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Old 09-11-17, 01:12 PM   #26
corrado33
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Originally Posted by NormanF View Post
An alloy frame will last a lifetime taken care of.

Heck, aluminum airplane bodies and wings have lasted well beyond their projected lifespan.

And bicycles receive far less wear and tear than airplanes. Wouldn't worry about it.
Really, really bad comparison. Aluminum airplane bodies are inspected before every flight and have a very, very set life cycle. Boeing builds planes to be flown for X number of flights before they discontinue the plane.

Also... failure on a plane means death. Failure on a bicycle means a bit of injury, if that. So again, very bad comparison. Completely different set of circumstances.
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Old 09-12-17, 02:28 PM   #27
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I rode and raced a bonded aluminum Trek frame for 14 years. There were no problems.....that I could see, feel, or hear.
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Old 09-12-17, 02:33 PM   #28
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Steel also seems to be plain outdated in the modern bike world.

People have made aluminum and carbon into the big thing.

I bet I will not find a steel bike at any of the bike stores for a 100 mile radius or more.

All the bikes in every store are aluminum and there might be one or two carbon bikes.

and when and if i should find a steel bike, there are actually many aluminum bikes that still cost less than the few steel bikes that are made.
This isn't true, but that's a long drawn out argument. Steel bikes have their place.
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Old 09-12-17, 06:09 PM   #29
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Steel also seems to be plain outdated in the modern bike world.

People have made aluminum and carbon into the big thing.

I bet I will not find a steel bike at any of the bike stores for a 100 mile radius or more.

All the bikes in every store are aluminum and there might be one or two carbon bikes.

and when and if i should find a steel bike, there are actually many aluminum bikes that still cost less than the few steel bikes that are made.
Fashion is a fickle thing. Steel has always been a wonderful material for bicycles. Quality steels are light, resilient, absorb shocks and road imperfections really well. And steel is long-lasting, I have had old racers from the 1930's which ride as well now as they did when they were built.

But steel is not sexy. It doesn't need to be worked and formed into odd external shapes to improve strength and stiffness. Aluminum and carbon fiber frames can easily be formed into the sexy shapes that are popular with riders now. For the most part, the compact frame designs and sloping tubes are more cosmetic than functional. Kind of like the 70's Corvette sports car, with it's pointy nose, flared fenders, and sexy curves, it looked good, but it was actually significantly less aerodynamic than the boxy Chevette economy car.

Cannondale's engineers are quite brilliant people, and because of this, Cannonade has been the last of manufacturers to follow the current trend of sloping top tubes. Their engineers found that the old parallelogram design was the strongest and lightest form for a frame. But the market wants form more than it wants function. Even Cannondale had to succumb to the current trend if it wanted to sell bikes, and their newer models have the sloping design.

Let's face it, many people buy goods based primarily on their appearance. But the problem is that fashions change. What is "hot" today is "not" tomorrow. Steel bikes have been around for a long time. Manufacturers love the fickleness of fashion, it means riders will regularly exchange their old "uncool" bikes for the latest models.

Personally, having ridden bikes since the early 80's, I love the simple and elegant design of a steel road bike frame. It is not always the most fashionable kind of bike, but like Levis or Coca Cola, it never goes fully out of style. I like the smooth and supple ride of a good steel frame, and the fact that it can take scratches and dings with no consequences. What's more, my kids or my grandkids can enjoy the bike when they are old enough to ride.

I'm starting to build a new bike, as my current steel steed was made when Bill Clinton was president. So, I am getting a steel Cinelli Super Corsa, and building on that. I will have to use some carbon components, as all of Campy's high-end gear is not carbon fiber (when it comes to bikes and bike components, if it's not made in Italy, it's not for me; I too am somewhat fashion-conscious).
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Old 09-13-17, 08:30 PM   #30
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I will have to use some carbon components, as all of Campy's high-end gear is not carbon fiber (when it comes to bikes and bike components, if it's not made in Italy, it's not for me; I too am somewhat fashion-conscious).
......Steel Ritchey Breakaway Cross with Super Record
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Old 09-13-17, 08:42 PM   #31
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My 1993 Trek 1200 (aluminum frame, chromoly fork) seems pretty solid to me.

