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Old 03-07-11, 09:07 PM   #1
dnuzzomueller
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Why aren't you riding a steel bike!?

So about a week ago when unlocking my bike right after walking out of a local Trader Joes in the middle of Boston's Boylston St. I am greeted by this youngish (20-30) year old.

Now ive got my Redline Conquest Pro out today for the fine weather and all of a sudden I am asked by a youngish (20-30) steel lover: "Is that steel!?".

Me: "No it's aluminum"
Steel lover: "Why anre't you riding a steel bike!?"
Me: "Because I like the way my aluminum rides"
Steel lover: "But man that bike could just shatter underneath you"
Me: "I have ridden alot of aluminum bikes and none of them have ever shattered underneath me, I like the way aluminum rides"
Steel lover: "Well alright man, but ride safe, ride safe..."

A few other non-insulting back and forth occured in-between these highlights and I rode off.

Was this guy trolling me? Or do some people really feel like aluminum frames will magically shatter beneath others and they just need to expound upon why it is a bad idea for them to ride aluminum frames or in this guys case what seemed like non-steel frames? I will admit I have a certain love for this one bike and I felt like he had just called my child ugly so I might have taken his comments a little too close to the heart.

Has anyone else had this sort of thing happen to them before though?
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Old 03-07-11, 09:16 PM   #2
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Some people get too much of their information off online bike forums....

Also read my tag line
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Old 03-07-11, 09:36 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by dnuzzomueller View Post
So about a week ago when unlocking my bike right after walking out of a local Trader Joes in the middle of Boston's Boylston St. I am greeted by this youngish (20-30) year old.

Now ive got my Redline Conquest Pro out today for the fine weather and all of a sudden I am asked by a youngish (20-30) steel lover: "Is that steel!?".

Me: "No it's aluminum"
Steel lover: "Why anre't you riding a steel bike!?"
Me: "Because I like the way my aluminum rides"
Steel lover: "But man that bike could just shatter underneath you"
Me: "I have ridden alot of aluminum bikes and none of them have ever shattered underneath me, I like the way aluminum rides"
Steel lover: "Well alright man, but ride safe, ride safe..."

A few other non-insulting back and forth occured in-between these highlights and I rode off.

Was this guy trolling me? Or do some people really feel like aluminum frames will magically shatter beneath others and they just need to expound upon why it is a bad idea for them to ride aluminum frames or in this guys case what seemed like non-steel frames? I will admit I have a certain love for this one bike and I felt like he had just called my child ugly so I might have taken his comments a little too close to the heart.

Has anyone else had this sort of thing happen to them before though?
The vast, vast, vast majority of mountain bikes are aluminum. A mountain bike sees far more severe usage than a road bike and mountain bikers don't worry about their bike 'shattering' underneath them. I wonder if the guy rides steel wheels because aluminum ones will 'shatter'. I wonder if he only flies on steel planes...good luck finding one. The guy was a know-nothing. Ignore him.
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Old 03-07-11, 09:36 PM   #4
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Has anyone else had this sort of thing happen to them before though?
Yeah - probably a lot of folks that ride steel have gotten some guff from those that ride bikes made of Ti, Al, Carbon, Mg or Rearden Metal.

As for his position, I've read (on the internet, no less!) that aluminum frames can fail suddenly, though not quite a briskly or devastating as carbon is said to do. I wouldn't know as I'm not a metallurgist; maybe he was, for all we know. Maybe he was the East Coast Regional Shill for Rivendell.

Your taking the comment to heart is good in that is shows your genuine respect and affection for your machine. That said, try and not let it bother you too much - we all have our personal tastes, and they don't always align. I don't think he was trolling; I think he was simply uncouth. If being uncouth were a crime, then I'd be serving life based on the things I've said in my 20's and most of my 30's (I'm much more couth now, thank you).
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Old 03-07-11, 09:43 PM   #5
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As for his position, I've read (on the internet, no less!) that aluminum frames can fail suddenly, though not quite a briskly or devastating as carbon is said to do. I wouldn't know as I'm not a metallurgist; maybe he was, for all we know. Maybe he was the East Coast Regional Shill for Rivendell.
Being something of an expert at making bikes fail...6 frames, 4 actual frame failures...and breaking numerous parts, I can tell you that I trust the failure mode of aluminum far more than I trust steel. Aluminum has never 'shattered' or failed catastrophically on me. It always seems to tear and release energy slowly. Steel, on the other hand, has always broken without warning and with a rather loud 'ping!'
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Old 03-07-11, 10:11 PM   #6
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This was an amusing exchange. If you are that worried about frames breaking you better inspect your bike after every ride and inspect every person's bike you come in contact with to help them out and keep them safe. I am pretty nice to my bikes so I don't expect any failures any time soon, but its a good idea to inspect them every once in a while. The only thing that really failed catastrophically when I was riding it was the steel handlebar on a Sears mountain bike at the camp I used to go to as a kid. I was trying to get some air on a hill and pulled up on the handlebar. It snapped off between the brake lever and the stem. I was fine and I apologized for breaking it, but nobody seemed to care too much. Its amazing those bikes lasted as long as they did.
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Old 03-07-11, 10:15 PM   #7
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I think you guys are taking this way too seriously

It was a couple dumb questions by a guy who was expressing his own paranoias. If he actually knew anything about either aluminum or steel frames he wouldn`t have had to ask you if the frame was steel - he would have known.

