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Aluminum or Steel?(28 posts)

Aluminum or Steel?ADKBiker
Apr 11, 2002 10:22 AM
Which material do you think would work best for a 210 lbs. beginner in road biking(mtn. biked for 12 years). Any one that owns a Cannondale R900, Is it a harsh ride? Any who rides a 2001/2002 Lemond Zurich, does the bike flects to much for a 210lbs. person. The kind of riding I'll be doing is century rides, small triathalons, small local races, and for fun! Any tips? Thanks
Steel is much better for youcentury2
Apr 11, 2002 10:39 AM
You will for sure enjoy a steel bike more and it will last longer and handle better. The Zurich is nice - but pricy. Mercier Serpens is a better bike and you can find it new on sale at under $1300 [see bike at]
Apr 11, 2002 8:38 PM has a history of spamming the boards. A few months ago they were pushing the Primal Fear bikes when they first started selling them. Now it seems like whenever someone posts about a Lemond or other Ultegra Equipped Steel bike, there is a post directing you to either the bikes direct or Mercier Site. There have been a few posts like that over the last several days.

Then there was this thread earlier today:

Why do I get the get the feeling Century2, Dave L & PCWheels are all the same person? Also that BikesDirect was started by a Texas retailer who also sells Mercier? That is almost as bad as some of those Scooter Pedal posts that were showing up on the Hot Deals Board a few months ago.

If a manufacturer or web retailer wants to sell advertise their bikes on the site they can buy an ad and support this website. Or at least add some insight to the discussion and stop wasting bandwidth.

That's just my $.02
Mike Y.
re: SPAM???cyclopathic
Apr 12, 2002 4:01 AM
well I am different person I've recommended Mercier a few times as an option. Do you really think everyone recommending LeMond is the same person and is part of Greg's conspiracy?

Mercier are good olde steel lugged bikes and much better value then Rivendell IMHO. Unfortunately they were never "hot" anyone who tried to sell them including Harrison Cyclery a few years back didn't sell many.

Mercier would be a good choice for a "century" rider, and lugged frames tend to be stiffer then TIG weld (also 531 is stiffer then 853), so for 210lbs guy it's probably a better choice then LeMond. With respect to triathlons unless you wanna invest into tri- specific or TT bike, any bike wouldn't be good or would be equally good if you prefer that way.

That's just my $.02 don't jump to conclusions too fast

Bikesdirect are SPAM'mersAlpedhuez55
Apr 12, 2002 9:10 AM
I will stand by my previous post. Bikes Direct has a history of spamming this and other boards. I cannot comment on the quality since I have never seen a Mercier bike. You could question the use of lugs on an 853 frameset. THe shapped tubeset on my Lemond offers plenty of stiffness and would be lighter than a lugged frame. I just hope people do not buy them thinking they are getting a Cycles Mercian which is a high quality British frame builder.

THe posts are highly suspect and I beleive are mostly spam from Bikes Direct employees. When there is a pattern like there was several months about Primal Fear bikes, whose primary dealer is Bikes Direct, you have to take it for what it is worth. Most likely an advertisement for someone trying to draw people to a website. Now that they are introducing Mercier to theit line, we are getting more suspect posts. Also trying comparing Mercier to Rivendell is just absurd.

LeMond bikes are popular because they offer a high quality USA handbuilt frame. The prices can be a little more than some other brands. The fit does not suit everyone either. They get many posts when people ask about them because there are many happy riders. Just read the review sections and you will see.

I am not jumping to a conclusion too fast. I am just pointing out some obviuously bogus postings.

Mike Y.
Getting your facts straight would be nicecentury2
Apr 12, 2002 11:20 AM
Mike; you state you have never seen a Mercier - then you say comparing it to a Rivendell would be absurd. which is it - you know or donot? Also I have a Mercier - new 853 Serpens model - it is not lugged - and I know the difference after 25years of riding. I have NOT compared my bike to a Rivendell as I have never riden one ~ but to a Lemond (which I have riden) I can say I prefer my bike - shorter top tube more up right angles - better fork and price. I am a rider who likes steel, rides a lot (far not fast) and likes his new Mercier. I purchased from a LBS (which I guess I should not mention or else I am a spammer - right?). I guess it is ok for me to state that - as long as it is on point - correct? Or can I only state opinions that agree with yours?
re: Bikesdirect are SPAM'merscyclopathic
Apr 12, 2002 11:48 AM
my appologies I've spoken of Mercian which campy equipped shipped from UK cost as much as LeMond. Audax Special with Daytona is 920 pounds including VAT. (here is the plug if you view it this way