And I weigh 250 lbs...
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Old 09-13-17, 08:47 PM   #32
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Aluminum, steel and carbon bikes can and due fatigue; however, the shelf life of a steel bike if properly ridden and treated will last a life time. I was told by a reputable and very knowledgeable bike shop owner that aluminum bikes under normal riding conditions will last 5 to 10 years before they should be inspected closely. Steel he said would last almost indefinitely if maintained well. Carbon he said had the lowest shelf life and 5 years before they really need a full inspection.

He also carried no steel bikes because in his words, there is zero demand for them. He looked at me and said, "I'm a business man. I don't stock what I can't sell but steel is the way to go if you want longevity".
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Old 09-14-17, 08:21 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by Sangetsu View Post

Cannondale's engineers are quite brilliant people, and because of this, Cannonade has been the last of manufacturers to follow the current trend of sloping top tubes. Their engineers found that the old parallelogram design was the strongest and lightest form for a frame. But the market wants form more than it wants function. Even Cannondale had to succumb to the current trend if it wanted to sell bikes, and their newer models have the sloping design.
Is this really true? I hate sloping top tubes just because I'm used to them being horizontal and sit on them sometimes--at red lights or coasting a short distance or whatever--so when they're at an angle it can be painful.

It's an old piece, using now-outdated frames for test subjects, but Sheldon Brown has an article posted on his site about high-end carbon fiber, aluminum, titanium, and steel frames that were subjected to a fatigue test by some German cycling magazine. I'm not allowed to post the link, but it's easy to find.

Basically the steel frames all failed first. Does this mean anything in the real world? Just--to me--that the "other" frame materials are perfectly legitimate, and the very real problem of breaking frames and parts is much more complicated than the question of which material they're made of.
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Old 09-14-17, 09:01 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by drlogik View Post
Aluminum, steel and carbon bikes can and due fatigue; however, the shelf life of a steel bike if properly ridden and treated will last a life time. I was told by a reputable and very knowledgeable bike shop owner that aluminum bikes under normal riding conditions will last 5 to 10 years before they should be inspected closely. Steel he said would last almost indefinitely if maintained well. Carbon he said had the lowest shelf life and 5 years before they really need a full inspection.

He also carried no steel bikes because in his words, there is zero demand for them. He looked at me and said, "I'm a business man. I don't stock what I can't sell but steel is the way to go if you want longevity".
Please describe, what should be inspected closely, on an aluminum frame. Thank you. KB
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Old 09-15-17, 01:45 PM   #35
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Please describe, what should be inspected closely, on an aluminum frame. Thank you. KB
All welded joints, dropouts, etc. Check for cracks, dents, peeling paint areas (could indicate a stress in the metal), etc. I do this on all of my bikes a couple of times a year. Usually done when I'm doing some maintenance anyway.
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Old 09-22-17, 09:05 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by Sangetsu View Post
Fashion is a fickle thing. Steel has always been a wonderful material for bicycles. Quality steels are light, resilient, absorb shocks and road imperfections really well. And steel is long-lasting, I have had old racers from the 1930's which ride as well now as they did when they were built.
There's a whole lot to unpack here. Let's start with the myth that steel is light, resilient and absorbs shocks. It doesn't and isn't. Steel has a density that is 3 times that of aluminum. Steel is stiff and, as with any stiff material, will transmit vibrations readily.

Aluminum, on the other hand, is light and, because it is a soft material, doesn't transmit vibration at all well. You could play a guitar with steel strings but not with aluminum ones.

When used in a bicycle frame, steel has some of the qualities that people like because of the way the material is used but not because of what the material is. Steel tubing has a small cross-section and can bend rather easily. Aluminum tubes made to the same diameter as steel ones make for a bike that is basically metallic pasta. Alan bicycles with "conventional" but very thick walled tubing from the 70s and 80s were not known for being stiff bikes. If steel bikes were made using the same tubing size as aluminum bikes currently use, the result would be a ride harsher than any aluminum bike ever made.

