HT guys, what are your thoughts on aluminum frames?- Mtbr.com
Results 1 to 27 of 27
  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Reputation: SingleSpeedSteven's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Posts
    403

    HT guys, what are your thoughts on aluminum frames?

    I have historically raced rigid single speed, however I took last season off due to lack of drive to really train. I am hoping to get back on the wagon this year, but I really need to build up something more efficient for racing. My plan is to stay rigid SS as I have some decent parts laying around (bars, Whisky fork, etc) to build something up with.

    I swore off aluminum a long time ago due to the harsh ride, but the Air9 in aluminum is in a pretty sweet spot price wise. There are a handful of steel frames in the same range, which is what I have been riding, however I've basically broken one steel frame per season for the past 3 seasons. My super chunky local terrain just murders steel frames.

    I am really leaning towards the Air9. My big reservation is that I'm in my 30s now, and all of the stupid stuff I used to do as a dumb kid like skateboarding off roofs if starting to catch up to me in the form of knee and hip problems. I am not sure I can handle being beat to death for 50+ miles on an aluminum frame. With that said, the only aluminum frame bike I have really owned was a Fatboy with 5" tires, so maybe it's not as bad as I am imagining.

    Anyone race an aluminum HT? Thoughts?

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Reputation: JoePAz's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    4,939
    I had two aluminum frame HT bikes. Both 26er. One was pretty nice and I did many long distance rides on it. As a geared bike it was fine. However trying to SS it was a wet noodle and moved alot when putting torque down so was not great. I then got another 26er Aluminium frame. Raced that SS for a while and on smooth trails It was great. Race 12 hr SS-Duo with and won first place. Stiff and great power transfer, but stiff and harsh. I got ride of it and had carbon 29er frame. raced that geared, but also rode it "simulated" SS by not changing gears. Stiff, great power transfer and not to harsh. However I wanted a proper SS so I got Steel Vassago Verhauen. Love that frame. 95% as stiff as my carbon frame, but also sweet in the rough stuff. Just a bit more spring and less sharp than the carbon. The carbon HT is gone (for a geared FS bike) and I still have steel HT set up SS. I just love how it rides. Now I don't ride it for long endurance rides for the most part due to my not really liking SS after 4-5 hrs, but I have done 2 dirt century rides on it on smoother terrain with more rolling hills than super steep climbs. I also raced a full season of sprint races on it.

    So for me for a HT I have written off aluminium. I would rather go good steel, Ti, or carbon, but it has to be SS capable and not many carbon frame are these days. If I replaced my Verhauen it would probably be a Vassago Optimus Ti.
    Joe
    '18 Specialized Epic 29", Vassago Verhauen SS 29", '13 Santa Cruz Solo 27.5", XC, AM, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  3. #3
    jms
    jms is offline
    mtbr member
    Reputation: jms's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Posts
    3,109
    One of the most comfortable 29er hardtails I've ever ridden was a Bianchi Rita [aluminum] single speed, and one of the most uncomfortable was a first generation Giant [carbon] XTC, [about as forgiving as a cinder block]. Frame material is only a small factor in a bike's ride quality. Try a few, go from there.
    My Favorite Peeps:

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Posts
    21
    I used to race on an original Niner One9 rigid and it was comfortable as far as aluminum hardtails go. I was on an xl frame, so it might have been more compliant because of the large triangles. The fork would dive under the bike on hard braking and I could watch the bb deflect significantly on hard efforts.

    The biggest comfort factor was the Syntace P6 high flex carbon post I put on there. Over the years I have found that a good carbon saddle and good carbon bars will also help with the buzz and sting from rough terrain.

  5. #5
    slow
    Reputation: sgltrak's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    5,738
    My experience with aluminum frames is minimal, but my aluminum FELT Nine is one of my favorite bikes I've owned. I love the way it rides, though I have never raced it in an event longer than 30 miles. A couple of years ago I put over 150 miles on it in 3 1/2 days riding a ton of chunky terrain in Moab. It wasn't bad, even if I felt a bit beat up by the end.

  6. #6
    mtbr member
    Reputation: SingleSpeedSteven's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Posts
    403
    Quote Originally Posted by JoePAz View Post
    So for me for a HT I have written off aluminium. I would rather go good steel, Ti, or carbon, but it has to be SS capable and not many carbon frame are these days. If I replaced my Verhauen it would probably be a Vassago Optimus Ti.
    This is kind of where I am at, which is why I made this thread. Like I mentioned in my first post, I have broken too many steel frames and my last round with Vassago's customer service pretty much ruined me. The only thing I can conclude is that our local terrain isn't well suited for a steel frame. I see broken steel frames here all the time, and my buddy even broke a Karate Monkey (which I thought was impossible).

