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Thread: Frame Materials

  1. #1
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    Frame Materials

    Most of the newest top end bikes are carbon fiber and the latest trends are for lighter and ever lighter bikes. This causes manufacturers to make lighter and lighter frames.

    While carbon fiber has higher strength to weight ratio than most other materials it also has its own problems - the thread length of a carbon fiber is short. This means that as the frame resin embrittles with age the frames can fail catastrophically.

    Exactly how much of a problem this seems to be is a question since Trek offers a lifetime limited warranty (they replace the frame only). I think that Specialized matches this but I haven't actually found it written anywhere. But Colnago who has more experience with the material than most other companies only offers a 3 year warranty and that only because it is the minimum by law in many states. They state, when asked, that they don't trust them beyond two years, Now I'm not sure I understand this since most of the Colnagos are constructed quite conservatively and not for minimum weights. Virtually all of the top end CF bikes are lighter than Colnago. And the Taiwanese versions (CLX etc.) pioneered the stress management techniques used in Aerospace industries. Is this only self protection? I don't know.

    Titanium frames have roughly the same weight as CF plus they are extremely resilient as long as they are welded properly. It is always possible though rare, for the helium envelope that the welding is accomplished under to allow some oxygen in and cause titanium oxide to form in or around a weld. This is a brittle material and generally if you don't find a crack within a month you're safe forever. This is a long lived material.

    Aluminum frames also CAN last forever but they began pressing the envelope of weight pretty rapidly so some frame cracks started appearing relatively early. And unlike titanium they can occur at any time over the life of the material. However, it must be noted that these failures are seldom catastrophic. Usually they will begin making odd noises and you will look and discover a broken tube while the others are fine.

    Steel bike frame are another matter. By the time they started making very high quality steel tubing at Columbus, Reynolds and others, it was long after WW II and steel had become a science. There was no guesswork in the double and triple butted tubes and only the very occasional manufacturing errors caused these frames to break. What's more, although they give away a small weight penalty, the frame and fork are only a part of the weight of a bicycle so this penalty is relatively small.

    At the moment that UCI has a weight restriction on bicycles of approximately 15 lbs and this isn't very far from the very top end steel bikes though even one ounce is now considered extreme on race tracks and in truth only those with a lot of climbing.

    So what we're presently seeing in cycling is probably a very bad trend - lightest weight possible which is similar to the latest trend in components which are the largest number of speeds possible. This will cause little more than headaches for the sports/recreational rider. Though some trends are good (tubeless tires) most of the others are not, More speeds means narrower cogs and rings, higher ratio differences with 11-32 cogsets for hard Tour stages and derailleurs now so weak that picking up a rock or wire into your rear derailleur can end your ride. It makes you yearn for the old days of 8 speeds when you could have a gear for every purpose without having to shift two or three times every time you are changing terrain. So maybe manufacturers should be building bikes more for the actual use of a rider rather than getting them to play at racing rather than buying a bike that actually serves a purpose. This is fine for kids but I have ridden in a lot of areas and what I'm seeing is that riders tend to be in the mid 30's and later. Racers are very few but people trying to keep up with them are far too plentiful. And here I am now in the higher age group and most of my riding buddies are dead or having extreme health problems.

    I have a good day when I do a metric and average 15 mph. And yet when I did a very large metric with about 2,000 riders in it when I crossed the line I was told that I was the 182nd finisher. And several hundred of the Century riders started an hour before me! Does this sound like people should be worried about maximum performance and only using the lightest and most expensive bikes made? You could get a high quality high quantity manufactured bike made of steel with top line components on it for $2,500 or less vs a $13,000 carbon fiber wonder. If you are in your mid to late 30's that $10,000 in your retirement account can made a huge difference to having a longer and more comfortable retirement on your original bike!

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    I have a 13 year old carbon cyclocross bike I thrash every winter. No failures, a 23 year old To bike no issues and a 32 year old steel bike no issues.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mackgoo View Post
    I have a 13 year old carbon cyclocross bike I thrash every winter. No failures, a 23 year old To bike no issues and a 32 year old steel bike no issues.
    Since the actual rates of failures is very low I don't think that your examples are anything we couldn't expect
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    I don't think the OP knows as much as he thinks he does about carbon bikes in particular and carbon fiber construction in general. I'm actually certain he doesn't.
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    Titanium is welded in an Argon environment, not helium.

