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Why was Chromoly phased out?

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Why was Chromoly phased out?

Old 06-26-20, 03:13 PM
  #51  
aclinjury
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highend BMXs, dirtjumpers, are still chromoly.

Carbon bikes shock the sh8t outtta your feet going over washboard pavement and railroad tracks. Steel, no problem just fly over like magic carpet.
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Old 06-26-20, 03:15 PM
  #52  
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Originally Posted by elcruxio View Post
the disc trucker is a long frame and the reach increases with frame sizes both absolutely and relatively. I ride a size 62cm while I would need a 64 stack wise hence the 65mm spacer stack I need. However were I to ride a 64cm I'd need to use a 50-70mm stem to compensate for the long reach which would not be ideal in terms of weight distribution or handling.

So personally I'm happy I can now get a frame that is high enough while the reach is reasonable.
Which is why they did what they did. They didn't, however, need to shorten the chain stays. As I said, I understand why they did what they did, and think they did a good job on the redesign. I have a hard time thinking of it as the same bike though. It's nothing like the original. IN the end, all that is important is if the bike works as intended, and I am sure it will. It does look nice. I have no complaints with my 2011 LHT, and I'd buy it again.
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Old 06-26-20, 03:18 PM
  #53  
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Originally Posted by powermatt99 View Post
Definitely a lot of reasons for steel becoming a niche product in the cycling world. Not mentioned yet are geopolitical developments such as George W. Bush's 2002 steel tariffs designed to protect U.S. industry to shore up slumping economy and the economic effects of 9/11.
An '02 US tariff on steel led to global bicycle manufacturers moving to aluminum and carbon wven though both had been in heavy use for over a decade?
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Old 06-26-20, 03:25 PM
  #54  
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Cannondale used to make aluminum frame touring bikes with steel forks. I think that was done to reduce the harsh ride of the aluminum frame. We have a Cannondale T800 and a T2 in our bike inventory, bothe with Aluminum frames. Since my wife got her Co-Motion she does not use hers T800 for tour much anymore. I will occasionally use the T2 for a tour, but prefer one of my other touring bikes, LHT or Bianchi Volpe. I can tell you from experience that the aluminum frames dent much easier than our steel touring bikes. I've also broken a derailleur hanger on my Aluminum frame bike when the chain broke causing the rear derailleur to go into the spokes. I had to replace the hanger and the rear derailleur. The hanger did what it was designed to do. I'm pretty sure that much damage would not have happened with a steel frame. Straightening a bent derailleur hanger on a steel frame is pretty easy to do.

Last edited by Doug64; 06-26-20 at 05:36 PM.
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Old 06-26-20, 03:36 PM
  #55  
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Originally Posted by MattTheHat View Post
Cast iron is where it's at!
especially the vintage cast iron.
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Old 06-26-20, 03:39 PM
  #56  
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
An '02 US tariff on steel led to global bicycle manufacturers moving to aluminum and carbon wven though both had been in heavy use for over a decade?
Like I said, not the only factor, one of the factors. In 2002, most major bicycle makes had at least a few steel bikes in their stable. We know from recent history that U.S. tariffs have a global effect and tend to set trends in the market. In 2002, the global price of steel increases, but especially for American imports, combined with the increased availability and decreasing cost of other materials like aluminum and composite/carbon. You don't need a degree in economics to understand that this will create less supply of goods made from steel (like bikes) and more supply of goods made from other materials.

I don't mean to discount the other sport-specific factors. All factors are valid. Bike companies, however, are also players in a global economy are are affected when the world's largest economy makes a change.
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Old 06-26-20, 04:01 PM
  #57  
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Originally Posted by PoorInRichfield View Post
However, I have no desire to return to Chro-Mo frames for road biking, other than for nostalgia's sake, as the alternatives are so much better.
Steel is the best material for bike frames... there aren't any better alternatives to steel.
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Old 06-26-20, 04:04 PM
  #58  
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
Cannondale used to make aluminum frame touring bikes with steel forks. I think that was done to reduce the harsh ride of the aluminum frame. We have a Cannondale T800 and a T2 in our bike inventory, bothe with Aluminum frames. Since my wife got her Co-Motion she does not use hers T800 for tour much anymore. I will occasionally use the T2 for a tour, but prefer one of my other touring bikes, LHT or Bianchi Volpe. I can tell you from experience that the aluminum frames dent much easier than our steel touring bikes.

