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Butted Frame Weight Difference

Old 08-06-19, 11:38 PM
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hoovbikes
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Butted Frame Weight Difference

Hey guys, just wanted to gather some input about how big of a weight difference frame butting makes. I'm considering buying a new hardtail and am weighing my options (literally!) (sorry...). Obviously ride quality wise you can't beat steel and that's definitely something I appreciate. The last hardtail I owned was a Surly Karate Monkey and, while it is an awesome bike, I will admit there were times where I wished the pure 4130 was a tad lighter. In comparing that with the last aluminum hardtail I test rode, a Marin San Quentin, the difference was noticeable. The SQ felt really sick (and yes, obviously is deliberately designed to be more rad than the bikepacking-oriented KM) and I immediately fell in love with how agile and lively it felt. Granted, I only test rode in the street, but it had me wanting to jump every curb and generally get as airborne as possible at all times. Just loads of fun. But again, only test riding in the street didn't give me much of an idea of how harsh that aluminum frame could feel off road. Conversely, the steel hardtail I'm strongly considering is the Ragley Blue Pig/Piglet- a triple butted 4130 frame. I know no matter the butting, a 4130 frame will never be as light as an aluminum frame, but is there a noticeable difference between that and say the Karate Monkey? Or am I just splitting hairs..? Any Ragley or San Quentin owners out there with any opinions to share? Thanks!
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Old 08-07-19, 01:50 AM
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"Butting" just means that the tube wall thickness is different in different parts of the tube. How much weight it "saves" depends on what the particular butting profile is and what you're comparing it to.

Are you sure that your Surly doesn't use butted tubes? That would be very surprising.
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Old 08-07-19, 06:15 PM
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The front triangle of the KM is butted.

I have a 2007 model and it has been a wonderful and versatile frame for me over the years.

On the down side, the ride is pretty stiff. Not all steel bikes have that “steel magic”. The KM (like many Surlys) seems a bit overbuilt, so in addition to it riding stiffer it is also heavy even for a steel frame.

Last edited by Kapusta; 08-07-19 at 06:57 PM.
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Old 08-07-19, 07:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Kapusta View Post
The front triangle of the KM is butted.

I have a 2007 model and it has been a wonderful and versatile frame for me over the years.

On the down side, the ride is pretty stiff. Not all steel bikes have that “steel magic”. The KM (like many Surlys) seems a bit overbuilt, so in addition to it riding stiffer it is also heavy even for a steel frame.
I suppose that makes sense, considering it's primarily built for bikepacking. And yes I stand corrected the current model that I had is indeed a double butted frame. I guess a triple butted frame would technically be lighter in theory, AND the Ragley I'm considering is certainly built to be more rad than a bikepacking mule, but I'm starting to think the difference is marginal at best. Unless any Ragley owners out there can tell me otherwise..

Sigh... This is the importance of the test ride! 😩
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Old 08-07-19, 08:20 PM
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You need to look at the whole package inc. geometry, wheels, type of steel etc. A well designed bike can be made of CF, Al, Steel or Ti. Unless the 2 bikes you compared have the very exact geometry, contact points, wheels, tires etc. all the differences you felt could have been things outside frame material. Just changing tire pressure changes comfort and response a lot.

Steel isn't inherently comfortable, look at Walmart. And the one person's "comfortable" is the other person's "unresponsive" or other property of the very same bike.

Butting is just an attempt to optimize material thickness at different locations. A very crude attempt compared to what CF allows.
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Old 08-08-19, 05:53 AM
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Originally Posted by hoovbikes View Post
Hey guys, just wanted to gather some input about how big of a weight difference frame butting makes.
I don't know about butting by itself, but I've seen a wide range -- easily on the order of pound -- of weight difference between otherwise same-size bicycle frames. I'm surmising that alloy choices, butting, tubing shapes, and even the design effort the manufacturer is willing to invest all make a difference.
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Old 08-08-19, 06:32 AM
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A 1/2 pound of weight on an overall bike? NBD. Go with ride quality and feel, responsiveness, handling and such. Would never ride an aluminum hardtail over steel. But that's just me. I may be biased, I own 4 Surlys.
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Old 08-08-19, 10:29 AM
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Originally Posted by hoovbikes View Post
I suppose that makes sense, considering it's primarily built for bikepacking. And yes I stand corrected the current model that I had is indeed a double butted frame. I guess a triple butted frame would technically be lighter in theory, AND the Ragley I'm considering is certainly built to be more rad than a bikepacking mule, but I'm starting to think the difference is marginal at best. Unless any Ragley owners out there can tell me otherwise..

Sigh... This is the importance of the test ride! 😩
While I am sure the KM can make a fine bike packing bike, and Surly does build most of their bikes to serve in multiple roles, the KM’s primary target is trail riding. Or at least that is how they present it on their website.

Also, I don’t think the geo is particularly mule-ish, at least compared to their off-road touring bikes like the Ogre and ECR.

Of course, that doesn’t mean somebody else’s trail-oriented HT might not be a lot more to your personal liking. Have you compared the geo numbers for the KM and the Ragley?

Last edited by Kapusta; 08-08-19 at 12:07 PM.
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Old 08-09-19, 10:17 AM
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A heavy steel frame (think Walmart or a Kona Honzo - I own one) can be seven pounds while a carefully constructed one can be as light as four pounds. Most garden-variety steel frames are in the five pound range FME. I have a late 80's - early 90's Diamondback Axis constructed with True Temper OX3 that rides like a magic carpet off road even with a rigid fork.
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Old 08-10-19, 08:06 AM
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While it's impossible to state an "average" difference in weight, your higher grades of steel-Reynolds 853 for example-will weigh less than chromoly. As 853 is stronger the tubes can be made thinner, leading to a decent difference in weight. I've seen it stated where the tubes on high quality steel could be made up to 1/2 the thickness of chromoly and still have the strength needed. That would be a significant weight diff.
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Old 08-11-19, 08:58 PM
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Originally Posted by 2old View Post
A heavy steel frame (think Walmart or a Kona Honzo - I own one) can be seven pounds while a carefully constructed one can be as light as four pounds. Most garden-variety steel frames are in the five pound range FME. I have a late 80's - early 90's Diamondback Axis constructed with True Temper OX3 that rides like a magic carpet off road even with a rigid fork.
That's sick man. I'd love to own something like that one day (as I'm sure most of us would), but for the sake of this thread it's not the kind of steel I'm asking about. I'm well aware your True Tempers and your Reynolds 853s are dreamlike compared to almost anything else, but I'm afraid my budget at the moment is more concerned with good ole tried n true 4130. I'm just trying to gage if there is any noticeable difference btwn a stoutly crafted 4130 trail beast and a more aggressive, all mountain-like triple butted 4130 frame. I'm starting to think probably not that much of a difference. But maybe the geo is a big difference maker? Only one way to find out in the end I reckon..
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Old 08-11-19, 10:42 PM
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Early 90's steel-framed bikes on Craigslist usually aren't expensive, but most are "NORBA" geometry AIR. If this is suitable for you, you should be able to find something (I should mention that I haven't looked for several years, and maybe there are fewer now).
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