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  1. #1
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    Is alloy making a come back in higher end builds?

    I switched to riding carbon bikes in 2015, and since then have owned 4 different carbon trail bikes. The reason for the switch was the fact the Santa Cruz Nomad 3 was only offered in carbon, and thats the bike I really wanted at the time. Since then, I really only considered carbon bikes, because it seemed you could only get nicer builds in carbon. Admittedly, I was also a bit swayed by industry marketing constantly telling me it was stronger, lighter, and amazing.

    My riding friends and I, as friends do, would always debate things like frame materials, wheel size, and frame geo while drinking beers post-ride. One of our friends absolutely preached that frame material was insignificant all the time, and people seem to MUST have carbon because of the marketing hype. He also was a total 26in wheel hold out till this year, so we often wrote it off as him being unwilling to accept change. Then a couple weeks later, another friend said he was switching to alloy or steel as they can be recycled, and carbon was none-biodegradable. It was a solid point, as I had always considered cycling as a way to reduce my carbon footprint, but was I really on a carbon bike?

    Then, I sold my 2018 Nomad 4, and was at a loss as to which bike I wanted to go broke on next. It seemed to me that alot of new bikes looked the same, and nothing really peaked my interest. I sat one evening looking at bikes online, reading reviews, and trying to figure out what I wanted. I recalled seeing a Banshee bike the year previous in a bike shop in Bellingham when I was visiting on a bike trip. I continued to research them, and was drawn to them. Buttttt.... alloy only?? What?? I decided if I got one, and hated the bike or its frame material, I would just sell the frame and move the build over to a different frame. So, I took the plunge on a Banshee Rune. The bike showed up, and boy it looks good. Nice hydroforming, sweet fit and finish, nice welds, and a smoked clearcoat over raw alloy. Then I proceeded to ride all the gnarly trails on it over the next few weeks, and wow, its stiff, poppy, and rides great!

    Since getting the Banshee, I keep seeing articles about alloy bikes. YT launches a raw alloy bike, Commencal bikes are entirely alloy and they kick ass, Pole moved away from carbon due to the enviromental impact, and even Santa Cruz is offering almost all of their bikes in alloy.

    SO, is Alloy making a come back?

    Is alloy making a come back in higher end builds?-20181102_202748.jpg

  2. #2
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    "...in higher end builds?"

    No.
    Last edited by MSU Alum; 11-25-2018 at 09:12 AM.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by teethandnails View Post
    SO, is Alloy making a come back?
    It certainly would be nice if it was an option. Personally, I don't want a carbon bike so more metal bikes in the shops is good news.

  4. #4
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    yes and no.

    carbon is still where it's at for the top, top end builds.

    Manufacturers have more control over the properties of the end product with that material and the methods involved to build with it.

    But, there are other reasons behind using alu alloy in a frame build. SC brought them back because alu alloy is still a lower cost option. Other manufacturers don't work in carbon at all for a variety of reasons - env impact might be one, cost of setting up additional manufacturing might be another (particularly relevant for a smaller builder), targeted market (lower cost builds) might be another.

    My wife has 2 carbon FS bikes. I have a FS that's a combo between alu and carbon, and a steel hardtail. I'm not sure if I'll ever own a carbon FS (will wind up depending on what I want, what's available, and what it costs), but I'll likely never own a hardtail made from alu alloy again. I like steel for that use (my road bike is steel, too).

  5. #5
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    I think it is. Admittedly I'm way out of the loop but I have noticed that Trek is producing some pretty nice road bikes with aluminum frames these days.
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  6. #6
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    I think carbon bikes are getting beefier and thus the weight savings is not as significant anymore. But I would kick my own ass if I spent 7k on a top of the line parts spec aluminum bike.

  7. #7
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    Valuminum.
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  8. #8
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    I got some bad ideas in my head.

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    What alloy? The phrase "alloy or steel" makes no sense. Steel is an alloy. Aluminum as used in bicycles, is as well. If your question is whether metal bikes are on the comeback, I hope so! I have yet to be persuaded of the virtues of carbon fiber for recreational riding, and I've owned a carbon road bike forever. I'm not yet sure they're worth the money, but carbon wheels are tempting. Carbon frame, especially for mountain use? No thanks, not worth the price premium.

