Steel vs. Aluminum

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by fdezarra, Aug 23, 2003.

  1. DiabloScott

    DiabloScott New Member

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    Ridiculous analogy. Spoke design and frame design are not analgagous at all.

    Also, good aluminum frames have a LONGER fatigue life in practice than good steel frames do - check out the Rinard test.
     


  2. DiabloScott

    DiabloScott New Member

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    Here's the link and a snippet of the test results with commentary:

    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/rinard/EFBe/frame_fatigue_test.htm

    Frame Cycles Break Location
    Principia RSL 200.000 no break
    Cannondale 200.000 no break
    Trek OCLV 200.000
    Time Helix HM 181.966 right chain stay
    Schmolke Titan 160.356 down tube, bottle boss
    Klein Quantum Race 131.907 down tube, cable guide
    Barellia SLX 119.316 Head tube, lower lug
    Merlin Team Road 100.595 down tube, shift boss
    Stevens RPR4 85.032 right chain stay
    Nishiki Team 78.206 bottom bracket/seat/down tube
    Fondriest 77.171 both chain stays
    De Rosa SLX 56.690 Head tube, lower lug


    The fact that aluminum and carbon frames in this test lasted longer than the steel frames is not in our estimate a question of the material, but the design effort. Not the material, but its skillful use gives the result. However, the manufacturers concentrate their design efforts in a logical way on frames with good potential for light weight construction - and those are made from aluminum or carbon, and only rarely (because of low rigidity) from titanium.
     
  3. SquadraSF

    SquadraSF New Member

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    the answer is that there is no answer. there are many different kinds of steel and many different kinds of aluminum (not to mention CF and titanium) and the build quality, geometry, tires and seat will have infinitely more to do with comfort and performance then whether it's made of one material or the other. my aluminum bike is 10 times more comfortable then my steel ride, but of course, my aluminum race bike was 4500 bones and boasts CF fork and seatstays and is made with scandium tubed U2 aluminum. you get what you pay for.

    NEVER buy or even prefer a bike simply based on whether it's steel or aluminum. test ride it, figure out if the geometry and fit works for you (much more important) and have it. if you bought an SAT 16.5 steel bike, it's going to be lighter, stiffer and more expensive then the aluminum bike that's suppose to boast those qualities... but it will be MUCH more expensive.

    in conclusion: this debate is a non-factor. buy your bike for other reasons.
     
  4. Babbar

    Babbar New Member

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    Everything is subjective. Some don't like Cannondales, some don't like Treks, and others cannot stand Shimano components. So what?

    That does not mean they "suck." It just means you don't like them. Perhaps you could expand and state exactly what it is about Cannondales you don't like. That way, it might be less subjective and more enlightening.
     
  5. DurangoKid

    DurangoKid New Member

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    After 14 years, I put my old mule out to pasture about a month ago. She was a Specialized Epic with a lug and tube carbon frame. Comfy ride, but squirrelly at high speeds. Welded wheels helped somewhat. I test rode an Airborne Zep, Trek 5200, Bianchi San Lorenzo, and a LeMond (model?). The LeMond was a few hundred bux cheaper than the exotic frame bikes. Results?

    The LeMond was rather sluggish: not as quick feeling as the newer materials. The Zep was very alive. Every feature on the road surface is transmitted to your hands and butt. The carbon was carbon. I chose the aluminum San Lorenzo. It seemed like the half way between the carbon 5200 and the Ti Zep. Very quick to accelerate, stable at high speeds and still has a pretty good ride. It has a “friendlier” feel than the other bikes and the colors are nice. I have a matching jersey and water bottles, too.

