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Differences between steel and aluminum frames

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Differences between steel and aluminum frames

Old 03-09-12, 02:36 PM
  #51  
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Originally Posted by digger531 View Post
blah blah . . . AND THIS STILL DOESNT HELP THE OP.blah blah your OPINION, you prefer alluminum to steel, so noted
I found Dick's answer to be one of the most informed and useful. I learned something anyway, except what kind of bike frame he rides. trying to hide something Dick? Rick? Rich? Richie?
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Old 03-09-12, 03:25 PM
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Originally Posted by digger531 View Post
correcting my gramar and spelling is further proof of you being a dick. AND THIS STILL DOESNT HELP THE OP. I am certain we could get opinions on here with regard to frequencies of both materials and have a good ole time however this STILL WOULD NOT HELP THE OP. So if I understand your OPINION, you prefer alluminum to steel, so noted
If you don't want your spelling and grammar corrected, domn't make so many spelling and gramar mistakes.

What helps the OP less than cyccommute is you spouting off nonsense and factoids you made up yourself about subjects that many people actually do have some knowledge.

On a related topic, the political instability in the Middle-East is entirely caused by a misinformation campaign launched by the people of Guam and New Zealand. Anyone who calls BS on this is a DICK!!!11
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Old 03-09-12, 03:48 PM
  #53  
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Originally Posted by digger531 View Post
first of all Cyccommute, your a dick. I would like to see you ride said 1.4lb alluminum frame. Having to use three times the material is what makes them stiffer. My post was certainlly not presented as fact but as opinion and hearsay. If I would have put the word frame behind steel and alluminum it would have been better, agreed but I dont think any of this helps the OP
Wow. I see a 2ndGen zinger thread in this guy's near future.
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Old 03-10-12, 08:24 AM
  #54  
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Originally Posted by DCB0 View Post
If you don't want your spelling and grammar corrected, domn't make so many spelling and gramar mistakes.

What helps the OP less than cyccommute is you spouting off nonsense and factoids you made up yourself about subjects that many people actually do have some knowledge.

On a related topic, the political instability in the Middle-East is entirely caused by a misinformation campaign launched by the people of Guam and New Zealand. Anyone who calls BS on this is a DICK!!!11
I've long harbored deep distrust of the Kiwis
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Old 03-10-12, 08:38 AM
  #55  
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Originally Posted by skydog6653 View Post
I really like the feel/responsiveness etc. of CroMo!
I'm no connoisseur of bikes, but I can now relate to this. I own a '94 Trek 730 and in 2005 I bought a Raleigh C500, well just recently it died on me (needs a lot of repairs -- money). So for now I went back to riding my Trek which has a CroMo frame http://www.bikepedia.com/quickbike/B...=730&Type=bike as opposed to the 7005 aluminum frame of the Raleigh C500 http://www.roadbikereview.com/cat/la...2_5672crx.aspx

I don't know when I first noticed the flexing feel of that bike (C500), but I remember on a few occassions looking for cracks in the frame and always keeping the tires inflated a little above the max to reduce the flexing sensation -- there are no shocks on this bike. When I started riding my Trek 730 again I realized that the flexing I was feeling in the C500 was actually the frame, because the Trek 730 had no flexing whatsoever. It feels so good to ride a bike that doesn't have a performance-stealing flex. Now I just need to find one with a 52 chainring

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Old 03-10-12, 09:38 AM
  #56  
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Well, my decision was easy to make when the guy at the bike shop reminded of one true problem with steel. It rusts. I'm riding in anything and everything, salt/sand, snow, sleet, freezing rain. Anything from short 10 mile hops to 200+ mile one day rides. I know what the underside of my current Cannondale looks like and when he added steel rusting into the equation...it made my decision very simple. I know I don't have the money for Ti or carbon fiber.
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Old 03-10-12, 10:10 AM
  #57  
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I am an old, oveweight, fart (not a Dick, as my given name isn't Richard, either). I love to ride, and live in an area surrounded by great riding country. I am also pretty well surrounded by folks with different perspectives on frame materials, but happily most are not as emotionally attached to their opinions as many in the frame material discussion. That said...

I commute on some pretty bumpy streets on my aluminum cyclocross bike. And I ride on some nasty chip-seal roads on my aluminum road bike. Even with 28's on the 'Cross bike and 23's on the road bike, I frankly have nothing at all to complain about with ride quality on either bike. Maybe I just don't understand, but the CX bike was my do-everything bike most of last year - from commutes to centuries to CX races - and it was just fine. I did notice a difference in responsiveness when on the road bike, and I can hold a notably higher average speed on the same course on the road bike than the CX, but ride quality is just fine by me.

