Steel or Alu frame

meagain Posts: 2,331
edited June 2008 in Road beginners
"Does steel really ride smoother or is it just hype"

The old, old, question!

IMHO/E, WHAT the frame is made of is of secondary importance to HOW it is designed (angles, wheelbase etc etc) and made. I have a very short attention/interest span when it comes to bikes and in last 6 years or so over 30 have passed this way: steel, alu, part-carbon, full carbon, part-titanium, full titanium. I would not attempt to categorise them by the material.

I think that the only generalisation I would offer about "comfort", "smoother" et al is that sloping top tubes better because allow more seat post out and that flexes a whole lot more than the seat tube!
"Cancel my subscription to the resurrection."


  • blorg
    blorg Posts: 1,169
    Personally having ridden aluminum and carbon Trek road bikes in exactly the same size and geometry I would have to say that the carbon one did smooth out road buzz a _lot_ more- it is this sort of damping potential that is supposed to be an advantage also held by steel (and titanium). I believe aluminum bikes are harsh not so much because of the material but because of the tube diameters used compared to a typical steel bike- aluminum bikes use much wider tubes and this makes them stiffer.

    Having said all that I reckon this is only relevant if you are running 700x23 tyres, if you are runnning bigger tyres I don't think you would notice the difference.
  • acorn_user
    acorn_user Posts: 1,137
    FORT/Intec make some Trekking frames.
    You could see if you could find a second hand trekking frame or buy a touring frame. If you spend a little more money, UK made frames become an option = lugged steel goodness!
  • blorg
    blorg Posts: 1,169
    That is a very good point from acorn_user, spend just a bit more and you could get something very nice indeed. Bob Jackson do very nice road frames from £360 but if moving the stuff over from the Discovery I reckon you would probably want the cantilever braze-ons.
  • jethro924
    jethro924 Posts: 49
    Also depends on what wheels you put with it. I had an Alu frame with carbon fork that I had no issues with open pro rims (36h). "Upgraded" the wheels to 105 factory built jobbies and I felt every bump through the bars and saddle to the point where I went back to open pro rims!
  • AlanW
    AlanW Posts: 291
    Based on the fact that I have a Ribble ali framed winter bike, a custom made Brian Rourke 853 Audax bike and also a carbon Scott CR1, puts me in a good position to pass comment.

    Without any shadow of doubt the steel Rourkie bike is the most comfortable, not only that it climbs better than the other two as well. :oops:

    In fact the steel Rourkie bike actually weighs less than the Ribble bike does?

    In saying that, the carbon Scott is bloody fast, and will out sprint the other two by miles.

    So different frames for different purposes, ali frames are very cheap and therefore make ideal winter and daily hacks. While the steel frames are a lot more expensive but are brilliant for long distances and climbing. Finally the carbon frame is iideal for racing due to the very low weight and very stiff frame. :
    "You only need two tools: WD40 and duct tape. If it doesn't move and it should, use WD40. If it moves and it shouldn't, use duct tape"
  • zaynan
    zaynan Posts: 180
    Go for a Surly!
    The home of cargo bikes