I have no opinion on Mercier, Motobecane I have not seen or ridden one, and I won't comment on any Bikes Direct and GVHbikes related pointers.
jumping to conclusionscentury2
Apr 12, 2002 6:19 AM
I post on several things - I like steel - I ride long rides [but slowly] - anyway, I have a Mercier and love it. If someone is looking for steel I think it is much better than a Lemond for most people - Lemonds and WAY long in the top tube and very over priced - just my opinion. But I have noticed that when people post an opinions on Mercier, Jamis, Fuji, Motobecane, Felt - etc -- some people think it is SPAM -- why is that? Can we only have positive feeling about Trek & LiteSpeed - if so - thats bad since I do not like either
let's consider one thing at a time....sprockets2
Apr 12, 2002 11:08 AM
BikesDirect has a lousy reputation for a number of reasons, not just for spamming, so forgive the poster for his assertion-those chumps probably deserve it.

Second, many of the bikes you mention-Motobecane comes to mind-have been hyped to extremes by people who seem to be typing their msg directly from a spec sheet. Almost all of these msgs are very similar in content and tone.

Third, the Moto posts may well come from Asia (or from stateside factory reps), where the damn things are built, as the msgs appear to be written by someone who is not a native English speaker.

Fourth, to help you understand BIAS, look at your own statements regarding not liking LS or Trek, and loving a Mercier. Dude, think about it. THINK ABOUT IT.
let's consider one thing at a time.... OK - one or twocentury2
Apr 12, 2002 11:28 AM
I am not hyping Motobecane - I do not like Aluminum frames and that is what they make. Is that OK? Due to that; I do not like Trek, Specialized, Felt - etc - just due to preferring steel. I think you know the pluses and minuses of both. A Lemond, Mercier, or Bianchi would all be fine with me - or a custom steel if I had the money. Money is an issue for me - and I found the Mercier to be a better value. -- LITESPEED -- I just thought about it - thanks - I think they are way over priced. And the only time I was on one - I prefered my old Peugeot with Reynolds. Is that OK?
you're one to talk....Jekyll
Apr 12, 2002 12:00 PM
I looked through your posts. In about 70% of them (every time "which bike question" came up) you recommend your bike to the poster without knowledge of their particular dimensions, ride requirements, etc: Just "steel is best for you" or Mercier is the best bike for you. How do you know? I'm sure your Mercier is a nice bike for YOU and for many other people. Its probably not the best bike for everyone and some people (gasp) might prefer a different bike, with a different geometry and made of different material(s). Talk about jumping to conclusions.
you're one to talk.... just opinionscentury2
Apr 12, 2002 1:00 PM
I guess I should put it is my opinion in front of all sentences -- It is my opinion that steel is the best tubing on a road bike - many do not agree - but I still think its best
Its not the material (mostly), stupid.....Jekyll
Apr 11, 2002 10:57 AM
Good bikes can be made from steel, ti, carbon or aluminum. Design and fit are far more important than material(s) used.
Cannondale and Lemond geometries are pretty different. Lemons tend to have longish top tube where as Cannondales tend to be pretty square. They will fit and ride differently. Your choice of wheels and tires will make a grater difference in ride quality either way.
The claim about durability of any given steel frame over an Al (or any other) frame also has more to do with design and material. People hear truism and keep repeating them until they become gospel - don't buy into it. Someone posted a great article by Sheldon Browne here the other day regarding frame materials and their effect (or lack of there of) on ride ( ). There is also a study (don't have the link) which did cycle testing on frames from different manufacturers and of different materials. I'm sure some one here has the link.
Best thing you can do is try to get extensive test rides on prospective bikes. There are plenty of good bikes in that price range - ride as many as you can and buy the one that fits and rides best for you.
Its not the material (mostly), stupid.....SamDC
Apr 11, 2002 12:03 PM
Hi Jekyll,
Is this the link you were speaking of?

Good, objective attempt and settling that lurking question of what's a good (note I did say best, however) material of choice.
Apr 11, 2002 12:08 PM
Kind of funny looking at what broke and what did not...
Probably not gospel but it does give some food for thought.

thanks for the link
my favorite paragraphSamDC
Apr 11, 2002 12:36 PM
"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."
test.. how applicable is it?cyclopathic
Apr 12, 2002 5:59 AM
1200 Newtons = 269.67lbs
1300 Newtons = 292.15lbs

200,000 cycles = 55.56hr @60 RPM

Litespeed uses similar test to test their frames (though they claim to apply 400lbs). lower end LS take ~750,000 cycles where Vortex failure point is btw 1,000,000-1,500,000 cycles.

