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Why buy Al when you can afford C ?

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Why buy Al when you can afford C ?

Old 06-06-08, 04:52 PM
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xpenny
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Why buy Al when you can afford C ?

There are full carbon in the range 1.5-2k, overlapping with some high end aluminum bikes. I have a hard time to understand the thinking in the minds who go with Al instead of C in that range. The rationales I can come up with are:

Al is:

stiffer (?), good for crits, harsher (some people might like this one).

But am I missing anything? Isn't C can be made as stiff as Al these days? Good design like CAAD 9 rules over a low end carbon frame? I though the easy shaping of carbon should give more room for advanced structural design.

So, CAADX, Six16, Allez owners (other Al bikes welcomed too) please jump out and shoot me. Convince me that there is a niche for Al at all. Convince me that there is some mechanical property that can't be replicated by carbon with the ever-decreasing carbon manufacturing cost in mind.

jason
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Old 06-06-08, 04:56 PM
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aluminum can be recycled
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Old 06-06-08, 05:04 PM
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Ability to name your bike the Aluminum Falcon.

Oh, and carbon breaks? Easily?
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Old 06-06-08, 05:08 PM
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A high end aluminium frame will generally be lighter than a low end carbon frame.
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Old 06-06-08, 05:11 PM
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There are many things that go into the total cost of a bike. A bike with an Al frame may have better components than a bike with a carbon frame for the same price...
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Old 06-06-08, 05:13 PM
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These days a sub-2k carbon frame can be pretty light as well.


Originally Posted by DanielS View Post
A high end aluminium frame will generally be lighter than a low end carbon frame.
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Old 06-06-08, 05:15 PM
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Component-wise you win. But while components are always upgradable, frames are not. Any intrinsic goodies in Al frames besides for making a valued combo?

Originally Posted by umd View Post
There are many things that go into the total cost of a bike. A bike with an Al frame may have better components than a bike with a carbon frame for the same price...
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Old 06-06-08, 05:15 PM
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Cannondale's CAAD9 and Six13 frames are engineered much better than similarly priced carbon frames. Just because it's carbon doesn't automatically mean that it's better. Frame geometry has more to do with the feel of the bike than the material used.
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Old 06-06-08, 05:16 PM
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Not all carbon is of the same quality. You get what you pay for.
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Old 06-06-08, 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted by ridethecliche View Post
Cannondale's CAAD9 and Six13 frames are engineered much better than similarly priced carbon frames.
Based on what exactly?
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Old 06-06-08, 05:18 PM
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Originally Posted by xpenny View Post
Component-wise you win. But while components are always upgradable, frames are not. Any intrinsic goodies in Al frames besides for making a valued combo?
You can upgrade frames as well.

One of the reasons I bought a CAAD9 was their frame replacement program. I'm a college student and I started racing, I figured that I might buy a frame that I can afford to replace if it dies, and this one fit the bill.
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Old 06-06-08, 05:27 PM
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I prefer metal because you can tell if it's damaged after a crash. Carbon leaves you wondering.

Also, frames can be upgraded. When I was a teen and growing into larger frames, I bought a new frame and carried the components over almost every year.
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Old 06-06-08, 05:28 PM
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The stiffest, harshest riding bike I've ever ridden was made of aluminum (Cannondale from the mid-90s). The most comfortable (and whippy) frame I've ever ridden was made of aluminum (Vitus 979). Aluminum is extremely versatile, just like carbon. People seem to think aluminum = stiff, but this isn't true.

Unfortunately, too many consumers have bought into the idea that carbon is the superior frame material, which isn't necessarily so. Both carbon and aluminum can be used to make excellent top-performing frames.
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Old 06-06-08, 05:39 PM
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Originally Posted by cedricbosch View Post
Based on what exactly?
Cannondale hires magic elves to do their work for them. That's why their frames are magically delicious.
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Old 06-06-08, 05:43 PM
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Frame geometry? Tube shaping? What exactly are the metrics available to benchmark a high end Al frame and a lesser carbon? I am no racer. To me a high end Al frame just ride the same as my low-end 4.5. I am sure it's just me.

Please don't think that I am trying to justify myself (hmm, maybe I am). I thought it's a general question worthwhile to discuss here. More people's experience are needed here.

