Aluminum Frames Vs. Steel Frames for a Bicycle

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Bike-frame manufacturers commonly use steel and aluminum. Like all frame materials, each has advantages and disadvantages. Keep in mind that some generalities made about frames are often the result of the frame design rather than the material used to build it.

Durability

  • Steel has greater strength than aluminum, a property that makes steel frames more durable than aluminum frames. Aluminum frames, which are not as strong, are more prone to denting and being damaged in an accident than steel.

Smooth Ride of Steel

  • Because of their strength, tubes used to build steel frames can be thinner than those in aluminum frames. Cyclists claim that thin tubing gives steel bikes a forgiving, comfortable ride. Thicker tubes must be used in aluminum bikes to give them appropriate strength. Cyclists claim that thick tubing gives aluminum bikes a harsh ride.

Weight Advantage

  • Because aluminum is less dense (lighter) than steel, frames built with aluminum are generally lighter than comparable steel frames.

Corrosion

  • Both steel and aluminum frames will corrode, but the rust that develops on steel may be more damaging than the oxide that develops on an aluminum frame.

Repairs

  • In general, steel frames can be repaired and welded more easily than aluminum frames.

Choosing a Frame

  • Choose a frame based on the type of riding you do and your budget. Bike-frame builders take into account many factors when building frames. Because of this, you should consider both steel and aluminum frames when choosing an appropriate bike.

References

  • Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images
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