The steel fork on Cannondales was to reduce cost. The less expensive models of their touring bikes had steel forks while many of their more expensive models had aluminum forks. Aluminum forks would be hard to make cheaply. Additionally, putting a steel fork on the bike to "reduce the harsh ride" makes no sense. Steel is more rigid than aluminum.

Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
I've also broken a derailleur hanger on my Aluminum frame bike when the chain broke causing the rear derailleur to go into the spokes. I had to replace the hanger and the rear derailleur. The hanger did what it was designed to do. I'm pretty sure that much damage would not have happened with a steel frame.
I've seen a lot of bikes that have had the derailer put into the spokes. The steel ones don't necessarily fair much better than the aluminum ones. Most derailers on aluminum bikes aren't damaged because the sacrificial hanger breaks off on the aluminum frames while the steel ones tend to break the derailer in half. I've even seen some steel hangers that have be damaged to the point where the only alternative is to use a claw hanger if the bike has horizontal dropouts. The frame is dead if the frame has vertical dropouts. I'd much rather have a sacrificial hanger even if I owned a steel bike.
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Old 06-26-20, 04:14 PM
  #59  
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I have to agree with @Pop N Wood. To a large extent high tensile steel has been phased out, but lighter/stronger steel alloys are still common. Smaller manufacturers and more custom manufacturers use 4130 or chromoly. Others may use more boutique alloys.

Hydroforming aluminum is all the rage giving more shapes and better engineering of aluminum. Plus the aluminum frames can be made to resemble carbon fiber.

For some reason, while basic shaped steel tubes have been used since the 1980's, complex hydroforming never caught on.

However, I have to wonder if the aluminum frames replaced high tensile steel frames, and the chromoly and better frames remained.

I think Bike Friday extensively uses chromoly. Jamis too.
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Old 06-26-20, 04:27 PM
  #60  
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Originally Posted by phughes View Post
Which is why they did what they did. They didn't, however, need to shorten the chain stays. As I said, I understand why they did what they did, and think they did a good job on the redesign. I have a hard time thinking of it as the same bike though. It's nothing like the original. IN the end, all that is important is if the bike works as intended, and I am sure it will. It does look nice. I have no complaints with my 2011 LHT, and I'd buy it again.
Shortening chainstays on a touring bike can cause pannier/heel strikes. Shortening the chainstays makes no sense to me.

YMMV

Cheers
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Old 06-26-20, 04:29 PM
  #61  
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Originally Posted by Digger Goreman View Post
A FREAKIN REBAR BIKE?!!!

How heavy is that sucker?
It used to be used as an anchor for the U.S.S. Enterprise aircraft carrier. LOL

Cheers
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Old 06-26-20, 04:59 PM
  #62  
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Originally Posted by Miele Man View Post
Shortening chainstays on a touring bike can cause pannier/heel strikes. Shortening the chainstays makes no sense to me.

YMMV

Cheers
Yes it can. They only shortened them 10mm so it should be fine. I like the length for the slower, more stable handling.
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Old 06-26-20, 06:18 PM
  #63  
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They may have increased the stack, to potentially eliminate a lot of spacers under the stem, but now you have a ridiculous about of seat post showing.
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Old 06-26-20, 07:37 PM
  #64  
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Originally Posted by specialmonkey View Post
especially the vintage cast iron.
Just don't wash them with soap.
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Old 06-26-20, 07:47 PM
  #65  
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I have had 2 Kinesis aluminum forks over the years. They ride great and aren't harsh at all.

