Different types of steel???- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Different types of steel???

    I have been contemplating a carbon Giant for my next SS but that recently fell through. Peer pressure, mainly from this forum, got the best of me, and I decided steel was my best option after being beat to death by a rigid aluminum frame. But there are so many choices... I was wondering where I could find information on the different types of steel bike manufacturers are using? I assume they have different physical properties since some companies use different types of steel for different tubes on their frames. I know they will all have somewhat similar properties, but I want to educate myself on any differences before dropping the cash on a steel frame. Mostly I am seeing frames made of:

    True Temper OX
    Reynolds 853
    Columbus Zona
    4130

    If anyone knows a website with this kinda info. I'd appreciate a response. Thanks, CK
    Truffle Shuffle

  2. #2
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    Molar Madness!

    Are you a dentist?

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by cavitykilla
    True Temper OX
    Reynolds 853
    Columbus Zona
    4130
    that looks like a postal address.

    - Joel
    Cycling is Serious Business.

  4. #4
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    Tubing shape/size/thickness, and frame geo will make a much bigger difference in the way a frame feels than th steel. Most of the top end steel tube stes will ride very similar.

  5. #5
    Needed Less ~ Did More
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    What Fulton said....

    All the companies listed have websites but its pretty much marketing jargon, tube diameters and mechanical properties that will mean pretty much zilch to non-engineer types.

    If you are after a steel frame, find a builder who you like working with and let them stress about it!

    Alex
    "Put any one on one of these singlespeed bikes and they could not help but have fun"
    -
    Otis Guy talking about klunkers c1976

  6. #6
    mtbr member
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    still in school

    Quote Originally Posted by toothpuller
    Are you a dentist?
    I am a third year at UAB in Alabama and cannot wait to be finished!
    Truffle Shuffle

  7. #7
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    I won't ....

    completely agree with the others!

    I have never heard of a crappy riding or heavy 853, OX Platinum or Dedacciai bike. All of these steels are really nice to make a bike with.

    Here is a link about OX http://www.henryjames.com/oxplat.html i think most of what this link says about OX is also true about 853/Dedacciai.

    4130 is a very old alloy of steel. It works fine, its easy to join, but I don't think most frames made from it are either light, or have that springy ride feel like an 853/OX frame would. 4130 still damps bumps very nicely though, and the frame cost will be less. The strength of a 4130 tube is lower than 853/OX/Dedacciai, so normally its going to take more material to make the same strength frame, so it will be heavier.

    If you want the religious Steel bike experience go with a higher end tubing, if you just want a smoother riding frame than most average Aluminum bikes 4130 is just fine.

    MC



    Quote Originally Posted by cavitykilla
    I have been contemplating a carbon Giant for my next SS but that recently fell through. Peer pressure, mainly from this forum, got the best of me, and I decided steel was my best option after being beat to death by a rigid aluminum frame. But there are so many choices... I was wondering where I could find information on the different types of steel bike manufacturers are using? I assume they have different physical properties since some companies use different types of steel for different tubes on their frames. I know they will all have somewhat similar properties, but I want to educate myself on any differences before dropping the cash on a steel frame. Mostly I am seeing frames made of:

    True Temper OX
    Reynolds 853
    Columbus Zona
    4130

    If anyone knows a website with this kinda info. I'd appreciate a response. Thanks, CK

  8. #8
    Frame Building Moderator Moderator
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    Everyone makes the same things.

    A rough guide to steel bike tubing.

    By Walt, who is not an engineer but has built bikes out of pretty much any steel you can think of.

    853! OX Platinum! S3! Zona! Nivacrom! Zero Tre! There are an awful lots of names for various companies' different lines of steel tubeset. There's less going on here than you might think, though.

    Every maker of steel bicycle tubing (including Reynolds, True Temper, Fairing, Columbus, and probably some others) makes the same product lines with tiny (and unimportant) differences. They are mostly piggybacking on the aviation industry advances in using lightweight steel that have occurred over the last 100 years or so - any hype a steel manufacturer gives you about all the R&D they've been doing is just that - hype.

    First thing to note: Tube diameter and overall bike geometry will determine the ride of the frame. Higher end tubing will not ride "harsher" or "stiffer" in the same diameter as lower end stuff. Likewise lower end steels will not ride "smoother".

    So what do they make? It's pretty simple, really:

    -4130 cromoly: This is the basic lightweight steel often used for homemade or experimental aircraft. It can be butted or straightgauge, though most bike tubing companies only sell butted versions. A complete 17" mtb frame for an average rider built from straightgauge 4130 cromoly would weigh between 5.5 and 6.5 pounds. A double butted 4130 frame would fall to the 4.5-5.75 pound range. Most companies have a name for their 4130 product line that tries to make it NOT sound like it's 4130 cromoly, because 4130 is considered a "low end" (read: heavy) material. A 4130 frame IS heavy, mainly because it is not strong enough to use ultra thin walls (it's not any heavier than other steels, you just have to use more of it).

    4130 is the standard material used for mountain bike seatstays and chainstays (even on high end bikes) because it can relatively easily be bent into nice curves without cracking or being fatally weakened. Ditto fork blades.

    -Heat treated cromoly: This is the middle of the road tubeset and often the best value. The heat treating the tubing undergoes makes it harder and means that thinner walled tubes can be used which will give acceptable strength. A typical 17" mtb frame made from heat treated cromoly would weigh between 4 and 4.5 pounds. Material cost about twice that of 4130.

    -Air hardening steels: These are the top of the line for mountain bikes. Examples include OX Platinum and 853. Thinner walls, lighter weight, much harder and more difficult to work with for the manufacturer. Materials cost about three times as much as 4130. A typical 17" frame built from these steels would weigh 3.75-4.25 pounds. Generally requires backpurging when welding.

    -Super goofy stuff: S3, Foco, UltraFoco, etc. These are not generally considered appropriate for mountain bikes due to their extremely thin tube walls. I have heard claims (which I've never verified) of smaller, compact geometry road frames in the 3.0 pound range built from this type of tubing. Backpurging welds is mandatory here. Material costs are around 5 times as much as 4130.


    Every steel company out there makes the same 3 or 4 types of steel, and there's not enough difference between them to worry about it. Reynolds 853 is pretty much the same as Truetemper OX Platinum, so don't sweat it, just get a bike that fits you and fits your notion of proper weight and cost and you'll be fine.

    -Walt

  9. #9
    mtbr member
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    Cavity:

    Listen to Walt because he knows his shite. If you really want to know about bicycle metallurgy then read the "Metallurgy for Cyclists" series by Scot Nicol. I first encountered this peice years ago when doing research on ti. Heres a link to the section on steel:
    http://strongframes.com/tech_geeks_l...D=54&copyID=16
    Here's another link that list the specs for all of the most commonly used steel tubing:
    http://strongframes.com/tech_geeks_l...=171&copyID=98
    Enjoy, and if you ever need a frame built, call Carl (or Walt or any of the other great frame builders out there); let the builder worry about which tubing to spec.
    Last edited by AteMrYeats; 09-14-2005 at 09:16 AM.

  10. #10
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    Don't worry too much about exotic frame materials - they're nice to have, but not essential.

    I reckon a titanium railed saddle makes more difference to feel than the differences between different 4130 grade upwards steel.

    So now you have a good reason to buy a Surly 1x1
    "The man is richest whose pleasures are the cheapest" Henry David Thoreau (obviously a single speeder)

    "...everytime you throw something away your load gets lighter..."

  11. #11
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    Ha!!

    Quote Originally Posted by tomacropod
    that looks like a postal address.
    That's my favorite post on MTBR in recent memory.

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