Steel or aluminum bike frame?
August 13, 2007 10:14 AM Subscribe
I'm looking to purchase a new bike, but I don't know what frame to get. Steel or aluminum?
posted by rocketman to sports, hobbies, & recreation (22 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My current bike is a 1970s Gitane steel touring frame that I found in a trash heap two years ago. It's been a trooper, but it's also heavier than most mountain bikes sold today, and as I'm doing a lot of riding, I think I've earned an upgrade.
Over the past two years I put about 1500 miles on this frame, and while I plan to keep it around and use it for a repair/learning bike, I want a new bike.
Currently, I'm looking at buying a Trek 1500 with Shimano Ultegra components - the LBS has a fantastic price on it ($900), and I test rode it and loved it. It's an aluminum frame with a carbon fork and seat stay, rides like butter, and fits me really well. I have this bike on hold, but have to make a decision within 30 days about whether or not to buy it, though I will probably make a purchase in the next week, as I'm training for some pretty long rides in the near future.
A friend has advised me against buying this bike, and told me I can get a bike that's just as good off eBay, and for about 400 bucks less. While I believe him, he's a bit of a steel partisan, and I'm not sure steel is right for me. Or, I'm sure a lighter steel frame would be great, but I don't really have the time and energy to devote to watching eBay auctions and trying to snipe a frame that may or may not be as good a fit (which doesn't even begin to cover the possibility of eBay fraud or the fact that buying from my LBS would include free scheduled service and other perks for establishing a relationship). Obviously a new steel frame is going to be out of my price range (I've decided that the 900 bucks is as high as I'll go).
But at the same time, if I buy this aluminum frame and need to replace it in a couple of years, I'm going to be mighty pissed. I try to be careful about how I spend my money, and want to make sure I'm making a good investment. That said, I ride on pavement exclusively, don't jump curbs, avoid potholes, and generally just want to go fast. Since I'm not very hard on a bike, wouldn't aluminum be adequate?
Anyway, all this is a way of calling for a showdown between the different frame partisans. If you're going to convince me that steel is the way to go, you also have to convince me that it's definitely worth the extra effort I'm going to need to invest in buying a frame, outfitting it with the right components, having it assembled, etc.
Thanks for your help!