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    What can you tell me about frame and fork materials?  
    I have two road bikes, both aluminum with carbon forks. One is aero tubed and one is conventional (for GT). The aero bike is a little harsher in its ride characteristics.

Steel has a supple way of absorbing road "noise", and cushioning jolts, (I keep getting reminded of this when I take my hybrid out for a ride) coupled with carbon forks, steel ought to be a more comfortable long distance mount.

Don Bolton

Aluminum frames are not necessarily lighter than steel ones. They would be if tubing dimensions (diameter, wall thickness, etc.) were identical, 'cause aluminum does weigh less than steel for a given volume. If I remember correctly (don't have the specs any more, so I'm relying on memory), my old Trek aluminum frame weighed pretty close to my current LeMond steel frame.

Frame weight's not really the point, though. It might be a bigger issue if you were considering competition. Mostly you should be considering fit and comfort. I've spent a lot of time on frames made of both materials... I'm a steel convert now.

Scott Saulsbury

I have an aluminum & a steel frame with a carbon fiber fork. A few months ago I crashed which involved several riders. The rear seat tube on my steel Serotta cracked which had to be replaced and frame repainted. I bought an aluminum frame because it would take 3 months before I would get my Serotta back. Took the components (9 sp. Ultegras) & Mavic wheels and put them on the aluminum frame. At that time I had pre-registered for double centuries and Cross Florida 170mi.(1 day). I can assure you I would ride my steel frame and carbon fork any time and anywhere but, with the aluminum I felt every bump and crack in the road (ouchhhhhhhh). I definitely recommend taking the steel/carbon fiber fork/Mavic wheels.

Barb (loves her Serotta) Bergin

I had an aluminum frame Cannondale for the past 10 years. It was (is) a great bike, BUT....

I bought a steel frame Lemond (Zurich) earlier this year and it is MUCH BETTER. Like many others have said, the aluminum frame might be a bit lighter (but probably not by much), but it is so much stiffer and generally results in a much rougher ride.

Last year on Cycle Oregon, after the Day 1 optional loop, I swore I'd had enough of the stiff aluminum frame ride (that particular downhill literally vibrated my feet and hands and bones until they ached big time!) and I vowed to buy a new bike with a good steel frame (and carbon fiber front fork). The Lemond is a dream!


Another question - chromally (sp?) frames vs. aluminum with a possible titanium fork. We were advised that heavier people may prefer the aluminum. Anybody got any ideas?

Rox Heath

Aluminum vs. steel: I will preface this with the fact that I own four bikes and they are all lugged steel. I just like the ride quality and the beauty of these bikes. The conventional logic is that aluminum is stiff and harsh and steel is more forgiving.

On the aluminum side, the bikes like Cannondale, Klien and others with extremely large tubes tend to be stiff end of the scale. 100 miles on an old Cannondale will beat most of us into submission! (And keep us off the bike the next day.) The reality is that today's aluminum bikes come in a lot of configurations. The bonded aluminum Trek 2300 that Don L. rides is very smooth (a friend of mine has one). In fact, all of my steel bikes are stiffer! With carbon forks and even front suspension they can be made to ride quite smoothly.

Steel bikes can be tailored for ride quality by tubing wall, size, alloy, etc. So, you can end up with a steel bike that's very stiff, or a real noodle, or anything in between. Some people (me included) think that steel imparts a road feel that is unmatched by any other material.

You didn't mention Titanium and carbon fiber, two more options. So I won't either, but both of these materials make great bikes!

Mark Ramsby

As a mechanical designer by trade (now in IS) I was very picky when looking at a road bike purchase. I'm really impressed with Trek frames. I have owned two mountain bikes by Trek and my whole family rides them. If you can afford a Serotta then get one. You do not have to be a 18 year old performance hard body to appreciate a nice riding bike. I have the Rapid Tour that Mike Sylvester at the eastside Bike Gallery helped design specifically for CO and Oregon riders. It is a racing bike with a slightly higher profile for touring. It is a triple with eyelets for racks. This bike is a scream to ride uphill or down hill.

You can tell a lot about a frame by looking closely at how the welds on the frame are (unless of course it is a carbon bike). Also got ask Mike the mechanic at the Beaverton Bike Gallery about bike construction and Serotta. He will give you a un-biased mechanical opinion about your purchase.

Old tired legs will really appreciate the extra power that you get from the 'S' chain stay. The Colorado tubing softens the ride without compromising performance.

Well I could go on but I'll let others talk about their favorite bike.

Lonnie Wormley

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  Page Last Updated: Jan. 20, 2003  
    CyclingSite > CO Collected Wisdom > What to Take > Bikes > Frame & Fork Materials  

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