At around 600g for a fork, I don't know why they didn't get more popular.
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Old 06-26-20, 09:04 PM
  #66  
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Steel isn't phased out it is just not in popular use by some of the bigger players in the market. People believe carbon to be the wonder material and aluminum to be a good cheap substitute and with the myths out there it is lighter than steel which is always super heavy.

Steel is real and will not go anywhere. Plenty of companies still have a steel bike or two in the line up and there are a butt ton of custom/semi custom builders in the U.S. and around the world working in steel. I have 8 steel bikes and plans for others (or maybe some more titanium bikes or both)
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Old 06-26-20, 10:36 PM
  #67  
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In the old days, 4130 cro-mo was entry-level among nicer bikes & it wasn't too expensive to move up to nicer steel like Reynolds 531 or Columbus. Production 4130 touring bikes like the Surly Trucker are heavy & not exactly cheap & no option for better grade tubes. Aluminum will become standard for production tourers.
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Old 06-26-20, 11:25 PM
  #68  
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Originally Posted by Pop N Wood View Post
Man, people seem wound a little tight around here.

Since the site seems to be populated with detail oriented braniacs, perhaps one of you can tell me what word is used to describe how well a material transfers vibration? I'm well acquainted with material property terms like nil ductility temperature and malleability, but is there a similar term for transmitting vibration?

Reason I ask is I do a lot of metal working in my garage. I commonly bend steel by clamping it in a vice, pressing one end with my left hand than using a hammer to bend it. The first time I tried that with a piece of aluminum I thought the bones in my left hand all the way to my wrist were going to shatter, the aluminum transferred the vibration unlike anything I've ever experienced with a piece of steel. Had to use a block of wood to apply pressure on the aluminum.

Think maybe the speed of sound might give some clue as to an alloy's ability to transfer vibration?

Have to wonder if that is why some aluminum bikes ride so harsh.
I’m not an expert, it work with people who are experts in NVH (Noise Vibration Harshness).

Stiffness as a property of material has a Lot to do with how that material resonates At different frequencies, also it’s geometry and mass affects this . Aluminum just happens to resonate at frequencies we humans can really feel in our bones while roading along on two wheels. Note your tires can help mitigate a lot of this vibration. Steel will have A Much different Resonance frequency than aluminum. As will a carbon fiber bike, which can be more specifically engineered for comfort and different resonances.

I could go on. Your cars engine Vibration is a more extreme example. The steel frame and other body components Must be engineered NOT to resonate at the firing frequencies the engine does. Otherwise your car would literally shake apart and major frame components would fail even when not under a heavy load.

Ive experienced Aluminum components fail at low hours and low loads exactly due to this. Either the Necessary engineering, test and analysis was never done or the parts were not being used as intended. Many cheap knock off components made in China had ZERO such dillagence put into the validation of a design. I’d like to think the bigger companies like SRAM, Shimano, or Trek are doing this work and this is why new technologies and hardware can cost a lot. Model analysis and FEA (Finite Elemental Analysis) are tools for predictive analysis prior to manufacturing a product.

Respect the Engineering!

to some extent, the term “Steel is real” is a perception of the above for bikes. Not just that steel is a stronger material or easier to work with.

OK, I’m going to bed now.

Last edited by Toadmeister; 06-26-20 at 11:32 PM.
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Old 06-27-20, 02:22 AM
  #69  
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The rabbit holes of minutiae that this forum will go down.............

Cost and Weight.

Lighter weight bikes are typically preferred, as they’re easier and more efficient to ride.

Light weight bikes tend to be more expensive due to the higher grade materials and the techniques used to make them. Think lugged 531 vs welded hi-ten. That’s why builders of light-weight aluminum bikes in the 80’s and 90’s were the specialists like Klein and Cannondale.

