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Aluminum: are there any fans left?

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Aluminum: are there any fans left?

Old 06-12-20, 04:49 AM
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sjanzeir
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Aluminum: are there any fans left?

I don't know if it's just me or that it's actually become a thing to crap all over aluminum recently, but if these great forums of ours are anything to go by, most everyone seems to be riding aluminum not because they want to, but because they feel like they have to.

Everywhere you look around the forums, people seem to be pining for something other than aluminum: there are the fanatical steel purists who talk down to you because... nostalgia and this whole "nothing rides better" business.

There are the cost-no-object carbon bros who seem to believe that the fact that they could afford, bought, and paid for carbon fiber somehow gives them the right - nay, the obligation - to crap on the "lesser beings" around here as their second favorite pastime.

Then there are the titanium elitists, whose other favorite sport seems to be crapping on other titanium elitists because... only they have the birthright to ride titanium? Or something - whatever.

And the bamboo people? There seems to be too few of them around here to cause any major controversy, aside from the possibly occasional you're-killing-the-planet-and-we're-saving-it mantra.

So, where are the aluminum fans in all of this? Are there any of them actually left? It's been a long time since I've seen anyone (dare to) say that they actually prefer aluminum to any other material, even though they could easily afford to ride carbon, steel or titanium. After having been dubbed "the material of the future" at some point in the history of cycling, how did aluminum fall from grace like this, to the point where it almost became "the material of the dumb?"
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Old 06-12-20, 04:58 AM
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It's a great point: bang-for-the-buck, durability, usability, it's hard to beat Al. I have two, an old 26" mtb, and a 2000 Bianchi road bike. They're easy to live with, and ideal for the vast majority of cyclists.

There is the obvious difference in ride quality, to those of use that notice these things. But most do not notice and don't care, they just want the bike to work, and Al works really, really well.

I think it's major problem (if it has one at all) is one of perception: it's common. Nobody - especially here on a bike-specific web forum - likes "common". Steel, "vintage", Ti, are not "common". Carbon may have already reached a point where there's "high-end" carbon and "inexpensive" carbon; and as it gets more common, it will suffer the same perception as Al.

But I'm an Al fan, I think it's a great material and I'm a big fan of "inexpensive" yet super-functional.

Should be some interesting replies in this thread
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Old 06-12-20, 04:59 AM
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Originally Posted by sjanzeir View Post
It's been a long time since I've seen anyone (dare to) say that they actually prefer aluminum to any other material....
Yes it has!
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Old 06-12-20, 05:19 AM
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Al has a great weight to price ratio but never had that magic ride. Modern techniques are changing that, however.
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Old 06-12-20, 05:22 AM
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It could be that those of us who are happy with aluminum, the material of the vast majority of bikes sold, simply don't care if carbon fiber is better in some fashion.
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Old 06-12-20, 05:30 AM
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Originally Posted by sjanzeir View Post
After having been dubbed "the material of the future" at some point in the history of cycling, how did aluminum fall from grace like this, to the point where it almost became "the material of the dumb?"
It's been the material of the future for 40 years now and little has changed save for forming. Modern fat Al never delivered on ride quality and the potential of carbon is just being explored. Steel and Ti can be fabricated without heat treatment facilities so there is a large number of small fabricators pushing that medium, not so for Al.
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Old 06-12-20, 05:32 AM
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
It could be that those of us who are happy with aluminum, the material of the vast majority of bikes sold, simply don't care if carbon fiber is better in some fashion.
Hey, either one of my two 2014 7.6 FX hybrids have a far nicer ride feel than my (admittedly crappy gas-pipe) 1991 Raleigh Flyer road bike, but no! If it's old and it's steel, it'll always rank up higher on the totem pole that's Bike Forums. There's always someone who'll be happy to tell me that I'm an idiot for not recognizing that old, cheap Raleigh's crappy ride as "character" and that those "new-fangled, cookie-cutter" alloy bikes "will always suck" and "kids these days!"
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Old 06-12-20, 05:49 AM
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It's interesting to hear from knowledgeable and experienced cyclists who have ridden bikes that are similar but made of different materials. This is less common than it might seem. What we see more of on BF is the whine of reverse snobbery. That said, I don't think anyone would argue there isn't a place in cycling for a nice CAAD!
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Old 06-12-20, 06:20 AM
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Originally Posted by sjanzeir View Post
I don't know if it's just me or that it's actually become a thing to crap all over aluminum recently, but if these great forums of ours are anything to go by, most everyone seems to be riding aluminum not because they want to, but because they feel like they have to.

Everywhere you look around the forums, people seem to be pining for something other than aluminum: there are the fanatical steel purists who talk down to you because... nostalgia and this whole "nothing rides better" business.

There are the cost-no-object carbon bros who seem to believe that the fact that they could afford, bought, and paid for carbon fiber somehow gives them the right - nay, the obligation - to crap on the "lesser beings" around here as their second favorite pastime.

Then there are the titanium elitists, whose other favorite sport seems to be crapping on other titanium elitists because... only they have the birthright to ride titanium? Or something - whatever.

And the bamboo people? There seems to be too few of them around here to cause any major controversy, aside from the possibly occasional you're-killing-the-planet-and-we're-saving-it mantra.

