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  1. #1
    Dahon Folding Bike Rider
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    Open Letter to Bike Friday on "Steel"

    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:


    "Question
    What materials are used to make Bike Friday frames?
    Answer
    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.

    Sincerely,

    Keith C. Johns

    (This letter is also being published as an open letter on Bike Forums.)
    Last edited by Keith C. Johns; 03-08-08 at 01:20 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Speedo's Avatar
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    Ha! You're right! Google found 77 pages with the word steel in them. Of those only three were Bike Friday written describing their products. The most straight forward was in the frame materials section of the online service guide:

    "With the exception of the titanium beam on the Air-style bikes, all of the Bike Friday frames are made of 4130 cro-moly. Cro-moly is a steel alloy containing chromium and molybdenum."

    Interestingly, it's not like people don't know they're steel. Notes of the fact that the frames are steel are included in the many on-line reviews of their products on the site. I have a Bike Friday, and I knew I was buying a steel frame. It is funny that they don't use the word.

    Speedo

  3. #3
    Wheelsuck Fat Boy's Avatar
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    Hey Keith, the Dahon Folding Bike Rider, if you care enough about this is actually write and send a letter then you have way, way too much time on your hands.

  4. #4
    Dahon Folding Bike Rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fat Boy View Post
    Hey Keith, the Dahon Folding Bike Rider, if you care enough about this is actually write and send a letter then you have way, way too much time on your hands.
    Fat Boy, I'll prioritize my own time, thank you. I am sure you have pet causes I would not appreciate either.

  5. #5
    The Legitimiser Sammyboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fat Boy View Post
    Hey Keith, the Dahon Folding Bike Rider, if you care enough about this is actually write and send a letter then you have way, way too much time on your hands.
    Some might argue that if you can be bothered to harass him about it, you too have too much time on your hands. Far be it from me, of course, to stoop to that level!

  6. #6
    Wheelsuck Fat Boy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith C. Johns View Post
    Fat Boy, I'll prioritize my own time, thank you.
    OCD and touchy. What a great combo.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith C. Johns View Post
    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:


    "Question
    What materials are used to make Bike Friday frames?
    Answer
    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.

    Sincerely,

    Keith C. Johns

    (This letter is also being published as an open letter on Bike Forums.)
    I don't think they're really trying to dodge anything. Steels come in ranges all over the map and to label a material as simply "steel" is very generic. There are many many steel standards/specs because steels are "brewed" by metallurgists for so many unique purposes. They are actually doing you a service by telling you exactly what material is being used instead of generically labeling it "steel". AISI 4130 is highly ductile and able to be worked cold, which keeps cost down. It's also pretty economical to produce and highly fatigue resistant, all good things for a bike. Anyway, if anything they are being too specific, not uninformative. It's not an exotic material, but it's proven tech and has been used successfully on a lot of bikes. Anyway, steel makes cans and steel makes Eiffel Towers, but they are not the same steel.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
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    Keith is right to set these guys straight. I see he's a Pennsylvania man where steel is steel ,,,,,,,not Chrome moly........ Could you imagine if these guys bought the Pittsburgh Steelers and wanted to change the name to the Pittsburgh Chromos?? U go Keith!! Tell em like it is!

  9. #9
    The Legitimiser Sammyboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fat Boy View Post
    OCD and touchy. What a great combo.
    You're an absolute charmer, aren't you?

  10. #10
    ♋ ☮♂ ☭ ☯ -=(8)=-'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dahoss2002 View Post
    Keith is right to set these guys straight. I see he's a Pennsylvania man where steel is steel ,,,,,,,not Chrome moly........ Could you imagine if these guys bought the Pittsburgh Steelers and wanted to change the name to the Pittsburgh Chromos?? U go Keith!! Tell em like it is!
    Media is all lawyers. Eagles and Lawyers.....
    Maybe a class action suit is in the future ?

    Id like to worry about this but Im currently deep in pondering the disparity
    of red rubber pencil erasers over white, blue etc....Very troubling when trying
    to accessorize my pocket protector.
    -ADVOCACY-☜ Radical VC = Car people on bikes. Just say "NO"

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by dahoss2002 View Post
    I see he's a Pennsylvania man where steel is steel ,,,,,,,not Chrome moly........
    I grew up 40 miles outside of Pittsburgh. My parents still live there.

    P.S.

    Go Steelers, RIP Myron Cope.

    Cower, I still haven't forgiven you for Kordell Stewart, but I'm almost there.

