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  1. #1
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    Scandium vs. Aluminum?

    Scandium vs. Aluminum?

    Is it really worth the extra quid?

    I am debating between the Niner Air 9 and the EMD. The frame geometry on both frames are the EXACT same.
    What happens in Vegas....I brag about for years....

  2. #2
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    steel.

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    agreed steel!

  4. #4
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    from my limited experience

    What I know from my limited experience is this:

    Aluminum is harsh and rigid... Scandium is less harsh and less rigid (also easier to weld). My experience from these two metals in bikes is an AL rig and my scandium Dos Niner. You can't really compare the bikes or the ride so that really isn't valid, however, I can say that my rig frame cracked at a weld and my dos niner is still going strong.

    Scandium is a reletivly new thing Salsa cycles believes in it and so do I I say go with the Scandium.

    just my $0.02 though...


    Edit: But if I were you and I was going to get a hard tail bike I would go with a SIR or a MCR. I owned a SIR and I can compare it to the rig and the SIR was much much more compliant and a smoother ride.
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  5. #5
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    power-san:

    I recently purchased a scandium frame to build-up and, if I had to choose between scandium and aluminum I would definitely choose the scandium, I think it's well worth the extra cost. Just like people say, it really does ride a whole lot more like steel, I'm really happy with it. I don't have experience riding a scandium frame with a ridged fork, however. I don't know if that would feel as good as a steel frame in that regard.
    pete

  6. #6
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    arg.

    I'm sure this has been covered many times, in many places. Ride quality is a function of frame DESIGN, not material selection. Material selection, however, does place limiters on what is practical and/or feasible in a given design.

    That said, "scandium" as a term in frame construction, refers to an aluminum alloy with a small percentage of scandium added to improve weldability. This allows for shorter butts in the tube (eg: less length of increased thickness at the joint) which typically yeilds a more responsive ride.

    However, you could easily do the same with a 7xxx series aluminum, and get the same ride qualities (but likely for a shorter lifespan). Conversely, a production frameset originally designed for 7xxx series changed to a scadium alloy will yield no improvements in "harshness"

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by InVeloVeritas
    arg.

    I'm sure this has been covered many times, in many places. Ride quality is a function of frame DESIGN, not material selection. Material selection, however, does place limiters on what is practical and/or feasible in a given design.

    That said, "scandium" as a term in frame construction, refers to an aluminum alloy with a small percentage of scandium added to improve weldability. This allows for shorter butts in the tube (eg: less length of increased thickness at the joint) which typically yeilds a more responsive ride.

    However, you could easily do the same with a 7xxx series aluminum, and get the same ride qualities (but likely for a shorter lifespan). Conversely, a production frameset originally designed for 7xxx series changed to a scadium alloy will yield no improvements in "harshness"

    So true, so true.

    Main point: "Scandium" is a marketing term for one particular alloy of aluminum. There are many different aluminum alloys (by the way, steel is an alloy too) and each has its own properties which benefit frames in their own ways.

    Second point: Aluminum that is alloyed with scandium can be used to build a lighter frame. If you believe that saving a 1/4 pound (maybe less) is worth the extra money, then it is.

    Last point: Any frame material can be used to build a harsh riding frame. People that assume aluminum is the culprit are incorrect and repeating old wives' tales. A well designed frame uses the material in a way that achieves the design goals. It's easy to build a stiff and light frame out of aluminum, so when that's the design goal, it makes a good material. However, not all aluminum frames are stiff riding bikes. Similarly, not all steel frames ride nicely, nor are they necessarily compliant.

    While the material matters, the frame's geometry, what it's designed to do, and how it's designed to ride, are all more important that the particular alloy that was used to put it together.
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  8. #8
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    Scandium is aluminum.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by grawbass
    Scandium is aluminum.
    Okay...

    7005 Aluminum vs. Aluminum w/ Scandium GX2.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by jomissa
    steel.
    Blah blah blibbity blah


    Quote Originally Posted by Kenny Bloggins
    agreed steel!
    blibbity-bloopity blah.

    unityhandbuilt

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by grawbass
    Scandium is aluminum.
    Not if you look at the periodic table...

