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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I figure some of you guys must have a few bikes in the stable ;) For those with an aluminum and a carbon bike... do you find riding the aluminum (assuming a general level of equality elsewhere, groupset, overall weight, etc) disappointing comparatively? Does the aluminum excel in some way the carbon doesn't?

I'm debating an F100 Neuvation with a nice groupset (Force with Rival brakes... I don't do much descending) versus a Roubaix with a 105 setup and no-name brakes. The upside to the Roubaix is obviously the frame. Price wise, given the price break on the Roubaix, they come out about even.

I'd probably splurge for an FC100 to solve the dilemma altogether, but they're sold out of 56cm frames for some time.
 

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I think you'd be hard pressed to make it all about frame material with all the other factors being equal. An alu bike with the right geo to fit you and the same component spec as a carbon bike with the same geo are going to ride very very similarly. You may feel some nuances, but they will be minor at best.

I know carbon is all the rage, but alu is a great material. Light, stiff, cheap.

I have ti and alu frames with nearly identical geo. With the same wheels and touch points, they are difficult to tell apart. The ti is just a bit more compliant and cushy and the alu is just a bit more stiff and responsive.
 

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Loves to Suffer
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I'd like to see a blind ride test- where cyclists try to identify the frame material of 3-4 different bikes by riding them alone. Get on a bike, spin around the block - was that bike aluminum, steel, Ti, or carbon?

I would bet that the results might shock some folks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I've kind of been thinking the same thing. I'll admit my old Trek 420 was pretty 'bad' riding compared to my Madone... but it also weighed 11 pounds more and had bargain basement componentry on it, so it's hardly surprising. I'm just thinking a modern aluminum build would, as you mention, ride as well as a similar spec carbon frame.

Carbon will of course keep dropping in price, so I'm sure it'll be used everywhere at some point, but alu is still nice and cheap which makes putting a good gruppo on it attractive.
 

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Zipp0 said:
I'd like to see a blind ride test- where cyclists try to identify the frame material of 3-4 different bikes by riding them alone. Get on a bike, spin around the block - was that bike aluminum, steel, Ti, or carbon?

I would bet that the results might shock some folks.

That sounds a little dangerous to me.
 

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I have carbon, TI, Aluminum and Carbon/Aluminum mix. My aluminum Scott Speedster felt like a jet, but for long rides it was definitely a much harsher ride than any of my other frames, all things being equal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
When you say the carbon/aluminum mix was less harsh, do you mean carbon frame with alu lugs, or just a carbon fork on an aluminum frame?

Because the F100 does have a carbon fork (blades, steerer if you want to pay extra), carbon seat post, and I may get carbon bars.
 

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All my frames/Bike have/had carbon forks. The carbon/Aluminum frame (Cannondale Six13) had carbon tubes and Aluminum lugs. I actually ride this one the most, but my fav is my carbon tarmac. The Cannondale is my all weather all purpose bike.
 

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I have had three bikes with the identical geometry and set up same. They are all Orbeas. I have the 07 Orca, 08 Aqua and an 05 spirit made with Columbus Spirit tubing. I used Mavic k's SL's on all of them. I ride the Carbon and Steel bike much more often than the Aluminuim bike simply because they are more comfortable. The aluminuim is nice when I want to really punch it in the hills but I would rather ride the Orca for that since it is about 2lbs lighter, more comfortable, and just about as stiff..
 

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I just moved from Carbon to custom aluminum and granted the aluminum frame has a bit harsher of a ride...it's not a huge difference overall.

Some will say aluminum beats you up but I've put around 2500 miles on my new frame over the last two months including a 102 and 114 mile ride and finished both feeling just fine, every bit as fine as I would have felt on my carbon frame/fork.

The key is making sure the bike really fits you. If it does, it will be comfortable regardless of what it's made out of.

If you are really worried about the ride, purchase some 25c tires and run the tire pressure 10 psi lower than you normally would with 23c tires and you will be absolutely amazed at the ride difference it makes...regardless of the bike you are riding.
 

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Off the back
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I borrowed a few nice (read: high-end) Klein's and Cannondale's for some longish rides while traveling out of town. Those were some sweet rides - smooth as silk and responsive.

Used a bargain basement Specialized Allez aluminum for about 6k over a few year span. That sucker beat me up good. Jarring ride with its aluminum fork to boot.

So I 'spose it depends how much you wanna pay. CF generally costs more, but IMO it's hard to beat the ride quality. The good ones don't wear out or corrode, either.
 

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I have two high end carbon frames, three steel and one De Rosa Macro( aluminum) I really like all my bikes but the De Rosa which is aluminum with carbon fork and carbon seat stays is a great stiff bike, good climber and is no less comfortable that the carbons my older steel Holland is more comfortable but that is a custom made frame.It is also way heavier.
I too thought aluminum would "beat you up" but this one particular frame does not, and it was cheap and has beautiful paint with a very stiff rear end. There is nothing wrong with highend aluminum i think. I could live without the carbon bikes and be totally happy on the $1000 DeRosa. All campy chorus of course.

C-50
Isaac Sonic
Holland steel
Merckx steel corsa 01
Colnago Master light
De Rosa Macro
 

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Naso Unicornis
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Hi heffergm:

I actually ride a full carbon Super Six and a full aluminum (apart from fork) CAAD9. I would say that my Super Six is the plushiest of them all but my CAAD9 is not too far off, which I find extremely comfortable. I found the CAAD9 far more forgiving that my old CAAD2 or CAAD4. You have to pay attention to the contact points as well. A good frame is important but so is the saddle and the handlebars.

