Advertise on Bikeforums.net



User Tag List

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 27
  1. #1
    Senior Member David Bierbaum's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    St. Louis Metro East area
    My Bikes
    1992 Specialized Crossroads (red)
    Posts
    1,298
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Steel rims and idle curiosity.

    With the advent of disc brakes, could steel rims make a comeback? Aside from poor braking (with rim brakes), what would be the pros and cons of steel rims on a bicycle with disc brakes?

    This is just idle curiosity on my part, wondering if there are factors to favor/disfavor the use of wheels with steel rims, when braking is taken out of the equation.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    New Rochelle, NY
    My Bikes
    too many bikes from 1967 10s (5x2)Frejus to a Sumitomo Ti/Chorus aluminum 10s (10x2), plus one non-susp mtn bike I use as my commuter
    Posts
    21,183
    Mentioned
    49 Post(s)
    Tagged
    1 Thread(s)
    You won't see comeback for steel rims for a number of reasons. The first is purely practical. The equipment for making these has been mothballed, and production capacity is now devoted to rims made of extruded aluminum. It would take a serious benefit to overcome this momentum. There's also the issue of plating, which for environmental reasons is out of favor and avoid when possible. Stainless steel is too expensive and hard to work with to make sense.

    Then there's the bicycle needs. The ability to easily extrude sound structural shapes, form them into rims, join and/or machine the sides makes aluminum the winner here. Excellent strength to weight ratios and workability will keep the world on aluminum for anything but low end utility bikes for years to come.

    If anything, more disc brakes opens up opportunities for rims made of engineering plastics, which could offer all the benefits of aluminum at a lower weight with the added benefit of resilience and shape memory that aluminum lacks.
    FB
    Chain-L site

    An ounce of diagnosis is worth a pound of cure.

    “Never argue with an idiot. He will only bring you down to his level and beat you with experience.”, George Carlin

    “One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions” - Adm Grace Murray Hopper - USN

    WARNING, I'm from New York. Thin skinned people should maintain safe distance.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Allen, TX
    My Bikes
    Look 585
    Posts
    1,307
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by David Bierbaum View Post
    With the advent of disc brakes, could steel rims make a comeback? Aside from poor braking (with rim brakes), what would be the pros and cons of steel rims on a bicycle with disc brakes?

    This is just idle curiosity on my part, wondering if there are factors to favor/disfavor the use of wheels with steel rims, when braking is taken out of the equation.
    Steel rims are still heavy, compare to alu and especially carbon. This is compounded by the interest in aero wheels.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Posts
    187
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by David Bierbaum View Post
    This is just idle curiosity on my part, wondering if there are factors to favor/disfavor the use of wheels with steel rims, when braking is taken out of the equation.
    Weight. Steel is heavy.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Bay Area, Calif.
    Posts
    4,826
    Mentioned
    4 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by gl98115 View Post
    Weight. Steel is heavy.
    Yes. I remember quite a few of my friends (and myself) who rebuilt wheels in the early '70s with aluminum rims replacing the original steel. Weight was the primary reason for the upgrade, not having to worry about rust was secondary (one of the wheels I rebuilt was due to spokes pulling through a rusted rim), and improved braking was almost incidental.

  6. #6
    Rhapsodic Laviathan
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Louisville KY
    My Bikes
    schwinn probe and henderson, lotus pegasus, sears&roebuck, mongoose deception, nishiki prestige, Trek 800 sport single track, Diamondback Drifter1
    Posts
    227
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Most beach cruisers and bmx bikez still come with steel wheels, it's falling out if favor faster in bmx, though as more low end models/dept store models have aluminum wheels. Mid and high end cruisers, some high end dept store cruisers are getting aluminum wheels. Trying to thin the line I guess.
    The speed is break neck, faster than a high speed dual cassette tape deck.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    SW Missouri
    My Bikes
    specalized sirrus
    Posts
    105
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    How about magnesium.

