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Frames(14 posts)

Mar 9, 2001 4:20 AM
Does anyone have any opinions out there on Cannondale custom Aluminum versus Serotta cusotm Steel frames? I've also looked into some custom builders (steel and Ti). I've heard so many opisions from different bike shops in the area that I'm really confused and need advice.
The sales guys and buyers approach this issue from differentbill
Mar 9, 2001 7:47 AM
perspectives, like, 180 degrees different. This doesn't mean that what the sales guys say is wrong; it just means that the real issue you're deciding (that is, what's the best thing for you to do) is not their issue, particularly if it cuts them out of the deal. My guess is that you're hearing lots of reasons why one or another product is good, why one or another product (usually generic -- i.e., ti vs. alu vs. steel vs. carbon, without reference to specific models) "doesn't do x as well," and little real overall comparison of models applied specifically to your needs. Sales guys are leery for all sorts of reasons about giving you negatives of someone else's product (which is often enough because they really don't know either their product or the other guy's as much as you would like) or, certainly, the negatives of their own or the positives of other products. I understand, man, you're getting lots of disjointed info but little to hang your hat on.
This is less advice than my overall impression. You get what you pay for. This is a very competitive business. My impression is that there's really no crap out there at a price point over about $1,000-$1500, which seems to be where you are (at least). Some of the bigger makers probably charge a little more, because of advertising, etc., but their products are still pretty good and there are benefits to buying big names (you know that the company is going to be there to meet your lifetime warranty).
Try to distill out of what you're hearing what hits you, what appeals to you. Follow your gut. Although you'll probably make a decision based on subjective rather than objective analysis, you're probably not going to go far wrong and you'll almost certainly not regret it. Sleep on it. Then buy the color you like.
The sales guys and buyers approach this issue from differenthoosier13
Mar 9, 2001 7:55 AM
Thanks for the advice. I've been leaning in the direction of Serotta or Cannondale custom frames because of the reasons that you specified. It worries be to buy on-line because of the hassle involved if somethings not right, or if the builder goes under. My major concern is alumnium giving a harsh ride to someone my size (6' 4" and 220 lbs.) versus steel or Ti being a lot gentler.
From what I understand, the concern with alu and harshnessbill
Mar 9, 2001 9:28 AM
diminishes both with the design refinements of the frame, generally correlating to cost, and the size of the rider. That is, generally the more you spend and the bigger you are the less you have to worry about alu giving you a harsh ride.
True story. If anything, frames are harsher in smaller sizesnigel
Mar 10, 2001 7:35 PM
Bill's correct, particularly about the frame size issue. To make a point, picture a stick of wood (or of any material or metal, really). How tough is it to snap a short tree branch in half? Kind of tough. Now, how tough is it to snap a long tree branch in half? Much easier. In shorter lengths, any material is stiffer (harsher, if you will), and will flex less readily. As bike tubes, in this case, are lengthened, they will be more and more forgiving.

In a frame to fit someone as tall as you are, it'd be pretty tough to make anything so harsh as to be uncomfortable. Go with what you'd prefer, but most aluminum will be a bit stiffer (naturally) than titanium or possibly steel. Since aluminum tubes are made oversized to get the strength necessary, the by-product is stiffer tubing.

Good luck.
do you need custom?dave
Mar 9, 2001 12:58 PM
If you're oddly proportioned, and need unusual geometry, custom may be the only way to go. If not, why waste the money?

Aluminum and steel will be worlds apart in looks and ride. Al will have big bulky tubes and ride significantly rougher.

I'm a lightweight, and won't even consider an Al frame again, after having owned several C'dales. Ti, steel or CF are the only materials that I will consider.
"Al will have big bulky tubes and ride significantly rougher"Scott Parker
Mar 9, 2001 2:24 PM
I understand that an aluminum frame will have bulkier tubes, but the rougher ride is one of those myths that keep coming up. It is debunked often, most recently here:

The aluminum frame will probably be laterally stiffer, but if you claim that it is harsher, please tell me how you measured that harshness and why you think that the tires and seat don't compress several orders of magnitude more than the seat stays.

Please don't confuse the poster any more than he already is.

