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Thread: Steel vs. Ti

  1. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by jayseakay View Post
    Pretty stoked you took the time to answer this

    I know you are one of the experts on the subject and therefore I kind of want your weigh in on steel maintenance for a person who doesn't know how to completely assemble and take apart a bike. My friends dad is a mechanic and works on/build ups my bikes for free. He's great at what he does (been offered many shop jobs) but he just does it on the side. I hate asking him to do extensive stuff though on my bikes as he's not getting paid for it, etc. What I'm asking concerns your suggestions on maintaining a steel frame. I live in SoCal so rain isn't really any issue for me. That said I ride in a lot of places with creek crossing and (while I could carry my bike over) they are awesome to ride through. Having said this, how much maintenance would you expect the frame needing? Does it really need to be completely stripped down and rebuilt every year?
    Words from the man himself:

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  2. #27
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    My experience (of course nothing like Walts) with steel frames....30 y/o Italian steel frame flogged 5 days a week in all weather when I raced for a few years, and left mostly in storage till now. No rust except for a few little scratches on the surface. I was amazed really. now repainted and good as new. Another beater GT steel frame mid 90's I guess, left outside in all weather, a few differnt owners, and some home welding onthe drop out with only a few surface scratches of rust. Newest steel frame by Ionic/Dean painted by Spectrum rusted in the first year and badly so helped along with sweat. I ended up stripping it, removing braze-ons and repainting the offending spot myself cheaply and it will probbaly keep going a while longer. My advice with who ever you use is to make sure it isn't Ionic, and that they give you decent paint work. In my case I specified a primer which was not applied. You can search for my complaint thread on MTBR if oyu can be bothered.

  3. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by finch2 View Post
    My experience (of course nothing like Walts) with steel frames....30 y/o Italian steel frame flogged 5 days a week in all weather when I raced for a few years, and left mostly in storage till now. No rust except for a few little scratches on the surface. I was amazed really. now repainted and good as new. Another beater GT steel frame mid 90's I guess, left outside in all weather, a few differnt owners, and some home welding onthe drop out with only a few surface scratches of rust. Newest steel frame by Ionic/Dean painted by Spectrum rusted in the first year and badly so helped along with sweat. I ended up stripping it, removing braze-ons and repainting the offending spot myself cheaply and it will probbaly keep going a while longer. My advice with who ever you use is to make sure it isn't Ionic, and that they give you decent paint work. In my case I specified a primer which was not applied. You can search for my complaint thread on MTBR if oyu can be bothered.
    Thanks for that rundown. Good to know they are that durable.

  4. #29
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    I like steel a lot. I think there is something with the feel of it.

  5. #30
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    Steel is real - but go for a decent tubing, like Reynolds 853. Really good steel frames will be made from this tubing, which is lighter than a standard Cro Mo frame (I guess the steel is a bit stronger so they can make the tubing lighter).

    I have a Niner SIR9, which I ride rigid and SS, so can highly recommend this frame, although I admit to not having compared it with a Ti frame. That is next on my bucket list...

  6. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by jayseakay View Post
    Btw...how would you guys rank aluminum, steel, and ti as far as stiffness?
    Tubing diameter is the dominant parameter affecting stiffness.

    In terms of pure bending, stiffness is proportional to the modulus of elasticity of the material times the moment of intertia.

    The modulus of elasticity for steel is around 30 MPSI, compared to around 15.5 MPSI for titanium and 10 MPSI for aluminium so for a tube of fixed dimensions, steel is about twice as stiff as Ti and three times as stiff as Al.

    The dominant term in the calculation of moment of intertia is the outside diameter of the tube to the 4th power, meaning that if you double the OD of the tube, it becomes roughly 16 times stiffer.
    Last edited by andy f; 12-04-2012 at 02:30 PM.
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  7. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by jayseakay View Post
    Btw...how would you guys rank aluminum, steel, and ti as far as stiffness?
    One thing you have to remember about stiffness is it can be both good and bad. A stiff bottom bracket is good because your power goes straight into making the bike move. A stiff headtube is good because you'll have precise steering.

    But... too stiff and your body will get beat up. I know a guy that has a 2012 Giant Rabobank road bike and he doesn't like riding it. It's too stiff for him. He wants comfort and the Rabo is a racing rocket. Anything over an two hours and he gets beat up.

    Carbon is good because they can make the frame stiffer and compliant and light and strong. It's harder to do that with metals. They make it stiff but the weight increases. They make it lighter but now it flexes.

