best frame material?

  • This topic has 30 replies, 20 voices, and was last updated 10 years ago by  Bez.
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  • best frame material?
  • aw
    Member

    Ok I may be opening up a mind field here or should I say can of worms…anyway I have ridden alu and steel bikes in the main and I think I much prefer steel (I say I think because in frame design there are other factors of course).

    Leaving money aside are carbon and titanium better materials than alu and steel?

    do you need to go top end with steel (Reynolds 853) to compete with the others?

    Is the price you pay for carbon and Ti worth it for the advantages over steel?

    And why are there not more MTB carbon frames when on the dark side carbon is the preferred top end choice?

    Lots of questions I know but I have a little money and could buy my dream bike.

    Finally what is the best one for a ‘killer’ single speed build project?

    How long is a piece of string?

    Steel is easiest to repair or alter and probably longest lasting ( infinite fatigue life)

    Alloy can make for a stiffer frame but has a (theoretical??) finite fatigue life.

    Carbon is the lightest for the same strength / stiffness but damage it and its for the bin

    Given, say, £1000 to spend on a frame you can get an almost perfect steel or aluminium frame or basic Ti/CF. Isn’t it like asking what’s better a top of the range Mondeo or a basic Jaguar?

    soobalias
    Member

    Taken from over the pond on the 2nd April – the ultimate frame material

    http://bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com/

    aw
    Member

    I know it is all about budget but why is not carbon as popular MTB wise as it is for roadies?

    I’m trying to help my other half get into MTB’ing. She has riden the same route with me twice but on the first time she rode my Ti hardtail with my saddle on it, the second time she rode my Aluminium hardtail, with her own big padded ladies saddle and this time padded shorts. During coffee afterwards she commented on how much more comfortable the Ti bike was, and the day after riding the Aluminium hardtail she claimed to be a bit sore when she hadn’t been the day after riding the Ti bike. She has no knowledge as to the different frame materials just riding experience.
    Does that make Ti better and Al?

    read this http://www.sabbathbicycles.co.uk/ssblog.php explains there is no 1 BEST material, better to choose the right one for the job.

    Is the price you pay for carbon and Ti worth it for the advantages over steel

    No.

    I would say that the riding characteristics of a good steel frame are equal to those of a decent Ti frame. I ride a Moots which is considered pretty much as good a Ti frame gets, but I cannot honestly say it was worth the extra money. I used to borrow a mates steel Pine Mountain and it was just as good. For the price of Ti you could have a custom made steel frame couldn’t you?

    The only draw back to steel is its propensity to rust but waxyoyl the inside of the frame and plenty of grease in the BB shell and you’ve got a frame that will last longer than you.

    If I could choose again – steel every time

    Premier Icon nickc
    Subscriber

    Honestly, I’d say fit and geometry are massively more important than frame material. Apart from bragging rights, I don’t think it matters awfully much at all what the damn thing’s made from.

    aw
    Member

    Interesting comment about Ti vs Alu. I find alu so harsh and you always need a front fork at least to dampen the ride.

    Steel is my favourite because I just love the look of the skinny tubes so I guess the only question is if Ti is worth the extra money. I am not sure about custom frames and whether they are much better than off the peg?

    I suppose if you are going steel then if you have 853 Reynolds you have strength and lightness.

    Ti seems hit and miss with lots of comments about too springy or back ends being skittish. When you are paying that sort of money then you want something pretty immense!

    Premier Icon oomidamon
    Subscriber

    Carbon is the lightest but damage it and its for the bin

    Wrong. A broken carbon tube can be wrapped and repaired.

    As much about frame design as material I reckon.

    I’ve got an old steel Radford – it’s got the usual damping quality, but it’s a fairly horrid affair. Dave’s got a new P7 (steel) and as soon as I kicked on the pedals I knew it was fabulous. Rich has a Ti Van Nick and it gives and damps brilliantly – literally sprints uphill too. I’ve got an overbuilt Mongoose Alu HT and it’s as rigid and unstoppable as a tank downhill, but it’s a tough ride. Jason has a Genesis Core Alu and it’s quick and fairly comfy too. Never tried carbon.

