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Having bought an aluminium road bike, and been very happy with it, it has constantly occurred to me that the only reason that Alu frames have a stigma is because aluminium is a relatively cheap material to produce bike frames from. If alu suddenly flew up in price, it would suddenly become a premium material. Do you agree?

I would go so far as to say that I prefer it from carbon fibre. My bike will withstand a real knock in a crash that a carbon fibre frame might get written off in.

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Gkam84 [9086 posts] 3 years ago
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Aluminium over carbon every time.

NO, if Aluminium was as expensive as Titanium it wouldn't be a "premium" frame, because Titanium is difficult to work with and is mainly used for custom bikes, although it is filtering down.

If Aluminium did reach that price, everyone would be flying around on cheap carbon and Aluminium would be the "new" carbon.

I do not consider carbon to be a premium material at the moment, they would just change about, Titanium would stay up there.

As steel is making quite a big come back, I expect to see more people going steel over carbon in the next few years aswell.

To me, unless something improves in carbon frame's. They are on the edge of "having their day" the reason I say this. Look at pro teams, almost every rider needs a different bike set up. Steel, Aluminium and even Titanium as all easier to build a custom frame to each riders need vs Carbon, where they get a "general" frame size given to them and have to muck about with stems and saddle height, handle bar width.

So to sum up. NO it wouldn't be classed as premium like Titanium is at the moment, in MY eyes  26

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Tom Amos [236 posts] 3 years ago
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well, I think you agree with me then Gkam?  39

AFAIK, most Pro riders choose alu bars over carbon because they don't want them to fail at the crucial moment. Must admit, my alu bars give me a lot of confidence. If someone said to me, I'll give you a free top-end carbon fibre handlebar, I would think for a moment as to whether I would accept it. Think I would say No to be honest.

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bashthebox [751 posts] 3 years ago
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There's a reason pros use Carbon.

As for the carbon bars failing thing - have you ever actually seen carbon bars fail? Oh, i know everyone know's someone who saw them fail that one time... but have you ever seen it?

I'm sure there are alu frames which are just lovely, but ti is ti and posh, and carbon is better because the pros use it.

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bashthebox [751 posts] 3 years ago
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At the end of the day though, at our level, ride whatever sets your heart on fire. That's why we do it, right?

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jasecd [395 posts] 3 years ago
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I'm riding a hired top of the range carbon Domane this weekend, which certainly feels lovely but I wouldn't say it is a massive improvement over my standard Alu bike. According to Strava I'm no quicker either.

Having said that, it is pretty tasty on the rough stuff though I think it's more to do with the 25mm tyres and the decoupler than the carbon used.

I think if I had £4k+ to spend on a bike then I would undoubtedly buy a carbon frame, but my bike cost about £1k and at that price you can get a quality Alu frame with 105 or a really budget carbon number with Sora or worse. Ti didn't even figure when I was shopping for it.

Beyond a certain point you're paying an awful lot extra for not much more. Alu certainly seems like the best value.

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Gkam84 [9086 posts] 3 years ago
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bashthebox wrote:

There's a reason pros use Carbon.
carbon is better because the pros use it.

WRONG, The pro's have no choice as to what they are riding, the team are told their bike with be.... X and then they can fit whatever to it within the sponsor agreement.

The reason they ride carbon in most races is because they are told to ride it.

Look at pro's OUT of the race, alot of them are NOT using carbon frames  3 3

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RichTheRoadie [67 posts] 3 years ago
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The main reason we're all riding carbon (well, I'm not, but 'generally') is because it's cheap to make and the marketing folk make us believe it's the thing to ride - the same reason that alu had a brief spell as the material of choice.

All materials have their merits, AND their reputations - Ti for example id considered 'comfortable', but I've ridden Ti frames that'd rattle your teeth out, and my Baum has all the whip and power transfer of a Cervelo R3.

In the same vein, alu's reputation is for a stiff but harsh ride. Sure, many (most) cheap alu bikes will give exactly that, but a decent alu bike is an absolute joy to ride - my old CAAD9 is the bike I did my longest ride on (253km) and I felt pretty fresh at the end of it. The bike was comfortable and stiff.

Carbon is generally favoured because it's stiff, comfortable and light. Good carbon can be incredible, but I'd rather ride good alu than average carbon for the same money.

