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Steel or Aluminum fat bike?

Old 10-26-14, 08:41 PM
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Steel or Aluminum fat bike?

starting to look for fat bikes for the winter, any thoughts on steel or aluminum frames? sticking with rigid front as the Bluto seem pretty weak, expecting much better in the near future
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Old 10-27-14, 07:51 AM
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Not much i can add other than i test road both and ended up with the aluminum and i'm very happy i did...
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Old 10-27-14, 07:27 PM
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leaning towards AL as well, as I can't imagine I could wash and keep it clean very often in the winter
How are those with steel frames managing to keep off the grime and salt? a lot of steel fat bike are corroded in the stays and bottom bracket areas.
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Old 10-28-14, 05:46 AM
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One of the other big differences i notice between the 3 different bikes i test road was the geometry... The Farley 6 has the best "feel" when it came to quickness and agility... just seem snappier... Some of that may have been due to the Farley's aluminum frame but a lot of it has to do with it's geometry.... IMHO...
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Old 10-30-14, 08:17 PM
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It's not hard to upkeep a steel bike, even through a salty winter. Frame Saver the innards of frame when new. A good powder coat is good. Steel wool and touch up paint when needed. A steel frame will last with little maintenance. With the abuse a fat bike goes through, I'd be afraid of cracking an aluminum frame -- But that's me pushing the limits of a bike. I've cracked a full suspension aluminum Cannondale, and I've cracked a steel triple butted lugged steel road bike.

That's just my take. I like Surly so I'm stuck with steel. If they made an aluminum frame, I would consider it, if price was tolerable. Who knows. Nothing at all wrong with steel, if upkept and not left to Mother Nature with no oil or paint.

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Old 10-30-14, 09:54 PM
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Originally Posted by ratmudd
with the abuse a fat bike goes through, i'd be afraid of cracking an aluminum frame.
lol.
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Old 10-30-14, 10:32 PM
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I have both, and like both, but I'd give a small edge to my steel Surly LHT as it just feels the way it does. Nice
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Old 10-30-14, 10:42 PM
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assuming the frame dimensions are the same, I cant imagine that your ride quality would differ much considering your on 4 inch wide tires, its going to be bouncy no matter what. that much cushioning will negate any frame material characteristics.

Id say base your purchase on price, color, and personal preference, anything but frame material.
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Old 10-31-14, 05:24 AM
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Originally Posted by RatMudd
It's not hard to upkeep a steel bike, even through a salty winter. Frame Saver the innards of frame when new. A good powder coat is good. Steel wool and touch up paint when needed. A steel frame will last with little maintenance. With the abuse a fat bike goes through, I'd be afraid of cracking an aluminum frame -- But that's me pushing the limits of a bike. I've cracked a full suspension aluminum Cannondale, and I've cracked a steel triple butted lugged steel road bike.

That's just my take. I like Surly so I'm stuck with steel. If they made an aluminum frame, I would consider it, if price was tolerable. Who knows. Nothing at all wrong with steel, if upkept and not left to Mother Nature with no oil or paint.
Trek offers a lifetime warranty on the Farley frame...
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Old 10-31-14, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by scrming
Trek offers a lifetime warranty on the Farley frame...
That works. Versus Surly's 3 year warranty. Is the Farley a touring geometry like the Moonlander, or a more aggressive trail runner like the Ice Cream Truck? Either way, the Farley won't fit 5" tires.
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Old 10-31-14, 10:39 AM
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Originally Posted by catonec
Id say base your purchase on price, color, and personal preference, anything but frame material.
In my opinion, color is not a selling point. It can always get painted or paracord wrapped. Frame material trumps color any day. Some very important things are rack and fender mounts and other frame accessories, along with geometry (upright versus stretched out) and how each frame fits different components. I'm researching fat bikes for a future purchase and I'm probably going with Surly steel Moonlander simply for longevity of rack mounts and the frame being a "Swiss Army knife" and accepting of 5" tires. I'm also looking at the more aggressive Ice Cream Truck but the bottom bracket is turning me off.

Look at every attachment point, geometry, what you can and can't do with the frame, and consider your options. I would only go with aluminum if I was going to use frame/seat bags and wasn't planning on loading down a steel Moonlander with racks and fenders and 60+ lbs of weight, plus a trailer, plus some huge 4.8" - 5" tires. I wouldn't trust an aluminum bike holding all that weight with chromoly racks while heading to the river jumping down from the high water mark on a deer trail.

EDIT:
I probably still wouldn't consider aluminum or carbon fiber for a fat bike unless you're going bare or ultralight packing. That extra 1/2 lb doesn't matter, to me, over 30 lbs. Leave the ultralight to the speed demon XC racing on 1.8" tires.

Also, a big consideration is how fat do you want to go? -- 26 or 29er in 3.5"? -- or 26 in 4.8" or 5"?

