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Aluminum: are there any fans left?

Old 06-12-20, 08:56 AM
  #26  
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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,
Where are these threads in which people "crap all over aluminum"?
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Old 06-12-20, 08:58 AM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by sjanzeir View Post
whatever.
Sums up this trite thread nicely. Total bush league.
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Old 06-12-20, 09:02 AM
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If an aluminum bike was good enough for Marco it's good enough for you.
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Old 06-12-20, 09:04 AM
  #29  
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A Tale of Two (Folding) Bikes

Originally Posted by Sandstrom View Post
there is no significant difference in frame material 'ride' or 'feel' (when done right) other than in the minds of the proponents.
I used to own two Dahons: a Mu D8 and a Speed D8. They had the same geometry, the same drivetrain, matching saddles and handlebars; they even had the exact same wheels and tires; the two bicycles were identical in every way - except for the frames. While the Mu was built around 6061 alloy, the speed was 4130 chromoly.

And yet, it is, perhaps, a testament to the quality of the engineering that went into each of them that while each bike had its own distinctive ride feel, the two weren't all that much different after all; the Mu tended to respond with a little more immediacy than the Speed, which tended to be slightly more deliberate in its reflexes (and noticeably, if no objectionably, heavier.)

With that being said, although I'm no engineer, I am more inclined to to chalk the difference up to the shaping of the frames than the actual metals they were made of. The Mu's arch-shaped main tube, with its boxier, more angular cross section, may have lent it a little more vertical and torsional stiffness than the Speed's straight, oval-sectiond main tube. And then there's the fact that the two bikes' folding hinges and locks are of completely different designs, which confuses things a little more.

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Old 06-12-20, 09:04 AM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Sums up this trite thread nicely. Total bush league.

Yes. Seems like the OP must've bought an aluminum bike and isn't feeling the love.
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Old 06-12-20, 09:08 AM
  #31  
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My 6,000 mile summer on an aluminum steed. 4,000 loaded miles the following year.
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Old 06-12-20, 09:13 AM
  #32  
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I'm a fan

Several years ago, I bought this bike from Bikes Direct. Yes it was cheap. It was probably the cheapest road bike on the planet outside of Walmart, Target or Amazon. It is also one of the most comfortable bikes I own maybe because it fits me so well. The saddle, tires and Ergon grips cost as much as the bike. But the end result rivals the comfort of any of my steel bikes. So, yes there is one fan left in my area.

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Old 06-12-20, 09:16 AM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
Yes. Seems like the OP must've bought an aluminum bike and isn't feeling the love.
Whose love would that be? Since 2015 I've owned no fewer than 16 bikes, 13.7 of which were/are aluminum. The 0.3 that was not made of aluminum was the rear triangle of a full suspension Kent that I bought used and sold a few months later just for fun. You know what they say about making assumptions: don't make assumptions. 😊
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Old 06-12-20, 09:16 AM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by DorkDisk View Post
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.
I would say that a whole lot more than just “forming” has changed in 40 years for aluminum. The metallurgy for all metals have changed significantly over the last 4 decades. Quality of construction has improve significantly over the last 40 years as well.

As for “never deliver[ing] on ride quality”, it depends on what you are looking for. I currently own titanium and aluminum bikes. I don’t find the ride quality to be that much different. I’ve owned steel in the past and, frankly, found the ride quality to be rather poor. I owned a steel touring bike for 25 years and it had lots of issues with stiffness. I could never ride out of the saddle while loaded without pedaling straight up and down. If I tried to throw the bike from side-to-side like I would on an unloaded bike, the bike would wander over 7 counties with each pedal stroke.

I traded up to a Cannondale T800 in 2003 and the difference between the rides was astounding. With a load, the T800 provides a great ride and is stiff enough to climb out of the saddle just as if the bike were unloaded.