Many of us will argue to the death to justify our purchase or our opinion. I appreciate Cyccommute wading in with some facts on materials (wisely staying away from CF), but facts will merely be ignored by those that don't want to be confused or refuted by them.

My take is that the OP can do well with either material (as long as rust isn't a potential issue for him), OP just needs to ride and decide. I was convinced that I wanted a steel bike along the way, and may end up with one at some time, but I am very happy with my Al bikes, being a somewhat budget-constrained cyclist (when I buy my n+1, I generally have to do the same for my Bride. Actually, a nice problem...). I do some day want a Ti 325 frame, since my employer developed the alloy and supplied most of the Ti for frames for a number of years (and my autograph in on almost every test report on the outgoing material).

There are pluses and minuses to all of the frame materials: Steel, Ti, Al, CF - having worked with them all, one can choose any of the four and have a nice frame. I personally do not care for CF, but that is me and is based on my experiences working with the material, not really on fact, just opinion. But as an engineer, it is maddening to see folks fighting the fight of this-material-over-that when basically unarmed with facts.

OP - ride the bikes. Tally your components, comfort, and looks (yes, the esthetics do matter), and pick the bike you like. Aluminum or steel, you'll be pleased.

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Old 03-10-12, 11:37 AM
  #58  
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Originally Posted by bikenh View Post
Well, my decision was easy to make when the guy at the bike shop reminded of one true problem with steel. It rusts. I'm riding in anything and everything, salt/sand, snow, sleet, freezing rain. Anything from short 10 mile hops to 200+ mile one day rides. I know what the underside of my current Cannondale looks like and when he added steel rusting into the equation...it made my decision very simple. I know I don't have the money for Ti or carbon fiber.
I apologize for confusing your now-made decision but a properly internally protected steel frame can last for decades even under the conditions you describe.

Frame Saver or Amsoil HPMP are spray-on rust inhibitor treated waxes dissolved in a volatile carrier. You strip the frame and spray a good amount into each frame tube and stay and the fork blades. Roll it around to distribute the liquid, let it dry over night and repeat at least once more. If you are at all careful about touching up exterior paint nicks, the frame should then be an heirloom.

I treated an '83 Trek 400 Cr-Mo frame with Frame Saver when I bought it used and rode it for 10 years as my rain/snow/beater bike. That frame was still as solid as new when I gave it to my son-in-law last summer to convert to a fixie. My grandchildren will probably inherit it.

As an aside, aluminum is not completely corrosion proof and can be damaged by salt exposure too. The only really corrosion-proof metal frames are titanium.
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Old 03-10-12, 10:22 PM
  #59  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
This really is a myth. I broke a frame back in the late 80's and had a machinist friend repair it. This is a guy who welds exotic metals, makes pressure vessels and fabricates lots of one off equipment for scientific experiments. He knows his stuff. Even he was amazed at how hard it was to weld the thin steel of a bicycle frame. He said it would be incredibly easy to burn through.

If you want to see a real life example of a repaired bike at a local blacksmith's near Outer Mongolia, look here.
those welds look like they were done by a DC welder that had no idea what they were doing. I have done a little welding and could have done better then those on a DC. Better to use a tig welder where the heat can be controled and not burning holes thru the tubes.
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Old 03-11-12, 09:54 AM
  #60  
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Originally Posted by spathfinder3408 View Post
those welds look like they were done by a DC welder that had no idea what they were doing. I have done a little welding and could have done better then those on a DC. Better to use a tig welder where the heat can be controled and not burning holes thru the tubes.
You've missed the point. People who own steel bikes, especially touring bicyclists who own steel bikes, say that they can get them repaired anywhere...even in Outer Mongolia. That bike was repaired...badly...very close to Outer Mongolia. My machinist friend did have access to a TIG and has highly developed welding skills and even he was surprised at how difficult it was to weld thin steel tubes.

Additionally, if the welder in China had had access to a TIG, he could also repair aluminum which makes the argument for steel and against aluminum moot.
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Old 03-11-12, 10:16 AM
  #61  
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Here is one difference that I haven't seen mentioned yet: Isn't it easier to put those couplers that allow you to quickly break the frame for taking on a trip and then put it back together again onto a steel frame versus an aluminum one?
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Old 03-11-12, 10:37 AM
  #62  
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Originally Posted by JonathanGennick View Post
Here is one difference that I haven't seen mentioned yet: Isn't it easier to put those couplers that allow you to quickly break the frame for taking on a trip and then put it back together again onto a steel frame versus an aluminum one?
S&S couplers can be retrofitted to most steel frames and some Titanium frames and are available as OEM from many custom frame builders in both steel and Ti. The only S&S coupled aluminum factory frame the S&S web site lists is a Santana Tandem and they are very specific their couplers cannot be retrofitted to aluminum frames. FWIW, Calfee Designs offers carbon frames with the couplers installed, both OEM and retrofitted.

