Did the pro peloton ever use aluminum bikes?
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  1. #1
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    Did the pro peloton ever use aluminum bikes?

    This isn't supposed to be a stupid question, but I recently picked up a copy of Lance Armstrong's Portraits of a Champion from a used book store. It's an album of photos of him from 1992 to 2005. I've looked at the photos over and over - and I basically see pics of him (and riders around him) on steel bikes in the early 90s, then on carbon fiber bikes in the late 90s and onwards. At least Armstrong's bikes seemed to go that way. It may be I mis-identified the bikes of the riders around him (not always very clear) but I can't say I'm sure I saw any aluminum bikes.

    Anyways - is this observation correct? And if so, why no love for aluminum?

  2. #2
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    Some pro teams used aluminum bikes for certain races. These were custom made bikes that then had the team's sponsoring bike manufacturer's label slapped on them. I know that Klein made a few bikes for the Once team a long time ago but do not know in what races they were used.

  3. #3
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    For a while, aluminum frames were the go-to. Vitus had aluminum race frames out before anyone had carbon fiber, IIRC. Since the first carbon fiber bikes came out in the '80s, though, I'm not surprised you're not seeing a ton of aluminum.

  4. #4
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    In Lance's early career with Motorola they were on Merckx Titanium frames (by Litespeed). In the mid to late '90's these were painted and you could not tell from steel by looking. It's rumoured that other teams ran Litespeeds painted to look like their steel frame sponsors.

    ArmstrongNissan92PhSpt-6268211.jpg

    In the '00's Saeco for one were running Cannondale CAAD's.

    spinelli0507.jpg

    Also in the early '00's Lotto Domo were running Merckx SC's which are Al alloy.

    eddydomo.jpg

    Domo won P-R in 2001-2 on them. Richard Virenque rode them in the 2002 Tour.

    Mine

    Eddy SC.jpg
    Last edited by bikerjulio; 11-14-2013 at 05:45 PM.
    We just don’t realize the most significant moments of our lives when they’re happening
    Back then I thought “well there'll be other days”
    I didn’t realize that was the only day
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9yrupye7B0

    There's sometimes a buggy.
    How many drivers does a buggy have?
    One.
    So let's just say I'm drivin' this buggy...
    and if you fix your attitude you can ride along with me.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GekiIMh4ZkM

  5. #5
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    CSC used Cervelo Soloists back in the day.

    From 2005.


    Julian Dean's alu Soloist.

  6. #6
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    You obviously missed one of the great moments in real-time bicycle marketing, when Mario Cipollini, leading the Tour de France and dressed in yellow from head to toe, riding a matching yellow fat-tubed bike, turned to the moto camera riding beside him and did an impromptu commercial. "Eets a Cannondale; eet'sa the best-a bike!" With the appropriate Italian hand gestures. Eet was a beautiful-a thing, I tell you.
    "None of us knows for sure what's out there; that's why we keep looking. Keep your faith; travel hopefully. The universe will surprise you, constantly." The 13th Doctor.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikerjulio View Post
    In Lance's early career with Motorola they were on Merckx Titanium frames (by Litespeed). In the mid to late '90's these were painted and you could not tell from steel by looking.
    Interesting. I know exactly what Merckx bike you're talking about as he's on it in pretty much all his early 90s photos. Didn't realize it was titanium.

  8. #8
    'brifter' is f'ing stupid
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    Quote Originally Posted by armstrong View Post
    Interesting. I know exactly what Merckx bike you're talking about as he's on it in pretty much all his early 90s photos. Didn't realize it was titanium.
    The first year or 2 of USPS Trek didn't have any TT frames so they rode Litespeed Ti TT frames w/ the same paint job as the carbon road frames.
    #promechaniclife

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by armstrong View Post
    Interesting. I know exactly what Merckx bike you're talking about as he's on it in pretty much all his early 90s photos. Didn't realize it was titanium.
    It isn't. All the Merckx bikes were lugged steel. It was when Motorola started riding Caloi bikes that they started using rebadged litespeeds.
    Last edited by brianmcg; 11-15-2013 at 02:56 PM.
    "I like to ride my bicycle." - Lance Armstrong -

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by brianmcg View Post
    It isn't. All the Merckx bikes were lugged steel. It was when Motorola started riding Caloi bikes that they started using rebadged litespeeds.
    Wrong. Clearly you have never heard of the Merckx AX.

    Also ignoring my Merckx SC - Scandium alloy.

