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Steel, Ti, or Carbon?

Old 10-02-09, 07:39 PM
  #1  
Redskin8006
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Steel, Ti, or Carbon?

I love these kind of posts so I figure I'll start one. I'm in the market for a new road bike. My budget is around $3K. I'm riding an entry-level aluminum bike. I'd like to upgrade. I haven't started test riding, but I think my next bike will be steel, Ti, or carbon. I was leaning toward steel. Seems like it's the strongest and most durable frame material from Clyde's perspective (and at a reasonable cost). It's hard to stay off the carbon bandwagon, though. Despite concerns, it sounds like there are tons of Clydes (no pun intended) on carbon frames with no problems. And it's obvious that the mainstream brands are going carbon. The more research I do, however, Ti seems to rise to the top. Sounds like it's the best of both worlds - durability, strength and comfort - but at a higher cost. Just wondering if any Clydes out there have any strong opinions one way or the other.
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Old 10-02-09, 07:53 PM
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If you do get a Ti bike make sure you get to take it for a good test ride. I am a big powerfull rider and I could really feel the flex while climbing on a Ti bike. Steel will work, carbon will too. There are also many great aluminum bikes still being made.
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Old 10-02-09, 07:58 PM
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i personally would go carbon, but that is just my pref
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Old 10-02-09, 08:03 PM
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A Ti bike for three thousand is questionable, it wasn't a month ago but those are now gone. You might find a deal, a leftover. Jamis makes the Eclipse, once again it's 853 Reynolds not w/carbon stays. The 2009 model's still out. That's about all I have to say given your criteria. I have a very old Ti bike and like it. I changed it around to something else, bought other steel (chrmly) bikes since which I like better. Ti .. the mere mention of it creates controversy, drama and seems to bring out the worst behavior and conversation imaginable so .....
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Old 10-02-09, 08:32 PM
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OK this is from a machinist.Steel or Titanium could easily be a lifetime bike.Can't say that with carbon.I don't like the stuff.Nasty,dirty to machine and fragile.Just my experience and opinion.Won't argue I've said my piece.
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Old 10-02-09, 08:44 PM
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Personally, I'd go with steel or ti...

But I think it's the wrong question.

What sort of bike do you want? Touring, racing???
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Old 10-02-09, 08:54 PM
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A Ti bike for under $3K ...

3/2.5 Butted Titanium Equipped with Dura Ace 7900 + Mavic Ksyrium Wheels

http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/..._teamti_10.htm

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Old 10-02-09, 09:09 PM
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Just recently purchased my carbon bike last week. I've been riding a steel frame (fixed gear). The carbon bike is very comfortable to me. No regrets...Yet. If I could have afforded it, I might have looked at a Ti bike.

My advice is to test ride every bike you can within your price range. You'll know it when you've found "The One".
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Old 10-02-09, 09:23 PM
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The Ti the man's listed seems quite allright.
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Old 10-02-09, 09:50 PM
  #10  
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Forget the material, that should be way down on your list. Any material can be made to do whatever the designer wants it to. You can have a super stiff Ti frame just as easily as a whippy Aluminum one. The only thing that Carbon does better than other materials is dampen some road vibrations better but that doesn't make a huge difference unless you're an ultra racer.
Determine what you want to do with the bike, get fitted accordingly, then narrow your choices to whatever meets your criteria the buy the one that best floats your boat.

ps, forget the "carbon is fragile" BS.

Last edited by Homeyba; 10-02-09 at 09:54 PM.
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Old 10-02-09, 09:55 PM
  #11  
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New steel bikes are getting harder and harder to find and they are getting crazy expensive. Saw a Ellis 953 in a magazine at it's $10,000. Although GVH bikes has some frames (Colnago and Derosa) for about 2 grand.
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Old 10-02-09, 10:03 PM
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Friend 150lbs snapped a ti frame (GT ti). Other bud 230 snapped a DeRosa steel frame. I snapped an aluminum frame (Lemond). Everything can be broken.

Find a bike that fits and feels good and makes you wanna ride!.
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Old 10-02-09, 10:24 PM
  #13  
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Originally Posted by Redskin8006 View Post
I was leaning toward steel. Seems like it's the strongest and most durable frame material from Clyde's perspective
Incorrect.
Strength comes from:
- material
- wall thickness
- geometry

Mfgrs compensate for differing materials by adjusting the latter two variables.
There is no reason to think material alone will determine which frame is stronger.
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Old 10-02-09, 11:29 PM
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3K will buy a great bike - in almost any material available. You can afford something that will fit well. So have one custom done - maybe a Rivendell or a Marinoni built just for you. You can get a Marinoni Sportivo Special with Columbus steel tubing and carbon seat stays with a Campy Centaur drivetrain for 3K - wow

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Old 10-03-09, 07:19 AM
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I am 260 lbs and have a Look 595 carbon frame and a new Ti Lynskey 230. Both ride great. The Lynskey is slightly more compliant vertically, but the bottom bracket has no discernible flex.

