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Ti, Aluminum , steel or OCLV(15 posts)

Ti, Aluminum , steel or OCLVgomer
Dec 16, 2001 1:41 PM
Rec rider looking for new bike. 6'4" 195lbs. Have read every freakin' thing I can find and talked to all the
LBS "experts" Have come to the following conclusion:

Steel is way too heavy and isn't cool anymore

Titanium is too expensive for the small weight advantage

Aluminum is too stiff and will give you a backache and then fail

OCLV is too fragile, It will crack the first time you dump it in a corner

I have ridden all but the OCLV. I have to admit the Cdale aluminum frame felt incredible. Way different
than the steel or Ti, climbed like a cat.

Anybody care to provide some USEFUL insight
not that simple...C-40
Dec 16, 2001 2:50 PM
You can't lump all frames made of a particular material into the same category. The size and shape of the tubes has as much to do with the ride as the material. Any of these materials can be made to ride harshly. Any of them can crack and fail. You won't find a single brand or model that someone hasn't had a bad expereince with. None of them are perfect.

Today's frames weigh between 2 and 4 lbs. Some of the ultralight Al frames have rider weight limits of 180 pounds or less. That should tell you something about their durability. Aluminum only has 1/3 the stiffness of steel. The tubes must be made larger and shaped for stiffness to avoid excessive flex that would result in fatigue failure. Big riders seem to tolerate the stiff Al ride better than smaller and lighter riders.

The LBS is likely to knock steel because fewer manufacturers make them these days. It's still one of the best values and most durable materials. Check out the Tommasini Tecno (lugged steel) at or A great example of classic steel. Colnago's Master X-light is respectable too.

As a big guy, you shouldn't obsess about an extra pound or two of frame weight. It won't make a measureable difference in your average speed, or keep you from staying with a fast group. It's the engine that counts.

If you find something that fits, the ride feels good and the price is right, buy it and enjoy it.
nicely put - thanks (nm)gomer
Dec 16, 2001 5:36 PM
What do you want to do...jtolleson
Dec 16, 2001 4:02 PM
on your bike? That question drives frame material selection to some degree, I think.

Next factor: how much do you want to spend?

I have owned everything but CF. First, ti isn't about weight advantage. It will usually run the second heaviest (next to steel). To me, it was exclusively about durability and ride quality. I wanted to ride comfortable centuries. That was probably factor # 1. If I didn't ride ti, I'd get nice lugged Italian steel.
I want...gomer
Dec 16, 2001 5:35 PM
a durable bike that can be ridden agressively on occasion , be ridden 1500-2000 miles a year in fairly hilly terrain and is a decent value.
My requirements were those exactly...John-d
Dec 17, 2001 2:06 AM
I am much lighter than you (67kg) but I went through this excercise my self. I short listed the C,dale, Giant TCR, Basso steel, Zeppelin Ti.

A test ride on the C'dale R800 was good enough for me, I stopped faffing about, bought it and enjoy every ride. It rides better than my old steel bike, and you can sqeeze on a set of lightweight mudguards.

It's all very personal, even different models of the C'dale rode differently.

What I am saying is, be guided by the test rides, directly you find what you like, go for it.

Happy riding

re: Ti, Aluminum , steel or
Dec 16, 2001 4:44 PM
Guess you just don't understand. Wood is the only choice!
All conclusions wrong except . . .DCW
Dec 17, 2001 5:01 AM
your response to the Dale you like. I ride a steel bike (which replaced my ti bike) and chose it for the same reason you like the Dale. My riding buddies chose carbon, ti, alu, not so much for the material but for the fit and ride they like.

I'd say that the other conclusions are either incorrect or over-generalizations that have virtually nothing to do with bike choice.
Its called carbon fiber, not OCLV ...pmf1
Dec 17, 2001 5:04 AM
Trek calls its carbon bike OCLV, but this is their name for the carbon fiber they use.

Personally, the only frame material I don't like is aluminium and that's based on information that is probably outdated (i.e., the Cannondale 3.0 frame I had and hated 10 years ago).

