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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've seen a LOT of steel bikes on the all mountain thread. I've heard people swear by steel, and curse aluminium, and vice versa. Also I've noticed that the big brands (cannondale, Specialized, GT, so on) have mostly aluminium frames. From an AM point of view, can someone tell me why this is so?
 

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Chromoly (steel) frames are more forgiving. They flex so they have a better feel on downhills in my opinion. Aluminum frames are very stiff so they don't flex. For people who swear by steel I think its more about the feel of the ride. On the other hand, those who swear by aluminum like the stiffness because there is less wasted energy on pedaling.

When I first got an aluminum hardtail frame from Chromoly it was like night and day on the ride. I prefer Chromoly hardtails over aluminum. They are making a comeback.
 

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Frame design is more important than frame material in terms of ride "feel". It 's just as easy to build a noodly Al frame as it is to build a filling-rattler of a steel frame. Tire pressure makes more of a difference to ride feel than frame material, as does the wheel build.

Red bikes are fastest.
 

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It's a subtle thing. On a longer ride steel may feel a bit better on your body than os alu, but by no mean soft. It's not just the material it's also how they're made. If you ride a lot of alu hardtail when you get on a steel bike you can feel the difference, it does not feel as harsh.
 

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icalebkim said:
Also I've noticed that the big brands (cannondale, Specialized, GT, so on) have mostly aluminium frames.
Alu is cheaper for making lightweight frames, you can match Alu frame wights with steel but you'll be using some pretty expensive tubing to get there.
Also Alu is easy to form into those dramatic swoopy shapes the big brands like so much.

You'll find a love of steel frames wherever there's abuse. They're stronger than Alu frames and for the most part more easily repaired. They have much higher fatigue lives, crash damage excepted you can expect a steel frame to live as long as you, Alu, not so much.
 

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pinkrobe said:
Frame design is more important than frame material in terms of ride "feel". It 's just as easy to build a noodly Al frame as it is to build a filling-rattler of a steel frame. Tire pressure makes more of a difference to ride feel than frame material, as does the wheel build.

Red bikes are fastest.
While that is absolutely true, the properties of each lends itself to the ride qualities described.
For example, aluminum frames benefit from larger tube diameters due to it's low density / low weight relative to steel. I also believe that higher quality material - Reynolds 853 v. straight gauge 4130 Chromo - makes a big difference.

Years ago, I had a Salsa Ala Carte (steel) and a Schwinn Homegrown (alu.). The ride qualities were completely different. I had the Schwinn, got the Salsa, then went back to the Schwinn. Unfortunately the Salsa was just a bit small for me, so I ended up selling it. Point is, the same wheels and fork were used on both, to sort of 'control' the comparison.

I could ride the Salsa all day; 2 hours on the Schwinn and I was toast. It was super stiff and my back and back side got pounded. It was less of an issue for the few races I did, as it seemed aggressive fast riding meant less time plopped in the saddle.

But, oddly enough, I agree with you more with my experience on my :yikes: road bike. I have had old C'dales and steel frames, and my new(er) CAAD 8 frame rides better than all of them. Also, going to a 25 rear tire from a 23 made a big difference too.
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hm.... Will do. in fact, my only ride id a cromo 1990 marin rigid.

How do you mean, you feel less beaten up? I thought it was just vibrations. And th triangular design of the bike eliminates all vertical flexing?
 
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