I have a titanium hardtail mountain bike which I like but it’s not that much different from the aluminum hardtails it replaced.
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Old 06-12-20, 09:19 AM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by sjanzeir View Post
Whose love would that be? Since 2015 I've owned no fewer than 16 bikes, 13.7 of which were/are aluminum. The 0.3 that was not made of aluminum was the rear triangle of a full suspension Kent that I bought used and sold a few months later just for fun. You know what they say about making assumptions: don't make assumptions. 😊
Okay, I'll correct my post: Seems like the OP must've bought 13.7 aluminum bikes and isn't feeling the love.
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Old 06-12-20, 09:20 AM
  #36  
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7005, triple heat treated, hand finished Koga-Miyata World Tour, Rohloff has been fine..
I had a Pro's Race favorite AlAn Cyclocross in my youth.
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Old 06-12-20, 09:23 AM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
Okay, I'll correct my post: Seems like the OP must've bought 13.7 aluminum bikes and isn't feeling the love.
The question stands, though: whose love do you think I'm looking for and what makes you think that I need it. Again, think before you become "that guy."
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Old 06-12-20, 09:27 AM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by sjanzeir View Post
The question stands, though: whose love do you think I'm looking for and what makes you think that I need it. Again, think before you become "that guy."
You seem to love aluminum, but you also seem to need affirmation from the forum.

FWIW, my commuter has a relatively cheap aluminum frame, and it's a peach: lighter, smoother, and faster than it oughta be for the money.
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Old 06-12-20, 09:41 AM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
You seem to love aluminum, but you also seem to need affirmation from the forum.
And you seem to enjoy making a lot of assumptions about people you hardly know anything about.

Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
FWIW, my commuter has a relatively cheap aluminum frame, and it's a peach: lighter, smoother, and faster than it oughta be for the money.
That's great. Now that we're back to being civilized, I feel the same way about my 7.6FXs - so much so that I don't see the point of keeping my old, "hybridized" Raleigh around anymore, so I'm seriously thinking of giving it away. Even with the wider 28mm tires, the Raleigh's ride quality can't hold a candle to the 7.6. Besides, it's about a size too large for me anyway, which sometimes makes it quite a handful to yank around. And it's anything but stiff: if I put my weight on one pedal and push down on the Handlebar on the opposite side, I could actually see the frame twist, which is much more of an issue with the wider flat handlebars than it used to be with the narrower factory drop bars.
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Old 06-12-20, 09:51 AM
  #40  
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Both my bikes are aluminum.

Cannondale Quick CX (Alivio level) as my commuter / goofing-around-with-the-kids / grocery-getter / errand bike.

I put about 1000 miles a year on it. My longest ride on it has been 30 miles. More typical is 3 to 20. And it's fantastic for the use to which I put it. The frame is quite stiff, but I want it to be stiff since I've got a Tubus Cargo Evo (strong) rack mounted in back with a couple of Ortlieb panniers.

Cannondale Synapse Sport AL (105 level) as my road bike, for fun rides, hard rides, and distance rides. It's my default ride.

I put about 1500-2000 miles a year on the Synapse (it was more before I got the Quick). Its frame is really nice to ride on; the seat stays are bowed inward to absorb road vibration, the chainstays are contoured as well, for the same reason. The front forks are CF. I ride this bike anywhere from 5 to 100 miles, and it's comfortable the vast majority of those miles. Any discomfort is entirely due to me, not the bike. Sometimes I look at newer CF Synapses but I really like the utility of my aluminum Synapse. Sometimes for longer rides where I don't expect to be able to find water along the way, I mount a Tubus Fly Evo (minimalist) rack and a small trunk to hold additional water and snacks. The Tubus Fly Evo is so minimalist I scarcely know it's back there, and often don't bother taking it off when not needed. You wouldn't mount a rack like that on a CF bike, and if you did, you would always cringe over bumps wondering what your P-clips are doing to your chainstays. Meanwhile my aluminum synapse has mount points that work well with the Tubus Fly Evo, and the rack is not so rigid as to change the ride characteristics.

So I'm good with aluminum. I'll keep riding it as long as there are decent bikes made with it.
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Old 06-12-20, 10:04 AM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by daoswald View Post
Both my bikes are aluminum.

Cannondale Quick CX (Alivio level) as my commuter / goofing-around-with-the-kids / grocery-getter / errand bike.

