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Aluminium frame - how harsh is it?(19 posts)

Aluminium frame - how harsh is it?eoind
Jun 13, 2001 7:08 AM
I've just heard that an aluminium frame will give a harsher ride to a heavier rider as opposed to a lighter rider. I'm 72Kg, (approx 160 pounds), and trying to buy my first road bike. The thought of a harsh uncomfortable ride has been putting me off aluminium, but if this new information is correct, then maybe I don't have as much to worry about as I initialy thought. Is this true?
I know that I need to test ride various frames, but it's hard to get a true feel for a bike on a 10 minute ride on city streets.
re: Aluminium frame - how harsh is it?ScottH
Jun 13, 2001 7:19 AM
It really depends on the frame. Adding bends in the seat stays and the type of tubing can make a big difference in the ride. My old (11+ years) c'dale is incredibly harsh but my friend's '99-'00 C'dale is very comfortable. Try out a couple frame materials, steel, Ti, etc.

As far as rider weight goes, I would think that it would be the other way around, lighter rider, stiffer ride.
re: Aluminium frame - how harsh is it?jasonmb
Jun 13, 2001 7:36 AM
I was in the same boat as you and decided on a trek 2300. Im 180 lbs, and the carbon fork makes a big difference. I was pleasently suprised.
re: Aluminium frame - how harsh is it?ScottH
Jun 13, 2001 7:52 AM
Haven't decided what I'll replace it with yet. But it is definitely time. I did a 100k over the weekend with a friend and he said he could see my hands vibrating on the bars.
Enough, alreadyMel Erickson
Jun 13, 2001 7:35 AM
Material makes little difference in ride quality. A builder can make a harsh or compliant frame from the same material by varying the shape, thickness, geometry, etc. of the tubes. Some of the original aluminum frames were noodles (I repeat myself). To counter the critisism heaped on them for being so spineless several constructors (notably Cannondale) started building fat tube bone crushers. It took awhile to find a happy medium but most aluminum frames today are very comfortable.
re: Aluminium frame - how harsh is it?ScottV
Jun 13, 2001 8:49 AM
Well this is my new ride

Made of Columbus Airplane which is their news Al tube set. I really like the ride. I've done rides of over 100 km on the things that pass as roads up here and so far I feel fine at the end of a ride. I love it compared to my old Litespeed Classic. Much stiffer bike but it does not beat me up.
Disagree.....Len J
Jun 13, 2001 8:57 AM
Comparison test rides of various frames over similar conditions for 10 15 minutes of hard riding do give you a view of the relative harshness. Start with your own bike as a frame of refrence (since you know how you feel after long ride. During each test ride answer "is this harsher than mine or not" This will give you a good gauge to make your selection.

Aluminum as a harsh ride as a general statement is an urban myth. It really depends on how the Bike designer uses the properties of the material. Justy like any other material, there are harsh Aluminum frames & comfortable aluminum frames. Try several. R.
Jun 13, 2001 9:08 AM
This ought to answer your question...

John R.
re: Aluminium frame - how harsh is it?Ken
Jun 13, 2001 9:18 AM
I just bought an Aluminium frame T800 from Cannondale. I thought that the ride would be harsh but to my surprise the ride is not harsh at all and compares favorably to my other roadbike which is all CF.

T800Rich Clark
Jun 13, 2001 10:26 AM
That's a touring frame with long chainstays and a fork with lots of trail, right? Aluminum can work well on such frames because the geometry tends to add some flex; some steel touring frames often seem *too* flexy.

New Al. vs. Old Al.Mass Biker
Jun 13, 2001 9:23 AM
You'd be surprised at how well-mannered the new generation of Al. bikes are. The Giant TCR rides a lot more smoothly/comfortably than older Cannondales (as a point of comparison). Some of it is the carbon fork. A lot of it is how the tubes themselves are shaped and butted. Perhaps some of it has to do with the compact frame sizing and the dampening effect of a longer (exposed) seatpost.