So, where are the aluminum fans in all of this? Are there any of them actually left? It's been a long time since I've seen anyone (dare to) say that they actually prefer aluminum to any other material, even though they could easily afford to ride carbon, steel or titanium. After having been dubbed "the material of the future" at some point in the history of cycling, how did aluminum fall from grace like this, to the point where it almost became "the material of the dumb?"
I don't begrudge those who have to suffer aluminum frames on account of their limited financial means. I used to be poor too.
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Old 06-12-20, 06:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Paul Barnard View Post
I don't begrudge those who have to suffer aluminum frames on account of their limited financial means. I used to be poor too.
How noble of you.

When I recently bought my first new road bike, after years on a Trek hybrid, I went with AL for a couple of reasons.

First, I like to watch YouTube videos then do my own work. If I had gone with CF, that introduced a complication wherein I was just afraid I would crush something.

Secondly, I wanted 105 (at least) components. I just couldn't find anything CF close to my budget with 105. So I went AL. Maybe it was a mistake but so far I am pleased. Never ridden a CF bike for any distance at all so really don't know what I am missing.
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Old 06-12-20, 06:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Paul Barnard View Post
I don't begrudge those who have to suffer aluminum frames on account of their limited financial means. I used to be poor too.
Ouch! That hurt.
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Old 06-12-20, 06:51 AM
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Aluminum frame for its cost effectiveness, steel fork for its ability to soak up the bumps at a better price than carbon fiber (and ability to put a front rack on it!). I've got two I built like this.
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Old 06-12-20, 07:00 AM
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Originally Posted by skidder View Post
Aluminum frame for its cost effectiveness, steel fork for its ability to soak up the bumps at a better price than carbon fiber (and ability to put a front rack on it!). I've got two I built like this.
Show me!
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Old 06-12-20, 07:01 AM
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Aluminum is the minivan of bike frame materials. It's not the lightest, not the cheapest, not the must durable, not the most anything. It occupies the functional sweet spot in the middle of everything. It's an excellent choice for anybody who is more interested in riding their bike than in bragging about it.
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Old 06-12-20, 07:14 AM
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Originally Posted by probe1957 View Post
Secondly, I wanted 105 (at least) components. I just couldn't find anything CF close to my budget with 105. So I went AL. Maybe it was a mistake but so far I am pleased. Never ridden a CF bike for any distance at all so really don't know what I am missing.
I don't begrudge people who ride bikes made out of fishing rods either.
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Old 06-12-20, 07:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Paul Barnard View Post
I don't begrudge people who ride bikes made out of fishing rods either.
Ooooooh 😱 mommy just slapped daddy at the dinner table... 😟
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Old 06-12-20, 07:26 AM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
I don't think anyone would argue there isn't a place in cycling for a nice CAAD!
I've been trying to see the local so-called dealer about an Optimo Tiagra that I want to turn into a flat-bar. I say trying to because their customer service - well, there isn't any. 😁
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Old 06-12-20, 07:46 AM
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I love aluminum, the material is great. It gets a bad rep because its the cheapest material and therefore is used in cheap designs with cheap components.

Get a premium aluminum bike and its fantastic.



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Old 06-12-20, 07:58 AM
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I always recommend an aluminum frame as a starter bike because its cheaper and almost as good as other materials, but nobody aspires to own an aluminum bike. They settle for it.
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Old 06-12-20, 08:20 AM
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Originally Posted by kingston View Post
nobody aspires to own an aluminum bike. They settle for it.
Originally Posted by sjanzeir View Post
most everyone seems to be riding aluminum not because they want to, but because they feel like they have to.
Exactly my point - there are no "fans" of aluminum the way that there are steel advocates, carbon enthusiasts, or titanium fanatics. Why is it so when aluminum deserves so much more?

Marketing seems to have fed into the culture of vanity and image within the cycling community in which owning supercedes riding - the bike as a fashion accessory, if you will. Have any of you wondered just how many a film, sitcom, or TV series ever used the "fancy bicycle in the living room" trope just to add a certain kind of depth to a character, without ever showing them actually riding the bike?

Jewelry is made of gold and silver, and some of the most expensive jewelry is made of titanium. None of the "real" jewelry is made of aluminum, but none of it serves a practical purpose, either.

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Old 06-12-20, 08:29 AM
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Originally Posted by General Geoff View Post
I love aluminum, the material is great. It gets a bad rep because its the cheapest material and therefore is used in cheap designs with cheap components.

Get a premium aluminum bike and its fantastic.



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PRECISELY! I have/have had all of the aforementioned frame materials (except bamboo), and there are crappy and wonderful examples of all. I also hold the controversial belief that there is no significant difference in frame material 'ride' or 'feel' (when done right) other than in the minds of the proponents. That said, ride what you like and enjoy the heck out of it!
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Old 06-12-20, 08:36 AM
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As a heavier rider I trust aluminum over Carbon, I do have a carbon fork however.
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Old 06-12-20, 08:42 AM
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Carbon's already giving aluminum a run for its money cost-wise (what it costs to the manufacturer).

Of course, that doesn't mean that manufacturers will make any adjustments price-wise (what it costs to the consumer).
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Old 06-12-20, 08:49 AM
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Originally Posted by taco2ewsday View Post
As a heavier rider I trust aluminum over Carbon, I do have a carbon fork however.
Excellent point as well, justified or not, there definitely is an increase in the 'confidence factor'
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Old 06-12-20, 08:53 AM
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Aluminum seems to be Jack of all Trades material.

Remember, the whole saying goes: Jack of all trades, Master of none. Though often times better than Master of one.
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