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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Looking to get a hardtail for the collection. Any comments on the ride differences between these materials? Obviously there are a lot of additional factors to consider so this is more of a theoretical question. Assuming four equal bike designs/frames, except the material they are made with, how would the ride differ?

Bob
 

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Formerly DMR For Life
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Al --> lightweight, stiff
Steel --> compliant, short fatigue life (relative)
Ti--> Compliant, longer fatigue life
Carbon --> superlight weight, can be design to be compliant and stiff

you also have to consider use too

DMR
 

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It's all how the material is executed, what the bike is made out of tells you nothing about how it will ride.
 

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Hi guys, Forgive me for going off topic.

I am new to mountain biking. My roots were as a BMXer back in the 80s until about 1990 or so. Back then everything was made out of 4130 chromoly. I seem to remember it being a light, strong steel. Now, I don't hear anything about it at all. Why is that? I just bought my son a freestyle bike, and it weighs about 38 lbs! My Diamond Back that I raced weighed about 22 lbs.

At the end of my BMX career, titanium was starting to be used, but it was very expensive. Now there is aluminum, and carbon fiber, as well as hi tensile steel. Back then the hi-ten steel was a less favorable option to chromoly. Now it seems that chromoly has disappeared. Is this true or am I misperceiving things?
 

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personally I like ti

All materials have their specific qualities but, titanium is magic. I have ridden aluminum and steel hardtails and like titanium the most. Less harsh on the longer rides, light and stiff.
Go ti.
 

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bigchromewheelssuck said:
All materials have their specific qualities but, titanium is magic. I have ridden aluminum and steel hardtails and like titanium the most. Less harsh on the longer rides, light and stiff.
Go ti.
After 25 years of road riding on everything but Ti I bought a Seven. If I stick with SS racing for another couple of years I could justify ordering a Ti SS frame. Yes. it'd be worth it.
 

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DMR For Life said:
Al --> lightweight, stiff
Steel --> compliant, short fatigue life (relative)
Ti--> Compliant, longer fatigue life
Carbon --> superlight weight, can be design to be compliant and stiff

you also have to consider use too

DMR
I am not sure where you heard that Al has a longer fatigue life than Steel, but this is not true. Steel and Titanium both have fatigue limits, or levels of stress at which the material can loaded and unloaded essentially forever with no structural effect on the part. For Al, the fatigue limit is close to zero meaning that all loading cause some level of degradation. Steel has a big advantage over AL when it comes to fatigue.

For me, I prefer the feel of a steel hardtail. I would like to build one up someday, funds permitting, as a just-for-fun fun bike.
 

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CDMC said:
It's all how the material is executed, what the bike is made out of tells you nothing about how it will ride.
This is only partly true, especially when it comes to hardtails. Four hardtails with the same geometry and same build made of four different materials will have a different feel.
 

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The Kid 5 said:
Hi guys, Forgive me for going off topic.

I am new to mountain biking. My roots were as a BMXer back in the 80s until about 1990 or so. Back then everything was made out of 4130 chromoly. I seem to remember it being a light, strong steel. Now, I don't hear anything about it at all. Why is that? I just bought my son a freestyle bike, and it weighs about 38 lbs! My Diamond Back that I raced weighed about 22 lbs.

At the end of my BMX career, titanium was starting to be used, but it was very expensive. Now there is aluminum, and carbon fiber, as well as hi tensile steel. Back then the hi-ten steel was a less favorable option to chromoly. Now it seems that chromoly has disappeared. Is this true or am I misperceiving things?
Chromoly hasn't disappeared entirely. It's just harder to find as AL has become the metal of choice on most low to mid-level bikes. Ti isn't "mainstream" but there are some dedicated mfg's who specialize in it. This usually isn't the choice for low or even mid pricing though. Most highend is AL or carbon with mfg's like Moots or Seven doing the Ti. Hi-Ten is relegated to very low end. Not even worth buying IMHO. I would say that AL has become what Chromoly was in regards to popularity.
 

