PDA

View Full Version : Frame Material - Does it REALLY make that big of a difference?


rkalams
02-29-2012, 03:37 PM
Let me start off by saying this: I'm a mountain biker, not a road cyclist, so I haven't ridden A LOT of road bikes but I have owned a full carbon Giant TCR Advanced, 2 steel CX bike (la cruz & cross-check), aluminum CX bike (yeti arc-x & salsa chili con crosso), vintage steel (531), (2) steel track bikes (Eimei) and 15+ mountain bikes in the last 5 years of all different materials (scandium, aluminum, all grades of steel, carbon)

I'm starting to suspect that all the "marketing hype" between different frame materials is BS. I mean, I like my steel mountain bike, and after I ride it I say "wow, steel is so compliant and does such an incredible job of damping trail chatter, blah blah blah" and then I get on my aluminum bike and go "jeez, the ride is so jarring and unforgiving but man is it stiff and boy can i lay the power down, blah blah blah". I feel like I'm just spewing garbage that I've heard on forums, from other riders and co-workers (when I worked in a shop). Almost like a "wine snob" who catches a subtle taste of "nutmeg" during a tasting and then all of a sudden everyone nods in agreement.

But do I really feel like I can notice the difference in ride quality? No. I'm not saying that each material doesn't have it's own particular qualities, just that most riders aren't tuned in enough to notice a difference. I feel like the absolutely largest contributing factor here is tire size, tire pressure, saddle flex/padding and thickness of handlebar tape.

I watched this video from niner and thought to myself, "how is that a real world test of these seatposts?" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ssxodqjpeLY) You're clamping these seatposts at the minimum insertion line to maximize length and flex. Then positioning them horizontal and applying a perpendicular force and they're flexing 8mm tops (?!) How much is that thing going to flex at 73* with downward pressure? A mm? How are you going to even feel that? I hear all these guys justify spending $300 on a custom ti post because it improves the ride quality and I think "really? placebo effect much?'. I've been guilty of it myself but I never notice the difference in the ride, just in the bling :)

What do you think? All things being equal (wheelset, tire pressure, etc) between two bikes, can you REALLY notice a difference in ride quality? Come on, be honest ;)

flydhest
02-29-2012, 03:44 PM
Curious to see where this goes. Has this ever been discussed before?

AngryScientist
02-29-2012, 03:50 PM
What do you think? All things being equal (wheelset, tire pressure, etc) between two bikes, can you REALLY notice a difference in ride quality? Come on, be honest ;)

first off, all things are generally not equal with tubing sets between the different alloys and carbon, so that's tough to say.

absolutely. no question can tell the difference.

i offer as an example my Serotta Colorado TG (steel) and my Legend Ti. (Ti, obviously). they are nearly identical geometry, and i moved all of the exact same components from one to the other when i bought the Legend. The ride of the two are both very good, but unquestionably different, and not just subtly so.

Kontact
02-29-2012, 03:53 PM
Yes, you can notice a difference in ride quality. But that difference will usually not make a large quantitative difference in your ride performance. And these differences are not materials differences, they are construction differences. Some materials will ride like other materials, some won't, but what is done with the materials is more important. And I think that everyone who has looked into this much at all would agree with the very broad statements I'm making to your very broad question.

For MTBs, ride quality just doesn't matter. For road bikes it does.

MattTuck
02-29-2012, 03:54 PM
3 things.

First, this video was listed on the side of the video you linked. It is pretty funny. No offense meant to women, it would be funny if it were guys too.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=CjqvLAs9t1Q

Second, I find the image of this to be hilarious. Hilarious because I've seen it happen, and often been the one saying, "oh, can you taste the xxxx?" just to see if people are paying attention. I am going to start looking at people's new frames and asking if they can smell the nutmeg.
Almost like a "wine snob" who catches a subtle taste of "nutmeg" during a tasting and then all of a sudden everyone nods in agreement.

