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Steel to Aluminum-ride comfort suicide?(28 posts)

Steel to Aluminum-ride comfort suicide?Mitch Gold
Oct 10, 2001 7:15 AM
As a rider of an older steel frame for more than 12 yrs now, I'm interested in switching to one of the new aluminum frames(7005,Dedacciai, Altec, etc.) Would like to hear from anyone who has also made the switch and can let me know if I'm commiting comfort suicide or if this can be a reality. Thanks for all those who respond.
Not suicide at all!!Wannabe
Oct 10, 2001 7:31 AM
I have been riding a steel bianchi (105group level) since 1992. I made the switch this August to a 2001 Aluminum (Dura-Ace level) and my new Aluminum is actually a SMOOTHER ride than my steel bianchi!

As has been posted on this board many times, the type of frame material used does not necessarily determine the ride produced. The key is the quality of the craftsmen that design a frame to optimally use the material chosen.

Andy - Wannabe
re: Steel to Aluminum-ride comfort suicide?morey
Oct 10, 2001 7:35 AM
I switched from steel with much trepidation. I bought a Cannondale r4000si. I have not found the negatives I had been hearing. I love it, it is light, begs to be ridden fast, it is stiff etc. I would buy aluminum again!
re: Steel to Aluminum-ride comfort suicide?cyclopathic
Oct 10, 2001 7:46 AM
not steel to Al, switched Al to steel

Yes you're loosing comfort with Al.
Is it that bad? depends how you ride.
for 30-70mi/1.5-3.5hr ride wouldn't make that much difference, for longer century/double yes. 120mi on Al bike can pound you worse then 300 on steel.
Agree, it is not the material until you factor in the miles. nmMB1
Oct 10, 2001 9:25 AM
DependsMel Erickson
Oct 10, 2001 9:54 AM
I've got an alu/carbon bike that will rival ANY other bicycle for comfort over any distance. No, it's not a new alu ride with carbon stays. It's a much older design, a Softride Solo. The alu frame is very stiff while the carbon beam makes it ride oh so smooth and comfy. Now here's a bike where design AND materials make the difference.
wellcyclopathic
Oct 10, 2001 10:13 AM
I ride Giant TCR (very stiff frame) with carbon fork/seatpost and while I agree ride is pretty smooth on my butt/hands my knees start screaming after 100mi. I did 190mi ride on it and I swear I was crying driving back from accelerator pedal vibration (!) something I never notice.

Problem is that stiff frame doesn't disperse vibration, and my knees happen not to like it. Not a problem on 70mi ride

my $0.02
You're rightMel Erickson
Oct 10, 2001 10:29 AM
There are some very stiff frames out there and the Giant TCR is one of them. My point is the Giant and others of their ilk are stiff by design, not because of the material they're made of. If the design of the Giant was changed by, say, making the tubes smaller in diameter or a different shape, the bike could be made to be more comfortable during long rides. The TCR was meant to be a responsive, quick, stiff and light frame that responds immediately to power and it does it well. Build a bike out of any other material with the same design goals and it wouldn't do well over long distances either. The one design goal that responds well to material type is weight. It's just easier to make a stiff, lightweight bike out of aluminum than just about any other material. I think that's why aluminum has the rap of being stiff. More bikes with the design goal of stiffness and light weight are made from aluminum.
I ride small framescyclopathic
Oct 10, 2001 10:54 AM
and they tend to be stiff by the virtue of being small.

for me there're separate 2 issues:
- frame stiffness (which I completely agree with you is more of design then material)
- high frequency dumping properties

Carbon, steel and Ti frames seem to do it much better then Al
No questionMel Erickson
Oct 10, 2001 12:48 PM
They are less "buzzy" and dampen the high frequency vibrations more. Maybe the answer to your problem with long rides on the TCR is the new Campy carbon crankset and a carbon bar. Then all vibrations reaching your body would have to go through carbon and the buzz would be reduced. Got $800?
$800?cyclopathic
Oct 10, 2001 7:41 PM
you can buy Reynolds 520 bike for less
Crazy, isn't it. nmMel Erickson
Oct 11, 2001 5:28 AM
re: Steel to Aluminum-ride comfort suicide?badabill
Oct 10, 2001 8:02 AM
Went from steel to ALU and back to steel. A lot depends on the bikes you choose. I bought a Giant TCR compact because it was lite and fast, IMHO a compact ALU frame beats the hell out of you on rides over 80mi. Went with a steel landshark and have been very happy. Some of the new ALU frames are said to rival steel in ride comfort,but unless you are worried about weight I would stick with steel.
about your LandsharkTig
Oct 10, 2001 9:26 AM
Which tubes were used on your bike, and what size is it? Is there anything you would have done differently or anything you don't like?

Looking at his site, he offers many different types and combo's of tubing. I'm interested in this choice for my needs:

"Dedacciai ~Columbus Foco Custom Blend:
Combination of unique properties in two different tube sets.
Trick and light! The unique Foco chain stays & downtube with super light Deda top seat & stays! Fully filet brazed."
about your Landsharkbadabill
Oct 10, 2001 5:08 PM
I went with his deda zero uno tubeset, 54cm st, 54cm tt. Very short chain stays. Ouzo pro fork. total weight of bike 18.5lbs. It is the best handling bike i have ever owned. John will work with and your riding style to set up the bike any way you want. His lite steel frame is sub 3lb.
Not alwaysTig
Oct 10, 2001 8:09 AM
It's not so much the material, but the design of the tubes and application. Yes, many aluminum frames offer a more harsh ride tham many steel ones. But that is not the case for several aluminum frames available. Unfortunately for me, ALL of the aluminum frames I've owned (7 total) were/are very harsh to ride on compaired to my steel or carbon fiber ones.

