Author Topic: Steel vs Aluminum

Steel vs Aluminum
« on: June 26, 2014 »
Although on indefinite leave, it is difficult for me to step away from my vocation of providing guidance.

BikeMapper2.0 at BikeForums writes:

Hi out there!

I'm in a debate with myself on getting a new road bike. I love long distance rides, love steel, always had steel. However, I know there's a trend in road bikes to go aluminum lately (right?). I really want a new steel frame but am I being outrageously stubborn? I'm also seeing a lot of road bikes online that have components I want with aluminum frames/carbon forks and am trying to be OK with it, wishing it was steel. hahaha... Can anyone advise or shed some light? I do the occasional race and lots of weekend, long distance recreational rides.

Thanks so much!

Steel is real, and I'll get to aluminum in a moment, but first consider the hardwoods, which lacquer up real nice:

Then there's bamboo,

which is said to offer a very cushy ride, and has the advantage of being a material most people can manipulate in the comfort of their own home.

smelting hobbyist objects

The only disadvantage with bamboo is that it keeps growing if watered, so if you're not careful it may outgrow you. On the other hand, it would be the most sensible frame material for a growing child.

Bamboo would also make the ideal desert island bike. I don't remember if they ever them on Gilligan's Island, but they could've done; all it would've taken was a rubber tree and the ever resourceful professor to adapt the vulcanization process to his crude but effective lab.

As to aluminum – or as we spell it across the pond, aluminium (as in, "Honey could you remember to buy alumininininium foil the next time you go shopping?") – although of course it has less resilience than steel, titanium, or bamboo, don't dismiss it as a poor cousin. The Washington Monument itself was proudly topped off with this now seemingly plebeian material.

When it is suggested that aluminum is just a passing fad that will never catch on, Baboo writes:

I know you are right on this. I wouldn't settle for any of that alloy steel you know 4130 or such, I would only take high tensile gas pipe steel it's a little on the heavy side but will last until the world ends. Don't let anyone talk you into brifters either only down tube shifters are used by real men.

The builders originally installed downtube shifters, but some objected, feeling they would become an anachronism too soon.

shifting gears was also a bitch