Thursday, July 2, 2009

Frame replacement advice

A friend is looking to replace her dented aluminum road frame with one of the many high value, low cost frames available today. I thought I'd reprint the advice I gave her:


to Ross, Joanna

I recall the dented Specialized, and even how it got dented.

The brakes are short reach caliper brakes. If she wants to save those (and save $50 or so in the process) she will want a road frame. Note that the Surly Pacer takes long reach calipers. I think the SOMA road bikes do too. Of course, a pair of cantilever brakes will only set her back a little more money and will work with her existing Ultegra 9 speed levers. Something to note- fenders will not fit under her short reach calipers. Full fenders make commuting during a rain storm almost pleasant, and the bike and all its parts cleaner so there's less maintenance.

For the best price on a frame/fork combo, she can always go with some of the discount models from Performance and Nashbar. I have been racing for 2 seasons now on a Performance XRL cross frame and have found it to be pretty decent. It also came with a carbon fork and a headset. A Colorado commuter is going to get wet, I strongly recommend Frame Saver for inside steel frames.

She should watch eBay and craigslist (particularly in Boulder and Fort Collins) as cross season comes around and people start upgrading their frames. With the new carbon frames out there, lots of racers are trying to sell aluminum frames. Steel frames are hard to come by second hand, although a complete steel touring bike may be a good buy since she's going to replace the components anyway. When buying a second hand cross frame, check for frame damage from crashes.

PS, The stickers should be there soon. I expect pictures to post on the blog.


On Thu, Jul 2, 2009 at 3:09 PM, Rossitron wrote:


I’m not sure why but I have been asked to ask you about new frames for Joanna’s old road bike. It’s some sort of aluminum Specialized with 9-speed Ultegra bits, and the frame has a big dent in it. After looking at my Surly and reading through some of your eloquent musings on nippleworks she now proclaims to be interested in assembling something new out of something old. Her current thought is a cross/commuter/get around bike -- any thoughts on frame choices? Price is important and she is intrigued by the $420 price tag on the Cross Check frame, if that helps with frame of reference, so to speak (I know, lowest form of humor).




Alison Chaiken said...

No personal experience, but Redline looks like a good deal.

-p said...

Alison, good point. The Redline geometry doesn't look terribly female friendly, but the price for the entry level cross frame and fork is wallet friendly, and I'm sure the frame features will be well thought out. It looks like it also lacks rack/fender mounts, which the Nashbar 'X' cyclocross frames have:

Matt Boulanger said...

I pushed the fender/big tire combo as hard as can be on my xrl cross. As a fellow owner, have you experienced the dreaded fork shudder that plagues this model and if so what have you done to mitigate it?

-p said...

Matt, I have a Bianchi Volpe for commuting/touring which has managed to take full fenders AND 38mm tires! She can handle a wide load.

The XRL is race only for me, and, I agree, probably not the best thought out frame out there. I don't get a lot of fork shudder with that bike, must be using different brakes. I hate the sharp top tube mine's got though, not good for long shoulderings.

Matt Boulanger said...


I've mucked with the pads (some recommend huge toe-in as a possible solution) and it has gotten better, but hasn't gone away entirely. I'm not sure if it is all of the XRL cross frames/forks but I got mine last year (for a song and with a headset) so maybe it wasn't an issue before, isn't an issue now, or isn't an issue for riders who weigh less than me (190).

Looking at a Volpe for my wife right now as it is what she would like for the commuter/do everything bike. Lots of shops with size runs left in the dreaded "ugly gold" color, but prices haven't been dropped enough yet...

-p said...


I've been meaning to do a post on some of the causes and solutions to front fork chatter. Decreasing brake cable length in the front might help. A lower hanger perhaps? You want to eliminate the harmonic motion of braking, fork flexing, brake slipping.

The Volpe and related Castro Valley are great do anything bikes and the one I'd keep if I could have only one. I have the 'Gangrene' color and have had several people comment on it.