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Aluminum Frame Life(16 posts)

Aluminum Frame LifeZerotrek
May 7, 2003 12:35 PM
I often hear salesman in LBS saying that many of the light aluminum frames on sale today are made as "disposable" frames. Good only for a year or so. This is disappointing to me. I own a new Specialized E5 Road frame, the zebra Aqua Sapone one. I love this bike. It excelerates amazing rides beautiful, but the thought of having to replace it every year is impossible. I could never afford it. I have heard the same for many other framse, such as the Giant TCRs. Usually the last person to admit a fault with a product is a salesman, so this leaves me to think there must be a some truth to this.

My question would be, is this true, if so what frame builder makes a reliable, light, stiff frame? I am 6'3" and weigh roughly 235lbs, so I am probably stuck with aluminum. I have ridden aluminum frames all my life. My LBS suggested a Bianchi Giro. Any other suggestions?
re: Aluminum Frame LifeJuanmoretime
May 7, 2003 1:05 PM
I have a friend of mine riding a 8 year old Klein and it's still going strong, he out weighs you by about 50 pounds. If you want a bomb proof frame for a big guy checkout the Klein's.
...TBD...Akirasho
May 7, 2003 1:10 PM
... it's not an easy question to answer... certainly, the fatigue properties of aluminium alloys in general, specifically their use in bicycle frames, has been discussed before... and true as it ever was... while a Pro may see great service out of a frame for the duration of a race or tour... chances are, he/she's got sponsor replacement bikes waiting in the wings... and along with the push towards ligher frame weights... this is a bit of concern.

Also add the variables 'tween you and an average pro... and we only end up muddying the waters... What's the frame warranty on the E5??

In the past, aluminium frames were a bit overengineered to overcoming some shortcomings of earlier designs (namely, frame failures) and indeed, most major Al players offered lifetime warranties... now, many are around 5 years (though this may be as much for protection against future litigation as it might be an indicator of frame life (a year is arbitrary... (5 years of hard riding or 5 years hanging in your garage are the same in warranty terms)).

I'm close to your dimensions... and just picked up one of the lightest frames I've ever owned (regardless of material)... a Klein Q Pro Carbon... While Klein offers a lifetime warranty on frame materials and workmanship... it does not cover what they call "wear and tear"... which pretty much puts you back to square one.

OTOH, I do still have a few high milage Cannondales... so far... so good.

Be the bike.
...TBD...The Human G-Nome
May 7, 2003 4:18 PM
and i'm definitely riding one of the lightest frames out there... U2 Aluminum with a 155lb rider weight limit. it even has a tire pressure reccomendation. i'm eager to test whether all of the hysteria is for real. hopefully, if it does break, it happens inside the 2 year warranty. otherwise, i'll be very happy with 6 years and then move on.
ride it until it breaks...C-40
May 7, 2003 1:15 PM
A frame's life is not time related. It mileage, rider weight how fast you ride and road roughness that cause an accumulation of fatigue.

You might get 5 years or more from the frame. I'd enjoy it and not worry about it. Just clean it up and give the welds a close inspection every 6 months or so. If you see the start of a crack, keep a close eye on it. If appears to be getting longer, junk the frame.
crazy man!QuentinCassidy
May 7, 2003 1:16 PM
Competent, well-versed, intelligent people (usually engineers) answer this question all the time on this website.

When you get the frame, be sure to write back asking what type of wheels are better. See you then.
He's just trying to make you...tyrius
May 7, 2003 1:20 PM
come back and buy the same frame year after year. He's already got you sold on that frame so now he's trying to convince you that you need a new one everyear.

What a load of crap. As someone else said ride it till it cracks and that will almost certainly be much longer than one year. By then you'll probably want a new ride anyways.
wellllll.......AaronL
May 7, 2003 1:34 PM
You are a big guy and that is a very light frame. So, you probably won't get as many miles out of it as you would from a heavier duty frame. But, so what? Ride the thing for a few years and enjoy it. If and when it cracks chances are you'll be wanting a new one anyway. I pounded a Specialiced M2 frame for 5 years, averaged over 7500 miles a year on that thing, before it finally cracked at the BB. Specialized sent me a sweet E5 for free. They'll take care of you.

As an aside, I just swapped the parts off of a brand new zebra E5 frame for my buddy. It was his gal's frame and he was walking it inside his workplace, tripped on the carpet and the bike fell, hitting the top tube onto a metal waste basket. BIG DENT in the tt. That tubing is paper thin. The bike had less than 200 miles on it.
Here's all you need to worry about...russw19
May 7, 2003 1:37 PM
Get an aluminium frame with a lifetime frame warranty. Chances are that unless you break your top tube by having the bars hit it, it will last long enough to be obsolete by the time it breaks. And chances are (90% of the the time this is true) that when your aluminium frame does actually break, it is going to break at a weld. Over 90% of all aluminium frames fail at the weld from all the tests I have seen. If it fails at the weld, that means the metals were not welded properly to prevent it from breaking prematurely... otherwise known in laymens terms as "manufacturer defect" and will be subject to replacement via your limited lifetime warranty. I have never in 16 years of working in a bike shop seen a manufacturer refuse to warranty a frame that broke at the welds. I have seen them refuse to warranty bikes that were obviously crashed, but not one where a crack develops at a weld. And it is my understanding (not a fact, but what I have heard) that 90% of all aluminium frames fail at a weld unless they are crashed or abused in some other fashion.