    There are other factors in choosing a bike. I hate to shop. I didn’t want to test ride every bike in my price range. After you’ve tasted six wines, you don’t know what the hell you’re doing. I also have some problems with one of the local bike shops. I don’t appreciate being talked down to like I’m a freshman at the nearby big university that shall remain nameless except to say their colors are red and white and their mascot wears bark and needles and reproduces with cones. I bought into the shop almost as much as the bike. The people at www.bicycleoutfitter.com are a great bunch. They’re friendly, interested, knowledgeable, clean, brave, thrifty, reverent, etc. Rather than sell me the San Lorenzo stock, we built it up with Ultegra and custom wheels (32/36 Mavic Open Pro’s). It saved about $500 and put me on a good frame with decent wheels. They even ordered some components in black to match the frame without being asked. The level of service and selection is so good there that I don’t care to go anywhere else. So, for me, the place I buy a bike is an important part of the package.
     
  6. steven2000ad

    steven2000ad New Member

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    Are there any bikes riding on aluminium spokes or is there aeronautical types available from space shuttle columbia?(only joking). Try some Diadolo and you will definately leave the tarmac without your bike but just you in mid air flight to the asphalt.
    I'm just trying to prove a point that you would never be game enough to prove for yourself unless your the new "jetson" to the "tour de intensive" ward with a red jersey for rehabillitation. Steel is tough and outlasts aluminium that becomes brittle.
    High tech bikes maybe but steel is at the heart of each revolution. Prove that it aint and be brave or stupid if you like, and go ahead and install aluminium for spokes if its stronger than steel as most bozos will believe. LOL .Only post back after you've completed 1 km sprint on these and i'll believe in aluminium for strength!
     
  7. DiabloScott

    DiabloScott New Member

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    Steven - do you ride on steel tires? Do you have a steel saddle? Do you wear steel shorts? Of course not, because steel is a STUPID material to use for any of those applications, and none of those applications is anything like a bike frame. Aluminum spokes would be a stupid idea, but aluminum is a fine material from which to construct a frame.

    BTW - you do have steel rims, handlebars, stem, seatpost, and crank too, don't you?

    Kindly limit your posting to stuff you know something about.
     
  8. steven2000ad

    steven2000ad New Member

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    hey hey, my my, into the blue, and into the black. Well the subject here my friend is STEEL vs ALUMINIUM. The subject is all about these two alloys and yes it may seem a bit overdrawn in relation to steel on my behalf but this is how spokes are made they are drawn if you get my drift. You feel threatened by my posting because its a little intimidating to come to terms with a little commotion. You see I like to throw a spanner into the works so to speak to stir the adrenallin. This is GOOD training. Aluminium frames or any material for that matter is designed using the old geometry of the principles of the "A" frame that provides a good rigidity and is the "adopted" method that is continually in use. Aluminium frames have been around for a shorter period of time as opposed to steel frames and the test of time has shown it to be a good material . The debate here my friend (please dont stress Take a big breath, in out ,in ,out,) is as the title says steel vs aluminium. So for that matter I want to focus on these two materials. When someone looks at the test of time those remaining have proved their viabiliy. Weight has become the greatest concern for the use of other materials for bicycle manufacture. Colnago still produces amoung others, good steel road bikes because of their repairability if need be. Speak to your bike shop my friend to when your machine stress fractures, or has any form of damage, and you've got no hope for repair only to the re-----CYCLE bin. My "stir' of the analogy of spokes is not my fetish to stir you but to emphasise that without STEEL the bicycle industry would not exist, because what else has the strength of STEEL> as for rubber I didnt see it as part of this posted topic. Anyway its good to stir the "foundations" and the steel debate is a cool one to get the wheels rolling LOL.
    You guys on aluminium believe that its stronger than steel and thats why I use the spokes as an example so as to get the difference between the frames apart. Rubber is a different matter altogether because it aint no frame material yet unless your onto the next generation of lightweights.
     
  9. DiabloScott

    DiabloScott New Member

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    >Well the subject here my friend is STEEL vs ALUMINIUM.

    Well, the topic is steel vs aluminium but the subject is steel vs aluminium FRAMES - no you're trying to say it's not.

