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Unpainted metal frame - is it only for Ti? How about Alum?(12 posts)

Unpainted metal frame - is it only for Ti? How about Alum?Fez
Jan 16, 2003 8:29 AM
Not everyone likes the look of bare Ti frames, but at least it is somewhat practical (no paint chips) and saves a ton of weight (just kidding on the weight).

How about bare aluminum frames? Almost every aluminum frame I see is painted. Is it possible to give aluminum frames a brushed or high polish look? Could they do this as bare metal or does it need a clearcoat?

I remember seeing a fair number of high polish Cannondales a few years back, but I cannot remember how they were finished, or if they were actually painted silver.
stainless steel!sistinas
Jan 16, 2003 8:37 AM
I have an old Kabuki (Bridgestone) bike made of stainless steel (it is the "Submariner" model, meant for use in shore towns I think) and half the frame is painted powder blue, and the other half is unpainted and just bare steel. I really like how it looks, and it's held up really well for being almost twenty years old.

It also super super duper heavy.
Jan 16, 2003 8:46 AM
I knew a guy who chromed a bike frame. No rust, but it added about 40 lbs to the frame weight.
always wondered why they didn't do that nmDougSloan
Jan 16, 2003 4:18 PM
Jan 16, 2003 4:34 PM
Agree that it added weight.

But chrome also weakens the metal and rusts easily? Also, since it is a plating process, it flakes off after awhile.

But I'm sure it looked nice.
That was my first "10 speed" bike...Uprwstsdr
Jan 16, 2003 1:57 PM
Rode it for many years, have no idea where it is now. I got it as a Christmas present, probably in 1976 when I was 12. I used it on a bike tour through Nova Scotia that Summer. Imagine pedaling that around fully loaded with paniers. I must have been in excellent shape. Mine was unpainted stainless steel with flat black lugs.
6000 series Alum is fairly corosion resisantMB1
Jan 16, 2003 8:48 AM
7000 series Aluminum has copper in it and oxides fairly quickly.

Most frame builders use 7000 series aluminum because it is much easier to heat treat after welding. That eliminates the possibility of polishing the frame. 7000 series frames can be anodized with a "Clear" finish that looks like bare aluminum but it can be polished off by an unaware owner. Anodized colors also have a problem with fading over time when exposed to sunlight-although some colors and finishes are more resistant to fading than others.

Plus painting frames covers up a lot of small blems on the material.

Most builders are profit and sales driven so the additional care and cost required to build a polished or anodized aluminum frame are too much to justify.

BTW I have a beautiful anodized 6061 aluminum frame that is good for many more years and looks much better than my painted frames of similar age.
I had a C'dale polished Alum frame (6000 series alum)....cdale02
Jan 16, 2003 9:07 AM
it was a '94 R900 in the polished finish. There was no clear coat on the frame, and it would oxidize a bit due to sweat. One thing I really enjoyed doing though, was polishing the frame was a metal polisher and having it look brand new again (like chrome)- it was kind of therapeutic for me.

I was bummed when the frame cracked and the replacement wasn't offered in the polished finish anymore - but I did get a CAAD 3 which was a nicer ride.
What about the finish on componentry?Fez
Jan 16, 2003 9:09 AM
Take a current model Chorus or DA or Ultegra crankset, for example. The crankarms have an anodized finish and I have found the finish to hold up very well over time.

But I guess putting that kind of finish to a bike frame may result in a high pricetag for the consumer.
6000 series Alum is fairly corosion resisantupandcomer
Jan 16, 2003 1:36 PM
I thought 7000 series weren't heat treated after welding. Are they?
Not the same process as series 6000 aluminum.MB1
Jan 16, 2003 4:11 PM
6000 series aluminum must be heat treated to remove the tempering/softening caused by the welding process. The first step of the heat treating process brings 6000 series frames almost to the melting point then they are quenched and hardened either by dipping into a bath or by a water spray. Then they are moderatly heated to harden them also called aging.

7000 series frames need a similar but not as extreme tempering process but also age naturally. Much easier to do since they do not get near as soft during the much shorter heat treating and aging process. It also uses a lot less energy to do this saving quite a bit of cost.
Next project - gun blueing on a steel frame...BowWow
Jan 16, 2003 2:54 PM
I'm just now removing the paint from an old lugged frame - zero weight and simple touch-ups, with a sexy shiny, deep grey patina. A quick rub-down restores the finish!