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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am assisiting a friend in purchasing her next bicycle. She is a women in her mid 40's who has been riding a lower/mid range all aluminum bike while racing in tri's. She is in the 5'3'' 110lb range and I would put her in the 85-90+ percentile fitness wise. As she approaches her next milestone (50) shortly she thinks she will be transitioning more into longer road rides 60-100 mi. It is down to a few choices on frames and we have gone over the benefits of carbon( nice ride, light, maybe a little fragile?), steel ( slightly heavier, nice ride, durable), and titanium ( light, nice ride, durable). Aluminum was semi ruled out as too tough on the bod for the weight benefit, even with the carbon stays. I would like to put three possibilities out there with out stating which one I prefer for an unbiased opinion. They are steel w/ carbon stays from IF or Seven, or the titanium Womens Specific from Omega. Thanks for your help this place is the greatest wealth of biking knowledge ( or at least educated opinions) I have found.

ps I'll chime back in with my choice after I hear from the experts
 

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First off, she should ride a selection of bikes and see what she likes. At 110 lbs she is very unlikely to have any problems with the reliability of a carbon frame. If she wants to do long rides, a carbon frame can have a nicer ride than steel or Ti because it damps more of the small road vibrations. From my experience, the difference between a Ti frame built for long distance (Airborne Zeppelin) and a carbon frame built for racing (Cervelo R3) is amazing, with the carbon frame being both stiffer and more comfortable.

I can't stress enough that she should ride a bunch of bikes and make her own decision. When my wife started road riding I'd picked out a bike that I thought she was going to like, based on my knowledge of what she liked and the riding she was going to do, and the 15 years we've been together. I turned out to be completely wrong! She didn't like riding it nearly as much as a completely different (and much racier) bike that I hadn't even considered. Also, WSD bikes are not automatically better for women- my wife's only an inch taller than your friend and she's gotten a better fit on small men's road and mountain bikes than on WSD models. Have her find some good shops and try a bunch of bikes.
 

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We are on the same page

She has ridden 10 bikes and that is how we have gotten here. Aluminum/carbon was not much of an improvement over her old bike, steel was slightly better, all carbon was good but she was concerned about durability. The ti felt really good but perhaps pricey. All the bikes she has ridden are in 2-3k range. Hence down to a few choices and looking for personal experiences
 

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Geometry First, Frame Material Second

To my way of thinking, she should pick her basic geometry first, then see which bikes are out there that have the required geometry and choose from those.

Does she want a loooong, strung out riding position that maximizes the effectiveness of her lower (I think...) quads? If so, I've heard good things about those Sevens.

Does she want a comfy, upright geometry that won't make her bend over too much? If so, you might want to consider a Rivendell, even if it does not have carbon stays.

Are the longer rides she is looking at going to be competitive or recreational? The answer to that question will go a long way in helping to decide the geometry.

Once she decides how she wants to sit on the bike, then look at all the bikes available in an appropriate geometry. I'll let the folks who know more about all the new-fangled frame materials tell you the pros and cons of each, but if you make sure that the bicycle fits her and her riding style, you probably won't go wrong with Ti, or steel, or steel with carbon stays, etc.

Have fun shopping,

FBB
 

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sfsailor said:
She has ridden 10 bikes and that is how we have gotten here. Aluminum/carbon was not much of an improvement over her old bike, steel was slightly better, all carbon was good but she was concerned about durability. The ti felt really good but perhaps pricey. All the bikes she has ridden are in 2-3k range. Hence down to a few choices and looking for personal experiences
If the carbon frame felt good, she should get that. At 110 lbs she's not stressing anything! Also, Ti isn't a guarantee that a frame will last forever: I broke my first Airborne Zeppelin. They were very good about honoring the lifetime warranty with an updated frame but it took a month for my size to arrive on the boat from China (a reason to keep the old bike as a backup, I rode my 20 year old Vitus) If durability is a concern, go with a bike with a lifetime warranty from a larger company that'll be around if you need to make a claim.
 

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Don't worry about the frame materials when it comes to "ride quality." They won't make any difference. The ride quality of a frame is wheelbase and fork. Everything else is tires, tire pressure, saddle, seatpost, stem, handlebars, etc.
 
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