Cycling and bicycle discussion forums. 
   Click here to join our community Log in to access your Control Panel  


Go Back   > >

Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

User Tag List

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 08-19-07, 04:27 PM   #1
Grun
Banned.
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Bikes:
Posts: 313
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Steel or Aluminum?

What is best? I found some bikes for much cheaper that are steel /ChroMo. Is there that much difference? For similar bikes, how much lighter is it in Aluminum versus Steel?

25lbs. versus 35lbs.?
Grun is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-07, 05:11 PM   #2
fat_bike_nut
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: San Francisco!
Bikes: 2010 Surly LHT (main rider and do-everything bike), 2011 Bike Friday NWT (back-up bike and multi-modal)
Posts: 909
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
25 vs. 35 lbs.? There is not THAT MUCH of a difference if you're comparing bikes with similar levels of build. Modern-made chromoly steel bicycles are lighter than you think.

Most people I've talked to don't see a difference either way, but some bikeforum members, including me, find a smoother ride from chromoly steel vs. aluminum frames. Just test ride and see for yourself. See what you like personally.

Oh, and if you live in a salt-infested area, I'd go for aluminum, because of the rust factor
fat_bike_nut is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-07, 05:16 PM   #3
ax0n
Trans-Urban Velocommando
 
ax0n's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Lenexa, KS
Bikes: 06 Trek 1200 - 98 DB Outlook - 99 DB Sorrento
Posts: 2,400
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
oh goodness, you didn't just ask this... This is a holy war question!

Steel is much heavier, and it always varies. For instance, some old road bikes seem to be made of gas-pipe and weigh close to 40 pounds but an entry level aluminum road bike may only be 15 pounds or so. People may tell you otherwise, but the only time you really notice it is when you have to carry the freaking thing. I have 4 bikes that weigh anywhere from 19 pounds (aluminum/carbon entry-level road bike with a rack and some accessories) to almost 30 pounds (steel MTB with a suspension fork). The gearing and rolling resistance is much more of a factor than weight, even during acceleration.

Think about it. 150 pound rider + 19 pound bike = 169 pounds. 150 pound rider + 30 pound bike = 180 pounds. That's about 7% total weight difference. It may not be the case with you, but for me, it would be more beneficial for me to lose the extra 11 pounds from my body rather than my bike, if you know what I mean.
ax0n is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-07, 05:19 PM   #4
ax0n
Trans-Urban Velocommando
 
ax0n's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Lenexa, KS
Bikes: 06 Trek 1200 - 98 DB Outlook - 99 DB Sorrento
Posts: 2,400
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I agree a little on the softer feel of steel, but I've noticed that an aluminum bike with a carbon fork and spine (like the LeMond Versailles, for example) feels every bit as good as an all-steel road bike. IMHO, frame material only makes a tangible difference when dealing with high-pressure tires anyways.
ax0n is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-07, 09:42 PM   #5
gbcb
J3L 2404
 
gbcb's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Shanghai
Bikes: 2007 Jamis Nova
Posts: 1,075
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I'm a fan of steel myself, but have had great aluminum bikes in the past (Cannondale Bad Boy). I don't think weight is much of an issue, as ax0n pointed out. Generally speaking, I find steel bikes more comfortable to ride, and I prefer how they look. YMMV.
__________________
gbcb is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-07, 10:02 PM   #6
supercub
Baka dakara
 
supercub's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Honolulu
Bikes:
Posts: 395
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Question: Is Hawaii the kind of climate that is unfriendly for steel?
supercub is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-07, 10:21 PM   #7
Wordbiker
Pwnerer
 
Wordbiker's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Pagosa Springs, CO, USA
Bikes: Road, MTB, Cruiser, Chopper, BMX
Posts: 2,907
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
First off, asking what is "best" is a surefire recipe for no clear answer at all, no matter what the subject is. Imagine asking a random group of people who makes the best car...see my point? Everyone has a different idea about what their needs, likes and dislikes are.