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TrashBike said:
I am not sure where you heard that Al has a longer fatigue life than Steel, but this is not true. Steel and Titanium both have fatigue limits, or levels of stress at which the material can loaded and unloaded essentially forever with no structural effect on the part. For Al, the fatigue limit is close to zero meaning that all loading cause some level of degradation. Steel has a big advantage over AL when it comes to fatigue.

For me, I prefer the feel of a steel hardtail. I would like to build one up someday, funds permitting, as a just-for-fun fun bike.
First i never mentioned fatigue life in relation to Al :nono:

Second Ti does have a longer fatigue life than steel other wise whats the point in pay more for it :rolleyes:

DMR :D
 

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jabpn said:
Chromoly hasn't disappeared entirely. It's just harder to find as AL has become the metal of choice on most low to mid-level bikes. Ti isn't "mainstream" but there are some dedicated mfg's who specialize in it. This usually isn't the choice for low or even mid pricing though. Most highend is AL or carbon with mfg's like Moots or Seven doing the Ti. Hi-Ten is relegated to very low end. Not even worth buying IMHO. I would say that AL has become what Chromoly was in regards to popularity.
Thanks for the explanation.
 

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DMR For Life said:
First i never mentioned fatigue life in relation to Al :nono:

Second Ti does have a longer fatigue life than steel other wise whats the point in pay more for it :rolleyes:

DMR :D
first :rolleyes: you implied it

second there most certainly are reasons beyond fatique life to own a ti bike.:thumbsup:
 

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DMR For Life said:
Second Ti does have a longer fatigue life than steel other wise whats the point in pay more for it :rolleyes:

DMR :D
I would say the fact that Ti frames are so much harder and more expensive to manufacturer. For instance:

"Because titanium reacts with air at high temperatures it cannot be produced by reduction of its dioxide. Titanium metal is therefore produced commercially by the Kroll process, a complex and expensive batch process."
Manufacturers charge more for Ti because its harder and more expensive to produce. They dont put a premium on it simply because it will last longer. However, you are willing to pay the premium for Ti because you understand that its as strong as steel whilst being 45% lighter (depending on the alloy obviously). It has some characteristics that make it a good material for a HT such as abosorbing trail buzz etc, and as mentioned before will last a long time. Also Ti frames are often hand made and generally made by a boutique or custom frame builder to very high standards as well as other benefits.
 

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Titanium is expensive and a mother to fabricate parts with but wins out over steel in the strength and weight department... aluminum is easy to machine and fabricate with but lacks the strength of steel or titanium, has a much shorter working life, and can be a little on the rigid side.

Steel is my favourite material for bikes as it has a huge cost advantage over titanium, is much more rugged than aluminum, is relatively easy to work, and the ride quality of a steel bike is great.

The ride qualities of a well built steel HT are going to be very pleasing to anyone who's experience has been limited to riding aluminium HT bikes.

I just picked up an 87 Kuwahara "Super Tour" road bike that was built on a triple butted and fully lugged 4130 Ishiwata frameset and am presently building it up with some 700c wheels and parts I had kicking around the shop.

I also have an 87 Kuwahara Cascade XC / Expedition mountain bike that was built on quad butted 4130 tubing and it's ride (and performance) is marvelous.

Each bike is 20 years old and neither shows any sign of slowing down as they enter their third decade of service.

Steel is real.
 

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I'm a fan of steel. Its relatively inexpensive and a really comfortable ride for its price.
 

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My pic is Ti.........if this bike is gonna be in a long term relationship.......Also my bias for it is compliancy and weight.....Also no rust(but this is more dependent on where you live and how you treat your rig after ride). Some of the newer steels are getting up there in price so really cost is a relative measure.......

All out throw away after racing season rig if I was sponsore....CF or Sc......
 

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TrashBike said:
This is only partly true, especially when it comes to hardtails. Four hardtails with the same geometry and same build made of four different materials will have a different feel.
Yep, but that would be because of construction differences not because of the material itself. You can make steel frames that are stiff as a board and aluminum frames that ride like a carpet. It is all a function of tubing thickness, butting, and diameter.
 
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