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Aluminum Frame is So Rough, Or Am I A Wimp(25 posts)

Aluminum Frame is So Rough, Or Am I A Wimppeterkg
Jun 13, 2002 1:06 PM
I'm currently on an '01 Cannondale CAAD4 Frame... I can feel absolutely everything on the road and really start to fatigue after 50-60 miles. Some describe it as one of the most jarring bikes out there.

Would a carbon frame or at least something with carbon stays really make an incredible difference, or should I stop complaining and listening to all the hype. I really can't get a good feel for the differences in a simple parking lot test.
try thisJekyll
Jun 13, 2002 1:12 PM
http://www.sheldonbrown.com/frame-materials.html
It is not the Cannondale.unchained
Jun 13, 2002 1:33 PM
It is your saddle, your position, or your tires.

Carbon stays look nice, but will not help the ride to any noticable degree and they have durability issues.

IMHO your Cannondale is as fast and probably rides about as good as any other bike.
I'm not buying thatlaffeaux
Jun 13, 2002 2:00 PM
The whole idea that all frames ride exatly the same is ludicrous. I agree that frame material generalizations like, all AL bikes are stiff, and all steel bikes are smooth, are incorrect. However I will not buy into the fact that all frame ride the same - some are harsh and some are not. The geometry, the butting, and the tubing have an effect (regardless of what some articles say). I currently ride a steel frame that I built up with parts from an older steel frame. All that was changed were the seatpost, stem, and headset (as the frame required different sizes). These two frames rode nothing a like. The old bike was incredibly hash, while the new one rides very smoothly - again both frames are steel: one non-butted Tange, the other OX-III. There is a huge difference in frames, and maybe the material is not the largest factor in ride quality, but to say all frames are alike is nuts.
Yup.Leisure
Jun 14, 2002 12:33 AM
Once again, too many people go riding around on bikes coming to similar conclusions. I too sometimes oversimplify, saying steel is sweet and aluminum is, well, not as sweet. But the ways these tubes are processed are a direct consequence of the material it is made out of. Aluminum frames are intentionally made stiffer to avoid fatigue failure due to flexion, while steel and Ti are able to tolerate more flex and are typically designed with this in mind.
And as far as the Sheldon Brown article is concerned: it reminds me of when I read in mid-fi audio mags about how people must be incapable of detecting the differences between audio cables because oversimplified tests showed differences in one or two aspects were less than five percent. Not that they had any test references to how well humans could hear, or that they were even testing the right parameters to begin with. The high-fi mags new better, as did anyone that actually did a blind A/B test with worthy equipment. Eventually the mid-fi mags caught up. There's a habit with science novices to overextend a concept well beyond its responsible application, like putting a ruler on the ground and proclaiming the world to be flat. Just measuring one parameter and not finding immensely huge differences doesn't give anyone license to completely rule out anything, especially when it runs in complete contradiction to the experiences of those that pay attention.
Nope.Mel Erickson
Jun 14, 2002 6:48 AM
Sheldon, as usual, hit the nail on the head. It's not the material, it's the construction. Laffeaux proved it in his post. Virtually identical everything except the frame. Both were steel but rode considerably differently. The reason? The tubing was constructed differently and, no doubt, the frame was made differently too. You can build frames from aluminum, steel and titanium that all ride EXACTLY the same by varying the tubing thickness and diameter and the frame dimensions. All different materials, all the same ride, just different construction. I suspect many of the posters on this thread are too young to remember the original aluminum frames. They were noodles and didn't hold up well, either. Why? The builders were applying steel bike construction techniques and simply used aluminum to reduce weight. Steel tubing diameters, straight guage, thin wall tubing. They were very light but whippy and had a short life expectancy.
Nope v2Jekyll
Jun 14, 2002 8:14 AM
One of the things I would hesitate to call Sheldon Brown is a neophyte. The man has probably forgotten more about cycling then most of us will ever know. I think that he is right on. Its the geometry stupid (JK).
Most builders will tell you (in candid moments) that there is almost no vertical deflection in a modern bike frame. The shock absorber like quality assigned to steel and Ti frames would require vertical deflection which does not seem to exist. The only thing that may make sense (and be felt by the hyper sensitive) is lack of road "buzz" because of different oscillation rates of different materials. Maybe this is why people talk about OCLV frames being dead though that again is probably far more geometry related (assuming there is any truth to that old wives tale).