  8. #8
    tcarl
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    St. Louis, MO
    My Bikes
    Roark, Waterford 1100, 1987 Schwinn Paramount, Nishiki Professional, Bottecchia, 2 Scattantes, 3 Cannondale touring bikes, mtn. bike, cyclocross, hybrid, 1940's era Schwinn
    Posts
    266
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I'm sure you could use a stronger grade of steel, but my remembrance of steel wheels in the 1970's is that the metal was soft enough to deform. Hit a pothole and you'd get a big flat spot in the rim, or even the sides of the rims would be bent outward on each side.

  9. #9
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    24
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by Jax Rhapsody View Post
    Most beach cruisers and bmx bikez still come with steel wheels, it's falling out if favor faster in bmx, though as more low end models/dept store models have aluminum wheels. Mid and high end cruisers, some high end dept store cruisers are getting aluminum wheels. Trying to thin the line I guess.
    Next to no BMX bike comes with steel wheels, some might be chrome plated so look steel but 99.99999% are aluminium.

  10. #10
    Senior Member David Bierbaum's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    St. Louis Metro East area
    My Bikes
    1992 Specialized Crossroads (red)
    Posts
    1,298
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Got it. The main reason for alloy aside from stopping power with rim brakes, is weight, with the contributing factor of sheer manufacturing momentum lowering the price of aluminum vs. steel.

    I was thinking that steel rims were still cheaper to make, so they showed up on wally-world bicycles. For those who aren't weight conscious, if the rims are cheaper and bullet-proof, it could be an alternative for commuters or touring bikes for the cash-strapped. I can see how the sheer manufacturing base of alumimum wheels with it's momentum, volume, and expertise, could drive the costs down, while the older steel rim tech fades into price-powered obscurity.

  11. #11
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    NW,Oregon Coast
    My Bikes
    7
    Posts
    908
    Mentioned
    31 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    And aluminum is capable of extrusion into the many cross sections you see ..

    a steel rim is rolled sheet metal ..

  12. #12
    I WILL BE YOUR LARRY arex's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Colorado
    My Bikes
    '91 Mtn Tek Vertical, '74 Raleigh Sports, '85 Nishiki Colorado
    Posts
    576
    Mentioned
    2 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by ragtoplvr View Post
    How about magnesium.
    Magnesium doesn't have great strength or resilience. Thin, like a bike wheel, would be too brittle. It's good for thick chunky things like, for instance, an old VW engine block. I'm kind of surprised they ever used them for car wheels...they tended to break catastrophically if hit too hard.
    "Ahab knew, baby...I lust." -- Vet-san

  13. #13
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    2,028
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
    Stainless steel is too expensive and hard to work with to make sense.
    Maybe for aero rims but steel rims were often rolled out of tubing. They would not have to use the hardest, most rust resistant form.

    I always thought they could roughen the insides of the flanges if they didn't want to roll a hook bead onto the rim. Maybe put a knurl in there, just not a sharp one.

  14. #14
    Senior Member SquidPuppet's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Coeur d'Alene
    Posts
    768
    Mentioned
    7 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by arex View Post
    Magnesium doesn't have great strength or resilience. Thin, like a bike wheel, would be too brittle. It's good for thick chunky things like, for instance, an old VW engine block. I'm kind of surprised they ever used them for car wheels...they tended to break catastrophically if hit too hard.
    Magnesium is still the flavor of choice in the premier class of motorcycle racing. And those puppies take some hammering.



  15. #15
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    New Rochelle, NY
    My Bikes
    too many bikes from 1967 10s (5x2)Frejus to a Sumitomo Ti/Chorus aluminum 10s (10x2), plus one non-susp mtn bike I use as my commuter
    Posts
    21,183
    Mentioned
    49 Post(s)
    Tagged
    1 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by garage sale GT View Post
    Maybe for aero rims but steel rims were often rolled out of tubing. They would not have to use the hardest, most rust resistant form.

