Steel vs. Aluminum



lohsnest

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Oct 10, 2004
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I have a Reynolds 520 Steel frame and granted, it's not the heaviest frame around, it is still hefty, weighing in at 4.65 pounds, without the fork. I was considering a lighter steel frame from Viner, which weighs about 3.09 pounds without the fork, a small difference which ultimately would not really matter, once my componenets were installed.

I recently came across a GIANT aluminum frame, I believe it is the TCR. It's total weight, including fork, is only about 3 pounds. At this point, I am wondering wat the pros and cons are. I understand there is a weight recommendation for aluminums, which is not a consideration for me. and that it might be a harsher ride??? If there is someone out there that can give me an idea of what I'm getting into, please let me know.

Runce
 

Azonict

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Oct 12, 2004
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There will be a ride quality difference.

You are going to feel alot more of the road and vibration on the Alum!
Also, it will be more responsive (basicaly) compared to the Steel...

With that in mind..

You need to ride an Alum bike first...

Don't buy it then hate it for being to rough..

I ride Alum bikes and love them..
But there is a price to pay..
(most of it in $ on Carbon Fiber to reduce vibration)
But some in comfort...
 

lohsnest

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Oct 10, 2004
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Thanks for the feedback. I noticed that, even with the weight difference, I'm looking at a net differential of only about 2-3 pounds, not much, but still....I think I'll have to try it first.

Runce


Azonict said:
There will be a ride quality difference.

You are going to feel alot more of the road and vibration on the Alum!
Also, it will be more responsive (basicaly) compared to the Steel...

With that in mind..

You need to ride an Alum bike first...

Don't buy it then hate it for being to rough..

I ride Alum bikes and love them..
But there is a price to pay..
(most of it in $ on Carbon Fiber to reduce vibration)
But some in comfort...
 

dhk

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Sep 1, 2003
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lohsnest said:
Thanks for the feedback. I noticed that, even with the weight difference, I'm looking at a net differential of only about 2-3 pounds, not much, but still....I think I'll have to try it first.

Runce
Suggest you test ride the TCR, and also a Trek 2300 AL/CF frame as a comparison point with your 520 heavy pipes. Haven't ridden a TCR, but I'll bet you're going to feel a lot less road vibration on the Trek.

A high-quality aluminum frame with a good CF fork will have a much smoother ride than the old-school heavy-duty Reynolds steel....at least that's my experience.
 

OCRoadie

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Oct 5, 2004
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lohsnest said:
I have a Reynolds 520 Steel frame and granted, it's not the heaviest frame around, it is still hefty, weighing in at 4.65 pounds, without the fork. I was considering a lighter steel frame from Viner, which weighs about 3.09 pounds without the fork, a small difference which ultimately would not really matter, once my componenets were installed.

I recently came across a GIANT aluminum frame, I believe it is the TCR. It's total weight, including fork, is only about 3 pounds. At this point, I am wondering wat the pros and cons are. I understand there is a weight recommendation for aluminums, which is not a consideration for me. and that it might be a harsher ride??? If there is someone out there that can give me an idea of what I'm getting into, please let me know.

Runce
I agree with Azonict, I ride aluminum and it's light, fast and very responsive but my body takes the toll sometimes. You can improve the ride by using CF forks, seat post and maybe bars (I recomend the fork and seat post, but question CF bars, although I will probably give the Easton oversized EC90 bars a try). I have found that on rides lasting longer than 3 hours that I wish I had a carbon fiber frame, but anyhting under 2 hours definetly doesn't bother me. Also, take into consideration the road conditions of where you will be riding. If you have rough roads with lots of expansion cracks and junk then you may want to stay away from the aluminum. Like the other guys said, test ride the TCR first.
 

TechJD

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Jun 28, 2004
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lohsnest said:
I have a Reynolds 520 Steel frame and granted, it's not the heaviest frame around, it is still hefty, weighing in at 4.65 pounds, without the fork. I was considering a lighter steel frame from Viner, which weighs about 3.09 pounds without the fork, a small difference which ultimately would not really matter, once my componenets were installed.

I recently came across a GIANT aluminum frame, I believe it is the TCR. It's total weight, including fork, is only about 3 pounds. At this point, I am wondering wat the pros and cons are. I understand there is a weight recommendation for aluminums, which is not a consideration for me. and that it might be a harsher ride??? If there is someone out there that can give me an idea of what I'm getting into, please let me know.

