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What do we think is the reason steel offers a plush ride? Material? Frame design?

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What do we think is the reason steel offers a plush ride? Material? Frame design?

Old 04-10-16, 08:36 AM
  #1  
rpenmanparker 
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What do we think is the reason steel offers a plush ride? Material? Frame design?

Originally Posted by Inpd View Post
...the great road buzz absorbstion of steel mean you can ride 25s and get a plush ride.
Before the '80s steel was just about the only material. Did folks think it was plush then? Or was it just steel, all they ever knew? Was it all comfy, or were there better and worse feeling frames? The few Al bikes like Alan and Vitus certainly weren't deficient in comfort, just stiffness. Then the glued Trek Al frames and welded Kleins and Cannondales arrived. The Treks were still as comfy as steel of that time and just about as stiff. The Kleins and 'dales gave Al a bad rep for comfort. Since they were Al, the pain was attributed by the masses to the material and so arose the myth, and steel good but Al bad survives to this day.

So what is the truth. Is there some magic in the steel metal that makes it more comfy or is it simply the small diameter (relatively) tubes? Is modern steel really better than modern Al? Is there a property of steel that makes it possible for it to have a better stiffness/comfort balance?

Personally I don't think so. Let's discuss.
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Old 04-10-16, 08:54 AM
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Or maybe it was that back then almost everybody was on tubulars which are more comfortable that clinchers, especially the crappy clinchers of that time period and it had absolutely nothing to do with the frame?
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Old 04-10-16, 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by rpenmanparker View Post
So what is the truth. Is there some magic in the steel metal that makes it more comfy or is it simply the small diameter (relatively) tubes? Is modern steel really better than modern Al? Is there a property of steel that makes it possible for it to have a better stiffness/comfort balance?

Personally I don't think so. Let's discuss.
I'm honored you started a thread with one of my quotes.

I don't know as much about frames as you, but I do know that when I ride a steel bike over the same route as an ALU bike with similar/same tires the steel bike feels so much more smoother. I think that's the typical sentiment that people find.

Has anyone experience the opposite? That is that the ALU bike was smoother than the Steel bike on the same road with same/similar tires?

I'm not sure if/how we control for price her as some lower end steel frames are junk of course.
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Old 04-10-16, 09:13 AM
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I have 4 bikes:
- Old Al Cannondale with downtube as fat as a soda can.
- Ti Litespeed.
- Steel Soma..
- CF Calfee.

And the only determinant of how they ride is the tires I put on them, and the inflation pressures.
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Old 04-10-16, 09:15 AM
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depends if the steel bike has a curved front fork, and also depends on what tyres and tyre pressure you use.

I have an aluminium road bike with a steel fork which is straight. It's a nightmare over bumpy roads and it feels like I'm operating a jack hammer
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Old 04-10-16, 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by rpenmanparker View Post
..... Then the glued Trek Al frames
Until just very recently I owned a 92(?) Trek Aluminum (1400). Totally bonded (glued) including the alum fork. It was a great bicycle to practice a proper perched cycling position on. But the bike was of excellent quality, very light, and responsive.

I also have an old 360 Trek '88... which (I believe) was near the last of the inexpensive lugged steel Treks. I did take the opportunity to do some comparative test riding, with those two bikes along with some others. I am sure I am not the only cyclist to do such comparisons.

I even (accidently) developed an informal test to compare riding comfort between bicycles.

I had put a bell on a classic bike I had owned (a steel Univega). I had toe cages and comfy saddle on the bike as well. I used the bike when riding with my wife and I would wear regular street clothes and tennis shoes. Some time after I sold the Univega I put the bell on my Trek 1400 Aluminum. It is a two-tone (ring-ring) bell. Yet it seemed like the bell was constantly dinging on its own once mounted to the Trek 1400. Later I moved the bell to the Trek 360 steel bike. That is when I realized it the 1400 (bonded alum) that was a "real bell ringer".

That particular bell doesn't fit my modern bikes. But I firmly believe that.... as far as ride comfort... a modern alloy bike with a carbon fiber fork compares well with steel.
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Old 04-10-16, 09:22 AM
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Other than the early Cdales, I have felt more difference in tires than frames. My current steel Guru with high pressure 22,s is punishing compared to my AL Masi with 25s.
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Old 04-10-16, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by dim View Post
I have an aluminium road bike with a steel fork which is straight. It's a nightmare over bumpy roads and it feels like I'm operating a jack hammer
Same combo, same conclusion.

It’s been said over and over: steel as a material has different resonant properties than aluminum, and other things being equal, will tend to harmonize vibration---you know, Spring steel. Steel is springy. Aluminum tends not to resonate--you will never hear an aluminum bell. Something about the structure of the metal, different crystal latices or some other such stuff i don’t understand.

So ... other things being equal, steel will both flex a little and vibrate to harmonize high-frequency buzz, which the alu frame will transmit to the rider.

But other things are not equal. Engineers have learned to design alu frames which can be absolutely as comfortable as steel, and badly designed steel is badly designed.