    I have ridden Ti bikes around a bit and well built ones feel really good. I have ridden cheaper ones that feel way too complaint though, plus the price of Ti is a major turn off.

    Carbon seems to be where I am headed, but the market really doesn't have a lot in the way of carbon frames that, like you mention are made to be built SS. The Air 9 RDO and the Pivot LES are the only ones I can really think of. The Highball is geared only...

    It feels like a crap shoot building up single speeds these days, with how many different standards there are floating around. One frame might seem perfect but still runs 135 dropouts, while another is Boost but requires a bunch of goofy parts for bb and headset (looking at you Pivot).

  7. #7
    Wanna ride bikes?
    Reputation: *OneSpeed*'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Posts
    5,668
    Steel hardtails for me, no aluminum. While I agree there's more to ride quality than frame material alone, I just don't like the ride of aluminum and love the ride of steel.

    Carver 420 Ti might be worth a look? Titanium 420 - Carver Bikes

    A used Kona Raijin is still high on my list. (I had a custom steel SS frame made 2 years ago with very similar geo)

    I also agree it's getting harder to find SS frames. Have you considered custom? Someone like Walt can build you a frame that's fun, compliant, and won't break. Last I checked $1,500-2k gets you exactly what you want. It's a fun process too.
    Rigid SS 29er
    SS 29+
    Fat Lefty
    SS cyclocross
    Full Sus 29er (Yuck)

    Stop asking how much it weighs and just go ride it.

  8. #8
    mtbr member
    Reputation: SingleSpeedSteven's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Posts
    403
    I had considered a custom frame, and even talked with Walt or a quick second about the process... at the end of the day I find it really hard to justify a custom frame though. At 5'-9" and 170lbs pretty much every off the shelf frame available is designed around my body type. If I were shorter/taller or had something that made it hard for me to find a geo that worked then I would definitely go custom. I can pretty much pull any frame off the shelf and make it fit by adjusting parts by a few mm here and there though.

  9. #9
    mtbr member
    Reputation: JoePAz's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    4,939
    Quote Originally Posted by SingleSpeedSteven View Post
    This is kind of where I am at, which is why I made this thread. Like I mentioned in my first post, I have broken too many steel frames and my last round with Vassago's customer service pretty much ruined me.
    Too bad with the customer service. I have had no issues, but it helps that I know Tom personally and ride with him from time to time. He is not always fast and I get the fact that his customer service for remote riders might be an issue. Still at Ti bike frame at 2k is not cheap, but you are going to speed 1500 to 2500. Steel is cheaper, but you have to have good steel and they are simply making less good steel for bike tubes these days. As for cracking steel. I have seen cracked steel frames and cracked ti frames as well as crack carbon and aluminium frames. I can't say there is a pattern, but I know that riding in Arizona is not easy equipment. I am not sure where you ride.
    Joe
    '18 Specialized Epic 29", Vassago Verhauen SS 29", '13 Santa Cruz Solo 27.5", XC, AM, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  10. #10
    mtbr member
    Reputation: SingleSpeedSteven's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Posts
    403
    Yea, I really liked my Jabberwocky... I won't get into my experience with Vassago again, but I will say that it wasn't the only bad experience I had. It was just the straw that broke the camels back you could say. I have basically lost all faith in small, boutique frame builders.

    Our trails here are very similar to the upper northeast, the vast majority of our trail systems are basically solid root and rock chatter with some big rock gardens strewn about. I have broken multiple frames where the rear triangle meets the seat tube. Many others have broken in the same spot, I think steel frames just see too much constant stress with all of the chatter here. They always break at the welds near flex points.

  11. #11
    jms
    jms is offline
    mtbr member
    Reputation: jms's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Posts
    3,109
    Quote Originally Posted by SingleSpeedSteven View Post
    I had considered a custom frame, and even talked with Walt or a quick second about the process... at the end of the day I find it really hard to justify a custom frame though. At 5'-9" and 170lbs pretty much every off the shelf frame available is designed around my body type. If I were shorter/taller or had something that made it hard for me to find a geo that worked then I would definitely go custom. I can pretty much pull any frame off the shelf and make it fit by adjusting parts by a few mm here and there though.
    Just a thought for you.
    Possibly, the best built aluminum frames available -this is an incredibly versatile platform, and a nearly production price for a handbuilt frameset. Sherwood's work is flawless

    El Comandante Ultimate | Ventana
    My Favorite Peeps:

  12. #12
    mtbr member
    Reputation: brent701's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Posts
    2,359
    Never raced a alum HT, after racing a 20lb carbon geared HT and currently racing a SS ti HT . I'd run either carbon or ti personally. I have alum famed HT bikes that I ride a lot but they feel sluggish to me.

