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Re: Bikes with Aluminum Frames

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  • Ian E. Hopper
    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
    Message 1 of 9 , Apr 25 2:04 AM
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      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 rootsradicals@yahoogroups.com, "Arnie Jacobsen"
      <arniejacobsen@...> wrote:
      > 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.
      > Thanks,
      > Arnie
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