Tough Decision - Aluminium and Groupset

Malte

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Sep 26, 2011
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#1
As my road bike is kind of old (19 years) and kind of heavy (~11kg) I want to replace it with a new one. Good Quality and Price/Value Ratio is most important and light-weight is very interesting (still while I should be able to loose maybe 6kg of body weight).

While studying a little bit the internet it boiled down to two questions:
  1. Which Frame Material (Aluminum, Carbon or Super Light Carbon)
  2. Which Group-Set (Ulegra, DuraAce or SRAM Force)
I came around this page where I can alter above parameters while geometry stays constant.

My findings:
Most heavy is Aluminum frame with Ultegra with 7.1kg for 1599Euro.
Aluminum -> Carbon: +400euro -100g
Carbon -> Carbon Lite: +1000euro -300g

Ultegra -> DuraAce: +750euro -200g
Ultegra -> SRAM: +50euro -150g

Conclusion?
When choosing the lightest combination I save 500g but the bike price increases by >140%. Hmm, value/price ratio is important, it seems that it doesn't make sense to buy a carbon frame. Any comments? Why did you choose carbon over aluminum?

As I understand the DuraAce advantage over Ultegra is weight not quality and I would need to pay 3.77euro per gram saving which seems to be too much. How do you rate the SRAM Force in comparison with the Ultegra from a quality standpoint?
 

GSAstuto

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Oct 11, 2009
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#4
Weight is highly overrated unless it is a significant part of your personal w/kg rating - or not applied into the rotating mass components. Namely wheels.

Consider: Almost every frameset in existence is made with the nearly exact same tubes or materials regardless of size. Therefore - as frameset becomes smaller it generally becomes stiffer. Stiff frames are not always good. Nor are excessively noodley ones.

Consider: Every material has different properties and will be better (or not) for certain types of ride quality, performance and durability over time.

In general - Steel is heavier, but has very high Young's modulus, so you can build a reasonably light frame AND have very good stiffness. It's also durable and reliable. A well cared for steel frame will last at least 20yrs and probably alot longer.

Alloy frames by virtue of using larger diameter tubing, can exceed the stiffness of a steel frame within the same weight allowance. Therefore they are quite popular among sport riders looking for stiff, light, responsive frames. Alloy frames resist rusting, can be powdercoated easily and generally are quite durable. They may suffer from other corrosion and for this reason, may not be as long lasting as a high carbon steel frame.

Carbon frames have the unique characteristic that the material is CONSTRUCTED and may have widely varying characteristics depending on how it is constructed. So - you can build some sections stiff and other sections soft, if you like. It is also <typically> built using a mold process so there is high degree of uniformity in the construction - but at the same time - very little opportunity for customization. Carbon is very lightweight and is durable as long as it's not directly exposed to UV for long periods of time.

Titanium is the 'King's Metal' . It has decent Young's modulus, very light for its size and has incredible durability. Ti framesets tend to have more suppleness than steel but still reasonable stiffness imparting a strong degree of performance feeling. Ti tubing will flex and then return to position without internally absorbing too much energy - so it feels a little 'springy' without feeling overly as such. While Alloy frames will flex very little and absorb what they do, thus imparting a more solid, clunky feeling to the shock. A well designed Ti frame will feel lighter than steel , more compliant than alloy and more supple than carbon.

Costwise - major production facilities exist for nearly all frames. Steel, Alloy and Carbon are most popular. Ti may be produced in semi-custom manner and also thus affordable. As a material, Steel and Alloy are somewhat similar in cost and Carbon is higher cost with Ti being the highest cost. This is somewhat reflected in the frame price.

If your goal is simply weight over anything else, then I'd go for an open mold carbon frameset. They will all be around 1000gr (or lower) and not carry the economic burden of unecessary 'branding', which can add easily 500 -1200EU. Typical framesets in this class are easily available for under 100,000 yen and compare favorably with framesets costing 2 or even 3x as much.