From a cost standpoint buying a frame with the couplers factory installed is significantly cheaper overall than having them installed on an existing frame.
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Old 03-11-12, 11:10 AM
  #63  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Let's start with a grammar lesson, shall we? "your" is a personal possessive pronoun relating to the speaker as in your bicycle or your tires. The contraction you are looking for is "you're" which is a shortening of the phrase "you are" as in "you are wrong" or "you're totally off base" or "you're full of crap". Of course that contraction is usually followed by a cogent argument as to why the subject of "you are" is wrong.

Aluminum gains it's <sic> stiffness from the tube diameters which resist bending, i.e. are stiffer, better than smaller tubes with thicker walls.
its



Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
However, aluminum, due to it's <sic> fatique properties, is always made stiffer to reduce flex and improve longevity.

its

Can we please move on to something less puerile... like subjunctive voice and chain lube?

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Old 03-11-12, 11:26 AM
  #64  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post

Finally there's the repair issue. You can go look around for a Bike Forum member's actual experience with trying to get a damage frame repaired in far off lands...China, actually...on the touring forums. Modern steel frames...and by modern I mean anything made since around 1975...are thin metal frames that require specialized skill to repair. Some guy with a welder in Outer Mongolia will be far more likely to burn through the material than repair it...which is exactly the experience that the poster on the touring forums ran across.
Generally people put too much emphasis on this repairability property... and by people I mean folks who want to justify buying steel. And it really depends on what kind of damage needs to be repaired. I've seen folks with pretty limited skills put a dropout back on a chainstay for example, and I suspect a Mongolian welder could rig up a rack or fender mount or something. But as far as unbrazing a broken tube and replacing with a new one... you've gotta really love your frame for that kind of repair bill, and you've gotta find a specialist in doing it.
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Old 03-11-12, 01:08 PM
  #65  
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Originally Posted by bikenh View Post
Well, my decision was easy to make when the guy at the bike shop reminded of one true problem with steel. It rusts. I'm riding in anything and everything, salt/sand, snow, sleet, freezing rain. Anything from short 10 mile hops to 200+ mile one day rides. I know what the underside of my current Cannondale looks like and when he added steel rusting into the equation...it made my decision very simple. I know I don't have the money for Ti or carbon fiber.
Salt, both from roads and sea air can cause pretty serious corrosion on aluminum. Depends on the alloy, fabrication technique, etc. Castings are particularly vulnerable.
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Old 03-14-12, 10:08 PM
  #66  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
You've missed the point. People who own steel bikes, especially touring bicyclists who own steel bikes, say that they can get them repaired anywhere...even in Outer Mongolia. That bike was repaired...badly...very close to Outer Mongolia. My machinist friend did have access to a TIG and has highly developed welding skills and even he was surprised at how difficult it was to weld thin steel tubes.

Additionally, if the welder in China had had access to a TIG, he could also repair aluminum which makes the argument for steel and against aluminum moot.
I have never had a problem with steel cracking or breaking. Had an Aluminum frame crack and saw a Cadd 2 frame that look like torn paper on a seat stay. Maybe your right about the steel being hard to weld, but wonder how they did it in the first place when they made them? All my steel bikes are lugged making them even stronger.
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Old 03-15-12, 07:34 AM
  #67  
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Originally Posted by spathfinder3408 View Post
I have never had a problem with steel cracking or breaking. Had an Aluminum frame crack and saw a Cadd 2 frame that look like torn paper on a seat stay. Maybe your right about the steel being hard to weld, but wonder how they did it in the first place when they made them? All my steel bikes are lugged making them even stronger.
Steel is not hard to weld if you have the proper equipment, suitably shaped tubing and know what you are doing. And, no, lugged construction is not automatically stronger. Cyccomute's point was that the ability to repair steel frames in some third-world village is a myth.
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Old 03-15-12, 07:45 AM
  #68  
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Originally Posted by spathfinder3408 View Post
I have never had a problem with steel cracking or breaking. Had an Aluminum frame crack and saw a Cadd 2 frame that look like torn paper on a seat stay. Maybe your right about the steel being hard to weld, but wonder how they did it in the first place when they made them? All my steel bikes are lugged making them even stronger.
I have had a problem with steel cracking and breaking. On two different bikes. One of them broke at the steer tube, broke at the chainstay bridge on both sides (that's how I found out about the difficultly of welding the tubes, and, finally, broke at the drop out. Steel isn't invulnerable.