    Also, just throwing it out there. My scandium frames blow away every steel frame I've ridden. They're lighter, stiffer in the bb and still seem smoother than steel. I can also feel every bike I've ridden flex except for the carbon frames.

    I don't think I'll ever buy a steel frame again. If I did it would just be because it's cool to me. It wouldn't be because it's light or stiff or had a better feel than any other material. I think the steel is real quote is absolutely bogus. Steel is cool in a kind of retro way but there's no way I'd choose it for a racing bike.

  8. #33
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    Nooo!!

    This is a common misunderstanding. Listen, it's all about vectors, or more simply:

    -To make your bb move side to side, there has to be a force applied that makes it move that way.
    -You generate this force when you pedal, because you're not a robot and you can't generate all your power in exactly the direction it need to go to move the pedals. If you could somehow generate no side to side forces while pedaling, you wouldn't see the BB move side to side no matter how flimsy your frame was.
    -If you have a very stiff frame, the bb will not deflect to the side as much, but that DOES NOT MEAN that any extra energy goes into propelling the bike forward. The force STILL goes into flexing the frame/bb sideways - it's just that since the frame is stiffer, it resists that force better. The end result in terms of watts to the ground is the same regardless of BB flex.

    That's not to say that super flexy is a good thing, but if you are buying a stiff bike because you think it's somehow going to make you faster/more efficient, you are throwing your money away.

    -Walt

    Quote Originally Posted by limba View Post
    One thing you have to remember about stiffness is it can be both good and bad. A stiff bottom bracket is good because your power goes straight into making the bike move.
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  9. #34
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    Hahahaaaa.
    The old stiffer is better argument debunked.

  10. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by limba View Post
    I don't think I'll ever buy a steel frame again. If I did it would just be because it's cool to me. It wouldn't be because it's light or stiff or had a better feel than any other material. I think the steel is real quote is absolutely bogus. Steel is cool in a kind of retro way but there's no way I'd choose it for a racing bike.
    I wasn't talking about racing. I don't race. I ride as fast as I can sometimes, but I want some degree of comfort too - which is where steel comes in. Steel IS real - for those of us that can't afford Ti or Scandium at least

  11. #36
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    I think fit is by far the most important thing, and if you're not comfortable on the bike, you're going to be miserable.

    That said, I have owned steel, carbon, aluminum, and titanium. I really feel titanium is the best material that you can buy assuming its done buy a quality builder. I have never had the luxury of owning a custom steel bike, but all my stock frames have either been too flexy in areas, or overly stiff. There is a huge difference in a Reynolds 853 and 4130 Chromo..and it would be very hard to make a chromo ride like an 853. I think titanium has a more "lively", "springy" lighter feel to it than steel.

    When I think a comfortable frame, I don't really think of carbon. Carbon is great for short track racing where weight and responsiveness are the main priority...but they typically don't have the same compliance as steel or titanium.

    I live on the coast where corrosion did play a part into my decision to go titanium, but even if that wasn't the case, i think after owning ti. I won't go back. In all reality, stock ti. frames don't have to be overly expensive, and in most cases comparable to the price of carbon but with much better resale value...if it ever came to that.
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  12. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt View Post
    If you have a very stiff frame, the bb will not deflect to the side as much, but that DOES NOT MEAN that any extra energy goes into propelling the bike forward. The force STILL goes into flexing the frame/bb sideways - it's just that since the frame is stiffer, it resists that force better. The end result in terms of watts to the ground is the same regardless of BB flex.

    That's not to say that super flexy is a good thing, but if you are buying a stiff bike because you think it's somehow going to make you faster/more efficient, you are throwing your money away.

    -Walt
    Where does the extra energy go then? Why do we want a stiff BB area?

    Quote Originally Posted by BigwheelsRbest View Post
    Steel IS real - for those of us that can't afford Ti or Scandium at least
    First of all steel is awesome but so is aluminum, carbon, Titanium and even bamboo. It's all good.
    But regarding cost, my scandium cross frame was less than my Columbus steel and my Salsa HT was less than a steel Blizzard (853?).

  13. #38
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    Feel is what matters.

    You want stiff or flexy based on how you like a bike to *feel*. Some people like a super whippy frame like, say, an old Bonty racelite. Some folks like super stiff frames. Just a matter of feel and preference, sort of like how some people like super low tire pressure and others like their tires firmer, some folks like gripshift, some trigger, etc.