If it were lighter the material we would all (still) be riding is steel. Good steel bikes give all the comfort of Ti or carbon, all the power transfer of carbon or alu, the longevity and 'repairability' of Ti and it's still fairly easy to build to the UCI weight limit.

That said, REALLY good alu is tough to ignore - the likes of Pegoretti's Love #3, Stoemper's Darrell and Gaulzetti's Corsa are all delicious bikes and I would have any of those even over top end carbon.

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NorthernRouleur [24 posts] 3 years ago
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Err No!

Try riding Tour of Flanders on your Alu bike. I did, once. Try riding a bike with Alu forks, and you can quickly figure out why Alu frames are stiff. My wrists are still recovering.
I have also had 3 bike frames fail with cracks in tubes, all of them Alu.

Most comfy bike I have is an R3. The best combination of design and material in my book.

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robert.brady [155 posts] 3 years ago
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Top end bikes are heading in a different direction now: aero. It simply isn't feasible to come up with the current aero frame shapes using Ti or even new alu techniques like hydro forming. Alu and Ti TT bikes look laughably dated compared to carbon.

Frames nowadays can be light AND strong AND stiff AND comfortable (to an extent) and that can be achieved with Ti and alu. The difference is; light Ti and alu is around 1200g while for carbon it's around 900g and in some cases a lot less.

You couldn't put the same premium on alu as you can carbon. It isn't justifiable.

Alu bars and stems make sense to me because they're more likely to bend rather than break leaving the bike ridable.

Gkam84 wrote:

Look at pro's OUT of the race, alot of them are NOT using carbon frames  3 3

Got any pics?

Rob

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RichTheRoadie [67 posts] 3 years ago
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NorthernRouleur wrote:

Err No!

Try riding Tour of Flanders on your Alu bike. I did, once. Try riding a bike with Alu forks, and you can quickly figure out why Alu frames are stiff. My wrists are still recovering.
I have also had 3 bike frames fail with cracks in tubes, all of them Alu.

Note the mention, and distinct difference, of GOOD alu. Besides which, wheel & tyre choice would make significantly more difference on a course like Flanders than frame material.

Oh, and there was never any mention of alu forks.

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RichTheRoadie [67 posts] 3 years ago
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robert.brady wrote:

You couldn't put the same premium on alu as you can carbon. It isn't justifiable.

Marketing has made the cycling world believe it isn't justifiable.

Have you ridden one (and, again, I mean GOOD alu - by which I mean nothing less than a CAAD10 or Specialized S-Works Allez, and preferably Gaulzetti / Stoemper / Pegoretti) to know?

Also, aero isn't for everyone. I would only buy aero if it was the best option for me fit-wise. It's still only a very small portion of the market.

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Tom Amos [236 posts] 3 years ago
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NorthernRouleur wrote:

Err No!

Try riding Tour of Flanders on your Alu bike. I did, once. Try riding a bike with Alu forks, and you can quickly figure out why Alu frames are stiff. My wrists are still recovering.
I have also had 3 bike frames fail with cracks in tubes, all of them Alu.

Most comfy bike I have is an R3. The best combination of design and material in my book.

I'm pretty sure I've read that Katusha use the Canyon Ultimate AL for several classics races as it is so tough and durable. I was surprised myself at that news.

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Tom Amos [236 posts] 3 years ago
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RichTheRoadie wrote:
NorthernRouleur wrote:

Err No!

Try riding Tour of Flanders on your Alu bike. I did, once. Try riding a bike with Alu forks, and you can quickly figure out why Alu frames are stiff. My wrists are still recovering.
I have also had 3 bike frames fail with cracks in tubes, all of them Alu.

Note the mention, and distinct difference, of GOOD alu. Besides which, wheel & tyre choice would make significantly more difference on a course like Flanders than frame material.

Oh, and there was never any mention of alu forks.

+1

Agreed. I've got a carbon fork on mine and a carbon seatpost. Agree that you need those!

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TheBigMong [212 posts] 3 years ago
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One of the reasons aluminum is so cheap is because it's RIDICULOUSLY easy to work compared to other metals. It takes less energy to alloy, form, and weld than steel or Ti alloys. Even if the raw cost of aluminum was the same as Ti, Ti bikes would still cost more.

