsin

Last edited by RichinPeoria; 05-21-08 at 07:20 AM.
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Old 05-21-08, 06:08 AM
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I've done a few doubles on a carbon frame (and wheels) and I think it's just fine.

Don't listen to the campag weenies. They just have a bad case of Europhoria.
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Old 05-21-08, 07:13 AM
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Are you going to be doing any 100milers prior to this or anything? I can't see riding a steel frame for 10 years and then all of a sudden doing 200 miles on a carbon frame. By the end you may wish you had brought the steel bike, just for the familiarity with it on longer rides. You should totally get a carbon, i'm just saying tossing it at your longest ride ever right away may bite you in the butt.
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Old 05-21-08, 07:20 AM
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If price is no issue go custom steel. The Seattle area has lots of great builders who can build you the bike of your dreams.

BTW, a lot of builders can build you a steel frame that rivals ANY carbon frame in terms of performance.
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Old 05-21-08, 07:29 AM
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Originally Posted by sfcrossrider View Post
If price is no issue go custom steel. The Seattle area has lots of great builders who can build you the bike of your dreams.

BTW, a lot of builders can build you a steel frame that rivals ANY carbon frame in terms of performance.
While this is true, its highly unlikely you'll have time to order, get it built and spend any quality time on it prior to this years STP in mid July.

I've done 3 STP's in one day on Carbon. This year, if I can make it, I'm thinking steel. No other reason than I'd like to try it.
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Old 05-21-08, 07:31 AM
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you sound like a man that could use a nice Ti bike.

Seriously the frame does make a huge difference no matter what anybody else says. It isn't all the material, but how the frame is constructed. I've been riding Ti for years now and have had the great fortune to ride several different frames that were built for different purposes and i have to say that they all ride different even with the same component group/wheels/tires.

Since it sounds like you hold on to your bikes for years Ti is perfect for you. No matter how long you keep it, it will always look shiny and new (just make sure to get the bare metal and not paint it). Lots of guys I know around here are riding Ti bikes that are from the late 80's and they all look like they picked them up new the day before.

The other big plus of Ti is that you have over 100 builders to choose from that will all custom fit you for what you need (you said price was no object but you'll find that costs are competetive with a nice carbon). You can even get couplers for travel.

Check out this beauty - you'll never get one of these in carbon

http://www.cyclingnews.com/road/2008...hampsten_may08
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Old 05-21-08, 07:35 AM
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Boneprone,

I have ridden an 02 Lemond Zurich for the last 5 years and I built up a Kestrel RT700 this winter. While they are both comfortable bikes in their own right, they do have appreciable differences.

The Lemond is a lot smoother because of the flex inherent in the steel frame, and while not a "touring" bike, its geometry is a tad towards that end of the spectrum, and the fork has a bit of rake, resulting in a comfy ride.

The RT has a tighter geometry, a straight fork, and is ultra-responsive. It corners on a dime, and is noticeably faster to accelerate. But because the geometry is tighter, it's not as smooth as the Lemond.

Having said that, I just completed a century on the RT last Sunday and found it to be very comfy. I'm 5' 10" and 160 lbs.

If I were contemplating a double century, I would consider riding my Lemond because of its road-smoothing nature. But I still love my RT, and ride it all the time now.
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Old 05-21-08, 07:48 AM
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Originally Posted by 55/Rad View Post
While this is true, its highly unlikely you'll have time to order, get it built and spend any quality time on it prior to this years STP in mid July.

I've done 3 STP's in one day on Carbon. This year, if I can make it, I'm thinking steel. No other reason than I'd like to try it.
That's, what, 600 miles in a day?

It was definitely worth my while when I got my Madone 5.2 after riding a steel entry level bike for 8 years. I'd do a double century on it in a heartbeat. Material has more to do with weight than with ride quality. My plushest bike by far is steel, but it weighs 25lbs (with a rack). My second more comfortable bike is the Madone, and it weighs 18lbs. The weight will wear on you after 200 miles with climbing.

But whatever you do, you should do it pretty soon, as in the next week or so, so you can get miles on the bike and have it all adjusted properly before you take it out for a double century.
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Old 05-21-08, 08:05 AM
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You indicate that price is no issue. If this means you're willing to spend $3500 plus, you will notice a tremendous improvement over your Jamis, whether you go high end steel, Ti or CF.

Sounds like you like to do long rides, and don't race.

Either a nice Ti, or a high end steel bike ( Reynolds 953 would be really nice) would suit that bill well.

If you want to go CF, there are a number of Cf bikes now with a little bit more upright geometry, and tuned for ride comfort, from Canondale, Cervelo, Specialized, Trek, and others.
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Old 05-21-08, 08:11 AM
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The weight difference between steel and carbon frames is a couple of pounds. But carbon bikes are generally equipped with lightweight everything. People who choose steel frames often are more likely to want bigger tires, racks, bags, lights etc that all add up to a several pound heavier system. It's two different approaches to cycling. Going to carbon fiber will feel great with all of its lightness and cogs and brifter shifting. But if you are used to 28mm tires and having a bag and rack for long distance cycling, and many long distance riders value that sort of thing, then you will have to look carefully for a carbon bike that has dropout eyelets and room for moderate size tires and good luck ever trying to fit fenders on one.
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Old 05-21-08, 08:19 AM
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Originally Posted by MKahrl View Post
The weight difference between steel and carbon frames is a couple of pounds. .
Not necessarily even that much. High end modern steel frame can be under 3lbs. Very few CF frames break the 2lb barrior, so in most cases, comparing comparable bikes, the steel frame is going to be less than a pound heavier.
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Old 05-21-08, 11:34 AM
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Comfort on a CF bike can vary quite a bit. (Ok any material can vary depending on the design/build). Ride back-to-back Specialized Tarmac and Roubaix (I test rode 2007 models ultegra/DA level models) and you will notice a difference. I think the RT700 (which I have) is in between but closer to the stiffer, quicker handling Tarmac ride. The ride can be softened a bit with wider tires and the RT700 Aero seatpost. IMO you would need to build up a bit with the RT to get to 200 miles and be comfortable. In other words, do not buy it on Thursday and ride 200 miles on Saturday.

Give yourself time to adjust. Whatever bike you decide to get.
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Old 05-21-08, 11:44 AM
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Go ride some carbon bikes and decide for yourself. Carbon frame shapes and layup vary wildly between frames, resulting in rides anywhere from pretty stiff to very comfortable. Carbon frame ride is more variable than steel.

I've had steel, aluminum, Ti and carbon frames. I wouldn't get anything but another carbon frame myself. But I could do a 200 mile ride on any of them.

I would not use a bike that I hadn't been riding for at least a month, preferably more, for an important ride. Especially an important LONG ride.
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Old 05-21-08, 11:48 AM
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If you can get it built and delivered to you with a month to train on (provided that you've already started your training), that'd be a nice treat to celebrate your 10th STP. I've ridden the 2-day and 1-day the past couple of years on my steel Lemond with carbon bits (fork/seatpost), but have wondered how a full carbon ride would do. Maybe when I do my 10-year.
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