  10. #10
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    I would rather have a quality aluminum frame with better suspension and wheels than a carbon frame with lower end suspension and wheels.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Travis Bickle View Post
    I would rather have a quality aluminum frame with better suspension and wheels than a carbon frame with lower end suspension and wheels.
    I wish that was available. I had planned on buying a FS mountain bike next year, but I've yet to find a company that makes a bike I want to buy puts the highest level suspension on their aluminum models. I really don't quite understand that, they'll make 3 levels of bike in both aluminum and carbon, yet the highest build aluminum doesn't have the premium stuff, it's always a notch below. While I've built bikes in the past, it's never been cost effective. It's a bummer, and whoever specs those bikes should be smacked. Maybe there is no market for the highest level of components on an aluminum frame? Sad, if true.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by twodownzero View Post
    I wish that was available. I had planned on buying a FS mountain bike next year, but I've yet to find a company that makes a bike I want to buy puts the highest level suspension on their aluminum models. I really don't quite understand that, they'll make 3 levels of bike in both aluminum and carbon, yet the highest build aluminum doesn't have the premium stuff, it's always a notch below. While I've built bikes in the past, it's never been cost effective. It's a bummer, and whoever specs those bikes should be smacked. Maybe there is no market for the highest level of components on an aluminum frame? Sad, if true.
    Check Guerrilla Gravity out. Aluminum FS frames. Whatever-you-want components. In this case, “BYO” stands for build your own.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dale-Calgary View Post
    I think carbon bikes are getting beefier and thus the weight savings is not as significant anymore. But I would kick my own ass if I spent 7k on a top of the line parts spec aluminum bike.
    Why would you? I don't think there's any aluminum bike (with aluminum wheels) I'd be willing to pay $7k for, either, but you could probably build a pretty awesome aluminum bike for $5500 from just about anyone. I suppose it depends on exactly which components you'd need to be top of the line, but I'm not sure what you'd have left to upgrade at $5500 if there was no carbon on the bike.

    Even if it was $7k, what would you have to complain about? A few ounces of weight? Maybe a pound?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sparticus View Post
    Check Guerrilla Gravity out. Aluminum FS frames. Whatever-you-want components. In this case, “BYO” stands for build your own.
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    They will do it, but not at a price competitive point. I suppose one could argue that there is no competitive price point when the other companies aren't wiling to install the highest end suspension and drivetrain on their aluminum bikes, but it's not as if buying a brand new bike as a complete and parting it out to get the stuff one would want has never happened before, it'd just take some time and effort. Hopefully we'll see metal bikes make a comeback and the companies will be more willing to spec top notch stuff on aluminum frames so that there's some competition there.

    I suspect that once the high end aluminum really starts to overlap with the price of the carbon frame with lower level components, the companies think that'll be a hard sell, but if so, they couldn't be more wrong about that for me as a potential purchaser. I'd much rather have an aluminum bike with Eagle and high end suspension than a carbon bike with any 1x11 and lower end suspension and such. It's the stuff that is attached to the frame that makes the bike fun, not the frame itself.

  14. #14
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    Did "alloy" ever go anywhere? Metals seem to have had a pretty consistent presence in frame material. I think one factor not mentioned here is work force/availability/know how at the ready for companies to have their bikes made properly in carbon. This above all else with tooling, production runs etc. in a very fast paced industry seem to be hurdles that can bust a business. With that I wager we see more composites not less.

    I personally much prefer carbon, especially in wheels.
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  15. #15
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    I own an aluminum framed bike and love it.

    But I would not buy one for its environmental benefits. Depending on the source of the alloy Al smelting is a pretty carbon intensive industry (in countries with primarily coal fired power).

    I admit I am not sure what the impact of carbon frames is though. It could be worse...


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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by twodownzero View Post
    Why would you? I don't think there's any aluminum bike (with aluminum wheels) I'd be willing to pay $7k for, either, but you could probably build a pretty awesome aluminum bike for $5500 from just about anyone. I suppose it depends on exactly which components you'd need to be top of the line, but I'm not sure what you'd have left to upgrade at $5500 if there was no carbon on the bike.

    Even if it was $7k, what would you have to complain about? A few ounces of weight? Maybe a pound?