    I tend to agree with cxwrench. I'm not sure what the OP's point was.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Kunich View Post
    Since the actual rates of failures is very low I don't think that your examples are anything we couldn't expect
    So what is your point? By the way it's a 23 year old Ti bike.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter P. View Post
    I tend to agree with cxwrench. I'm not sure what the OP's point was.
    I think it was...enjoy riding and not buying.
    Prices got ridiculous high last few years and they are basically selling us nothing that we need.


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    These "they're selling bikes we don't need" threads are hilarious. Nothing new about them, complainers been going on for years.
    All you NEED are two wheels and pedals. Hell, they use to do the tour DE France on single speeds. So you don't need all those fancy gears lol.
    There's bikes at all price levels. You can buy a decent bike for $1000, better than a bike from 10 years ago.

    Buy what you want. Ride it and have fun.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Kunich View Post
    Though some trends are good (tubeless tires)......................
    Seriously, you must be joking. Sorry, but I am not convinced that the advantages of tubeless outweigh the headaches.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Kunich View Post
    You could get a high quality high quantity manufactured bike made of steel with top line components on it for $2,500 or less vs a $13,000 carbon fiber wonder. If you are in your mid to late 30's that $10,000 in your retirement account can made a huge difference to having a longer and more comfortable retirement on your original bike!
    I'm not really sure what your point is here. While I am not arguing that spending more than $3,000 on a bike gets you nothing more than fluff, the difference between the $2,500 bike vs. the $13,000 bike isn't the frame material. Contrary to what you believe, the cost difference between a carbon fiber frame and a CroMo frame isn't that different. The componentry on the bike makes for the biggest price difference.
    "With bicycles in particular, you need to separate between what's merely true and what's important."-- DCGriz, RBR.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tlg View Post
    These "they're selling bikes we don't need" threads are hilarious. Nothing new about them, complainers been going on for years.
    All you NEED are two wheels and pedals. Hell, they use to do the tour DE France on single speeds. So you don't need all those fancy gears lol.
    There's bikes at all price levels. You can buy a decent bike for $1000, better than a bike from 10 years ago.

    Buy what you want. Ride it and have fun.
    Well, I don't think that you can buy a "decent" bike for $1,000 but then I have had absolutely top end second hand bikes of every material and have probably a different idea of what "decent" is. Aside from my Colnago CLX 3.0, I presently have a Lemond Zurich made of Reynolds 853 which is the finest riding bike I've ever ridden. Ready to ride in a Metric the Colnago weighs 19.8 lbs and the Lemond 22.2 lbs. These are both "Extra Large" models,

    Now, since I've built these up myself they are cheaper than if you had it built up by a shop but I still have about $1,500 in either. The Basso Loto which is presently being reconditioned will be in the same price range. But these are absolutely top of the line in my opinion and I've been riding the best money can buy until the last 5 years. And if the newest bikes are in any way better it sure as hell doesn't make any difference to a 75 year old.

    I'm presently close to 4,500 miles for the year. I missed the first three months because of first my eye surgery and then having to take by brother back and forth to the eye doctor every couple of days for his eyes. Then we had almost a solid month of rain. So I'm well behind my norm. And since around here we do a lot of climbing I'm just about to break 200,000 ft of climbing for the year. And I only count climbing that is 5% or more in the majority.

    So it isn't as if I haven't had a great deal of experience or miles. Before I had a head injury in 2009 I had done 3 years over 10,000 miles and almost a half million feet of climbing in a row. 2009 was just under that.

    I used to mostly ride Colnagos and Masi's. But the Colnagos were all materials from steel to titanium to aluminum to carbon fiber. I also had several English steel bikes and the Mersian was really a dream bike. In the Early days it was French bikes with Peugeot P-series the most common.

    People that put in 1,000 miles a year on the flats seem the most likely to criticize other people talking about anything and these forums attract them like flies.

