View Full Version : aluminium frames
Tim Harrison 2
11th July 2009, 6:19 PM
im thiking of getting a new bike, my workplace are starting the ride to work scheme.i have just got back into cycling after a 15year break( i killed a rider who would not line out when cars were behind us!)anywayi am using my 1989 columbus slx fitted with campag record g set its still in mint condition. but i think an upgrade is needed. whats wrong with aluminium and whats with all the low gear ratios on complete bikes.i ride 42/52 and lowest on rear is 22 . please only reply if you were riding in the late 80's/ early 90's i want opinions of people who rode steel frames
11th July 2009, 6:26 PM
I love steel and still like the feel of it over aluminium.I wont change as I buy frames for life and dont think carbon will last me long enough to justify the price even if it is very light.If I was minted it would be custom 953.I have an aluminium cross frame and an aluminium hardtail mtb only because I could not find what I wanted in my price range,.I sold a Ribble aluminium as it felt like I was riding a gate it had no feel .Your gearing is quite high at about 50inches ,may be a bit hard on a sportive and probably slower than gearing down a bit
11th July 2009, 6:28 PM
Nothing wrong with aluminium Tim, it's just carbon fibre is fashionable at the moment.Have you considered one of the new generation of steel frames like the Reynolds 853 or 953? very light and responsive.As for the low gear ratios, unless you're racing seriously the gears you've got on your bike are way too big unless you cycle in fairly flat terrain.Compact chainsets, 50/34 usually, are very popular because you can still have a big gear with the big chainring but when you hit the hills you've got the convenience of the lower ones to stay in the saddle longer and conserve more energy rather than horsing it out of the saddle all the time when you come to the hills.
11th July 2009, 7:37 PM
I've had steel, ali and now titanium. My ali vitus is a lovely bike, but nowt compares to the titanium!I had a custom frame built in '89 and had a triple. always had triples since, including the Vitus. Went for a compact 34/50 on the titanium, but only cos I wanted SRAM who don't do triples. I think I still prefer a triple, but the double is OK. Got a 12-27 on the back, but it's a bit lump my way (and I'm not slim...). 11-25 may suit you better. 42-22 is a very high gear for any half serious hill IMHO.
exTTer, riding again
12th July 2009, 12:05 AM
Mid-late 80s, 531 pro road 52/42 21/12 (or 13, can't remember) was standard and perfectly fine for 1 in 6's up the moors. TT bike was 54 12/16. But then I was fit and now I'm not so now 50/34 12/25 is needed for up the hills. Fashion is for rides to go up the steepest hill they can find and eschew the common sense route around it. Fashion is also for fat tubes (alu or carbon) instead of nice thin ones. And sloping top tube instead of horizontal.Not ridden old bike back to back with new so couldn't comment on how they feel
12th July 2009, 10:28 AM
when I trashed my 5 year old slx in an accident in the late nineties I couldn't afford to replace it with the equivalent top end steel of the time from the likes of rourke/pergoretti etc - there were plenty of cheaper steel frames available but I found they had far too much weight/flex so I went down the aluminum/carbon back end route. It felt harsher but also much more responsive on the hills/in sprints. I think the same applies now - if you have limited funds then it is going to be easier to get a good aluminum frame that rides well. cheap steel is heavy or flexy - you havent mentioned your budget but a decent steel frame will probably set you back at least £1300. If your SLX is in good nick and riding well dont cast it aside - branded SLX frames sell well on Fleabay - people want them because they are nice rides and look good With regard to gearing I still ride 53/39 with a 12/25 - tall compared to the fashion for compacts but it gets me over most hills I encounter in the uk - havent changed because I always seem to have something else to spend the money on. I guess if I ever buy a complete bike rather than building my own from existing kit then I will test it out.
12th July 2009, 10:46 AM
I ride a vitus 980 framed peugeot. Even by today's standards it's quite light, and a super comfy ride. I have recently ordered a ribble sportive ultegra in carbon after riding a friends. What can I say? it feels like a magic carpet! I haven't done a big ride on it but there simply is no comparison in ride, and shift quality. Bite the bullet, try a new ali/carbon framed bike, it may just open your eyes..regardsdave
12th July 2009, 11:29 AM
I am concerned about the life span of modern frames and the way carbon can fail and is easily damaged I will stick with 531 even though I have tried carbon and it feels lovely
John Cooper 4
12th July 2009, 6:53 PM
I can't say I'm not tempted to try a carbon frame and I nearly bid on a Kuota Khama on ebay the other day.They look fantastic but the one I tried was very stiff and harsh to ride I love steel and I have an 80's Ribble 653 which will be buried with me. Back in the late 80's I used a 53x38 12-23 which gives about 44" I used that to do loads of 200k Audax including Porlock hill, Cheddar Gorge, etc.Now 20 years on and 4 stones heavier I couldn't climb Porlock with engine assistance. I use a compact 50x34 and a 12-27 and i'm very grateful for the better gearing.Steel for me can never be bettered for ride comfort. I have many steel frames over the years and currently use a heavy Massi as a winter hack . I bought an aluminium frameset last year and built it up but although I have had it 9 months I still have not ridden it once. It languishes in the spare bed room .Im sure it will prove a good bike when I eventually ride it but for now why change when i'm happy with steel.