    They will do it, but not at a price competitive point. I suppose one could argue that there is no competitive price point when the other companies aren't wiling to install the highest end suspension and drivetrain on their aluminum bikes, but it's not as if buying a brand new bike as a complete and parting it out to get the stuff one would want has never happened before, it'd just take some time and effort. Hopefully we'll see metal bikes make a comeback and the companies will be more willing to spec top notch stuff on aluminum frames so that there's some competition there.

    I suspect that once the high end aluminum really starts to overlap with the price of the carbon frame with lower level components, the companies think that'll be a hard sell, but if so, they couldn't be more wrong about that for me as a potential purchaser. I'd much rather have an aluminum bike with Eagle and high end suspension than a carbon bike with any 1x11 and lower end suspension and such. It's the stuff that is attached to the frame that makes the bike fun, not the frame itself.
    Everything plays a role in how a bike rides, but GG does make pretty price competitive bikes in the grand scheme. You do pay a premium or them being made in CO, but it isn't huge.

    I got around it by buying a lightly used GG frame and building it up. It will still be an expensive build, but that is my choice.

    There are fewer manufacturers doing top quality alu builds now because as a whole, the market wants carbon, for good or ill. I am intentionally avoiding carbon on my GG Pedalhead build, though.

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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by twodownzero View Post
    I wish that was available. I had planned on buying a FS mountain bike next year, but I've yet to find a company that makes a bike I want to buy puts the highest level suspension on their aluminum models. I really don't quite understand that, they'll make 3 levels of bike in both aluminum and carbon, yet the highest build aluminum doesn't have the premium stuff, it's always a notch below. While I've built bikes in the past, it's never been cost effective. It's a bummer, and whoever specs those bikes should be smacked. Maybe there is no market for the highest level of components on an aluminum frame? Sad, if true.
    YT, Commencal, and Transition have alloy FS bikes with top spec components! The YT Capra 27.5 limited raw edition sold out in like a day when they released it last week! I chose to go with a Jenson USA build and then tweaked it a little. Its has GX drivetrain, but everything else is top spec, and I have $2800 in it. You do not have a ton of avenues for buying a Banshee, so the Jenson build made the most sense!
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by twodownzero View Post
    What alloy? The phrase "alloy or steel" makes no sense. Steel is an alloy. Aluminum as used in bicycles, is as well. If your question is whether metal bikes are on the comeback, I hope so! I have yet to be persuaded of the virtues of carbon fiber for recreational riding, and I've owned a carbon road bike forever. I'm not yet sure they're worth the money, but carbon wheels are tempting. Carbon frame, especially for mountain use? No thanks, not worth the price premium.
    Alloy is slang/short for Aluminum as Carbon is for Carbon Fiber. You are correct; Steel and aluminum bikes both use alloys. I think you know that... more FYI for others.
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  19. #19
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    I doubt it. I don't see hardly any advantage besides cost. I kinda want an aluminum DH bike to thrash at the park but not a high build. The one downside of carbon is it's hard to tell if you destroyed it.

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    Main downside to CFRP other than cost is impact resistance. If you crash or hit a rock it may crack where the AL would dent. AL does have issues with crack forming and general weakening around the welds, which could lead to fatigue issues.

    I moved from AL to CFRP on my FS bike this year, and my general household insurance actually covers crash costs up to 3500 USD so I don't worry too much

    CFRP is by far stiffer and stronger pr weight, and it's easier to customize the properties with the layup.

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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by mykle View Post
    ...CFRP is by far stiffer and stronger pr weight, and it's easier to customize the properties with the layup...
    Yeah, but IMO, not consequentially in most current mtbs. It might make a diff in HT and FS XC race bikes, but not really in trail/am/dh. Given a fixed amount of money, you get way more benefit putting it into wheels/tires/components than frame material.
    Do the math.

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    This depends.....Finding frames with the quality and feel of an Easton Ultralight is getting more expensive by the year. Unless you plan on wrecking every week, You might want to consider staying with CF. Me being a clyde and tend to wreck alot.....not a chance

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    I'll likely never own a hardtail made from alu alloy again. I like steel for that use (my road bike is steel, too).
    Same here, I definitely prefer steel for a non full sus bike. Both my hard tail mtb and gravel commuter have steel frames, they ride nice and I much prefer the look of a steel bike.

