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Aluminum Is More Elastic Than Steel

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Aluminum Is More Elastic Than Steel

Old 11-20-18, 07:46 PM
  #101  
SHBR
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
They do? I've never noticed that. But my "light" bike is aluminum, "heavy" is steel ... maybe it's the carbon fiber that makes it seem so?
Add a rack and panniers with some weight.

Ride over some bumps, and compare that to an unloaded bike.

Weight becomes quite obvious once you get a feel for it.

It can be subtle when comparing some bikes, but the differences are there.
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Old 11-20-18, 08:02 PM
  #102  
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Campag, you are arguing against a known property of aluminum. That's why aluminum bikes have a reputation for being stiff: if they flex, they will eventually fail and so they're designed to not flex. Modern alloys may go more cycles before failure, but they'll still fail.

I have personally broken two 6061 aluminum frames. The latest replacement frame is 7005, and while it has already lasted longer than either of its predecessors, sooner or later it too will fail.
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Old 11-20-18, 08:20 PM
  #103  
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Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
Campag, you are arguing against a known property of aluminum. That's why aluminum bikes have a reputation for being stiff: if they flex, they will eventually fail and so they're designed to not flex. Modern alloys may go more cycles before failure, but they'll still fail.

I have personally broken two 6061 aluminum frames. The latest replacement frame is 7005, and while it has already lasted longer than either of its predecessors, sooner or later it too will fail.
Only aluminum bikes with large-diameter tubing are known for their stiffness. Earlier aluminum bikes built with standard diameter tubes so regular derailleurs, shifters, and cages could be clamped to them, such as the Vitus and Alan makes, had the opposite reputation - they were known for being comfortable and light, but too 'noodley' for many riders.

And so far I've only broken steel bike frames. My only aluminum bike is almost 30 years old and over 160,000 miles; which is more than that of the steel frames that broke. Yes, it'll break eventually, but so will steel bikes if ridden on typical road surfaces. Frames of reasonable weight will encounter many stresses in typical riding that exceed their endurance limit.
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Old 11-20-18, 11:03 PM
  #104  
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Originally Posted by SHBR View Post
Add a rack and panniers with some weight.

Ride over some bumps, and compare that to an unloaded bike.

Weight becomes quite obvious once you get a feel for it.

It can be subtle when comparing some bikes, but the differences are there.
My "heavy" steel bike has a heavy steel rack, fenders and crank cover, and with heavy tires weighs probably 30 pounds commuting. My "light" bike is about 21 pounds. If I feel a difference going over bumps, it's the other way around. Easier on the heavy bike.
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Old 11-20-18, 11:26 PM
  #105  
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Any one without a MS in materials science or mechanical engineering is making up an Opinion.
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Old 11-21-18, 03:53 AM
  #106  
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Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
Campag, you are arguing against a known property of aluminum. That's why aluminum bikes have a reputation for being stiff: if they flex, they will eventually fail and so they're designed to not flex. Modern alloys may go more cycles before failure, but they'll still fail.

I have personally broken two 6061 aluminum frames. The latest replacement frame is 7005, and while it has already lasted longer than either of its predecessors, sooner or later it too will fail.
And you BP are arguing against reality, not your contrived alternative universe of unfounded conjecture based upon witchcraft. Reality, not your fantasy about Al is...Al is used throughout the world daily in safety critical products from airplanes where fatigue strength is more daunting than a bicycle, automobiles, bicycles and even ladders. I have owned several Al bicycles. Never broke one. Own one now. Brand new. Like it better than any steel bike I have ever owned. Why because it is better engineered than any steel bike, because the material can be formed in a shape to create differential bending. It isn't a Vitus nor is it a CAAD3 though a CAAD12 will give it a run for its money. My close circle of riding friends haven't broken an Al bike. For every Al bike that fails, so does a carbon fiber,steel and Ti bike break.
How many Al bikes do you think are on the planet? 2 million? Al as a bicycle material? Likely the most used material to make a bicycle throughout the world. How about aluminum wheelsets? 5 million? How about carbon forks with Al steerers? 1 million?
How many Boeing aircraft take off and land thousands of times a day throughout the world?...wings flexing due to high wind velocity testing fatigue strength?

You guys who talk about Al as a liability don't know what you are talking about.