Though I truly find the Look to be an incredible ride, if I had to have only one, it would be the Lynskey only because it is easier to travel with. I don't have to carry a torque wrench and am less worried about frame damage due to impact and scratches. I bought the frame and fork directly from Lynskey for 1,695 when they were running a sale this summer. If you source your parts over the winter when deals can be had you can easily build it for less than 3,000.

I originally wanted a custom lugged steel frame, but the competitive price and durability of unpainted Ti changed my mind.

I would stay away from carbon seat posts, though my Look has one, as well as carbon stems and handlebars.

I second the get one that fits as primary. But, don't underestimate the way wheels, tires and air pressure can make frames perform differently. I think money spent on wheels and cranks yields the highest return.

Ask yourself what you are trying to accomplish by upgrading your current ride. Want a smoother ride? You may be able to get a better bang for your buck starting with new wheels and tires. Want a more aggressive fit? You may be able to change your stem and handlebars. If it is just bike lust and you have the money go for it. Remember whoever dies with most toys wins.
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Old 10-03-09, 07:46 AM
  #16  
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Originally Posted by longbeachgary View Post
New steel bikes are getting harder and harder to find and they are getting crazy expensive. Saw a Ellis 953 in a magazine at it's $10,000. Although GVH bikes has some frames (Colnago and Derosa) for about 2 grand.

I've been drooling over Shamrock Cycles for awhile now. They are very much out of my price range ... but not $10k either.

http://www.lugoftheirish.com/Shamrock_Cycles/Home.html

I also just picked up an 09 Bianchi Imola. Not top of the line but a good classic-looking steel frame.

Also, Surly is doing their Pacer as a pre-assembled bike for 2010. If I'd have known that, I might have waited a bit on the Imola.
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Old 10-03-09, 04:24 PM
  #17  
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+1 on a custom. I've got a Rodriguez custom, they do great work. The cost for the frame is far more then a manufactured job, but in the world of customs, they're one of the most affordable builders. www.rodcycle.com is their website, amazing customer service also. Took about a month from sending in the order form and deposit and my bike being ready to ship.
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Old 10-03-09, 05:03 PM
  #18  
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Originally Posted by pennstater View Post
I second the get one that fits as primary. But, don't underestimate the way wheels, tires and air pressure can make frames perform differently. I think money spent on wheels and cranks yields the highest return.
I'll agree with you on wheels & tires, but cranks? I've got $45 cranks and $400 cranks. Honestly, without a gram scale I probably couldn't tell the difference between them unless the gearing was different...
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Old 10-04-09, 10:51 AM
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Wow! Thanks all. Great info and advice. A topic for another thread would be thoughts/experience on various road bikes for my style of riding (but I'll spare ya'll... ).
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Old 10-04-09, 02:06 PM
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Lots of hill climbing. I repeatedly wore out FSA ISIS cartridge bearings. Bought a bike with FSA Mega Exo external bearings. They were even worse. Changed to Shimano cranks with external bearings which were better, but I would still trash them. Chorus UT cranks are smoother and just keep going and going ....

For me, money well spent.
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Old 10-04-09, 08:16 PM
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I'm really considering a Lynskey Cooper. All the reviews I've seen have been very good, and the price can't be beat. I'd imagine you could build a fantastic bike for well under $3k.
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Old 10-06-09, 01:39 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by Redskin8006 View Post
I love these kind of posts so I figure I'll start one. I'm in the market for a new road bike. My budget is around $3K. I'm riding an entry-level aluminum bike. I'd like to upgrade. I haven't started test riding, but I think my next bike will be steel, Ti, or carbon. I was leaning toward steel. Seems like it's the strongest and most durable frame material from Clyde's perspective (and at a reasonable cost). It's hard to stay off the carbon bandwagon, though. Despite concerns, it sounds like there are tons of Clydes (no pun intended) on carbon frames with no problems. And it's obvious that the mainstream brands are going carbon. The more research I do, however, Ti seems to rise to the top. Sounds like it's the best of both worlds - durability, strength and comfort - but at a higher cost. Just wondering if any Clydes out there have any strong opinions one way or the other.
If you're really a Clyde upgrading the bike isn't really going to affect your riding all that much. A fat human engine isn't going to get the performance limit out of your current bike, you don't need a better bike, you need a better body.