Thirdly, the frame matters. But the wheels matter more!

martinrjensen
02-29-2012, 03:58 PM
Oh, only about a thousand times.
Personally I think that frame material does make a difference. if it didn't I just don't think that there would be so many different types available out there. I have a hard time believing that all the frame makers are pulling the wool over our eyes if it didn't make a difference. I know also that I have read a lot of people say that a frame maker takes the material best suited to his design and that material alone doesn't really enter into the equation. I don't believe that.Curious to see where this goes. Has this ever been discussed before?

verticaldoug
02-29-2012, 04:00 PM
Flame suit on.

First of all, you don't just ride a frame, you ride a complete bike. The interaction of all the components really change the ride.

I will take my two bookends- a Aluminum Cervelo S1 and an Ottrot. I ride both with 25s. Is the S1 more jarring? You bet. I do really feel the bumps in the road come up the bike into my lower back. The Ottrot is more plush.

Do I think the S1 is faster than the Ottrot? Yeap. Maybe it is just a placebo effect, but timed intervals are faster on the S1.

Now if I swap in my Fulcrum 3 wheels with 23mm wheels and increase the tire pressure, the S1 will feel even more jarring.

How much of these differences are from the material and how much is related to the geometry of the bike, aerotubes, tires etc etc.... I can't say.

I can only ride complete bikes.

martinrjensen
02-29-2012, 04:07 PM
I will totally agree that other things on the bike have a greater effect on ride, handling and speed. I still think that frame material matters, just not to as great an extentFlame suit on.

First of all, you don't just ride a frame, you ride a complete bike. The interaction of all the components really change the ride.

I will take my two bookends- a Aluminum Cervelo S1 and an Ottrot. I ride both with 25s. Is the S1 more jarring? You bet. I do really feel the bumps in the road come up the bike into my lower back. The Ottrot is more plush.

Do I think the S1 is faster than the Ottrot? Yeap. Maybe it is just a placebo effect, but timed intervals are faster on the S1.

Now if I swap in my Fulcrum 3 wheels with 23mm wheels and increase the tire pressure, the S1 will feel even more jarring.

How much of these differences are from the material and how much is related to the geometry of the bike, aerotubes, tires etc etc.... I can't say.

I can only ride complete bikes.

rkalams
02-29-2012, 04:22 PM
I will totally agree that other things on the bike have a greater effect on ride, handling and speed. I still think that frame material matters, just not to as great an extent

Ya, that's pretty much my sentiment. I feel like there is a difference, but that it's soo small you'd be better off changing the things that actually have a dramatic impact of "feel". Like different TPI tires, at different pressures -/+ 3-5 psi at a time, or a different saddle, perhaps different shorts, gloves, etc.

Like, when I worked at a shop people would come in an we'd chat about what they're riding, what they like, what they don't and what they're looking for. Guys saying, "I'm riding on a Cdale aluminum frame but I'm looking for something "a little more forgiving"". Then then take a test ride on a Carbon Trek and be like "wow, this thing really dampens the road vibration. I could totally see that adding up on a century ride. I'll take it!" A lot of guys were just running their tires at extremely high PSI. Try dropping your pressure a little bit and double wrap your bars. Guarantee it'll ride nearly exactly the same as that $4,000 carbon wonder. Problem is they get start doing group rides with their buddies who just picked up the latest and greatest and never hear the end of how great the new frame material is. They get brainwashed every time they go for a ride!



Second, I find the image of this to be hilarious. Hilarious because I've seen it happen, and often been the one saying, "oh, can you taste the xxxx?" just to see if people are paying attention. I am going to start looking at people's new frames and asking if they can smell the nutmeg.
That just cracked me up.

Earl Gray
02-29-2012, 04:43 PM
When companies try to sell you on their latest wonder bike and claim that is so much better because it's made from XYZ, that's hype.

When the one man shop claims he only works steel because he likes the smell and that the material doesn't matter, that's hype.

There are literally hundreds of models and millions frames that will meet the need of anyone. Hype, is what makes up pick one.

Fixed
02-29-2012, 05:05 PM
today i like this bike .i don't care that much what it is made of, at this point in my life bamboo would be fine.
cheers :beer:

flydhest
02-29-2012, 05:16 PM
I heart the forum.

