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  1. #1
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Wanting new road bike, can't decide CF or Titanium, ? on size.

    Hi all, got the bug to get a new road bike. I'm on a tight budget so I'm looking at some of the BD gems. I do not race anymore but sometimes go on fairly fast group rides and want a comfortable bike for long solo rides too. Thinking the Motobecane Lechampion should be a good match for me. Really like the somewhat retro looks of the Ti but not sure it would be the best choice for the fast group rides. The CF version might be a better choice?

    In any case I really want to get the size correct. I have a Motobecane Fantom Cross Pro in 56 CM and really like the bike. When I bought the bike I thought I was getting a bike that might be about one size smaller then what I should be on the road with but after riding the bike for a while I'm not sure. It is very comfortable on long rides. I'm 5'10" with long legs (34" book in-seam). I have 6 inches of seat tube when measured from the top of the clamp to the seat rail on the Fantom. The steerer is uncut with the full stack of spacers (1 1/2")

    When I look at the size info for the Lechampion CF I see the top tube on the 56 CM model is the same as the Fantom but it has a sloping top tube. Don't know how that might affect the sizing. The top tube on the Ti is a tick longer.

    When I ride the Fantom it feels a little short on the top but still very comfortable. Can't go any shorter on the top but don't really want to go much longer. The 58 CM CF lechampion has a top tube that is a full 2 CM longer and also has a longer stem. I'm thinking it might be too much.

    What to do? Should I be on a 56CM road bike? Will the 56 CM CF Lechampion handle 6 inches of seat tube above the clamp?

    Thanks for any advise, Axlenut

  2. #2
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    I have Carbon and Ti...

    Both ride differently and each have it's pros and cons. Biggest Pro for the Ti is that Ti will last forever. My Ti bike is an Airborne Manhattan Project that is awesome (check the reviews here). The US based company closed their doors about 4 years ago but in Europe they are now Van Nicholas.
    Anyways, I ran across an E-bay listing for a 2005 NOS Airborne Manhattan frame built up w/ campy parts for $1750 or best offer. I don't know the seller but I don't think you'd be disappointed in the bike and it should fit you.
    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...=STRK:MEWAX:IT
    HERKWO
    ____________________________
    2005 Airborne Manhattan Project
    2010 Colnago CX-1

  3. #3
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    Have you ever considered having a custom frame built for you. This would be your bike and if properly fitted you wouldn't have to compromise on tube lengths. I have a custom frame built by Franklin (http//home.windstream.net/franklinframe/index.html) using Columbus Foco steel tubing. The modern steel tubes are very thin and light weight and you can have them lugged any way you want them with all imaginable braze-ons and you get to choose the color or colors.

    All that for about $1,500.00 which is much cheaper than carbon or titanium and the ride of steel. It is something to consider.

  4. #4
    F45
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    On a budget? Get a cheap aluminum frame like a CAAD 9. Your comfort on long rides is going to come from your tire selection, not frame material.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by F45 View Post
    On a budget? Get a cheap aluminum frame like a CAAD 9. Your comfort on long rides is going to come from your tire selection, not frame material.
    Absolutely.

    Budget + concern about getting the right size = Aluminum from a bike shop that knows about fit.

  6. #6
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    If you are a heavier rider, I'd go with carbon or aluminum. It's easier to make a better tuned bike out of carbon then titanium, where you are very manufacturer dependent on how the tubes function and how flexy the frame feels (but not necessarily how flexy the frame IS !).. Thus I'd be wary of buying mail order titanium and would want a test ride.

    I spend 7 years on a Lemond Victoire titaniujm and found the b-bracket flexy to the point of having terrible chain rub on the big ring and F derailer when climbing or standing in the small ring. I don't have that issue with carbon (and never did on my 2 Kleins) and now ride a cheap Tommaso carbon that is stiffer then Ti where needed as well as being as comfortable. Note that I'm comparing apples to apples as all the parts, wheels, saddle, etc.. moved from Ti to carbon, so I could compare the ride.

    Trouble with carbon and this is any carbon, is if you crash it, it might be toast. I've had 2 crashes on my Tommaso, one a slide into first in a wet corner, so no real concern, the other a fall over to the right at slow speed when my F wheel caught a seam. I don't "think" I did any serious damage the 2nd time, there was absolutely no scrapes or hits on the frame or fork, not even a tear on the bar tape, just a slightly moved R shifter, but that's the rub with carbon, is it OK to ride and there's no real way to know, except send it back for an x-ray. With metal you can see what's going on after a crash.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by axlenut View Post
    When I look at the size info for the Lechampion CF I see the top tube on the 56 CM model is the same as the Fantom but it has a sloping top tube. Don't know how that might affect the sizing. The top tube on the Ti is a tick longer.
    Compare effective top tube lengths, which is the distance from the middle of the headtube to the middle of the seat tube, on a line parallel to the ground. (its C-2 on the specifications here: http://www.motobecane.com/rdcarbon/cfltd.html#geo). Measuring this distance, instead of the actual top tube length, gets you a comparable distance measurement across frame types. It actually looks like the Fantom and LeChampion have the same effective top tube length in 56.

