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Are aluminum frames dead (or dying) in terms of their market position?

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Are aluminum frames dead (or dying) in terms of their market position?

Old 11-04-10, 03:43 PM
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pstock
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Are aluminum frames dead (or dying) in terms of their market position?

Frame material questions have been hashed out almost to death here. So if someone can steer me to an exisiting thread on this question, I would be grateful.

On the return from a trip this past Spring to France, I packed up and brought back with me a couple of what I thought were rather nice and marketable aluminum framed bikes - Colnago, Fondriest, Pinarello - some all aluminum, some with carbon forks. I kept one, my brother took one and I figured I could sell the rest to someone just getting into road cycling, wanting a good setup for less than Carbon.
How naive of me. (but then I only ride old steel...)
The market here in Toronto at least seems to have simply moved on from aluminum.

I have had some interest in vintage steel but I can't get anyone to even consider well-equipped, excellent condition aluminum. It seems to be carbon-carbon-carbon even for beginners. (though admittedly it might be a pricing issue and I will see if that resistance fades next spring with some healthy price cuts.)

An LBS I stopped in the other day explained to me that their range of aluminum is from about $1000 -$2000 and their carbon starts at $2500.
Carbon it seems is getting so common and cheap that it makes me wonder why anyone would every consider an aluminum frame - either new or used?

is aluminum going the way of the dodo? Now that its function as an intermediate step to get a lighter-than-steel frame is being usurped by carbon, does aluminum have any future at all?

and with that question, I am off to ebay to check the Completed Sale prices of aluminum frames!

Peter
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Old 11-04-10, 03:57 PM
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There's a lot of bikes being sold under $2500...

???
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Old 11-04-10, 03:57 PM
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Interesting question. I've actually been wondering if aluminum won't make a comeback.

I just built up an aluminum 2011 Allez -- same geometry as a carbon 2011 Tarmac (and same stiffness as the 2011 S-Works Tarmac) -- about the same weight as the claimed weight of a carbon Cervelo S2 -- and TONS less expensive than either bike. And, as far as aesthetics, with hydroformng, Aluminum shapes are just as interesting as carbon shapes now.

For smart buyers, modern aluminum frames make huge sense. If you take out the bling/prestige factor, buying carbon begins to look like a bad use of cash. (And I'm not a carbon hater. This Allez is my first aluminum non-single speed in many years. My main bike is still a carbon S-Works Roubaix.)
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Old 11-04-10, 04:11 PM
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those prices were for the end of season sales but up here in Canada, where everything is more expensive than in the US.
and they would be 105 equipped.

I'd be interested to know what kind of price ranges US bikes shops have for aluminum and their starting points for carbon with say 105.

But I expect you could knock at least 25% off those retail prices for US outlets.
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Old 11-04-10, 04:14 PM
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Originally Posted by FlashBazbo View Post
Interesting question. I've actually been wondering if aluminum won't make a comeback.

And, as far as aesthetics, with hydroformng, Aluminum shapes are just as interesting as carbon shapes now.
quality / comfort of ride? alu versus carbon (oh my goodness not THAT "which material" can of worms again.)
but I am just thinking, if aluminum rides as boneshakingly as I hear (I've never spent any real time on aluminum), who wouldn't make the $500-1000 leap for greater comfort less or same weight?
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Old 11-04-10, 04:28 PM
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I don't remember any real harshness on aluminum frames -- but I could be wrong. I remember it as a better road feel -- feeling more connected to the road (but that was a long time ago). I will take my first ride on my new aluminum frame this Saturday. Then I can say more. With cyclists, with equipment, overstatement is the norm. I suspect there is some of that at play when people compare carbon vs. aluminum. We will see.

I will be shocked if the difference between a carbon Roubaix and an aluminum Allez is greater than the comfort difference between 25c tires and 23c. But again, we'll see.
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Old 11-04-10, 04:30 PM
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depends - I know lots of racers who buy alum because it is cheaper and works just about as well.
I'm on a high-zoot carbon race bike, own a very nice alum road bike & TT bike that I also race, and my next bike will certainly not be carbon.
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Old 11-04-10, 04:33 PM
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Originally Posted by pstock View Post
Frame material questions have been hashed out almost to death here. So if someone can steer me to an exisiting thread on this question, I would be grateful.

On the return from a trip this past Spring to France, I packed up and brought back with me a couple of what I thought were rather nice and marketable aluminum framed bikes - Colnago, Fondriest, Pinarello - some all aluminum, some with carbon forks. I kept one, my brother took one and I figured I could sell the rest to someone just getting into road cycling, wanting a good setup for less than Carbon.
How naive of me. (but then I only ride old steel...)
The market here in Toronto at least seems to have simply moved on from aluminum.

I have had some interest in vintage steel but I can't get anyone to even consider well-equipped, excellent condition aluminum. It seems to be carbon-carbon-carbon even for beginners. (though admittedly it might be a pricing issue and I will see if that resistance fades next spring with some healthy price cuts.)

An LBS I stopped in the other day explained to me that their range of aluminum is from about $1000 -$2000 and their carbon starts at $2500.
Carbon it seems is getting so common and cheap that it makes me wonder why anyone would every consider an aluminum frame - either new or used?

is aluminum going the way of the dodo? Now that its function as an intermediate step to get a lighter-than-steel frame is being usurped by carbon, does aluminum have any future at all?

and with that question, I am off to ebay to check the Completed Sale prices of aluminum frames!