Nutmeg just improved what had become a crappy day.

rkalams
02-29-2012, 05:40 PM
today i like this bike .i don't care that much what it is made of, at this point in my life bamboo would be fine.
cheers :beer:
Bamboo! Now THAT's a material I can get behind. The studies have proven it's lighter, stronger, faster, better looking, more aerodynamic, stiffer and more compliant at the same time. The only draw back is for married men. It draws far too much unsolicited attention from single women. The weight savings is negated by the need to carry a bully stick to beat off the swarms of females. :p

Really though, I want to ride a bamboo bike badly. Just something about them so appealing.

Germany_chris
02-29-2012, 05:56 PM
I heart fixed's bike (in the pic)

After switching to Brooks, I can't tell the difference in frame material.

J.Greene
02-29-2012, 06:04 PM
I've raced on Steel, Al, Ti and Carbon. I build in steel. Holding all things as equal(though they never really are) I can tell a difference. I don't have any evidence I get from point A to point and faster, but the ride is different. My opinion is to ride what you like or all of them as your mood wants.

tannhauser
02-29-2012, 06:11 PM
Lightweight carbon for efficiency on extended climbs.

Maybe carbon for real/imagined benefits when making a hard effort to bridge.

Otherwise, pick your material of choice for pleasure.

Hawker
02-29-2012, 06:20 PM
Yes, you can notice a difference in ride quality. But that difference will usually not make a large quantitative difference in your ride performance. And these differences are not materials differences, they are construction differences. Some materials will ride like other materials, some won't, but what is done with the materials is more important. And I think that everyone who has looked into this much at all would agree with the very broad statements I'm making to your very broad question.

For MTBs, ride quality just doesn't matter. For road bikes it does.


I'd have to say this pretty much sums it up for me.

It would be very interesting (although not likely to ever happen) if one builder were to build the very same frame in steel, aluminum and carbon, accounting for variations in material diameters, etc. Then equip all three frames with the same components and have someone do a blindfold test of some sort to see what the response would be. Frankly I do think it would be fairly easy to tell which was which but other than that, I doubt there would be much of quantitative difference. Now if we're talking about the TDF or similar you could probably make a case for one material being more forgiving over a long period of time and therefor putting less stress on the rider. Maybe not?

tannhauser
02-29-2012, 06:32 PM
Bamboo! Now THAT's a material I can get behind. The studies have proven it's lighter, stronger, faster, better looking, more aerodynamic, stiffer and more compliant at the same time. The only draw back is for married men. It draws far too much unsolicited attention from single women. The weight savings is negated by the need to carry a bully stick to beat off the swarms of females. :p

Really though, I want to ride a bamboo bike badly. Just something about them so appealing.


I've ridden 3 bamboo bikes - one "professionally marketed", the other two built by friends. They are fine a to b bikes, but suffer from lack of consistency tube-to-tube.

Point being, if you're going to push it in close quarters and expect the material to behave consistently I'd pick another. Fine for country rambles, though.

93legendti
02-29-2012, 06:50 PM
Yes.

http://forums.thepaceline.net/showthread.php?p=981628


I was working at Serotta, making lots of steel bikes, when the company introduced Ti bikes. What we really wanted was to build TI bikes that rode and felt just like the steel bikes we made, but where lighter. It's pretty easy math to go though and figure out how stiff a given steel tube is and then play with the diameter and wall of the Ti tube to replicate that same stiffness. And this is for the most part what we did.

We had the tubes made and built the bikes and rode them and they of course felt not all that similar to the steel bikes. Not a world different but certainly not the same. I took frames, Ti and steel, and measured the stiffness of the assembled units in various ways and the numbers were very close. But the bikes felt different. Not so much better or worse, but just different. In fact most folks that rode the early bikes liked them but felt they were much different from the steel bikes. I can't recall any skilled rider not being able to feel the difference.