    >You feel threatened by my posting because its a little intimidating to come to terms with a little commotion.

    Wrong again - not threatened at all - I'm irritated that you're spouting nonsense and concerned that someone out there might believe you.

    >Speak to your bike shop my friend to when your machine stress fractures, or has any form of damage, and you've got no hope for repair only to the re-----CYCLE bin.

    I have both a steel and an aluminium road bike - which one are you talking about? I like them both very much but neither one would be economical to repair when you add the cost of materials, labor, and repainting. The "repairability" arguement for steel is a ruse.

    >My "stir' of the analogy of spokes is not my fetish to stir you but to emphasise that without STEEL the bicycle industry would not exist, because what else has the strength of STEEL

    That is so completely off topic and nothing like what you said in your earlier post that I can't think of a response.


    >You guys on aluminium believe that its stronger than steel and thats why I use the spokes as an example so as to get the difference between the frames apart.

    I believe that an aluminium frame can be as strong as a steel frame because the strength of the frame is only partly a function of the material - design and workmanship are at least as important. By the way I realize we're speaking in layman's terms here, but the quality I think you're looking for is actually called "toughness" and is a measure of resistance to crack propogation - ie how well the material stays together after a crack forms; strength is a measure of the material's ability to resist deformation under stress. Steel has a higher yield strength and fracture toughness than aluminum, but when we speak about the "strength" of a frame, we're talking about the frame's ability to come out of a crash in one piece, or to last a long time in normal use - aluminium frames have been around long enough now that the best ones will last as long as the best steel frames - and the type of crash that would render one unrideable would likely do the same to the other.

    Once again - design of spokes is a completely different exersize than design of frames - you're trying to throw a red herring in the discussion - not a spanner. Did you read the test report? That's REAL data on frame life using REAL bikes - GOOD ones, and the steel bikes (for all their wonderful characteristics) didn't fare as well in the results (completely satisfactorily, but not as good as the aluminum ones).
     
  10. steven2000ad

    steven2000ad New Member

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    Yes your on the ball its all about frames. But you miss the entire point.

    Quote--"I believe that an aluminium frame can be as strong as a steel frame because the strength of the frame is only partly a function of the material " DiabloScott



    "THE SPOKES ARE A PARADOX TO THE SAGA!"

    I understand what a frame is and what its for, but what it is contructed from, yes constructed from, is the riddle that gives its identity to overall strength. Like wise I can only infer of what spokes are made from and I understand its funtion but the RAW MATERIAL still is STEEL and this is the difference between ALUMINIUM. Likewise its used for different functions but surely you have to understand that STEEL is stronger than ALUMINIUM. If you cant admit this then YOU FAIL in common logic. THIS IS where i use a spoke as just a SIMPLE EXAMPLE that even a child would understand.
    Why cant you see this? JUST think and answer this ? Why wound'nt some one use the strength of aluminium as spoke material to further reduce the bikes overall weight? Surely you know the answer----Its just not strong enough unless you are the new kid on the block with 60mm thick egg beaters. This whole topic is "vs" so this is the challenge to prove materials.
    THIS has been a paradoxical equation that unfortunately you've missed.


    steel is a good deal stronger that aluminium alloy, it is also a good deal more dense, so you can afford to use a greater volume of aluminium and still end up with a lighter bike. Aluminium frames are of necessity more chunky than steel frames, and the resulting bike is probably stiffer than an equivalent steel frame.

    I guess that this means that fractionally more of your pedalling energy is usefully transferred into forward motion, but that the bike might not be quite as comfortable. Aluminium alloy has the advantage that it is very resistant to corrosion.

    Most aluminium framed bikes use steel forks.

    On the debit side, aluminium is notoriously difficult to weld - it does not change colour when molten - so you may find it difficult, or even impossible, to have an aluminium bike frame repaired.