I've also had a cracked an aluminum frame. No drama or the frame turning to dust under the rider or exploding...it just cracked at the bottom bracket bridge like the steel bike.

However, you are missing the point. Steel, nor aluminum, are that difficult to weld. But they do require a different skill set than your normal backyard mechanic or even experienced auto mechanic with good welding skills may possess. To say that you are going to buy a steel frame because it can be easily repaired in outer Polucaville is setting yourself up for disappointment.
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Old 03-15-12, 09:31 AM
  #69  
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Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
Cyccomute's point was that the ability to repair steel frames in some third-world village is a myth.
I agree with him. That kind of thing is way oversold.

Similarly, the ability to swap the front wheel to the back of the bike used to often be listed as a selling point for Pugsleys. That's an example of someone inventing a seemingly-plausible problem that doesn't really exist in order to spin a design compromise as a selling point.
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Old 03-15-12, 10:11 AM
  #70  
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Just to add...

coming on this forum and stating, " I know a guy who..." doesn't really mean squat. Anecdotal commentary doesn't equal fact. Cycco, makes some valid points...

...unfortunately I find he tends to present them with an air of arrogance. It's off-putting.

There are many, many variables involved in this 'discussion'. I believe the OP ask about differences in frame material, not which is better.

I'm glad to see that an attempt to define material properties VS construction was made, but the Alu/Steel cheerleading gets on my nerves. Too much propaganda getting tossed about.
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Old 03-16-12, 11:56 AM
  #71  
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Originally Posted by DiabloScott View Post

Can we please move on to something less puerile... like subjunctive voice and chain lube?
If we were to do so, could you guarantee that it would not lead to
an eventual discussion of the past pluperfect and grease ?

Golly gee, I'm sorry I missed this one.
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Old 03-16-12, 12:07 PM
  #72  
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Originally Posted by JonathanGennick View Post
Similarly, the ability to swap the front wheel to the back of the bike used to often be listed as a selling point for Pugsleys. That's an example of someone inventing a seemingly-plausible problem that doesn't really exist in order to spin a design compromise as a selling point.
I don't know about a whole wheel but I've personally known two different teams who, on a week long tour, relaced a 40 hole front rim onto their rear hub, and purchased or borrowed an ordinary front wheel to finish the ride.
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Old 03-18-12, 02:10 AM
  #73  
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Originally Posted by bikenh View Post
What are they? I realize steel is heavier...I believe it is also cheaper, may...anymore in this day and age not as readily available, at least not from the mainstream manufacturers. When it comes to performance what are the other differences. I've heard them but have never really seen them written anywhere that I can look at them and digest them thoroughly. I'm in the process right now of getting a new bike, since my current frame is pretty much toast. I know I don't have the money for titanium or carbon fiber so I'm trying to decided between steel and aluminum. I've had a Cannondale frame for 20 years so I've haven't really known anything but aluminum. Hence why I'm wondering the differences between the two of them.
Steel is not always heavier. It has a higher density and a higher strength. For the same cross sectional area steel is generally many times stronger than aluminum. So generally, for the same strength, steel will be lighter than aluminum. However, if you compare low grade steel with high-strength aluminum, the aluminum will be stronger - but it's not a fair comparison. A further consideration is toughness and ductility - both of which are desirable for safety. Steel is much tougher and more ductile than aluminum. All of these reasons are why I like the Chrome Moly steel forks for my bike.
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Old 03-18-12, 09:27 AM
  #74  
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Originally Posted by 009jim View Post
Steel is not always heavier. It has a higher density and a higher strength. For the same cross sectional area steel is generally many times stronger than aluminum. So generally, for the same strength, steel will be lighter than aluminum. However, if you compare low grade steel with high-strength aluminum, the aluminum will be stronger - but it's not a fair comparison. A further consideration is toughness and ductility - both of which are desirable for safety. Steel is much tougher and more ductile than aluminum. All of these reasons are why I like the Chrome Moly steel forks for my bike.
Steel...the alloy of iron, carbon and other trace elements...is always heavier than aluminum for a given volume, which was the point I was making on page one. You are correct that you can use less material to make a bicycle because of it's greater strength...also something I pointed out. However, if you are smart about how you engineer aluminum, you can use much less than 3 times the volume of aluminum to get a bicycle that is as strong as a steel frame, so aluminum frames are usually lighter than a comparable steel frame. But, for a fair comparison, you can't compare low grade aluminum to high grade steel either.
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Old 03-18-12, 08:57 PM
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Camilo
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So, to summarize:

Well engineered, well built, well fitting steel and aluminum bikes: good
poorly engineered, poorly built, poorly fitting steel and aluminum bikes: bad
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