Super-light steel didn’t quite lend itself to TIG welding the way Aluminum did (see the Bridgestone MB-0 ‘Zip’)
Basically aluminum is half the strength of steel, but 1/3 the weight. So, roughly, an aluminum part of the same strength would be 2/3 the weight of a similar steel part.
For bikes, what this means it that you can use less expensive, thicker walled aluminum tubing and end up with a frame that’s lighter than a similarly constructed steel frame, and less expensive than a high end steel frame.
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Old 06-27-20, 02:36 AM
  #70  
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The obvious answer is that you can make bicycles lighter and road cyclists are always on the quest for lighter bikes. It also makes trail bikes lighter which means less effort pedaling a heavy bike which means more time riding trails.

You can also do more tube forming with aluminum & aluminum doesn't rust so it's pretty much maintenance free. Ride it in the sea if you really want to.

Weight saved by the frame can be allocated to other things like disk brakes which have been one of the best additions to mountain bikes.

But bicycle weight is mainly an issue on stop / start and hills, but even though some manufacturers still make their touring bikes in steel, the people who ride touring bikes aren't always trying to set speed records and there is often enough gearing supplied to crush any hill, even if it's at walking pace. It is said that steel has better bump absorption / vibration damping. A loaded steel touring bicycle is a pretty comfortable thing to ride, but these are fairly minor differences which most people won't care about. Most people who would buy a touring bicycle in steel will mostly have a level of fitness that means the worry of frame weight is less of an issue because they're going to be adding the frames weight and more to the bike when loaded.

Most people if presented with a bicycle will lift the steel bicycle and say something like 'Wow, that's heavy'

Then when presented with the same bicycle in alu 'That's so much lighter'

Then asked, which one do you want to ride 'I'll take the lighter one, please'

The average bicycle customer has no care what the frame of their bicycle is made out of as long as the bike looks good, doesn't weigh loads and won't fold underneath them or snap if they launch a drop.

At some point when carbon becomes cheaper and the manufacturing issues are worked out then carbon will be the frame material of choice or maybe wood will come into fashion and we'll all be lamenting the times when alu was everywhere.
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Old 06-27-20, 02:58 AM
  #71  
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Originally Posted by delbiker1 View Post
I do not think Chromoly was really phased out. Steel is just not used anywhere near as much as it once was. I believe most of the bikes at that level are now aluminum. Higher grades of steel are used for higher quality steel frames. I used to have that exact same bike. I gave to a friend in need, who still has it. It was a nice bike. He accidently ran over it with a vehicle. The fork was ruined and had to be replaced. The frame was straightened by a local bike shop. It is not perfectly aligned, but you have to look real close to see it, and cannot tell when it is being ridden. Can't do that with aluminum or CF, not intending to knock those materials. I am sure others with more knowledge will chime in.
Trek 951 Single Track a superb ride quality IMHO. Generally speaking steel better and stronger than aluminium which is prone to fatigue and accidental damage, therefore suited to long distance touring especially in foreign countries where component wise as well it pays to keep it simple and repairable.

Last edited by dvaid; 06-27-20 at 03:03 AM.
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Old 06-27-20, 04:28 AM
  #72  
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Chromoly bikes were phased out for the same reason mechanical wristwatches were phased out. Quartz crystal watches do exactly what mechanical watches do---i.e., give you the time---but do so better and more cheaply than mechanical watches. There are still plenty of people who prefer mechanical watches, despite their shortcomings, because they like to think of themselves as more-discerning consumers. Some enthusiasts may even argue passionately that mechanical-watch are superior, on the basis of what appear to be obscure and romantic reasons to the rest of us.

I rode the highest of high-end steel road bikes from 1965 to 2005, at which point I bought my first aluminum road bike. I still have a Reynolds 853 bike and a 531 bike left from the old days, but I haven't ridden either more than a half-dozen times since 2005 because I prefer my aluminum bikes. My only regret is that I didn't buy a Cannondale road bike in the 1980s or 1990s, when I worked for a shop that sold them. (I did buy a Cannondale mountain bike in 1986; rode it yesterday, in fact.)

BikeForums.net is a site populated mostly by bike enthusiasts, many of whom are steel bike proponents. Which is fine---there's nothing wrong with steel bikes.

