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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

I am contemlpating getting a Single Speed and found a great deal on one [with aluminum frame]. However, I know that steel frame would probably be a lot more durable and absorb more high-frequency bumps.
This probably was already discussed before... but I would love to hear opinions specifically from "lightweight" riders. I weigh 115 pounds fully clothed with topped off camelback ;-) and suspect that durability of the frame would not be that much of an issue.
What would you all recommend? Can you really feel the difference in material?

Thanks in advance.
 

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Aluminum bikes tend to be stiffer only because the tubes are larger in diameter (you don't want aluminum to deflect too much because it is not as strong as steel in fatigue). As a result, the frames are designed to give less.
Take a look at a steel bike and you will see relatively skinny tubes. These allow for more flex, making the ride more confortable (slightly, in my opinion).

Have fun.
 

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Yep I agree but

Allamuchy Joe said:
Aluminum bikes tend to be stiffer only because the tubes are larger in diameter (you don't want aluminum to deflect too much because it is not as strong as steel in fatigue). As a result, the frames are designed to give less.
Take a look at a steel bike and you will see relatively skinny tubes. These allow for more flex, making the ride more confortable (slightly, in my opinion).

Have fun.
nothing rockets up hill like a stiff ultra light aluminum frame.
 

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My first mountain bike had an aluminum hardtail frame and I rode it over four years. I have recently switched over to a steel frame and can honestly say it is a night and day difference in ride quality. The aluminum frame was a really harsh ride that sent every crack on the trail directly up my spine. My steel frame rides like a dream and helps absorb the impact of the trail. I doubt I'll ever buy another aluminum frame hardtail again.
 

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A more confortable saddle (more suited to you) would make a lot more difference then alu vs steel...

Buy what is cheaper... Dont forget steel rust aluminium don't people often forget that.

Some people like an alu frame (stiffer)
So like steel frame (more confortable, less stiff)

Personnaly i don't notice the difference... Otherwise that saddle make a huge difference, be carefull with people that say the steel IS A LOT MORE confortable, they usually change the whole bike including the saddle... Having a steel frame vs an alu one make a little difference in confort...
 

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Fo' Bidniz in da haus
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people are gonna make a lot of generalizations that I think dont help.

For completness, here is mine: "The most important parameter in a frame build is HOW it is built, not what design is used, not what material is used, but HOW the material/design is implemented, period!"

i acknowledge the subtle differences between materials but using a good builder, I definitely prefer Aluminum. This is based on MY preferences so nobody can argue what i have found I like....your results may vary.

I have 1 Aluminum and 2 Scandium bikes.
 

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From another angle...

All other things being equal, steel has a nicer ride. How much of a nicer ride? Depends. If you've been a FS rider and now going to a HT you'll think both rides are bone jarring.

One way I look at it is this. I've been riding a very nice scandium frame that I got used. It's a super frame in every way except its a harsh ride when compared to a good steel frame. But even a good steel frame is going to come in at least a half pound heavier. With that in mind I justify a fatter tire on the Scandium and I still save weight while getting close, if not more, of the cush that a steel frame would give.

So, if you look at it from that angle it's kind of a wash.

That's still not saying I'm not jonesing for a custom steel.

Mike
 

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I have a SS alu and a SS steel.
I think it depends on your style and what you want to do with it.

When I want to go fast & more agressive I take my Cannondale , or else , I have my Kona Unit.
Don't forget that there are alu bikes that are surprisingly comfy.

Give me the choice , I'd say alu.

When I feel too much bumps & rocks & stuff , I take my road bike:thumbsup:
 

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What are these steel frames that everyone keeps referring to and ride so compliant? I can understand some of the more pricier frames, but what about those that the majority ride? I have tried out a Surly 1X1 and will say that a very stout frame built from 4130 cro-mo leaves alot to be desired as far as comfy goes. I now ride a Fort Onix steel SS frame and while I like it, it is also one solid frame. I find it hard to believe that most 16 to 17" steel frames that weigh well over 4 pounds and made of 4130 or equivalent, are going to ride any different. I still have my steel Stumpjumper, so I do know what a nice steel frame feels like. For someone dressed out at 115 pounds, unless they go custom, I do not think they are going to feel much difference between most aluminum frames and the more popular steel SS frames. As far as durability, I believe that and value are what companies like On-One and Surly really target.

Brian
 

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FoShizzle said:
I have 1 Aluminum and 2 Scandium bikes.
Isn't a Scandium frame an aluminum alloy frame...... just like the aluminum frame...except that the alloy is scandium instead of something else?

edit: I agree with your take on design and build being more important than the material.
 

