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  1. #1
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    Alumium or steel?

    So I am in the market for a fresh new cyclocross bike and i have narrowed my choices down to two. They are very diffeent animals and I hope to get some good opinions on this subject.
    A little info on what my uses will be: I will be commuting on this bike to and from work (its a 13 mile ride one way). Also come cross season I will be racing it. Also just riding it on trails around the area.

    The first bike I am thinking of is a All city nature boy Zona. It is of course steel.. Nice steel at that with the columbus zona tubing. From what i hear the frame set comes in at around 7 lbs! kinda a chunker. But it has fender mounts and has a nice compliant ride quaility. It aslo has a bit of class with the internal routing and the lugged fork.

    The other bike is the new Cinelli MASH sscx frameset. It is aluminium and looks hot! This frameset comes in just over 4lbs. But is not as utilitarian as the nature boy. But it will be a better cross racing machine i feel. Also this frame is 120mm spaced and thus will accept my fixed gear wheels a bit more readily.

    I am torn between practical and sexy.... Please Help!

  2. #2
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    Deffo Steel. If it has to be versatile, steel is the way to go.
    Zona is a great material and if well made and matched to good wheels you won't notice the weight. A compliant frame also helps traction.

  3. #3
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    I'm too lazy to look up those frames but 4 pounds is heavy and 7 pounds is insane. I don't believe that steel has a better ride feel either. Maybe that was true 20 years ago but not now. I have two scandium frames that feel just as smooth or better than my steel bikes, plus they're a lot lighter.

  4. #4
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    Hmmm, offroad on 32 mm tires and an alu bike sounds bone rattling. I've got an alu bike too, but with 29" 2.1 tires...

    I've gone with steel and would never go back

  5. #5
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    Will you be commuting in snow and/or salt? Steel can have a bit of a shelf life in those conditions. IMO the ride quality of steel is much superior to that of aluminum and I'm basing that on my working and riding a lot of bikes in the shop I work. Aluminum can be made to ride nicer with a carbon fiber fork and a carbon fiber seatpost which will also save some weight.
    There is no right answer. The lighter bike will save you a little of time on race day, the steel frame will feel nicer commuting and on longer rides.

  6. #6
    hispanic mechanic
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    I have a Nature Boy Zonal, and there is no way the frame is more than maybe 4.5 lbs., tops. For me, there's just no question that steel is a better ride. If I were racing CX on it exclusively, I might have gone aluminum or carbon, but I also to a lot of long rides as well. I will be doing 2 100 mile or longer gravel races this year (along with the subsequent training,) and definitely wanted steel there.
    As to the susceptibility of a steel frame to winter, it's exaggerated for the most part. Besides, the NB is coated inside and out with an anticorrosive coating.
    I haven't ridden a Cinnelli MASH, but it looks like more of a hipster wanna-be CX bike than anything. Track spacing makes no sense for 'cross.

    Los
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    Jens Voight

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  7. #7
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    While I did mention that steel can not the best choice for snow/sand, I also agree that it is exaggerated and with proper coating as sslos mentioned above, can be a non-issue. I tend to see frames as just another component anyway and if it gets trashed, you need a new frame just as if you trashed your derailleur, wheels, etc...

  8. #8
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    Thanks everyone for the replies so far.
    As for the bone rattling 32c tires offroad...i'm ready for it and have a tubular cross wheelset that can run 30 psi. And always like a challange!
    I will be riding this bike during the winter. I may or may run fenders.
    Sslos- how much did your build end up weighing?

  9. #9
    Eli Broccoli
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    Just got the NB Zona myself and it is nowhere near seven pounds. The fork however is a TANK. Frame (55) for me came in just under five pounds but it felt almost as heavy as the fork. Quality on this thing is top notch. I like the wheelset options for 130 spaced things over 120 as well. More options IMO. The BB30 is pretty trick as well. Saved myself about a pound with the lighter weight crankset.

  10. #10
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    7 lbs sounds like the frame + fork to me. If you compare just the frames, I bet the weight difference is a wash.

    Oh yeah, get the Nature Boy. Steel has soul. If you get into CX big time, you'll want a dedicated race bike anyway.

  11. #11
    Human Test Subject
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    Zona and a carbon fork. Lots of people pull that whole "steel is real" crap, but I've touched carbon before and many others can also verify it's existence.

    I have 2 steel frames with carbon forks. It's a nice smooth ride.