    I always thought they could roughen the insides of the flanges if they didn't want to roll a hook bead onto the rim. Maybe put a knurl in there, just not a sharp one.
    To my knowledge (and I have some expertise here, though not infinite knowledge) steel rims were never rolled or formed from tubing. Tubing as raw stock is just too expensive, and poses problems when forming the some of the tight corners needed. Steel rims start as a flat continuous strip that's run through a series of folding and forming rollers building the profile shape in steps, until the final fold back into itself. There's a seam down the inside middle which is usually welded, but sometimes knurled into itself to form a lock joint.

    The finished profiled strip then is formed into a hoop, or coil spring, and cut to length to make rims which are welded closed.

    At one time both Raleigh and Far East machinery Co (FEMCO) made videos of the process, but I didn't find them to link to.

    It is possible to form a hooked edge, and most low end steel rims such as on --X1.75 wheels used single wall rims with rolled circles on the inside outer edges. The tires made for them had a recess or pocket outside the bead, and latched the hook, much as modern hook edge tires do.
    FB
    Chain-L site

    An ounce of diagnosis is worth a pound of cure.

    “Never argue with an idiot. He will only bring you down to his level and beat you with experience.”, George Carlin

    “One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions” - Adm Grace Murray Hopper - USN

    WARNING, I'm from New York. Thin skinned people should maintain safe distance.

  16. #16
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    YEG
    My Bikes
    See my sig...
    Posts
    26,131
    Mentioned
    19 Post(s)
    Tagged
    2 Thread(s)
    When steel was the material of choice one could get quality steel rims that were designed to take massive amounts of abuse and these were optimal if hub brakes were used since the braking performance with rim brakes tends to be lacking, especially in the rain.

    These rims tended to be fitted to more utilitarian bicycles so they were wider and stronger and ran higher volume tyres and the biggest virtue is that a steel rim can be straightened, which is good in places where things like this are not considered disposable.

    Skinnier road wheels in steel tended to be fitted to lower end / entry level bicycles and were never that good... Araya may have been an exception in that they produced some pretty high quality steel rims.

    I work on so many old Raleigh bicycles with steel wheels and have had wheels that have come in with multiple broken spokes that were still running remarkably true.

    The stainless Dunlop wheels on my 1955 Raleigh are a thing of beauty, when this bicycle was built aluminium rims were still in the development stage and even though they were available, people put their faith in steel.

    With the abundance of high quality alloy rims you are not going to see disc hubs laced to steel rims, it would add weight where it served no purpose.

    I still use steel rims in some restoration work where there are no suitable aluminium replacements but if a Raleigh Sports needs new wheels I will build around CR18 rims with a high polish that mimics the chrome because it is such a worthwhile upgrade that puts the vintage bike on braking par with it's modern counterparts.

  17. #17
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    4,242
    Mentioned
    1 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Riding through the winter, in a place where roads are salted, I've entertainers the Notion too of Stainles steel rims. On the winter commuter it'd make a bit of sense. One less thing that the environment can damage.

  18. #18
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    YEG
    My Bikes
    See my sig...
    Posts
    26,131
    Mentioned
    19 Post(s)
    Tagged
    2 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by dabac View Post
    Riding through the winter, in a place where roads are salted, I've entertainers the Notion too of Stainles steel rims. On the winter commuter it'd make a bit of sense. One less thing that the environment can damage.
    Aluminium rims don't rust and it is easier to spin light wheels in the snow.

  19. #19
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    4,242
    Mentioned
    1 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
    Aluminium rims don't rust and it is easier to spin light wheels in the snow.
    You did notice that I wrote "stainless", did you?

    While aluminium can't rust, it certainly can corrode. Something that salted roads will quite happily help them with.
    And really, when I'm running the full set of studs, tires weighing 800+ grams, rim weight isn't much of an issue.

  20. #20
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    YEG
    My Bikes
    See my sig...
    Posts
    26,131
    Mentioned
    19 Post(s)
    Tagged
    2 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by dabac View Post
    You did notice that I wrote "stainless", did you?

    While aluminium can't rust, it certainly can corrode. Something that salted roads will quite happily help them with.
    And really, when I'm running the full set of studs, tires weighing 800+ grams, rim weight isn't much of an issue.
    My stainless rims still look new after nearly 60 years so there might be a point to that save for finding someone who would be willing to produce them... they perform a little better than chromed steel rims with rim brakes so a hub brake would still be the way to go for winter riding.