But: digital media versus analog, solid-state audio amplifiers versus tube, electronic watches versus mechanical, aluminum bikes versus steel: all are examples of a market moving on. Look at it this way: if it weren't for aluminum bikes, choosing steel would say nothing about your taste.

Last edited by Trakhak; 06-27-20 at 04:33 AM.
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Old 06-27-20, 06:09 AM
  #73  
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My Buddy is a bit of a Beer connoisseur. He can taste the difference between Lager, Pale Ale, Pilsner, etc., and will choose a type depending on time of day and the food he's washing it down with.

I like Beer too as long as it's Cold and I'm not as critical as Buddy. A cold beer does the trick on a hot day and I like the mild buzz I get . However, I do tend to gravitate to Lagers more.

Bike frame material is like a Beer to me. I'm really not that picky but I do like/notice the difference when riding a steel frame.

It's early Saturday morning, having my first coffee and waiting for the rain to pass so I can go for a ride and thinking if I'm going geared or Single Speed today......but I digress.
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Old 06-27-20, 07:50 AM
  #74  
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Computer modeling probably plays a role in the evolution of bike frames. Tools such as finite element modeling were largely out of reach to mainstream engineers until the personal computer came along, which coincides with the switch to aluminum frames. It might be just a coincidence, but I wonder. Before that, you either had to pay someone to do the analysis on a mainframe computer, or design by using basic engineering formulas that also lent themselves to modeling relatively simple shapes. The car and aircraft companies could afford that analysis, but probably not a humble bike frame maker.

Metallurgy has gone through a lot of changes too. When I was growing up in the 70s, every car older than a couple years had rust holes. Today I rarely see a car that's rusted through, though I still live in the road salt region. Some of the improvements were due to better metallurgy, but also chemical treatment and painting processes improved. If aluminum bike frames are being made today, there's a good chance that they're using alloys that didn't exist, or that they didn't know how to work with, in the past. The "6061" designation that covers virtually all cheap machinable aluminum has a lot of variants.
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Old 06-27-20, 07:57 AM
  #75  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
The steel bias and the other things that are “standard” for touring shows more about the mindset of the touring world than anything else. Touring bike materials selection is rooted in the romantic idealism of being able to “repair” a steel bicycle under the shade of a village smithy in some far off land than in reality.
You keep saying that but it seems that sentiment is more of your own imagining than the average mindset of your typical bicycle tourist.

It’s also based on the idea that any material that isn’t steel is going to “shatter into a thousand pieces without warning”. With many years of experience riding aluminum mountain bikes that undergo far worse rigors than touring bikes, and 20 years experience with aluminum touring bikes...the Horror!..., I have no problems accepting the “new” material of aluminum for touring bikes.
That's great I guess...

In reality, repairing a modern, high quality, thin walled steel bike isn’t something that “any idiot with a welder” can do. It’s a very thin material that requires a lot of skill to do without just burning holes in the metal. I’ve known this for nearly 40 years now based on a repair done on a long ago discarded mountain bike. The welder is a very competent welder and was amazed at how thin the steel was and how easy it would be to burn through.
In the days of on demand shipping, popularity of cycling rising around the globe and LBS's even in the more remote parts of the world repairing a frame is not something many would attempt on tour. Typically it'd be easier to order a new one and transfer parts from the broken frame to the new one.

But if we really talk the practicality of repair, the fact remains that chromoly frames are easier to repair than aluminum frames. You have a multitude of repair techniques available but the more common ones are mig welding, tig welding and brazing. Now a welder with a modern degree in welding in the western world will likely to be able to repair almost any part of a bicycle frame even at its thinnest part by mig or tig welding it. Welding is a craft and there are schools to learn it. It's not something at all obscure. Brazing can be done by sleeving or just if it's just a crack filleting.

If you break an aluminum frame there aren't many shops which are able to weld the frame AND heat treat it. Because that's what aluminum frames typically require after welding: heat treatment. Chromoly doesn't require heat treating. It's strong enough as is.