    Scandium alloyed with Aluminum improves strength and weldability. It makes for a better frame.

  12. #12
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    The addition of Scandium to alu seems to be documented to improve stiffness by up to 10%.
    However, Scandium frames oftem seem to be built to drop more than 10% off a brand's top alu frame. This makes you end up with a flexier frame, IME. Weightweenie material because of that.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by power-san
    Scandium vs. Aluminum?

    Is it really worth the extra quid?

    I am debating between the Niner Air 9 and the EMD. The frame geometry on both frames are the EXACT same.
    Scandium is just another Aluminum alloy with it's principle alloying element being.....scandium. the addition of Scandium increases the yield, elongation and tensile numbers allowing tubesets to be formed in smaller diameters with thinner wall. This allows for lighter frames with a softer ride. Oh and for all you "steel" idiots, frame ride quality has phuck all to do with material and everything to do with tube diameter and thickness and also frame design.
    "Do not touch the trim"

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cloxxki
    This makes you end up with a flexier frame, IME. Weightweenie material because of that.

    Would this be better for XC racing? or would the more stiff frame be more suited?
    What happens in Vegas....I brag about for years....

  15. #15
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    Nonono! Scandium is a magical, mystical material that will make your frame lighter, stiffer and absorb vibration all at the same time. Frame design has nothing to do with it, it's all down to material choice, and the more exotic sounding the material, the better.

    All you people who think that scandium is just another aluminum alloy are crazy. You are probably believe that pork, bacon AND ham all come from the same animal or something

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by InVeloVeritas
    arg.

    I'm sure this has been covered many times, in many places. Ride quality is a function of frame DESIGN, not material selection.
    exactly.
    talk to anyone who's ridden a titus riddler (aluminum version of what is now the eleven) and they will tell you it's one of the smoothest, least harsh hardtails they've ever ridden. unfortunately titus probably went a little too far with the riddler based on the number of broken frames they've had.

  17. #17
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    I have three Niner frames that are set up identically... an EMD 9, One 9, and Sir 9 (The only difference is the EMD 9 does not have the eccentric bottom bracket, I found a "MAgic Gear ratio to make it singlespeed). All three bikes have the same fork, White Bothers, same length cranks (although one has Race Face, one Shimano, and one Truvativ) and the same wheelset and tires. The geometry on all three of the bikes are the same....

    So with all that said, The EMD and the One 9 ride pretty much the same... Rough and stiff!! They are both stiff aluminum frames that are unforgiving to ride and really pound you on rough trails. Was it worth the extra money for the "Scandium" frame... no... it rides pretty much the same as the cheap "Aluminum" frame. The only difference that I can tell is the weight. Would I buy either of these frames again... no. I wanted to drop some weight for my race bike for next year so I bought the One 9... mistake. (I won the EMD9 in a raffle and use it as a training bike). I had people tell me about the magic ride of the Scandium Niner frame and that it is closer to steel than regular aluminum frames, and I read many reviews about how great and forgiving the Scandium frames are... These people have never ridden one of the Aluminum frames (Scandium/7005) back to back with an "Identical" steel bike!

    So, back to steel for me! Rides nicer, causes less fatigue 3 hours into a ride, faster downhill, but weighs a little more (2 lbs... I can lose two pounds on my body someplace). Now that I have done all the tests and know the difference for myself, it is time to sell the Aluminum and get another Steel bike!!

  18. #18
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    did you know that scandium was originally developed by the russians to build rockets with tailfins stong enough to say together when it broke through an ice sheet? The scandium added makes the aluminum harder to weld because a special filament is needed to produce the right heat to mate the material. The scandium is added to make aluminum stiffer and lighter. bike companies use it because they can make a lighter frame with the same stiffness as a heavier model.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by tamen00
    I have three Niner frames that are set up identically... an EMD 9, One 9, and Sir 9 (The only difference is the EMD 9 does not have the eccentric bottom bracket, I found a "MAgic Gear ratio to make it singlespeed). All three bikes have the same fork, White Bothers, same length cranks (although one has Race Face, one Shimano, and one Truvativ) and the same wheelset and tires. The geometry on all three of the bikes are the same....