However, people desperately in need of some sense of superiority need to cling to the notion that their frame material of choice is inherently better, it seems.

In 20 years when everyone is 3D-printing bikes at home out of materials we haven’t even heard of yet, people will still claim that bikes from one brand and model of printer are better than those from another.
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Old 04-10-16, 10:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
Aluminum tends not to resonate--you will never hear an aluminum bell. Something about the structure of the metal, different crystal latices or some other such stuff i don’t understand.
Knog - Oi Bike Bell

https://www.amazon.com/Polished-Alumi.../dp/B003S7V5U6
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Old 04-10-16, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
Same combo, same conclusion.

It’s been said over and over: steel as a material has different resonant properties than aluminum, and other things being equal, will tend to harmonize vibration---you know, Spring steel. Steel is springy. Aluminum tends not to resonate--you will never hear an aluminum bell. Something about the structure of the metal, different crystal latices or some other such stuff i don’t understand.

So ... other things being equal, steel will both flex a little and vibrate to harmonize high-frequency buzz, which the alu frame will transmit to the rider.

But other things are not equal. Engineers have learned to design alu frames which can be absolutely as comfortable as steel, and badly designed steel is badly designed.

However, people desperately in need of some sense of superiority need to cling to the notion that their frame material of choice is inherently better, it seems.

In 20 years when everyone is 3D-printing bikes at home out of materials we haven’t even heard of yet, people will still claim that bikes from one brand and model of printer are better than those from another.
I also have a steel Surly Long Haul Trucker with wider tyres and curved front fork .... it's an absolute pleasure to ride (It's still new and I have only acquired it a week ago)

I have also ridden a steel Pashley with curved front forks .... lovely

so, as I said before, it's the forks and tyres which make the biggest difference IMHO ....

I have yet to ride an aluminium frame with carbon forks or a carbon frame with carbon forks
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Old 04-10-16, 10:32 AM
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i think alum as a frame material seems to amplify any vibration... road feel is amplified.. what was bumpy is more bumpy... its very rigid.. but thats great for power transfer..
steel seems to filter road vibration... high freq road stuff.. and even big hits seem to filter with steel.. at the cost of rigidity, but going from 23 tires to 25s seems to have much more drastic effect...
there is also the noise factor... steel seems to have a musical almost "ting" when hitting a bad bit of road... iduno... someone will be alble to address this better then i... but there is a difference.
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Old 04-10-16, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by rpenmanparker View Post
So what
Indeed.

A well designed modern bicycle frame made from suitable materials for an intended purpose/price point manufactured to a high standard of quality and matched to a rider of the design intended size/weight will have characteristics in use much like another built from a different but equally suitable material/mfg process.

Race bikes will handle/climb/descend like race bikes regardless of frame material.
If one material is in Fashion and sells that material will be chosen for manufacturing, investment in that process will continue until fashion changes.

Belief in a mysterious/mystical "ride quality" inherent in a single material in and of itself is Magical Thinking, a belief system favored by some in the 41. Designing and manufacturing frame sets is a complicated process which relies less on fable than materials science.

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Old 04-10-16, 10:38 AM
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The psi of tires has increased over the years. In the 1980s, your tire was probably a 90 psi. Today it is likely to be 120 psi. Is that part of it too?
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Old 04-10-16, 10:38 AM
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I've generally been 200# plus. 190 for a short while.
I had a Columbus SP frame built for me. I was on tubulars. It was not comfortable. I ride tubulars now. My son trains on tubulars - now, on carbon frame. Tires matter, but it is not the tires.
I had several others and road about 20 (my job) and it was more the frame builder.
My Raleigh 753 was very comfortable.

I think it is:
-Material - tubing thickness
-Geometry
-Joining material. Brass vs Silver.
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Old 04-10-16, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by practical View Post
The psi of tires has increased over the years. In the 1980s, your tire was probably a 90 psi. Today it is likely to be 120 psi. Is that part of it too?

People are fatter nowadays.
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Old 04-10-16, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
However, people desperately in need of some sense of superiority need to cling to the notion that their frame material of choice is inherently better, it seems.
This.

I guess I'm one of the few on the planet that thinks the feel of expensive carbon bikes is pure crap; that dull, delayed thud of a cheap tennis racket is how I would describe it. I like the resonant quality of hi-ten and cr-mo, and thus it is my preference.

It doesn't need to be "better" or "best" or "push" in someone's opinion, I simply like it.
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Old 04-10-16, 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by franswa View Post
People are fatter nowadays.
Speak for yourself! (Yes, I am fatter now, too.)
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Old 04-10-16, 10:55 AM
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I had CAAD 9 and 10 frames that were as comfortable as steel or carbon. I just got an aluminum Diamondback (yes, Diamondback) and it has modern hydroformed tubes with curved top tube, enormous down tube that is square at the bottom bracket and tapered 1 1/8 to 1 1/2 head tube and its alsocomfortable. It is stiff where is should be but I definitely don't feel beat up riding it. I do have 700x28 tires at about 70 psi on 23mm wide rims so there's that
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Old 04-10-16, 10:56 AM
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Preconception.
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Old 04-10-16, 10:57 AM
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Well, in some cases I say magic!

