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  1. #1
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    Steel VS Carbon/aluminum

    I've only been riding track bikes a little over a year so u may say im one of those hipster twenty something posers but i ride any chance i get and enjoy it heartily. up till now ive been of the opinion that steel is the way to go and liked the look of thin steel tubing more than other exotic materials. the other day i saw the cover page on trackstarnyc.com and the picture aluminum bianchi with the carbon rims and im all "that jump is kinda butter" and now im curious as to peoples opinions on steel versus this seemingly "flavor of the week" style. what would be the difference in riding experience especially /what u personally rock and why?

  2. #2
    jack of one or two trades Aeroplane's Avatar
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    I ride a steel frame because it was cheap. There aren't very many cheap AL frames out there. And there definitely aren't many cheap carbonium frames out there.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dr Irwin Goldstein
    Men should never ride bicycles. Riding should be banned and outlawed. It is
    the most irrational form of exercise I could ever bring to discussion.

  3. #3
    shoot up or shut up. isotopesope's Avatar
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    yes please.
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    you should do us all a favor and stop putting your crappy catch phrases in quotes.

  4. #4
    Solo Rider, always DFL
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    A) Haven't there been maybe 8 billion similar questions that would be answered by searching?
    B) How many years have aluminum, carbon, and titanium frames been made? Is that really a "flavor of the week"?

  5. #5
    aka mattio queerpunk's Avatar
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    some people say that aluminum rides very harsh, that carbon will break, and that steel is real. other people say that steel is outdated, alu plus carbon is lighter, stiffer, and more comfortable.

    other people say that you can't really make generalizations about material comparisons, because the different joining methods and the different types of steel and aluminum are what produce the ride characteristics, rather than just whether it is steel or alu.

    steel's got a pretty proven rep, but there's a reason why lots of people ride alu and carbon.
    the hipster myth.

    i practice vagabondery.

  6. #6
    Triathlon = Eat/Bike/Nap veggiemafia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BRUCELEESDAD
    and im all "that jump is kinda butter"
    Congratulations.

    You win at the internet.
    Quote Originally Posted by Shiznaz
    the bagina is the frame and the fork is the wangola. The wheels are the ass nipples.

  7. #7
    Run What 'Ya Brung bonechilling's Avatar
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    God, that's the stupidest phrase I've ever read. How do you
    expect us to take you seriously after you say something so
    ridiculously stupid?

  8. #8
    Senior Member mihlbach's Avatar
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    Aluminum is lighter and stiffer than steel. So you'll go 20mph faster on average with an aluminum frame, but if you hit a bump you might shatter your wrists or crush your spine.

    Carbon will make you go even faster, but if you accidentally bang the frame against a lamp post or any other object, the frame with catastrophically explode and the shrapnel may sever your carotid artery.

  9. #9
    King of the Hipsters
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    I fly a helicopter for a living.

    I have flown helicopters for 38 years.

    I presently fly the latest and greatest most tommy-tommorow of the helicopters.

    Many materials went into making this helicopter, from aluminum and titanium to kevlar and carbon fiber, and even exotic forms of nylon.

    I look back through all the years of helicopter technology and consider the types of materials and joining methods used in this particularly high-stress, high-vibration, low-weight application.

    I note that the designers of helicopters only briefly experimented with magnesium, I think because of cost and corrosion.
    Magnesium steadily deteriorates and loses strength when exposed to the atmosphere.

    I note that designers and manufacturers have consistently used welded and bonded (glued) steel tubing for frames and support structures.

    I have never seen aluminum tubing used in aviation, nor have I seen aluminum welded to aluminum.
    In aviaton, the designers use sheet alumium for monocoque skins, and they join aluminum to aluminum with either rivets or glue.
    Aluminum seems to fatique and crack in high vibration areas.

    The designers use composite materials, such as carbon fiber, fiberglass, nylon and kevlar as fillers, skins, coverings and cowlings; and in a few large applications where the composite material can act like an eggshell, in terms of load carrying (eggshells have a lot strength when dealing with evenly distributed loads).
    Composites, in my experience, tend to crack at edges, joints and on the inside radius of curves.

    Titanium?
    Titanium costs a lot of money and requires highly-talented, experienced craftsmen to join titanium to titanium by any means other than bonding (gluing).