Last edited by Campag4life; 11-21-18 at 04:23 AM.
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Old 11-21-18, 04:14 AM
  #107  
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Originally Posted by kcblair View Post
My $.02 . I have 5 steel bikes , each with different types of steel. One aluminum bike and one CF bike. Been riding steel for 50 years, only last year did I get a AL bike and this year a CF bike. Other than weight differences, the only the tires changed the ride quality. All my steel bikes , now sport 25 or 28 mm tires. My AL bike came with 25 mm and the CF bike has 28 mm tires. I though my CF bike was the most compfy, till I put on a set of 28 mm on one of the steel bikes, then the steel bike became real compfy. All bikes are properly sized . KB
That's right and the bigger the tires, the less the frame material matters. I have owned several mountain bikes made from Aluminum. With 2" wide tires inflated to 50 lbs they ride smoother than any road bike made out of any material.

The ride quality of all bicycles...carbon fiber and Al in the last 10 years has improved dramatically. Why is that? Because engineers have learned how to form it to exploit the structural properties of a frame working with the boundary of material properties. Why has Al bike ride quality improved and not Steel and Ti? Because Al can be formed into a more differential shape than steel or Ti and of course carbon fiber can be molded into any shape as well.

People who make judgement about Al bikes simply don't understand the physics behind their design. Nor did designers back in the day of the Vitus or CAAD3. Vitus of course promoted a reputation of Al being 'whippy'...the polar opposite of the CAAD3. Same material, different shape. Why the overreach of Cannondale back in the day of the CAAD3 to create the ultimate Al racing frame? Because they didn't know how to hydroform Al like they do now. Thin, large symmetric tubes yes were laterally stiff for energy transfer out of the saddle but vertically had the same stiffness which many didn't appreciate. That all has changed. Now, like carbon fiber, an Al bike can be shaped to be laterally stiffer than steel even though it has a lower modulus of elasticity and vertically more compliant than steel.

Thing about arguing with the immutable reality of physics is, many guys with their 8 track steel bikes who haven't moved on to embrace the latest bicycles which are the best that have ever been, they are dug in with their thinking. Along the way they tried a CAAD3 and said, no thanks. Don't like the ride quality. What kind of riders are these guys...you guys who like your steel bikes who defend them? You aren't racers. Racers universally prefer a CAAD3 to any steel frame. They understand that racing a bicycle isn't taking a 15mph stroll over to Aunt Maybell's house. Racers want stiffness and light weight.
The other thing that is somewhat comical about steel loyalists is how they scoff at frame stiffness, that is doesn't matter. Yes, Kelly won a lot of bicycle races on a Vitus 'in spite of how whippy his bike was'.

Even though stiffness mattering is debatable in propelling a bicycle most efficiently, one component of stiffness isn't debate at all. Control. What do bike racers want?...again not the 15 mph steel fans here...but guys that like to beat other racers when competing. Complete control of the bike for not only handling but laying down the watts. They want a frame resistant to bending. What do I like about a steel bike?...from my Schwinn Varsity as a kid to my last steel Bianchi in early 2000's? Who doesn't love the Cadillac ride when riding over to my Aunt's house when lateral stiffness doesn't matter or weight. What do I hate about steel bikes? They are like riding a trampoline and if making them stiffer which they can be to rival the stiffness of any material, I don't want the weight penalty because other bike materials can be made as stiff and lighter.
There is a reason that Al far exceeds steel for top performing bicycle material in spite of Al costing more to purchase compared to steel.

Last edited by Campag4life; 11-21-18 at 04:28 AM.
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Old 11-21-18, 04:32 AM
  #108  
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Originally Posted by 63rickert View Post
A couple of counterpoints.

Notoriously noodly Vitus frames won lots of races. Sean Kelly alone won hundreds of pro races on Vitus. Although, in fairness, some of those were won on faux-Vitus by Sabliere, which were far lighter (5.5kg complete with pedals, clips, straps, bottle cages) and even more flexible than a Vitus. Kelly was a sprinter. Exactly the guy you'd think would want a stiff frame. He won on what they gave him.

Originally Cegedur-Pechiney did not want to assemble frames at all. They wanted to sell kits to bike shops who would do some simple cutting and gluing. Almost no one took them up on that. The basic design was simplified, dumbed down, and overbuilt so that bike shop guys could have done it. Part of the original sales pitch was racers trash lots of frames in a season, makes sense to put them on an easily replaced cheapie. Original pricing would have had them at about half the price of basic volume produced 531 frames and a small fraction of prestige frames. This is back in 1973. Not many here know much about what was going on in 1973, which is the standard by which a Vitus should be judged.

No one, and I mean no one, not myself, not Saint Sheldon, not Jobst Brandt, knows much about what role frame stiffness versus flexibility plays in operating a bike at speed. Stiffness has a big big role in sales and it is a darn good thing most of what the ad copy says about stiffness has never been mentioned to the engineers.