    Now, you have forced me to show mine (frame '95, rest updated):

    Attachment 288916

    Merckx AX.jpg

    1997 Eddy Merckx Titanium AX - BikePedia

    MSRP $2,799 in 1997. That sounds like about $6k today.
    Last edited by bikerjulio; 11-15-2013 at 03:21 PM.
    We just don’t realize the most significant moments of our lives when they’re happening
    Back then I thought “well there'll be other days”
    I didn’t realize that was the only day
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9yrupye7B0

    There's sometimes a buggy.
    How many drivers does a buggy have?
    One.
    So let's just say I'm drivin' this buggy...
    and if you fix your attitude you can ride along with me.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GekiIMh4ZkM

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    For a while, aluminum frames were the go-to. Vitus had aluminum race frames out before anyone had carbon fiber, IIRC. Since the first carbon fiber bikes came out in the '80s, though, I'm not surprised you're not seeing a ton of aluminum.
    Aluminum frames were short-lived in the pro peloton. There were probably lots that I don't remember but the most famous had to be Vitus 979 that Sean Kelly rode to many victories. And the Vitus got re-labeled for a few other teams too. As did Alan.
    .

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikerjulio View Post
    Wrong. Clearly you have never heard of the Merckx AX.

    Also ignoring my Merckx SC - Scandium alloy.

    Now, you have forced me to show mine (frame '95, rest updated):

    Attachment 288916

    Merckx AX.jpg

    1997 Eddy Merckx Titanium AX - BikePedia

    MSRP $2,799 in 1997. That sounds like about $6k today.
    That is a nice bike. But I am still correct. The Motorola team did not ride any titanium Merckx bikes. Mr. Merckx himself was insistent that Motorola ride on his lugged steel frames. Also Lance was no longer on Motorola in 1997.
    "I like to ride my bicycle." - Lance Armstrong -

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by brianmcg View Post
    That is a nice bike. But I am still correct. The Motorola team did not ride any titanium Merckx bikes. Mr. Merckx himself was insistent that Motorola ride on his lugged steel frames. Also Lance was no longer on Motorola in 1997.
    We need some nice detailed photos, since I have to admit I didn't talk to Eddy about this.

    edit.

    so I have to admit I cannot find any pictures to illustrate a Ti Motorola. Damn.
    Last edited by bikerjulio; 11-15-2013 at 04:05 PM.
    We just don’t realize the most significant moments of our lives when they’re happening
    Back then I thought “well there'll be other days”
    I didn’t realize that was the only day
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9yrupye7B0

    There's sometimes a buggy.
    How many drivers does a buggy have?
    One.
    So let's just say I'm drivin' this buggy...
    and if you fix your attitude you can ride along with me.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GekiIMh4ZkM

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikerjulio View Post
    We need some nice detailed photos, since I have to admit I didn't talk to Eddy about this.
    You'll just have to take my word for it. But if you find a titanium frame in Motorola colors and "Merckx" on the downtube I'll eat my shirt.
    "I like to ride my bicycle." - Lance Armstrong -

  15. #15
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    Didn't the Caloi bikes say CALOI in big letters and "by Merckx" in really small letters on the white downtube panel?

  16. #16
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    K - 2 related questions.

    1. For frames, is it "only" about the weight or is there more to selecting a frame? i.e. carbon vs TI vs alu vs steel. I've read about damping qualities etc - but given that people seem to largely select the lighter frame whenever given the choice, is it also that lighter frames (coincidentally or incidentally) are also the ones that damp vibration better?

    2. For parts... is it "only" about the weight as well? I spoke to some guy who collects/builds bikes and he was doing a high-end carbon Cervelo build. He was building it with standard cheap aluminum alloy handlebars (as opposed to a carbon handlebar). His reasoning was that (1) the alloy one cost about 1/10 the cost, (2) the carbon one would basically have to be immediately replaced if it was in a crash, and (3) given that they were basically close to the same weight anyways, there was really no reason to go for a carbon handlebar given these three points. Agree, or is there something "better" about having a handlebar (and other things like seat post) made of carbon fiber? Is there any point in having bits and pieces of derailleurs made of carbon fiber, or is that just marketing gone nuts?

  17. #17
    'brifter' is f'ing stupid
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    If you pay more attention to the thousands of posts on this forum you'd know you've already answered your own questions.

    The answer being: It depends.
    #promechaniclife

  18. #18
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    The Festina team rode aluminum Specialized bikes.


  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by brianmcg View Post
    You'll just have to take my word for it. But if you find a titanium frame in Motorola colors and "Merckx" on the downtube I'll eat my shirt.


