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1st road bike: all-aluminum road or steel w/ carbon fork?(4 posts)

1st road bike: all-aluminum road or steel w/ carbon fork?woofers
Aug 6, 2003 5:36 PM
I'm planning to get a road bike this month -- my first -- and have been asking the local clubs for a small frame (I'm 5'5") and used/second hand parts. I'm trying to decide between a 650c tri bike and a traditional road bike.

The tri frame is a steel replica of a Litespeed Tachyon, and comes with a Kestrel EMS carbon fork (1" steerer), 3TTT bars, Chris King headset and a quill stem for around $175. No wheels or other components, but I'm sure I can get those fairly cheap as well. The road bike is a complete bike and is built around an old Vitus frame with aluminum tubes bonded to steel lugs. The fork is aluminum too, and it comes with 8-spd 105 components, a cinelli bar, 3TTT stem and Selle Italia seat for around $300.

Assuming both bikes fit me, which bike/frameset should I choose? Recommendations?
re: 1st road bike: all-aluminum road or steel w/ carbon fork?orange_julius
Aug 7, 2003 6:26 AM
First of all, are you a male or a female? This can make
a big difference in deciding between a 650c and a 700c bike.
Females have shorter torso, so the tri-geometry bike
might actually work quite nicely. Personally I don't like
650c bikes but I am a male and I am 5'9" 1/2. 650c bikes
tend to be a hassle since you need 650c tubes for the wheels
and they're not nearly as common as 700c tubes.

These two bikes that you describe suggest very different
geometries, so I don't fully buy your assumption that
both would fit you :-).

Second of all, how much do you weigh? If you're heavier I
would say go with the aluminum frame, but if you're lighter
then go with steel. Match your weight with the material
to get a better character out of your bike: aluminum bike
on a light person means that the bike will skip up and down
every bump on the road, making an uncomfortable experience,
while steel can better smooth things out. However, older
steel tend to flex under heavier weight.

Since you have the advantage of buying from a local club,
why don't you go for another test ride and compare the
flex, and the fit again? I would be shameless and ask one
of the more experienced riders watch you while you take
the complete bike out on a spin, just to see if you're
too stretched out or something.

Aug 7, 2003 11:45 AM
Good advice and well written oj, however I have a question as it pertains to relative 'newbies' and their selection of frame materials for bikes. Do you think that a newbie would really be able to tell or feel the relative "flex" of material? Case in point... a steel fork vs a straight bladed carbon fork would always flex more, despite the vibration dampening of carbon material... my point being that why discuss these types of issues to newbies as it would mean little or nothing to them. Does that make sense? I think they will be more dramatically impressed in ride quality by the air pressure in the tires or fit of the saddle. Pump a steel frame up to 150 psi in the tires and it is going to feel every bit as rough as an aluminum with 95psi to the beginner... know what I mean? I think to the beginner, the quality of the frame, size, and quality of components has a far greater importance than the relative rigitity of the material... know what I mean?

Im with you on the 650... go 700s. For all around road riding, specific tri bikes are set up to place you more forward on the bike. Not ideal for climbing and all around comfort. Shop around, dont limit yourself to these two bikes unless you are desparate.

So sayeth the funk,
Good points!orange_julius
Aug 8, 2003 2:31 PM
Hey Funk, you make some really good points here.

Honestly, I think the best way to evaluate flex is
by putting the bike on a trainer and then stomping on
the pedals while emulating a sprint or hard climb.
That's the most obvious way, you'll immediately see
parts of the bike sway back and forth. If you're
on the road other factors will effect the impression as you

I think this is still a fair issue to bring up -- when
you're shopping for a bike eventually you'll end up on
a trainer while setting up the riding position. And in
large scales it will make a difference (between being
a lightweight and being heavier). Not that I've
been on other ends of the scale but try comparing bikes
with a guy that weighs a lot more, or a lot less than
you do. Very different opinions, methinks .....