but guys, how applicable is this test? Even 1.5 million cycles is only 416hr 40min. And 55hrs.. a couple weeks of worth of riding? Besides, can you really put down 400lbs? or 292.15lbs? 269.67? Cycle after cycle?
test.. how applicable is it?djg
Apr 12, 2002 6:20 AM
Well, it's perhaps useful precisely because we don't put down that kind of force--and therefore don't break the frames. (be an interesting isometric exercise to see whether one of us sub 270 pounders (all of us?) could actually exert that sort of force while riding). Never actually broke a frame myself (although I bent one pretty good once).
re: questioning usefulnesscyclopathic
Apr 12, 2002 7:13 AM
standing on pedals without doubt I can put down more then my weight (which is only 140lbs), perhaps weight and a half or maybe even double (which I seriously doubt) Still it is way lower then used in either tests.

Second, after looking at the test results one can come out with assumption that failure rate is proportional to applied force. It isn't. Material needs to experience certain level of elongation for microfractures to start develop and it is different for different materials.

Ferrous alloys (a.k.a. steel) and titanium have a threshold below which a repeating load may be applied an infinite number of times without causing failure. This is called the fatigue limit, or endurance limit. Aluminum and magnesium don't exhibit an endurance limit, meaning that even with a miniscule load, they will eventually fail after enough load cycles

Basically if you have frame A and frame B made out of different materials (Al vs Ti, diff steel alloys etc) you may find that reducing load by half may well reverse the table.

Anyways all test shows is how long frame lasts at full throttle under pro (surely Cipo puts more during sprint then lousy 400lbs ;)
re: questioning usefulnessJekyll
Apr 12, 2002 8:22 AM
I think that DC gathered the essence of the test in the paragraph he quoted. The majority of the failures were probably more related to construction/manufacturing than to the material involved. If you look at were the frames failed most did so at a weld point (lug, bottle boss, cable boss, etc).
The result the test seems to show best is that construction is more important than material. Which is the original point I was trying to make to the Troll century2: Its not really the material stupid - its how its designed and made.
I think most quality frames are strong enough and durable enough for the vast majority of us. The materials used are most certainly secondary to design and manufacturing standards and the most important thing is still and always will be fit.
The most annoying thing is the slew of truisms tossed around by people who feel a paramount need to defend their personal choices even when they have very limited experience with other products and very little understanding of material, geometry and construction "issues."
There is no best bike for everyone. Ride lots, buy the one that works best - frame material and head badge are secondary.

just my .02
well saidgtx
Apr 12, 2002 8:34 AM
all the broken frames I have seen (not including from crashes) have been from overheating or bad welds by the builder. Back in the 80s, the area on the downtube around the shift levers was a popular failure area--from overheating. The lighter the tubing, the easier for the builder to screw up.
My opinions on the test.Anvil
Apr 12, 2002 10:47 AM
I've talked about that test so much, I kept my last answer since it keeps coming up, so this is a cut and paste deal:

My own opinions on the test aren't that positive, but I'll add what I think are the key problems with the test in no particular order.

1. It has no statistical relevance. In other words, the study group is too small to be able to establish failure patterns or characteristics of the frames and construction methods in question.

2. As a test of materials or failure probabilty of particular frame style, it fails miserably simply because of item 1 and that multiple samples of the same frames were not tested.

3. As a comparative test of different frames or construction methods, it fails miserably for the following reasons:

a. No control was placed on the size of the frames, i.e., a 57 was tested the same as a 61 (these numbers were not necessarily pulled from the test and I only use them as an example of frame size variance).

b. No thought was given the design criteria of the frames tested or how they were designed to respond to stress or the design criteria (basically this means that if you design something for load X you can expect it to fail at load XXX).

I'll expand a little on 3b because I think it is the most important aspect. The inability of a frame to meet the test load does not condemn the frame if the frame was designed to provide a certain ride characteristics or meet specific design criteria. Obviously a frame designed for a forgiving ride is going to be more highly stressed towards its fatique limit in a test such as this than one which was designed to be very stiff. IMO, this test is designed to reward very strong and stiff frames. Further, the manner in which the bikes are held prevent them from responding naturally to the applied stresses, and this can cause stress to be concentrated in one area. Again, this favors a structurally stiff frame and the fatique limit of Ti and Steel are irrelevent if their fatique limit is routinely surpassed. Again, this is not a condemnation of the frame, it is merely reflective of the design criteria. Bike frames are very synergistic and dynamic in nature and many ti and steel bikes, especially the ones tested are designed to provide a more forgiving and flexible ride which in turn means that they are more effected by a like stress than a frame designed with thin yet very oversized tubes. A steel frame or a ti frame can easily match or surpass the performance of any other material if that is part of its design criteria. Which brings me to my next point...