So why did they feel different? I wasn't 100% sure to be honest. Either the very small difference between the bikes was something we were able to feel or it was something else. My feeling is that it was both - that a skilled rider who has ridden many bikes can indeed feel very small differences and that there was an X factor that we didn't understand.

At some point there were scrap Ti tubes (poor surface finish as I recall) to play with and I started messing with them and comparing them to their steel brothers in different ways. One very high tech test was taking the different tubes and banging them over the corner of the metal work bench. Like I said - very high tech. Here the difference in feel was huge. The way the two tubes transmitted shock to my hand was markedly different and the sound was also altogether different. The steel tube rings at a very high pitch and has a good bit of sustain to it while the Ti tube was muted in comparison and transmitted less shock to my hand. These two tubes has the same stiffness by design mind you.

Many, many miles and months later I began to understand that the way the two materials transmit road shock to the rider was much the same way. The steel bike had more 'ring' and 'brightness' to it while the Ti bike was more muted and isolated feeling. I was just as fast on either but they were different. I suspected at the time that the difference boiled down to the hardness of the material itself. The harder the material the more 'ring'.

One could pretty easily make a bike out of steel and then make a bike out of wood that has the same stiffness and then ballast them to weigh the same - but of course they will not ride the same at all. One will feel, wait for it........ like it's made of wood, or 'wooden'. Carbon bikes can be the same way (depending on the density of the material and the resin/cloth ratio and the layup schedule) and the two identically stiff steel and carbon bikes will feel different. Not necessarily better or worse, but certainly different. Some prefer one feel over the other and Vive la differance!

So - in my mind it will almost always boil down to personal preference. If you like the feel of a material then that should material should be your first choice. I prefer the feel of steel over anything else. I know when I say this that eyebrows get raised and there is a "of course you say that, you sell steel bikes' but I see it differently. I make steel bikes because that is what I prefer to ride. It feels the best to me. If I preferred another material that is what I would work with and sell. That said if Serotta wants to give me a Mievici or Crumpton wants to send one of his my way I won't poo-poo it. One needs to keep an open mind.

Time for a ride.

dave

bargainguy
02-29-2012, 07:07 PM
At some point, this gets to be about different flavors. Not that one is better than the other, just different.

I have two IF road bikes set up pretty much the same. One is steel and the other ti. I ask myself what flavor I want when deciding which one to ride.

And here's the point: I don't feel like I'm giving up anything when I ride the steel one!

Don

eddief
02-29-2012, 07:07 PM
I was out on my Roubaix today and just marveling at how much I enjoy getting on that bike. Is it the carbonated frameset, the Zertz, the 4lb difference between it and my custom steel, the A23 wheels, the Ultremo 25mm tires (tribute to forum mate palincss), the carbon handlebars? I just don't know.

Today, I was thinking it was the tires...of all things. I keep thinking those Ultremos feel better than any I've been on. But all the variables work together and it is fun when it comes together.

1centaur
02-29-2012, 07:17 PM
Yes. CF feels and sounds different (an issue with the blindfold test) but to me the three major metals can seem really close, steel and Ti especially so (I'd have no chance with a blindfold test on those two).

harryblack
02-29-2012, 08:54 PM
SHORT ANSWER = ** NO **.

We can play around and BS this/that but with the exception of certain extremes (old heavy steel, some whippy Vitus aluminum frame etc) it makes VERY little difference on a ride-to-ride, race-to-race basis. I'll beat a lot of people up the mountain-- and get beaten badly by some regardless.

A LOT of the "material" differences when riding are 1) placebo effect 2) tires, wheels, handlebar tape, saddle, shorts, etc.

Again, as enthusiasts we can pretend otherwise but...