Peter
On one hand aluminum frames are dead with carbon frames coming down in price to under $2,000. On the other hand look at the CAAD 9 and CAAD 10 - they fly off the showroom floor.
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Old 11-04-10, 04:52 PM
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I just bought a 2011 Trek Lexa SLX with 105. $1149. That is fairly cheap as far as non-entry level aluminum bikes go (at least in my experience). I was going to buy a CAAD 10 but it wouldn't ship until at least the end of December. I was offered a carbon 2011 Giant Avail something or other with Tiagra components for $1500.
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Old 11-04-10, 04:55 PM
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I don't think aluminum frames are going to phase out anytime soon. You can still have quality aluminum frames that are cheap. For example, the CAAD 10, which is an aluminum frame weighing 1150g. It also comes with a BB30.

Also, if someone is trying to buy a bike under $1250, they wouldn't be able to find a carbon bike new.

Aluminum bike technology is getting better. Exotic, aero shapes can be created using hydroforming. It also lightens up the frame a bit.
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Old 11-04-10, 05:07 PM
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aluminum = low end
carbon = high end

so, your point is what, exactly?
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Old 11-04-10, 05:14 PM
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Aluminum frames rule for cat racing.
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Old 11-04-10, 05:17 PM
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Unfortunately Alum is probably going out. I bet it is cheeper to build a CF bike using a mold and lesser grade CF. I am fairly light and kept my old Klein alum frame which I have decided to rebuild as a spare. My 12 year old is wanting a "pro" style road bike, and I would rather buy him a alum instead of CF even if they were the same price!
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Old 11-04-10, 05:19 PM
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This is my first post on the Forum. I'm getting back into riding after a 15 year layoff. I first bought a 90's Mondonico Columbus SLX bike to see if the interest was still there. After confirming it was I started looking at modern bikes. In the 90's I rode a Klein Qunatum Pro and remember the harsher ride of Aluminum. Of course, back then there were no carbon forks or other carbon parts that I remember. As I read the Forums and went to the bike shops everythng was Carbon, Carbon, Carbon........so that's where I focused. I soon became somewhat discouraged at the amount of money I would need to spend to get an "entry level" Carbon frame with a decent group. Well, I decided to check out the modern Aluminum frames, and decided I would rather have a "'state of the art" Aluminum frame with a nice road group. Of course my first look was at the CAAD 9 or CAAD 10. Turns out I could buy a CAAD 10 with Sram Rival for $1700. That was my plan until I wandered into a shop that was selling the GTR Series One bikes with Hydroformed Aluminum frames and the Rival Group for $1,200 on a year-end closeout deal. I snapped it up, upgraded the wheels and with the Carbon fork and other Carbon parts I don't find the bike harsh at all. Bike weight is 18.36 LBS with pedals, cages and computer. I think it's a great bike and I'm very pleased.
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Old 11-04-10, 05:21 PM
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One word: FASHION. Older aluminum bike are not as desirable as vintage steel or carbon. That said, your bikes are pretty, drop your price and they will sell.
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Old 11-04-10, 05:27 PM
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pstock, CF is the darling material for frames at the moment and I doubt the lower end carbon frames are made of the same cloth as the higher end CF bikes. Aluminum isn't going to go away, just as steel hasn't with premium frames available in either.

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Old 11-04-10, 05:32 PM
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Originally Posted by bradtx View Post
pstock, CF is the darling material for frames at the moment and I doubt the lower end carbon frames are made of the same cloth as the higher end CF bikes. Aluminum isn't going to go away, just as steel hasn't with premium frames available in either.

Brad
Question is if CF becomes the low cost standard as well, and it will, is there a market segment for premium aluminum, as there is for steel which is why quality steel and beautiful lug-work are still sought after.
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Old 11-04-10, 05:48 PM
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I prefer AL over CF myself. Had a Kestrel Talon (07) and bought a Fuji Pro Al because of the deal I got (frame only). Built it up put on carbon fork, seat post, stem, and handlebars and it rides like a dream. I have owned 3 cf bikes over the years and much prefer the AL. I have since sold the Talon and bought a custom made al frame and built it up with campy record. When you step on the pedals there is absolutely no flex and this bike goes. But then you can ride 100+ miles with no problem.
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Old 11-04-10, 05:56 PM
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I don't have 2500 bucks to spend on a bike, so aluminium it is.
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Old 11-04-10, 05:58 PM
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Originally Posted by rufvelo View Post
Question is if CF becomes the low cost standard as well, and it will, is there a market segment for premium aluminum, as there is for steel which is why quality steel and beautiful lug-work are still sought after.
Probably, if nothing else some people will be retro-grouches and like it just because it's what their first bike was made of. I don't see it being a very big market though, I think it'll be smaller than the steel is real group.
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Old 11-04-10, 05:59 PM
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No.
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Old 11-04-10, 06:13 PM
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Interesting logic, so you can't sell a few high end aluminum frames -> therefore aluminum is no longer a desirable bicycle material. I would try different logic, perhaps the market demographic you are in has desire for the product you are shelling.
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Old 11-04-10, 06:32 PM
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Alu isn't going away in the near future, but it probably will be phased out eventually as cheap mass-produced generic carbon becomes the norm. On smooth roads, all-alu's fine. On crappy roads, an alu frame with a carbon fork is a reasonable hybrid.
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Old 11-04-10, 07:10 PM
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Originally Posted by rufvelo View Post
Question is if CF becomes the low cost standard as well, and it will, is there a market segment for premium aluminum, as there is for steel which is why quality steel and beautiful lug-work are still sought after.
Well put. That is the question exactly.
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Old 11-04-10, 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by pstock View Post
Well put. That is the question exactly.
the answer is in my Q...there is no premium aluminum..just beer cans.
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