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Dr. Ko [182 posts] 3 years ago
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If I would do Flanders again I would pick my Early Carbon again, thin carbon tubes, 25 mm seatpost:
http://innercitymobility.blogspot.de/2013/01/made-in-europe-french-carbo... my personal soft ride  4

Between my 2.2 kg steel frames, 1.5 kg titanium and similar weight aluminium, the aluminium gives a harsher ride, I do not feel a difference between the steel and titanium rides.

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TheHatter [770 posts] 3 years ago
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robert.brady wrote:

Top end bikes are heading in a different direction now: aero. It simply isn't feasible to come up with the current aero frame shapes using Ti or even new alu techniques like hydro forming. Alu and Ti TT bikes look laughably dated compared to carbon.

Frames nowadays can be light AND strong AND stiff AND comfortable (to an extent) and that can be achieved with Ti and alu. The difference is; light Ti and alu is around 1200g while for carbon it's around 900g and in some cases a lot less.

You couldn't put the same premium on alu as you can carbon. It isn't justifiable.

Alu bars and stems make sense to me because they're more likely to bend rather than break leaving the bike ridable.

Gkam84 wrote:

Look at pro's OUT of the race, alot of them are NOT using carbon frames  3 3

Got any pics?

Rob

snapped Dean Downings training bike at a press day last year : Steel!
//farm9.staticflickr.com/8269/8711344992_de1934fab6_z.jpg)

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Gkam84 [9086 posts] 3 years ago
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That one doesn't count, because he races steel aswell  3

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dave atkinson [6224 posts] 3 years ago
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robert.brady wrote:

It simply isn't feasible to come up with the current aero frame shapes using Ti or even new alu techniques like hydro forming. Alu and Ti TT bikes look laughably dated compared to carbon.

not sure i agree that it's not feasible. look at some of the stuff that kinesis are doing with superplastic forming; you can pretty much make any shape you want.

and don't forget that the daddy of all aero bikes is alu: the cervelo s1. And it's still a better ride than many aero carbon bikes.

it's important to understand that aluminium didn't get a very long development run before carbon was introduced. bike manufacturers picked up carbon so quickly for a simple reason: it's easy to make complicated, light and strong structures with it. not cheap necessarily, but not hard.

alu was relegated to 'cheap' bikes and wasn't developed much. but what we're seeing now is more of the R&D time going into to possibilities of alu. and there's some impressive stuff out there: look at canyon and rose, and giant's new TCR alu frame is only just over a kilo. a sub-1kg alu frame in the next two years is a certainty.

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bashthebox [751 posts] 3 years ago
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Gkam84 wrote:
bashthebox wrote:

There's a reason pros use Carbon.
carbon is better because the pros use it.

WRONG, The pro's have no choice as to what they are riding, the team are told their bike with be.... X and then they can fit whatever to it within the sponsor agreement.

The reason they ride carbon in most races is because they are told to ride it.

Look at pro's OUT of the race, alot of them are NOT using carbon frames  3 3

That's a load of shit and you know it. Let's take the obvious example of Team Sky and their obsession with marginal gains. We're told again and again how they'll do anything to shave fractions of watts off their effort - you think if carbon wasn't the best choice for frames that they would still use it? Come on. Sky have a huge budget from their main sponsor; bike sponsor budget is pretty small in comparison - they ride whatever makes them fastest.

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musicalmarc [101 posts] 3 years ago
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Alu can be made as floppy or stiff as the manufacturer likes, modern Alu frames are comfy enough for most use cases. There seem to be two different types of tech making waves in the pro world, vertically compliant frames and flat aero profiles/ integrated components (brakes in the forks, stem into headset etc). Most of these designs are being made with carbon and taking advantage of being able to make it almost any shape you want and strong + flexible (compound bows and arrows are made from carbon). Stuff aimed at pros now will be aimed at the public sooner or later whether there is any point to it or not.

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robert.brady [155 posts] 3 years ago
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RichTheRoadie wrote:
robert.brady wrote:

You couldn't put the same premium on alu as you can carbon. It isn't justifiable.

Marketing has made the cycling world believe it isn't justifiable.

Have you ridden one (and, again, I mean GOOD alu - by which I mean nothing less than a CAAD10 or Specialized S-Works Allez, and preferably Gaulzetti / Stoemper / Pegoretti) to know?

