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Thread: Steel or Alloy?

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    Member JamesSGE's Avatar
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    Steel or Alloy?

    I want to spend a reasonable amount of money on a new riding machine (not too much!)

    I'll be probably be cycling on roads and maybe some off road riding.

    I *ride a lot and I'm looking to ride maybe 40 miles a week on it so I want to know whether alloy will make a difference given the purpose I want to use the bike for

    Thanks in advance
    Last edited by JamesSGE; 10-28-11 at 10:24 AM.

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    If you're not sure...Buy a Jamis Coda Sport!

    You won't regret it!

    The Jamis Coda Sport is a hybrid bicycle capable of the installation of a tire width up to 38mm. That width is more than enough for the occasional sprint off road. As long as you're not doing any jumping or traversing over crevices, a bunch of rocks, and roots, you should be fine. The Coda can also accept fenders and a rack, just in case you'd like to arrive at your destination unsoiled with cargo.

    Was the Jamis Coda made for exclusive mountain trekking?....No! It's not a MTN bike. However, the very purpose of a hybrid, is that it is capable of traversing diverse terrain. That means, that solid country trails and city streets, are its domain.

    If my Trek 7.5FX can handle country trails, then most certainly the Jamis Coda can do the same...

    I own four bicycles. I purchased one in Tempe, Arizona. I purchased it there, because I was tired of walking in the hot sun and the heat was absolutely intolerable. I just walked into a Trek dealership and purchased the Trek 7.5FX. I rode to my hotel room within just a few minutes and felt that the ride was great. However, I would later learn that the aluminum-framed Trek bicycle, feels great for the first 40 miles or so, but after that, I would begin to feel every bump in the road. I've never felt that way about any of my steel-framed road bikes .

    However, I strenuously advise you not to take my word for it. Go ride the aluminum framed bikes. Try them all out for yourself. Then after you've tried the aluminum framed bikes, then check out the chromoly steel-framed Jamis Coda Sport. Just go to your nearest Jamis dealer and try the Coda Sport or the Coda Comp out for yourself. Then...you'll see exactly what I mean! Jamis makes one of the most comfortable steel-framed bikes in the world. The Jamis Coda Sport is fast, agile, comfortable, and fun!

    - Slim

    PS.

    Also, you might want to check out Surly Bicycles. All of Surly bikes are made of 4130 chromoly steel. Cromoly steel will last for decades, if kept dry. Nobody can say that about any other bicycle frame material, other than titanium. Steel frames are widely known for their riding comfort and their ability to withstand impact. Where aluminum will usually dent or crack, steel will just get nicked or scratched. Besides, aluminum has a shorter fatigue life than steel. Therefore, in the long run, it's not the best investment.

    * Chromoly steel is one of the lightest grades of steel. It is also one of the strongest bicycle frame materials known to the modern world of cycling. Most aluminum framed bicycles have weights that are more or less equivalent to chromoly steel framed bicycles. Of course, small weight differences won't matter at all, unless you're racing.

    Supportive websites:

    www.brightspoke.com/c/understanding/bike-frame-materials.html

    http://talu.com/materials.php

    http://tetcycles.com/bikes/frame-materials/


    .
    Last edited by SlimRider; 10-26-11 at 01:21 PM.

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    Senior Member david58's Avatar
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    A lot depends on how price driven you are. The Jamis bikes are nice steel bikes, but you can find a lot of bike for less money. Your price range will determine a lot. 40 miles a week is not what some on this forum would consider a lot - could be that aluminum will treat you as well as you need at that mileage.

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    Senior Member georgiaman's Avatar
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    Yeah, the jamis coda sport might not be the best bike to occasionally off road. Jamis does make several bikes though for pretty reasonable prices. I don't think that it's actually going to matter if you get steel or alloy, but you do need to decide what type of frame/ bike that you want before you pick the frame material.