No need to get either defensive or offensive - just let it go and don`t take it personally. You`re probably having a lot more fun than he is.
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Old 03-07-11, 10:19 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Being something of an expert at making bikes fail...6 frames, 4 actual frame failures...and breaking numerous parts, I can tell you that I trust the failure mode of aluminum far more than I trust steel. Aluminum has never 'shattered' or failed catastrophically on me. It always seems to tear and release energy slowly. Steel, on the other hand, has always broken without warning and with a rather loud 'ping!'
Yeah, I know what you mean. I had a steel frame just up and separate at the head tube/down tube junction. I didn't hear the ping sound, but that was probably because I was busy flying over the car that had just "brake checked" me.

In case you are wondering, no damage to the organic unit. I stuck the landing.
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Old 03-07-11, 10:23 PM   #9
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Yeah, I know what you mean. I had a steel frame just up and separate at the head tube/down tube junction. I didn't hear the ping sound, but that was probably because I was busy flying over the car that had just "brake checked" me.

In case you are wondering, no damage to the organic unit. I stuck the landing.

We have a Winner ...
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Old 03-07-11, 10:25 PM   #10
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I prefer steel but it's a ride thing for me, I own a aluminum MTB and have nothing against them, just prefer steel when it comes to my daily and tour bikes.
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Old 03-07-11, 10:41 PM   #11
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Sounds like he was just trying to get a rise out of you.
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Old 03-07-11, 10:51 PM   #12
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It was a couple dumb questions by a guy who was expressing his own paranoias. If he actually knew anything about either aluminum or steel frames he wouldn`t have had to ask you if the frame was steel - he would have known.

No need to get either defensive or offensive - just let it go and don`t take it personally. You`re probably having a lot more fun than he is.
Yeah, you can tell from the big and ugly welds on aluminum bikes.
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Old 03-07-11, 11:23 PM   #13
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I wonder if he only flies on steel planes...good luck finding one.
Piper cub.

Next challenge
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Old 03-07-11, 11:31 PM   #14
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He is confusing alluminum bikes with carbon bikes.


But, yes.......Steel is real!

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Old 03-07-11, 11:37 PM   #15
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Some people get too much of their information off online bike forums....
That there is funny.
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Old 03-07-11, 11:40 PM   #16
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My guess is this guy has a man crush on some bicycle messenger, and hangs on every word that said messenger utters.
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Old 03-08-11, 12:03 AM   #17
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The guy was just ignorant. Like many uninformed LBS dweebs I've encountered, spouting their uninformed cliches.
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Old 03-08-11, 08:19 AM   #18
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He is confusing alluminum bikes with carbon bikes.


But, yes.......Steel is real!
Aluminum is imaginary? Aluminum is the bicycle equivalent of the square root of -1?
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Old 03-08-11, 08:20 AM   #19
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Piper cub.

Next challenge
Something that can carry more then 2 people.
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Old 03-08-11, 08:24 AM   #20
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The guy was at once interested but ignorant, and wanted to appear informed in a conversation, that's all. Just talk. Somebody wanting to connect, but doing it sorta clumsily. Yesterday at the train station a person that I'm 95% certain was born a man but living as a woman, wandered over and engaged me in a conversation about why she can't ride a bike anymore (heart trouble) and how she misses it, and that, since my bike has disk brakes, it's clearly very expensive.

I've had a 2 year old Walmart/Mongoose aluminum frame fail catastrophically under what I would term as 'light mountain biking'. The downtube snapped completely through a couple inches above the BB.

I just retired a Gary Fisher aluminum frame that has seen a lot of 'heavy mountain biking' for 5 years, including drops to flat of 3-4 feet, without a peep out of it.
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Old 03-08-11, 08:27 AM   #21
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Your aluminum ride probably won't shatter underneath you,

but seriously tho', why aren't you riding a steel bike? It's that sweet springiness I can't get over. You are missing out.

Last edited by spock; 03-08-11 at 08:33 AM.
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Old 03-08-11, 08:30 AM   #22
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Something that can carry more then 2 people.
Sukhoi is Ti/SS, Budd and Fleetwings both made stainless steel aircraft for the military...
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Old 03-08-11, 08:33 AM   #23
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He is confusing alluminum bikes with carbon bikes.
Yeah, no kidding. You should have set him straight and explained that while aluminum has a harsh ride, carbon shatters and steel is flexy.
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Old 03-08-11, 08:39 AM   #24
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I love steel. Three out of my four bikes are steel. The fourth is my LWB 'bent, which is aluminum. I certainly don't worry about it shattering. It also has a smooth ride due to the long-wheelbase, and the fact I sit between the wheels rather than mostly over the rear one.

Aluminum will flex a little. It may cause it to crack someday, but probably not for decades.
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Old 03-08-11, 09:39 AM   #25
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If I could find a lugged aluminum frame maybe that would prevent the inevitable shattering.....
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