And it's marketing that makes people believe alu is as good as carbon, hence Specialized and Cannondale sell their top of the range alu frames with top of the range groupsets on them; to convince people they must be good to justify a £2k groupset.

They wouldn't put a premium on them that brings them in line with their own carbon offerings as the market wouldn't stand for it.

Rob

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RichTheRoadie [67 posts] 3 years ago
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Again, I have to disagree - Cannondale have always stood by their alu frames, albeit only more recently hanging top end groupsets off of them.

Specialized have recognised that people who race buy alu (again, referring back to Cannondale's CAAD range) because it's cheaper to replace than their higher end carbon counterparts with little in the way of deficit performance-wise (with the weight difference also being nigh-on negligible). It's a bit more "thrash it and stack it then buy another" than the 'more precious' (read: expensive) carbon version of the same bike.

Will you ever hear people complain about a performance difference? No.

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robert.brady [155 posts] 3 years ago
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Dave Atkinson wrote:
robert.brady wrote:

It simply isn't feasible to come up with the current aero frame shapes using Ti or even new alu techniques like hydro forming. Alu and Ti TT bikes look laughably dated compared to carbon.

not sure i agree that it's not feasible. look at some of the stuff that kinesis are doing with superplastic forming; you can pretty much make any shape you want.

and don't forget that the daddy of all aero bikes is alu: the cervelo s1. And it's still a better ride than many aero carbon bikes.

True, but if you made an alu bike in the exact same mould as that new Pinarello TT bike it'd weigh a ton.

And the S1 has since been superseded by the S3 and S5, both in carbon. You surely can't argue that the S1 is a better aero bike than the S5.

Dave Atkinson wrote:

alu was relegated to 'cheap' bikes and wasn't developed much. but what we're seeing now is more of the R&D time going into to possibilities of alu. and there's some impressive stuff out there: look at canyon and rose, and giant's new TCR alu frame is only just over a kilo. a sub-1kg alu frame in the next two years is a certainty.

And I'm sure they will prove popular but they will have to come in at a much lower price point than a comparable carbon frame to be a success. As I've said, companies couldn't get away with putting a huge premium on them.

Rob

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MattT53 [146 posts] 3 years ago
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Alu can be built into a top quality frame, one of my mates is trading his top end Litespeed Ti frame for a Caad10 after a quick ride on mine! The issue seems to be that Alu has traditionally been built into cheap bikes and now that more money is being spent on frame R&D it's getting far better. Plus it can't so easily be built into 'aero' monstrosities! Probably will never be more 'premium' than Ti but should compete more and more with carbon.

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700c [940 posts] 3 years ago
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NorthernRouleur wrote:

I have also had 3 bike frames fail with cracks in tubes, all of them Alu.

Ditto. This had been my experience too.

I don't think enough had been made of this point - aluminium, IME, will be great at taking abuse then suddenly, after a build up of winter road grit & salt, or one too many potholes, will fail, often quite spectacularly with a large crack in the tube.

No idea whether carbon is the same or not, but then pros can just get a new one from the Sponsor. For must people, owning a bike for several years is the norm, hence why Ti is a good investment, despite the initial higher cost.

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RichTheRoadie [67 posts] 3 years ago
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My £7k Ti frame cracked after 1 year...

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Tom Amos [236 posts] 3 years ago
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RichTheRoadie wrote:

My £7k Ti frame cracked after 1 year...

Interesting. After buying my recent bike, it has certainly made me realise than you should never ultimately buy a bike which you can't afford to lose in its entirety. OK, it's unlikely that you will have damage all of it completely but not impossible. Any of us could crash. A freak accident could happen. Don't spend more than you can afford to lose. Or be prepared to take out insurance on it.

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700c [940 posts] 3 years ago
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I was assuming the comment from Rich the Roadie was a joke (can you even pay £7k for a frame?), but if not then that's very bad luck!

Decent frames come with good warranties, mine is 5 years and even that's considered short for titanium

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badkneestom [135 posts] 3 years ago
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Lifetime warranty soooo Cannondale wins?

I wouldn't buy a frame if they didn't stand by their work for at least 5 years.

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mhtt [43 posts] 3 years ago
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not all lifetime warranties are equal, try getting a 5 year old cannondale cracked frame past the warranty guys at CSG, I bet their first reply will be "you've got enough use out of it"

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