  12. #12
    the half breed devil
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    i like steel for all day riding but i have to admit that only the MTBs i ride regularly are steel hardtails. never owned a steel 'cross. i've owned aluminum MTBs in the past, though.

    my GT 'cross is aluminum with a carbon fork but i must say that the ride is hard on my fifty year old bones sometimes, even with the panaracer forty fives i'm running on both ends. however, compared to the steel bikes, it accelerates like frogs in a dynamite pond. even with the forty fives...

    a little background--my first 'cross was a low end aluminum schwinn that cracked at the seat tube/top tube junction after being ridden fairly hard but not raced on. it was also my daily commuter. the warranty replacement is GT's top of the line aluminum cross. (praise be to performance bike)

    if i was to buy a 'cross bike again, i think i'd get a steel frame given my age and how i use it--commuting, no racing, fairly long dirt-oriented rides and always big tires. to me, steel is just a lot more comfortable on longer rides.
    Last edited by shekky; 01-26-2013 at 10:17 AM.

  13. #13
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    Nature boy it is! I'll post pictures as soon as i get it built up in a couple weeks.

    Thanks everyone for the comments and personal knowledge!

  14. #14
    hispanic mechanic
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    Quote Originally Posted by t-dawg View Post
    Thanks everyone for the replies so far.
    As for the bone rattling 32c tires offroad...i'm ready for it and have a tubular cross wheelset that can run 30 psi. And always like a challange!
    I will be riding this bike during the winter. I may or may run fenders.
    Sslos- how much did your build end up weighing?
    Jeez, sorry it took so long to get back to you, man. I didn't see that last part until just now.
    I don't actually know. If I had to guess, I'm thinking 23 with the knock around wheels (Bontrager Mustangs with WTB Disc front [just 'cause I happened to have it...] and a Surly New rear,) somewhere around 21.75-22 with the race wheels (Velocity A23s, some 24h Sun/Ringle lightweight hub I found, Surly Ultra New rear.)
    I don't own a scale, and after 20 years of working in shops, I hate to weigh my own stuff. A couple of pounds is not really that big of a deal, but it's a bit disheartening comparing your stuff to the guy who drops $10,000 on new bikes like it's nothing.
    Congrats on the decision- I think you'll be really happy with it!

    Los
    "Shut up body and do what I tell you."
    Jens Voight

    http://teamjva.com/jens-voigt-soundboard/

  15. #15
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    i had a specialized tricross a couple years ago. m5 aluminum. it was pretty harsh on long gravel road rides, felt like my kidneys and fillings were gonna fall out. sold it. bought a salsa vaya and love it. had a full custom steel frame built for me after thats not so much a touring set up as the vaya. i absolutely love this bike. the vaya is now a commuter.

    so, if you are planning on entering some races, but will actually be riding your bike, i'd say buy steel. i'd either buy something from salsa or gunnar.
    "if you can't be good, be good at it."

  16. #16
    ~ B A D A S S ~
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    Quote Originally Posted by t-dawg View Post
    So I am in the market for a fresh new cyclocross bike and i have narrowed my choices down to two. They are very diffeent animals and I hope to get some good opinions on this subject.
    A little info on what my uses will be: I will be commuting on this bike to and from work (its a 13 mile ride one way). Also come cross season I will be racing it. Also just riding it on trails around the area.

    The first bike I am thinking of is a All city nature boy Zona. It is of course steel.. Nice steel at that with the columbus zona tubing. From what i hear the frame set comes in at around 7 lbs! kinda a chunker. But it has fender mounts and has a nice compliant ride quaility. It aslo has a bit of class with the internal routing and the lugged fork.

    The other bike is the new Cinelli MASH sscx frameset. It is aluminium and looks hot! This frameset comes in just over 4lbs. But is not as utilitarian as the nature boy. But it will be a better cross racing machine i feel. Also this frame is 120mm spaced and thus will accept my fixed gear wheels a bit more readily.

    I am torn between practical and sexy.... Please Help!
    Alu wont rust when commuting, but steel wont either if you spray oil internally like every 5th year or so, keyword is SPRAY.

    Steel is like 3 times as stiff as alu
    usually 50-60% heavier in a built frame
    and like 5 times as strong.
    It also bends without breaking.

    My handmade in canada Chromag sakura 17.5 inch size weighs exactly 2.00kg. But they don't hold back on steel there you know. It uses seriously badass shi9t throughout.

    everything that is good for racing is inverted when commuting. And vice versa.
    I would easily go with the steel frame myself but thats just me. I wouldn't even ride alu if it was given to me for free (I'm serious too).
    Rule #9 // If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.

    Quote Originally Posted by iheartbicycles View Post
    Specialized sucks ass.

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