It would probably depend on how the material is implemented. I did test ride the 07 Orca but I find my CAAD9 more comfortable. I'm certain that others will have different experiences.

CHL
 

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kritiman said:
That sounds a little dangerous to me.
This is incredibly hilarious.
 

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Frame material is almost neglible in terms of comfort. Design (wheelbase, chainstay length, seat angle) and tire volume (700x23 vs 28) are much more of a factor. Even if a bike had the exact geometry and material, you can alter the flex through tube butting, tube diameters and cold setting.

Aluminum isnt necessarily stiff. Remember the old Alan and Vitus aluminum frames - they were very soft - as compared to some of the Cannondales. Similarly, look at steel frames made with Columbus SL/SLX vs EL-OS.

The idea that carbon fiber is more shock absorbing yet is stiffer. For something to absorb shock, it has to bend (Young's modulus on deflection). Take a mountain bike, it absorbs shock by the fork moving; if the fork is stiffened it can't aborb.

Look at the Specialized sponsored riders. They predominantly use Tarmac carbon bikes except for the coble road classics, where they use Roubaix carbon fiber. The difference is not material but design - longer wheelbase and chainstays on the Robaix, as well as more flex in the rear (plus elastomer built in).

Tire size will have the greatest affect on ride comfort. Just look at a car - if it has low profile performance tires it rides stiff compared to a higher profile all season type of tire.

So don't believe the marketing hype. BTW, I own carbon, ti , ti-carbon and steel bikes.
 

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I'll probably get 'flamed" for saying this.....especially from the Ti lovers, but I cannot agree more that frame material has little to do with the quality of the ride.

IMHO I think that ANY discussion of frame material as it relates to ride quality is moot without first talking about wheel selection, tire size and PSI.

I've ridden Columbus steel (SL and SLX), AL in Vitus form (so soft that I would many times check the back tire to make sure it wasn't going flat), Cannondale 2.8 (arguably one of the stiffest production frames), Specialized carbon and now Lynskey Ti (R330).

Which did I like the best? The frame that fit me the best - the Lynskey (plus it's easily the most expensive of the lot and that undoubtedly sways my opinion - gotta justify the expense).

Now don't get me wrong...I love my Lynskey, love the ride, love the comfort and love the look of the naked Ti and awesome welds. I bought it after I snapped the circa 1989 Campy C-record left side crank arm on my C'dale 2.8 and ended up on the pavement. My wife actually pushed me to replace the 17 + year old frame after untold thousands of miles. I really liked the stiff responsive feel and almost bought another 'dale, but wanted something different - hence the Lynskey. I also admit that I bought into the hype regarding the ride quality of Ti after reading words like "compliant" and "plush" and "forgiving" but stiff at the same time.

Well I can now honestly say, after closing in on 5,000 miles and doing rides of mostly 40 - 50 miles on the Lynskey, that I really cannot tell the difference between the Cannondale and Lynskey when they are equipped with the same wheels and tires and are run with the same PSI. I've swapped wheels back and forth and done back to back comparo rides, and again - I can't tell a difference in responsiveness, ride quality and road feel.

Frame material to me doesn't make a difference. But with that said, building techniques ie tube diameters and shapes, tube wall thickness, tube butting etc for sure can influence the ride of a frame, but material in and of itself?....I don't think so.

Maybe it's me. Maybe I'm not sensitive enough to the ride to appreciate the subtle nuances between the different materials???

To the OP....too bad you can't test ride each bike under consideration. THAT is the way to buy a bike.......

David
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I'd agree, but unfortunately it takes me a good while to form an opinion. Doing parking lot miles ain't gonna cut it, and I'd hazard a guess that even a 30 mile jaunt on a bike I've never ridden before, between all the new (what's that?!?) noises, different gruppo, etc. etc., I just wouldn't be able to come to any really meaningful conclusion.

In any event, it's hardly like I've never ridden aluminum before, so I went ahead and ordered an F100. With the Force gruppo, minus $150 for Rival brakes (my descending is pretty short lived and in a straight line... not much need for brakes other than when coming to intersections. It's not like the Rivals are crap anyway) it's the cheapest thing I've ever seen with such good componentry on it. If the build is near as good as people with F100's seem to be reporting I'm sure I'll be more than happy with it.
 

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I have been racing for 26 years. You know what my best frame was out of all the expensive frames I have either bought or custom made for me.................... the Scandium compact frame out of some little bike shop in the UK. I bought it for $325 on sale, usually $650

It was the best racing frame and performing frame I have ever owned, hands down - beat the Gios, Basso, the Seven, Bianchi and so many more frames that I have owned

I agree 100% with what many of you have said, it's all about fit.

That frame for some reason just fit me so well and it showed when I climbed and sprinted. Some obscure little frame, no decals, just a nice paint job. No carbon in the frame itself.

And it wasn't because it was Scandium, although it was light, it was the geometry and build that set it apart
 

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windinhair said:
I have been racing for 26 years. You know what my best frame was out of all the expensive frames I have either bought or custom made for me.................... the Scandium compact frame out of some little bike shop in the UK. I bought it for $325 on sale, usually $650

It was the best racing frame and performing frame I have ever owned, hands down - beat the Gios, Basso, the Seven, Bianchi and so many more frames that I have owned

I agree 100% with what many of you have said, it's all about fit.

That frame for some reason just fit me so well and it showed when I climbed and sprinted. Some obscure little frame, no decals, just a nice paint job. No carbon in the frame itself.

And it wasn't because it was Scandium, although it was light, it was the geometry and build that set it apart
Wow, a member since 2003 and your first post....congratulations.
 
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