    As far a alloy making a comeback in higher end builds I haven't noticed because I can't afford higher end builds All things being equal "alloy" is cheaper than CF so if there is a certain profit margin the maker has to hit then alloy it is.
    Last edited by 351; 11-29-2018 at 06:16 AM.

  24. #24
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    if you want a light bike that is also stiff carbon is the best way to go. Carbon done well will be both light and stiff/strong. The biggest issues with carbon are impact resistance and identifying failures.

    With impact resistance and weight you are trying to balance competing requirements. You can design a superlight, strong and stiff frame, but that often means thin tubes because you don't need much material to make carbon strong in certain directions. However that makes it weak for impact. So you have to add material to deal with impact and that adds weight. Combine this with the concern people have about spotting damage on carbon and it seems to me that alot of AM type bikes in carbon are being over built. This means in effect that weight savings you get from carbon are negated. Plus as overall weights of the attached components increase 200 grams of frame weight are minimal. If you are looking to make 20lbs XC FS bike then starting with 4lbs of metal (not including a shock and attachment hardware) is very hard. Much easier with carbon and since it is an XC bike you can expect less rock impacts. Aluminium and steel naturally require more material to get the stiffness needed and this are heavier. Of course with thicker metal frames they can stand impact better and generally "bend" vs "crack" from damage giving the rider more comfort in about impending failure.

    I have Steel HT singlespeed, Carbon XC FS bike and an Aluminium 5" trail bike. The aluminium bike is the heaviest of all, but I don't worry about abusing it from impact damage. My carbon XC bike... well there is a concern, but that bike is as light as my steel HT. So that can't be denied and for that bike light weight is a major factor. I have feeling if the bike ever fails it will be due to some rock impact rather than a crack from simple riding.
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  25. #25
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    Another advantage of alloys (Fe ,Ti , Al) is that it is a lot easier to custom make a frame to your height/proportions/preferences.
    The custom Ti frame I have would have cost me 10-20 times more in Carbon.

    And I agree about the Carbon footprint.
    Let's not fool ourselves , any manufactured product has a big impact but since alloy frames have a lot better chance of being recyclable , it's a better choice on that aspect.
    For me anyways.....

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    Comeback? I have never owned a carbon fiber mtb frame. I have always purchased aluminium frames due to my financial situation. I love building up a frame to my specs. I feel that at my skill level alum is good enough for me.I am certainly not a pro rider...not even near so I feel the slight advantage of carbon frame is no big deal.Some company does not offer an alum frame only option I move onto Santa Cruz, Ritchey etc. I feel that carbon makes a difference on my flat bar tricked out road bike so my old bones are not ****ed up, but on a mtb? who cares, the suspension and cush tires take care of that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 351 View Post
    Same here, I definitely prefer steel for a non full sus bike. Both my hard tail mtb and gravel commuter have steel frames, they ride nice and I much prefer the look of a steel bike.

    As far a alloy making a comeback in higher end builds I haven't noticed because I can't afford higher end builds All things being equal "alloy" is cheaper than CF so if there is a certain profit margin the maker has to hit then alloy it is.
    I'm with you on that. My friends are haters but for me, steel is real.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by twodownzero View Post
    I'm with you on that. My friends are haters but for me, steel is real.
    In my opinion, the ability to manipulate aluminium or carbon to make it behave in the way you want is so advanced these days that steel has few real merits. Certainly in terms if ride characteristics, I'd rather have a good aluminium alloy frame.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    In my opinion, the ability to manipulate aluminium or carbon to make it behave in the way you want is so advanced these days that steel has few real merits. Certainly in terms if ride characteristics, I'd rather have a good aluminium alloy frame.
    Steel will always be stronger than aluminum. No amount of hydroforming is going to change that.

    The idea that frame material ever affected ride quality is a persistent cycling myth. A tire flexes many times more than any frame; frame material does not have any meaningful effect on ride quality.

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    Quote Originally Posted by twodownzero View Post
    Steel will always be stronger than aluminum. No amount of hydroforming is going to change that.