    So, in a light-weight, highly-stressed, high-vibration application, such as a bicycle, I would choose, first, lugged steel; and, secondly, welded steel.

    After steel, I would choose titanium, carbon fiber and aluminum tubes, in that order, but joined by glue and lugs.

    My second-to-last choice: non-lugged carbon fiber.

    My last choice: welded aluminum.

    My dream frameset would have small diameter steel tubing, with different types of steel at each tube location for lightness and ride quality (Reynolds 853, 725 and/or 631), and plain silver-brazed Prugnat lugs.


  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by mihlbach
    if you hit a bump you might shatter your wrist
    Not as outlandish as it sounds.

  11. #11
    Strange As Angels Fixxxie's Avatar
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    the main reason for using Aluminum is cost, its very easy to make a cheap frame that's light and performs relatively well.
    Oh hell just look at Ken Cox's post I can't put it any better than that
    Quote Originally Posted by sefb222 View Post
    a good reason to form a demolition derby, for fixed gear bikes and the fools who love them.

  12. #12
    ʇɥǝqıƃpǝɐpʍɐlʇz thebigdeadwaltz's Avatar
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    Ken Cox FTW.

    Someone please make that a sticky right now!

  13. #13
    Senior Member WithNail's Avatar
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    If you're using it on the track, get whatever the hell material you want because it probably will never break anyway. If it's a street bike, then get whatever the hell material you want because it will probably break anyway.

  14. #14
    Senior Member jet sanchEz's Avatar
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    My "jump" is aluminium and I like it but it is a bit harsh on the street and I am thinking of going back to steel. My road "jump" is aluminium with carbon fibre stays and fork and it is a beautiful ride. I've heard great things about road frames made out of Reynolds 853 steel with CF rear stays but I've never ridden one.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Kilgore_Trout's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jet sanchEz
    My "jump" is aluminium and I like it but it is a bit harsh on the street and I am thinking of going back to steel. My road "jump" is aluminium with carbon fibre stays and fork and it is a beautiful ride. I've heard great things about road frames made out of Reynolds 853 steel with CF rear stays but I've never ridden one.
    you're "jump" is very aesthetically pleasing IMO.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by thebigdeadwaltz
    Ken Cox FTW.

    Someone please make that a sticky right now!
    How? It's mainly off topic or misleading and at best not very informative.

  17. #17
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    thank you. some of your replies have been extremely informative.

    ken cox, i remember reading in a thread on the framebuilders forum that different "types" of steel e.g. reynolds 853 dont differ in composition and essentially the difference is only a matter of the dimensions of the tubing. can anyone confirm or deny this?

    haters, first of all i was partly being fecetious in my use of slang, second your hostile and condescending remarks are implicative of some serious insecurities. perhaps you vent ur anger in a bicycle oriented forum because in ur day to day lives ur cowardice prevents you from doing so. I hope sincerely you seek peace through therapy and meditation. i weep for you.

  18. #18
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  19. #19
    DNPAIMFB pinkrobe's Avatar
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    It's facetious, not "fecetious", your, not "ur", and indicative, not "implicative".
    Proud Member of the HHCMF
    '06 Cervelo Soloist Carbon | '09 Titus El Guapo | '09 Misfit diSSent | '09 Wabi Lightning

  20. #20
    Senior Member mihlbach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Cox
    I
    My last choice: welded aluminum.
    Thats funny. I cracked two lugged steel frames in 2006. My 2 welded aluminum frames are still doing fine.

  21. #21
    Triathlon = Eat/Bike/Nap veggiemafia's Avatar
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    This is totally my new favorite thread for different reasons at different points in its life.

    Ken Cox, though...dropping the knowledge as always. Always like to read your posts.

    dutret...don't be such a wet blanket.
    Quote Originally Posted by Shiznaz
    the bagina is the frame and the fork is the wangola. The wheels are the ass nipples.

  22. #22
    King of the Hipsters
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    Quote Originally Posted by bruceleesdad
    i remember reading in a thread on the framebuilders forum that different "types" of steel e.g. reynolds 853 dont differ in composition and essentially the difference is only a matter of the dimensions of the tubing. can anyone confirm or deny this?
    I talked to the folks at Mercian some time back about this.

    The can make the different tubesets different thicknesses with different properties because of variations in the mix of materials making up the respective alloys.

