Vibration/Bump Absorption: Carbon vs. Alloy vs. Titanium vs. Steel vs. Scandium vs...- Mtbr.com
Results 1 to 21 of 21
  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Reputation: The Boz's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    521

    Vibration/Bump Absorption: Carbon vs. Alloy vs. Titanium vs. Steel vs. Scandium vs...

    With a few exceptions, it seems that all the bike brands boast that their chosen frame material "soaks up the trail chatter" or other similar marketing jargon.

    Has there ever been any scientific testing or evaluation of the various MB frame materials to establish a hierarchy in this one category of absorption/dampening? I know there are many other factors to consider, which is why everyone has their own preferences when it comes to frame material. But it seems that people constantly make claims about this quality, yet I have never seen any evidence to establish what is marketing BS vs. actual fact. I would love to see some statistics that show what the real differences are, if any (for example, steel has x% more dampening/absorption than alloy... etc). Maybe this is too subjective, but it seems like creative engineers somewhere could devise tests to measure this stuff.

  2. #2
    LightJunction.com
    Reputation: lightjunction's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    774
    Different materials have specific, consistent, quantifiable abilities to damp vibrations. I'm sure there's someone on here who can point to a link with that info. However, the ability of the rider to distinguish these sometimes extremely subtle differences can be debated. IMO it's fairly easy to tell Carbon and Steel are better than Aluminum at this. It's particularly difficult to distinguish which type of Aluminum is best and whether Carbon or Steel provides a more comfortable ride.

    It seems like most of the things manufacturers claim is just hype to try and get us excited about the new model they have out this season.
    We sell quality bike headlights and flashlights.
    www.LightJunction.com

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Reputation: laffeaux's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    5,978
    Tubes come in all shape and sizes. You can make any material ride how you'd like - some steel bikes will be soft and smooth while others will provide a super stiff non-compliant ride. Materials matter less than a good designed based on the material.

    If you're looking bump absorption info there are two truths:

    - full suspension frames absorbs more bumps than a hardtails
    - lower air pressure in the tires will absorb more bumps on any bike
    Each bicycle owned exponentially increases the probability that none is working correctly.

  4. #4
    T.W.O.
    Reputation: mimi1885's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Posts
    8,172
    Quote Originally Posted by laffeaux View Post
    Tubes come in all shape and sizes. You can make any material ride how you'd like - some steel bikes will be soft and smooth while others will provide a super stiff non-compliant ride. Materials matter less than a good designed based on the material.

    If you're looking bump absorption info there are two truths:

    - full suspension frames absorbs more bumps than a hardtails
    - lower air pressure in the tires will absorb more bumps on any bike
    Yep laffeaux nailed it. Nowadays custom builders can make just about identical feel hardtail from different materials.

    Seriously, scientific testing or evaluation are just about the same bunch of words as marketing jargon because it only prove right when the tube and/or material are at the same size and shape which it's not always the case. We pass the point of comparing a stiff oversize alu tube with the skinny steel tube already.

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Reputation: modifier's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    1,815
    The places I notice it the most are bars and seat posts. Particularly bars. Go from a set of stiff aluminum bars to a set of carbon bars and you can really feel the difference in shock transfer to your hands. Ti is kind of springy so it's second best and people say that steel is too but I haven't riding enough steel to know. Some builders profess to engineering AL tubes that feel more like steel but again idk.

    The bottom line is that ultimately carbon is king and can be made to do anything you want it to and is the best at absorbing high frequency vibration.

  6. #6
    mtbr member
    Reputation: The Boz's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    521
    In other words, no, there aren't available any scientific studies of these frame materials and their vibration absorption. At least none that anyone knows of. There are however, plenty of empty platitudes, such as:

    "Full suspension absorbs more bumps than a hardtail" and "Lower air pressure helps absorb bumps."
    Really? Holy Sh*t! All this time I've been riding my rigid road bike on the trails at 120 psi!

    Tubes come in all shape and sizes. You can make any material ride how you'd like - some steel bikes will be soft and smooth while others will provide a super stiff non-compliant ride. Materials matter less than a good designed based on the material.
    I'm not talking about what the best frame design is, that discussion would go nowhere. Obviously frame design is very important. So is tire pressure, suspension, etc, etc, etc, etc. But all things being equal, you CAN scientifically measure these things if the samples are all the same size and shape. Just take a same size/shape sample tube of each material and test it in all different ways.

    The bottom line is that ultimately carbon is king and can be made to do anything you want it to and is the best at absorbing high frequency vibration.
    Plenty of titanium and steel frame builders out there would disagree I think. It would be nice to know which material really is the best. With this established, you can focus on other variables.

