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Discussion Starter #1
This isn't supposed to be a stupid question, but I recently picked up a copy of Lance Armstrong's Portraits of a Champion from a used book store. It's an album of photos of him from 1992 to 2005. I've looked at the photos over and over - and I basically see pics of him (and riders around him) on steel bikes in the early 90s, then on carbon fiber bikes in the late 90s and onwards. At least Armstrong's bikes seemed to go that way. It may be I mis-identified the bikes of the riders around him (not always very clear) but I can't say I'm sure I saw any aluminum bikes.

Anyways - is this observation correct? And if so, why no love for aluminum?
 

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Some pro teams used aluminum bikes for certain races. These were custom made bikes that then had the team's sponsoring bike manufacturer's label slapped on them. I know that Klein made a few bikes for the Once team a long time ago but do not know in what races they were used.
 

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For a while, aluminum frames were the go-to. Vitus had aluminum race frames out before anyone had carbon fiber, IIRC. Since the first carbon fiber bikes came out in the '80s, though, I'm not surprised you're not seeing a ton of aluminum.
 

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In Lance's early career with Motorola they were on Merckx Titanium frames (by Litespeed). In the mid to late '90's these were painted and you could not tell from steel by looking. It's rumoured that other teams ran Litespeeds painted to look like their steel frame sponsors.

View attachment 288887

In the '00's Saeco for one were running Cannondale CAAD's.

spinelli0507.jpg

Also in the early '00's Lotto Domo were running Merckx SC's which are Al alloy.

View attachment 288889

Domo won P-R in 2001-2 on them. Richard Virenque rode them in the 2002 Tour.

Mine

Eddy SC.jpg
 

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You obviously missed one of the great moments in real-time bicycle marketing, when Mario Cipollini, leading the Tour de France and dressed in yellow from head to toe, riding a matching yellow fat-tubed bike, turned to the moto camera riding beside him and did an impromptu commercial. "Eets a Cannondale; eet'sa the best-a bike!" With the appropriate Italian hand gestures. Eet was a beautiful-a thing, I tell you.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
In Lance's early career with Motorola they were on Merckx Titanium frames (by Litespeed). In the mid to late '90's these were painted and you could not tell from steel by looking.
Interesting. I know exactly what Merckx bike you're talking about as he's on it in pretty much all his early 90s photos. Didn't realize it was titanium.
 

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Interesting. I know exactly what Merckx bike you're talking about as he's on it in pretty much all his early 90s photos. Didn't realize it was titanium.
The first year or 2 of USPS Trek didn't have any TT frames so they rode Litespeed Ti TT frames w/ the same paint job as the carbon road frames.
 

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Interesting. I know exactly what Merckx bike you're talking about as he's on it in pretty much all his early 90s photos. Didn't realize it was titanium.
It isn't. All the Merckx bikes were lugged steel. It was when Motorola started riding Caloi bikes that they started using rebadged litespeeds.
 

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For a while, aluminum frames were the go-to. Vitus had aluminum race frames out before anyone had carbon fiber, IIRC. Since the first carbon fiber bikes came out in the '80s, though, I'm not surprised you're not seeing a ton of aluminum.
Aluminum frames were short-lived in the pro peloton. There were probably lots that I don't remember but the most famous had to be Vitus 979 that Sean Kelly rode to many victories. And the Vitus got re-labeled for a few other teams too. As did Alan.
 

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Wrong. Clearly you have never heard of the Merckx AX.

Also ignoring my Merckx SC - Scandium alloy.

Now, you have forced me to show mine :) (frame '95, rest updated):

View attachment 288916

View attachment 288917

1997 Eddy Merckx Titanium AX - BikePedia

MSRP $2,799 in 1997. That sounds like about $6k today.
That is a nice bike. But I am still correct. The Motorola team did not ride any titanium Merckx bikes. Mr. Merckx himself was insistent that Motorola ride on his lugged steel frames. Also Lance was no longer on Motorola in 1997.
 

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That is a nice bike. But I am still correct. The Motorola team did not ride any titanium Merckx bikes. Mr. Merckx himself was insistent that Motorola ride on his lugged steel frames. Also Lance was no longer on Motorola in 1997.
We need some nice detailed photos, since I have to admit I didn't talk to Eddy about this.

edit.

so I have to admit I cannot find any pictures to illustrate a Ti Motorola. Damn.
 

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We need some nice detailed photos, since I have to admit I didn't talk to Eddy about this.
You'll just have to take my word for it. But if you find a titanium frame in Motorola colors and "Merckx" on the downtube I'll eat my shirt.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
K - 2 related questions.

1. For frames, is it "only" about the weight or is there more to selecting a frame? i.e. carbon vs TI vs alu vs steel. I've read about damping qualities etc - but given that people seem to largely select the lighter frame whenever given the choice, is it also that lighter frames (coincidentally or incidentally) are also the ones that damp vibration better?

2. For parts... is it "only" about the weight as well? I spoke to some guy who collects/builds bikes and he was doing a high-end carbon Cervelo build. He was building it with standard cheap aluminum alloy handlebars (as opposed to a carbon handlebar). His reasoning was that (1) the alloy one cost about 1/10 the cost, (2) the carbon one would basically have to be immediately replaced if it was in a crash, and (3) given that they were basically close to the same weight anyways, there was really no reason to go for a carbon handlebar given these three points. Agree, or is there something "better" about having a handlebar (and other things like seat post) made of carbon fiber? Is there any point in having bits and pieces of derailleurs made of carbon fiber, or is that just marketing gone nuts?
 

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If you pay more attention to the thousands of posts on this forum you'd know you've already answered your own questions.

The answer being: It depends.
 

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You'll just have to take my word for it. But if you find a titanium frame in Motorola colors and "Merckx" on the downtube I'll eat my shirt.


Lance won the 1993 Worlds in Norway riding a Ti Litespeed, rebadged Merckx. Go to youtube for video or google for pics. As a side note, Merckx himself set the hour record on a frame made from.......titanium.
 

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You'll just have to take my word for it. But if you find a titanium frame in Motorola colors and "Merckx" on the downtube I'll eat my shirt.
Possibly it's shirt eating time :D

And a little grovelling would be nice too.

(with thanks to the Barber).

exhibit 1 is an Armstrong steel frame Merckx

armstrong lancemerckx1.jpg

exhibit 2 is a detail of the seatpost junction showing the prominent lug and the "EM" embossed on the seatstay, and a Columbus tubing sticker.

armstrong lancemerckx steel detail.jpg

exhibit 3 is Lance on what certainly appears to be a Titanium Merckx in Motorola paint

armstrong-tour-de-france-36th-best-result.jpg

with exhibit 4 being a detail. Spot the difference?

armstrong-tour-de-france-36th-best-result detail.jpg
 
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