Originally Posted by cedricbosch View Post
Based on what exactly?

Last edited by xpenny; 06-06-08 at 06:00 PM.
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Old 06-06-08, 05:46 PM
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Originally Posted by ShadowGray View Post
Oh, and carbon breaks? Easily?
Yeah, OK, but please hurry up and tell Boeing, they're making their next mainstream airliner out of the stuff.



Thank God we have the Wisdom of BF to save us from such unimaginable folly.
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Old 06-06-08, 05:48 PM
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Didn't know about that. Great input! You learn something new from the net everyday.

Although that's not exactly what I meant for "upgrade". But I guess my previous definition was just too narrow.


Originally Posted by ridethecliche View Post
You can upgrade frames as well.

One of the reasons I bought a CAAD9 was their frame replacement program. I'm a college student and I started racing, I figured that I might buy a frame that I can afford to replace if it dies, and this one fit the bill.
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Old 06-06-08, 05:53 PM
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I got an AL bike but that because the carbon would have been about 600-800 dollars more (to be fair with a better component group so on so forth). I also like the aluminum because I am going to beat it up. I don't want to have to run to the bike shop if someone knocks it over, my enthusiastic dog takes a crack at is ect. I also do not think I would have gotten 600-800 dollars more enjoyment out of a carbon bike than my current one...
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Old 06-06-08, 05:55 PM
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You've brought up an excellent point especially about six13. While there are nice full carbon frames out there cheaper than the six13, does six13 engineers CHOOSE to use AL because of ANYTHING OTHER THAN COST?

Originally Posted by ridethecliche View Post
Cannondale's CAAD9 and Six13 frames are engineered much better than similarly priced carbon frames. Just because it's carbon doesn't automatically mean that it's better. Frame geometry has more to do with the feel of the bike than the material used.

Last edited by xpenny; 06-06-08 at 06:00 PM.
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Old 06-06-08, 05:57 PM
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well, carbon breaks pretty easily if stess is applied in a manner other than what was intended. just ask American Airlines, whose flight came down over New York due to excessive rudder side loads.

of course, this analogy is invalid. carbon applications in airplanes have nothing to do with how it's used on bikes. and, in my opinion, the bike industry knows a whole lot more about the long-term integrity of carbon than the airline industry. think about *that* the next time you ride on an airbus
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Old 06-06-08, 06:03 PM
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Metrics to measure frame performance? There really aren't many subjective tests. The German magazine Tour actually does some torsion tests on the frames. Other than that, it seems to Bicycling's "laterally stiff, yet vertically compliant" or Marcel Wuest getting excited in a nice way

High end aluminium can also be expensive because it looks amazing. Case in point...

https://www.redroseimports.com/Carrera_PrometeoRC.html

Anyway, plenty of ways to do it. Nicole Cooke is on Aluminium this year too. Good enough for her.
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Old 06-06-08, 06:03 PM
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I chose the Six13 over all the "entry level" CF bikes in that price range because it rode so much better. Before the test ride I thought it was marketing and cost savings and maybe even a gimmick. After the test ride I was a believer. No full CF bike in my price range felt as nice, or as "powerful".

I don't know why it would be that way...I'm not a frame designer or a materials engineer. All I know is I loved it. I went and test rode one more CF frame after the Six13...as I was riding I thought about the Six13 and just started grinning. That's when I knew what my decision was going to be, with no doubts or "buyer's remorse".
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Old 06-06-08, 06:04 PM
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Because I don't want to worry about the integrity of the frame on my nasty commute.
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Old 06-06-08, 06:09 PM
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Why on earth spend more than 1K for a commuter when you don't worry about it?

Again, different people have different solutions for the price v.s. functionality equation. My OK-threshold for a beater commuter is less than 1K (my wife thinks it's even half of that, anyway).

Originally Posted by Scorer75 View Post
Because I don't want to worry about the integrity of the frame on my nasty commute.

Last edited by xpenny; 06-06-08 at 06:14 PM.
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Old 06-06-08, 06:12 PM
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Because while it sells for $1150, I only paid $850 for it.

Besides, I wanted a decent bike to commute on, that's not a crime.
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