    So with all that said, The EMD and the One 9 ride pretty much the same... Rough and stiff!! They are both stiff aluminum frames that are unforgiving to ride and really pound you on rough trails. Was it worth the extra money for the "Scandium" frame... no... it rides pretty much the same as the cheap "Aluminum" frame. The only difference that I can tell is the weight. Would I buy either of these frames again... no. I wanted to drop some weight for my race bike for next year so I bought the One 9... mistake. (I won the EMD9 in a raffle and use it as a training bike). I had people tell me about the magic ride of the Scandium Niner frame and that it is closer to steel than regular aluminum frames, and I read many reviews about how great and forgiving the Scandium frames are... These people have never ridden one of the Aluminum frames (Scandium/7005) back to back with an "Identical" steel bike!

    So, back to steel for me! Rides nicer, causes less fatigue 3 hours into a ride, faster downhill, but weighs a little more (2 lbs... I can lose two pounds on my body someplace). Now that I have done all the tests and know the difference for myself, it is time to sell the Aluminum and get another Steel bike!!
    so the steel sir9 is 2lbs heavier in the frame than the one9 or is it some different components? they only claim like a 1.2lb difference in frame weight on their site.

  20. #20
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    Would be nice if they used scandium in non-weight weenie applications, such as trailbikes and freeride rigs.

  21. #21
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    There is almost a 2lb difference in the frames... Both Frames are larges; Scandium, 3.22 lbs and the Sir 9, 5.12 lbs. They were both weighed at the same time on the same digital scale.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by tamen00
    All three bikes have the same fork, White Bothers
    Suspension or rigid?

  23. #23
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    Suspension fork

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rivet
    The addition of Scandium increases the yield, elongation and tensile numbers allowing tubesets to be formed in smaller diameters with thinner wall.
    Except....the scandium tubesets I've seen are just as large in diameter as the AL tubesets, if not bigger. I keep hearing this "allows smaller diameter tubes" marketing claptrap about scandium that the mfrs keep feeding us, but I have YET to see ONE scandium-tubed frame with smaller than the usual AL diameter tubes.

  25. #25
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    I can't believe the difference in opinions I have been receiving the past few weeks on Scandium vs. AL vs. Steel...
    The tough thing about building a bike is that there is rarely a good opportunity to ride these frames at the LBS's..
    What happens in Vegas....I brag about for years....

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by power-san
    I can't believe the difference in opinions I have been receiving the past few weeks on Scandium vs. AL vs. Steel...
    The tough thing about building a bike is that there is rarely a good opportunity to ride these frames at the LBS's..
    Agreed, it would be nice to be able to test ride more bikes. But as far as material goes, it sounds like you're caring about it too much.

    I've owned (and still do) own road bikes made from steel and aluminum. The harshest riding road bike that I ever owned was made of steel. The smoothest riding road bike I ever owned was made of steel. The heaviest road bike (~45 pounds) I ever owned was made of steel. The lightest road bike (16.8 lbs) I ever owned was made of steel. For my two current bikes one has a steel frame and the other is aluminum. The aluminum one rides a little smoother (and the full bike is 3 pounds heavier); however, I've owned steel bike in the past that ride smoother than either of them. How can this be???? They're all made of steel?

    The material is only a small portion of how a bike is going to ride. Do not assume that one Sacandium bike will ride anything like th next one and you'll do okay.
    Each bicycle owned exponentially increases the probability that none is working correctly.

  27. #27
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    Thanks for the advice laffeaux .

    It appears as though every single Mountain Biker has their own product that is "the best".