    Perhaps material is the least important?

    oldgit
    Member

    Personally I like steel.
    But I ride aluminium for the weight saving.
    Ti? only ridden Handjobs and Dusters and their Ti equivalents and could’nt get them.
    Carbon, had one once but I was paranoid about damaging it.

    aracer
    Member

    Wood!

    Close – I give you bamboo

    aw
    Member

    I can see where this thread is going!

    Alb
    Member

    Rumor has it that ‘unobtanium’ is meant give a ride that’s out of this world.

    aracer
    Member

    I can see where this thread is going!

    Ask a silly question. Though my suggestion is a serious one – if I had the money to spend on a bike just because I like the way it looks / the image behind it (which is after all the principle buying decision behind ti bikes), that’s what I’d get.

    aracer
    Member

    the first time she rode my Ti hardtail with my saddle on it, the second time she rode my Aluminium hardtail, with her own big padded ladies saddle and this time padded shorts. During coffee afterwards she commented on how much more comfortable the Ti bike was, and the day after riding the Aluminium hardtail she claimed to be a bit sore when she hadn’t been the day after riding the Ti bike.

    Geometry? Tyre pressure? Is it actually her big padded saddle making her sore?

    sam42
    Member

    steeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeel
    as for i 853….. well reynolds themselves say-
    “The benefits of an air-hardening steel are particularly noticeable in the weld area where, unlike conventional steel alloys, strength can actually increase after cooling in air immediately after welding. This feature is a result of the fine grain structure due to the chemical compostion specified. 853 is heat-treated to give high strength and damage resistance.”
    so yeah… you gets what you pays for.
    Then i may be slightly biased riding a self built 853 steel hardtail?

    WTF
    Member

    Steel.
    Simply due to cost ,reliabilty and the fact that it does its job well.

    BlingBling
    Member

    Aluminium.

    Faster, lighter, more feedback etc.

    I dont buy bikes to please other.

    An aluminium alloy frame is not necessarily lighter than a steel one. Stiffer for the same weight perhaps.

    aracer
    Member

    An aluminium alloy frame is not necessarily lighter than a steel one. Stiffer for the same weight perhaps.

    Stiffer, stronger and cheaper for the same weight.

    aw
    Member

    alu runs very harsh in my view…

    steel I just love the feel of but has it got weight issues?

    Is Ti like a lighter steel but more flexy?

    Carbon seems out of favour for top end MTBs – do not know why?

    I will not comment on wood/bamboo/human!

    Premier Icon Bez
    Subscriber

    Carbon seems out of favour for top end MTBs – do not know why?

    Road bikes have hard, narrow tyres and no suspension, are designed to be extremely stiff under power transfer, ride exclusively on extremely hard surfaces, and deal with bumps that are on the scale of millimetres; plus the rider is rarely out of the saddle. Here you’ll notice the qualities a carbon frame can give, and its anisotropic nature can be used to great advantage.

    Mountain bikes have much bigger, softer tyres, mostly have suspension, often ride on soft surfaces and deal with bumps on the scale of inches or even feet, and the rider is out of the saddle a lot. Given these things, the finer points of frame feel are just waffle – within reason, any material can be used to give sufficient stiffness and strength, it’s just a case of how much weight and expenditure is involved.

    So for MTBs, it’s simply that diminishing returns kick in a hell of a lot sooner.

    aw
    Member

    nice answer Bez…for road frames carbon better than alu?

    Nico
    Member

    I’d say Titanium has to be the best. It’s tough, doesn’t corrode, light, and can be as springy as you like. But I doubt it’s worth the money for a mountain bike, given that MTBs date so quickly. Carbon depends much more on design and manufacturing quality, which is hard to judge.

    Premier Icon Bez
    Subscriber

    for road frames carbon better than alu?

    In theory, yes – you can do more with carbon and you can go lighter. But it costs more and I’ve got no regrets about buying my CAAD9 🙂

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