There are a lot more considerations than just material used when comparing bicycle frames. There's sizing, stiffness, design, looks, cost, intended purpose, geometry, weight, color, longevity...the list is long and deep. If your main consideration is cost, then one frame is as good as another. At the entry level, they're all about the same; A ton of feathers or a ton of lead.

If you'd asked about ride properties, I'd have gone into further depth with my answer. You're already getting some incorrect and misleading info so I won't add to the confusion.
__________________
Quote:
Originally Posted by ahsposo View Post
Ski, bike and wish I was gay.
Wordbiker is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-07, 10:33 PM   #8
Schwinnrider
Mirror slap survivor
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Sunny Florida
Bikes: Gunnar Sport, Surly Pacer, Access MTB, Ibex Corrida, one day a Simple City
Posts: 1,297
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by ax0n View Post
oh goodness, you didn't just ask this... This is a holy war question!

Steel is much heavier, and it always varies. For instance, some old road bikes seem to be made of gas-pipe and weigh close to 40 pounds but an entry level aluminum road bike may only be 15 pounds or so. People may tell you otherwise, but the only time you really notice it is when you have to carry the freaking thing. I have 4 bikes that weigh anywhere from 19 pounds (aluminum/carbon entry-level road bike with a rack and some accessories) to almost 30 pounds (steel MTB with a suspension fork). The gearing and rolling resistance is much more of a factor than weight, even during acceleration.

Steel isn't much heavier. Good steels like Reynolds 853 and True Temper OX Platinum are light.
Schwinnrider is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-07, 10:40 PM   #9
slowjoe66
Senior Member
 
slowjoe66's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Central Point, Or.
Bikes: Route-x bent, GT Hybrid
Posts: 409
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
First of all, steel won't rust if paint is kept on it, so really no worries there unless you are talking about scratches and dings so deep that they penetrate to the steel level.

I have two similar bikes, one steel one aluminum. However the aluminum bike was a hybrid with a front suspension fork. I removed that fork and put a steel rigid fork on. The big difference in ride is that the steel framed bike has more flex to it, most noticeable in the top tube. I personally think the flex is a positive; a more comfortable ride. The Aluminum bike (with the steel fork) is a bit more rigid, but not overly. And it is slightly lighter, but not much. I would guess no more than a pound or so.

I wouldn't get too hung up on the steel or Aluminum thing really. I would look for a good fit, good accessories (fenders, saddle etc.) price, overall weight, and then ride a bunch and choose amongst those that have the features and attributes you are looking for.

Like the saying goes " keep the main thing the main thing". And the main thing is to have a good functioning, reliable, properly fitting bike to ride. All of those little nuances like steel or aluminum, flat bars or drops, tire width, aren't things that will keep you from riding.

Ride and have fun.
slowjoe66 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-07, 11:48 PM   #10
Grun
Banned.
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Bikes:
Posts: 313
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Is Aluminum that much weaker than steel?
For example, is a Trek bike made of aluminum (lower end level) weaker than a Trek bike from steel?

Isn't there a bunch of grades to it, 6061, 6061-T6, and 7005, and this ZR9000?

Is 6061-T6 much stronger than 7005, and is 7005 much stronger than 6061-T6?
Where does Chromoly steel fit into this?
Grun is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-20-07, 06:07 AM   #11
JeanCoutu
ǝıd ǝʌol ʎllɐǝɹ I
 
JeanCoutu's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Bikes:
Posts: 518
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I recently happenned upon a higher end cromo road bike of '81 vintage. It had 600 components, modern day Ultegra level. The entire thing weighed in at 9.5kgs for the complete bike.

As what it needs not be heavy. I think steel has a bad rep mostly because of it's use on low-ish end bikes, with less care put into making them.
JeanCoutu is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-20-07, 06:15 AM   #12
-=(8)=-
♋ ☮♂ ☭ ☯
 
-=(8)=-'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: 40205 'ViLLeBiLLie
Bikes: Sngl Spd's, 70's- 80's vintage, D-tube Folder
Posts: 7,903
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
The last aluminun airplane I flew on still had its wings when we landed.