As for longevity I know two local Vitus 979s, one late 70s, one early 80s, that are still in use. Both owners keep expecting the bike to die on the next ride but are always disappointed. Which is not to say aluminum does not break. Up above some commenter said something about are you going to quit using aluminum parts because aluminum breaks. Then gave a list of usually aluminum parts. I've broken all of those. Some are better considered as service parts. Rims and handlebars are definitely service parts.

They all break. Titanium and carbon break rather a lot, mostly because they require superhuman perfection in their construction and errors slip in. The more it costs the less likely the owner is going to talk about it.

Most bikes never see much use at all. Most bikes are purchased as garage ornaments. Few actually ride the things. Those that do ride a lot tend to own a lot of bikes which cuts down on the wear and tear each bike sees. If everyone rode the bike they bought no manufacturer could afford the warranty charges.

Some seem to be catching on that the design possibilities of carbon titanium aluminum are very broad. What can be designed in steel is even more various. And if you can dream it up you can easily build it in steel. The number of people who have ridden steel bikes that were not mass produced, or did not conform tightly to a genre (80s Italian) is real small.
Yes, quite right, all materials break.. What you wrote in bold above however is pure baloney...lol. Great fiction writing.
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Old 11-21-18, 04:33 AM
  #109  
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
My "heavy" steel bike has a heavy steel rack, fenders and crank cover, and with heavy tires weighs probably 30 pounds commuting. My "light" bike is about 21 pounds. If I feel a difference going over bumps, it's the other way around. Easier on the heavy bike.
The heavy steel bike "feels" easier, sure, more flex, it is most likely slower as well. (BTW 30 pounds isn't that heavy, try 50)

The only way the lighter bike would be slower, is if it wasn't suitable for the conditions, such as having narrow high pressure tires that won't roll well in gravel, or over severely broken pavement.
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Old 11-21-18, 04:40 AM
  #110  
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Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
Only aluminum bikes with large-diameter tubing are known for their stiffness. Earlier aluminum bikes built with standard diameter tubes so regular derailleurs, shifters, and cages could be clamped to them, such as the Vitus and Alan makes, had the opposite reputation - they were known for being comfortable and light, but too 'noodley' for many riders.

And so far I've only broken steel bike frames. My only aluminum bike is almost 30 years old and over 160,000 miles; which is more than that of the steel frames that broke. Yes, it'll break eventually, but so will steel bikes if ridden on typical road surfaces. Frames of reasonable weight will encounter many stresses in typical riding that exceed their endurance limit.
Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
Campag, you are arguing against a known property of aluminum. That's why aluminum bikes have a reputation for being stiff: if they flex, they will eventually fail and so they're designed to not flex. Modern alloys may go more cycles before failure, but they'll still fail.

I have personally broken two 6061 aluminum frames. The latest replacement frame is 7005, and while it has already lasted longer than either of its predecessors, sooner or later it too will fail.
And here we have the perfect illustration of why Science involves repeatable experiments----and the difference between "anecdote" and "data."

I have had one AL and two steel bikes stolen ... but I recovered the Al bike.

Therefore, using BF science, AL bikes don't need to be locked, because Al is inherently theft-proof, while steel bikes are the most likely to be stolen.

The people who claim that every CF bike is a failure waiting to happen, should not ride CF. The people who claim the same for Al, should not ride Al. The people who are scared of the dark ought not to try to convince others to share their fears.
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Old 11-21-18, 05:53 AM
  #111  
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Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
Campag, you are arguing against a known property of aluminum. That's why aluminum bikes have a reputation for being stiff: if they flex, they will eventually fail and so they're designed to not flex. Modern alloys may go more cycles before failure, but they'll still fail.
My Focus says you're incorrect. The nice thing about these modern hydroformed alu frames is they're designed to be stiff where they need to be and be complaint (IE flex) where they need to be for a smooth ride, just like carbon. If they design aluminum frames to have zero flex why did Cannondale come out with curved seatstays?



Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
I have personally broken two 6061 aluminum frames. The latest replacement frame is 7005, and while it has already lasted longer than either of its predecessors, sooner or later it too will fail.
What one rider has broken is irrelevant. There's riders who have broken two or more steel frames. Anything can break. I bought my '97 Raleigh R700 with Easton Elan tubing brand new, I have more miles on it than even I know and it is going strong.
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Old 11-21-18, 07:49 AM
  #112  
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Originally Posted by SHBR View Post
The heavy steel bike "feels" easier, sure, more flex, it is most likely slower as well. (BTW 30 pounds isn't that heavy, try 50)

The only way the lighter bike would be slower, is if it wasn't suitable for the conditions, such as having narrow high pressure tires that won't roll well in gravel, or over severely broken pavement.
You were talking about speed, when you said lighter bikes tend to roll over bumps easier? I wasn't - to me that sounds like jarring less or not bouncing as much. In my own experience that hasn't happened, I haven't checked whether my heavier bike loses more speed specifically over bumps but I'm skeptical of that also. I think that's more a function of suspension and tire pressure.