"Al will have big bulky tubes and ride significantly rougher"Ian
Mar 9, 2001 2:50 PM
That article by Sheldon was discussed on this board awhile back and while I can appreciate, from an engineering standpoint, that frames don't compress, anyone who says that aluminum, steel and carbon don't have different ride characteristics is wrong. And that includes Sheldon.
Al vs. steel vs carbonScott Parker
Mar 9, 2001 5:09 PM
It depends on what kind of characteristics you are talking about. It can be clearly measured (and has been) that aluminum frames are generally stiffer laterally that other materials; however, we are talking about a "harsh" ride, which I interpret as vertical compliance.

If you can produce any actual measurements that show how an aluminum frame will produce a harsher ride, I would be interested in seeing them. If you can't, you're just propogating another myth.

One of my favorite tag lines I have seen is: "one measurement is worth a thousand opinions" I don't remember who said it. If you say you can feel this difference in frame materials despite the overwhelming compliance of the wheels and the seat, you certainly should be able to measure it.
Al vs. steel vs carbonfuzzybunnies
Mar 9, 2001 8:29 PM
Weather the difference can be measured or not I have also noticed a difference. I have both a raleigh aluminum frame and a giant cadex carbon frame with only enough parts for one. I usually feel a lot more beat up on the aluminum bike than on the carbon and that's running the same exact components on both and both are the same size. So well I can't produce your measurements aluminum does tend to be a harsher ride than steel or carbon. Also since there wa onriginally a true difference in the earlier years of aluminum when they used much larger thicker tubes and it was most definetly a different riding material than todays examples, which I do find to be a smoother ride, the concept of the ride being harsh would not be a myth(no basis in reality) but a legend(existed but possibly blown out of proportion). TTFN
Al vs. steel vs carbonLazy
Mar 10, 2001 5:57 AM
It's my understanding that the "harshness" quality of a bike is associated with the resonance of the material. Aluminum has a higher resonance, thus vibrating more. It's the vibration that tires you out and gives you that "beat up" feeling. Carbon Fiber has a very low resonance, which leads to the "wooden" feeling that some describe. Geometry and other build qualities can minimize or magnify these properties. I read this somewhere recently. If I can remember where, I'll post the link. Might have been the white paper on Not sure though.
Scott, a question for you.Ian
Mar 10, 2001 6:04 AM
Have you tried the different frame materials we are talking about? If so and you can't feel a difference between a C-Dale and a Trek 5200, well, I would find that hard to believe. And if you have not tried the different frame materials, then go to shop and ride them. I would bet you will change your position.
rough ride is no myth, but not limited to Aluminum...dave
Mar 10, 2001 5:19 AM
The rougher ride is not a myth. It's the result of the larger tubes that must be used to reduce flex and the eventual fatigue failure that would result. After owning three C'dales, four steel frames, a Litespeed Ultimate and a C40, I've had lots of experience with different materials.

Actually, any frame material can be built into a rough riding configuration, if the tubes are oversized, bladed, ovalized, or made excessively short, to increase stiffness.

One of the harshest riding frames I ever rode was a Litespeed Ultimate (Ti). The bladed downtube and short stays both contribute to a rough ride. Nearly as bad as a C'dale 2.8.

Rider size also makes a lot of difference with regard to perceived harshness. I only weigh 135-140, and ride a 55cm frame. Riders who weigh significantly more, aren't affected as much by a frame's stiffness. That's why I always ask a person's size before recommending a particular frame.
re: Framesgrz mnky
Mar 9, 2001 1:32 PM
In my opinion the Serotta steel will be a superior ride to the Cannondale. I ride a Legend Ti and recntly built a CAAD 4 for a buddy.

The two makes that you mentioned are almost complete opposites. About the only thing they have in common is that they both build frames in the USA. C'dale is a large volume mfr. trying to get all personal. Serotta is a high end custom shop that is relatively well known. Their quality is flawless and some rave about the ride. Now when you add the different frame materials and philospophies they are even further apart. The C'dale is basically a "disposable bike" in the sense that you buy it and use it for a while until it fatigues, fails or you get tired of it. It will last a long time and is a good value. The Serotta is more of a "once in a life time" bike - buy it custom once and never part company with it. People like their C'dales, but Serotta owners are extremely passionate.

The C'dale will no doubt be cheaper than the Serotta. You should try and ride both and see if you can appreciate the differences. Serotta has a demo program. If it doesn't seem like much difference, save your money and don't buy the Serotta unless you want a status symbol.