I put about 1000 miles a year on it. My longest ride on it has been 30 miles. More typical is 3 to 20. And it's fantastic for the use to which I put it. The frame is quite stiff, but I want it to be stiff since I've got a Tubus Cargo Evo (strong) rack mounted in back with a couple of Ortlieb panniers.

Cannondale Synapse Sport AL (105 level) as my road bike, for fun rides, hard rides, and distance rides. It's my default ride.

I put about 1500-2000 miles a year on the Synapse (it was more before I got the Quick). Its frame is really nice to ride on; the seat stays are bowed inward to absorb road vibration, the chainstays are contoured as well, for the same reason. The front forks are CF. I ride this bike anywhere from 5 to 100 miles, and it's comfortable the vast majority of those miles. Any discomfort is entirely due to me, not the bike. Sometimes I look at newer CF Synapses but I really like the utility of my aluminum Synapse. Sometimes for longer rides where I don't expect to be able to find water along the way, I mount a Tubus Fly Evo (minimalist) rack and a small trunk to hold additional water and snacks. The Tubus Fly Evo is so minimalist I scarcely know it's back there, and often don't bother taking it off when not needed. You wouldn't mount a rack like that on a CF bike, and if you did, you would always cringe over bumps wondering what your P-clips are doing to your chainstays. Meanwhile my aluminum synapse has mount points that work well with the Tubus Fly Evo, and the rack is not so rigid as to change the ride characteristics.

So I'm good with aluminum. I'll keep riding it as long as there are decent bikes made with it.
I’ll +1 one on the Synapse. I owned one for a while and really enjoyed the ride. I had too many bikes and that one got trimmed. Kind of regret it now.
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Old 06-12-20, 10:23 AM
  #42  
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I've been a boat builder, on and off, for most of my life. Most of those boats were custom built and up to 90ft. long and about half built in aluminum. Many of those boats are 60 or more years old. Aluminum is easy to work with, durable and well understood for maintenance or repairs and is quite tough. One criticism I come across is that it will fatigue easily and fail. People who invoke that criticism are not familiar with bendy rigs on sail boats where the mast is bent to an alarming degree to help is shaping the main sail. A fatigue failure is an engineering failure.

My own bike was relatively inexpensive and should it suffer serious damage, it is likely a local welding shop could get it back in running condition but as I said, aluminum is tough and will last many years. If it gets scruffy looking, repainting will have it looking new.

There are those who may feel special because they could afford $10,000 or more for a bike. There are also those who can spend $500 for a lady's handbag or $50,000 for wrist watch or $50,000,000 for a mega yacht where no one here could even afford the fuel bill.

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Old 06-12-20, 10:37 AM
  #43  
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Uniform tubing, dbl-butted tubing, triple-butted tubing, so many more factors other than just material goes into how a bike feels and rides, that to generalize one material as riding better than another borders on laughable. I'm sure a big box store steel framed bike won't ride as good as a top level brand, engineered aluminum frame. Comparing under-engineered frames, regardless of material, to highly engineered frames is comparing apples to oranges. My '06 LeMond aluminum framed bike rides just fine.
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Old 06-12-20, 11:07 AM
  #44  
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My formula for Al success: Al frame, chromo fork and 32mm tires. While I'm a relative noob and by no means a connoisseur, this bike handles well and gets places quick if I have legs that day.



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Old 06-12-20, 11:17 AM
  #45  
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What one material versus another contributes to how a bike rides has always seemed overblown to me. I've ridden road racing bikes that were high-performance steel, aluminum, titanium and various generations of carbon.

Assuming it's a good quality bike, here's how I'd roughly stack up how a road bike handles, rides, feels:
1. Fit and geometry
2. saddle
3. tires
4. frame design
5. frame material

Some aluminum bikes are really desirable. I'd snap up a vintage Cannondale track bike, for example, and be proud of it. It's not a road bike, but some of the Klein Attitude mountain bikes were really cool. The Specialized crit racing bike that came in alloy and no front derailleur (I forget its name) was awesome.

Of all the materials to compare it to, I'd say aluminum rides the most like carbon fiber. I would bet that many riders, if given a blind test between the two, would have a hard time identifying one over the other based on ride feel. The other metals -- steel and titanium -- do have a distinctive flex and spring.
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Old 06-12-20, 11:20 AM
  #46  
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I recently tested a Cannondale Quick hybrid with all the years of Cannondale development, and it was fantastic. Solid and smooth and efficient. It was way better than the 1990s Cannondale cyclocross bike that I had a couple of years ago.