The weight difference between given steel and aluminum frames might be a couple of pounds. But even with a difference of 19 pounds I don't observe the lighter bike going over bumpy roads easier. I'm not just arguing - weight just isn't a factor in that from what I can tell. It might be harder to correct if you're thrown off course, if that's what you mean.
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Old 11-21-18, 08:24 AM
  #113  
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
Only tangentially on topic, but my grandfather rode the same frameset his entire life. Handbuilt by Oscar Wastyn in Chicago, Illinois. I doubt I need to point it out, but you know, steel.

These two photographs were taken nearly 60 years apart.

The bike on the right, and that's Oscar Wastyn on the left




Took some time off for WWII, but put at least 300,000 miles on it. To my knowledge, the only bicycle he ever owned. The purest N=1 that I know of.
Awesome photos! The top photo is taken in Wilmette, IL at the harbor looking back towards the Sheridan Road bridge and the B'Hai House of Worship. You could re-create that same photo today without much trouble.

Last edited by HarborBandS; 11-21-18 at 08:27 AM.
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Old 11-21-18, 09:53 AM
  #114  
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Absolute rigidity and stiffness is what allows racers to control their bikes. This is why serious MTB competitors still ride hardtails with rigid forks. Some top F1 teams are also known to lock out the suspension in the most important races.
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Old 11-21-18, 11:31 AM
  #115  
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Originally Posted by Racing Dan View Post
Sure, but for whatever reason, steel frames tend to go soft with use.
this is what people tell their significant other to justify the purchase of a new bike. It's not actually true

Did I already post that? Or the fact that specific stiffness and specific strength of Ti, aluminum, and steel is about the same? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Specific_modulus
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Old 11-21-18, 12:08 PM
  #116  
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Originally Posted by 63rickert View Post
Absolute rigidity and stiffness is what allows racers to control their bikes. This is why serious MTB competitors still ride hardtails with rigid forks. Some top F1 teams are also known to lock out the suspension in the most important races.
Who, at the top level (Elite/Pro)? No one I'm aware of, but I certainly could be wrong. Even Schurter, for example, has for the most part gone to full-squish save for a very few races on relatively non-technical courses. The best x-country suspension frames, with pivot bearings instead of bushings and modern forks, are more than adequately 'rigid and stiff' for purposes of both acceleration and control. Strikes me there's very little doubt active suspension on a mtb is both 'faster' and improves control in most situations. The only exception might be something like a groomed fireroad or the like?

Privateer racers, sure, for budgetary reasons, might use a hardtail, but otherwise full-suspension dominates as far as I can see.
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Old 11-21-18, 03:58 PM
  #117  
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Originally Posted by badger1 View Post
Who, at the top level (Elite/Pro)? No one I'm aware of, but I certainly could be wrong. Even Schurter, for example, has for the most part gone to full-squish save for a very few races on relatively non-technical courses. The best x-country suspension frames, with pivot bearings instead of bushings and modern forks, are more than adequately 'rigid and stiff' for purposes of both acceleration and control. Strikes me there's very little doubt active suspension on a mtb is both 'faster' and improves control in most situations. The only exception might be something like a groomed fireroad or the like?

Privateer racers, sure, for budgetary reasons, might use a hardtail, but otherwise full-suspension dominates as far as I can see.
Perhaps in your next post you could expound upon the phrase "tongue in cheek"?
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Old 11-21-18, 05:03 PM
  #118  
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I think people need to remember the biggest factor for frame failure is the desire to create lightweight frames rather than the material. In this area aluminium has many advantages over steel which is a basically a poor material for lightweight frames and will be weakest. I've seen many comments in forums about how great chromoly steel frames are but back in the 80s when I bought a Raleigh road bike and was weighing about 16 stone I was advised to buy a basic high tensile steel unbutted frame road bike rather than the more lightweight model which wouldn't take my weight as well. Of course it was a lot heavier but never failed to take my weight. When I started riding again about 10 years ago and was heavier I looked around for what was the strongest frame that would take my weight and again a high tensile steel frame with no consideration for lightness was the best option and I rode that bike at 26 stone without issues for the frame and fork. Part of the advice was use steel so I got a forewarning of failure of the frame or forks which might save my life. I now ride a aluminium jump bike with pretty much zero flex in the frame design. It's a real lump of a frame. Many performance road bikes have lower rider weight limits than other models in their range, i.e. city bikes, mountain bikes etc.

