Re: Bikes with Aluminum Frames
- The reason they probably recommended steel is that it's designed to
fail predictably and with warnings. When aluminum fails, it's usually
all at once and can be catastrophic. I'm currently on a 2006 Marin
Novato xtracycle and I elected to replace the fork with a steel one
(Surly steel fork) because of the chatter and fear of the front fork
collapsing when going down steep big hills with big loads (I live at
the top of a 22 degree hill and with my kid on the back in the peapod,
I have a general curb weight of 360lbs, which equals 40mph+ in the
first 1/8th of a mile I travel downhill!).
All that being said, hundreds of Aluminum xtracycle host bikes are
being ridden on around the world, and I've heard no reports of death
or maiming due to complete failure. Aluminum can be very strong, but
it has it's weaknesses, just like steel (steel rusts). It's more
brittle that steel so it has to be made not to flex at all.
I recently purchased a Big Dummy and I'm in the process of building it
up now. I love steel bikes, but I've ridden my fair share of aluminum
bikes as well and I've owned (and own) a Ti bike and am borrowing a
Carbon road bike now. Steel is reliable, predictable, can be field
repaired anywhere in the world and is cheap(er) to manufacture. It
feels good and it lasts virtually forever as long as it's protected
from rust. It can be made to look light and thin and still be very
strong. It's heavier than aluminum, but the weight differences can
come up even depending on how the bike is built up: I've got an
aluminum folding bike (Breezer I3) that weighs more than several of
the steel framed bicycles I own. As Val Kleitz and other have often
said, a pound or so of weight makes no difference on a cargo bike, and
it's easier to lose that off yourself anyway!
What this boils down to is that you should learn as much as you can
and go with what feels best. Either material can work (as well as Ti),
but you need a suitable host frame: that's what your shop guys can
hopefully help you with.
Ian "loves steel but rides em all" Hopper
--- In email@example.com, "Arnie Jacobsen"
> I haven't built my X up yet and have a question.
> Recently, it was suggested to me by an LBS that has done many x
> installs that I should avoid a bike with an aluminum frame.
> This wasn't expanded upon at the time, so I thought I would ask you.
> Why? Is it because of the fear of crushing the aluminum tubes? Is
> there a torque limit? Just what is the deal?
> I know that many of you are using bikes made of this material. In
> fact, I saw that someone is using a Trek SU 200, which is a slightly
> older model of the SU 2 that I am planning on using.
> I'm looking forward to your responses.