I am looking at building up a bike and want a ti frame but as it is cost prohibitive am looking at other options, I like the ride of steel but want something lighter. For those of you who have ridden a scandium frame, would you compare its ride quality more with steel or aluminum? Any insights would be appreciated.
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Well scandium is more or less a marketing term. Scandium is an alloy used in the aluminum in place of something like Zinc in the case of aluminum 7075. See: Aluminium alloy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Scandium is quite brittle compared to aluminum, one reason many if not all MTB manufacturers are no longer using it. Scandium frames tend to have a short life because of this, more so the heavier and harder a rider.
Steel overall is more compliant (honestly though it has been a very long time since I've ridden a steel bike).
Aluminum/Scandium ride about the same, tends to be harsh and unforgiving due to the rigid nature of oversized tubing needed to make it strong.
I found Titanium to seem "springy", although the wheels I used at the time could have compounded that.
IMO it's not just what material is used to make a frame that determines ride quality but HOW it's used that makes a good riding frame.
My primary bike for a couple of years was a Scandium One9 and while it was stiff I didn't find the ride at all harsh.
At the same time I had a steel Monocog and while that bike was more compliant it did not "feel" like it had the speed of the Niner.
I went from the One9 to a carbon Flash and actually preferred the Scandium frame. The Cannondale carbon (for me) felt dull and lifeless, and I soon parted ways with the bike. In the same time period I also rode a number of Aluminum framed bikes from Trek and Cannondale (as demo's from a dealer).
So to try and answer your question: In the case of Niner Scandium frame (relative to a Redline steel frame and a "regular" Aluminum frame):
Steel is a 1 for feel, Aluminum is a 10: The One9 in Scandium is a 7. However, components differed on some of the bikes, wheels and tires especially and this also plays a part.
Finally: Regardless of "feel" the scandium One9 is still one of my favorite riding frames EVER, every single ride on it was a blast.
i think to directly answer your question - generally speaking, if you love steel, you will probably hate scandium - you want to go lighter, you are probably looking at Ti...
Are you riding this bike off road? Are you using a suspension fork?
Originally Posted by grizzlyplumber
I own both steel and scandium Niner hardtails. Offroad with front suspension I really can't tell the difference in "ride" between the two. The front is masked by the fork and the rear is rough regardless of frame material.
On pavement and set up rigid with slicks the scandium rides surprisingly well and feels compliant in the rear stays. This was very obvious the first time I rode it on my commute ride on slicks compared to other bikes I had ridden on the same route.
For an off road hardtail I wouldn't worry about the weight of the frame too much, you will hardly notice the difference. I would go with the frame that most suits my needs. If you want durability and some spring in the ride go with steel. If weight is really important go with scandium but be prepared for a shorter life span.