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Steel vs Aluminum

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Old 06-25-14, 01:09 PM
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BikeMapper2.0
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Steel vs Aluminum

Hi out there!

I'm in a debate with myself on getting a new road bike. I love long distance rides, love steel, always had steel. However, I know there's a trend in road bikes to go aluminum lately (right?). I really want a new steel frame but am I being outrageously stubborn? I'm also seeing a lot of road bikes online that have components I want with aluminum frames/carbon forks and am trying to be OK with it, wishing it was steel. hahaha... Can anyone advise or shed some light? I do the occasional race and lots of weekend, long distance recreational rides.

Thanks so much!
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Old 06-25-14, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by BikeMapper2.0 View Post
Hi out there!

I'm in a debate with myself on getting a new road bike. I love long distance rides, love steel, always had steel. However, I know there's a trend in road bikes to go aluminum lately (right?). I really want a new steel frame but am I being outrageously stubborn? I'm also seeing a lot of road bikes online that have components I want with aluminum frames/carbon forks and am trying to be OK with it, wishing it was steel. hahaha... Can anyone advise or shed some light? I do the occasional race and lots of weekend, long distance recreational rides.

Thanks so much!
Aluminum is just a passing fad. Will never catch on.
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Old 06-25-14, 01:23 PM
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Old 06-25-14, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by RPK79 View Post
That looks really nice. I wish my LBS would carry that model as I would love to test ride it.
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Old 06-25-14, 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by MRT2 View Post
That looks really nice. I wish my LBS would carry that model as I would love to test ride it.
The're made here in Minneapolis. I'm sure there is an LBS somewhere that carries them.

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Old 06-25-14, 01:37 PM
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Can you elaborate a bit on the type of riding you want to do with this bike?

I ride steel bikes because I like they way they look. Geometry and tire selection has everything to do with ride type and quality.
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Old 06-25-14, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Aceldama View Post
Can you elaborate a bit on the type of riding you want to do with this bike?

I ride steel bikes because I like they way they look. Geometry and tire selection has everything to do with ride type and quality.
Sure....long distance road cycling and on paved trails. Country roads, rolling hills, big climbs, etc. Not for commuting/utilitarian purposes so much. I have a commuter for that which I have used in a few races (I put on Gator Skin tires instead of the stock hybrid style tires).

Thanks!
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Old 06-25-14, 01:58 PM
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Only way to know for sure whether you like the modern aluminum frames is to test ride a few. That said, IMO, there is something about the ride of a good steel frame.
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Old 06-25-14, 02:11 PM
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For sure....I think I may just do that.
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Old 06-25-14, 02:18 PM
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I think aluminum frames have gotten better in the low and mid ranges so they aren't quite as harsh as they used to be. Tech has trickled down so what used to be high end 10 years ago and was really nice ride then, is now profitable to use for lower to mid range quality bikes to make a nice ride even though the bike is low end.

Steel may still offer a more supple ride, but low end aluminum isn't as harsh of a ride that I've experienced in the past.

I didn't like the noodly feeling when cornering on steel though. Didn't do that too much but when I did push hard into a corner, I noticed it but I've also been fat and that had something to do with it, but that was also an older steel bike. Things may have changed in how steel performs in corners unless you are light weight then it probably won't matter much.

Go test out several bikes. You can probably rent some to get a good feel before you purchase.
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Old 06-25-14, 03:30 PM
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Here read this over Frame Materials for the Touring Cyclist

My preference if you're taking votes: Steel
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Old 06-25-14, 03:42 PM
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Depends how much you want to spend, but why not carbon?

If you go with a steel frame, go with carbon forks. A huge amount of the weight penalty of steel over carbon is in the fork crown. And carbon forks soak up road buzz at least as well as steel, and better than aluminium.
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Old 06-25-14, 04:02 PM
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Is titanium chopped liver ?
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Old 06-25-14, 04:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Dave Horne View Post
Is titanium chopped liver ?
No, it's considerably more expensive than chopped liver. Or steel or aluminum.
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Old 06-25-14, 04:45 PM
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Aluminum frame or Steel ? What is the weight difference ? Very little I believe . I prefer steel overall.
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Old 06-25-14, 04:58 PM
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Originally Posted by MRT2 View Post
Aluminum is just a passing fad. Will never catch on.
I know you are right on this. I wouldn't settle for any of that alloy steel you know 4130 or such, I would only take high tensile gas pipe steel it's a little on the heavy side but will last until the world ends. Don't let anyone talk you into brifters either only down tube shifters are used by real men.

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Old 06-25-14, 05:07 PM
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OP - You haven't defined "long distance." My aluminum, steel and carbon bikes are fine on 100+ mile rides. You also haven't mentioned what kind of races you're planning on doing; for the purposes of this discussion, I'll assume road races and crits. For a bike for rides up to 100 miles and maybe more, plus racing, aluminum wins hands down...assuming you're talking about a new bike, rather than a "new-to-you" bike. Current aluminum bikes are compliant where they need to be and stiff where they need to be. I'd look at the upper end versions of Specialized's Allez, Cannondale's CAAD10 and Giant's Defy.
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Old 06-25-14, 05:49 PM
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Originally Posted by BikeMapper2.0 View Post
Hi out there!