    You can find a zillion threads here where person A complains that a frame is too flexy and some person B responds and says they think it's super stiff. It's not a "good" or "bad" situation to have a certain frame stiffness unless you know the preferences (and size, and terrain, and suspension, etc) of the rider.

    If things get *too* flexy you can have drivetrain problems under power but it takes some serious underbuilding to make that happen and I'm hard pressed to think of any examples. Plenty of dudes who were 250+ pounds used to ride their tiny-tubed/noodly Ritcheys/Fats/Bontys/etc pretty hard 20 years ago, after all.


    -Walt

    Quote Originally Posted by limba View Post
    Where does the extra energy go then? Why do we want a stiff BB area?
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  14. #39
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    I agree with everything you're saying but I want you to answer my question, where does the extra energy go? If I stomp on my crank arm on a soft frame, some of that energy will be absorbed by the bike in the form of flex correct? Now I stomp on the same crank arm but now it's on a stiff as hell frame, the bb does not move, where does my energy/force go? What is the result?

  15. #40
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    the way i see it, not sure if this is 100%
    but the force is still applied in the same "wrong" direction
    a stiffer bb will just deflect less
    you can't convert side load forces into a forward direction

  16. #41
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    Custom Ti > Custom steel > off the shelf ti > off the shelf steel.

    I think that tubing chosen by someone who knows what they're doing is more important than the material itself. To an extent. The nicest riding bicycle I've ever ridden was a custom steel bicycle that was lighter (frame wise) than my Ti bicycle!

  17. #42
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    It still goes into pushing the bb sideways. What do you not understand about that? The amount of deflection is irrelevant - whether you are pushing sideways on a stiff bike or a noodly one, you're applying the same amount of force - you just see more deflection on a flexy frame.

    Put another way: you cannot make your bike go forward by pushing it sideways, no matter how stiff your frame is.

    -W
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  18. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt View Post
    Put another way: you cannot make your bike go forward by pushing it sideways, no matter how stiff your frame is.

    -W
    but that is exactly the way a bike moves forward. You push on the crank that pulls the chain which turns the cassette which turns the wheel that makes the bike move forward.
    Any flex anywhere through that process results in wasted energy. No?
    I'm not arguing with you, I'm asking a question.

  19. #44
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    I'm sorry, but I can't explain it in any more basic a way than I already have.
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  20. #45
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    you are thinking about it the wrong way
    you can't change the direction of the force just by stiffening up the bb
    the force is still there you just can't feel the effects of it as much on a bike with a stiffer bb
    it is stiffer therefore it requires more energy to deflect it the same distance
    it is not transferring more energy for forward motion

    the only way to "fix" it would be to have a perfect pedal stroke
    which i don't think is humanly possible, everyone is going to twist the bb in the wrong axis by at little at least

  21. #46
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    Wow...where are the engineers that design and test bikes in a lab for a living when we need them? So you guys are saying that decreasing the amount of flex in the frame at the bb area (or where ever) does not result in an increase of oomf to the rear wheel? Oomf is a very technical term. Sorry.

    Seems like trying to remove a nail out of a board with a rubber hammer would be hard work.

    But that may not even be relevant at all.

    However having hard numbers to prove either side of this debate would be.
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  22. #47
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    it depends which axis you're talking about
    im talking about the z axis
    if we are talking about x or y, then yeah it should have a direct relationship with power output

  23. #48
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    I've ridden both Ti and Steel for years and I prefer Ti due to never having to worry about little rust issues. I never liked the rust colored water coming out of the drain holes on the steel after a rain ride.

    Both materials can be great but Ti is better overall imo.

  24. #49
    orthonormal
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtroy View Post
    Wow...where are the engineers that design and test bikes in a lab for a living when we need them? So you guys are saying that decreasing the amount of flex in the frame at the bb area (or where ever) does not result in an increase of oomf to the rear wheel? Oomf is a very technical term. Sorry.

    Seems like trying to remove a nail out of a board with a rubber hammer would be hard work.

    But that may not even be relevant at all.

    However having hard numbers to prove either side of this debate would be.
    How about trying to remove a nail from a board by hitting it sideways? Doesn't much matter if the hammer is rubber or steel.
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  25. #50
    orthonormal
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    It's obvious to me that no force applied in a direction perpindicular to the plane of the crank arm's rotation is going to contribute to forward motion but I do wonder if we as riders tend to be more efficient at directing our input in the proper direction if there's less lateral motion at the BB? Maybe we adjust to that give or lack thereof. Or maybe I'm just full of sh!t.
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