Let me start off by saying this: I'm a mountain biker, not a road cyclist, so I haven't ridden A LOT of road bikes but I have owned a full carbon Giant TCR Advanced, 2 steel CX bike (la cruz & cross-check), aluminum CX bike (yeti arc-x & salsa chili con crosso), vintage steel (531), (2) steel track bikes (Eimei) and 15+ mountain bikes in the last 5 years of all different materials (scandium, aluminum, all grades of steel, carbon)

I'm starting to suspect that all the "marketing hype" between different frame materials is BS. I mean, I like my steel mountain bike, and after I ride it I say "wow, steel is so compliant and does such an incredible job of damping trail chatter, blah blah blah" and then I get on my aluminum bike and go "jeez, the ride is so jarring and unforgiving but man is it stiff and boy can i lay the power down, blah blah blah". I feel like I'm just spewing garbage that I've heard on forums, from other riders and co-workers (when I worked in a shop). Almost like a "wine snob" who catches a subtle taste of "nutmeg" during a tasting and then all of a sudden everyone nods in agreement.

But do I really feel like I can notice the difference in ride quality? No. I'm not saying that each material doesn't have it's own particular qualities, just that most riders aren't tuned in enough to notice a difference. I feel like the absolutely largest contributing factor here is tire size, tire pressure, saddle flex/padding and thickness of handlebar tape.

I watched this video from niner and thought to myself, "how is that a real world test of these seatposts?" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ssxodqjpeLY) You're clamping these seatposts at the minimum insertion line to maximize length and flex. Then positioning them horizontal and applying a perpendicular force and they're flexing 8mm tops (?!) How much is that thing going to flex at 73* with downward pressure? A mm? How are you going to even feel that? I hear all these guys justify spending $300 on a custom ti post because it improves the ride quality and I think "really? placebo effect much?'. I've been guilty of it myself but I never notice the difference in the ride, just in the bling :)

What do you think? All things being equal (wheelset, tire pressure, etc) between two bikes, can you REALLY notice a difference in ride quality? Come on, be honest ;)

martinrjensen
02-29-2012, 09:08 PM
I am really big on "the feel" of bikes. I do have preferences in material though, but I don't think it's going to make me go any faster. I've raced on Steel, Al, Ti and Carbon. I build in steel. Holding all things as equal(though they never really are) I can tell a difference. I don't have any evidence I get from point A to point and faster, but the ride is different. My opinion is to ride what you like or all of them as your mood wants.

Chance
02-29-2012, 09:26 PM
Thirdly, the frame matters. But the wheels matter more!
Not always. Some frames can make more of a difference.

Viper
02-29-2012, 10:29 PM
Steel = milk
Carbon Fiber = Coffeemate
Aluminum/Scandium/Titanium = cookies

Putting Campy on any of the above = dessert

Louis
02-29-2012, 10:35 PM
Steel = milk
Carbon Fiber = Coffeemate
Aluminum/Scandium/Titanium = cookies

Putting Campy on any of the above = dessert


Is it truly you? After all this time?

Welcome back!

martinrjensen
03-01-2012, 12:21 AM
Mondonico actually did that only with seven different versions of steel, mostly different version of Columbus tubing. The only problem was that the person doing the road test(Bicycling magazine I believe) punked out and really didn't do as good job of reporting as I think he should have done but that's not surprising. I wish I could point you to the website but I am not at home and don't have it handy. I found it hard to find until I found the name of the bike shop that hosted it. Starts with an S, that's all I know.I'd have to say this pretty much sums it up for me.

It would be very interesting (although not likely to ever happen) if one builder were to build the very same frame in steel, aluminum and carbon, accounting for variations in material diameters, etc. Then equip all three frames with the same components and have someone do a blindfold test of some sort to see what the response would be. Frankly I do think it would be fairly easy to tell which was which but other than that, I doubt there would be much of quantitative difference. Now if we're talking about the TDF or similar you could probably make a case for one material being more forgiving over a long period of time and therefor putting less stress on the rider. Maybe not?

esldude
03-01-2012, 12:35 AM
http://www.habcycles.com/m7.html

Here is the test of 7 almost identical Mondonico frames.

Peter B
03-01-2012, 12:45 AM
<snip>

I feel like the absolutely largest contributing factor here is tire size, tire pressure, saddle flex/padding and thickness of handlebar tape.