    Through Portland's wet, rim killing winters we were getting 10,000 - 12,000 km on a set of good quality aluminium rims with rim brakes, up here where winter is dry, cold and less gritty, the rim life for our winter bikes is much better.

  21. #21
    Rhapsodic Laviathan
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Louisville KY
    My Bikes
    schwinn probe and henderson, lotus pegasus, sears&roebuck, mongoose deception, nishiki prestige, Trek 800 sport single track, Diamondback Drifter1
    Posts
    227
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by hounslow View Post
    Next to no BMX bike comes with steel wheels, some might be chrome plated so look steel but 99.99999% are aluminium.
    Pretty much what I said. Even dept store bikes have aluminum wheels. You won't find many chrome plated- not a good braking surface. They are normally anodized if a finish is applied.
    The speed is break neck, faster than a high speed dual cassette tape deck.

  22. #22
    Rhapsodic Laviathan
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Louisville KY
    My Bikes
    schwinn probe and henderson, lotus pegasus, sears&roebuck, mongoose deception, nishiki prestige, Trek 800 sport single track, Diamondback Drifter1
    Posts
    227
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    And aluminum is capable of extrusion into the many cross sections you see ..

    a steel rim is rolled sheet metal ..
    Which means single wall sadness...
    The speed is break neck, faster than a high speed dual cassette tape deck.

  23. #23
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    New Rochelle, NY
    My Bikes
    too many bikes from 1967 10s (5x2)Frejus to a Sumitomo Ti/Chorus aluminum 10s (10x2), plus one non-susp mtn bike I use as my commuter
    Posts
    21,183
    Mentioned
    49 Post(s)
    Tagged
    1 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by Jax Rhapsody View Post
    Which means single wall sadness...
    Not so at all. Hollow double wall Endrich and Westwood patterns were SOP for decades, though they were double thickness single wall down the center. The shape was duplicated in extruded aluminum rims having a single wall at the spokes and corner boxes that were fastened with pins, like the classic Super Champ and Weinmann rims.
    FB
    Chain-L site

    An ounce of diagnosis is worth a pound of cure.

    “Never argue with an idiot. He will only bring you down to his level and beat you with experience.”, George Carlin

    “One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions” - Adm Grace Murray Hopper - USN

    WARNING, I'm from New York. Thin skinned people should maintain safe distance.

  24. #24
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    2,028
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
    Aluminium rims don't rust and it is easier to spin light wheels in the snow.
    Aluminum definitely corrodes.

  25. #25
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    2,028
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
    To my knowledge (and I have some expertise here, though not infinite knowledge) steel rims were never rolled or formed from tubing. Tubing as raw stock is just too expensive, and poses problems when forming the some of the tight corners needed. Steel rims start as a flat continuous strip that's run through a series of folding and forming rollers building the profile shape in steps, until the final fold back into itself. There's a seam down the inside middle which is usually welded, but sometimes knurled into itself to form a lock joint.

    The finished profiled strip then is formed into a hoop, or coil spring, and cut to length to make rims which are welded closed.

    At one time both Raleigh and Far East machinery Co (FEMCO) made videos of the process, but I didn't find them to link to.

    It is possible to form a hooked edge, and most low end steel rims such as on --X1.75 wheels used single wall rims with rolled circles on the inside outer edges. The tires made for them had a recess or pocket outside the bead, and latched the hook, much as modern hook edge tires do.
    Tubing would only be a little more expensive than strip because the factory would have to buy cut lengths instead of a continuous roll of material but it would save a few roll forming operations and welding the edges together.

    There's no reason they couldn't form good rims out of stainless. The material is more expensive than mild steel but the value is higher. There are grades of stainless which are compatible with cold forming operations.

    The double wall steel rims I have seen don't seem to come with a hook bead.
    Last edited by garage sale GT; 07-22-14 at 11:38 PM.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •