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Steel vs Aluminum with 2 inch tires

Old 02-24-24, 09:55 AM
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Steel vs Aluminum with 2 inch tires

So I saw this Youtube video of a guy describing the difference between steel, carbon, aluminum and titanium. He really liked steel even though he rode a road bike. But on 2 inch tires, would you tell the difference?
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Old 02-24-24, 10:01 AM
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Did they all have 2" tires? Maybe. But still everything else about the design and fit of the bike will make a difference too for how it feels more so than what material it's made of.
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Old 02-24-24, 11:01 AM
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Old 02-24-24, 11:20 AM
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Carbon and Aluminum wheels are pretty common. Steel is pretty rare, and I've never heard of any brand of Ti wheel.
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Old 02-24-24, 11:26 AM
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Since I am an old fat guy take this with a grain of salt. The only aluminum bikes I have been on that I liked, have been fat bike or plus bikes running 20 psi or less low pressure tire seem to absorb the stiffness/ harshness of aluminum frame.
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Old 02-24-24, 01:20 PM
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I'm pretty sure I could ride a bike blindfolded and be able to tell what material the frame is made of, but I don't think that translates to a performance difference based strictly on the material.
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Old 02-24-24, 04:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene
Carbon and Aluminum wheels are pretty common. Steel is pretty rare, and I've never heard of any brand of Ti wheel.
Nice try, but the OP didnít mention wheels specifically, the assumption is frame.
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Old 02-24-24, 04:48 PM
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Originally Posted by hybridbkrdr
So I saw this Youtube video of a guy describing the difference between steel, carbon, aluminum and titanium. He really liked steel even though he rode a road bike. But on 2 inch tires, would you tell the difference?
I think many folks are super sensitive to frame materiel and can tell the difference, more likely on a narrow tired road bike. I donít think Iíd able to tell the difference between frame materials with 2Ē tires at 25 psi. I sure could not tell if the vertical compliance is different.
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Old 02-24-24, 04:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve B.
Nice try, but the OP didnít mention wheels specifically, the assumption is frame.
Oh well.. secretly hoping someone would chime in with some knowledge of some obscure Ti rim makers out there ;-)
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Old 02-24-24, 05:11 PM
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Even with RH RTP’s, yes.

Do I think everyone could tell the difference? No more than I think everyone can tell the difference between the sound of a Telecaster and the sound of a Les Paul.

Do I think the differences matter?

The differences that stick out to me like Doritos on the bedsheets when I’m riding make it a clear choice.

For people who’ve owned less than ten bikes: just get one with paint that you really like or dislike less than other bikes’ paint.
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Old 02-24-24, 05:53 PM
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Nearly 2,000 posts and this is a question the OP has? So unique and original
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Old 02-24-24, 09:20 PM
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I think you can tell the difference between frames, regardless of material.
Thereís a lot more than just material choice that makes up the riding character of a bike than just what itís made of; you donít build an aluminum bike the same way youíd design a steel bike, or a carbon one, letting alone things like different geometry from brand to brand.

Heck, even bikes from the same manufacturer, made from the same material can have very different riding qualities: I have an 88 Cannondale 3.0 and a 15 Synapse, and while theyíre both pretty sporty road bikes, but the 3.0 is much more immediate in response to rider input and more direct in road feedback. Not to say that the Synapse isnít racy, which it is, but itís much smoother in response. It doesnít feel like youíre working as hard at 9/10; on the 3.0 Criterium, you know
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Old 02-24-24, 09:33 PM
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Iím a big fan of the 2.2Ē wide Conti Race King Protection tire on our various trails. But thatís on an old MTB, not a road bike.

I wore out a set of RTPs and they roll maybe just slightly faster but the tires are a pain to deal with, flat more easily and arenít suitable on our trails in the cold, wet half of the year. YMMV.

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Old 02-25-24, 08:41 AM
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Originally Posted by hybridbkrdr
So I saw this Youtube video of a guy describing the difference between steel, carbon, aluminum and titanium. He really liked steel even though he rode a road bike. But on 2 inch tires, would you tell the difference?
I like steel, but then I like all four of these materials and sometimes I ride a road bike, and, as noted above, I sometimes ride 2Ē tires but not on a road bike.

Carbon is the backbone of all organic molecules, is used in making steel and can be made into light fibers that strengthen other materials, so I like carbon.

Titanium has good abundance in the Earthís crust and has great properties for fabrication. Doesnít rust and has good strength. Aluminum has decent abundance and some excellent fabrication properties. So I like both of them too.

Steel, of course, is an alloy of iron with carbon and usually a smattering of other metals and has great fabrication properties.

Another great material is concrete, which is what we make by far the most of. It has great fabrication properties for structures but would be totally abysmal for anything relating to bikes other than making roads, paths or other features. If you ever get the chance to get a tour of a cement kiln, take it. They are amazing!

Just some random musings on the periphery of what could eventually grow up to be yet another argument about frame materials.