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But steel is not sexy. It doesn't need to be worked and formed into odd external shapes to improve strength and stiffness. Aluminum and carbon fiber frames can easily be formed into the sexy shapes that are popular with riders now. For the most part, the compact frame designs and sloping tubes are more cosmetic than functional. Kind of like the 70's Corvette sports car, with it's pointy nose, flared fenders, and sexy curves, it looked good, but it was actually significantly less aerodynamic than the boxy Chevette economy car.
"Sexiness" has nothing to do with either aluminum's or carbon's usage in bicycle frames. It is driven by weight and economics. In the early days of aluminum's introduction, steel frames outweighed aluminum significantly. In the touring market where steel bikes are still used overwhelmingly, steel bikes bikes weigh significantly more than the only aluminum offering. A Surly LHT weighs in from 30 to 35 lbs while a Cannondale touring weighs in at less than 30.

Carbon has supplanted aluminum for the same reason...weight.

All the tube forming and frame designs are done to improve the ride characteristics of the frame but they aren't done strictly...or even mostly...for looks.

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Cannondale's engineers are quite brilliant people, and because of this, Cannonade has been the last of manufacturers to follow the current trend of sloping top tubes. Their engineers found that the old parallelogram design was the strongest and lightest form for a frame. But the market wants form more than it wants function. Even Cannondale had to succumb to the current trend if it wanted to sell bikes, and their newer models have the sloping design.
Your statement makes zero sense. A smaller triangle is less flexible and uses less material. Less material means a lighter bike. Cannondale used sloping top tubes on their mountain bikes almost from inception of that line to provide a stiffer frame and lower standover.

I suppose you could say that their 2003 bikes are "newer" models but 14 (almost 15) years of sloping top tubes isn't "new" in my book.

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Originally Posted by Sangetsu View Post
Let's face it, many people buy goods based primarily on their appearance. But the problem is that fashions change. What is "hot" today is "not" tomorrow. Steel bikes have been around for a long time. Manufacturers love the fickleness of fashion, it means riders will regularly exchange their old "uncool" bikes for the latest models.
"Looks" has little to do with bicycle purchases. Innovation is what drives bicycle sales and improvements. Mountain bikes with front shocks supplanted rigid mountain bikes because they are a vast improvement over the previous bikes. Full suspension supplanted front suspension because the bikes work better for the task at hand. Aluminum supplanted steel because it is lighter and the rider can go faster. Carbon is replacing aluminum for the same reason.

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Personally, having ridden bikes since the early 80's, I love the simple and elegant design of a steel road bike frame. It is not always the most fashionable kind of bike, but like Levis or Coca Cola, it never goes fully out of style. I like the smooth and supple ride of a good steel frame, and the fact that it can take scratches and dings with no consequences. What's more, my kids or my grandkids can enjoy the bike when they are old enough to ride.
Whatever floats your boat but, just like the rotary phone, dial-up modems, Commodore 64s and platform shoes, steel has been replaced by something that performs better. My kids and grandkids can find their own bikes when they want to ride something. Mine probably won't fit them anyway.
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Old 09-22-17, 09:13 AM   #37
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Please describe, what should be inspected closely, on an aluminum frame. Thank you. KB
Just look for cracks in welds. But, honestly, don't be obsessive about it. Aluminum does not fail the way most people will tell you it does. It is soft and tends to tear rather than shear. Steel is hard and stiff so it fails exactly the way that most people think aluminum fails.

In my experience...2 broken aluminum frames and 2 broken steel frames plus numerous broken steel and aluminum parts...aluminum will creak and groan prior to failure while steel gives no warning. Steel just goes "ping" and it's broken.
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Old 09-22-17, 10:35 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Just look for cracks in welds. But, honestly, don't be obsessive about it. Aluminum does not fail the way most people will tell you it does. It is soft and tends to tear rather than shear. Steel is hard and stiff so it fails exactly the way that most people think aluminum fails.

In my experience...2 broken aluminum frames and 2 broken steel frames plus numerous broken steel and aluminum parts...aluminum will creak and groan prior to failure while steel gives no warning. Steel just goes "ping" and it's broken.
Thanks for the info. I recently got my first aluminum frame. All other bikes are steel, never any issues. KB.
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Old 09-22-17, 01:44 PM   #39
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To Cyccommute : Thanks for presenting the facts about materials versus the usual "steel is real" myth !
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Old 09-22-17, 10:55 PM   #40
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When used in a bicycle frame, steel has some of the qualities that people like because of the way the material is used but not because of what the material is.
This is the pertinent piece of information. Regardless of the characteristics of the raw materials, as it pertains to bicycles, steel frames are more compliant than aluminum frames.
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