    I may just have to close my eyes, cross my fingers and jump in.
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  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Earthpig
    Except....the scandium tubesets I've seen are just as large in diameter as the AL tubesets, if not bigger. I keep hearing this "allows smaller diameter tubes" marketing claptrap about scandium that the mfrs keep feeding us, but I have YET to see ONE scandium-tubed frame with smaller than the usual AL diameter tubes.
    It's not rocket science. Go to Eastons website, pull up their tubeset spec sheets and compare diameters between 7005 and Scandium. While scandium certainly isn't as small as steel it is typically smaller than 6000 and 7000 series AL alloys.
    "Do not touch the trim"

  29. #29
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    reality = steel

    If only my badger would get here =\
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  30. #30
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    this thread delivers.
    (no, really, I learned stuff... had been juggling the thought of the EMD vs the scandium version, had mostly discounted the scandium version because I'm a bigger guy... I think this was the nail in the coffin unless I find a used one somewhere)

  31. #31
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    What is the last year somebody rode a steel frame in a worldcup XC race? 1995?
    Prediction: No steel frame will win any race with UCI points attatched to it from now on, ever.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by power-san
    I may just have to close my eyes, cross my fingers and jump in.
    I think the answer is in this thread, but you refuse to see it.

    I pulled this from an old thread:
    Quote Originally Posted by Niner Bikes
    Okay, having spent time on both, here are my impressions:

    We built the Scandium One 9 to be light and fast but it was important for both Chris and I not to make a bike that felt like a 1991 Klien Attitude (maybe those of you who hate aluminum rode one of those bikes). I think people on this board have it dead right when they say ride quality has to do with geometry and build technique, BUT it's a combination of both materials and build technique that make the final equation. The One 9 is Scandium and the s-bend rear stays really help absorb rear wheel impact as well as the Scandium material, but side by side, the SIR 9 is more compliant (being steel with s-bend stays as well). To me, the One 9 feels very forgiving, but if you ride a One 9 and Sir 9 back to back, the Sir 9 actually feels like a softtail. On the Sir 9, I don't have to get out of the saddle or even lift up a little to alleviate pressure on the saddle when going over bumps. I can just ride over them. On the One 9, you can feel these same bumps a little more, and it helps to get over them by lifting off the saddle slightly.

    Now, since this post is just asking between the comparisons of the One 9 and the Sir 9, that's all I will give. It's a whole different story if you're asking about steel vs. aluminum vs. ti vs. Scandium, because there are so many other variables (wall thickness and build techniques being the main ones). If you called up Seven and asked them to build you a ti bike that felt like a 1991 Klien Attitude, I bet they could do it.

    Steve
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  33. #33
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    Wow, I had never seen that post from Niner... this is exactly the same experience that I have had with the side x side comparison of the One 9 and the Sir 9... the Sir 9 feels like a softtail after coming off the One 9...

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by power-san
    Would this be better for XC racing? or would the more stiff frame be more suited?
    you should buy the faster one if you have racing in mind. steel is real and aluminum is unreal. scandium is aluminum but rides like steel so it's real and unreal at the same time. some guys believe contradiction helps them winning races while others stay away from ambiguity.
    you have to ask your self: who am i? am i a winner or am i a loser? once you know who you are you won't even need a bike anymore.maybe.

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schmucker
    Not if you look at the periodic table...

    Scandium alloyed with Aluminum improves strength and weldability. It makes for a better frame.
    Haha. If you look at the periodic table, "aluminum" isn't even aluminum.
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  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by colker1
    you should buy the faster one if you have racing in mind. steel is real and aluminum is unreal. scandium is aluminum but rides like steel so it's real and unreal at the same time. some guys believe contradiction helps them winning races while others stay away from ambiguity.
    you have to ask your self: who am i? am i a winner or am i a loser? once you know who you are you won't even need a bike anymore.maybe.
    I cannot decide if the above post is filled with creativity from recreational mind enhancers (cough, cough), or too many liberal arts courses.....

