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  1. #1
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    steel vs aluminum........

    ok, i'm 99% sure i'm going for the steel framed kilo wt from bikesdirect. they also have a really nice aluminum framed single speed wide tire road bike AND this one has disc brakes. I've never ridden an aluminum bike but I hear things about the ride. i'm a larger rider at almost 300 pounds and like the forgiving nature of a steel bike. I have heard that al frames can be stiff and hard riding. i'm going to pull the trigger on a bike tonight and this will be my last line of "research". big guys, what about it? steel or aluminum? i'll be splitting my ride time between the boardwalk, bike paths and the street. is aluminum too harsh? am I overthinking this?

    thanks.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by charliethetuna View Post
    ok, i'm 99% sure i'm going for the steel framed kilo wt from bikesdirect. they also have a really nice aluminum framed single speed wide tire road bike AND this one has disc brakes. I've never ridden an aluminum bike but I hear things about the ride. i'm a larger rider at almost 300 pounds and like the forgiving nature of a steel bike. I have heard that al frames can be stiff and hard riding. i'm going to pull the trigger on a bike tonight and this will be my last line of "research". big guys, what about it? steel or aluminum? i'll be splitting my ride time between the boardwalk, bike paths and the street. is aluminum too harsh? am I overthinking this?
    You are absolutely correct that Al frames can be stiff and "hard riding." But they can also be soft and wimpy. It just depends on how they were designed. The same can be said of any frame material. Frame material is by far the least concern when you are talking about ride harshness. And at your weight, frame stiffness will not be an issue regardless of material - you should be concerned about durability. Your primary focus should be the durability the wheels, though some would argue that Al will be less durable than steel.

    The normal advice is for you to ride some bikes and pick the one that fits and that appeals to you. Obviously this is not a choice with bikesdirect.

  3. #3
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    The important thing for you will be ability to take big tires and ability to handle your weight.

    Some steel bike ride smooth some don't. Same for alloy. Without riding them or knowing the design objective it's impossible to say how a steel bike will ride compared to an alloy bike.
    Changes are steel will be more suited to taking the beating your weight will give it but even then there are thin steel tubes where that certainly wouldn't be the case so can't make any assumptions.

  4. #4
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    Yes you are overthinking.

    Comfort in frames is down to design rather than material. A steel bike can be harsh too.

    Comfort is far more related to tires and wheels, and you are on the right track with a bike that has stout wheels and 45 mm tires.
    There's sometimes a buggy.
    How many drivers does a buggy have?

    One.

    So let's just say I'm drivin' this buggy...
    and if you fix your attitude you can ride along with me.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GekiIMh4ZkM

  5. #5
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    The reason Gary Klein designed the first fat tubed aluminum bike is because - as a big rider - he felt that he was losing sprints in races due to the steel frame flexing too much when he was putting the hammer down. He theorized that fatter tubes would help prevent that flex, but that steel ones would be too heavy. Thus the modern aluminum frame came into existence.

    The early ones were made of straight gauge aluminum tubing and had a rough ride - folks were comparing them to equivalently priced double butted steel frames so they came out as very rough by comparison. The ride was roughly equivalent to a straight gauge steel frame - unforgiving. As manufacturers learned how to manipulate aluminum tubing, introducing double butted and gradually tapering tubesets, the ride greatly improved. My compact framed Klein Q Race offers nearly as soft a ride as my Trek Domane - without the addition of the frame decoupler.

    So, if you want a bike that offers a compliant ride don't concentrate on the frame material but dig deeper to learn about the construction and design. One hint, cheaper bikes tend to not have the better riding frames. The manufacturer cut corners in order to offer it that cheaply and usually the corners cut are in frame design and construction.
    Life is short... enjoy the ride.

  6. #6
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    Speaking in broad generalities (and not knowing anything specific about either of these choices), I would suggest that a cheap steel frame is likely to last longer than a cheap aluminum frame. And, BTW, I own a Cannondale.....
    I'm upping my standards;
    Up yours!

  7. #7
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    steel vs aluminum........

