[CR] Non-steel Touring/commuting bikes

(Example: Framebuilders:Alex Singer)

Date: Sun, 8 Feb 2009 11:55:03 -0800
From: Jerome & Elizabeth Moos <jerrymoos@sbcglobal.net>
To: John Betmanis <johnb@oxford.net>, John Wood <braxton72@gmail.com>
In-Reply-To: <28dcb8780902080916mc6af173r98fc70fb82d6fc1d@mail.gmail.com>
Cc: classicrendezvous@bikelist.org
Subject: [CR] Non-steel Touring/commuting bikes

One of my points about the failure of bicycles, as practical vehicles, to advance much in the more than 60 years since the last Technical Trials in 1949 is that the non-steel frames, especially carbon fibre, are rarely built to accomodate the practical faetures you mention. Other than that one-off, or at least very limited production, carbon randonneur reviewed in Bicycle Quaterly, has anyone ever seen a touring/commuting/town bike with a carbon fibre frame? Part of this is marketing, as the manufacturers, or more properly marketers, who are rarely the same, push racing frames even at price points where few of the bikes will ever get raced. This results in tire clearance which makes use of mudguards or practical tires impossible. This appears to be the result of complete contempt of the marketers for their customers, in that they seem to think the public is so shallow and stupid that if they provided sensible clearance, not only would the public not appreciate the practicality, but it would actually diminish the bike's image with the public. I like to think they are wrong, although I'm sure there are some buyers who regard anything practical as uncool.

So while carbon bike geometry could easily be made suitable for practical bikes, there are some other issues with non-steel materials for practical frames. One of the advantages of steel is that it is easy to braze onto a steel frame all sorts of fittings for shifters, front derailleurs, cable stops, cable guides, racks, mudguards, dynamos, etc. With other materials, AFAIK, brazing really doesn't work. My few Al frames, all On Topic racing bikes, don't have many fittings, but the ones they do have, like cable housing guides or cable stops, seem to be attached by drilling the frame to receive a small pin attached to the fitting , which is then epoxied into place. Since the old Al frames were usually the same tube OD as steel, the tube wall was quite thick, and so drilling the tubes for fitting wasn't a problem. The newer Al frames tend to have much thinner walls, so I'm not sure if one can drill those for fittings without the risk of a local failure. Maybe it is possible to just epoxy fittings to the tube without drilling it. Anyone have an Al bike with several fittings who can tell me how the fittings are attached? Ti frames also typically have few fittings, and I assume fittings might be welded using the same welding methods used to join the frame tubes. Can anyone tell me if this is the case? On carbon fibre, I don't have a clue how one would go about attaching small fittings. It might be possible to mold some into the frame, but I'd imagine incorporating a lot of small fittings would tremendously complicate the frame fabrication and increase the cost proportionally. Also, I understand that that carbon fibre is very strong when loaded consistent with the direction in which the fibres are oriented, but virtually worthless in regard to other loads, as we have all seen from carbon Formula I suspension members shattering like glass from a side impact that a steel suspension member would have scoffed at. Not to mention Carbon frames in the TdF breaking in half when they hit a tree of a road sign. So it would seem an impossible task to orient the fibres in a small fitting properly to bear the load applied to the fitting, especially if that is in a different direction from the loads applied to the frame. I'd imagine that the only practical way to provide a large number of fittings on a carbon frame is to clamp them on. This might happen in two ways. Either the frame manufactures could design fittings clamped to the frame that provide the same eyelets and such that would be brazed to a steel touring frame, or they could leave it to equipment manufacturers, OEM or aftermarket, to make clamps for racks, mudguards, etc. that fit the diameter and shape of the carbon frame tubes. I will have to study the photos in the Bicycle Quarterly more carefully to see how the carbon randonneur Jan reviewed dealt ith attachment of components to the frame.

I'm sure it is possible to make a suitable touring/commuting bike from any of the current materials, but no one seems to be interested in doing so except for bikes which are pretty much adaptations of mountain bikes, and those seem to be either aluminum or even steel, almost never carbon or Ti. It seems the marketers can't be bothered to deal with what should be solvable issues like how to attach racks and mudguards, and prefer to just continue to sell racing bikes to people with absolutely no real need for such a thing. That's why I still believe Jan's call to reestablish something like the Technical Trials makes sense. I like to believe that if the public were made aware of the practical features that can be provided on bikes they would begin to demand them. And I think a well publicized competition along the lines of the Technical Trials would assist in that.

Of course, I have to recognize there is some question as to whether a carbon or Ti, or even an Al, touring frame would be On Topic here, even if they began to be produced. Clearly a Barra or Camintargent from the 30's or 40's would be On Topic, and maybe if someone were to make an Al randonnuer of design very similar to those machines, it might be considered KOF. But the Omnipotent Listmeister might ban a more modern Al tourer, even if equipped with Nitto Steel racks and randonneur bars, B&M dynamo lights and Giles Berthoud bags. And AFAIK, no oone ever made a carbon or Ti touring bike before 1983, so maybe there is no way for those to qualify as KOF. I'd like to know if the Dale considers the carbon randonneur in Bicycle Quarterly KOF or just Off Topic.


Jerry Moos
Big Spring, Texas, USA

--- On Sun, 2/8/09, John Wood wrote:

> From: John Wood <braxton72@gmail.com>u

\r?\n> Subject: Re: [CR] Are you a real CR rider?

\r?\n> To: "John Betmanis" <johnb@oxford.net>

\r?\n> Cc: classicrendezvous@bikelist.org

\r?\n> Date: Sunday, February 8, 2009, 11:16 AM

\r?\n> I find it interesting that all these people who have never

\r?\n> ridden a CF

\r?\n> frame, have such a strong negative opinion of them. As a

\r?\n> shop owner, I ride

\r?\n> 'em all - CF, Ti, AL, and Steel, both old and new. My

\r?\n> favorite bikes are

\r?\n> steel, but not because of the frame material, but because

\r?\n> of the bike

\r?\n> design. I like big tires, I like fenders, I like having a

\r?\n> nice saddlebag or

\r?\n> handlebar bag to hold all the stuff I'll need for a

\r?\n> ride. Why stuff your

\r?\n> jersey pockets full, or worse yet, leave many essentials

\r?\n> behind rather than

\r?\n> just have the bike carry the load? That one has always

\r?\n> mystified me. If

\r?\n> there was an affordable, readily available CF bike that

\r?\n> would fit the above

\r?\n> parameters, I would most likely own one, as I'm sure it

\r?\n> could easily trim a

\r?\n> couple pounds off my current steel rig.


\r?\n> I guess that would make me a "real Bike rider".

\r?\n> I like 'em all. Granted I

\r?\n> much prefer the looks of an on-topic Cinelli, Hetchins, or

\r?\n> Singer to a

\r?\n> modern Trek Madone - but they are all great fun to ride and

\r?\n> have their

\r?\n> respective strengths which I admire. Bikes are awesome!



\r?\n> --

\r?\n> John Wood

\r?\n> Missoula, Montana, USA