At the end of the day...this.

fogrider
03-01-2012, 03:23 AM
we are a weak race and everything makes a big difference. weight, stiffness, and ride quality are important factors that are different to each rider. for the OP to hang his hat on that video is pretty meaningless. first, does a seatpost ever sees a load like that? how if they compared the flex of a seatpost under normal loads, then it may mean something.

old_fat_and_slow
03-01-2012, 05:24 PM
While most of the metallic materials can be tweaked using tube wall size differences, tube shapes, and tube diameters to obtain similar stiffness characteristics. However, by trying to achieve similar stiffness characteristics, there may be vast differences in the weights due to each material's density differences.

Although, I am not a carbon fiber fan for frame materials, carbon fiber composite frames are infinitely tailorable. By adding additional plies in local areas and in certain orientations, carbon fiber frames can achieve virtually any characteric that the designer wants. You have to remember most production frames are probably designed to handle a larger/heavier rider. If you could work with a builder to design a custom carbon-fiber bicycle frame, the sky is the limit as to how custom you could make it. While you may not be able to tell a big difference in metallic frames (custom or production) and production carbon fiber frames, if you could get a truly custom carbon fiber frame, you could tweak its stiffness, damping, and weight characteristic much more than a metallic frame. Again I am not a pimp for carbon fiber frames, but I do work with carbon fiber components at my day job for "other" applications, and the number of different options and combinations available, make the tailorability quite remarkable.

YMMV

Bruce K
03-01-2012, 05:30 PM
Late to this one but by way of example I have an Ottrott and a Meivici

They are supposed to be as identical in design as they could be and yet the carbon bike is snappier, faster, crisper handling. The Ottrott is a wonderful ride but it is noticeably different

BK

zap
03-01-2012, 05:48 PM
flexing seatposts suck.

Bob Ross
03-01-2012, 09:32 PM
On the one hand:

- I work in the audio industry, so I've made it my business to study the implications of Placebo Effect, Expectation Bias, and Blind Testing (especially Double-Blind ABX Testing). It's my contention that until someone does a truely objective peer-reviewed Double-Blind ABX test on different frame materials, we will never know whether the material REALLY makes that big of a difference.

On the other hand:

- we don't ride bicycles blindfolded, so the results of this hypothetical Double-Blind ABX test wouldn't really convey any useful information about how frame material impacts the experience of riding a bike; it would just confirm whether or not a rider can (reliably and with any statistically valid significance) tell the difference between one material and another, all other things being equal.

And all other things are never equal.

tsarpepe
03-02-2012, 07:02 AM
The strong point in the OP is not that materials don't make a difference. They do, and experienced riders can feel it. But what the OP nails on the head is that in a company like ours here, these indefinable difference in "feel" become the focus of extraordinary attention and, as a result, seem much bigger than their actual effects on the ride. We are constantly thinking of how our bike handles, how it feels, whether it could feel better, or just different. Materials, angles, construction: minor nuances grow and become matters of life and death. Some people won't touch aluminum with a 10-ft pole; others have renounced carbon for its "plasticky" feel. Let's put it this way: if you are not doing rides longer than 4 hours, there is absolutely no reason to dismiss Alu. With the right adjustments in PSI, tire size, handlebar tape, seatpost, and saddle, it will give you a ride as enjoyable as steel + that extra giddyup when you step on it. Just turn those pedals, and dont obsess...

rugbysecondrow
03-02-2012, 08:01 AM
Why would materials NOT matter? They matter in all sorts of other types of construction, why would they not matter when it comes to bike frames? They matter in building construction, road creation, furniture building, packaging, airplanes, even the soles of your shoes. Design works in tandem with the material to create a product. In this case we are talking about a bike frame. Different is not bad, it is not a sign superiority. If there were zero difference then there would be no reason to have all the varying types of frame building materials. Carbon, Alum, Steel, Bamboo, Wood and all the micro types within each catagory work in tandem with the design and construction technique to create a product.

In addition, people mention tires, but tires have varying degrees of material use, different ratios of use and even different materials as a whole. Of course tires matter as well, but their construction and materials matter, why would the same not be true for a frame? It seems folks like to pick and choose when materials matter and when they don't.