    The idea that frame material ever affected ride quality is a persistent cycling myth. A tire flexes many times more than any frame; frame material does not have any meaningful effect on ride quality.
    If only people were talking solely about flex when discussing ride quality...

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  31. #31
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    Without a steel hardtail, how are you going to look hardcore or say steel is real?
    I got some bad ideas in my head.

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    Quote Originally Posted by twodownzero View Post
    Steel will always be stronger than aluminum. No amount of hydroforming is going to change that.

    The idea that frame material ever affected ride quality is a persistent cycling myth. A tire flexes many times more than any frame; frame material does not have any meaningful effect on ride quality.
    Steel is stronger when you dont care about weight, but specific strength, stiffness and especially bending stiffness is much higher on aluminium... When making bikes weight does matter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mykle View Post
    Steel is stronger when you dont care about weight, but specific strength, stiffness and especially bending stiffness is much higher on aluminium... When making bikes weight does matter.
    It's hard to compare apples to apples, but it is possible to make a steel frame that is not heavier than a similar aluminum frame (hardtails at least). Within the mainstream manufactured bikes, this is perhaps not the case, but the difference is much smaller than you might think. Mass produced bikes have to be able to accommodate heavier riders and so the bikes are built much stronger than necessary. The enthusiast rider who is willing to pay for a custom frame can abandon that compromise. Whether that decision is cost effective is up to the individual; I'm not persuaded that it is for mountain biking use even though I think it'd be cool to have a custom bike anyway. That said, all companies lie about how much their bikes weigh, so it's hard to compare apples to apples without having them in person.

    Aluminum is weaker in every way than steel; not sure where you got the idea that it is "stiffer" than steel or even what that would mean. I think what you meant is that because aluminum is lighter for the same volume, that material can be added such that a stiffer frame can be manufactured of a similar weight. That is probably true, to the extent that stiffness has any relevance. In any event, we aren't building an airplane here and even a modest change in tire design has more relevance in average speed in actual use than any amount of "stiffness." But if course magazines are full of people who claim they can tell the difference, with no data whatsoever to back up their opinions other than that the advertisers are paying good money for them to characterize the bicycles that way.

    If you think aluminum is a superior material for making bicycles, that is fine, but you should express it as your opinion, because that's what it is. I wouldn't deny that the market seems to agree with you. I am unpersuaded. I similarly remain unpersuaded that there is any advantage at all to carbon mountain bikes for recreational riders. Steel is stronger, cheaper, repairable, and when comparing mass produced bicycles, infinitely more durable than any other material for making a hardtail. I have a strong preference for the small diameter tubing's more traditional appearance as well. I do not characterize this as anything other than my opinion. I also think that if the market still regarded steel as the ideal material for making bicycles, you'd see a robust market for more affordable bikes that would allow an "entry level" bike to either come in at a lower price point or to be better equipped for the same price. Unfortunately for my opinion, this theory cannot be tested because steel is a niche material that is marketed to enthusiasts instead of a mainstream, competitive market product (there are just way more aluminum bikes out there on the market)

    I also disagree that weight matters; even several pounds of weight in the frame amounts to a few seconds on an hour long climb. For a recreational rider, to even consider that as something significant is nothing other than a marketing myth. I would much rather have a durable and long lasting bicycle than save a few seconds on an hour long climb. If you want to trade off durability for a few seconds after an hour of climbing, I don't agree with your decision, but I have no basis to criticize your value of that, either. I ride with many people who ride bikes of all materials. I wouldn't buy the bikes they're riding, but it's their money and not my place to criticize. I do have a problem with someone regarding their choice as better in some objective sense, because it isn't. It's just preference.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by twodownzero View Post
    Steel will always be stronger than aluminum. No amount of hydroforming is going to change that.
    Absolutely. Which is why they make airplanes out of steel. Oh no, hang on...

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    I guess I was early adopter for once in my life. 2008 bought Carbon full suspension GT Marathon Pro XTR level bike. Poked a hole in the frame the size of my finger, after smashing it on a rock. It was fine. 2011 bought an aluminum Turner 5-Spot. Then a year ago an aluminum Canfield Brothers Riot. Almost bought an EVIL Wreckoning, but I like aluminum bikes better.