__________________
-ADVOCACY-☜ Radical VC = Car people on bikes. Just say "NO"

Last edited by -=(8)=-; 08-20-07 at 07:17 AM.
-=(8)=- is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-20-07, 06:19 AM   #13
ItsJustMe
Seņior Member
 
ItsJustMe's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Michigan
Bikes: Windsor Fens, Giant Seek 0 (2014, Alfine 8 + discs)
Posts: 13,050
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 49 Post(s)
While I haven't looked at a lot of bikes, I agree with folks here; steel is not necessarily heavy. I picked up a Trek 520 the other day, and it's much lighter than my aluminum bike. It depends on what the bike is built for and how well it's built.
My current bike is aluminum, because that's what the place had in stock when I bought it.
When I buy my dream bike which I hope to retire to tour on, it'll be steel.
__________________
Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.
ItsJustMe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-20-07, 07:13 AM   #14
bike2math
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Texas
Bikes:
Posts: 959
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I'd worry more about the engine. It's all about the engine, heck keeping the engine idling well is the main reason I commute to work. I ride steel but it is because it was the best deal with the components and upgrade possiblities that I wanted.

Quote:
Originally Posted by slowjoe66 View Post
First of all, steel won't rust if paint is kept on it, so really no worries there unless you are talking about scratches and dings so deep that they penetrate to the steel level.
This is not as easy as you make it sound: anywhere there are cable casings crossing the frame near a joint I get a spot where the paint rubs off, I haven't found anyway to avoid this; I just put a little wd40 on the spot every few months and keep checking it for rust. Anyone have suggestions for keeping the paint on in these spots?
bike2math is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-20-07, 08:16 AM   #15
ax0n
Trans-Urban Velocommando
 
ax0n's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Lenexa, KS
Bikes: 06 Trek 1200 - 98 DB Outlook - 99 DB Sorrento
Posts: 2,400
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by bike2math View Post
I'd worry more about the engine. It's all about the engine, heck keeping the engine idling well is the main reason I commute to work.
That pretty much sums up my thoughts on the whole Ti/Steel/Carbon/Aluminum/Unobtanium argument.
ax0n is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-20-07, 08:52 AM   #16
fat_bike_nut
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: San Francisco!
Bikes: 2010 Surly LHT (main rider and do-everything bike), 2011 Bike Friday NWT (back-up bike and multi-modal)
Posts: 909
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by bike2math View Post
This is not as easy as you make it sound: anywhere there are cable casings crossing the frame near a joint I get a spot where the paint rubs off, I haven't found anyway to avoid this; I just put a little wd40 on the spot every few months and keep checking it for rust. Anyone have suggestions for keeping the paint on in these spots?
I thought that's what touch-up paint was for? You know, if there are spots, you could paint over them again with touch-up paint.
fat_bike_nut is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-20-07, 08:55 AM   #17
Phantoj
Certifiable Bike "Expert"
 
Join Date: May 2005
Bikes:
Posts: 5,632
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Difference between a steel frame and an aluminum one is generally only a pound or two. Whether that's "a lot" is a matter of perspective. I favor aluminum over steel; I think frame material -- and frame vertical compliance -- has no real effect on ride quality.
Phantoj is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-20-07, 09:11 AM   #18
HardyWeinberg
GATC
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: south Puget Sound
Bikes:
Posts: 7,495
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 49 Post(s)
I'm sure my wife's 1980s schwinn frame weighs less than my LHT frame. Tiny little steel tubes. The components don't help her bike's total weight. Looking at the lack of meaningful rust (plenty of surface rust has been and gone) on that maximally abused bike relieves my worry about any significant loss from rust to my bikes.
HardyWeinberg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-20-07, 09:30 AM   #19
bike2math
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Texas
Bikes:
Posts: 959
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by fat_bike_nut View Post
I thought that's what touch-up paint was for? You know, if there are spots, you could paint over them again with touch-up paint.
Sure you touch it up and a couple of months later it's rubbed bare again. I want a fix that stays fixed, otherwise I'll just leave the spot bare and keep it covered in a protective layer that doesn't just rub off. I touch up dings and scrapes because I can be certain I won't ding and scrape exactly the same spot again.
bike2math is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-20-07, 10:47 AM   #20
aadhils
Bike Junkie
 