    I mention below the hugely superior fatigue properties of steel over aluminium, this is another factor to put into the pot when choosing a frame material. More than one major manufacturer has had to issue public safety warnings over the possibility of failure of some of their aluminium frames - bicycle frame failure!

    Bicycle framebuilders have known about the secret of steel for a long time. In fact, steel has been used to build more bicycle frames than any other material. It has also been used about 50 years longer than any other material currently in use.
    This is where steel shines, as compared to Ti and Al. Young's Modulus for steel is approximately 30 million pounds per square inch. The titanium alloy Ti3Al-2V is 15.5 million psi, and 6061 aluminum is approximately 10 million psi. Those ratios (three to two to one) are almost identical to the density ratios between these three materials. That means that the stiffness-to-weight ratios for the three materials are about the same (provided you're looking at stiffness in tension or compression).

    If you really want to know, Young's Modulus is the ratio of stress-to-strain in the region below the proportional limit on the stress-strain curve. All you need to know is: the bigger the number, the stiffer the material. Wait a minute, though.

    How come, if steel is so stiff and Al is not so stiff, that those big-tubed aluminum bikes are so incredibly stiff? Young's modulus measures the stiffness for all of these materials with the same-size specimen, or section. We can call the measurement section modulus. One of the pieces of the puzzle the bike designer gets to throw in is the size and wall thickness of the tubing used. Then we get to figure the polar-section modulus of the material by the formula: 0.196 (D4-d4)/D). All this formula says is that as a tube's diameter increases (D), the stiffness increases to the third power of that number (d is the inside diameter). Comparing a one-inch tube and a two-inch tube of equal wall thickness., the fatty is going to be eight times as stiff as the little weenie tube. And the weight will only double. Now does the ride of those Kleins and Cannondales start to make sense?

    Steel is a wonderfully reliable material for building bikes. It's safe to say that there's no more successful material ever used. It's easy to work with, can be easily welded or brazed, requires simple tools for fabrication, fails in a predictable manner (as opposed to sudden or catastrophic),

    There have been few challengers to steel's throne of best material in the last 100 years. For a couple of decades, we have seen aluminum increasingly being used in bikes, and titanium has been used successfully for about 10 years. The test of time is impossible to ignore.
    :D :cool:
     
  11. SquadraSF

    SquadraSF New Member

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    There have been few challengers to steel's throne of best material in the last 100 years. >>>>


    yes, and that's why NO ONE in the pro peleton rides on steel. sure, buddy... keep singing the praises of the framebuilder's "secret". LOL.
     
  12. jitteringjr

    jitteringjr New Member

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    I'm new here but aren't the pro's riding mostly Ti and carbon fiber bikes? Which means that given the topic here, Aluminum VS Steel, isn't what the pros ride irrelevant?

    I am surprised about how many steel fans there are. I have only ridden Aluminum and have liked the experience very much, especially now with a carbon fiber seat post, seat stays, and fork. I test rode a few steel bikes but didn't like the feel. Maybe ignorance is bliss.
     
  13. SquadraSF

    SquadraSF New Member

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    they're using CF and aluminum. stiff, lightweight, efficient.
     
  14. jitteringjr

    jitteringjr New Member

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    I C

    Ok I’m not a metallurgist, but everything I know about these metals tells me that steel should be the stiff, unforgiving hard ride and Aluminum should be flexible but give sloppy handling. I mean you take a stick of aluminum conduit and you can bend it over your knee but steel pipe of the same thickness you can’t budge. So why isn’t steel the bone jarring material. Any experts care to enlighten me? Is it really pure aluminum and steel or are they completely different alloys in play here?
     
  15. steven2000ad

    steven2000ad New Member

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    the pro peleton resorts to advantages to prove there stamina using light frames. EPO is also a popular delight. I like the era of steel bikes Eddy Mercx rode and, Moser ---remember Moser SquadraSF, or is this too far back. Anyway these guys rode steel and achieved great results.