And even if your warranty claim is at first rejected... get a lawyer to write a letter threatening to go to court for damages if they don't replace your bike. The cost of litigation will far outweigh the cost of them giving you a new frame... you will almost always win if you take that route.... ask Doug about this, he's a lawyer... he should know if this would work or not.

Russ
re: Aluminum Frame LifeGalibier
May 7, 2003 1:53 PM
Don't worry about it. Do you really think pros would ride "disposable" frames prone to failure after a short period of time? Consider also that a pro year is probably the equivalent of 3-5 amateur years. To be blunt, the "disposable aluminum frame" allegation is a myth, similar to the "carbon is wooden," "steel rusts," and "titanium is indestructible" myths. This is not to say frames never fail -- I've had a carbon frame fail, and I've seen titanium and steel frames fail. I'm sure aluminum frames also fail, but at no greater rate than frames made from any other material, I'd wager. When it comes to frame failure, the quality of design and construction are far more important than choice of material. Enjoy your bike.
re: Aluminum Frame Life (ha, ha, ha)The Human G-Nome
May 7, 2003 4:15 PM
Do you really think pros would ride "disposable" frames prone to failure after a short period of time? >>>

the pros ride whatever their sponsors supply them. otherwise, it still doesn't matter because they have an unlimited supply of bikes.

To be blunt, the "disposable aluminum frame" allegation is a myth, similar to the "carbon is wooden," "steel rusts," and "titanium is indestructible" myths. >>>

ummmm, well... ultrathin, modern aluminum frames do have shorter shelf like and are more prone to break at the welds. compared to other materials, carbon can feel sort of "wooden" compared to other frames. and, yes, steel DOES rust. no myth there. titanium is indestructible? well, compared to lots of other frames, it's a pretty good metaphor at the least.

i have to agree with you on one point though, quality of design and construction is more important then material when it comes to quality of the ride.
re: Aluminum Frame Life (ha, ha, ha)russw19
May 7, 2003 7:14 PM
Which brings me back to my post.... get a frame with a lifetime warranty and when it cracks at the weld, get a new one!

Also this is just me doing some silly nitpicking as I really do understand what you meant, but shelf life is longer than your lifetime... if you don't ride it and it just sits there, it's not going to break.

On a more serious note... how many of us here really keep our bikes long enough for the frame's fatigue life to be a factor. I am not discrediting it... I am honestly wondering how many people here really ride a bike that long and don't replace it simply because it's obsolete. Do some of you here really keep a frame 5 to 10 years? I think 10 years of riding for most of us more or less normal cyclists is well within a frame's lifespan. I could be wrong, but I don't keep frames that long myself to test the lifespan theory.

Russ
I've got every frameMel Erickson
May 8, 2003 8:45 AM
I've ever owned since 1970. Only two aren't in use out of eight. I've got a one speed (ex tourer), regular road bike, mountain bike, commuter, tandem and trainer. Languishing are a road frame (Stella) from around 1970 and a Cannondale SuperV 900 mountain bike which I'm refurbishing and giving to my cousin in hopes he'll start riding with us this summer. Also stashed away is my bro-in-law's Fuji, my kids old bikes (4), my daughters Fisher MTB (she's in Australia) and my wife's old Miyata city bike. She's riding a Trek MTB now, and, of course, the tandem. I'm about to pull the trigger on a 1991 Bridgestone RB1 (don't ask why, just 'cause). I'd say I have a moderate, but manageable, problem (mainly where to put them).
re: Aluminum Frame Life (ha, ha, ha)Galibier
May 8, 2003 5:36 AM
My point about the pros is that I consider it extremely unlikely a sponsor would supply a pro team with frames which could fail at any time. Why do sponsors provide bike frames? To showcase the quality of their product. Also, you act like pros have no control over what they ride, but I guarantee pros would not ride frames or any component which exhibited a pattern of failure during the course of a race, regardless of what their sponsors thought. Have you ever seen a pro's frame fail during a road race? I've been following this sport for 20 years, and I never have, setting aside Paris-Roubaix. As for the myths, my point is that these myths are all knocks against (or praise for) a particular material -- but those knocks are generalizations which do not necessarily apply to a specific bike. For instance, I have known of more titanium frame failures than any other material. Yes, titanium is arguably a more durable metal than steel or aluminum, but these frames failed at welds and joints, so the durable properties of the metal were irrelevant.
re: Aluminum Frame LifeTNSquared
May 7, 2003 2:58 PM
I will assume from your handle that Trek is completely precluded from your consideration list, but if frame life is what you are worried about, can I at least point out that

Trek=lifetime warranty

And every customer service story I've ever heard regarding Trek has been positive.

If Trek geometry doesn't work for you, then find another company with a similar warranty, but if you've ruled Trek out for some other reason, it might be worth reconsidering.

I love my alu Trek, and there are many good reasons that there are so many Treks out there - it's not just because Armstrong rides one.
You have a lifetime warranty with that framepnitefly
May 8, 2003 7:20 AM
I doubt your frame is going to break any time soon and if it did Specialized would replace it immediately. Their warranty service is real good about stuff like that. If you plunked down $4000 for an S-Works you should know that!