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Old 02-25-24, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by wheelreason
I'm pretty sure I could ride a bike blindfolded and be able to tell what material the frame is made of, but I don't think that translates to a performance difference based strictly on the material.
I'm pretty sure you couldn't. Are you saying that if you rode a 1970s Alan aluminum frame and then one of those hyper-stiff Cannondale frames blindfolded you could tell that they were both aluminum. Or if you rode a Teledyne Titan and a Litespeed Blade you could tell they were both Ti? The only clue you might be able to get when blindfolded is from the sound the bikes make when hitting bumps, and probably that would only highlight a composite frame. Realistically, the only perceptible difference between frames of different materials made to the same design goals would be the weight.
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Old 02-25-24, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by wheelreason
I'm pretty sure I could ride a bike blindfolded and be able to tell what material the frame is made of, but I don't think that translates to a performance difference based strictly on the material.
Iím pretty sure if I rode a bike blindfolded, the trip would be short and end with me colliding with some obstacle, regardless of the bike frame material.

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Old 02-25-24, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by KerryIrons
I'm pretty sure you couldn't. Are you saying that if you rode a 1970s Alan aluminum frame and then one of those hyper-stiff Cannondale frames blindfolded you could tell that they were both aluminum. Or if you rode a Teledyne Titan and a Litespeed Blade you could tell they were both Ti? The only clue you might be able to get when blindfolded is from the sound the bikes make when hitting bumps, and probably that would only highlight a composite frame. Realistically, the only perceptible difference between frames of different materials made to the same design goals would be the weight.
Aluminum for sure, ti gets trickier, cause it kinda feels like steel, but yeah, it gets a little tougher with wider or knobby tirees, as they absorb on mask the frames characteristics.
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Old 02-25-24, 10:25 PM
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Originally Posted by KerryIrons
I'm pretty sure you couldn't. Are you saying that if you rode a 1970s Alan aluminum frame and then one of those hyper-stiff Cannondale frames blindfolded you could tell that they were both aluminum. Or if you rode a Teledyne Titan and a Litespeed Blade you could tell they were both Ti? The only clue you might be able to get when blindfolded is from the sound the bikes make when hitting bumps, and probably that would only highlight a composite frame. Realistically, the only perceptible difference between frames of different materials made to the same design goals would be the weight.
Id definitely be able to tell them apart, but maybe not what material theyíre using.
Except maybe a Cannondale. I have put a lot of miles on CAADs as well as a 3.0 and an early Klein; that big-tube Al ride is kind of my baseline.
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Old 02-25-24, 10:55 PM
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Originally Posted by wheelreason
I'm pretty sure I could ride a bike blindfolded and be able to tell what material the frame is made of, but I don't think that translates to a performance difference based strictly on the material.
I'm very skeptical about distinguishing the material, but I don't claim to be as perceptive as others claim to be. As far as your performance thought, agree totally.
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Old 02-26-24, 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Camilo
I'm very skeptical about distinguishing the material, but I don't claim to be as perceptive as others claim to be. As far as your performance thought, agree totally.
I have a parlor trick I do where I grab 6 shot shells out of the same box and line them up in weight difference, hardly ever wrong. I also can look at a fish (I fish a lot) and can tell the weight within an oz or lb, depending on wether it's bass or tuna, I think I may be in the spectrum cause other things that most folks find easy, I have trouble with, and I'm intermittently dislexic, (and color blind)
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Old 02-26-24, 01:01 PM
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All things are never equal ......
So much for comparisons.
Ride on
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Old 02-29-24, 12:12 PM
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Yeah, it's a tired, old subject matter, but I've got a perspective that is unusual.

I have a Disc Trucker from 2013 and a Trek 920 from 2021. Both the same size. The geometry of each is more the same than different. I've ridden both extensively (trying to make up my mind) for the past two years with the exact same tires, panaracer GK 40. There is no "road buzz" on the Trek. I believe the tires take care of that. I have a 90s Cannondale, so I know what "road buzz" is.

The deal is that they both ride and feel completely different. If someone put a gun to my head right now and told me I could only keep one, I might have to flip a coin. The bigger issue to me right now is components and cockpit. I need to change the handlebars on my Trek. I hate the stock bars. I need to go back to a triple on the Trek with bar end shifters. With the cockpit the way I like it, and gearing I prefer, I will be able to know which of the two I really prefer.

So my two cents? With 50mm/2" tires, there will be no vibration harshness, no road buzz. However, that doesn't mean you will like it. It still rides like aluminum. That's what most people miss. It's not good or bad, just different. You just have to ride it to know if it's for you.
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Old 03-09-24, 11:01 AM
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I have a similar mountainbike scenario. Most of the ride quality difference in that case is down to frame geometry.
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Old 03-10-24, 01:02 AM
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Just try it out for yourself. 2in tire 26in mtb's are very cheap right now, and you can get 2 ridgid or 2 hardtails of both types pretty easily. I don't have 2 bikes of the same type and different materials. Most of my road bikes are steel, while the mountain bikes are in different classes of travel while using different frame materials.
I agree with the poster above that geo matters a ton. I suspect you can get ride quality similar with different frame materials.
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Old 03-10-24, 09:08 AM
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Originally Posted by wheelreason
I'm pretty sure I could ride a bike blindfolded and be able to tell what material the frame is made of, but I don't think that translates to a performance difference based strictly on the material.
As noted, knowledgeable people are pretty sure you are wrong. You can use any of the leading materials to get a given design goal, and the ride will be the same. The sound of the frame might be different (CF vs. metal) and the weight will be different, but material does not define frame performance. Design does. There are plenty of examples of stiff, flexible, aggressive, and relaxed bikes from steel, Al, Ti, and CF.
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