    I have worked in metals and heliarc'd titanium. That they use argon these days doesn't mean some one that knows that is some sort of expert. Helium is lighter than air and tends to needs to have a higher flow rate to maintain the envelope. Argon as anyone in first year chemistry would know is heavier than air slightly and would tend to hold the envelope far more cheaply. Should we be impressed that they use argon these days and someone knows that?

    This being a discussion forum should be used for discussions and not for those who want to think they are exerting some sort of superiority over others. They certainly aren't and it only interrupts the discussions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
    I don't think the OP knows as much as he thinks he does about carbon bikes in particular and carbon fiber construction in general. I'm actually certain he doesn't.
    Yup. He starts right out with a falsehood: "Titanium frames have roughly the same weight as CF." Simply not true. Note that I am on my second Ti frame, and if it got wrecked I would buy another, but I know full well that you can't make a comparable Ti frame to a CF frame at the same weight.

    Beyond that the OP puts a lot of words together but I'm not sure what is the point of it all. Ignoring the technical misperceptions, the argument for anything in particular is not clear.

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    tlg
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Kunich View Post
    This being a discussion forum should be used for discussions and not for those who want to think they are exerting some sort of superiority over others.
    You do realize that's pretty much what your entire wall of bragging text was.

    Oh... and I ride more than you bro. Which is irrelevant. Whether you ride 100mi or 10,000, ride what makes you happy.

    You don't NEED a Colnago CLX or a Lemond Zurich.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Kunich View Post
    Well, I don't think that you can buy a "decent" bike for $1,000 but then I have had absolutely top end second hand bikes of every material and have probably a different idea of what "decent" is. Aside from my Colnago CLX 3.0, I presently have a Lemond Zurich made of Reynolds 853 which is the finest riding bike I've ever ridden. Ready to ride in a Metric the Colnago weighs 19.8 lbs and the Lemond 22.2 lbs. These are both "Extra Large" models,
    I think you are giving frame material a lot more credit for difference in ride quality than it deserves. You should read the following:

    https://www.sheldonbrown.com/frame-materials.html
    "With bicycles in particular, you need to separate between what's merely true and what's important."-- DCGriz, RBR.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Kunich View Post
    Well, I don't think that you can buy a "decent" bike for $1,000 but then I have had absolutely top end second hand bikes of every material and have probably a different idea of what "decent" is. Aside from my Colnago CLX 3.0, I presently have a Lemond Zurich made of Reynolds 853 which is the finest riding bike I've ever ridden. Ready to ride in a Metric the Colnago weighs 19.8 lbs and the Lemond 22.2 lbs. These are both "Extra Large" models,

    Now, since I've built these up myself they are cheaper than if you had it built up by a shop but I still have about $1,500 in either. The Basso Loto which is presently being reconditioned will be in the same price range. But these are absolutely top of the line in my opinion and I've been riding the best money can buy until the last 5 years. And if the newest bikes are in any way better it sure as hell doesn't make any difference to a 75 year old.

    I'm presently close to 4,500 miles for the year. I missed the first three months because of first my eye surgery and then having to take by brother back and forth to the eye doctor every couple of days for his eyes. Then we had almost a solid month of rain. So I'm well behind my norm. And since around here we do a lot of climbing I'm just about to break 200,000 ft of climbing for the year. And I only count climbing that is 5% or more in the majority.

    So it isn't as if I haven't had a great deal of experience or miles. Before I had a head injury in 2009 I had done 3 years over 10,000 miles and almost a half million feet of climbing in a row. 2009 was just under that.

    I used to mostly ride Colnagos and Masi's. But the Colnagos were all materials from steel to titanium to aluminum to carbon fiber. I also had several English steel bikes and the Mersian was really a dream bike. In the Early days it was French bikes with Peugeot P-series the most common.

    People that put in 1,000 miles a year on the flats seem the most likely to criticize other people talking about anything and these forums attract them like flies.

    I have worked in metals and heliarc'd titanium. That they use argon these days doesn't mean some one that knows that is some sort of expert. Helium is lighter than air and tends to needs to have a higher flow rate to maintain the envelope. Argon as anyone in first year chemistry would know is heavier than air slightly and would tend to hold the envelope far more cheaply. Should we be impressed that they use argon these days and someone knows that?

