Risks of buying old alloy-framed road bikes ( 15 years+ )

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
Magik_
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Risks of buying old alloy-framed road bikes ( 15 years+ )

Postby Magik_ » 26 Mar 2019, 11:16am

Hi all,

I'm new to this forum and to the UK. Looking into buying a road bike and I saw some darn good specifications for not a lot of money that I am considering. I would like to know your opinion on buying used alloy frames that were made about 15 years ago. Considering the bike was well maintained and no cracks are visible, how risky is this? For example, Principia Ellipse 7020 alloy frame made in 2004, would you consider buying it today is reasonable?

Cheers,
Damjan

Vorpal
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Re: Risks of buying old alloy-framed road bikes ( 15 years+ )

Postby Vorpal » 26 Mar 2019, 12:35pm

Alloy is not as susceptible to corrosion, so the main thing is how many miles, rather than how old.

Chances are that it's fine, unless it looks like it's been beat to ****.

If it hasn't been ridden much, there is relatively little risk, and perhaps a little less than buying a brand new bike. If it's been ridden 10,000 miles per year, I wouldn't touch it with the proverbial barge pole. Most bikes fall into the spectrum on the lower end between those two. The average person cycles less than 100 miles per year. Even some keen cyclists may only put 500 miles per year on a particular bike. So unless it's been in regular use by a keen cyclist, a 2004ish alloy bike is a relatively low risk purchase.

Look for damage, signs of wear and/or ask the current owner.

Good luck :)

p.s. someone will likely be along before long to say never to buy aluminium... :lol:
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

thelawnet
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Re: Risks of buying old alloy-framed road bikes ( 15 years+ )

Postby thelawnet » 26 Mar 2019, 12:47pm

There are some observations here

https://weightweenies.starbike.com/foru ... 1&start=15

Aluminium bikes do crack and fail. My friends full sus mtb cracked near the pivot. A lightweight racing bike is obviously riskier than a heavier hybrid - you seem to be looking at the former rather than the latter.

I don't think there's anything wrong with buying one but you would want to inspect it carefully first.

Magik_
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Joined: 26 Mar 2019, 11:09am

Re: Risks of buying old alloy-framed road bikes ( 15 years+ )

Postby Magik_ » 26 Mar 2019, 1:36pm

Yes, I am looking for a pure road bike. The bikes I'm looking at don't seem beat up at all but will try to find out more about mileage as Vorpal pointed out.
Sane reassuring replies, just what I was looking for, thanks! :)

james01
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Re: Risks of buying old alloy-framed road bikes ( 15 years+ )

Postby james01 » 26 Mar 2019, 2:02pm

You could find a bargain, but there are risks. At worst a catastrophic fork failure.
Have you considered an entry-level new bike? https://www.decathlon.co.uk/rc100-road- ... 77732.html ...this at £250 should at least give the assurance that it's not going to collapse!

Magik_
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Re: Risks of buying old alloy-framed road bikes ( 15 years+ )

Postby Magik_ » 26 Mar 2019, 2:32pm

Hi james01, I have considered it but I prefer the idea of investing an extra £50-100 to get a high-tier bike. I think that with good examination and buying from responsible owners that upgraded, this approach has a very low risk to reward ratio.

Initially, I wanted to get a new Triban RC 500 for £750 (or something like that) but realised it would be too much to spend for now so I started looking at used bikes and I fell in love with some of them which I couldn't afford to buy brand new.

whoof
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Re: Risks of buying old alloy-framed road bikes ( 15 years+ )

Postby whoof » 26 Mar 2019, 2:52pm

I've seem some saying the lifetime of an aluminium frame is 5-10 years. On the other hand the frame you are considering could have another 100 years left in it.
http://www.fixedgeargallery.com/2008/no ... cNeece.htm

fastpedaller
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Re: Risks of buying old alloy-framed road bikes ( 15 years+ )

Postby fastpedaller » 26 Mar 2019, 6:17pm

whoof wrote:I've seem some saying the lifetime of an aluminium frame is 5-10 years. On the other hand the frame you are considering could have another 100 years left in it.
http://www.fixedgeargallery.com/2008/no ... cNeece.htm


Wow, that's quite something...... looks like the spokes may not be original. Getting a replacement chain could be a problem in future :wink:

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The utility cyclist
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Re: Risks of buying old alloy-framed road bikes ( 15 years+ )

Postby The utility cyclist » 26 Mar 2019, 7:16pm

Magik_ wrote:Hi all,

I'm new to this forum and to the UK. Looking into buying a road bike and I saw some darn good specifications for not a lot of money that I am considering. I would like to know your opinion on buying used alloy frames that were made about 15 years ago. Considering the bike was well maintained and no cracks are visible, how risky is this? For example, Principia Ellipse 7020 alloy frame made in 2004, would you consider buying it today is reasonable?