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by SingingSingleTracker
    I cannot decide if the above post is filled with creativity from recreational mind enhancers (cough, cough), or too many liberal arts courses.....
    i am sober.... and studied sociology. HTH.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rivet
    It's not rocket science. Go to Eastons website, pull up their tubeset spec sheets and compare diameters between 7005 and Scandium. While scandium certainly isn't as small as steel it is typically smaller than 6000 and 7000 series AL alloys.
    OK, I did, and I'm no rocket scientist, but here's what I saw when I did a 2 minute comparison of the outside diameter measurements of double butted round Easton scandium tubing and double butted round Easton 7005 "ultralite" tubing:

    Down tube - both the SC and AL tubing have a 44.5 outside diameter on both ends.

    Top tube - both the SC and AL tubing have a 38.1 outside diameter on both ends.

    Seat tube - here's that HUGE difference! The AL tubeset has a 31.8 OD on one end while the SC has a 30.6 OD on the same end! Both, however, have a 31.8 OD on the other end.

    The primary difference I saw was the posted weights of the tubing - the scandium has a ligher published weight by quite a bit on all the tubing.

    But, then again, I'm no rocket scientist.

  39. #39
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    People, people, people........

    When discussing material this vs. material that you really need to put things in perspective with what most who ask this question are seeking.....

    Going with most mainstream companies who buy their frames from Asia, is Scandium worth the extra money? Most mainstream Al bikes are stiff and a rough ride compared to Steel and Ti. Carbon Fiber bikes are more compliant than Al bikes. Scandium bikes are a little more complaint than Al bikes.

    By the way mainstream equals Trek, Giant, Cannondale, Specialized. It does not equal Salsa, Titus, Ellsworth or any other boutique brand. (Please note that I am in no way dissing any company here - what brands are most likely to see entering a random bike shop? Trek, Giant, Specialized, Cannondale (and any brand made by the same companies). Thus are they "mainstream".

    So to answer the OP...

    Scandium is usually used on the racer oriented frames because you can use less material to get the same strength thus reducing weight. It is more complaint than Al. Regarding Al racers vs Scandium racers there is not going to be a huge amount of difference in durability. Comparing the racer scandium frames to a typical Al mid grade/ non racer oriented frame, the non racer oriented frame will be more durable. If you don't race, and you ride hard, don't get Scandium if the bike your looking at is racer oriented. (For that matter don't get a racer oriented frame).
    Last edited by jabpn; 09-20-2007 at 10:26 AM.

  40. #40
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    1 part Scandium + 1 part Steel = 1 part Ti?

    So the answer is Scandium front triangle and Steel rear triangle.

    If Seven can make a hardtail ride super smooth or like a 1991 Klein Attitude, it seems that is who you should buy your frame from. I imagine they could effectively make an all Ti bike with characteristics of the Scandium front triangle and Steel rear triangle. I think it is also cool that Mary McConneloug has been racing the SAME frame for 3+ years - there is no way any other National Champion has done that.


    Quote Originally Posted by power-san
    Scandium vs. Aluminum?

    Is it really worth the extra quid?

    I am debating between the Niner Air 9 and the EMD. The frame geometry on both frames are the EXACT same.
    M

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Motivated
    I think it is also cool that Mary McConneloug has been racing the SAME frame for 3+ years - there is no way any other National Champion has done that.
    That's pretty cool. Components break, but frames should last a long time. There's no need to buy the latest "flavor of the day" if you want to ride, or go fast.
    Each bicycle owned exponentially increases the probability that none is working correctly.

  42. #42
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    since Athens

    Same frame since before Athens in 2004 - according to a recent diary on cyclingnews.


