Is Steel the best material?



Jon Cooper

New Member
Nov 14, 2003
41
0
0
Hi let me know your thoughts on the oldest (?) and best material....steel.

After Cougar Dedaccia steel frame & now Casati Geo in steel I am a big fan.

For the rough stuff difficult to beat a Rocky Mountain Equipe (steel frame) for a bouncy ride with loads of feedback.

What do you think?
 

stevenaleach

New Member
Sep 13, 2003
88
0
0
Originally posted by Jon Cooper
Hi let me know your thoughts on the oldest (?) and best material....steel.

After Cougar Dedaccia steel frame & now Casati Geo in steel I am a big fan.

For the rough stuff difficult to beat a Rocky Mountain Equipe (steel frame) for a bouncy ride with loads of feedback.

What do you think?

I think it all depends on what qualities you are looking for. I've seen quite a few early 1900's lugged steel frames that are, for all practical purposes, perfectly useable. Durability: no question, steel beats out carbon or aluminum. Al is more brittle, Carbon tubes are layers of woven fiber saturated with epoxy resin... prone to shatter and more and more brittle with age.

Unfortunately, I don't think durability is something that many people actually care about one way or another. Most people don't expect to keep a bike long enough to care (like 20 years or more)... it will just wind up being thrown out when they buy a new one in a few years, just like everything else.

I do wonder about titaniam though, I believe it has equally good structural properties and, since it is a completely unreactive element, will not be damaged/weakened by corrosion.

But if I were going to spend that much on a frame, I'd get a Rivendell (gorgeous lugged steel) instead! :)
 

Duckwah

New Member
Oct 30, 2002
755
0
0
its all about application

i'd never ride a steel frame because i want something very stiff and i'm not going to keep a bike for more than a few years so durability doesn't really bother me and i've never had a problem with the comfort of Aluminium bikes, even with straight gauge tubes etc
 

Alnamvet

New Member
Aug 17, 2003
148
0
0
As they say, "...steel is real..." though I love my Alum HT, my fav frame(s) are my Bridgestone MB-0, and my Cove Handjob.
 

tacomee

New Member
Nov 17, 2003
115
0
0
Hey Duckwah,

A new bike every couple of years!?! Although it's heavier and prone to rust-- steel bikes last a long, long time. Still plenty of middle quality road bikes from the 80's that are still on the road, still ride great. I wouldn't bet on the new alu frames going that long.

Sometimes I think the push for alu frames on lower and mid quality bikes is becuase manufactures are scared that anyone who plunks down hunderds of $$$$ for a bike with a steel frame might pick a wrench and ride the thing for 10+ years.
 

Davefromaine

New Member
Nov 19, 2003
7
0
0
67
I'm brand new to this forum - looking in to get some opinions on this very topic. I've ridden only steel since getting serious about road riding in 1971. I bought my first aluminum bike 5 years ago, and, although I liked the stiff sprinting and climbing attributes, I disliked the harsh ride. After trying aluminum Cannondales, Bianchi's, and a GT, I bought a full carbon Scattante and built it with Rev-X carbon wheels, plus carbon seatpost, stem, and bars. Next-best thing to steel I've ever ridden.

But - I miss the "soul" of having a steel frame with some chrome on it. Thus my lurking on this site - sell the carbon bike and buy another steel frame? I'm drawn to the older Merckx MX Leader and the Cinelli Super Corsa.

Any comments on these two bikes?
 

Duckwah

New Member
Oct 30, 2002
755
0
0
I'm a chronic upgrader, i'd hate to get left behind when technology improves
 

stevek

New Member
Sep 27, 2003
369
0
0
Originally posted by Duckwah
I'm a chronic upgrader, i'd hate to get left behind when technology improves
You need to learn that buying new will not make you happy. or just be broke and it will take care of it's self (G)
 

Jon Cooper

New Member
Nov 14, 2003
41
0
0
Originally posted by Duckwah
its all about application

i'd never ride a steel frame because i want something very stiff and i'm not going to keep a bike for more than a few years so durability doesn't really bother me and i've never had a problem with the comfort of Aluminium bikes, even with straight gauge tubes etc

Hi Duckwah

In fact for MTB I ride a Rocky Mountain Vertex Team Only at the moment which is a beautifully light frame (22lbs all up) the ride is more compliant than steel (less bouncy) and climbs like a mountain goat.
 

Malvern_star

New Member
Sep 12, 2002
45
0
0
I don't think one material's better than the other , they both have their pros and cons.
I prefer aluminium MTBs because of the weight , the lighter the better and steel road bikes because I find them a bit smoother to ride.
 

elrohwen

New Member
Jul 13, 2003
25
0
0
One of the chemical engineering professors at my school races bikes and owns a bike shop. I visited his shop the other day looking for a new road bike and I happened to ask him what he thinks about the difference between aluminum and steel. I'm partial to steel, but my preference isn't really based on tons of experience or anything valid ... I guess I just like the look of steel bikes. Anyway, he said that everything that you hear about aluminum being harsher than steel isn't true at all. He helped a student with a research project a few years ago where they built bike frames out of different materials (some aluminum, some steel, different types of steel, etc), painted them all the same, put the same components on them (same pressure in the wheels, same spoke tension, etc) and had some hardcore local bike riders test them out. The riders were sure that they could tell the difference in materials, but, in fact, they couldn't tell at all with any statistical significance. They were even given two bikes of the same material and one of a different material and they couldn't even pick which of the three was not like the other two.