    This being a discussion forum should be used for discussions and not for those who want to think they are exerting some sort of superiority over others. They certainly aren't and it only interrupts the discussions.
    Good god you can ramble.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
    Good god you can ramble.
    It must be raining in San Leandro.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lombard View Post
    Seriously, you must be joking. Sorry, but I am not convinced that the advantages of tubeless outweigh the headaches.

    I'm not really sure what your point is here. While I am not arguing that spending more than $3,000 on a bike gets you nothing more than fluff, the difference between the $2,500 bike vs. the $13,000 bike isn't the frame material. Contrary to what you believe, the cost difference between a carbon fiber frame and a CroMo frame isn't that different. The componentry on the bike makes for the biggest price difference.
    I don't know what "headaches" you've had using tubeless tires but I haven't had headaches at all after the initial learning period. When you first install them they are slightly messy until you learn how to deal with them and then they are no problem if you use the proper sealants. Orange has to be replaced every 3 months and Finish Line is more or less permanent and you MIGHT have to add some additional after about the first three months and then you're OK. Like tube or tubular you have to maintain the pressure though it is lower and the rolling resistance of the tires are so much lower that even pro teams are moving over to them for their TT bikes. While I wasn't having flats using Continental Gatorskins the road feel was terrible and I was always afraid of losing traction. Using the Vittoria tubeless tires or the Continental GP5000TL's is GREAT.

    A pro mechanic told me that the only reason that they use tubulars is because they can change a flat inside the team car on the move since they have limited roof rack room and you can watch the coverage of the Grand Tours and see them leaning out the windows and replacing the re-tired and refilled tire in the available wheel rack. This is especially important now with different disk brake and axle diameter standards from team to team.

    As recreational riders we were using clinchers rather than the far better tubular tires because of convenience. Tubeless gives you tubular performance with even better convenience than clinchers because you never get a flat. Well, you can but it would take almost the destruction of the tire and that would stop you with any type of tire.

    A friend of mine had his C40 collapse on him and now has a carbon fiber phobia so he wants only metal everything on his bikes. He would allow carbon shifters but Campy no longer makes a Record triple and he and his wife ride the smallest gears possible which is a bit odd since he was a Cat A racer. Maybe he considers himself old and broken down at 60. In any case, going to Italy and being measured by Tomassini himself and having custom bikes made with Campy Centaur and Mavic top end wheelsets and shipped to this country through their official US dealership, assembled here and delivered to him was $3,000/bike new.

    While I'll grant you that putting electronic shifting and American deep section aero wheels with hydraulic disk brakes on a bike will shoot the price through the roof not a whole lot of people are willing to pay $3,000 for a bike, let alone $13,000. And damned if I can see one single advantage of electronic shifting.

    Disk brakes are a hazard as far as I'm concerned, My hydraulics put me over the bars on a hard descent when the front wheel hit a hard pothole and I did the natural thing and tightened my grip on the bars hard to avoid being thrown off. So the only advantage they seem to have is in rain where they clear the braking surface more rapidly. I do not purposely ride in the rain like a European pro is forced to do.

    I buy Chinese deep section wheels and I have had ONE rim become delaminated. The company sent me a new rim which I stupidly accepted. Though I'm a fair wheel builder, carbon wheels are NOT put together like aluminum rims. They are put together on fully automated machines using torque measurements and not distance as old aluminum wheels were. So while it takes me less than an hour to build an aluminum wheel it took me three days to build the new deep section carbon rim. What a pain! It should be noted that because carbon fiber rims have a large variation in the bed thickness/strength, unlike an aluminum wheel in which the spoke tensions are nearly equal the CF wheel can have very large differences in spoke tension.

    I have four sets of these wheels and that one failure on initial filling. The 50 mm deep clincher wheels are the best. They have almost no response to side gusts of wind. Maybe even less than a shallow section Campy aluminum wheel. The 55 mm deep tubulars were not safe - they did not have high enough spoke tension so I boosted it up and they are pretty good now. They do not wander around from insufficient spoke tension.