I'm waiting for the day somebody mass produces a 29er frame that accepts mass produced 29er 5" wheels Ohhh yeahhh

Last edited by RatMudd; 10-31-14 at 11:01 AM.
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Old 10-31-14, 08:52 PM
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Originally Posted by RatMudd
...... Frame material trumps color any day........
Um, my post spells out the complete opposite of this statement and explains in pretty clear English why I said that for this situation.

just a recap: .....I cant imagine that your ride quality would differ much considering your on 4 inch wide tires, its going to be bouncy no matter what. that much cushioning will negate any frame material characteristics....(catonec)

I feel the same way about full suspension mountain bikes. Once the frame is designed to "bend" then the tubing has little to no effect on shock absorption.

When talking about a road bike that runs its tire pressure rock hard (ie <100 psi) then the frame material characteristics absolutely come into play.

When you're buying a bicycle with motorcycle tires on it is all about utility and accessibility, not high performance or efficiency.
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Old 11-02-14, 04:42 AM
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Originally Posted by RatMudd
That works. Versus Surly's 3 year warranty. Is the Farley a touring geometry like the Moonlander, or a more aggressive trail runner like the Ice Cream Truck? Either way, the Farley won't fit 5" tires.
Not sure the geometry on the bikes you mentioned... here's my Farley 6... so far i'm happy with the tires only being 3.8"...

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Old 11-02-14, 04:47 AM
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Originally Posted by catonec
Um, my post spells out the complete opposite of this statement and explains in pretty clear English why I said that for this situation.

just a recap: .....I cant imagine that your ride quality would differ much considering your on 4 inch wide tires, its going to be bouncy no matter what. that much cushioning will negate any frame material characteristics....(catonec)

I feel the same way about full suspension mountain bikes. Once the frame is designed to "bend" then the tubing has little to no effect on shock absorption.

When talking about a road bike that runs its tire pressure rock hard (ie <100 psi) then the frame material characteristics absolutely come into play.

When you're buying a bicycle with motorcycle tires on it is all about utility and accessibility, not high performance or efficiency.
I completely understand your comment about no difference in the ride quality on the fat bikes, but for me the the weight different seemed to make a difference... Maybe it was geometry differences or just in my head, but i definitely preferred the test rides on the aluminum frame fat bikes vs steel... the steel bike just felt more sluggish, definitely felt the weight difference... IMHO.
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Old 11-02-14, 05:27 AM
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Originally Posted by scrming
I completely understand your comment about no difference in the ride quality on the fat bikes, but for me the the weight different seemed to make a difference... Maybe it was geometry differences or just in my head, but i definitely preferred the test rides on the aluminum frame fat bikes vs steel... the steel bike just felt more sluggish, definitely felt the weight difference... IMHO.
I am not in the market for a fat bike but if I were, I would probably go with an alum frame as well. Im assuming the alum would be less expensive and you wont have rusting concerns.
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Old 11-03-14, 11:38 AM
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i have a steel frame which as suffered a horrible fate from watering pooling in the BB and seat chainstays. I was likely from being caught in the rain and not realizing water was running inside. After about 5-7 years it developed significant corrosion to the point where it is no longer safe to ride. Since fatbikes see much of their time in water and snow, won't I expect to see similar collections of water in the BB and seat stays?
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Old 11-03-14, 12:55 PM
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Originally Posted by qclabrat
i have a steel frame which as suffered a horrible fate from watering pooling in the BB and seat chainstays. I was likely from being caught in the rain and not realizing water was running inside. After about 5-7 years it developed significant corrosion to the point where it is no longer safe to ride. Since fatbikes see much of their time in water and snow, won't I expect to see similar collections of water in the BB and seat stays?
Protecting the interior of the frame with Frame Saver would have hindered corrosion, along with some blue or purple Loctite and screws with the correct pitch of thread for said holes. Those holes are for two reasons, but don't quote me, I could be wrong without Googling it first -- 1) For the welding process. 2) for airflow to prevent rust. In my opinion, if the frame is treated with Frame Saver or linseed oil, annual or biannually, there's no need to be concerned of corrosion, especially if the holes are properly plugged.

A properly greased frame bottom bracket prior to installation of the bottom bracket component should also hinder water coming in. I choose a good waterproof marine-grade grease for bottom bracket and seatpost. Most bicycle manufacturers don't do a good job of this at the factory. A good habit is to get the bike completely disassembled and properly greased and deburred and a steel frame internally Frame Saver-ed prior to a full assembly.

A 50 year old hunting r*fle with be point on and work flawless with properly scheduled oiling of steel parts and wooden stock, for example. Even when used in rain, sleet, and snow.

Last edited by RatMudd; 11-03-14 at 01:14 PM.
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