That being said if a new bike is the thing that will motivate you to ride, lose weight, and be healthier, go for it! Make the changes.

However, forget steel.

Steel is cheap. Steel bikes are cheap to manufacture. They don't make good bikes. The whole 'steel is real' nonsense is more about the history of Italian cycling (and Italian steel) than the quality of the bikes.

Competitive road cycling teams don't use steel bikes. They are, as a rule, heavy, flexy, inefficient, and they are very unpredictable under heavy riders when cornering on fast descents as the tubing flexes. Cycling will always have the snob appeal of the vintage De Rosas, Olmos, Colnagos, Cinellis, Masis, et. al. Usually these are dripping with Campy components. In the US the older Lemond nameplate, Independent, Masi (again), and Trek made (or marketed) very good steel bikes.

However, the funny thing is that what is desirable, and what is actually 'good' are two different things.

A classic Cannondale 3.0 frame was the lightest frame on the planet when it made its debut. It set the standard for being the stiffest frame ever measured on the Bicycling 'tarantula' frame testing jig.

If performance was truly your benchmark I'd find a classic Klein or Cannondale aluminum bike. The funny thing is that an '89 Cannondale 3.0 frame is still a better frame today than all but a handful of multi thousand dollar Ti or Carbon frames. Throw a modern carbon fork and carbon seatpost on it, spec it out with your dream wheelset and components.

The frame and wheelset are the bike. Trust me, they aren't building frames in Taiwan in 2009 to the quality that they were building them in the 80's and 90's while they were 'Made in the USA'.

Buying a modern bike is like choosing what nameplate you want for your Taiwanese/Chinese frame. The pinnacle of cycling quality passed during the late eighties, early nineties for most companies except at the extreme high end.

If you can afford Ti, and you can find a build with a tubing set that makes sense for your weight and riding style, go for it.

Other than that look backwards not forwards.

Buying a bike today is like buying a car in the 1970s. You don't want to.
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Old 10-06-09, 06:48 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by pennstater View Post
Lots of hill climbing. I repeatedly wore out FSA ISIS cartridge bearings. Bought a bike with FSA Mega Exo external bearings. They were even worse. Changed to Shimano cranks with external bearings which were better, but I would still trash them. Chorus UT cranks are smoother and just keep going and going ....

For me, money well spent.
Really? I'm going on two years and about 9000 miles on my FSA with Mega Exo. Nothing around here is flat. They are still as smooth as the day I bought them. Same with my bike with Shimano crank and external bearings...
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Old 10-06-09, 06:59 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by pennstater View Post
I am 260 lbs and have a Look 595 carbon frame and a new Ti Lynskey 230. Both ride great. The Lynskey is slightly more compliant vertically, but the bottom bracket has no discernible flex.

Though I truly find the Look to be an incredible ride, if I had to have only one, it would be the Lynskey only because it is easier to travel with. I don't have to carry a torque wrench and am less worried about frame damage due to impact and scratches. I bought the frame and fork directly from Lynskey for 1,695 when they were running a sale this summer. If you source your parts over the winter when deals can be had you can easily build it for less than 3,000.

I originally wanted a custom lugged steel frame, but the competitive price and durability of unpainted Ti changed my mind.

I would stay away from carbon seat posts, though my Look has one, as well as carbon stems and handlebars.

I second the get one that fits as primary. But, don't underestimate the way wheels, tires and air pressure can make frames perform differently. I think money spent on wheels and cranks yields the highest return.

Ask yourself what you are trying to accomplish by upgrading your current ride. Want a smoother ride? You may be able to get a better bang for your buck starting with new wheels and tires. Want a more aggressive fit? You may be able to change your stem and handlebars. If it is just bike lust and you have the money go for it. Remember whoever dies with most toys wins.
^^ +1.

I would use the money saved by using a good steel frame and buy the best wheels and drivetrain that the remaining balance can buy. Consider Gunnar: http://www.gunnarbikes.com/models.php

Michael
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Old 10-06-09, 08:38 AM
  #25  
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I have a 1987 Specialized Allez - that I upgraded drivetrain to modernish Campy Veloce - but best investment was the Centaur Ultra-Torque cranks - cranks like these are a Clyde dream
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