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    Insane Bicycle Mechanic Jeff Wills's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by georgiaman View Post
    Yeah, the jamis coda sport might not be the best bike to occasionally off road. Jamis does make several bikes though for pretty reasonable prices. I don't think that it's actually going to matter if you get steel or alloy, but you do need to decide what type of frame/ bike that you want before you pick the frame material.

    +1. Find the bike you like. Find the bike shop you like. Get the bike that fits you right. There are many, many, many things about a bike that are more important than frame material.
    Jeff Wills

    All my bikes.

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    + 1 to Mr Wills!!!11

    Modern aluminum frames are well made and tough as nails. They are also generally lighter than steel frames. I would trust a well made robust aluminum frame over a steel frame of similar weight - all other things being equal (including fit, which is more important) Aluminum has a higher strength-to-weight ratio, so a stronger frame can be made, but often they are manufactured lighter at the cost of some strength.
    Material makes very little difference.

  7. #7
    Cycling Enthusiast mi77915's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LarDasse74 View Post
    + 1 to Mr Wills!!!11

    Modern aluminum frames are well made and tough as nails. They are also generally lighter than steel frames. I would trust a well made robust aluminum frame over a steel frame of similar weight - all other things being equal (including fit, which is more important) Aluminum has a higher strength-to-weight ratio, so a stronger frame can be made, but often they are manufactured lighter at the cost of some strength.
    Material makes very little difference.
    I agree!!! I have a Giant OCR-2 road bike that has an aluminum frame, I ride an average of around 1500 miles a year (for the past 4 years) with this bike. The frame has held up great with no signs of cracking. I would recommend an aluminum frame over a steel frame, they are much lighter.

    Also, as mentioned above, visit your local bike shop and ride as many bikes that you can and find the one that "feels" the best to you. That is the most important thing!!
    2007 - Giant OCR-2
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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JamesSGE View Post
    I'll be probably be cycling on roads and maybe some off road riding.

    I *ride a lot and I'm looking to ride maybe 40 miles a week on it so I want to know whether alloy will make a difference given the purpose I want to use the bike for
    For 40 miles a week, you could ride anything and probably won't notice a difference. You could probably even manage with one that does fit very well. But in case you want to start riding more, I'd suggest you start with something that fits properly.

    Since you want to ride both on and off roads, you might look at hybrids and cyclocross bicycles.

  9. #9
    Senior Member The Chemist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by david58 View Post
    40 miles a week is not what some on this forum would consider a lot - could be that aluminum will treat you as well as you need at that mileage.
    Heck, I ride over 120 miles a week on average on my aluminum framed Giant, and I've never once wished I had a steel frame. I've always thought that the harshness of aluminum is way overstated.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Monster Pete's Avatar
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    [engineer mode] Steel is an alloy (there are any number of iron-based alloys known as steel.) 'Alloy' tends to refer specifically to various alloys of Aluminium, of which there are a large number depending on the composition [/engineer mode]

    The frame material really doesn't matter much. Both steel and aluminium have their devotees. An aluminium frame will tend to be slightly lighter, but unless you're racing that isn't really important and won't make much of a difference for general road riding- a red traffic light will make much more difference overall. Far more important is to make sure the bike fits properly.
    I've got a bike, you can ride if you like it's got a basket, a bell that rings and things to make it look good- Pink Floyd, 1967

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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    For 40 miles a week, you could ride anything and probably won't notice a difference. You could probably even manage with one that does fit very well. But in case you want to start riding more, I'd suggest you start with something that fits properly.

    Since you want to ride both on and off roads, you might look at hybrids and cyclocross bicycles.
    +1

    I agree with you here, Machka. Forty miles would be just great for either frame material on such a short trek, and fit supercedes all other cycling factors, in my book.