I am absolutely fine with my aluminum mountain bike, too. It has 5 inches of front travel and 3 inch tires, and if you can feel the ride quality of the frame through all that you’re a better rider than I am.

Premium aluminum options are going away. You can still get the CAAD 13 or whatever number they are up to now. But most aluminum bikes are going to have ugly welds and dollar-saving tubing
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Old 06-12-20, 11:35 AM
  #47  
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I have two Cannondale cyclocross bikes, one aluminum (CAADX) and one carbon fiber (SuperX). They have similar geometry and the total bike weights are pretty close.
Components aside, the SuperX feels much faster and lighter on the road, accelerates quicker and climbs easier. It's also significantly smoother over rough stuff like gravel, dirt trails, etc.

Before I bought the SuperX I wasn't sold on the need for a carbon frame. I had done a few test rides on carbon bikes and they never felt like a huge step up from an aluminum frame. I've also always liked the durability of aluminum, especially for a CX bike that will get thrashed around a race course and crashed a bunch of times. I would've happily bought another aluminum frame CX bike, but no one seems to put anything nicer than 105 on aluminum frames anymore.

After owning the SuperX for a little while and riding it on a variety of terrain, with a few different sets of tires, I'm totally sold on the improved ride quality of carbon. The only reason I'd buy another aluminum bike is to either save money, or because of durability concerns. I'm a little concerned about what kind of condition my SuperX will be in after a few seasons of CX racing.
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Old 06-12-20, 11:39 AM
  #48  
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Bicycle culture shares one thing with religion. Many people want others to believe the same as they do. This to affirm their belief.

The truth of the matter is that you can get a very good aluminum frame bike for much less investment than a very good carbon fiber frame. Of course for most of us this is a hobby. Not that I don't consider quality important and/or the relationship between hardware quality and enjoyment of the hobby. But at this point in time I personally would rather have a good solid 105+ aluminum frame bike than a low end carbon fiber. I would say the same with respect to electronic shifting, v-brake vs disk or hardtail vs. full suspension mountain bikes.

Just babbling now but I have mentioned this before but last year when I re-started riding after 25 years I took my 15 year old Trek out of the garage and went for a ride with a friend that did two things, the first was he handed me my butt on the trail, the other was he kind of made me want a bike with better components. A year later we go for another ride this time I hand him his butt and mentioned to him that my bike, the way it is configured is fine with me. It's 90% the rider not the bike.

Simple point of fact, I have the means to buy just about any production bike out there but for now my riding skills have not quite caught up with the bikes I already own.
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Old 06-12-20, 12:00 PM
  #49  
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I won't own aluminum (or carbon fiber) because of its failure mode. I have been known to ride frames into the ground. My first "good" bike, Peugeot UO-8, I rode into an opening car door at 22,000 miles after putting it through 5 salt winters, probably 20-30 crashes (5 per winter was the norm) and having the chainstay welded at 19,000 miles. Second "good" bike, my Lambert - fork failed at 19,000 miles. Race bike only went 9,000 in my hands. Mooney is 50,000 and going strong. Ended my previous commuter riding into a fence at 27,000 miles. It's replacement is at around 17,000. The two customs I had built in '08 and '11 have 13 and 18 thousand miles on them.

I've seen a few frame failures. The UO-8 chainstay, my racing bike (manufacturing defect, seattube cracked at the BB lug, one of my commuters broke a fork blade mid-way. both fork blades cracked around the crown on my last custom (now that one was scary) and a beater frame I picked up had both chainstays cracking (car damage previous to my ownership and me bending the chainstays - way too easily! - back to true).

Those failure were all steel except the Lambert fork. Of the steel failures, all were no big deal except the blades cracking at the fork crown (I'll talk more later). The rest all happened and were discovered riding except the twin chainstay cracks which I discovered at home but I had been riding on them. The seattube broke during a race, No biggie, I just dropped out, took a look and rode to the start-finish. The fork blade - I was commuting home and noticed the fork looking and feeling funky. Stopped. Blade broke clear through just above the LowRider U-bolt. Interesting! Rode it home.