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    Specific strength of aluminium is higher than steel, the numbers dont lie...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    Absolutely. Which is why they make airplanes out of steel. Oh no, hang on...
    Pretty sure "strength" (or durability in crashes) isn't the primary reason they choose a particular material there. The corrosion properties alone would favor non-ferrous metals in this application. That said, I wouldn't be surprised if a substantial amount of steel exists in virtually every airplane in the sky. Even then, virtually no plane can land at its max takeoff weight. Why is that? The structure isn't even strong enough to withstand a gentle landing with the fuel it takes off with. Would you really want a bike so weak that you'd have to calculate things like that or it would break in normal use? Besides being irrelevant to this discussion, it doesn't take a genius to realize that what works for an airplane and at the price point of what airplanes sell for has basically no bearing on a recreational bicycle.

    Aluminum is such a great, economical, and durable metal, that every dump truck, semi tractor, submarine, and ship uses it for structural members, right? We should make warships and armor plate out of it! See what I did there? Red herrings galore.

    Quote Originally Posted by mykle View Post
    Specific strength of aluminium is higher than steel, the numbers dont lie...

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    The specific strength of balsa wood is higher yet, would you want to ride a bicycle made out of that?

    This kinda response reminds me of the people who, when comparing engines, talk about horsepower per cubic inch instead of power to weight or dimensions or some other measure. While literally true, it's a measure that doesn't prove what one might think. Who cares if an engine has more power per cubic inch if it's twice the size and weight, or won't fit in the car? This is no different; a discussion of a material property that has minimal relevance to the construction of a bicycle can't tell us anything. A bike has to do more than just withstand the forces of pedaling. A mountain bike needs to be made to be crashed, preferably over and over again. If the only material criteria for a bicycle were strength in a particular dimension, carbon fiber has any metal beat by a long way anyway. Until you crash it.

  38. #38
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    No one will ever convince someone else that their choice of material for a bike frame is inferior, all materials have their pros and cons and you ride what you like.

    I prefer steel mainly for the look of it. Of all the bikes I've ridden over the years the steel ones just seemed more comfortable for me. Other people may find aluminum more comfortable and better better looking and that is OK.

    Personally I think it is great that we have the options we have


    Comparing airplanes to bike frames is ridiculous, it is apples to oranges and the discussion then becomes foolish.

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by 351 View Post
    No one will ever convince someone else that their choice of material for a bike frame is inferior, all materials have their pros and cons and you ride what you like.

    I prefer steel mainly for the look of it. Of all the bikes I've ridden over the years the steel ones just seemed more comfortable for me. Other people may find aluminum more comfortable and better better looking and that is OK.

    Personally I think it is great that we have the options we have


    Comparing airplanes to bike frames is ridiculous, it is apples to oranges and the discussion then becomes foolish.
    +1

    Being relatively new to all this, I (me) also find steel to be a better ride, and prefer the overall experience, including aesthetics.
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    Steel is much easier to weld and cheaper. Why isnt every bike steel?

    Yes, hydroforming increases strength as the second monent of inertia of the structure is increased at the right spot with the same material.

    The main issue with AL is weakening at the HAZ ( which isnt a problem with steel). This leads to fatigue issues over time.

    I wouldnt mind a bike being 500g heavier, but bullet proof. Personally my main bike is CFRP and it's insured. I didnt buy it because it was CFRP, i bought it because it was awesome

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  41. #41
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    It's hard to beat shiny.
    http://www.bikingtoplay.blogspot.com/
    RIGID, not "ridged" or "ridgid"
    PEDAL, not "peddle." Unless you're selling stuff

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by twodownzero View Post
    Steel will always be stronger than aluminum. No amount of hydroforming is going to change that.


    Not true, aluminium frames can be designed and built to be as strong as a steel one. Either material can make either a weak or strong frame.
    I brake for stinkbugs

  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    Not true, aluminium frames can be designed and built to be as strong as a steel one. Either material can make either a weak or strong frame.
    My recollection from my BMX days back in the early '80's, is that aluminum isn't any stronger than steel, but it is half the weight. That means that at any given frame weight, you can have aluminum tubing twice as thick as steel. That makes a much stiffer frame. Some people like this (I do) and some people bitch about the harshness of the ride.