If you have a little more budget, are on the smaller side (under 180cm) then I'd look strongly at Ti framesets. The weight will compare to carbon with only a couple hundred grams difference and you'll have a frameset that will outlast your riding years and perhaps those of your grandchildren as well. If your ride purpose is general training, touring, audax with maybe some century type events, enduros or whatever, Ti is amazing. The more supple ride will leave you at the end of the day smiling.

If you are looking for a strong sprinting / circuit racing type of performance - AND are on a budget, then I'd strongly consider a lightweight Alloy frameset - like the CAAD10, for example, which is very light, stiff and cost is very reasonable.

As for groupset - you can't possibly go wrong with the Ultegra. Its my favorite groupset. Reasonable weight, superior shifting performance, bulletproof and easy to get parts anywhere do to cross compatibility with just about anything Shimano makes.

The last condieration is wheels. Probably nothing more on a bike makes as big difference to your riding quality. If you are a serious weight weenie - then <shamless plug> my wheels are the lightest available for the price at less than 1000gr and 100,000 yen. Period. Nothing can touch them (and generally me either) when on a hill. For those who also like to go down hills, then it's easy to configure a slightly heavier and stable wheel at well under 1500gr. Same thing. Once you are in the 1500gr range - you have a huge selection to play with (and prices). It will just depend on your ride style, purpose, weight, etc. My general recommendation here is to get a couple sets of wheels - rainwheels AND play wheels. Like the Fulcrum 5's or 7's or Shimano WHR-500 or R30's which are durable and very cost effective. For the play wheels - get a set of carbon wheels that you can dial into your style purpose whether its TT / Tri (60mm or 88mm) or hill climb / Alpine events (20mm or 38mm). Save your money on the frameset / group so you can get a good set of wheels! You can't go wrong!

To give you an example - it's VERY POSSIBLE to configure a 'no brand' carbon frameset bike w/Ultegra and Carbon wheels for around 250,000 yen which compares head-to-head with ANY branded bike at 2x or 3x that amount.

If 'fit' is your goal - then a custom frame is the only way to go. Since you can have the bike order made to your exact dimensions. Here is where you can tweak every aspect of the frame geometry and sizing. As well as tweaks for certain areas of stiffness or compliance. Nothing gives you more control over the total package as a custom built frameset. Even down to the waterbottle positions, auxillary mounts, etc.
 

Malte

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Sep 26, 2011
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#6
Tim, Thanks a lot for the details that helps a lot in my decision process (still some time until christmas though :angel:, I actually haven't even start thinking about wheel-sets so far).

I am 184cm, 88cm legs, my current steel frame is custom made, I had raced an aluminum frame before and liked the stiffness for sprints. However today I mainly look for doing training tours and maybe occasionally some race for fun.

So right now I would favor aluminum for of it's good price/value ratio. Custom Titanium would also be nice though (but never tried) .... :cool:
 

GSAstuto

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Oct 11, 2009
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www.roadfixie.com
#8
If you currently have (and love) your custom steel bike, then going to Ti is a no brainer. Because you can easily clone the fit and tweak to suit performance. You'll end up with easily half the weight of frame and very similar performance characteristics plus a buttery smooth ride.

A good alloy frame (Like the C10, Viner, etc) are also great choices - but maybe limited in exact sizing - except some of the Italian alloys which we can get custom made as well. But the framebuilding cost of custom will mostly equalize the materials selection with the Ti not so different at the end of the day. So, unless you can get a great sized production frame, the custom sized Ti is really a nice choice - and - doesn't have to cost many thousands (contrary to popular belief and marketing).

Tim, Thanks a lot for the details that helps a lot in my decision process (still some time until christmas though :angel:, I actually haven't even start thinking about wheel-sets so far).

I am 184cm, 88cm legs, my current steel frame is custom made, I had raced an aluminum frame before and liked the stiffness for sprints. However today I mainly look for doing training tours and maybe occasionally some race for fun.