    Quote Originally Posted by Monster Pete View Post
    [engineer mode] Steel is an alloy (there are any number of iron-based alloys known as steel.) 'Alloy' tends to refer specifically to various alloys of Aluminium, of which there are a large number depending on the composition [/engineer mode]

    The frame material really doesn't matter much. Both steel and aluminium have their devotees. An aluminium frame will tend to be slightly lighter, but unless you're racing that isn't really important and won't make much of a difference for general road riding- a red traffic light will make much more difference overall. Far more important is to make sure the bike fits properly.
    +1

    Pete, once again you're right on the money! It's funny how we become so accustomed to bicycle industry jargon, that we forget actual definitions in the real world of science.

    Of all the comments OP, these are the wisest!

    - Slim
    Last edited by SlimRider; 10-26-11 at 09:50 AM.

  12. #12
    born again cyclist Steely Dan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Monster Pete View Post
    [engineer mode] Steel is an alloy (there are any number of iron-based alloys known as steel.) 'Alloy' tends to refer specifically to various alloys of Aluminium, of which there are a large number depending on the composition [/engineer mode]
    it always bugs me when i read or hear people using "alloy" as a synonym for "aluminum". i know that's how the word has come to be used by the masses, but it still bugs me none-the-less. kinda like how it bugs me when people say "cement" when they're really talking about "concrete".
    The first rule: if you're riding a bike and not having fun, then you're doing it wrong.

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    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    Most,if not all, bikes sold & ridden in third world countries ,where bicycles are THE means of transportation, are steel framed bicycles.

    There must be a very good reason for that..................
    My preferred bicycle brand is.......WORKSMAN CYCLES
    I dislike clipless pedals on any city bike since I feel they are unsafe.

    Originally Posted by krazygluon
    Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?

  14. #14
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Steel is an alloy, Iron is an element. aluminum is an element
    6061 and 7075 more accurately describe the contents % of one of the many aluminum alloys..
    like:
    4130 is a better way of describing a particular alloy
    [atomic numbers from periodic table]
    of 26 iron Fe, 6 Carbon C, and 24 chromium Cr, and 42 molybdenum Mo.

    james? given SGE is a seller as the signature links suggest.
    I don't know what they had in mind with such a post.
    are they clueless? trolling , timewasting..


    FWiW, Trek, as an example, stands behind their new bike frames
    for the original owner's lifetime, no matter what it is made out of..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 10-28-11 at 04:11 PM.

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    rebmeM roineS JanMM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    james? given SGE is a seller as the signature links suggest.
    I don't know what they had in mind with such a post.
    are they clueless? trolling , timewasting..
    Kind of annoying when an online retailer's website (SGE) gives not a clue where in the world they are located, no?
    Actually, there is a clue in that the prices are listed in pounds.
    RANS V3 (steel), RANS V-Rex, RANS Screamer

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    Senior Member Pistard's Avatar
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    I am looking at the Jamis steel line, good product, the Eclipse is the higher end product, the Satellite series is very nice for the price.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nightshade View Post
    Most,if not all, bikes sold & ridden in third world countries ,where bicycles are THE means of transportation, are steel framed bicycles.

    There must be a very good reason for that..................
    Strong and cheap to make...good enough reason


    But, really...is the claim "third world country and steel bikes" really a logical rationale???
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    Starting over CraigB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nightshade View Post
    Most,if not all, bikes sold & ridden in third world countries ,where bicycles are THE means of transportation, are steel framed bicycles.

    There must be a very good reason for that..................
    I think you answered your own question.
    Craig in Indy

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    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CraigB View Post
    I think you answered your own question.
    Are we not on the same planet?? Third world only identifies those countries that the population is very poor so what they buy MUST last.

    So it is with steel here.......it lasts.
    My preferred bicycle brand is.......WORKSMAN CYCLES
    I dislike clipless pedals on any city bike since I feel they are unsafe.

    Originally Posted by krazygluon
    Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pistard View Post
    I am looking at the Jamis steel line, good product, the Eclipse is the higher end product, the Satellite series is very nice for the price.
    Hey there Pistard!