    Quote Originally Posted by laffeaux
    That's pretty cool. Components break, but frames should last a long time. There's no need to buy the latest "flavor of the day" if you want to ride, or go fast.
    M

  43. #43
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    Smile

    I've owned 3 geared Niners - an MCR, EMD and an AIR9. As has been stated in numerous ways on this forum, they all have somewhat unique ride characteristics, though the EMD and AIR are pretty similar. The Niner steel bikes are wonderfully compliant and smooth, with excellent handling - an absolute blast to ride. I'm a big fan of steel and have owned several 26" steel frames and I think the Niner steel frames are a big step up in terms of weld quality, paint, and most importantly ride quality, over the many other Taiwanese frames on the market - well worth the extra price. My personal opinion, however, is that steel frames are absolutely perfect in single speed applications, but I'd go for Aluminum / Scandium if running gears. I have a different attitude when I get on a geared bike...I'm looking for climbing, responsiveness and acceleration. I can live with a little loss in ride quality for the extra performance gain. I enjoy having a different feel to the bike depending on the terrain I'm riding or group I'm riding with. With that said, I'll weigh in on your original question. Both the EMD9 and AIR9 are very fast, responsive frames. The bottom bracket is stiff and so is the ride (more so than steel for sure). There's bit more compliance with the AIR vs EMD, and I definitely can tell the difference in acceleration. The AIR9 is just a rocket of a frame, one of the fastest I've ever ridden. The EMD is also very good, but not quite on par with the AIR. If you'd never ridden the AIR, you'd be completely thrilled with the EMD. Is it worth the extra $250? Probably not, unless you're unreasonably picky like me. One last thought - the 29" format really takes the sting out of aluminum hardtails. I don't find the AIR or EMD to beat me up as another person stated in this post. It's a stiffer ride yes, but that's part of the fun for me. I have my steel, cushy, springy SS for days when I'm in the mood for that. I also have my AIR9 for race day, or days that I want to smoke my buddies in a group ride. Which material is better? Neither....get one of each.

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by mvi
    What is the last year somebody rode a steel frame in a worldcup XC race? 1995?
    Prediction: No steel frame will win any race with UCI points attatched to it from now on, ever.
    Not all of us can afford to replace frames frequently. Factory racers can and do.
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
    Latitude: 57º36' Highlands, Scotland

  45. #45
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    How would the On One Scandal fair up against the Niner Air 9??
    What happens in Vegas....I brag about for years....

  46. #46
    Law
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    Quote Originally Posted by colker1
    i am sober.... and studied sociology. HTH.
    Hopefully, you only studied sociology. Sociology is one of the more worthless degrees out there to be had. That comes from a guy that has a B.S. in it. Luckily, I did it with the intent of going on to law school, otherwise it would have been worthless for the most part....anyway on with the thrilling topic of which miracle metal will provide one with the greatest amount of who-gives-a-crap.

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by southy
    Which material is better? Neither....get one of each.
    Ooooo... I like your point of view, and wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

  48. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by womble
    You are probably believe that pork, bacon AND ham all come from the same animal or something
    Sometimes they do, and sometimes they don't.

    All I know however, is that my little piggies, Pork, Bacon and Ham are too wuvable to eat.

    Pig-Pig-Pig-Pig-Pig!!

  49. #49
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    Each metal has a certain amount of "springiness" (aka Young's Modulus), and in principle you can build a frame of any stiffness, from any metal, just by choosing tube sections as needed to give the desired result.

    BUT, each metal also has an amount it can flex, and number of cycles it can flex, before it starts to crack ("fatigue limit"). That limit is lower for aluminum than for steel. Thus, an aluminum frame -- at least one intended to give a decent safe life -- has to be built to flex less than an equivalent steel frame. Or to put that the other way around, if the goal is a compliant frame, steel can be allowed to flex more than aluminum, while retaining a long life (nearly infinite flex cycles).

    Sorry, this relates to steel vs aluminum, not to the original question of different kinds of aluminum (e.g. 7005 vs Scandium). Maybe someone in the know can comment on the fatigue properties of 7005 vs Scandium alloys.

    Eddy

  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by power-san
    Would this be better for XC racing? or would the more stiff frame be more suited?
    As you can see this is going to come down to your personal preferences. If you can handle a stiff/harsher riding frame for the length of "your" average XC race then I say go with aluminum and spend the extra cash on some other upgrade. If you like a smoother ride it sounds as though you may ought to go with steel. Kind of falls the way of the FS/HT debate. I personally want my bike to be as light as possible so I don't mind the rougher ride of an aluminum hardtail.

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