Now the two fork failures that were a big deal - that Lambert. Aluminum, poor design and classic aluminum failure. No warning, complete break and the consequences to me were - well, lets just say it was the biggest event of my life save birth and death (and it was very nearly that). And the steel fork where both blades cracked - this was a case of poor attention to metallurgy by me, the builder and the plater. I chose a minimalist fork crown for its looks and weight with the builder's assurance it was a very high quality investment casting and plenty strong. He landed some Columbus SL fork blades. Together, we decided to nickle-plate the fork for a finish that would look good on the ti bike (it did). The plater failed to mention that high strength steel MUST be heat treated after plating to drive hydrogen molecules out of the steel and that would cost an additional $30. (The molecules acting like gravel in the mortar of your brick house. Not what you want in a minor earthquake!) The bike spared me. (I know this sounds dumb, but I've felt some bikes have looked after me. On that ride, I was 20 miles and 2000' of descending from home on my custom fix gear doing my weekly climbing ride to get ready for a mountainous Cycle Oregon in three weeks. Being an oldster, I was using a flip-flop wheel, 17 and 23 teeth and carrying a 13 for the fun coming home. At the mountaintop, I screwed on the 13. And could not get the chain to behave! It kept going tight,then loose. Had me completely stumped. I finally just left it loose enough to never go tight (didn't want to kill bearing and stretch the chain with CO just weeks away). Nursed the bike down the big descents gently. 5 miles from home the front of the bike started bucking when I touched the front brake! Got home and found one fork blade was cracked 3/4 of the way around. (5 pounds of force and it bent 8"! The other 1/4 of the way around. The issue that might have saved my life? The Miche hub with its bigger lockring, I needed to be using my 12 tooth lockring instead of the normal one with the 13 tooth cog. The chain was riding up on the lockring and falling into the spanner notches. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Two miles later I would have blasted into my favorite corner and shut down hard from 35 to 25 to make it. Slight banking, excellent road surface so I always braked hard at the last minute for it.

My point (after that long digression) is that steel, when it breaks, fails in a manner that rarely causes injury (barring non-heat treated nickle-plating and other known no-no's). Aluminum (and carbon fiber) do not share that, Yes, both can be made very well and strong and go a long ways, but as I said before, I ride frames I love until they break. I want them to die gently - for my health.

Ben
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Old 06-12-20, 12:43 PM
  #50  
Trakhak
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
My point (after that long digression) is that steel, when it breaks, fails in a manner that rarely causes injury (barring non-heat treated nickle-plating and other known no-no's). Aluminum (and carbon fiber) do not share that, Yes, both can be made very well and strong and go a long ways, but as I said before, I ride frames I love until they break. I want them to die gently - for my health.Ben
So you had a series of steel frames and forks that failed, and you've convinced yourself that aluminum is the failure-prone material. I know a guy who convinced himself that eating raw garlic is keeping him from coming down with COVID-19.

cyccommute, who has ridden more miles on more different frames than almost anyone posting here, has pointed out that all his steel frame failures happened without warning and that his few aluminum failures took quite a bit longer to manifest, as one would expect, given that steel is far harder and thus more brittle than aluminum.

I spent over 35 years riding and racing the best steel frames available, but one ride on a good aluminum racing bike was enough to get me to switch. I've kept a couple of steel bikes (a Reynolds 853 bike and a 531 bike) for nostalgia, but I haven't ridden them in 15 years. I love everything about my aluminum bikes, but especially the way they handle on fast descents, with the stiffness of the frame ensuring that the rear wheel tracks the front wheel perfectly. Even my Bianchi Specialissima never handled as well as my aluminum bikes do.

I have to admit that another thing I love about riding aluminum bikes is that they represent yet another confirmation of the benefits of going though life as an open-minded skeptic.

By the way, I do have a good carbon bike, which I bought mostly to see whether carbon frames are as great as the BF hoopla represents them to be. Conclusion: it's okay.

Last edited by Trakhak; 06-12-20 at 12:47 PM.
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