    853 Pro, 853, 725 and 631 have different amounts of strength, stiffness and elasticity.

    They also each behave differently when heated and cooled, regarding stiffness, hardness and brittleness.

    The Mercian folks say that the selection and mixing of tubing changes the ride quality, and that one should pick a tubeset for the ride he wants, first, and lightness second.

    Reynolds has a site that explains the different tubesets:

    http://www.reynoldsusa.com/english.html

    The Bob Jackson site has some interesting things to say about tubesets and bicycle frames.
    For instance, they say the don't silver braze 853 because it needs the extra heat of conventional brazing in order to realize its full strength.

    http://www.bobjacksoncycles.co.uk/factory2.php

    Quote Originally Posted by mihlbach
    I cracked two lugged steel frames in 2006. My 2 welded aluminum frames are still doing fine.
    How and why did they crack?

    Does mihlbach consider his experience with lugged steel and welded aluminum typical of the materials?

    Maybe I should get an aluminum frame, eh?

  23. #23
    King of the Hipsters
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    New, from the Reynolds site:

    =====

    Reynolds 953 : MAR-AGING STAINLESS STEEL

    UTS : 110-127Tsi, 250-290 ksi
    1750-2050 MPa

    Reynolds latest innovation takes steel alloys into a new league. By utilising a specially developed martensitic-aging alloy stainless steel that can achieve ultimate tensile strength in excess of 2000MPa, this has a strength-to-weight ratio that can take on the best materials currently used in the industry. The resilient ride of steel, very high impact strength (similar to armour plating) and fatigue resistance combine to provide an extraordinary material that can now be used in butted tubing.

    953 have been developed using material from Carpenter Speciality Alloys. The strength of this material can be customised by controlling the amount of cold-work and heat-treatment - this allows us to optimise strength and ductility to suit the applications in 953. Reynolds also offer highly stressed components like the butted bottom bracket shell and rear drop-outs in the 953 alloy, along with fittings to complete a frame based on a high-strength precipitation-hardening Carpenter alloy and other weldable stainless steels. More information on these materials can be found in our FAQ's in the 953 section, and technical comparisons are shown under Technology/Comparative Properties on our website.

    Reynolds will work with frame fabricators to provide recommended production techniques, so that the challenges inherent in using an extremely hard metal can be overcome. With wall thickness down to 0.3mm, frame builders will be handling very thin walled tubing, and 'best practice' techniques are similar to those used in titanium frame welding. It will be possible to manufacture TIG welded, fillet-brazed and lugged frames using 953.

    Benefits: Ultra-strong steel, with anti-corrosion features from a stainless steel. And the legendary ride of steel.


    953 - THE AGE OF THE SUPERSTEEL.

    http://www.reynoldscycles.co.uk/steel953.html

    =====

    I wonder who makes frames out of Reynolds 953.

  24. #24
    King of the Hipsters
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    A lugged and polished 953 stainless frame from Waterford:

    http://www.waterfordbikes.com/board/...605b9d45ec5663

  25. #25
    THIS SPACE FOR RENT
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    Steel is a great material for bikes ridden the way most people ride bikes. It's forgiving of both crap roads and not handling the bike with kid gloves, and given the same drivetrain and geometry most people will be 98% as fast on a rivendell as they would be on a cervelo or a litespeed. Aluminum with a CF fork and maybe also seat stays and/or seat post is a great way for the sporty recreational rider to go whee on a stiffer, lighter frame without spending an arm and a leg or having to obsess over dinging the thing. Most people will be 99% as fast on some Al/CF rig like a mid-level specialized, c-dale, or felt as they would be on full carbon or Ti. Full carbon and Ti are for people with money to burn or the need for that extra 1%, or for people who don't have money to burn but are willing to throw down coin on bikes.

    I don't know enough about CF and Ti failures to talk about them, other than that the failure mode of both kind of scares me, but so does lightning and I still hike in the rain and ride a carbon fork and stays. Al and steel will both fail on you eventually, generally around 30,000 miles for a decently well-made frame, though plenty of people get more than that out of bikes. The repairability of steel is irrelevant for this; if one part of your bike fails from wear-cycle type fatigue, you should probably say thank you to your old friend and get another frame. Steel gives a little more auditory warning that it's going, but there are no guarantees. Most of us should be so lucky as to ever wear out a frame.
    "I don't buy new frames, it just encourages them."

    -T.G.

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