So right now I would favor aluminum for of it's good price/value ratio. Custom Titanium would also be nice though (but never tried) .... :cool:
 

trad

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Dec 4, 2006
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#9
Another plug for Ti from TCC's Ti chapter. I have 3 road and 1 mtn and love every one. Bombproof durability, simple timeless looks, and great ride. Most of my friends end up going Ti (often after cracking their carbon steeds from an awkard fall). If interested, recommend giving Tim's bikes a real close look. I have a Merlin and the welds on his bikes parallel some of the best out there. Because of durability, going used is an option as well.

Good luck hunting...!
 

GSAstuto

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#10
Very good point! You really can't go wrong with a used Ti bike. It doesn't 'work harden' like steel or alloy and retains virtually the same feel for a very long time. The only issue I've seen is that some early Ti alloys were difficult to weld - and somewhat overuse of Grade 6 or 7 (more brittle) would result in some cracking at stress risers. But generally - if the bike is welded right - which is the most important thing - it will be nearly indestructible. And most modern frames will use a combination of Grade 5 (more malleable) seamless tubing with the Grade 6 or 7 reserved for Headtube, Dropouts, Stays and BB. Weld grading is very easy to do in Ti - you use a special color chart and if the joint region colors are 'out of spec' , the weld is junk. Almost all modern Ti frames are welded with fully purged tubes and often in a purged environment using very high tech TIG welders or Plasma welders. It's a very tedious and artistic process. But the result is beautiful. The other most important thing is the mitering of the tubes. When done properly, within a few hundredths of mm tolerance, the tube joint requires minimal filetting to join and will be very strong and low stress riser at the joint. So - when you get frames built by Lightspeed, Lynskey, etc - this is what really sets them apart. My welders are aerospace certified as well and we give them alot of leeway to prepare the tubes perfectly and weld them 'just right'.

Another plug for Ti from TCC's Ti chapter. I have 3 road and 1 mtn and love every one. Bombproof durability, simple timeless looks, and great ride. Most of my friends end up going Ti (often after cracking their carbon steeds from an awkard fall). If interested, recommend giving Tim's bikes a real close look. I have a Merlin and the welds on his bikes parallel some of the best out there. Because of durability, going used is an option as well.

Good luck hunting...!
 
Jan 14, 2007
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Noda
japanichiban.com
#12
Towards the end of the year you can find good bargains.
I always get old models that have been in the shop a year...possibly too big for the customers or even too expensive....

That is...until they cut the price to clear shop space for 2012 models...

Buy the best bike you can with the money you have but don't settle for less for not looking hard enough.

Carbon & Dura...or Carbon and Ultegra...

My LBS even suggested I get it on JACCS and I've been paying it off over 2 years... the monthly payments are not even noticeable to my wife. :cool:
 

andywood

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Apr 8, 2008
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#15
In my 10 years of riding I've ridden steel, then aluminium, then carbon and now titanium.

I'm not one to go on about bikes and bike parts but I've been really taken by the titanium. If you go with a brand like Lynskey or Litespeed you also get a lifetime guarantee. This was a real selling point to me as both my carbon frames only lasted 3 years each.

You can get an entry level "Cooper" direct from Lynskey for:

1,295.00 USD = 99,720.22 JPY

http://www.lynskeyperformance.com/store/loft-cooper-closeout.html

which is a great deal, considering they are ¥153561.00 at CRC

http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/Models.aspx?ModelID=57643

Andy

www.jyonnobitime.com/time
 

GSAstuto

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#16
The Cooper is a great frameset. It's a bit more 'upright' than alot of people want these days - but reality is that it rides very smooth and is a perfect Longride frame. Plus, all Lynskey frames are meticulously constructed from ASTM graded tubing by superb craftsmen. If I was to offer a 'shelf bike' - these are the ones. I know these guys, they build awesome bikes.
 

trad

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Dec 4, 2006
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#17
ditto. I turned one on my friends onto a Lynskey and he couldn't be happier. He (and many others) were treated like family by their customer service team and they ship to Japan. These guys created Litespeed and a big part of American Bicycle Group (who built Litespeed, Merlin, Douglas, and Quintana Roo) so they are the real deal. If "made in USA" is important - its a great choice.