Cheers,
Damjan

I had the Rex e Ellipse - bought 2nd hand with full Dura Ace 9speed for £600 in 2009 :D , easily on a par with my mid level ex conti pro team carbon for outright speed and it wasn't too bad comfort wise either. The RS6/rS6Pro were use by many a crit rider, I actually sold my RS6 to a decent level cat rider about 7 years ago and the Rex a in 2014. The RS6 had had a hard life in the Lake District before it came to me, such that the BB was welded into the frame, the bike shop had a devil of a time extracting it but they did and I had it built up as an outright rocket ship for a while before the sale.

If there's anything you can say about the prinny frames it's that they were well made, part of the reason they were so expensive and why they probably went belly up is that they were really anal about QC.
I rode both the Rex and the RS6 at 107kg and I couldn't recommended them enough.

Brucey
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Re: Risks of buying old alloy-framed road bikes ( 15 years+ )

Postby Brucey » 26 Mar 2019, 8:05pm

aluminium framesets do not have an infinite fatigue life. They are also subject to accelerated rates of crack growth whenever there is a corrosive environment present (winter road salt being a prime culprit). So an 'old' alu frame could have done few miles and seen no corrosion or it could have been through hell and back; look for any bubbling in the paint. Cheap framesets are made in thick-ish walled tubing that isn't terribly strong; posher frames are built lighter in thinner gauge tubing that is meant to be stronger. The stronger grades of aluminium are however more susceptible to corrosion, all things being equal.

Top end alu frames are/were built light so that they are meant to survive a season's hard racing and then be thrown away, more or less. Folk vary far more in how hard they push on the pedals than they do, say, in bodyweight; one of the guys I know that has broken more alu frames than anyone else I have come across is only about eleven stone dripping wet but has a pretty fierce sprint on him. Someone twice the weight would normally cause a lot less than half the damage.... so it is no surprise that frames last different amounts of time for different folk. For example there are some forum members who have broken multiple aluminium frames, enough so that you need at least two hand's worth of fingers to count them. This pretty much eliminates the possibility that they were all defective, although some may well have been. There is no way to make a frame where they 'all come out the same' there is always going to be a small chance that there is an imperfection in a frame that will cause it to break; that is what the warranty is for.

I've broken a few steel frames and mostly I can point at some manufacturing defect and say 'that is why it has broken'. However I've also broken almost as many aluminium frames, despite riding many fewer miles on them. So I'm inclined to regard alu frames as more 'disposable' than many of those made in other materials. However that isn't my main objection to them, in fact; my main objection is that they mostly built too stiff so they are pretty nasty to ride on. A few alu frames I have felt happier about riding, but those have -almost without fail- turned out to quickly develop a reputation for breaking prematurely.

By and large little-used road bikes are a bargain; they go pretty much as fast as new road bikes but they cost a lot less and -if you buy them when they are the right age- most of the parts that go on them are still readily available at reasonable prices. So for example a 9s or 10 equipped bike is going to be a very serviceable machine. But you don't get a frame warranty (most are not transferable and are likely time-expired anyway) so it is pot luck if the frame is going to fail or not. Most frames don't break, but all will do, if they see the right conditions....

cheers
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

robc02
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Re: Risks of buying old alloy-framed road bikes ( 15 years+ )

Postby robc02 » 26 Mar 2019, 8:15pm

+1 for Principia.

I have a Rexe SX (ellipse) 2003 model, bought as a new frame around 2005. I used it for several years of LVRC road racing, hilly TTs and general fast riding. It is still going strong, though with me at a shade under 65kg and used as a race/fast days bike it has had a fairly easy life.
I also have a Principia TT2 time trial bike from around the same time - bought as a secondhand frame and fork - another great bike.