    But if the deal is good on the bike you found, do it.
    sorry might not be too much help
    Too Many .

  13. #13
    Wanna ride bikes?
    Reputation: *OneSpeed*'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Posts
    5,668
    Is this your only bike or is this a race day only bike?
    Rigid SS 29er
    SS 29+
    Fat Lefty
    SS cyclocross
    Full Sus 29er (Yuck)

    Stop asking how much it weighs and just go ride it.

  14. #14
    mtbr member
    Reputation: SingleSpeedSteven's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Posts
    403
    This would be a training/race bike. I just ordered a new YT Jeffsy, so I imagine that will get the majority of the seat time this year. We have some local-ish races that are fast and flowy that I really enjoy racing a rigid SS on. I don't want to put a ton of money into something though since it won't be ridden a ton. I have some really nice parts laying around but I'm still trying to keep it low key.

  15. #15
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Posts
    554
    Black Friday deals on this beauty right here:
    https://spotbrand.com/collections/bi...s/rocker-ss-29

  16. #16
    mtbr member
    Reputation: JoePAz's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    4,939
    Quote Originally Posted by SingleSpeedSteven View Post
    .. I have basically lost all faith in small, boutique frame builders.
    The problem is that pretty much leaves you with Aluminum and Carbon. It is only the boutique frame builders that use Steel or Ti these days. The tough part is that for the big guys singlespeed capable frames are not just not a priority. (It is perfect niche markert for the little boutique guys though) So selection is limited. Trek and Specialized make (or just stopped making) SS aluminium frames. Not sure where they are with carbon. Pivot has the LES of course in carbon. There is Niner, but who else?

    I guess for me since I am close to Vassago "world headquarters" and also close Roca Roja "World Headquarters" I am not concerned about customer service issues, but I realize that is luxury of where I live.
    Joe
    '18 Specialized Epic 29", Vassago Verhauen SS 29", '13 Santa Cruz Solo 27.5", XC, AM, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  17. #17
    Cycologist
    Reputation: chazpat's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    5,065
    Quote Originally Posted by pOrk View Post
    Black Friday deals on this beauty right here:
    https://spotbrand.com/collections/bi...s/rocker-ss-29
    Oh, that is nice!
    Quote Originally Posted by Oh My Sack! View Post
    Remember, there's always quilting and knitting if pedalling becomes too tough.

  18. #18
    mtbr member
    Reputation: SingleSpeedSteven's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Posts
    403
    Quote Originally Posted by JoePAz View Post
    The problem is that pretty much leaves you with Aluminum and Carbon. It is only the boutique frame builders that use Steel or Ti these days. The tough part is that for the big guys singlespeed capable frames are not just not a priority. (It is perfect niche markert for the little boutique guys though) So selection is limited. Trek and Specialized make (or just stopped making) SS aluminium frames. Not sure where they are with carbon. Pivot has the LES of course in carbon. There is Niner, but who else?

    I guess for me since I am close to Vassago "world headquarters" and also close Roca Roja "World Headquarters" I am not concerned about customer service issues, but I realize that is luxury of where I live.
    If I had a small frame builder near me and I knew I could swing by for warranty issues, I would probably be ok with that too. In every instance of my broken frames though, the companies have acknowledged that it's a frame issue but still left me with no frame. The best I ever got was from Vassago, and he ended up sending me a Fisticuff frame after jerking me around for basically my whole riding season. I figured it was better than nothing.

  19. #19
    mtbr member
    Reputation: JoePAz's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    4,939
    Last Fall I noticed a crack on my Verhauen. Head tube junction. I bought the the frame used and did not expect a warranty. I did ask Tom about repair since I did not want to replace the frame if I did not need and so I stripped the frame and dropped of with him personally. Few weeks later it had new head tube welded in larger gusset and repainted. I paid him for the work and it has been great since then. And yes being close and part the local Vassago scene has been a big help.

    I guess the thing I think about also is that if Steel or Ti crack there is a possibility it can be repaired. (I have seen entire downtubes replaced) If Aluminum cracks forget it. Trash it.