Sorry Malte/OP - i know this thread is moving far off from "aluminum and groupset", but maybe it helps that most ti frames have a smidgen of AL - 3% for 3/2.5 tubing and 6% for 6/4 tubing. Come to think of it.. Ti frames have about 0.5% carbon and the same amount of Iron and 2.5-4% vanadium- so we're a mix of all things good for bikes.
 

andywood

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#18
I think the Cooper for 10 man = a titanium hand built frame with a life time warranty = excellent value.

I have the R340 and love it. I was lucky to get 50% off the price which worked out at about 14 man.

It's worth keeping an eye on the "loft" on the Lynskey homepage for any offers that might come up.

Andy

www.jyonnobitime.com/time
 

Sikochi

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Sep 13, 2010
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#19
I have an aluminium bike - CAAD 9 - and absolutely adore it. Best bike I have ever ridden as the road feel/feedback is spot on for me. I would place it above any of the carbon bikes I have tried, but never tried Ti. Trouble with Ti, is once you buy one, there is no need to ever buy another bike and I don`t feel like riding the same bike for the rest of my life. Maybe one day...

For groupset, then if I was buying a bike today I would pick up the Ultegra Di2 in one of the 20% sales from Wiggle. As GSAtuto said, weight is irrelevant unless you are planning on competing in hill climb races. For general riding, whether you get home 1 or 2 mins earlier is neither here nor there.

SRAM`s gear change is a different system than Shimano. Some people prefer it, some don`t and some don`t care either way. Best advice is to try both and decide for yourself.
 

Malte

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Sep 26, 2011
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#20
I made my decision a little bit before Christmas and went with a German mail order company called "rose". They build their own bikes frames which were rated excellent in magazines like tour.de or roadbike.de for quality and their driving features. I selected aluminum as a material because it offered the best price/weight ratio and I couldn't justify the carbon version. For group-set I went with the Ultegra (analog version, 175mm Compact) for the same reason. I invested in a small 330Euro upgrade to get the Marvic Cosmic Carbon wheels, mainly for the look :rolleyes:. Altogether it came out at ~2000 Euro but I am supposed to get the 19% VAT returned soon :). For luggage surcharge I paid 117 Euro (JAL) and 3150 Yen for airport delivery. The weight is 7.9kg with Pedals (Look Keo) which is ~3kg less than my previous bike. I also invested in new shoes (Marvic Peleton) which safe additional 600g.

I wasn't quite confident to buy a bike over the internet so I used the option to visit their showroom which a 80km drive from my hometown. They took my measurements and then I could do some testrides. My first impression was a bit disappointing as the geometry of the showroom bikes were very comfortable. But they altered the stem and the stack for me so it gave a better race feel ... bringing back my excitement. I have to say that my current bike is a 20 years old custom race fit, and according to my research bikes are getting more and more comfortable these days, their bikes frames are already on the longer (reach) end of what can be bought. So I went with a 57 frame and 130mm/-6 stem.

The bike was ready 4days later and I picked it up on Christmas Eve :). For weather and family reasons I needed to wait 6 more days until I could take it out for the first time. Acceleration is amazing - feels like being directly connected to the drive train, also there is no flexing of wheels or frame when sprinting out of the saddle - feels very different compared to my old steel bike (an important part of that are also the new shoes). The wheelbase is shorter so the bike is very agile but very stable on fast descents. The range of the 50/34 -11/28 gears is also an amazing experience after riding my broken 39 -12/30 (8 speed) for the last half year. I am still tuning saddle and pedal-pad positions slightly - after the first 90km I felt every muscle in my legs :eek:. I am very satisfied with the new bike and the next step is to take it out for a ride in Japan.

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