    To each their own.

  44. #44
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    I thought I had all the bases covered with an aluminum alloy bike, a steel alloy bike, a titanium alloy bike, and a carbon fiber bike but then a friend pointed out that I still don't have a wood or bamboo frame. FWIW, The differences in ride quality between materials on my bikes is virtually imperceptible to me.

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    Let's try to put some real numbers in here since so many people seem to have no idea how steel and aluminum compare as materials.

    Weight:
    Steel density is ~0.284 lb/in3
    Aluminum density is ~0.10 lb/in3
    This means aluminum is about 1/3 the density of steel, thus 1/3 of weight for the same amount of metal.

    Stiffness:
    Steel elastic modulus is ~30,000,000 psi
    Aluminum elastic modulus is ~10,000,000 psi
    This means aluminum is about 1/3 of the stiffness of steel for the same geometry.

    Strength:
    Cheap steel yields at ~36,000 psi and fails at ~58,000 psi
    Good 4130 steel yields at ~65,000 psi and fails at ~97,000 psi
    6061 T6 aluminum yields at ~35,000 psi and fails at ~42,000 psi
    Near a weld 6061 aluminum yields at ~10,000 psi and fails at ~20,000 psi unless properly heat treated after welding.

    From this we can determine that for the same tube size aluminum will be 1/3 of weight, 1/3 of stiffness, and similar to 1/2 of the strength compared to common steel alloys. From there the designer can use the reduced density to increase wall thickness and tube size to balance weight, stiffness, strength compared to a steel frame. Limitations regarding buckling strength and fatigue life also come into play.

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    Damn I hate the freedom units. When will the US learn from NASA
    Is alloy making a come back in higher end builds?-img_20181203_150711_978.jpeg

    Ps. I know that nobody makes frames out of 316 SS, just had this table laying around.

    Ps. 2, kswaid, why would you assume the designer uses the same tube as steel? That wouldnt make sense... Relate your specs to weight, not volume...
    A beam that has 2x the thickness has 8x the strength / stiffness...

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  47. #47
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    You can pound nails with steel so I guess that means it's stronger
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    Rocks are can break your carbon frame, so they are stronger. Hence you should make frames out of rocks!

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    Quote Originally Posted by mykle View Post
    Damn I hate the freedom units. When will the US learn from NASA
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMG_20181203_150711_978.jpeg 
Views:	45 
Size:	66.1 KB 
ID:	1227335

    Ps. I know that nobody makes frames out of 316 SS, just had this table laying around.

    Ps. 2, kswaid, why would you assume the designer uses the same tube as steel? That wouldnt make sense... Relate your specs to weight, not volume...
    A beam that has 2x the thickness has 8x the strength / stiffness...

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    I assumed the same tube size to have a direct comparison of materials without other factors adding confusion. I also stated that the reduced density of aluminum allows the designer some flexibility. They can then use more structurally efficient shapes without paying a penalty in weight or buckling resistance. My intent was to clarify the MATERIAL differences separately from differences due to the final engineered form (tube shape).

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    I want a bike made of Kevlar

  51. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dale-Calgary View Post
    I want a bike made of Kevlar
    Sounds awsome, but when the epoxy cracks it hangs on by threads of the weave.

  52. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cerberus75 View Post
    Sounds awsome, but when the epoxy cracks it hangs on by threads of the weave.
    Same with carbon fibre

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  53. #53
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    I sure like my steel framed hardtail Ritchey P29er a little more forgiving on my old bones than aluminium. That being said I own all kind of bikes made from different frame material.Carbon is to expensive for me....most of the time.

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    IMO the Enviro 'benefits' of Alu & steel over carbon have been egged on by folk trying to sell you Alu and steel bikes (Pole, Commencal, I'm looking at you). Normally because they are looking for a reason that they don't have a carbon offering that isn't 'we can't afford it', either because the can't make them at a worthwhile price, or they are already heavily invested in Alu.

    Has anyone actually recycled a nice bike frame? (I mean properly, not just passed on/sold for buttons/given away)

    Want an Alu bike with top end kit? Orange will sell you a full XTR & Fox Factory equipped alu frame'd bike for $8000 ish

    I'm yet to see a low spec'ed Ti framed bike...

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