    If carbon cracks then maybe it could be repaired, but that takes a 3rd party specialist and only under unique situations.
    Joe
    '18 Specialized Epic 29", Vassago Verhauen SS 29", '13 Santa Cruz Solo 27.5", XC, AM, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  20. #20
    mtbr member
    Reputation: SingleSpeedSteven's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Posts
    403
    Quote Originally Posted by JoePAz View Post
    Last Fall I noticed a crack on my Verhauen. Head tube junction. I bought the the frame used and did not expect a warranty. I did ask Tom about repair since I did not want to replace the frame if I did not need and so I stripped the frame and dropped of with him personally. Few weeks later it had new head tube welded in larger gusset and repainted. I paid him for the work and it has been great since then. And yes being close and part the local Vassago scene has been a big help.
    Being able to drop by and actually talk in person must be what helps. I spent $40 to send my Jabberwocky frame in "to be analyzed". I'm 99% sure it got thrown in the corner for 3 months because I couldn't get a response about anything. By the end I was just trying to get my $40 worth of shipping back.

  21. #21
    mtbr member
    Reputation: JoePAz's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    4,939
    Quote Originally Posted by SingleSpeedSteven View Post
    .. I'm 99% sure it got thrown in the corner for 3 months because I couldn't get a response about anything...
    yeah I am not shocked at. Tom is a great guy, but not always fast. He takes some proding sometimes, but others gets stuff done fast. Luck of draw sometimes and also being able to be a sqeaky wheel. Which is much easier when you are
    Joe
    '18 Specialized Epic 29", Vassago Verhauen SS 29", '13 Santa Cruz Solo 27.5", XC, AM, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  22. #22
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    717
    If you are breaking steel frames already, aluminum frames aren't going to be more durable without also being harsher.

  23. #23
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    1,192
    My comfort palette must not be very refined. I've had Al frames, Ti frames and carbon frames. I can't notice a difference in ride quality. For me the suspension has 99.999999% to do with ride quality.
    Small ring in front makes it easier. Small ring in back makes it harder. That blows my mind.

  24. #24
    Wanna ride bikes?
    Reputation: *OneSpeed*'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Posts
    5,668
    Quote Originally Posted by Lenny7 View Post
    My comfort palette must not be very refined. I've had Al frames, Ti frames and carbon frames. I can't notice a difference in ride quality. For me the suspension has 99.999999% to do with ride quality.
    The very first sentence of this thread- "I have historically raced rigid single speed".

    No suspension.
    Rigid SS 29er
    SS 29+
    Fat Lefty
    SS cyclocross
    Full Sus 29er (Yuck)

    Stop asking how much it weighs and just go ride it.

  25. #25
    Wanna ride bikes?
    Reputation: *OneSpeed*'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Posts
    5,668
    Quote Originally Posted by SingleSpeedSteven View Post
    At 5'-9" and 170lbs pretty much every off the shelf frame available is designed around my body type.
    Maybe, but it seems you are having a hard time finding a frame you're happy with. Which makes a custom frame a reasonable option.
    Rigid SS 29er
    SS 29+
    Fat Lefty
    SS cyclocross
    Full Sus 29er (Yuck)

    Stop asking how much it weighs and just go ride it.

  26. #26
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    1,192
    Quote Originally Posted by *OneSpeed* View Post
    The very first sentence of this thread- "I have historically raced rigid single speed".

    No suspension.
    I know, I guess I didn't spell it out. With or without suspension, I can't tell the difference between frame material.
    Small ring in front makes it easier. Small ring in back makes it harder. That blows my mind.

  27. #27
    Student of the Bike
    Reputation: CBaron's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Posts
    735
    I'm pretty certain that I may be an oddity around here, but I own an AL Stache 9 and have been racing it for the past 2 yrs. As a life-long hardtail guy, I absolutely love the (29) plus platform. But then again, even though I've sniffed a few podiums recently, I'm not completely serious about my racing. Thus, I don't mind have a machine that might now be the "absolute best" best tool for the job (my bike weights 27.2 lbs).

    I know you came here to ask questions and get opinions and I think that is a good thing. But my take is that you know the answer to your question. And if not, you'll soon get there. Trust your instincts.

    Later,
    CJB

Similar Threads

  1. How do you guys maintain your matte frames?
    By Dirt Dude in forum Scott Sports
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 07-16-2016, 10:43 PM
  2. Replies: 12
    Last Post: 10-17-2014, 06:24 PM
  3. Steel frames vs. aluminum frames
    By DanielDG in forum Frame Building
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 07-09-2014, 05:05 PM
  4. Hey Guys - what are your thoughts re: women riding solo?
    By katen21 in forum California - Norcal
    Replies: 48
    Last Post: 05-12-2013, 12:41 AM
  5. Your thoughts Steel vs Aluminum chainrings
    By cbrock450 in forum Singlespeed
    Replies: 28
    Last Post: 11-10-2011, 09:41 PM

Members who have read this thread: 130

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

THE SITE

ABOUT MTBR

VISIT US AT

© Copyright 2019 VerticalScope Inc. All rights reserved.