a thread about frames
everyone seems to be all about steel, lugged track frames and scoffs at the idea of aluminum frames but no one can tell me why. durability vs. weight? are aluminum frames not as durable (even these days)? do lugged frames spread out the stress on the welds more?
Just playing devil's advocate.
if you dent a steel frame it's fine. and if you **reallllly dent a steel frame you can replace a tube. plus there's that totally ambiguous and obligatory catch phrase: "steel is real", and to that i say try to disprove! impossible.
aluminum frames fatigue, steel frames do not, and so last pretty much forever.
steel frames can be repaired if they're crashed or bent, aluminum frames pretty much can't.
lugs are pretty, lugs are classic, steel feels nice to ride.
aluminum feels kinda jittery to me.
i don't think everyone scoffs at alu, there are a number of peeps here who rock alu frames, and seem to be pretty happy with them.
we're here, we steer!!
i really like my aluminum frame, althought it is jittery, its also super responsive, being that it really has very little flex. Its a much choppier ride than the steel steeds i've ridden.
each his/her own.
I like steel for reasons Dolface stated.
steel is REAL!
i actually prefer alu for my geared road bikes. stiff, light, inexpensive. i figure in a couple-few years they're gonna be replaced(read: out of date) anyway. now for my fixed gear bike(s) it's more about aesthetics and feel. timeless stuff. my lugged pinarello sits on one end, my new cervelo on the other side.
GG + Wendy O. 4EVA
Anyone else having THREAD DEJA VU ?!??!!?
dude, aluminum (al-loo-MIN-e-ummm) sucks. what kind of idiot would ride an aluminum (al-loo-MIN-e-ummm) frame??? Especially an AMERICAN BUILT one.
Originally Posted by raygunner
YEAH, almost every thread has that feeling now. go with the flow.lol
I like turtles
Well, after 3 550 200 miles on my steel frame, it's still going strong, but my Cannondale blew out from fatigue after only 778 996 miles.
Me, I prefer bikes to frames.
Beausage is Beautiful
I ride an aluminum Basso frame and love it. Not jittery at all, but stiff and responsive and it rides great. There isn't a damned thing inherently wrong with aluminum frames, and anyone who says there is is talking out of his ass.
I think it you also need to consider what your intended purpose for the bike not base desision solely on material alone. Lets say you take to identical geo bikes but one is made of steel and one is made of Al. If you were going to ride in a rougher environment you may want to take the steel bike due to steel's natural damping effect to help soak up the rougher environment. Now let's say you were going to spend an entire day just climbing or riding a track you may prefer a stiffer frame so the power is being transmitted directly from you to the ground and not being lost within the frame while also typically riding a lighter frame. There are pluses and minus to steel and Al, as well as Ti, Carbon, Scandium, and/or any sort of composite in between. Weigh them out with your intended purposes....and preferences...and then your decision should be easier.
how does a bike go out of date?
Originally Posted by Surferbruce
Matthew Grimm / Flunky
Originally Posted by donotpanic
Aluminum gets used in frames because it is easy to weld in production settings. You can literally crank out more frames using ALU than using steel.
The krazy part is that it is only marginally cheaper. So it only makes sense for high-volume runs.
ALU is also perceived as being lighter. So that lead to its adoption as a marketing tool. And welded ALU has its own aesthetic that looks good on suspension frames. So for frames where cost needs to be low and where suspension provides the ride quality and where the industrial quality of big, ugly welds adds to the macho look of a frame, TIG'd ALU works.
In hardtail frames, the only components that have any free range of motion are the fork blades. The rest of the frame is one big cantilevered truss. So if you ride a hardtail (built of ALU or steel) that feels good, it's the fork.
For really low cost production, like bikes for kids, steel is used. But that's a whole different story.
Lugs are interesting because their use has come full circle. They pre-date the development of shielded arc welding. And now they are the best way to join thin-walled, heat treated steel tubes; the amount of heat needed to make a good silver soldered joint is very low. What's old is new again.
And in the single/fixed segment, the minimalist nature of steel seems to work well.
And in regards to the durability of lugged frames, I'll quote the dean of the lugged school, e-richie:
…if you try to do destructive testing in the true meaning of the term, the lugged frame will last longer. However, by the time you've wrecked the former, the latter will be on it's way too.
LF for the accentdeprived
Alu is lighter. Full stop. A very high-tech butted steel frame can be lighter than a thick-ass straight-tube Al frame, of course, but among comparable frames Al is quite a bit lighter. And that does matter. To me, it certainly does. Aluminium is good. Not that I wouldn't give away both my Al bikes for a Ti frame
a bike doesn't really go out of date, but compare bikes from 5 years ago and frame materials and components have changed a lot. scandium(and carbon of course), 10 speed, threadless stems, wheel technology, etc. it's why i can't see paying 6-8k for a bike when it's gonna be yesterdays news in a couple years. i love steel and vintage bikes, but i like my geared roadie machines to be current.
Just to make a point: both steel and aluminum fatigue, the difference being the latter does not have an endurance limit (meaning it will weaken until it fails). Steel will do the same if the minimum fatigue strength is less than the loads you apply to it. So.... frame designers use more material to guarentee that in it's weakest state the frame won't fail in regular use. This makes a robust, but heavy steel frame.
I think a lot of the percieved ride quality comes from the frame constuction more than the materials. Aluminum has a high specific stiffness allowing designers to opt for large diameter, thin wall tubes. These large moment of area tubes create a really rigid structure adding to the "sharpness" or "resposiveness" of the frame.
Steel, on the other hand does not boast this quality, and hence requires thicker wall tubes to maintain structural integrity. In order to keep weight under control (4130/cuft=488lb, 6061/cuft=165lb) frame designers are forced to keep the OD small. This decreases the stiffness of the tube, creating a more compliant "smooth" or "noodly" feel, depending on your opinion.
Now, if only we could hydroform some some martensitic tubing for the bike industry, then you'd have a light, super stiff steel ride
I guess it really boils down to preference and priorities. My hardtail racer is aluminum (and with beautifully smooth TIG welds, btw, on par with some of the fillet brazing work I've seen), while my commuter fixing is steel. I like the smoothness on the road and I like the snappy power and responsiveness of the Al in the woods. To each his own. I don't think you'll see either disappear from the market.
i love aluminum. always have, always will. my cannondale rocks my body and I love it.
screw fatigue. when it breaks, I'll buy another one.
Matthew Grimm / Flunky
Scot (Ibis) Nicol put together this little gem on frame materials:
Retrogrouch in Training
Of course Al doesn't corrode as readily as steel, that's not unimportant for many people.
The thing that steel has going for it, hands down, is durability. As others have noted, it can be dented or dinged without concern, if it cracks those tend to grow more slowly, it can be readily and safely repaired. Some say it rides better and others don't notice.
The things working against it are corrosion and weight. Reynolds 953, anyone?