  7. #7
    Mantis, Paramount, Campy
    Reputation: Shayne's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    4,703
    Once again someone that asks a question, blows off the responses, and then asks for more.

    A quick interweb search will yield endless data about specific materials. Read up and get back to us.
    Last edited by Shayne; 02-21-2012 at 01:44 PM.
    *** --- *** --- ***

  8. #8
    Wrench
    Reputation: FNFAL's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Posts
    769
    Sounds like you have your mind made up. However, design trumps material.

    Also, exposed seatpost has a lot to do with reducing chatter. In that regard, a ti or carbon setback post with plenty exposed does a lot for bumps. My old 17 inch steel hardrock with about a foot of seatpost felt smooth on the trails.

  9. #9
    mtbr member
    Reputation: The Boz's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    521
    Quote Originally Posted by Shayne View Post
    Once again someone that asks a question, blows off the responces, and then asks for more.

    A quick interweb search will yeild endless data about specific materials. Read up and get back to us.
    If the previous responses answered my question, there would be no need for research, would there?

    I don't have my mind made up, I am admittedly ignorant on this subject. I have heard bike makers clam that just about every type of material is superior to others at vibration absorption. It would be nice to know if there really was an established hierarchy among the common frame materials.

  10. #10
    mtbr member
    Reputation: modifier's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    1,815
    Quote Originally Posted by The Boz View Post
    In other words, no, there aren't available any scientific studies of these frame materials and their vibration absorption. At least none that anyone knows of. There are however, plenty of empty platitudes, such as:
    Yes it is out there. I've seen it. But I don't feel like looking it up for you.

    What I saw wasn't bike specific as I remember but then again it could have been bike related.

    Metallurgical charts comparing shock absorption and shock transfer rates of different materials.

  11. #11
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    1,284
    Hang it like a bell then ring the frame. Measure freq and amplitude. Ride frame. Look for correlation.

    I feel seat stays like the curved Blue Pigs probably will do more than anything for smoothing the ride. Anybody got one? Do tell...
    lean forward

  12. #12
    T.W.O.
    Reputation: mimi1885's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Posts
    8,172
    Quote Originally Posted by The Boz View Post
    If the previous responses answered my question, there would be no need for research, would there?

    I don't have my mind made up, I am admittedly ignorant on this subject. I have heard bike makers clam that just about every type of material is superior to others at vibration absorption. It would be nice to know if there really was an established hierarchy among the common frame materials.
    Check out Scot Nicol Metallurgy. I like that read

    The difference between materials become more important when you are considering budget frames or retro frames with small tubes. It's not the first, second or third on the list of things many people who consider a new frame. We are talking about hardtail in this case I assumed. Usually it's price, geometry, weight, specific use, wheel size, brands, drivetrain options and bunch of other stuff before they get to the bump absorption aspect.

    In your case if that's the top of the on your list then I'd say consider custom ti or carbon you won't be disappointed not because of better materials but builders who know what they are doing can build you a ride you really want unfortunately you can't always get it from a big box stores or mass produced frame

    Simply knowing about the best material that can absorb bump and reduce vibration is not enough because there's very little you can do with that nowadays. Liike many posts that you've dismissed they are all valid and pretty much cover the bump aspect of it

  13. #13
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    116
    I use the HT alloy frame but till now I cannot feel its absorption against the bumps. How do we notice the HT rear end flexibility?

  14. #14
    Rock and/or Roll
    Reputation: turbogrover's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    488
    If you had frames made with identical geometry out of the various materials, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference in vibration damping ability, if they were all built with identical components, and setup the same. The differences would come mostly from the engineering of the frame, not the material its made from. The most noticeable differences you could feel are, bottom bracket deflection, and weight. I have a vintage Fisher ProCaliber steel frame bike and a new carbon fiber ht, and they have an equal amount of vibration damping, when measured with seat-of-the-pants. The biggest noticeable difference I can feel is the bb deflection is much greater with the small tube, steel frame. Vibration damping ability is a poor measure of how to judge one frame to another.

    That being said, the very nature of how a carbon bike frame is made compared to metal tube construction, gives the carbon frame more vibration damping ability. You are comparing layers of woven fabric to a metal tube. The end result is still not really noticeable, and more an effect of component selection and setup.

  15. #15
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    100
    Materials like titanium and steel have a much higher yield strength than aluminum. They can undergo much more elastic deformation (deform, bend, compress, etc and then return to original size and shape). Aluminum has a lower yield strength, so it is more challenging for a frame builder to design the frame to absorb shock as the aluminum is more likely to bend or crack.