But none of the above really matters.

The same welder, by the way, repaired a broken aluminum frame. It was much easier and, contrary to common knowledge, was permanent. I actually sold that bike rather then discarding it.
That might have been a tad irresponsible but hey, whatever floats your boat.

If we're thinkin about this realistically the reason why so many cyclotourists choose steel is in the market. There's a lot of steel touring bikes but not that many aluminum ones in the anglosphere. Surly, Salsa, All City, Thorn, Comotion, Kona, Trek, Soma, Velo Orange, Specialized, Fuji, Spa, Ridgeback, Temple, Pashley, Cinelli, Dawes, Genesis, EVEN Koga make or have made steel touring bikes in the recent history. Bit of a smaller listing for aluminum, titanium or carbon fiber touring bikes.

Of course in Europe lots and lots of touring bikes are made of aluminum but those are called trekking bikes and aren't exactly your world crossing calibre. They're more in the region of going along the Donau with two panniers and stopping at a bed and breakfast every night.

But there are other perks to steel. It has better impact and wear resistance than aluminum. Ie, it doesn't dent as easily as aluminum. Also a dent in a steel tube is something that's manageable but in aluminum can mean a dead frame. Wear resistance is handy if you ride against a mountain. Done that, luckily only lost two panniers. For reference you can work on aluminum with woodworking tools. Also steel threads are far stronger than aluminum threads. That can be something that one could consider when attaching racks/panniers/bottle cages etc. Steel also doesn't have the tendency to creak. Aluminum and carbon fiber both tend to develop horrible creaks/clicks at some point. Never had that issue with steel.
What I'm trying to say is that you don't have to be careful with steel. A touring grade chromoly frame is very hard to break. Aluminum is not.

Originally Posted by Trakhak View Post
Chromoly bikes were phased out for the same reason mechanical wristwatches were phased out. Quartz crystal watches do exactly what mechanical watches do---i.e., give you the time---but do so better and more cheaply than mechanical watches. There are still plenty of people who prefer mechanical watches, despite their shortcomings, because they like to think of themselves as more-discerning consumers. Some enthusiasts may even argue passionately that mechanical-watch are superior, on the basis of what appear to be obscure and romantic reasons to the rest of us.
That's not really a valid comparison is it? The components of the bike are the same regardless of the frame material used. The component set is like the inside of the watch and a single speed or a fixie might be considered a mechanical watch whereas a derailer system could well be the quartz. But in terms of frame material it's closer to comparing a G-Shock to a steel diver. Both do the job but one appeals to some and the other to others.

Second reason why the comparison fails is because watches are jewelry, bicycles are not. At least not in the touring world. Why someone would want a mechanical watch instead of a quartz isn't because the mechanical is better. Every watch enthusiasts knows cheap quartz watches wipe to floor with even the most accurate COSC mechanical. But the reason why someone would wear a watch in the time of having internet corrected time at your fingertips via a smartphone is not because you want to have accurate timekeeping. It's because watches are neat and really the only jewelry that's commonly acceptable for men. And the reason for mechanical watch is that you then carry on your wrist a marvel of mechanical engineering which can be considered by many to be art. Personally I like watching the gears whirr in my mechanical watch but typically I wear my sports watch because that instead of the mechanical tracks activity.

So the comparison where you try to label steel bike riders as snobs kinda falls flat. Bicycles are utilitarian to a lot of people are few people ride bikes because of their material. They ride bikes, and the bikes are made of something. Some people have preferences.

But: digital media versus analog, solid-state audio amplifiers versus tube, electronic watches versus mechanical, aluminum bikes versus steel: all are examples of a market moving on. Look at it this way: if it weren't for aluminum bikes, choosing steel would say nothing about your taste.
Well, still no, not really a good comparison. Steel is still a valid frame material. It has its uses and many choose it for its utilitarian value. But if you really want to talk about the market moving on we should be talking carbon fiber. That is the material of the future and objectively far better than either steel or aluminum. Still it's not all that common for some reason.
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