Their stuff was very well made but were supposedly not of the "couple of race seasons then throw away" variety - light but not ridiculously so.

They don't come up for sale that often but seem to sell for very reasonable prices. At the right price I would be happy to buy one if it looked as though it hadn't been abused and subject to a thorough look at highly stressed points such as around the BB and fork ends.

thelawnet
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Re: Risks of buying old alloy-framed road bikes ( 15 years+ )

Postby thelawnet » 26 Mar 2019, 9:26pm

Magik_ wrote:Hi james01, I have considered it but I prefer the idea of investing an extra £50-100 to get a high-tier bike. I think that with good examination and buying from responsible owners that upgraded, this approach has a very low risk to reward ratio.

Initially, I wanted to get a new Triban RC 500 for £750 (or something like that) but realised it would be too much to spend for now so I started looking at used bikes and I fell in love with some of them which I couldn't afford to buy brand new.


You are probably going the right way.

Something like this:

https://www.chainreactioncycles.com/wil ... prod176211

brand new carbon fibre, new 105 R7000 £1000

is likely better than a second hand bike from a year or two old, which won't be much cheaper.

But if you can find something 15 years old, then it's more likely to be sufficiently cheaper than a brand-new bike that it's worth the trouble.

peetee
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Re: Risks of buying old alloy-framed road bikes ( 15 years+ )

Postby peetee » 26 Mar 2019, 10:24pm

I have always liked steel frames but did once decide I needed to at least try aluminium so got a 1 year old Trek. By the time I had ridden it the three miles to work and back I had had enough of the battering my rear was getting and sold it on.
Current status report:
Latter side of fifty and feeling less than nifty.
Too many bikes on pegs and too few miles in the legs.

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The utility cyclist
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Re: Risks of buying old alloy-framed road bikes ( 15 years+ )

Postby The utility cyclist » 27 Mar 2019, 3:54pm

peetee wrote:I have always liked steel frames but did once decide I needed to at least try aluminium so got a 1 year old Trek. By the time I had ridden it the three miles to work and back I had had enough of the battering my rear was getting and sold it on.

And that indicates nothing, it's a singular three mile journey and you were probably on the wrong tyres/wrong pressures, maybe you had the wrong saddle, even incorrect adjustments all round, maybe you simply wanted a really soft set up and bought the wrong bike for your needs!

I bought my first half decent (to me) bike in 1990 as a 21 yr old, a R501 Raleigh Record Sprint, was used for everything from commuting, utility, touring and fast blasts at the weekend, 11 years I had it then I bought an all alu bike - a second hand 2001 Ridgeback genesis DAY02 that had been used as a training bike. This had a full on racing geo but with flat bars and mudguard/rack eyelets. I rode it with 23mm tyres and I was around 95kg at the time, I did everything I had on the steel bike, it was brilliant at everything and comfortable to boot.

I eventually upgraded to another bike after 8 very hard years on it and sold it on for someone else to have a go, I've no reason to doubt it's still going. Oh and my 'upgrade', alu again but with carbon seat stays and forks, I've been rear ended in a hit and run and lower speed 'tap', I've been sideswiped by a motor too and deliberately rammed (into the crank arm fortunately), I've come off a couple of times due to my own fault plus I've dropped it or it's blown over. It's had ridiculously high loads on it and still it hasn't snapped.

So my experience of alu equals comfort, longevity, robustness, excellent handling and performance and no snapped frame despite absolutely hammering them daily as well as loading them up to the gunnels.

To the OP, buy the bike you want (after checking it of course), build it up, ride it as hard as you can, have fun.

hamster
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Re: Risks of buying old alloy-framed road bikes ( 15 years+ )

Postby hamster » 27 Mar 2019, 3:58pm

Check carefully for cracks and damage, then enjoy. My Alu rigid MTB singlespeed has been ridden hard for 20 years and is still fine. Yes, its life is finite, no it hasn't got there yet...
As Brucey says, there are factors which shorten life. A pal ran an Alu Giant for 7 years / 50,000 miles from new as a commuter. It eventually failed with a spiral crack around the seat tube.