  12. #12
    Wheelsuck Fat Boy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sammyboy View Post
    You're an absolute charmer, aren't you?
    Was someone talking to you?

  13. #13
    The Legitimiser Sammyboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fat Boy View Post
    Was someone talking to you?
    Now someone is. Are you bored? Can't find anywhere else to play?

  14. #14
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    Kieth, CroMo IS steel. To someone that understands, there are grades and alloys of steel, from Gaspipe quality High Tensile to more exotic alloys, but it's STILL steel The Alloy designation just tells us which flavor of steel it is and tells us a lot about it's weight, tubing thickness and flex likely to be involved in the frame.

    Personally, I wouldn't WANT to buy a bike that was advertised as just "steel", since that covers any Ferric alloy from poor grade low carbon, brittle steel to various high tech steels possible today.
    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


    . “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”- Fredrick Nietzsche

    "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." - Immanuel Kant

  15. #15
    Dahon Folding Bike Rider
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    I appreciate the positive responses. Please allow me to elaborate on what I hoped was clearly enunciated in my open letter.

    Yes I know that Chromoly is a specific flavor of steel. 4130 is even more specific, if you happen to be a metallurgist and have the tables to look up the trace alloy percentages. (If you are a steel specialist metallurgist, you probably have them memorized.) But if you are the average person shopping for a bike for the first time, "Chrome Moly" is like saying some Latin term to someone who never learned Latin. There is no way any unschooled newby will have a clue that Chrome Moly is a variety of steel. For all they would know it is some new space-age alloy just invented, like other new exotic frame materials (for instance, carbon fiber). The statement should read "4130 Chrome-Molybdenum Steel." I don't care if they pad the statement with "The strongest and lightest alloy of steel available, as used in the aero-space industry." The word "steel" must be in there to describe what it is for the average consumer. They can distinguish it from High Tensile Steel and other cheaper varieties if they like. I give them credit for using the BEST type of steel, and they should emphasize this, for sure. But to avoid the word steel is to try to mislead the uneducated public. It would be like a baker concerned that people are not happy with so much wheat flour in their diets changing the list of ingredients in his bread to show only the leavening agents and spices. Chromoly steel is no more made of just Chrome and Molybdenum than Bread is made only of yeast and salt. In fact I believe that the percentages of Chrome and Molybdenum in 4130 steel are under 2% of the total weight.

    Couple this with the fact that Bike Friday really hides the mere mention of frame material on their website. You have to REALLY dig very determinedly to find the quote I found. Try it yourself in their website and you will be amazed how they just sidestep the whole topic. (You may do better in Google to ferret out some hidden reference on some sub-sub-link.) But if you go directly to their website, no mention of frame material is made up front and you need to go several menu items deep just to find the quote I found above. This in an industry where other manufacturers state their frame materials right up front and in graphic detail. Look at Dahon for example for complete candor and clarity about their frame materials: perfectly up front about what they use and why. And they call it "4130 Chromoly Steel" and are not shy about frame materials or the word "steel."

    It appears that Bike Friday has an inferiority complex associated with their use of steel and are deliberately trying to play it down to the point of hiding it outright. Perhaps they have an impression that people will not distinguish one variety of steel from another and just lump the cheap steels with the high quality steels and not see that there is a difference between their bikes and the cheap varieties sold at Wal-Mart. Well, that is a matter of how well they present their product and its attributes.

    But as I said in the letter, their approach makes me suspicious of their company because it is disingenuous. They hide the topic and then mislead in the answer once you find it. This is not the level of frankness and honesty I want to see in a company who charges a premium for their custom-made bikes and upon which I will depend for my life when I am riding along a busy highway.

    So yes, I want to see the word "steel" after chrome moly to believe in Bike Friday.

  16. #16
    Bromptonaut 14R's Avatar
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    I believe the target audience the website and the Bike Friday description were designed to please was composed of those that reading the word "steel" would end up contacting them asking "what kind of steel?".

    As Tom said, any ferric alloy from poor grade low carbon to various high tech steels could be called steel.

    Now that I already proved that I have too much time on my hands to post here like all of you, I was considering leaving a link for a time management training program (specially for Fat Boy) but I realized everybody is doing well finding time to come here and leave a nice contribution, so I guess I can end in style with a nice KTHXBYE. (:

    14R

  17. #17
    Wheelsuck Fat Boy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith C. Johns View Post
    It appears that Bike Friday has an inferiority complex ...
    Pot, kettle.

    Kettle, pot.