aadhils's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Santa Clara, CA
Bikes: Orange Brompton M3L; Milwaukee Bicycle Co. Fixie (Eddy Orange)
Posts: 1,590
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by -=Ģem in Pa=- View Post
The last aluminun airplane I flew on still had its wings when we landed.

A more correct analysis would be, if the plane still had its wings if it crashed...

Remember hincapies aluminum steerer?

aadhils is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-20-07, 11:06 AM   #21
9Rings
Boston did not sob
 
9Rings's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Bikes:
Posts: 377
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Aluminum frame may be 1/2 pound lighter than a steel one. The bigger difference will be in the component build of the bike.

Tha being said: I had a Cannondale MTB that I rode offroad. It cracked right under the headtube. Warranty replacement (back when they used to do that) I still ride that replacement frame as my foul weather commuter.

After riding Cannondales off-road for like 6 years, I got a steel bike, and was blown away with the difference in ride quality! So much smoother. My back didn't ache after a ride (OK, it did, just not as much...)I should also say that my second Cannondale was a bit smoother than the first due to advances in aluminum bike technology in the years between the frames. Anyhow, I became a steel convert after throwing a leg over one.

Steel frames may rust. If they are painted, and not all beat up, they won't rust on the outside, but perhaps from the inside out. Even in that case, it will take years and years for that to even be a problem, and by that time you will be jonesing to buy a new ride anyhow, so a rusty bike will be a good excuse to go out and drop some big $$$.
9Rings is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-20-07, 11:09 AM   #22
tcs
Palmer
 
tcs's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Parts unknown
Bikes:
Posts: 4,698
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 18 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by aadhils View Post
Remember Hincapies aluminum steerer?
And of course no steel bicycle frame or fork has failed in 140 years. And while aluminum is deadly for forks and frames, it's magically robust for stems and bars.

TCS
tcs is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-20-07, 11:12 AM   #23
2_i 
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Michigan
Bikes: Trek 730, Bike Friday NWT, Brompton M6R*2, Trek 830, Trek 720, Dahon HAT060, Dahon HT060,...
Posts: 1,549
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
A steel frame can be modified, i.e. you can move cable stops around, add rack braze-ons, kickstand plate etc. In addition, a steel frame takes on clamp on attachments better. If it gets ever gouged in the process, it usually does not matter.
2_i is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-20-07, 11:48 AM   #24
pinkrobe
DNPAIMFB
 
pinkrobe's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Cowtown, AB
Bikes: Titus El Guapo, Misfit diSSent, Cervelo Soloist Carbon, Wabi Lightning, et al.
Posts: 4,654
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Wow, I think this is the 6th time I've seen this question asked in the last week. Seriously.
__________________
Proud Member of the HHCMF
'06 Cervelo Soloist Carbon | '09 Titus El Guapo | '09 Misfit diSSent | '09 Wabi Lightning
pinkrobe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-20-07, 12:19 PM   #25
robmcl
Prairie Path Commuter
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Forest Park, IL
Bikes: Marin Palisades Trail
Posts: 663
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by ax0n View Post
oh goodness, you didn't just ask this... This is a holy war question!
That's for sure.

This year I went from a steel ridgid MTB to a Novara Safari, which has an aluminum frame and steel fork. Despite everything I have read on this forum about steel vs. aluminum I could not tell the difference.
robmcl is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off



All times are GMT -6. The time now is 11:29 AM.