    I have about 700 miles on my LeChampion CF and its been great so far.

  8. #8
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    If your looking for a frame material that will last forever go with Ti. I picked up on 57 cm 02 Yeti Road Project from the RBR Classified and absolutely love it. Before that, I was riding a 58 cm 12 year old Cannondale. The Ti is definitely not as forgiving with bumps, etc, but I like the responsive feel. Plus, I like old school materials. Just not a carbon fiber fan. I am about the same size as you, but 5' 11". A 56 cm sounds good to me. Be sure to take note of the dimensions and how how the seat tube is measured.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    Absolutely.

    Budget + concern about getting the right size = Aluminum from a bike shop that knows about fit.
    Aluminum Cannondale with Rival or 105 was my thought, too.

  10. #10
    I fling Poo
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    The carbon vs Ti vs Alum is all over here and it comes down to different preferences. I have just crushed my 3rd carbon frame, this time in a dog collision. The last 2 went to aramid heaven thru events that would have left Ti unscratched. All three of the Carbons eventually developed bottom bracket creak that couldn't be completely fixed using several methods that should have done so. I don't have calipers to back it up but I think the alum BB eggs out
    I ride rural road which a fairly rough on type of pavement and pothole level. The Ti, for me, id def smoother than the carbons but they are two diff kinds of smooth. I like the carbon rides better but I am getting tired of replacing them thru minor events. I have crashed the ti several times including a taco-ed front tire head on collision and it is still ok.
    My Ti cross bike is 6 years old and has been indestructable. I use it as a road bike in all seasons until the roads a slick. In this amount of time I would have made an aluminum mushy somewhere.
    For fit, I go only by level distance above the top tube I measured the middle of the seat tube to the center of the handle bar. I use a 4' level so that my measurement is parallel with the floor not the frame. The compact type of frames will have a different length than the virtual or effect top tubes.I figure my needed stem length by the distance it would take, meet the others measurment.
    I am almost exactly your size, longer legs and shorter torso, I ride a 56 top tube and the top tube on the cross bike measures 54.5 with a slighter longer stem length.

  11. #11
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    Hi all, thanks for the great replies! After thinking about it for a while I'm leaning toward the Ti. Really like the simple timeless looks, I'm sure I will not get tired of the way the bike looks. Not sure if I can ever really like the looks of the modern CF bike. The concerns about crash damage to the CF is a factor too.

    The suggestions on getting an aluminium frame are good too, three of my current bikes (2 MTBs and the Fantom) have aluminium frames. All three have had excellent service and one even took a hard hit from an item that fell off the wall and hit the top tube. Had it been a CF frame I think it would have severely damaged it. All that happened to the aluminium was a little dent and a chip of paint the bike is still fully functional.

    Thanks, Axlenut

  12. #12
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    As much as I'd love a light carbon frame with a cool paint job my 13 year old Merlin Ti has carried me over thousands of miles and quite a few races with complete dependability, comfort and tracking. I can't ask for a better ride and will ride this bike until it or I pass on to Ti heaven...

    Good luck and keep us informed.

  13. #13
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    If you like the Motobecane why not look at their Ti bikes at: http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/road_bikes.htm#ti and just select the model that fits your budget. By the way, those Motebacanes got rave reviews in cycling publications.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by axlenut View Post
    The concerns about crash damage to the CF is a factor too.
    Don't worry about damage to carbon fiber. if you can crack carbon, the same force will dent ti or aluminum. once dented, alloy frames are compromised.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by froze View Post
    If you like the Motobecane why not look at their Ti bikes at: http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/road_bikes.htm#ti and just select the model that fits your budget. By the way, those Motebacanes got rave reviews in cycling publications.
    Hi Froze and the group, that what I ended up doing. I placed an order for the Ti LeChampion Heat (Sram Rival). I'm feeling good about the decision and provided there are no inventory issues or shipping problems I should have a nice road bike that should last for years.

    Will post a follow up when the bike comes in and I get to go on a test ride.

    Thanks, Axlenut

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thedudebikes View Post
    Don't worry about damage to carbon fiber. if you can crack carbon, the same force will dent ti or aluminum. once dented, alloy frames are compromised.
    While this is only partially true, the biggest concern is once CF breaks its a catastrophic event leading to sudden and complete failure sending you sprawling on the pavement with a broken frame or fork, while with any of the metals it would bend or crack but your still in control and riding. Also with CF if you experience chain suck the chain will literally saw through part of the rear stay before you have a chance to stop it. Also, with CF parts it's critical to have the exact torque specs when attaching stuff or clamping seat post and handlebars or you could crush the CF without knowing it and later it just gives out...again without any notice just suddenly. With some damage on CF frames there are now two places in America that can repair it, one is Calfee who makes CF and bamboo bikes, but you have to strip the frame and send it bare, then for $150 they inspect it, if it can't be fixed your out the inspection and shipping cost, if they can the charge to repair varies depending on the damage could cost $100 to $400 plus repaint.