    While frame material can certainly make a difference, you experience the ride through the way it is transferred through the bike to you via contact points. Tires, wheels, fork, bars, tape, saddle, shorts, shoes, gloves and the road surface all play a part in how the bike feels.
    Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. - MLK

  8. #8
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    Get the one that takes the largest tires.
    Too old to ride plastic

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by No Time Toulouse View Post
    Speaking in broad generalities (and not knowing anything specific about either of these choices), I would suggest that a cheap steel frame is likely to last longer than a cheap aluminum frame. And, BTW, I own a Cannondale.....
    I was talking about the quality of the ride, not the longevity. A cheap frame, steel or aluminum, is not going to offer a great ride. Buying one with the clearance for fat tires would help, as those tires will soften the pavement shock at least - though there is more to a great ride than that.
    Life is short... enjoy the ride.

  10. #10
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    OK, here is Frame Materials 101 from the immortal Sheldon Brown:

    "Did you know that:

    • Aluminum frames have a harsh ride?
    • Titanium frames are soft and whippy?
    • Steel frames go soft with age, but they have a nicer ride quality?
    • England's Queen Elizabeth is a kingpin of the international drug trade?

    All of the above statements are equally false.

    There is an amazing amount of folkloric "conventional wisdom" about bicycle frames and materials that is widely disseminated, but has no basis in fact.

    The reality is that you can make a good bike frame out of any of these metals, with any desired riding qualities, by selecting appropriate tubing diameters, wall thicknesses and frame geometry."

    Frame Materials for the Touring Cyclist

    I would never buy a bike without riding it first unless it is dirt cheap and you are willing to take the risk that you will hate it as soon as you get on it.

    Let me also add my proof of Sheldon's point. I own 2 carbon bikes, 3 aluminum bikes and a steel bike. My stiffest bike is one of my carbon bikes. My flexiest bike is also one of my carbon bikes. The other bikes fall somewhere in between.

    Also worth noting is that your tires will make more of a difference than anything else regarding harshness/smoothness of your ride. Wider tires allow you to use less pressure softening your ride.

    At 300lbs., you really should visit a bike shop and test ride some bikes. Also, as others have said, you will need a frame that can handle at least 35mm wide tires and wider like 38 or 40 is even better (remember what I said about wider tires softening your ride). A touring or gravel bike would probably work best for you. But don't focus so much on frame material. There are great aluminum and steel bikes just as there are crappy aluminum and steel bikes.

    Buy cheap, buy twice. You get what you pay for.
    “Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.” -- Aaron Levenstein

    "Beware of geeks bearing formulas."
    -- Warren Buffett

    "Education is what you get when you read the fine print. Experience is what you get when you don't. -- Pete Seeger



  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    The important thing for you will be ability to take big tires and ability to handle your weight.
    This is it in a nutshell. At your weight, ANY frame is going to flex enough to provide some form of comfort/suspension. Choose the frame that fits the widest tires; you're going to need 'em until your weight comes down.

    Not meant to be an insult; just practical advice.

  12. #12
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    Not sure why it has to be this way other than the majority of aluminum frames seemed to be priced as more entry level(yes i know there are exceptions but they are not the rule) but i look at aluminum frames and the welds look so sloppy it just turns me off.

  13. #13
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    not all steel frames are the same. there's different tubing and steel formulas. if you go the discount route you may not get the great ride you've heard so much about.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by velodog View Post
    Get the one that takes the largest tires.
    Second that...

  15. #15
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    Get one with a lot of spokes!
    BANNED

  16. #16
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    get both of them life is for living....

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by duriel View Post
    Get one with a lot of spokes!
    I'll second that. For 300 pounds? The object of lust comes with 32 spokes. Great. 36 spokes even better. They'll add to the response of any bike loaded up that much. Their rims don't flex. They keep the bike tracking well on loaded tours. Don't give up just using fat tires. The wheels are usually the weak link in the system on a cheap bike.

    If I were rolling the dice, I'd go with toulouse: a cheap steel frame is probably stronger and will hold up longer than a cheap aluminum frame. Then again, those massive tubed aluminum frames gotta be pretty strong, no?

    Nah, they break at the dropouts. Steel, Charlie. Steel rocks. They don't build suspension bridges out of aluminum.

    Get the 56 cm size.

    If you're 5'11" and have short legs, the 56 cm frame will allow you to raise the handlebars higher and ride more upright. This will distribute the upper body girth slightly back and allow plenty of room for the breathing. At your height, you probably fit the stem that comes on the bike. The saddle will just be a little lower, which will enhance the sitting up positioning.

    Can't see a big guy an inch shorter than 6 ft. tall riding a 54 cm frame. You'd be a toad in the circus. A guy your height needs more reach. 54 cm is for riders around 5'8".
    Last edited by Fredrico; 03-11-2017 at 11:30 PM.

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