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Old 12-22-2019, 11:11 AM
XXtwindad XXtwindad is offline
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Do bike frames age like fine wine?

I'm in the process of completing a purchase on a high-end Ti frame, which is about six years old.

I'm wondering if the "mythical" qualities that people laud in titanium frames is the same after six years. Is it enhanced? Does it somehow diminish over time? I have no idea, since I've never owned a high end frame for that long.

What about the "lively" feel of steel? Or the "stiffness" people usually associate with carbon? Do those qualities age well? Do they change over time?

Interested in any feedback from people who've owned the same frame several years...
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Old 12-22-2019, 11:15 AM
tv_vt tv_vt is online now
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Well, I've owned a Fierte IT for 10 years. It has well over 10,000 miles on it just by me. And I am not the first owner - I think I'm the third. I can't tell any difference to the ride feel now from the first day I got it. Actually, it rides better - it has a different fork on it now. The first one was a bit of a noodle.

I also have a Merckx MXL that was built in 1994, so 25 years old. But I've only had it a year or so. It rides beautifully now, but have no idea what it rode like when new. Certainly has more gears now than when it was new.

One thing to be said for keeping a bike for a while is that it evolves to better suit you. At least for me, I'm always fine-tuning the ride, swapping out forks, saddles, bars, cranks, stems, wheels, tires, and other components, even just handlebar tape color or style. Sometimes it's because something new comes on the market or sometimes it's because a component fails or does not quite work as desired. I once had a Look 481 with a 25.0 seatpost. The original carbon one cracked and then came a Bontrager/Trek one and another one I can't remember. Then I got a Dura Ace post and the difference was stunning. The bike was solid and smooth and perfect with that one on there.

Last edited by tv_vt; 12-22-2019 at 11:25 AM.
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Old 12-22-2019, 11:16 AM
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e-RICHIE e-RICHIE is offline
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Despite the material, or even the frame design, I tip my hat to anyone to can isolate these and discern the small characteristics you ask about from the stew of components attached that make the bicycle a whole.
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Old 12-22-2019, 11:19 AM
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Veloo Veloo is offline
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I've had a Lynskey Ti frame for just over 7 years now. Rides the same as day 1, not any worse or better.

I like it better than steel. Absorbs rough roads better.
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Old 12-22-2019, 11:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XXtwindad View Post

What about the "lively" feel of steel? Or the "stiffness" people usually associate with carbon? Do those qualities age well? Do they change over time?
Ask people who race a lot (especially sprinters) and they'll say frames wear out in one season, get spongy, lose their snap/stiffness
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Old 12-22-2019, 11:50 AM
OtayBW OtayBW is offline
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IMO, the only possible change is some kind of degradation process, and that is highly unlikely for a well-constructed, well-kept frame. In terms of 'aging like wine'...I don't see it.
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Old 12-22-2019, 12:13 PM
NHAero NHAero is offline
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My Bob Jackson was made for me in 1972. It has fared far better with age than its owner. I've always found that its ride qualities were most dependent on the wheels and tires on it more than anything else I could discern. Over the years it's had everything from rugged 36 spoke clinchers with 32mm touring tires to light alloy skinny high pressure tubulars.
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Old 12-22-2019, 12:27 PM
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Never heard of a bike becoming better as it ages regardless of material it is made of. I think some people appreciate a bike more they own for a while. For you buying a frame built in 2013, I seriously doubt it “rides better” than when it was brand new. It is a better bet that buying a six year old bike will ride worse than brand new because of the wear and tear the previous owner did to it. Not saying that’s the case but I would find that more believable than a bike ages into its prime.
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Last edited by joosttx; 12-22-2019 at 12:33 PM.
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Old 12-22-2019, 12:38 PM
XXtwindad XXtwindad is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joosttx View Post
Never heard of a bike becoming better as it ages regardless of material it is made of. I think some people appreciate a bike more they own for a while. For you buying a frame built in 2013, I seriously doubt it “rides better” than when it was brand new. It is a better bet that buying a six year old bike will ride worse than brand new because of the wear and tear the previous owner did to it. Not saying that’s the case but I would find that more believable than a bike ages into its prime.
Well, I was being a bit figurative. I'm no oenophile, but I do know that many vintages age incredibly well, and (many) others not so much. I was curious as to how different frame materials age or degrade, if at all.
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  #10  
Old 12-22-2019, 12:46 PM
steveandbarb1 steveandbarb1 is offline
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My body does, unfortunately wasn't a good year...
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  #11  
Old 12-22-2019, 01:19 PM
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jischr jischr is offline
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The bottom bracket on my steel Gitane frame got wimpy and flexed after a number of years. My 20 year old Colnago aluminum and carbon frames have no flex that I can tell. I won't say the Colnago's age like fine wine, but they haven't changed for better or worse.
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Old 12-22-2019, 01:41 PM
tomato coupe tomato coupe is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XXtwindad View Post
I'm in the process of completing a purchase on a high-end Ti frame, which is about six years old.

I'm wondering if the "mythical" qualities that people laud in titanium frames is the same after six years. Is it enhanced? Does it somehow diminish over time? I have no idea, since I've never owned a high end frame for that long.
Over the long term, titanium frames gain approximately 1.3% of mythicalness per year, but the exact rate depends on the age of the owner. Studies show that for owners under 65, the mythicalness actually drops rapidly, and is no longer detectable after a few years.
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Old 12-22-2019, 01:44 PM
wgp wgp is offline
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My frames/bikes (comprising Ti, carbon, and steel) are all builds from the early 2000s, and I'll be damned if I can tell whether there has been any degradation (let alone improvement, which seems far-fetched) over these intervening years. I certainly don't enjoy them any less! I've made changes to their components (move from Campy 10sp to 11sp, wheels, saddles), but they ride as great as ever.
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Old 12-22-2019, 01:47 PM
Matthew Matthew is offline
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Got over 22k on my Moots Compact. Seems to ride the same as when it was new.
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Old 12-22-2019, 02:05 PM
Ttx1 Ttx1 is offline
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Buy a great frameset that fits, and you will likely enjoy it even more if you use it to increase your mileage, improve your fitness, and up your game.

It’s not the bike that changes, it’s the rider.
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