What's wrong with saying "Steel"?
8 March 2008
To the President of Bike Friday
Hi Bike Friday,
I admire your bikes and your company's mission. And I hear that you make some of the best folding bikes around. In fact I can only fault you on one issue, and I wish you would correct it so I could support your company fully.
The issue is the question of your obfuscation of the choice of your frame materials. You mention it nowhere on your website and I have to dig deeply to find the following evasive answer:
What materials are used to make Bike Friday frames?
Bike Friday frames are made from chrome-molybdenum (popularly known as "chrome moly" or "CroMo") for reasons of comfort, durability and reparability when traveling."
What is wrong with the word "Steel"? It isn't a bad word. Even Superman was called "The man of Steel" in a positive tone. I would need to be a metallurgist to understand your answer is a variety of steel if I hadn't done research to find out.
If you are embarrassed that you are making steel bikes when others have gone on to aluminum or titanium or carbon fiber varieties, I personally think that you need not feel embarrassed at all since you use one of the best materials available, Chromoly Steel. I understand that this has perhaps the best strength to weight ratio of all the steels and this is why many aircraft frames use chromoly steel around their engines. Chromoly can be made thinner and and thus lighter thanks to its greater strength, so it is a superior material and in no way should it be an aspect you should feel you need to hide. And it is universally repairable as you DO say since any auto service station should have a steel welding capability.
I personally prefer chromoly steel over aluminum which I consider prone to stress fractures, and I consider titanium too expensive a material at this point. Steel is strong, resilient, and dependable.
So please stop hiding your frame material as if it is a point of disgrace. I find your current approach to this subject disingenuous, and it lowers my opinion of your company because I think, "If they hide something as basic as their choice of frame material, what more are they hiding?" Be a more transparent company and we will all respect you for it.
Thank you for listening. My purpose is to help you because I believe that folding bikes are one of the major solutions to the world's energy, transportation, and pollution problems, and I do want to be supportive of your efforts.
Keith C. Johns
(This letter is also being published as an open letter on Bike Forums.)