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steel vs aluminum frames(3 posts)

steel vs aluminum framesDon Jorge
May 12, 2003 2:51 PM
Hi,
I'm a student and I have to write a paper on bicycle frame materials. I've still got some questions and I hope somebody can give me a useful answer..

Which frame is manufactured and sold most nowadays, an aluminum frame or a steel one? What's the market division between steel and aluminum frames? Which material is the most expensive? And what exactly determines this higher price? What's on average the price of a steel and an aluminum frame?

I would really appreciate your help...Thanks a lot!

Greetzz,
Joris Vanderstappen
Commercial Engineering Student
No simple answers to your questionsKerry
May 12, 2003 4:23 PM
There is a huge bike market world wide, and the vast majority of those bikes are pretty low end machines made for the domestic market in places like China and India and the rest of Asia. Then there is the performance market in Europe and North America. In the latter market, aluminum is the dominant frame material. However, in both of those markets there are much larger "casual" and children's markets where Al is much less common. I don't know where you would get the specific numbers as there is not much published data. Price is much more about the cost of the design, R&D, and engineering that goes into the frame than the cost of the materials. In the performance market, Al bikes tend to be cheaper, but that is only because most of the steel bikes are higher performance alloys and better engineered than the average Al frame, not because steel is inherently more expensive. Your average price question is even more difficult to answer: is that average weighted by the unit volume of any given price point? Most frames are not even available as separate elements except in the high end market, so the "average price" is pretty hard to calculate. On a low end bike, there might be only $50 in the frame, where you can easily spend $2000 at the high end. Does this mean that the average price is $1025? Not likely! You're going to have to dig a lot deeper than the information you'll be able to get on Internet discussion groups if you're writing a detailed paper. If it's only 5 pages, go to a few local bike shops and talk to the owners about the same questions, mix in what you get here, and you can make up a good story. Also remember that your local bike market may not be very representative. Example: in the Netherlands, there are a large number of steel 3 speed commuter bikes, while you will find hardly any such bike in the US (nearly all low end bikes are "mountain bikes").
re: steel vs aluminum framesctheronj
May 13, 2003 5:11 PM
Here is some information that you might find useful:

http://www.solace.mh.se/~turbo/mek/metals/metal.htm