Good news: A good riding buddy who is actually lighter than I am just bought a Cannondale CADD 5 and he is totally amazed at how nice a ride it has. Usually lighter riders get the hell beat out of them on Cannondales, but he claims this feels better than his old steel bike and Trek 5500. He's a very experienced rider who has raced nationals several times, so I value his views.

All the same, I'm looking into a steel Columbus Foco tubed or Dedacciai Zero Uno tubed bike for long ride comfort without a heavy frame.
weight & size factors....C-40
Oct 10, 2001 8:29 AM
The frame size and weight of the rider have a significant effect on the ride quality. Larger frames with heavier riders have fewer complaints about ride quality than lightweights riding smaller frames.

I ride a 54 or 55cm frame. At 135lbs, I've never found an aluminum frame that wasn't pretty harsh. As others have noted, any material can be made to ride harsh, if the tubes are oversized and/or bladed. One of the worst I ever rode was the Litespeed Ultimate (Ti). The bladed downtube and short stays produced quite a pounding, except on very smooth roads.
This one gets me chucklingMel Erickson
Oct 10, 2001 8:50 AM
The original rap on aluminum was that it was too noodly! Some may be too young to remember the first alu frames from makers like Alan. They were built using traditional steel tubing diameters and were very flexible. It took Cannondale to produce the beer can bikes of the mid 80's that have produced the "aluminum is too stiff it will shake your teeth out" mantra. I own one of those original Cannondales and they are stiff BY DESIGN. They solved the original noodle problem and created today's urban legend. Let's go over this again. It's not the material, it's the design (tubing diameters, thickness, shape, etc.) ANY material can be made into a frame that is ultra bone shaking stiff or ultra compliant and anything inbetween. Ride some and decide for yourself.
screwed and gluedJack S
Oct 10, 2001 8:54 AM
don't forget Vitus. But hey, Sean Kelly couldn't have thought it was too bad. But then again, pros don't buy their bikes, right? And there goes another thread.
Vitusdzrider
Oct 10, 2001 10:38 AM
I put 7 years and a lot of miles on a Vitus 992. I can't imagine a more comfortable bike. The last year or so it started creaking a lot and then the derailleur hanger broke and I scrapped it. The cost of repairing a creaking frame was too high and I found a Raleigh 600 aluminum frame, fork headset & bottom bracket for $100. Endured that for two long years during which I ran a lot. Now I'm back on steel and loving it. All this to say that I've had aluminum at both ends of the comfort spectrum. It ain't the metal it's the design!
back to steeltarwheel
Oct 10, 2001 9:20 AM
I rode a steel Bianchi for 15 years. Got a newer aluminum Bianchi, and now I'm back to steel again. I agree that aluminum frames have improved over the years, but you can't convince me that they are as comfortable as a quality steel frame. My aluminum frame was a quality bike, but the vibration and road buzz were definitely more noticeable than my steel bikes. You tend to notice the buzz much more, however, on longer rides or when you're putting in a lot of mileage. If you don't ride a lot of miles, al might be fine.
re: Suicide is not the right wordSteveS
Oct 10, 2001 9:38 AM
I have had aluminum in the past and tested a current aluminum frame against my titanium (budget) a year or so ago. The aluminum rode and handled well, but it was clearly and discernably rougher riding over surface irregularities than my ti frame. So, I wouldn't say suicide is the right word and if shorter rides are your thing, an hour or so in the saddle, aluminum is probably fine.

Not for me though, I am sticking with steel or titanium. Good luck.
several ways to minimize the pain..dotkaye
Oct 10, 2001 10:22 AM
went from a nondescript steel frame to Trek 2500 alu and noticed significantly more harshness from the new frame. One of my rides goes over a MUT made of concrete slabs, bounding over the ridges between the slabs on the first ride on alu just about shook my teeth out. Since then I switched to 23's instead of 20's, and to a Flite Ti saddle, both of which helped quite a bit. I love the alu for racing, but I did go out and buy a 2nd hand Paramount for noodling around on long rides. That whole bike cost less than the Trek frame..
You'll be finemmaggi
Oct 10, 2001 11:28 AM
Unless you plan on spending 5-7 hours every other day in the saddle, you'll be fine.

I rode a steel bike for 3 years then went to an aluminum.

I noticed the difference immediately, but it's very bearable. It's very lively and there's no dampness in the ride.

BTW.. I ride 3-4 times a week averaging 35-45 miles every time I go out.
Then how do the PRO's ride AL all day, everyday?SimpleGreen
Oct 10, 2001 12:30 PM
I keep hearing about how harsh AL frame designs can be made, but then how do the pro's in Europe ride day in and day out on their AL bikes. Then ride 25K miles a year, so somethings gotta be up. Pros aren't big guys either, usually.

Tires and tire pressure are a big factor as is the choice of gloves, saddle, shorts.

The other unmentioned issue is fit. Pros usually have custom bikes made to their measurements. I wonder how much more that contributes to comfort on the bikes compared to road vibration as that sort of thing.

Anyone have any ideas?

SG
Don't pros get a massage everyday too??? nmMB1
Oct 10, 2001 12:45 PM
This is a legitimate question!Jon
Oct 10, 2001 2:02 PM
One which I've often wondered about. Any ex-pros out there, or others who've done 200 -
300k/day races on aluminum frames?
Yes I have. Now I mostly ride steel.MB1
Oct 10, 2001 3:25 PM
If I was going to race again I would do things a lot differently than I do now. I liked racing on aluminum. Everything hurt so bad from going hard I never noticed the harsh ride of the frames. I did notice how well they raced.

I don't ride like that any more. I ain't that young any more either. Frames are better now than when I raced too. For me aluminum means go fast, steel and ti mean go comfortable.