Runce
I suggest you look through the fourm
you will see other simluar post and find most seem t oprefer steel
and a lot of Aluminum buyers are goin to steel
 

gpelpel

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Sep 23, 2003
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There's also different types of aluminum. Some cheaper frame can be very rough while high-end frames, especially those made in Italy, are not a lot worst than some carbon ot steel frames. I would definetly recommend a carbon fork. I used to have a carbon epic with an alu fork and experienced hand and wrist pains quite frequently. When I switched to a Bianchi alu with a carbon fork and steel steerer the pain was gone and the ride not much harsher (prabably because of the foam injected into the frame). I tried both a carbon and an alu seatpost on the Bianchi. Honestly the difference was quite minimal, I actually used the Thompson alu seatpost the most because it fit me better (no setback).
Alu frames (the good ones at least) are very rigid and thus very responsive. Yes you feel the road more than with carbon but you get a real sense of speed.
As others have suggested the best is to ride the bike and test several frames if possible. You also have to consider the type of riding you do. If you are in centuries a lot then speed and weight might not be as important.
 

531Aussie

Well-Known Member
Apr 11, 2004
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lohsnest said:
I have a Reynolds 520 Steel frame and granted, it's not the heaviest frame around, it is still hefty, weighing in at 4.65 pounds, without the fork. I was considering a lighter steel frame from Viner, which weighs about 3.09 pounds without the fork, a small difference which ultimately would not really matter, once my componenets were installed.

I recently came across a GIANT aluminum frame, I believe it is the TCR. It's total weight, including fork, is only about 3 pounds. At this point, I am wondering wat the pros and cons are. I understand there is a weight recommendation for aluminums, which is not a consideration for me. and that it might be a harsher ride??? If there is someone out there that can give me an idea of what I'm getting into, please let me know.

Runce

You should notice a big difference when you ride a lighter bike. In my opinion, anything over 2lbs is A LOT. However, the biggest difference is noticed when you get back on a cheap, heavy bike after riding a light bike for a period of time.

I have a steel 2004 Cervelo Superprodigy, and it's great(http://www.cyclingnews.com/tech.php?id=photos/2003/tech/features/PRGW/bike_ch1825). The frame weighs 3.7lbs (1687g), which is good for a steel frame, especially when it has a slightly over-sized downtube and chunky chain and seat-stays. They are also heaps cheaper than Italian frames -- they now sell in the US for about $950 (US Dollars), which includes a Columbus Muscle (full) carbon fork, a carbon post, and a Cane Creek head-set.

That GIANT alu sounds a bit light to me. I have an aluminium size "L", which weighs 3.05lbs (1386g) without the fork. Maybe the one you've seen is smaller and newer. Someone gave me the Giant frame after it was in a minor accident, and I'm glad I didn't spend money on one. I currently have it set up as a commuter (riding in joggers :) ), and there's nothing special about the ride it gives -- it's not overly harsh, but all my steel bikes are much more pleasant to ride. Steel bikes have a sort of "springy pleasantness" about them that's hard to put totally accurately into words. I also know a guy who weighs about 185lbs (85kg), who broke three of them before giving up and getting Pinarello.
 

HammerTD

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Oct 13, 2004
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dont be mislead by giant's frame weight, they use a compact frame geometry, which definitly makes the frame lighter. but sometimes to get the correct fit on compacts you add weight other places. the suggestion of the trek 2300 is a good bike to compare to the tcr. I bought a tcr2 last year, rode it for a year and swiched and bought a trek 2300 this year and like it tons more. I like the more traditional geometry of the trek because i fit better and the addition of the carbon seatstays make it a much smoother ride. i also find the handeling of the giant to be too twichy. the ride of an alluminum compared to a steel will be much harsher, but the carbon fork, seatpost, (and seatstays on the trek) help a ton.
 

dhk

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Sep 1, 2003
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HammerTD said:
dont be mislead by giant's frame weight, they use a compact frame geometry, which definitly makes the frame lighter. but sometimes to get the correct fit on compacts you add weight other places. the suggestion of the trek 2300 is a good bike to compare to the tcr. I bought a tcr2 last year, rode it for a year and swiched and bought a trek 2300 this year and like it tons more. I like the more traditional geometry of the trek because i fit better and the addition of the carbon seatstays make it a much smoother ride. i also find the handeling of the giant to be too twichy. the ride of an alluminum compared to a steel will be much harsher, but the carbon fork, seatpost, (and seatstays on the trek) help a ton.

Agree the new 2300 is a smooth bike. But disagree about your generalization that aluminum will ride much harsher compared to steel. I've got two steel 531 Raleighs, and have test-ridden a Fuji 853. These are harsher riding than my Zonal AL/CF rear/CF fork bike.

Believe a light-gauge steel tubeset like Ultrafoco or S3 will give a nice, resilent ride. But, whether your talking AL or Fe, you can't compare a heavy-walled tubeset with an expensive triple-butted one. Lumping all frames together based on material alone is like saying a Trek 1000 and 2300 (or CAAD 6) ride the same, or a 520 and S3 steel frame ride the same.