In the few A/B tests that I have seen (which for real listening are pretty useless as well) with different frames stripped of identifying marks most if not all testers consistently are unable to tell the difference between frames.
The world is not flat and if the ruler is long enough you will find that out. When I swap between Sovitec vs. Golden Dragon tubes in my pre-amp I can hear a difference and there are real reasons such as shielding, purity and type of conductors and welds, contact surfaces, etc to separate a set of Wal-Mart RCA's from a set of Audio Quest cables. Most of the differences in high end audio can be fairly easily quantified on paper and confirmed with listening and scientific testing. The biggest bitch there is that its a theory of diminishing returns and one needs to have a good ear (and wallet) and actually needs to know what an instrument actually sounds like in real life to discern a difference from an el chepo rack system and a Mark Levinson amp.
With bike frames you can't really show on paper where the material difference in vertical compliance exists. Lateral stiffness is quite different and can be easily felt - why every time I get off a steel or Ti bike and get on an Al frame I feel like someone attached a set of afterburners to my ass (the funny thing is that you're not actually going any faster, it just feels that way). Having owned frames made from just about everything under the sun, I will stick to my guns and say that the difference in frames with similar geometries and similar purposes is psychological and not physical. And, that almost all of the differences felt are related to the saddle, wheels, and tires.
Ah, your points don't run counter to mine as much as you think!Leisure
Jun 14, 2002 11:58 PM
I pointed out my own tendency to oversimplify, but that at the same time, the ways aluminum and steel frames are respectivly made are a direct consequence of the material chosen. When you cite that the original aluminum frames were noodly it was because builders didn't know how build a frame taking into account the compromises of aluminum. One of my points is, people could tell the difference. They did exactly that. And now that aluminum frames are made to resist flexion and their own fatigue failure, riders will independantly note how aluminum frames feel less comfy overall than steel or Ti.
Also, I talk about the tendency of people to overapply one concept beyond its application. I was refering to the tendency to look at vertical compliance as the be-all-end-all measurment of how comfortable a frame is, which I contend is a gross oversimplification. This is what I'm refering to when I mention "novice scientists", not to discount Sheldon Brown. When I left highschool I was very prone to making these sorts of oversimplifications, not that they were bad, but when perception and empirical fact do not seem to agree, you need look at whether you need to take more into account. Responsible science is supposed to work this way. I learned this the hard way getting a Chemistry degree from Cornell. You broke it open Jekyll, when you refer to the manner in which impact energy diffuses, which is exactly what I have been thinking about. It actually makes me feel a bit validated that I'm not the only one who's thought of it, even though I realize you may not take it seriously.
Truth be told, I would want to see exactly how they did their testing when you reference A/B tests wherein riders can't tell the difference between frames. Granted, isolating specific frames the designs of which diverge from their respective material norms may confuse several riders, but overall, looking at frames that typify what is usually built for those materials the trends I think would become more obvious. I can tell. That's enough for me.
It's also nice to see others that are familiar with audio, too. Don't you remember when every article of Stereo Review argued that there are no differences in interconnects because the resistance was not significantly different and therefore people MUST be incapable of hearing the difference? These guys ONLY looked at resistance and refused to trust their own ears when everyone else was saying "okay, what else must be going on?". They went on to measure inductance, capacitance, dielectric constants, etc and began to figure out why we were hearing the things we were. That's exactly the oversimplification I'm talking about, and to some extent (though an admittedly lesser) I think it applies to the disparity between different camps that argue what we're debating here.
What durability issues have you heard about with carbon stays?Me Dot Org
Jun 13, 2002 7:42 PM
curious...
Yeah, let's see some verifiable sources. -nmTig
Jun 14, 2002 10:12 AM
Aluminum is light and fast, but...MXL02
Jun 13, 2002 1:51 PM
when it comes to the ride, steel is real. A steel frame has the best ride for the money. I don't know if carbon rides any better, many say it does. One thing for sure is that it is expensive.
I have always wondered why many bikesLone Gunman
Jun 13, 2002 2:20 PM
that are not made of steel are made to emulate the ride of steel as the end line product.
Some reading for yaunchained
Jun 13, 2002 2:17 PM
http://www.habcycles.com/techstuf.html#harsh