    Maybe todays rider in the peleton are pros but they resort to advantage point to get to the end. Composite materials are fine and so is aluminium and all other materials . But why I'm so one eyed on steel because as with anything,- it was in the days of un adulteration that the riders ALL rode steel without all the gram cost cutting and EPO to boot them along. This made the challenge an equal challenge and this is why I like the steel frames. I think with all this variety and difference in weight between todays race is a bit like a "rigged horse race". MOSER you little beauty.

    http://www.damonrinard.com/photos/moser84.jpg

    http://home18.inet.tele.dk/dans/moser.htm

    Check this frame its the best. Long live the classic frame.

    Even LANCE ARMSTRONG stated that the classic steel road bikes take on the form of jewelry.

    Fausto Coppi.:p :p :p
     
  16. SquadraSF

    SquadraSF New Member

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    why is it that when someone posts that there's nothing wrong with aluminum and CF, posters assume they must know absolutely nothing about steel? not only do i know about Moser, i know a considerable amount about the careers and personal lives of every past winner of the TDF. further, i've owned more then 15 steel bikes and have a steel steed in my stable to this day that i ride weekly. does that mean i'm going to take out that bike for my next race? absolutely not. but will i take it on a club ride or my team ride? sure i will. steel is a beautiful material with which to build and nothing beats the beauty and elegance of lugged steel. but for shear performance, you can't beat today's advanced alloys and CF. i find it humorous that people constantly "defend" steel as if no one had ever heard of the material and they're the only ones who have experienced steel. steel is now the alternative rather then the norm and people love to be different i suppose.
     
  17. steven2000ad

    steven2000ad New Member

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    OK SquadraSF

    I apologize I guess I got out of hand! I think that all forms of cycling is pure enjoyment and it shows no matter the material its a pure love of a machine that has gone through a revolution of new ideas.

    Steel vs aluminium just seems like a silly boxing match due to this versus middle word. I think this debate detracts from our love of a idea that began so long ago. Its great fun and no matter the material its all about huge distances without un-necessary drag to tire a rider out.

    I like all the bikes and each has special techniques to achieve our loved environmentally friendly machines. Lets just change the subject matter to:

    Aluminium for extreme riding pleasure or others. (Lets not exclude others here)

    Steel for sheer riding pleasure its a matter of choice.

    Have fun and ride safely! Sorry Diaboloscott

    Steven:) ;)
     
  18. ohiojeff

    ohiojeff New Member

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    perhaps way too late to help, but i used to ride a cannondale. it is amazing how many people they have turned against aluminum. i too switched to a Fuji custom for years. recently i purchased a spicer frame made of newer aluminum. cannondale is an extreme example of that material, ultimately stiff and unforgiving. my spicer rides much like my fuji did, except aluminum is less prone to corosion problems and is therefore more forgiving for those who dont spend hours cleaning and servicing things. the newer, softer aluminum bikes are a very good choice. dont take cannondale as the only example of what aluminum can be.
     
  19. btasquared

    btasquared New Member

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    Don't be sacred off by the people who have had bad experiences with aluminum (especially Cannondale) in the past. Admittedly, the early Cannondales were very uncomfortable for long distances. But the advent of carbon forks and s-shaped seat stays have improved the ride of those bikes greatly.

    I moved from a steel LeMond to an aluminum/carbon frame a couple of years ago, and I can't imagine ever going back to steel.
     
  20. rutamike

    rutamike New Member

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    Hi folks, I'm new to this forum, but I have ridden a steel Marinoni with Campy Athena since the late 80's. And today my wife bought me an Aluminum OPUS (new brand at LBS) after I did some shopping around. It has mostly 105 gruppo and feels light with a carbon fork and aluminum rear triangle. So far I've only ridden about 20 km, and it feels fine and responsive. Tomorrow we're going out on a longish ride on country roads, and I'll have a better feel about my butt.
    So far, the shifting is great, but I keep reaching for my downtube.
     
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