As for the OP title, does is REALLY make that big of a difference. Big is in the eye of those vested in the product: builder and rider.

FlashUNC
03-02-2012, 09:12 AM
I used to ride with a guy in the mid 90's who used one of Cannondale's famous/infamous beer can downtube Caad 3 frames.

That frame definitely communicated more high frequency road vibration and chatter to his backside than the steel bikes the rest of us were riding.

I think engineers and product designers can work around some of the limitations of particular materials, but I think those characteristics do exist and can be felt even by slow, fat guys like me.

Fixed
03-02-2012, 09:38 AM
I used to ride with a guy in the mid 90's who used one of Cannondale's famous/infamous beer can downtube Caad 3 frames.

That frame definitely communicated more high frequency road vibration and chatter to his backside than the steel bikes the rest of us were riding.

I think engineers and product designers can work around some of the limitations of particular materials, but I think those characteristics do exist and can be felt even by slow, fat guys like me.
i had a caad 3 and a tommasini slx frame it the same time i liked them both
my caad 3 had c record on it .. i raced biathlons and tris on it before aero bars
r.r. s and crits on the tom
cheers

weiwentg
03-02-2012, 09:57 AM
I've ridden ti and steel. I like the ride of both and they can both be made comfy, but the ride is different somehow. Whatever floats your boat, I guess.

slowgoing
03-02-2012, 10:29 AM
At one point I built up the same sized Colnago C-40, CT1 (titanium with carbon stays) and Master X Light identically and switched off riding them over the same course for about a week. Hard to tell any difference. On the other hand, I rode a C-50 in the same size and didn't like it at all compared to the C-40. My overall conclusion was that they were more the same than different.

Bob Ross
03-02-2012, 12:37 PM
The strong point in the OP is not that materials don't make a difference. They do, and experienced riders can feel it.

Not to be pedantic, but the point of my previous post (#35) was that experienced riders may be able to detect something, but we don't really know for certain whether those differences they (think they) feel are attributable to the frame material.

Alchemy Rider
03-02-2012, 01:17 PM
I have two bicycles that were built by the same person. One is a steel frame and the other is a Ti frame. The frame geometry is the same. The second bike fitting done a year after the first produced the same numbers. Almost everything else is identical: saddle, front fork, wheels, tires, pedals etc.

I do feel a difference. David Kirk described the difference better than I can so I will quote him:

The steel bike had more 'ring' and 'brightness' to it while the Ti bike was
more muted and isolated feeling.

Is it that big of a difference? Not enough for me to prefer one bike over the other. I alternate between the two. But enough for me to enjoy the difference.

flydhest
03-02-2012, 01:28 PM
I have two bicycles that were built by the same person. One is a steel frame and the other is a Ti frame. The frame geometry is the same. The second bike fitting done a year after the first produced the same numbers. Almost everything else is identical: saddle, front fork, wheels, tires, pedals etc.

I do feel a difference. David Kirk described the difference better than I can so I will quote him:

The steel bike had more 'ring' and 'brightness' to it while the Ti bike was
more muted and isolated feeling.

Is it that big of a difference? Not enough for me to prefer one bike over the other. I alternate between the two. But enough for me to enjoy the difference.


The only thing I would contribute to this convo is to echo part of what this poster said, but to look at it differently. Sure, if you build two bikes identically from different materials, things are likely to be different. How much is a different question, but what interests me is the question whether you can make two bikes ride/feel the same from different materials by designing them differently. Two otherwise tubes, one steel and one aluminum will have different properties. I don't think that this is controversial. But if you had a builder who understood the properties and could have a tubeset drawn to his/her spec, could you make on ride like the other? Say the steel frame was your reference, would it be possible to manipulate the aluminum to make it ride like the steel?

cuda2k
03-02-2012, 01:36 PM
In my completely unscientific opinion after reading / riding / listening to many riders:

Material matters, design matters more.

weiwentg
03-02-2012, 01:50 PM
- we don't ride bicycles blindfolded

well ... you could do a tandem with the tester blindfolded and the pilot sighted. Or maybe the other way around.