    Lance won the 1993 Worlds in Norway riding a Ti Litespeed, rebadged Merckx. Go to youtube for video or google for pics. As a side note, Merckx himself set the hour record on a frame made from.......titanium.

  20. #20
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    [QUOTE=brianmcg;4500561]
    You'll just have to take my word for it. But if you find a titanium frame in Motorola colors and "Merckx" on the downtube I'll eat my shirt.
    Possibly it's shirt eating time

    And a little grovelling would be nice too.

    (with thanks to the Barber).

    exhibit 1 is an Armstrong steel frame Merckx

    armstrong lancemerckx1.jpg

    exhibit 2 is a detail of the seatpost junction showing the prominent lug and the "EM" embossed on the seatstay, and a Columbus tubing sticker.

    armstrong lancemerckx steel detail.jpg

    exhibit 3 is Lance on what certainly appears to be a Titanium Merckx in Motorola paint

    armstrong-tour-de-france-36th-best-result.jpg

    with exhibit 4 being a detail. Spot the difference?

    armstrong-tour-de-france-36th-best-result detail.jpg
    We just don’t realize the most significant moments of our lives when they’re happening
    Back then I thought “well there'll be other days”
    I didn’t realize that was the only day
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9yrupye7B0

    There's sometimes a buggy.
    How many drivers does a buggy have?
    One.
    So let's just say I'm drivin' this buggy...
    and if you fix your attitude you can ride along with me.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GekiIMh4ZkM

  21. #21
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    That's some good detective work. Before I break out the ketchup I'd like some confirmation. I've never heard of it before.
    "I like to ride my bicycle." - Lance Armstrong -

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by brianmcg View Post
    That's some good detective work. Before I break out the ketchup I'd like some confirmation. I've never heard of it before.
    Here's another example:

    Steel

    armstrong lancemerckx1 detail.jpg

    And what appears to be another Titanium Merckx Motorola!

    Armstrong Nissan92PhSpt-6268211.jpg

    Armstrong Nissan92PhSpt-6268211 detail 2.jpgArmstrong Nissan92PhSpt-6268211 detail.jpg

    looks like a Columbus sticker too, which was a little sneaky.

    but spot the similarity to this:

    Merckx detail.jpg

    rather than this:

    armstrong lancemerckx steel detail.jpg

    give in yet??
    Last edited by bikerjulio; 11-17-2013 at 08:50 AM.
    We just don’t realize the most significant moments of our lives when they’re happening
    Back then I thought “well there'll be other days”
    I didn’t realize that was the only day
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9yrupye7B0

    There's sometimes a buggy.
    How many drivers does a buggy have?
    One.
    So let's just say I'm drivin' this buggy...
    and if you fix your attitude you can ride along with me.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GekiIMh4ZkM

  23. #23
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    For 10 years, 1995 to 2005, aluminium was the main frame material in the pro peloton. Bianchi, Pinarello, GIOS, Fausto Coppi, Cyfac painted something else, Colnago, Carrera etc.
    They do anything just to win a salami in ridiculous races. I take my gear out of the car and put my bike together. Tourists and locals are watching from sidewalk cafes. Non-racers. The emptiness of those lives shocks me. It was the illest of times, it was the dopest of times. And we looked damn good. Actually the autobus broke down somewhere on the Mortirolo.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by brianmcg View Post
    You'll just have to take my word for it. But if you find a titanium frame in Motorola colors and "Merckx" on the downtube I'll eat my shirt.
    That's some good detective work. Before I break out the ketchup I'd like some confirmation. I've never heard of it before.
    Sometimes you have to man up and admit you are wrong. How about it?
    We just don’t realize the most significant moments of our lives when they’re happening
    Back then I thought “well there'll be other days”
    I didn’t realize that was the only day
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9yrupye7B0

    There's sometimes a buggy.
    How many drivers does a buggy have?
    One.
    So let's just say I'm drivin' this buggy...
    and if you fix your attitude you can ride along with me.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GekiIMh4ZkM

  25. #25
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    How could I forget the original Giant TCR? Now there's a game changer!



    It's aluminium, the important bit is the geometry. Makes Lance's Trek look somewhat dated, doesn't it?
    (That Once-Deutsche Bank kit Olano is sporting is an absolute classic btw.)
    They do anything just to win a salami in ridiculous races. I take my gear out of the car and put my bike together. Tourists and locals are watching from sidewalk cafes. Non-racers. The emptiness of those lives shocks me. It was the illest of times, it was the dopest of times. And we looked damn good. Actually the autobus broke down somewhere on the Mortirolo.

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