Case in point. This bike:



So, I'd say right now that of all my bikes this one has the most balanced ride on the rough stuff of any of my bikes. The rear is on par with several others and the front is the best of all of them at absorbing the hard hits. This it true whether shoed with my normal GP 4000 700 x25s or the current GP classic in the same size. This is an 1989 Billato Brothers built Giordana Antares with the "inferior" cromor tubing. And it handles really, really well on top of being comfortable.

Then there's the other Giordana, the Excell Podium tubed Superleggero with an Excell Eco front fork. Good on the front but a bit harsher on the back. But currently the bike I seem to be picking everyday. It's great at speed in the sharp turns and climbs and descends really well as best I can tell right now. This too was built by the Billato Brothers.



But, and there is a but. I recently picked up a sweet Greg Lemond Ventoux. Another 1989 cromor tubed bike built by the Billato Brothers also. Different geometry from the Giordana's and to be honest if feels a bit harsh on both ends. But it's got a ton more space for tires and I just mounted some wider rims with GP 4000s 700 x 28 tires on it that ballooned out to over 30mm. If I can get a time between storms I'll take it out and see how it feels. Of course if it's better than that would be the tires not the steel frame. Oh the irony, LOL! Seriously though, the curve on the fork is much less pronounced and with handlebars on it 40mm narrower than I am used to I'd say that a good part of why the front has felt harsh. It's also a 54cm frame vs the 56cm on the Antares. So does that mean less flex to absorb road shock? Seems logical, but who knows?



Then there's my 03 Lemond Tourmelet. Several pounds lighter than the Ventoux with a Reynolds 853 main triangle and I don't know what for the back end. This is a 53cm frame. The rear is downright plush on the rough stuff but the front kicks back fairly harshly like pretty much every other CF forked bike I've ridden. A great bike overall though and what I was riding the most all of last year.

I tried some other tires on it for awhile and they were comfy but flatted more than the GP 4000s I was used to so I switched it back. This is the bike I was riding daily when I tried to step up the comfort and rented a Domane for a day to ride on the same rough roads I do daily. I put my own wheel/tires and saddle on the Domane but surprisingly I found the Tourmelet to be more comfortable on the back end in the rough stuff. Not was I was expecting and have been accused of lying about this by another forum member. But that is honesly my impression after the test ride. Enough so that I didn't buy the Domane and went for an endurance style Ti bike instead.



So, the Ti bike. A 2015 Lynskey R265 picked for it's comfort design. What I have experienced is a plush rear on the rough stuff but a harsher front end then my two Giordana's. This bike climbs good due to the gearing but does not seem quite as efficient as the Superleggero or my CF Scott CR1 Pro. Both stiffer frames so to be expected. Sometime on hard dips in the road on fast descents the Lynskey seems to flex too much or something as it feels a bit disconnected or something at those moments. I need more seat time to better understand what I am feeling there. So, comfy for sure but I think I like the overall feel of the Antares better. Still, for century rides I fully expect I'll be picking the Lynskey over any of the steel bikes.


Oh, and I have a steel 1972 Peugeot I"m still sorting out too. I can't get past the heavy steel wheels and no braking power right now to honestly evaluate how it feels to me, LOL!

And for several years I always considered my 2000 Lemond Zurich to be my most comfortable ride. But it's been over two years since I loaned it out for a weekend (don't ask, LOL!) and I still haven't gotten it back. So I don't want to compare it against my current stable until I can ride it against them to give an honest judgement.

So what does this mean, heck if I know. I love the feel of my steel bikes obviously. But I also want to try that new Domane with the front and rear suspension one day. I am more about comfort than material now days for sure.
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Old 04-10-16, 11:45 AM
  #21  
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Most important -
1. Tires: width, construction quality, pressure.
Secondary importance -
2. Frame geometry: longer/shorter wheelbase, longer/shorter rear centre.
3. Fork (non-triangulated structure): curve (or not), rake, construction.
Virtually negligible, assuming reasonable+ quality -
4. Frame material.
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Old 04-10-16, 11:53 AM
  #22  
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Why bother this this thread? The accepted BF wisdom is the only thing that make any difference is tires. I'll just sit here, eat and wait for someone to quote that Sheldon Brown article on touring bikes.
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Old 04-10-16, 12:06 PM
  #23  
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  1. Fit
  2. Geometry
  3. fork
  4. tires
  5. frame material

In roughly that order. Fit and Geometry by far.

J.
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Old 04-10-16, 12:14 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by JohnJ80 View Post
  1. Fit
  2. Geometry
  3. fork
  4. tires
  5. frame material

In roughly that order. Fit and Geometry by far.

J.

I'd put tires and fork ahead of fit and geometry
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Old 04-10-16, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by D1andonlyDman View Post
I'd put tires and fork ahead of fit and geometry
Disagree. If the fit is bad, the whole thing is bad and it doesn't matter what tires you have.

j.
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