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So to summerize your post

Miker J said:
All other things being equal, steel has a nicer ride. How much of a nicer ride? Depends. If you've been a FS rider and now going to a HT you'll think both rides are bone jarring.

One way I look at it is this. I've been riding a very nice scandium frame that I got used. It's a super frame in every way except its a harsh ride when compared to a good steel frame. But even a good steel frame is going to come in at least a half pound heavier. With that in mind I justify a fatter tire on the Scandium and I still save weight while getting close, if not more, of the cush that a steel frame would give.

So, if you look at it from that angle it's kind of a wash.

That's still not saying I'm not jonesing for a custom steel.

Mike
When it comes to quailty made hardtails all things (price, weight, durability, stiffness, etc.,) considered you are splitting hairs on frame material?

I agree and would even throw Ti and carbon into this statement.
 

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You can't decide by material alone.

Not too long ago, I would say all aluminum frames were fairly primative. Straight gauge or minimally butted tubes. And it was fairly easy to say then that ALL aluminum frames rode harshly. But now, with more and more manufacturers using more extensively butted tubes and different alloys, I don't think it's wise to say aluminum rides one way and steel another. There's enough varience in the ride quality that you really have to talk about individual bikes. Aluminum frames still all have really big tubes compared to steal frames, and aluminum is not a good material for making springs so it's still probably fair to say that in general aluminum frames are stiffer but to rule out a bike strictly because of what it is made out of instead of actually riding is probably dumb.

When aluminum first made the bike scene, in the shape of glued together Vitus and Alan frames, the rap on them was that they were too noodle-y. So material alone is obviously not a good way to judge the way a bike will ride.
 

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Bike Nazi said:
When it comes to quailty made hardtails all things (price, weight, durability, stiffness, etc.,) considered you are splitting hairs on frame material?

I agree and would even throw Ti and carbon into this statement.
Yeah, the differences are small, and can pretty easily be overshadowed by tire choice and tire pressure. On the other hand the difference between xt and xtr is pretty small too; and we know what how important _that_ difference is too some. Some guys can hop on a bike and ride whatever. They wouldn't know if you added 15psi to there tires or dropped their bars by an inch. Some guys are bothered if the pressure is off 2 psi in their tires or if their seat is off by one angle.

Lucky are those who can ride whatever and just be happy.
 

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A well built aluminum frame will, by definition, be stiff. If it's not, it will fail. Unlike steel, aluminum has a finite limit on how many time it can flexed.

A steel frame can be designed to flex without the hazard of metal fatigue.

Bottom line. Design of the frame is more important than material.
 

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Blue Shorts said:
Bottom line. Design of the frame is more important than material.
If you live in a city where the winter is 5 months long and there is calcium on the road , I'd say the choice of material is definitly the priority...

It all depends on what your priority is , for me , alu is more durable than steel.
 

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fokof said:
If you live in a city where the winter is 5 months long and there is calcium on the road , I'd say the choice of material is definitly the priority...

It all depends on what your priority is , for me , alu is more durable than steel.
Good points... I was referring to ride quality, not a material's properties vs corrosives. In your case, aluminum would be better than steel.
 

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Megaclocker said:
Personnaly i don't notice the difference... Otherwise that saddle make a huge difference, be carefull with people that say the steel IS A LOT MORE confortable, they usually change the whole bike including the saddle... Having a steel frame vs an alu one make a little difference in confort...
Steel IS A LOT MORE COMFORTABLE!! :thumbsup:
Ride a Brooks saddle. :D
People with aluminum bike usually change them up as well, it's called upgrading...What if you just buy a frame?? :eek:ut:
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thank you all for your responses. Very good points made. Just wanted to clarify: I don't really have any preference as to what material the bike is made of and what properties those materials possess other than the ones pertinent to rider's comfort. I know I will be taking a lot more beating riding a single speed rather than my trusted geared aluminum squeeshy.

It does seem like steel gives more flex/shock absorbtion and aluminum's rigidity provides for better climbing. I would definitely prefer to be a little less beat at the end of a long ride, that's why I brought up the materials. Other than that, it doesn't really matter to me what it's made of [Titanium would certainly be pretty darn nice if I could get it for the same price] :)

So far I am leaning towards building up a nice custom steel frame, that can be made very very light. But I wish I had an opportunity to ride a steel SS and an aluminum SS for some time to help me decide whether I see the difference or not. Unfortunately, there aren't many girls of my size that ride SS that I could borrow a bike from. Appreciate all the advice I can get!

Thanks.
 

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Have you tried asking about the relative comfort of frames and getting some rides on each ones in the womens forum?

There are some very nice ladies in there who would be willing to give you some more help.



R.
 
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