With everything I've heard about the different materials, I think it's amazing that his scientific testing proved that most of a bike's ride isn't about the frame, but about all of the other minute little adjustments. It's so great to have a professor in my major who knows so much about bikes and was willing to spend so much time talking to me about them :)
 

Hecubus

New Member
Oct 18, 2003
321
0
0
It all depends on the aplication and how the tubing and frame is designed. If I had to pick an overall best material I'd probably have to say titanium. If you can ignore the factors of high cost and dificult manufacturaing the material by itself is probably the overall best. It can be made incredibly light, incredibly strong, has the longest fatigue life, has good damping properties and most of all will never corrode. In theory a good Ti frame should last an eternity.
Buying a steel frame for me is out of the question. I live directly in front of the ocean and most of the roads I ride go next to the coast were the bike gets beaten by salty wind all the time. Steel turns into a big ball of rust in no time and even aluminum starts to corrode even if the paint isn't chipped. I switched to a carbon frame to avoid the corrosion and bought a LOOK Kx which is a little over a year old is already developing corrosion underneath the paint of the aluminum lugs used to hold the carbon tubes together. Next frame will be full carbon or titanium.
 

waterford

New Member
Jul 28, 2003
5
0
0
Judging from the screen name I selected, you might guess that I prefer steel, and it is true that both my road bikes are steel. My oldest, a mid 80's Mercian, is 521, while my newer bike is 853. Both have a capacity to take the roughness out of the country roads on which I ride. But I do agree that geometry and fit are probably more important than material. My road bikes are road sports, well suited to longer rides.

I also have a carbon-tube hybrid that I think is outstanding for dirt trails like the KATY in Missouri. Again, I appreciate the resiliance and the traditional geometry. I've ridden some mighty fine AL bikes, and I like them on smooth roads. The fact is, you can have a great time riding on most any frame that is well fitted. Since there comes a limit to the number of bikes that fit in the garage -- so say nothing of my wife's patience -- you gotta make choices. With so many of our country roads being surfaced with oil and increasingly larger "chips," steel-smooth is the winner.
 

sea

New Member
Nov 2, 2003
76
0
0
I don't know which is bust but I do know that I will not buy an Al bike again. I ride aobut 3500 miles a year and my first and last al bike broke from metal fatigue at 2 years 10 months. I don't consider that acceptable. (It was an $1800 bike.)

I now have a titanium bike that's 4.5Lbs lighter and a much better ride.
 

merubeyurubu

New Member
Jul 7, 2003
48
0
0
Originally posted by sea
I don't know which is bust but I do know that I will not buy an Al bike again. I ride aobut 3500 miles a year and my first and last al bike broke from metal fatigue at 2 years 10 months. I don't consider that acceptable. (It was an $1800 bike.)

I now have a titanium bike that's 4.5Lbs lighter and a much better ride.

So how much of the 4.5lb are you attributing to the Ti frame. Seems it's not really an apples/apples comparison... ;)
 

sea

New Member
Nov 2, 2003
76
0
0
Originally posted by merubeyurubu
So how much of the 4.5lb are you attributing to the Ti frame. Seems it's not really an apples/apples comparison... ;)

I changed from a Softride with Shimano 105 components & a Carbon fork to a Litespeed with Campy chorus & a carbon fork.

The Softride beam seatbar might be heaver than a steel seatpost.

The beam seatbar did improve seat comfort but I had unbareable shock through the arms & wrists on the Softride until I added the carbon fork and a better stem.

The Litespeed transmits a much better road feel through the seat without making it too harsh & the overall ride improvement is substancial & hill climbing is wonderful..
 

flynn

New Member
Oct 29, 2003
26
0
0
64
I have a older steel bike and like it. I also ride an ali MTB as commuter every day for 2 years. I like the weight saving, but feel the ali a harsher ride.

What brand was the ali bike which broke?

I think Ti would be the ultimate if I have the $ my first real nice RB will be a Ti.

What brand is your Ti bike?

Originally posted by sea
I don't know which is bust but I do know that I will not buy an Al bike again. I ride aobut 3500 miles a year and my first and last al bike broke from metal fatigue at 2 years 10 months. I don't consider that acceptable. (It was an $1800 bike.)

I now have a titanium bike that's 4.5Lbs lighter and a much better ride.
 

sea

New Member
Nov 2, 2003
76
0
0
Originally posted by flynn
I have a older steel bike and like it. I also ride an ali MTB as commuter every day for 2 years. I like the weight saving, but feel the ali a harsher ride.

What brand was the ali bike which broke?

I think Ti would be the ultimate if I have the $ my first real nice RB will be a Ti.

What brand is your Ti bike?

The broken bike is a Softride. The dropout broke completly off. I had that repaired and two months later it broke where the rear triangle attaches to the dropouts. I also had the 105 shifter and rear derailer break one after the other. The problem with Shimano is when it breaks you can't fix it, you have to replace it. I figured, that it wasn't worth throwing any more money at that bike.

The new bike is a Litespeed Classic. I would rather have a Tuscany but I found this on Ebay for $1000 and couldn't pass it up.