I'm in a debate with myself on getting a new road bike. I love long distance rides, love steel, always had steel. However, I know there's a trend in road bikes to go aluminum lately (right?). I really want a new steel frame but am I being outrageously stubborn? I'm also seeing a lot of road bikes online that have components I want with aluminum frames/carbon forks and am trying to be OK with it, wishing it was steel. hahaha... Can anyone advise or shed some light? I do the occasional race and lots of weekend, long distance recreational rides.

Thanks so much!
Not promoting this bike but there is Volagi which makes the Viaje model that comes in steel or titanium.

Viaje | Volagi
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Old 06-26-14, 01:36 AM
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Steel is real, and I'll get to aluminum in a moment, but first consider the hardwoods, which lacquer up real nice:



Then there's bamboo,



which is said to offer a very cushy ride, and has the advantage of being a material most people can manipulate in the comfort of their own home.


smelting hobbyist objects

The only disadvantage with bamboo is that it keeps growing if watered, so if you're not careful it may outgrow you. On the other hand, it would be the most sensible frame material for a growing child.



Bamboo would also make the ideal desert island bike. I don't remember if they ever had them on Gilligan's Island, but they could've done; all it would've taken was a rubber tree and the ever resourceful professor to adapt the vulcanization process to his crude but effective lab.

As to aluminum – or as we spell it across the pond, aluminium (as in, "Honey could you remember to buy alumininininium foil the next time you go shopping?") – although of course it has less resilience than steel, titanium, or bamboo, don't dismiss it as a poor cousin. The Washington Monument itself was proudly topped off with this now seemingly plebeian material.



Originally Posted by Baboo View Post
only down tube shifters are used by real men
The builders originally installed downtube shifters, but some objected, feeling they would become an anachronism too soon.


Last edited by 905; 06-26-14 at 02:42 AM. Reason: Google says yes to Gilligan bamboo bike
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Old 06-26-14, 02:01 AM
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Ride quality is a function of the geometry and all the contact points of the bike with the tyres being the most important followed pretty closely by the saddle.

You can build the same bike out of steel, aluminium, carbon, or titanium and if you understand the material properties there will be very little difference save for weight and even then, one can build an exceptionally light steel frame but the cost would be prohibitive and aluminium is less expensive and the prices on carbon have also come down a great deal.

I love my steel bicycles and work in steel but have had aluminium bikes that were every bit as good... I have not had a need for a carbon fibre bike although I get to work on them and get to ride more bikes than most people and enjoy their ride qualities a performance a great deal.

If I want to go fast I have a custom built steel racing bicycle with downtube shifters (lighter than brifters) and it serves me rather well and my steel hardtail is a wonderful thing only because the design is so spot on.

A manly man's bike... weighs a whopping 21 pounds.



My Moulden XC bike is unbelievably stiff and light...



My Blizzard is considered by many to be the best steel hardtail ever made and perhaps one of the best hardtails ever... it weighs 25 pounds and must be the little bit of carbon in the crankset.

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Old 06-26-14, 07:52 AM
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Check out Jamis if you are really set on steel. Personally, I think my old aluminum CAAD8 Cannondale ws just as comfy to ride as the steel Bianchi Campione D'Italia. My cuurent ride- a titanium Lynskey Sportive is a very nice ride as well. My wife has a Trek Madone, and she really likes the ride of carbon. Just ride everything you can possibly get your hands on- the right one will let you know.
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Old 06-26-14, 09:44 AM
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The big Contract factories in Asia that make most Bike these days are well equipped
(hydroforming dies , post welding heat treatment& etc,)

to make a lot of strong & light Aluminum welded frames at pretty low cost ..


to make a steel frame of similar weight, the materials the tube sets are more expensive ..
Heat Treated Alloy steels double butted Etc.
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Old 06-26-14, 12:00 PM
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I don't race, but I have opinions.

Nothing compares to the clean, sleek look of a traditional steel framed bike... but I am happy with the ride of my aluminum framed bikes as well.
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Old 06-26-14, 12:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Little Darwin View Post
I don't race, but I have opinions.

Nothing compares to the clean, sleek look of a traditional steel framed bike... but I am happy with the ride of my aluminum framed bikes as well.
That's pretty much how I feel... Steel and titanium just look elegant. Many aluminum bikes look fat & bloated in comparison. Of course, you shouldn't buy based on looks, but whatever.

I rode steel most of my life and still prefer it, but a good steel bike is much more expensive than a comparable aluminum one. The difference in ride is noticeable, but not so much as to sway your purchase much (unless you're talking about a trash aluminum bike.)

One thing to take into consideration is that it's easier to find a place to repair a steel frame than it is an aluminum one. If you're prone to wrecks or do silly stuff on your bike like I do, this may be something to consider, especially if you don't live near a bigger city with options for repairs.

Aluminum is more apt to crack than bend like steel.

I rode my old steel bike for 5 years with a sizable dent in the top bar with no worries. I wouldn't feel confident doing that with aluminum.
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Old 06-26-14, 01:26 PM
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For me it depends more about the design, fit and builder vs frame material. I have a scandium (aluminum) frame that rides as good or better than any of my steel frames. That does not mean all scandium frames ride great or that you would like the one I ride. Try out different ones and decide which feels best to you. Fit is the most important aspect.....the best frame material in the world (whatever that is) does not matter if the bike does not fit you properly. I own/ride steel, carbon, aluminum and scandium frames.....I like them all. Avoiding titanium because I'm afraid I would buy one of them too !!!!
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