12th July 2009, 8:03 PM
'Steel for me can never be bettered for ride comfort.'Until you find something better... Try titanium.
12th July 2009, 8:07 PM
Got some rich mates with Ti..when I win the lottery maybe!!
12th July 2009, 8:25 PM
It's not that bad. Frame + carbon forks for £800. Full bike for about £1700.Frame should last for ever too !
12th July 2009, 8:33 PM
I dont spend that on a car the missus would pack my bags if I spent that much.Not that I dont want to!!.No its steel for me three quality frames of ebay for less than £200 together
John Cooper 4
12th July 2009, 8:37 PM
what frames have you got Ed ? if you haven't already declared all of them and Mrs Hobbs sees this you might be packing sooner than you expected !
John Cooper 4
12th July 2009, 8:46 PM
Until you find something better... Try titanium.The only titanium frames I read about (Litespeed) have had a very unfortunate habit of failing at various stress points arond the head tube and BB . I'd try one if I could afford one but I'm not sure I'd trust it on a 35mph+ downhill with my weight on it
12th July 2009, 8:59 PM
That's probably cos they're built for weight weenies. a Van Nic., Sabbath or similar will be fine. And much cheaper!!!
12th July 2009, 9:40 PM
A mate has a Merlin or two they are nice ,having said that one is being warranted for cracking round the toptube/seat tube joint
12th July 2009, 9:41 PM
Its bad enough hiding ebay purchases from her,could always do what one mate does ,make sure all your bikes are the same colour and hope she doesnt notice
Ed Walters 2
12th July 2009, 11:11 PM
I would not get an aluminium bike instead of your steel one unless you want a cheap runabout. As said before the ride quality is not exactly magic carpet.Like you I am riding round on a steel framed (531 professional tubing-forerunner to 653) bike. But I have succumbed and am waiting for delivery of a carbon framed bike as lightness,repsonsiveness and comfort are likely to be all improved over the steel framed bike. Also I guess you have downtube shifters and only 6 or 7 speeds with the choice of freewheels being somewhat limited these days.there is no shame in getting yourself some lower gears- I think we can all do with a bottom gear lower than 40 inches,especially in bad weather when headwinds make life harder.
13th July 2009, 3:40 PM
My vitus had a 53/42 on the front and an 11/23 on the rear. Fine when you're 25, but at 51 i had to put a 27 on the rear!!!!dave
13th July 2009, 5:03 PM
There's still plenty to be said for steel, especially the current top-end tubesets and even some slightly older ones. My fave is Reynolds 725 but newer offerings by Reynolds and Columbus are worth a look. I have several steel framed machines on the go and like them all, Fuquay mtb included.But a
13th July 2009, 5:34 PM
Tim Harrison 2 wrote (see)please only reply if you were riding in the late 80's/ early 90's i want opinions of people who rode steel framesSorry I don't comply with the first criteria but I do with the second one.I'm extremely happy with my Cervelo S1 Alu frame with Carbon Fork (used to be called the Team Frame) and can compare it to a Rourke Steel, BMC Carbon and Enigma Titanium with Carbon stays. Perhaps a 6 month gap from riding made me forget the qualities of the other frames or I don't know what to feel for, but I cannot tell much difference between any of them apart from what they show on the scales.
Simon Roberts 5
22nd July 2009, 4:06 PM
I have ridden the lot over the years. I currently have a titanium Colnago, aluminium Altec 2 Colnago, a steel columbus Max Merckx, a scandium Pinarello Prince, a steel SAT14.5 Condor single speed, a carbon Look 386 and a carbon Parlee z4. The Merckx is very stiff but stable, noticebly more so that the Condor. The titanium is really comfy, but lacks a bit of spring. The Look is a bit dull to ride. I really like the Prince and the aluminium Colnago - with a prudent choice of wheels and tyres, they can give a really good ride quality with a pleasing stiffness, and I don't notice any real weight penalty. I commute on aluminium or steel bikes, in case of a prang. I don't like the prospect of cracking a carbon frame. Having said all that, the Parlee carbon is in a different league to all of them. I have looked into a new aluminium frame, and the choice is not great. The current aluminium frame of choice among those who say they know about these things seems to be the Cannondale CAAD9, which you can buy at a reasonable price for a full bike. I wouldn't get too hung up about the gears, as long as you have a decent range. 52/39 with 12-25 at the rear will do most people (27 at the back if you are tackling horrible mountains). But a 50/34 with 11 - 23 gets to about the same place.
22nd July 2009, 5:08 PM
I wouldnt get up 1 in 4s on those gears!!
23rd July 2009, 8:05 AM
If your going the alu frame route then you need a brand which double heat treats the frame at different temperatures after initial forging and triple butts the frame as well.I know Columbus do this with their Zonal frame,and I think Deda do as well.I ride a 34/27 and it's not really enough for the pyrenees.I would never buy a mass produced alu frame,and that's that.I feel the world has moved on from steel,unless you want to take it easy on a touring holiday or use the bike 24/7.I brought my bike (Colombus Zonal) from Dave Hinde.He get's a very bad press from some of this websites main dudes, but I have been eminently happy with mine, with a aksium wheel upgrade,but i tend to use it at the wekend and for training,I have a £220 clodhopper for daily use.My racer cost about £630.