So hands up, who can honestly say they can tell the true difference between frame materials ?
I think I can honestly tell the difference between gas pipe and a better quality tubeset i.e. Reynolds or Columbus , but as for being able to tell the difference between Steel , Alloy or Carbon I am not so sure .
Yes of course I can by feel and appearance of the bike but once sat upon the saddle I am not so sure I could , there are loads of cyclists who claim a certain material is better than another for various reasons some of which make sense whilst others don’t if you ask me .
I can see the obvious difference being weight but then some of the better quality steel frames built with weight weenie parts can be lighter than some alloy machines and I can imagine the best alloy ones can get close to Carbon ones as well .
So the only way to do a proper test would be for all machines to be built using the same components i.e. cranksets , tyres in fact all parts would have to be same apart from the frameset material .
One of the other things to take into consideration would be road surface as these all vary so much which has a knock on factor to how a bike rides. Some people say all carbon bikes soak up the lumps and bumps better than an alloy framed bike with a steel fork or even a complete steel frameset . Surely the quality of the material used must also have an effect as well .
Over the past 7 years I have ridden at least 100 different road bikes I know this for sure as I have sold that amount plus a fair few more. The vast majority are ridden for a short period most having completed over 50 miles as a minimum before being put up for sale so I get a fair degree of time to evaluate each bike .
The first couple of laps around the block which is 1.5 miles in distance can easily give me an indication as to whether it’s a nice bike or not , I must admit there have been a few which have not made much of an impression on the first couple of short rides but have made a good impression on the longer rides I do for different reasons .
This week end has seen 2 new bikes arrive in the stable both being steel framesets. One is an Orbit America constructed with Reynolds 531c and Reynolds 531 forks the other being an Agenda Time Trial machine that is constructed with Reynolds 531 professional tubing as far as I am aware all the way through .
So far only the Orbit has been ridden and I must admit it rides well and seems to soak up the bumps well and has a nice turn of pace to it when pushed as hard as I can do . It is fitted with a fairly basic Shimano Exage gs300 running gear but in the past I have found that to be enough and this one seems to as clean and functioning well . Whilst the Aende arrived as a project and came in pieces , some of which I am not convinced are suitable for the bike .
The final spec or build up spec is totally left up for discussion with the following bits to be taken in to consideration , originally it was built for time trial usage and only has one down tube gear lever mounting boss and a fairly short wheel base like so many of “ Pongo’s” creations do have .
My first thought was to build it in to a single speed bike so I can evaluate it before deciding what to do in the long term , but in all fairness it is in a lot better condition than I was expecting so very tempted to just clean up some of the loose decals and give the paintwork a nice polish and see how good it comes up .
I think I have decided to just go with the one down tube shifter and retain the already fitted bottom bracket which seems to spin nice and freely so seems little point in changing it. Now the crankset that was supplied is a Campagnolia Triple so I will remove the two smallest rings and mount the remaining ring on the inner of the arms rather than the normal outer mounting pads which I am hoping will give me a nicer chain line , my current thought is to use a 7 speed equipped rear wheel as I have been advised that trying to run a 1 x 9 set up is asking a lot for the chain to stay in place at each end of the spectrum .
Now of course all the above could and more than likely will change but I will post another blog to update as I go along and when time allows .