    Whille I don't like CF or Aluminum frames I would rather have aluminum over CF due to the lack of a sudden failure resulting in a surprise crash and probably a visit to the hospital. Problem with AL frames is the ride comfort is not as good as CF.

  17. #17
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by axlenut View Post
    Hi Froze and the group, that what I ended up doing. I placed an order for the Ti LeChampion Heat (Sram Rival). I'm feeling good about the decision and provided there are no inventory issues or shipping problems I should have a nice road bike that should last for years.

    Will post a follow up when the bike comes in and I get to go on a test ride.

    Thanks, Axlenut
    That was good decision and it's a great bike. There were several posters on other forums that got various TI Motobecane models and they loved them. I was all set to get the LeChamp SL (the Ultrega model) but I have a severely mentally ill 16 year old daughter and she tried to burn down the house about 3 months ago, and insurance won't cover intentional damage, so we're paying the $28,000 bill. I'll have to wait till next year hopefully, or maybe the year after that. Obviously my daughter will no longer be living in our house. That's probably more personal information then any of you needed to know.

  18. #18
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    Can't go wrong with a Ti bike IMO...Although I couldn't resist the carbon Le Champion for the road.
    2013 DeVinci Leo SL

  19. #19
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    I have had this conversation with myself over the last couple of months as well ( Ti or steel, in my case)

    As my half century birthday approaches, I have decided I should have a belated mid-life crisis, and get either a Vamoots or a Gunnar Sport frame. I know they are very different, and are priced VERY differently, but either would be a step up from my more than adequate Pacer that I have put a lot of miles on, and I'll be happy with either in September when I pull the trigger...

  20. #20
    Formosan Cyclocross
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    ... and you've decided on the Vamoots, correct?

  21. #21
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    I'd love the Vamoots, but the Gunnar Sport is also quite nice, and a whole lot cheaper....

    If I did go the Moots route, I'd likely get custom fitted so that I wouldn't second guess myself after the fact. With longish legs and a short torso, it's always a challenge for me when I get a new frame.

  22. #22
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    If you are willing to go custom with the Vamoots ( and spend the $$$) why wouldn't you also be looking at custom steel? And since you like the Gunnar the check out Waterfords (basically high end custom Gunnars).
    Personally either one would be drool worthy and fit should be a non issues if you go custom. Also going custom allows you and X company to make a bike that will ride the way you like it, in which case steel or Ti is a moot argument IMHO.

    As fas as OP, I have both CF( Merlin Proteus) and Ti ( Litespeed Classic) bikes. Both are smooth, fast, light, steady at speed. The Ti gives me a lttle more road feedback and just feel a little better on long rides (3-4+ hrs). I still ride both and love both but do feel like the CF is a little more maintenance in that it often develops a creak that I need to take apart, clean, regrease, retorque to get rid of it then it just pops up somewhere else. This is minor but as I do my own wrenching little noises like this annoy me ( yes I am OCD on my bikes).

  23. #23
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    Hate to ask, but I'm a newbee about to buy a CF bike in a couple weeks. Is there any type of insurance you can get on these $2k+ bikes that makes sense if you have an accident or a sudden failure?

    Also in my 1-1.5 years experience, I have found Carbon is smooth/light, aluminum is light but not so smooth, and steel is smooth but not so light. I have never ridden a Ti bike.

  24. #24
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    JT Rider,
    The solution is simple. If you buy a cheap CF bike you will have a poorly built/designed CF bike (bikesdirect.com). If you spend a bit more in a LBS, you'll actually have a nice carbon bike with a warranty. Find one with a lifetime warranty (Cannondale, Trek, Specialized, Raleigh, etc.) and you'll know you have the backing of the company and it's experience designing and building carbon bikes. Some LBSs actually throw in lifetime parts warranties for free, too.

    Make sure you have renters or home owners insurance in case you have the bike stolen!

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thedudebikes View Post
    JT Rider,
    The solution is simple. If you buy a cheap CF bike you will have a poorly built/designed CF bike (bikesdirect.com). If you spend a bit more in a LBS, you'll actually have a nice carbon bike with a warranty. Find one with a lifetime warranty (Cannondale, Trek, Specialized, Raleigh, etc.) and you'll know you have the backing of the company and it's experience designing and building carbon bikes. Some LBSs actually throw in lifetime parts warranties for free, too.

    Make sure you have renters or home owners insurance in case you have the bike stolen!
    Thedudebikes,

    I couldn't agree with you more on the bikes direct and LBS/warranty statements. I definitely would go with my LBS that I have been going to for all of my MTB needs for years now that offers lifetime maintenence (not parts, but any labor) and also takes care of dealing with the manufacturer for any warranty claims on the bike. That is definitely crucial. And my difficult choice is between a CF madone 4.5 and a Scott CR1 team right now. I also definitely have renter's INS and will send them a photo of the bike in my house once I purchase it.

    I should have rephrased my question to ask if there is any crash coverage you can purchase on a cf or any expensive bike as I am pretty sure the warranties don't cover anything that involves an accident. Does anyone out there know of or have any type of crash coverage? I ride very carefully but I would hate to eat a $2k purchase in a freak accident.

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