    Here's info from the Waterford site. http://waterfordbikes.com/now/home.p...ommand=showall

    "Waterford's 33-Series builds on True Temper's revolutionary S3 technology. Specially formulated, dimensioned and shaped OX Platinum allow, it optimizes both performance and function."

    You should probably have a real hard-on about them. Their steel bikes don't even have trace percentages of Platinum, YET THE WEBSITE CLEARLY STATES PLATINUM! No doubt they are hiding something. Somehow I feel safer knowing that you're on the prowl to sort them out. Those Waterford guys are real ashamed of what they produce and their choice of building materials. GO GET 'EM!!!!!!

  18. #18
    Dahon Folding Bike Rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fat Boy View Post
    Here's info from the Waterford site. http://waterfordbikes.com/now/home.p...ommand=showall
    "Waterford's 33-Series builds on True Temper's revolutionary S3 technology. Specially formulated, dimensioned and shaped OX Platinum allow, it optimizes both performance and function."

    You should probably have a real hard-on about them. Their steel bikes don't even have trace percentages of Platinum, YET THE WEBSITE CLEARLY STATES PLATINUM! No doubt they are hiding something. Somehow I feel safer knowing that you're on the prowl to sort them out. Those Waterford guys are real ashamed of what they produce and their choice of building materials. GO GET 'EM!!!!!!
    Fat Boy, are you a Troll?

    I'll tackle one cause at a time, thank you. Perhaps you have more time to kill than I do?

    Addendum: I looked at the Waterford Website and they are very up front about their frame materials, in spite of the name of the alloy you mentioned. They have a whole page devoted to the steels they use. And are unafraid of the word "steel." Here is a quote:

    "The recent introduction of the new air-hardened steels (Reynolds 853 and True Temper's OX Platinum) represents yet another step in the effort to offer an even higher level of performance."

    So Fat Boy, you'll have to search harder to bate me.
    Last edited by Keith C. Johns; 03-09-08 at 09:37 PM.

  19. #19
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    Anyone who does not know that cromo is steel probably does not care what their bike is made of anyway.

  20. #20
    Dahon Folding Bike Rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by gosmsgo View Post
    Anyone who does not know that cromo is steel probably does not care what their bike is made of anyway.
    Anybody who doesn't care what their bike is made of isn't going to spend the kind of money Bike Friday charges for their custom frames.

    Anybody who does care at one time didn't know what Cromo was.

  21. #21
    Wheelsuck Fat Boy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith C. Johns View Post
    Anybody who doesn't care what their bike is made of isn't going to spend the kind of money Bike Friday charges for their custom frames.
    And that's the root of your problem isn't it? That's why you Bike Friday is a bad company because they charge too much. You like Dahon and so, to feel good about your bike (or bike manufacturer), you have to degrade someone else's. That's lame.

    Ride your Dahon. They make great bikes and I'm sure you're pleased with it. Why are you so insecure?

    Well, I'm stuck in a hotel room tonight, so I guess I do have some time on my hands. I had a little time on my hands this afternoon, too. Luckily, I had my Air Friday with me and got a chance to cruise the Monterey peninsula in picture perfect weather. Maybe if your rode your bike instead of just talking about them, you wouldn't be so uptight.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith C. Johns View Post
    "The strongest and lightest alloy of steel available, as used in the aero-space industry."
    That would just be lying.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith C. Johns View Post
    There is no way any unschooled newby will have a clue that Chrome Moly is a variety of steel.
    It's only fair to note you found out with relative ease by Googling it. I just don't see this as a sinister attempt to be deceiving, but I do have a lot of familiarity with many materials so perhaps I'm disconnected.

    It's a pretty common, run of the mill steel. It's nothing special. The yield strength is around the 50 Ksi range, which is pretty low strength. If and when the aircraft industry uses steel (they typically use aluminum because the density is very low, even lower than titanium.) they typically use much higher strength steels and in sparing amounts. Steel is damn heavy because it is majority ore. You might have some tools laying around made of the stuff, too. Anyway, this battle seems like a unworthy effort and a lot like stating a company should change a reference to Kleenex to tissue to avoid obscurity.

  24. #24
    The Legitimiser Sammyboy's Avatar
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    I will say that those who follow eBay classic bike auctions will have observed a tendency for non bike nuts to misidentify anything with a Reynolds sticker as aluminium.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith C. Johns View Post
    So yes, I want to see the word "steel" after chrome moly to believe in Bike Friday.
    Keith, BF design, manufacture & sell bicycles, - what exactly do you want to ''believe in'' ?

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