http://groups.google.ca/groups?q=faq+bicycle+materials+ride+group:rec.bicycles.tech&hl=en&lr=&selm=36260025.2CD2%40ix.netcom.com&rnum=1
Just use a carbon postspookyload
Jun 13, 2002 2:18 PM
I used to own a Giant TCR and had an aluminum post in it. Like you said...it was very harsh to say the least. I added a carbon post, and the ride was much better. I used the USE Alien due to its flexier ride. Just a thought. might be cheaper than replacing a frame.
Won't be much helpDMoore
Jun 13, 2002 2:21 PM
On a compact frame like a TCR, there's enough post showing that a carbon post might make a difference in comfort. On a conventional frame design with a level top tube, there will not be enough seat post exposed to make any difference in comfort. A suspension seatpost, wider tires, or softer saddle would.
Could go with a suspension post nmLone Gunman
Jun 13, 2002 2:24 PM
alsoJekyll
Jun 13, 2002 2:26 PM
if you have the stock C-Dale saddle you could be riding a FS MTB on glass smooth roads and think that it was harsh.
Yep you are a wimpgrandemamou
Jun 13, 2002 5:11 PM
Just kidding. I rode a friends CAAD 4 and found the ride fine. As a matter fact it was pretty comfy. But then again thats just my opinion. You'll have to decide that one for yourself.

The correct saddle, 23c tires or greater not pumped to the max can make a world of difference. I switched from a Turbomatic to a Flite and the plush riding AL bike I had been bragging about turned into a jackhammer. Back to the Turbomatic and my butt was happy. Some will swear a carbon post will improve things but I couldn't tell any difference.
Al Hardens... Energy Dissapationjose_Tex_mex
Jun 13, 2002 5:40 PM
Aluminum can be more tough to ride than carbon or steel. However, it is probably more due to your seat tube angle and fork that you are getting beat up.

My buddy rides a CAAD3 with an agressive geometry (it's a few years old) and I ride a carbon 5500. I definitely feel less bumps but when it comes to the hills - his frame rules.

First, make sure you have a comfy saddle and shorts. Next, try a suspension seat post - maybe one with a bumper but nothing too soft. Lastly, a carbon fork (like my friend) will help a lot.

Carbon frames are made to be lighter and are less stiff than Al. Again, it may beat you up a bit but when it comes to the hills, all that "lack of energy dissapation" will go right to your pedals.

Also, remember that Al hardens. That is, that as Al is flexed the material actually gets harder and harder until it cracks. This is why you return your Cannondale after a few years.
From my experiencePODIUMBOUNDdotCA
Jun 13, 2002 8:44 PM
From my experience having had a '00 Cannondale CAAD4 and when I got a '01 CAAD5 I noticed an instand improvement in ride quality. The changes in the tubing made a huge difference while still keeping the frame super stiff! So I agree with the comment that CAAD4's are very stiff frames... which means a jarring ride at times but when you put the power down no energy is lost!!!

Carbon seatstays mean there is some give and hence some loss in power transfer if I'm correct? Which I'd never give up. And I'm not sure since carbon does flex in an up and down plain but the nature of the carbon could allow them to flex side to side under hard pedalling couldn't it.

Cheers,
Nick Corcoran
PodiumBound.ca
damnJekyll
Jun 13, 2002 9:50 PM
and all this time I could not figure out that going to an integrated headset on the CAAD5 from the CAAD4 (the only difference between the two frames) really make such an awesome difference in ride. Gee, thanks for letting me know! Damn, you don't only know everything about track cycling and your personal potential you're a geometry and metallurgy wizard as well. Just imagine how much better the CAAD6 rides! They added an integrated BB to that one - I bet that did miracles!
Just goes to show that things other than the frame make a difference in the ride - our pal here noticed an "instant improvement in ride quality" due solely to an integrated head set (or maybe from his head setting into the track?)! Oh the wonder of it all.......

http://www.cannondale.com/bikes/innovation/caad5road.html
damnWoof the dog
Jun 14, 2002 7:22 PM
thats what i thought too.

Peace out

Woof the soon-to-be riding a cannonsnail dog.
re: If you have little or no neck/shoulder pain lower your barsdzrider
Jun 14, 2002 5:16 AM
This takes a little weight off your seat. On very long rides I move the bars up a cm to ease my shoulders or down a cm to ease my butt. You may also get some relief from bigger tires.
Try these firstMel Erickson
Jun 14, 2002 6:50 AM
Before you buy a new frame try 25C tires, a new saddle and, perhaps, a new seatpost, in that order. I think you'll get an acceptable ride for a lot less money and hassle.
re: Aluminum Frame is So Rough, Or Am I A WimpJimP
Jun 14, 2002 11:40 AM
I rode a Cannondale for many years and complained about the vibration too. I didn't realize just how much vibration came up through the frame until I got a new Aegis carbon frame. I kept the same wheel / tire combination that I used on the 'dale and the saddle was the same too. You might say that I am getting soft as I approach 60, but now comfort means more to me than having the best climbing machine.