    Carbon fiber is interesting because the material itself doesn't matter as much as the fiber layup. Its just woven fibers mixed with resin.

    But really it comes down to the frame design itself. A crappy designed Ti frame could transmit more vibration than a very well designed aluminum frame.

  16. #16
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    421
    I love this discussion. There is no "data" because no one wants you to know that it makes little difference between all these materials. It is the same reason there is no "data" on 29ers vs 26ers that proves some huge advantage to 29ers. If all this stuff really made a difference there would be all sorts of charts and graphs out there extolling the virtues of whatever new cheaper technology the manufacturers wanted to sell us.

    The forces acting on a mountain bike are so small! They are cushioned by our bodies own flexibility, and low pressure air the tires. Only relatively large-frequency and large amplitude "vibrations" are transmitted to the rider. And that is what full suspension is for. Go ride a road bike with 100psi tires. You can feel EVERYTHING in the texture of the road surface. I think there, frame material can make a difference. But a typical mtn bike tire with 30ish psi in it absorbs all that small scale vibration that you get on a road bike, leaving only the bigger bumps (+1"), which will never be dealt with by frame material!

    After that it is all about cost effectiveness, weight, and longevity. And what the bike companies can convince us to buy that has the biggest profit margin: labor requirements for carbon frames are way less than for welded materials, and for that reason alone the industry is going to push it on us whether anyone wants it or not.

  17. #17
    Rock and/or Roll
    Reputation: turbogrover's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    488
    Quote Originally Posted by El Train View Post
    I love this discussion. There is no "data" because no one wants you to know that it makes little difference between all these materials. It is the same reason there is no "data" on 29ers vs 26ers that proves some huge advantage to 29ers. If all this stuff really made a difference there would be all sorts of charts and graphs out there extolling the virtues of whatever new cheaper technology the manufacturers wanted to sell us.

    The forces acting on a mountain bike are so small! They are cushioned by our bodies own flexibility, and low pressure air the tires. Only relatively large-frequency and large amplitude "vibrations" are transmitted to the rider. And that is what full suspension is for. Go ride a road bike with 100psi tires. You can feel EVERYTHING in the texture of the road surface. I think there, frame material can make a difference. But a typical mtn bike tire with 30ish psi in it absorbs all that small scale vibration that you get on a road bike, leaving only the bigger bumps (+1"), which will never be dealt with by frame material!

    After that it is all about cost effectiveness, weight, and longevity. And what the bike companies can convince us to buy that has the biggest profit margin: labor requirements for carbon frames are way less than for welded materials, and for that reason alone the industry is going to push it on us whether anyone wants it or not.
    I can agree with that!

  18. #18
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    370
    Reviving this discussion:
    Measuring the effect of transmitted road vibration on cycling performance
    http://web.mit.edu/2.tha/www/ppt/Bike-ISEA.pdf

  19. #19
    Professional Bad Ass
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    488
    When I was in college working at a bike shop we actually did a test. This was before carbon was common place, so we tested a Litespeed Ti, Ritchey steel, and Yrek alloy, and Specialized alloy. It was also the time before competing axle standards so we used the same wheels and tires and psi for each test. We had 4 emoloye Other comoonents differed (including suspension forks). We had 4 employees di the test. We found that differences in stiffness (bb deflecrion) where noticeable, but none of us could discern a difference in vertical comoliance on mtb trails. They were hardtails and transmitted the same amount if force when you hit stuff.

  20. #20
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Lone Rager's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Posts
    5,346
    If it hasn't been said already, damping and compliance are two different things. A spring is compliant but doesn't damp (or damps very little). A fork or shock has oil and valving which provides damping. Frame materials are pretty resilient and though compliant, provide little damping. On mountain bikes with 2" or larger tires, most all the compliance is provided by the tires. On bikes with suspension, it's a combination of the tires and suspension, with the suspension providing the greatest amount. Tires are pretty resilient and can provide a pretty bouncy ride on their own as is especially evident on fat bikes. Adding some damping to a fat bike with a Bluto fork can help considerably.

    Compliance and damping serve several functions: Provide a smoother ride for the rider, allow the tires to follow the terrain and maintain better traction, and to reduce peak forces experienced by the bike and rider.

  21. #21
    Fat-tired Roadie
    Reputation: AndrwSwitch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    18,453
    Ghost thread.

    Sent from my E5803 using Tapatalk
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

Members who have read this thread: 7

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

THE SITE

ABOUT MTBR

VISIT US AT

© Copyright 2019 VerticalScope Inc. All rights reserved.