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Steel v. Aluminum for a newbie...(9 posts)

Steel v. Aluminum for a newbie...Tihlk
Mar 10, 2003 3:52 PM
I'm just now upgrading from the cutting edge late 70's road racing scene and would like some input from those of you with more experience... I'm down to the Lemond Zurich and Cannondale R1000. I found great deals on both. I'm still young - my current bike is older than I am - and plan on doing plenty of touring along with some triathalons and road racing, as well. I like the aggressive feel of the aluminum frame and the shop guy believes the CAAD7 frame is much smoother than the older aluminum frames, but I would appreciate the comfort that people talk about in the steel frames (while still being race quality). Any suggestions for decision time? Thanks.
Ride 'emKerry
Mar 10, 2003 4:35 PM
It's not steel vs. Al question, it's which bike do you like. Fit, ride, components, wheels, color, etc. If you want an honest comparison between the bikes, use the same set of wheels to test ride each, and make sure the fit is set up the same. The differences in handling and ride will then be down to the bike and not the wheels/tires.
Yup - Ride 'emMrDan
Mar 10, 2003 6:34 PM
Take 'em for long rides... 2 hours each. If they think that's too long, tell them that's too bad... you are dropping some serious $$. The identical wheels is a very good idea...
re: Steel v. Aluminum for a newbie...Tihlk
Mar 10, 2003 6:17 PM
Here's a more specific question. How about the durability of the aluminum bikes, particularly the ultra-thin CAAD7's? How much does it take to make the bike worthless?
re: Steel v. Aluminum for a newbie...Turtle Boy
Mar 10, 2003 9:32 PM
I'm pretty much new to "real" road biking - so I don't know doodle. When I was buying my bike last year the bike guy at my local REI said for guys like me ( about 6'2" and 200lbs ... I hit 220 during hibernation.... yikes) he reccomends steel frames. Made sense to me - effectively he was saying don't buy my high end REI aluminum road bike. I bought a Lemond .......
re: Steel v. Aluminum for a newbie...Leroy
Mar 10, 2003 10:51 PM
I have an old C/dale [1989 vintage] and a new one (caad5) and the newer ones are a lot smoother. I love steel bikes and have a gios compact pro w/ chrome fork as my main bike. I like the cannondale, too; I ride it all the time as well. The aluminum bike has a good ride, it's just a little different than the steel bike - just like you said in your post. Frankly, my C/dale is very comfortable, too. I plan on riding both in centuries this year. I guess I have both because I couldn't make up my mind either! There's not a "best" material. Just get the one you like best - one you'll ride - and don't look back. The point is to get one you like to ride.
Worrying about wrong thingsMike Prince
Mar 11, 2003 7:52 AM
As Kerry said above, worry about which bike you like better from a riding point of view - which handles better, which are you more comfortable on, which feels better. If memory serves me correctly, the geometries are somewhat different between the two bikes - the LeMond has a slacker seat angle and a longer top tube than a "comparable" C'dale. Much of this can be adjusted with stem length and you will see a minimal impact on handling.

I think you're worrying about nothing as far as durability issues. IMO both are great bikes that will be great for a long time. The "ideal" frame material is pretty much worthless is the frame doesn't fit.
I ride both...DINOSAUR
Mar 11, 2003 9:50 AM
I bounce back and forth between a steel and aluminum bike. I had a hard time deciding which bike I prefered until I took a trip and rode the aluminum bike for 200 miles within a week. Then I came home and got on my steel bike and now I can't stop riding it. That's not to say that the al bike is a slouch. The steel bike is newer and has a better grouppo and wheelset and it fits better. There is really no correct answer to your question as it comes down to preference. It takes about 200 miles of riding until you really get a feel for a bike. And then after that it might take a couple of months, or more, to dial everything in. Just make sure which ever bike you select fits. Then just ride the heck out of it and find out what you like and what you don't like and go from there, when it comes time for your next bike (and there will be more). Don't get focused on just two bikes, there are a lot more out there. Do a lot of research and shop around. I presume you are looking at the two bikes you mentioned as that is what your LBS offers. Try to find a bike shop where someone will listen to you and do a fitting. Most bike shops just push bikes out of the door and don't do any type of fitting at all. It sounds like you are veering toward an al bike, but don't discount steel. The CAAd7 and Reynolds 853 are two different animals. It's not which is better, it's which one you prefer. I do a lot of riding as I'm retired. I don't see that many cyclists on the road where I live as most of my rides are during the week in the late mornings. When I see another cyclist sometimes they come and go so fast that often I can't tell what kind of bike they are riding. Because when it comes down to it, it really doesn't matter. Keep in mind also that a good wheelset and tire combination will make a big difference in the ride. Consider just buying a frame and having the bike built up, then you can pick and choose and mix-match your component group.
Remember-one man's meat is anothers man's poison. Some guys (and gals) hate the ride of al and vice versa for the steel. I don't "hate" one or the other, but I veer toward steel as I like the ride that steel offers for long rides and I'm not overly obssessed about weight. I just the way the stuff rides, but I wouldn't pass up a good deal on a nice al bike either.
You asked a question that really can't be answered. I'm curious to what you are riding now as that might help you make your selection...no sense of owning two bikes of the same material..that's why I went with steel for my newer bike...it's nice to switch back and forth between the two so I don't get bored....
thanks for the inputTihlk
Mar 13, 2003 9:06 AM
I went with the LeMond.... I had put a lot of research into the whole decision process and rode a lot of bikes... The worst part of the whole thing was that NO ONE in south OC would let me take their bike out for more than a parking lot tour.

I was using an old Centurion steel tank. The LeMond geometry felt a lot like it and I was worried about the durability of the al bike in my admittedly clumsy hands. The Cdale felt great but it was also $300 more with the deal the LBS had on the LeMond...

Thanks for the input everyone.