    You have to be aware that Continental GP5000's have such great traction that they wander a bit because of road irregularities even where it appears to be flat. The Vittorias do not do that since they have longitudinal tread on them. And they appear to have as good traction. (Be absolutely certain you put the Continentals on in the correct direction of rotation as noted on the sidewall).

    So you can spend a great deal of money on a bike but what are you gaining? The UCI race weight limit is about 15 lbs so most carbon fiber frames are built without serious regard to weight. So you can make an aluminum alloy, titanium or carbon fiber bike that all weigh nearly the same if you are that interested in weight.

    Assistant professor for the department of exercise and sport science at the University of Utah James C. Martin, Ph.D, put the weight of a bicycle to the test by measuring a rider's time on a 7 percent incline over 5 kilometers using a 15-pound bike (the minimum for racing as per the UCI rules) and the same bike with 5 pounds added. The difference in the climbing averages was about six seconds. That means that you can expect a mere 6 seconds over about 2 1/2 miles of 7 percent which is fairly steep. Around this country most people cannot climb at that sort of speed on that incline for 2 1/2 miles. Around here it is just a normal incline with "real" climbing at 10% and above. Although I can't go very far, I have done 1/8 mile of 24% and could actually coach people on a 16% incline. (This is on road bikes. On a full suspension 29er I found that I could BARELY climb a 24% in the lowest of gears because of the massive increase in weight and not at all on a CX bike since the super low gears it required would lift the front wheel causing the bike to spin around. This is why CX racers run and carry.)

    If on a normal incline a normal incline a 30% increase in weight makes nearly no difference in climbing speed who is fooling who about bicycle weights in the modern range? For the recreational rider, age and training makes FAR more difference than weight or number of speeds.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lombard View Post
    I think you are giving frame material a lot more credit for difference in ride quality than it deserves. You should read the following:

    https://www.sheldonbrown.com/frame-materials.html
    So you're a tourist commenting about frame material on a posting obviously meant for sports cycling? And the "ride" of a material used to be important with 20 mm tires pumped to 160 psi. With 25 mm tubeless tires the tires do all of the ride quality. Or if you're that sensitive you can use 28 mm tires. Perhaps you should take your "news" elsewhere.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
    Good god you can ramble.
    Exactly who twisted your arm to be involved in the thread? Because of social media people have totally lost the art of conversation. They now comment not because they have anything to add but because they can. That doesn't say much for them.

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    You ought to think a bit about how to express yourself more concisely. I'm not sure what the point to all those words you just wrote was.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Kunich View Post
    They now comment not because they have anything to add but because they can. That doesn't say much for them.
    Bwahahahahaha



    And damned if I can see one single advantage of electronic shifting.
    Disk brakes are a hazard as far as I'm concerned, My hydraulics put me over the bars on a hard descent when the front wheel hit a hard pothole and I did the natural thing and tightened my grip on the bars hard to avoid being thrown off.
    What do these have to do with frame materials? Or are you just commenting... cause you have nothing to add
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Kunich View Post
    While I'll grant you that putting electronic shifting and American deep section aero wheels with hydraulic disk brakes on a bike will shoot the price through the roof not a whole lot of people are willing to pay $3,000 for a bike, let alone $13,000. And damned if I can see one single advantage of electronic shifting.
    This is totally crazy statement... my Di2 electonic was less than $4K, it's CF too!
    NOT one advantage? How's about never having to change cables?
    BANNED

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    That Pro mechanic lied to you. They do not glue new tires to rims inside the moving team car for later use in the race. That is ludicrous!

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    tlg
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    Quote Originally Posted by duriel View Post
    This is totally crazy statement... my Di2 electonic was less than $4K, it's CF too!
    NOT one advantage? How's about never having to change cables?
    Not just changing cables, but never suffering degraded shifting from wear and gunked up cables/housing. And not having to adjust your derailleurs. Between mine and my wife's bikes, ~30,000 miles, I've never made a derailleur adjustment. Shifting is as perfect as day #1
    All my road bikes are Di2. I would never own anything but Di2 again.

    No advantages. lol
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    Quote Originally Posted by 202cycle View Post
    That Pro mechanic lied to you. They do not glue new tires to rims inside the moving team car for later use in the race. That is ludicrous!
    You have never used sewups have you?

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