The test is applying loads of around 270 and 300 pounds per cycle per "pedal." That is not a very realistic loading for most frames and certainly not a load I would design for (considering that one wants to design a frame where the maximum loads are under the fatigue limit of steel or ti) unless the rider was very large or very powerful. It's good design load for an aluminum frame as an aluminum frames life cycle is largely determined by its ability to resist stresses higher than it would normally see. To make this clear, this simply means the stronger it starts out, the longer it will last as aluminum has no fatigue limit. This is oversimplified, but a material that has no fatigue limit starts to fail as soon as it is stressed. It may take a long time fail depending on its design (long life cycle), but the stresses are cumulative and failure is inevitable. Both steel and ti (and some other materials) do have a fatigue limit and this means that as long as the applied stresses stay under than limit, it will not fail (this is actually theoretical, as a fatigue limit tests start out as destructive tests and the load is decreased until failure no longer occurs in X (bajillions) amount of cycles).

So, if the efbe test, by virtue of its need to test bikes to destruction (or not) speedily (Note that on its services page, Efbe offers a 72-hour service for fatigue testing of fr
what do you suggest?Jekyll
Apr 12, 2002 11:48 AM
I think that every one here realizes the limitations of the test. The odds of someone ever doing a comprehensive test are pretty low. It would be great if someone had a few years and a couple hundred grand worth of frames to brake to find results and then people would still find a reason not to like the results. Actually if someone wants me to take a sabbatical and pay me to do that I would love the job - breaking things for a living would be a blast.
For the average rider here who puts on (I'm guessing) 1.5k to 5k miles a year durability is really not an issue. Most will not keep their bike for more than 5 years and most have more than one bike to ride. There are the obvious exceptions (MB1 and MsM - you guys are incredible, Doug, etc.) to the milage above.
Durability really is not the issue here. Its just another reason to make grandiose statements to your significant other when justifying a $3000 Ti frame as the "last bike you'll ever have to buy." Been there , done that, then got more bikes....
Quality bikes come in all metals. Steel is the most common for small builders because its the "easiest" material to work with. Nothing wrong with that either way. Just most of the properties associated with the ride "common" to a particular material seem to be best left to the realm of myths.
re: what do you suggest?cyclopathic
Apr 12, 2002 12:07 PM
buy what you like to ride and don't look up to the "semi-scientific" tests.

Just keep in mind that in real life Al frames (with exception of Cdale) won't carry more then 5 year warranty, and steel and Ti is either lifetime or 25 years. I take it mfgs know something when they set up those limits.
the cut-off partAnvil
Apr 12, 2002 1:16 PM
So, if the efbe test, by virtue of its need to test bikes to destruction (or not) speedily (Note that on its services page, Efbe offers a 72-hour service for fatigue testing of frames), applies loads in excess of the fatigue limit of the material tested (steel or ti)to determine an outcome rapidly, only bikes that are designed by the nature of the material to provide an acceptible life cycle are those that will reliably pass the testing, read that Aluminum or frames with aluminum joints. In other words, I'm not surprised by the tests or its outcome. I could go on a few more pages about this, but you're already probably drooling on your keyboard...
Apr 12, 2002 2:32 PM
what you're saying because Al has no fatigue limit Al frames are overbuilt to survive longer? and that's why they fair better on "overstessed" test?

why isn't it possible to overbuild steel in similar way?
Lemond ZurichAlpedhuez55
Apr 11, 2002 6:48 PM
I am about 300 pounds and do not have a problem with frame flex on my 2001 Lemond Zurich. I have not had a any chain rub on mine. It feels very responsive. Remember the seat tube is a little slack. I think it a great bike for larger riders. I should work well for you. Just be sure to try it out first because the geometry is not for everyone. The seat tube angle is a little slack. Let me know if you have any other questions!!!

Good Luck!!!
Mike Y.
re: Aluminum or Steel?mmaggi
Apr 12, 2002 6:59 AM
At 210lbs, the ride won't be as stiff as someone who's less than that. But after 50-60 miles, you'll feel it, trust me.

I've ridden steel and then al. I like steel, but I love al. But I only ride 40-50 each time I go out. If you're going to be doing 75+ alot, I'd just stay with steel, Ti or CF.

I've spoken to many Cannondale owners and they love'em. But they do say that they're stiffer than nails. Cannondale al frames seem to have that reputation.