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Steel vs aluminum(15 posts)

Steel vs aluminumWiaruz
Dec 2, 2003 2:37 PM
I am looking at building new bike, always ridden steel and am thinking about something lighter. I am heavier guy (200lbs) and would welcome any views/comments re choice of material. I might even get back into some racing but will mostly be doing rides up to 100k.
re: Steel vs aluminumPmbH
Dec 2, 2003 2:49 PM
I'm 200, and I have both steel and aluminum bikes for road and MTB. I've also ridden a carbon Trek. I've had no problems with any of my bikes. Pretty much any bike out there is going to be just fine for 200lbs, unless you're really rough on it. Even when I was heavier (~250lbs) I rode an off-the-shelf aluminum Trek 2000 and never had any problems with it.

IMO, 200 isn't in the "big boys" range yet, and there's no real concern for specialty components.
re: Steel vs aluminummapei boy
Dec 2, 2003 4:01 PM
After 30+ years of riding steel frames, I went to an Aluminum Colnago Dream three years ago. I haven't looked back. The aluminum bike does transmit significantly more road noise than my last steel frame bike (which I now keep as an office bike), but it's still a bicycle...meaning it's still whisper quiet. It also rides slightly rougher when the road surface is less than perfect. But when it comes to very rough surfaces, potholes, etc., my new aluminum frame rides a heck of a lot BETTER than my old steel frame.

It should be mentioned, too, that shedding a couple of pounds from your bicycle is a wonderful thing. Even more wonderful is the efficiency you gain from a nice, stiff aluminum mount. When you're trudging up that hill and your energy reserves are getting low, it's nice to know that far less of your precious leg moxie is being frittered away.

I know that most of the other posters will tell you aluminum sucks, but this rider likes his alu frame a bunch.
Flexible frames do not waste energy!!!!tube_ee
Dec 2, 2003 7:25 PM
At least not in any amount that any cyclist can detect. It's time to lay this myth to rest once and for all. Bicycle frames are excellent springs. Energy used to displace the bottom bracket on one half-stroke is returned on the next half-stroke. Plus, the flex in the tires dominates flex in the frame by at least on order of magnitude.

Except when it affects handling, stiffness is not an an important aspect of bicycle performance.
my only adviceThe Human G-Nome
Dec 2, 2003 4:01 PM
don't ever title a thread "steel vs. aluminum"
unless you're talking rims :o)PmbH
Dec 2, 2003 4:08 PM
In which case, I think everyone can agree.
Just avoid ultralights and ignore material of constructionKerry Irons
Dec 2, 2003 4:29 PM
At your weight, you can find a frame from any material that will hold up, but you can also find steel, aluminum and CF frames that are just too darned light. If you stay away from the very light frames, you'll be fine regardless of the material.
bad roads? go with steel. speed over smooth tarmac... alum. nmcolker1
Dec 2, 2003 5:30 PM
re: Steel vs aluminumlyleseven
Dec 2, 2003 8:08 PM
200 lbs? You are much better off with steel. Anyone that tells you aluminum is better for this weight is simply defending their bike. Sure, newer aluminum is much less harsh than it used to be, but so is the new steel. This subject has been so overworked on this site you won't get any agreement. Weight of the bike is such an overrated factor for the average cyclist that it is really of little importance unless you are climbing all day or racing.
On the same note...divve
Dec 3, 2003 2:44 AM
....because you're not racing ride 25mm tires. They'll smooth out your ride far more than any discernible difference between steel and aluminum. If you're so concerned about feeling any bumps at all don't ride a road bike. Get something with suspension. My MTB for instance with 1" tires mounted feels like a magic carpet on the road. I can even lock out the front and the rear for those critical out of the saddle sprints....wait I forgot I'm not racing.
My aluminum Softride Solo rides like a magic too. nmMel Erickson
Dec 3, 2003 8:20 AM
Ok, tell me why?Nessism
Dec 3, 2003 6:56 AM
I can understand the argument that stiff Al frames are not suited for small lightweight riders, but why are they not suitable for heavyweights? It seems to me that the extra mass of these people make an Al frame a viable option.

material isn't the issue.dzrider
Dec 3, 2003 7:54 AM
I've owned a Vitus aluminum and have an aluminum Raleigh beater bike that I share with my sons. The differences between these 2 bikes is greater than the differences between them and my steel bikes. The Vitus was very compliant and smoothed the road - much like Columbus SL. The Raleigh magnifies every little bump and amplifies every little noise.

I agree with those who say avoid the ultra-light and suggest buying the bike not the frame material. Seat, tires, wheel base length and the shape of the tubes each effects comfort more and a well built bike should have no problems under a 200 lb rider.
Depends on which steel and which aluminum...DINOSAUR
Dec 3, 2003 8:25 AM
I'm a "big rider" also at around 200 pounds. It depends on which steel and alumumin you are looking at. I would avoid the ultra weight stuff and take a look at your choice for wheels and tires. I weighed 240, 5 years ago when I started back to cycling when I retired. I did some research on frame material and went with a Klein Quantum Race, which has suited me fine. I don't find the ride too harsh or rigid, or whatever you call it, but it's more a bare bones racer strickly built for speed (IMHO). For my "new ride" (now 1 1/2 years old) I went with a Colnago Master X-Light.
There is a difference between the rides of these two bikes, but it's not to say that one is better than the other. The Klein is lighter and accelerates faster and I have better times when I am climbing (but not by much). The steel Colnago is a very comfortable bike, made for long rides in the saddle. Steel does have a different feel to it. When I hit a rough portion of roadway the steel bike absorbs the shock because of the elastic properties of the steel, the aluminum bike has more of a steam roller effect, but it's still not what I would consider a rough ride. The Klein is a very smooth riding bike. I would stay away from the ultra light steel and aluminum, I've heard of guys denting lightweight al frames when dropping tools on them. Another thing to consider is geometry as that was a big concern for me. The Klein would be a nicer ride if I replaced the Rolf wheels as they are very stiff. If I was looking at a new aluminum bike I would take a look at a Colnago Dream as I like the Colnago geometry. I ride a 59c-t with a 56.9 tt and it fits me like a glove.
You could do fine with either material, if you want more bang for your bucks (weight) go with al.
I spend most of my time on the steel bike, rarely ride the Klein, I use it as a back-up bike, if that means anything. The main difference for me is the Colnago fits me better.
re: Steel vs aluminumMShaw
Dec 3, 2003 10:13 AM
I'm going to echo the advice of "don't buy the ultralight frame" advice. There's frames built for the featherweight climber-b@stards and then there's the rest of us.

I'd look at C-dales, Kleins, Trek (both carbon and AL), etc. Pretty much any major manufacturer is going to build a bike that should last under you. Pick the one who's ride you like the best: I rode a friend's C-dale yesterday. It sprinted like a champ! but I still like the ride of my S-Works road bike better.

That said, if you're not racing at the elite level, losing 2-3 lbs. off your body is a better than buying a new bike. Hire a coach with the money you're about to spend, THEN once you've lost weight, buy a lighter bike.

Unless you just want a new bike, then go for it.