I had a chance to test ride a fancy Italian Al./carbon steed not long ago - thinwall Al. tubing sandwiched between a carbon fork and carbon rear stays. Talk about light/stiff/comfortable through the rough stuff. It won't win any prizes for affordability (nor will it break the bank either), but it certainly signals the direction in which this material is heading, and perhaps signals the optimal use of this material (i.e. in conjunction with another lightweight material that is also dampening). As far as road feel went - it felt a lot more lively than an all carbon fiber bike, but certainly more comfortable than the new breed of thinwall aluminum racing bikes. - MB
Jun 13, 2001 9:27 AM
It's up to the framebuilder.

I have a Casati Forma made from Dedacciai SC61.10A (aluminum alloy) tubing with Campy Chorus and Campy Nucleon wheels. I'm slightly over 5'10" and weigh 190lbs.

The ride is harsher than steel, but I wouldn't call it an uncomfortable ride at all. As a matter of fact, I can state with no reservations that the ride is comfortable.

I ride 4 times a week putting on close to 150 miles and average 19mph (on the odometer). I don't race, but I train hard.

BTW... the lighter you are, the harsher the ride no matter what the material. The heavier you are, the flexier the frame gets and won't be as harsh. Plus the longer you ride, the harsher it gets. Your body will feel it alot more after 100 miles as opposed to 50 miles.
It's in the eye of the beholder...biknben
Jun 13, 2001 9:36 AM
Or in this case, the Ars of the rider...

I recently went from steel to C'Dale Alum (CADD5). I find it to be a firmer ride but not uncomfortable. I also find it to be incredibly efficient. Point and go...Step on it and move...

The AVERAGE Alum frame is stiffer than the AVERAGE steel but you can find frames on different ends of the spectrum. There is harsh Steel and comfortable Alum.

If a test ride around the block isn't enough, find a store that has a demo bike for you to take for the day. My LBS will allow you to take demo for as long as you need (winthin reason of course). No it may not fit perfectly and not have the component set up you want but it's just a demo. You should have enough time to figure out whether you like it or not.
Aluminum is evilDaveG
Jun 13, 2001 10:15 AM
Aluminum will wreck your life. It will make you write bad checks. It will date your girlfriend/boyfriend behind your back. It will make long distance calls on your phone without asking. It will max out your Visa card. It will cause you to run with scissors. It will drink all your beer. However, if you can put up with that, you might get a good ride out of it.
Hahaha! Well played, DaveG! (nm)RhodyRider
Jun 13, 2001 10:20 AM
Aluminum is evil- Bravo Dave G.!mtnman
Jun 13, 2001 10:35 AM
re: Aluminium frame - how harsh is it?notes_clp
Jun 13, 2001 12:16 PM
I looked and test rode both a C'dale R800 (Aluminum frame) and LeMond Zurich (Steel), both had carbon forks. I am a heavy rider at 190 and I could tell a big difference in the ride quality, to me the Zurich was much smoother over rough roads and more comfortable on the longer rides..

I bought the Zurich, but as everyone says, you need to ride and decided for your self..
re: Aluminium frame - how harsh is it?minor threat
Jun 13, 2001 1:21 PM
sheesh. listen, my friend. we are talking about SUBTLE differences here, make no mistake about it. i myself recently junked a top of the line frame from a major manu because i didn't like its ride quality, but that is because i am a nut. remember, bikes are rigid structures- how much real difference can there be? it is an acquired taste to sense the differences in ride quality. spend a decent amount of money and you will get a decent enough bike. ride it every chance you get. after a while, ride different bikes when you get the chance and let your newly developed senses take over. i would suggest starting with the refined alu ride of a klein. the magic ride of steel which i love really can't be had in a production bike (you might want to start saving for a strong, a waterford, a serottta or the like while you build your base)
re: Aluminium frame - how harsh is it?Old and Slow
Jun 13, 2001 8:52 PM
I like the ride of my Klein better than my Waterford it seems much smoother.If I had to choose and could only keep one of the bikes would take the Klein.Anybody want to buy a Waterford 2200?