    I personally would prefer the Satellite Comp or the Quest. I've actually ridden both models. The Quest, rides noticeably better than the Comp. Of course, there is a substantial difference in price, too.

    I hear that the Eclipse is properly named, because all other models pale in comparison. That's hard to believe after you've ridden the Quest.

    God! I love Jamis!

    - Slim
    Last edited by SlimRider; 10-26-11 at 06:42 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nightshade View Post
    Are we not on the same planet?? Third world only identifies those countries that the population is very poor so what they buy MUST last.

    So it is with steel here.......it lasts.
    +1 This^

    The point to be made here, is that most of those third world bikes are NOT brand new. Many are decades old and still rendering service to third world cyclists. The same way it would be here, if we didn't toss them aside and climb into mobile cages.

    I think most people here, would be surprised to learn that many Americans remain in possession of their older relatives bicycles. Many are in disrepair and lingering in attics, basements, and garages.

    If fossil fuels ever stopped being commercially produced and the economy were to wind down to a staggering degree, I'd bet you see more refurbished "vintaged" steel-framed bikes, than cars rolling on the streets of America.

    - Slim

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    7d0a1108-59e6-4ed8-a5bb-e43158f85374.jpg

    Strong, cheap, built to last. But would you really want to ride it? A cheap steel bike is certain to be far heavier than necessary. Which for a third world single-speed isn't much of a problem.

  23. #23
    Fred-ish rogerstg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nightshade View Post
    Most,if not all, bikes sold & ridden in third world countries ,where bicycles are THE means of transportation, are steel framed bicycles.

    There must be a very good reason for that..................
    Yes, the reason is that mainly steel bikes were made decades ago, so that's what's available. Cheap steel bikes continue to be made as well, just visit any discount store.

    Probably not what you were implying though...

  24. #24
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nightshade View Post
    Are we not on the same planet?? Third world only identifies those countries that the population is very poor so what they buy MUST last.

    So it is with steel here.......it lasts.
    Third world steel bicycles have about as much in common with high end steel production bikes as Hellmart bikes do. A high end aluminum frame will last just as long as a high end steel frame. I know this from personal experience...having broken 2 steel frames and 2 aluminum frames. One of the aluminum frames breaks was my fault due using a part that stressed the frame. One of the steel bikes broke not just once but it broke at the steer tube, the bottom bracket bridge and the rear dropout on three separate occasions. My aluminum bike broke in only one place.

    Steel isn't a 'wonder' metal no matter how you want to slice it. It can be broken. Cheap steel bikes can be fixed by just about any idiot with a welder but expensive frames with thin tubes don't fall into the same category. You can no more fix a quality steel frame in a third world country then you can fix an aluminum one. The skill required to weld extremely thin tubes is far beyond even many skilled welders.

    But, honestly, anyone posting here is probably not in a third world country and isn't looking for a bike that is going to last 50 years (I've seen some aluminum bikes that are pushing 30 years and still going strong). For most people weight and/or price is going to be the deciding issue when it comes to buying a bicycle. Aluminum wins there hands down. You can buy cheap steel that's heavy or expensive steel that light but with aluminum you can buy cheap or expensive and you'll likely find both being light weight...at least lighter than comparable steel bikes.
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  25. #25
    Starting over CraigB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nightshade View Post
    Are we not on the same planet?? Third world only identifies those countries that the population is very poor so what they buy MUST last.

    So it is with steel here.......it lasts.
    I think most would agree that "third world" also denotes having to make do with limited resources, whether in terms of disposable income, or even manufacturing technology. I believe they "must" buy what's available and can be afforded.

    I can't speak for anyone else here, but my choice of bike would not be dictated (or even suggested) by what thousands of North Vietnamese used to porter supplies down the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

    Just sayin'.
    Last edited by CraigB; 10-26-11 at 07:21 PM.
    Craig in Indy

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