I certainly agree that the lifespan of steel is better than aluminium because many steel frames are designed to be strong and long lasting with less consideration for weight. Many aluminium frames are simply designed to fail after a reasonable lifespan because they are designed to be lightweight so allow for some fatigue in their design which is almost impossible to remove due to material properties anyway. If you want a strong durable bike with the lowest manufacturing costs then steel seems the best option but that steel would likely be basic high tensile unbutted steel. Lightweight road bikes have always been a bit weak, first when they were thin butted steel and now aluminium you are basically compromising the lifespan of the frame to minimize it's weight.

The pursuit of improved performance and lightness is the real catalyst for failing frames.

I do think people need to remember that most of the bicycles in the world are steel and many of these bicycles are used excessively overloaded in Africa and poorer areas where the bikes are completely abused and used for as long as humanly possible over many decades. Aluminium, titanium and carbon are pretty much niche materials on a world scale when it comes to bicycles. No butted tubes on those bikes, just cheap steel heavy tubes and probably the capacity to take 3-400kg if they had to.
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Old 11-21-18, 06:11 PM
  #119  
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
Perhaps in your next post you could expound upon the phrase "tongue in cheek"?
Perhaps in your next post you could expound upon the phrase 'stuff it up your jaxxie'?
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Old 11-21-18, 06:27 PM
  #120  
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Originally Posted by DOS View Post

My 1986 Schwinn Paramount — Columbus SL and SLX is noticably stiffer than my mid2000s SOMA (Tange Presitge) and Jamis Quest (Reynolds 631) frames. All frames weigh about the same.I think differences comes down to wall thickness and the frame builder.I know my Schwinn was handbuilt in Waterford, WI. No odea where or when the others were built. Taiwan I guess.
I always thought the best ones were made in Japan.
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Old 11-21-18, 06:31 PM
  #121  
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Originally Posted by Wileyone View Post
I always thought the best ones were made in Japan.
Well Tange tubes are Japanese but I am pretty sure Soma Fab has their frames manufactured in Taiwan. Not sure about Jamis.
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Old 11-21-18, 06:41 PM
  #122  
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Originally Posted by DOS View Post


Well Tange tubes are Japanese but I am pretty sure Soma Fab has their frames manufactured in Taiwan. Not sure about Jamis.
I was reffering to schwinn's.
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Old 11-21-18, 06:48 PM
  #123  
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Originally Posted by Wileyone View Post
I was reffering to schwinn's.
Oh. Paramounts were made in Waterford from 80 til 88. Richard Scwinn now owns the place and makes Waterford Bikes. You can still send Paramounts back to Waterford for restoration.
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Old 11-21-18, 07:10 PM
  #124  
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
I haven't checked whether my heavier bike loses more speed specifically over bumps but I'm skeptical of that also. I think that's more a function of suspension and tire pressure.


The weight difference between given steel and aluminum frames might be a couple of pounds. But even with a difference of 19 pounds I don't observe the lighter bike going over bumpy roads easier. I'm not just arguing - weight just isn't a factor in that from what I can tell. It might be harder to correct if you're thrown off course, if that's what you mean.
How many different bikes have you ridden?

I have ridden more than I can remember, (wrenched professionally for the better part of a decade) and owned a few dozen, most of my initial experience was off road, and in that world, a lighter bike (if all else is equal, tires, wheels, etc.) will roll over bumps easier. (especially uphill)

Less momentum is lost, and its usually easier to make course corrections, etc.

It might be that your lighter bike doesn't ride all that well, I have ridden many (somewhat light, 8-12KG) bikes that don't, they often have a harsh ride with poor line tracking, excessive flex, etc.

There are many variables to consider, unless we are exactly the same in terms of size, rider ability, and bike style, we will have different results.

This is all somewhat subjective, and your results may vary.

Last edited by SHBR; 11-21-18 at 07:20 PM.
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Old 11-21-18, 08:45 PM
  #125  
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My Lemond BA and 2K Zurich, both were 853 which, I thought was great, but... as a rider, Lemond had migrated to CF in 1990. Interestingly, when I bought the Zurich, the more expensive LeMond Maillot Jaune, at that time was alloy. All of them had CF forks. Looking back, I'm seeing that by 2000, many apparently didn't feel the magic of steel or the prestige brands like Lemond wouldn't have migrated to CF forks, what with all the education that it entailed to explain that CF forks were as strong as steel and wouldn't suddenly explode (the internet was pretty new back then-- I think the Bike Forum dates back to ~2000).
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