Of all materials, I like carbon best. I've got two carbon bikes and one titanium bike.

1. There are many steel tubes out there these days that are pretty light and affordable (e.g. Reynolds 853).
2. As with all materials, how the aluminium bike is made dictates its ride. I remember aluminium Vitus bikes and they were noodles.
3. There are so many silly misconceptions about carbon. Its just as durable as anything out there, is very light and has a plush ride.

If you can, get out and test ride bikes for longer than 5 minutes in the parking lot.
Carbon is actually very strongMcAndrus
Dec 17, 2001 5:48 AM
I'm not a mechanical engineer so I can't give you the math. I do ride a carbon Giant, though, and have test ridden a Trek 5200 and 5500.

Carbon is actually quite strong - ounce for ounce much stronger than steel. I can't see how it'd break in a normal crash - like sliding out in gravel. And any frame will break if the crash is severe enough.
Carbon is actually very strongjosh_putnam
Dec 17, 2001 11:13 AM
Carbon is quite strong but not particularly tough -- if you whack it hard in one particular spot, it can crack, where metal frames would dent. Not a common failure, but it can happen.
re: Ti, Aluminum , steel or OCLVcioccman
Dec 17, 2001 12:58 PM
Well, I've got an ultra high end aluminum that's warrantied forever. I don't think it'll fail, if it does, I'm sure I'll be taken care of. I've got other alus as well. I've owned and still have quite old steels in the garage. I've ridden all other materials as well. Alu fits my ride criteria and wallet criteria best. My next two rigs will likely be carbon fiber and custom steel. I have no particular fondness for Ti and have not been able to talk myself into spending that much for one. Amazing, but true!

I'd say go with the ride feel you like best.

After riding just about every material and settling on riding Alu almost exclusively now for almost 7 years, I have yet to understand this *harsh* ride concept. I call it stiffness and responsiveness. Some people like the ride of Mercedes, other that of Corrolla. Personally I like the ride of a Vette.
Buy ti butWhymea
Dec 17, 2001 7:13 PM
the odds are you won't outlast a good frame of any material for that matter. Ti also won't rust and regardless of what some people say, steel will.Sweat and riding in rain as well as condensation build up will happen. If you are into maintaining your bike well go steel, but if you want worry free riding go ti.
Carbon fiber is real nice, and technically it is a strong material, but it is more fragile in the sense that if it is scraped and the fibers are sheared, that can lead to gradually weakening of the frame if the fiber strands are broken. Not so much the impact of a crash, but more the slide is what would concern me more. If you don't race or plan to, then consider it.
Aluminum to me is Sh$%. It is the cheapest frame material by far and C'Dale charges alot of $$$ and they put some of the crappy house brand components on them. They look nice but not a good value. If you race though and you need awesome acceleration, they can't be beat. Not C'Dale per se, but high end aluminum. No matter what people say about frame manipulation and geometry, relatively speaking they are HARSH RIDES compared to all the other materials. I know because I owned Al and compared to steel and ti and CF they are awful on comfort.
I have steel and Ti now and like qualities about both. However, I ride the ti 99% of the time. Good ti gives you a balance that only steel gives you as well minus the weight. Unless you go higher end steel but then you may as well get the ti because the cost is the same.
Bottom Line is , buy the bike that feels the best and fits the best for you. Remember though, the Aluminum felt good on a test ride, but what will it feel like after 80 miles in the saddle? I assure you Ti, CF and to a lesser degree, steel will be much more comfortable. I would Ti because you have the durability, the light weight and the performance all in one. The other materials seems to fall short in at least one of those categories.
Just out of curiosity ...pmf1
Dec 18, 2001 6:17 AM
What is an "ultra high end aluminum" bike. Isn't that kind of a contradiction. I thought the major benefit of aluminium was that the frames are cheap.
Not a contradictioncioccman
Dec 18, 2001 8:15 AM
Klein Quantum Pro. Gradient tubing, absolutely gorgeous. Stiff and ultra responsive. Straight fork. Warrantied forever. Why ride anything less?