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  1. #1
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    Aluminum or steel?

    I am looking to buy a CX bike to use mostly for street commuting. I also want to be able to use it for fire roads, and the occasional long road ride (centuries).
    I tested road bikes and decided that aluminum frames give too much road chatter.

    When I tested the Axis, and Fuji Cross, however, I was surprised at how great they felt. The chatter didn't seem to be a problem. Nevertheless, right now I ride an old steel road bike, and I like the feel of steel. So my question is what are the advantages of aluminum over steel, or vice-versa, for an all-purpose CX? Will I regret a steel frame on hills? I do not plan to race.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Surferbruce's Avatar
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    oh man...here we go again...
    i will say you definitely won't regret the light weight and stiffness of alu when climbing hills. the bianchi and fuji are both excellent value bikes.

  3. #3
    Senior Member stric's Avatar
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    Aluminum is lighter, traditionally more rigid, but lately many frame manufacturers are trying to develop Aluminum frames that are a bit more forgiving and nimble. Steel on the other hand is a bit heavier, usually stronger, it can be much more easily repaired compared to Aluminum. Aluminum doesn't rust and that's a big bonus if you riide in wet conditions; steel does rust unless it is correctly protected. Both steel and Aluminum have a common enemy - salt. If you ride in winter on some roads that are covered with salt, that's no good for either material. Yet, whetehr the frame will last or not doesn't neccessarily depend on the material it's made of. Many other factors need to be accounted for, such as quality of materials and workmansip, geometry, your riding style, conditions you ride in and so on. Take you time, and don't rush when it comes to buying a new bike. Carefully and correctly selected new bike can last you many many years.
    anima sana in corpore sano

  4. #4
    Bike Shop Girl Arsbars's Avatar
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    I recently went from having an aluminum frame to a steel frame...


    for commuting purposes i do miss the stiffness for hills... but i do love the comfort in the cold/rain of steel. It depends what you are aiming for. Am I more comfortable on my daily ride? YES! Does it feel a bit sluggish up hills and in sprints? Yes, but that is why I commute on it and not race.
    BikeShopGirl.com : Helping women find their way in cycling
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  5. #5
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    but i do love the comfort in the cold/rain of steel.

    The steel is better for cold and rain conditions? Better handling?

  6. #6
    Bike Shop Girl Arsbars's Avatar
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    Just more comfortable. When you are miserable on the road I like the plushness that steel gives me
    BikeShopGirl.com : Helping women find their way in cycling
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  7. #7
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    I have once used Aluminum frame (ALAN) but went back to my steel (Panasonic) frame for my races. I like steel.. Steel is REAL>>

    S/F,
    CEYA!

  8. #8
    SAB
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    I like steel, titanium, or carbon. I've ridden a few Al bikes and even with the newer designs with carbon forks, seatstays, etc... I just don't like the feel of them compared to the other materials. If money was no object I'd have three bikes: an ultralight carbon road racing bike, a titanium bike for centuries and light touring, and a custom made steel frame for traveling, touring, and cyclocross.

  9. #9
    Hills, more hills please! SadieKate's Avatar
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    I do have everything but carbon (because no kids!). I just built up a steel CX bike and realized I had forgotten the dreamlike comfort of steel. I've sold all my ALU road bikes because they were just too harsh. Hmm, going to have to pull it out the lugged Mercian for some training rides again. Rescue it from its permanent attached to the trainer.

  10. #10
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    Thanks everyone. I'm leaning toward a steel Surly Cross-Check, depending on what it will cost to change the bar-end shifters to the shifters that are in the brake levers. Probably a topic for a different discussion.

  11. #11
    TLN
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    I ride both road and cx... and used to ride mt....you cant get me on anything but an alum. frame. For me steel is too sloppy even of high end bikes...especially roadies. Im not a big guy but I am a big rider. I hate flex. There is nothing I hate worse than coming out of a downhill turn and feeling the "steel is real" crap. Or climbing and feel nothing but slugishness. Puts a real dread on the ride. But to each his own.

  12. #12
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    ask your local bike shop to check the QBP catalog for a more upscale complete cross-check. comes with better components and STI....

    -marc

  13. #13
    Senior Member AlanK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CommutEtc
    Thanks everyone. I'm leaning toward a steel Surly Cross-Check, depending on what it will cost to change the bar-end shifters to the shifters that are in the brake levers. Probably a topic for a different discussion.
    That's a great choice. I have a 2001 Trek XO-1, but of I'd known about the cross check at the time, I would have probably gotten that instead.

    Why do you want to change the bar-end shifters? They're lighter, more reliable, than STI, and once you get used to them, hardly less efficient.

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