Carbon, Aluminium or steel? Two years ago, when I bought my second road bike, this question tangled through my mind. You know, I’m the type of guy, who needs a reason for a decision. So I was constantly researching the web about material, frame geometry and components. My budget was 1.500€ and I ended up, buying a bike for 650€ – just because it was the best decision for me.
Let me be clear, I also think, that carbon and aluminium deserve their place as a frame material. And, if the situation would have been different, it’s possible, that I would ride carbon now. But I needed steel and here’s why:
Steel is sturdy
98% of the time, I’m riding my bike for transport. Means, I’m commuting or riding to friends and family. I’m outside in every weather, riding at -10°C in snow, through to rain, to 35°C summerdays. When I’m at my destination, my bike usually is locked outside of the house, again exposed to the weather. Plus the frame is always leaning on some metal. It has to withstand an enormous amount of abuse, especially because I don’t want to be super careful.
Steel is snug
Steel has a natural really subtle flex. And this makes for really comfy long rides, cause it dampens the micro vibrations from harsh roads. For high volume riding therefore, steel is the way to go.
Steel is sempiternal (long lasting)
Every time I search for used bikes on ebays small ad site, I have this nagging thought, when a nice carbon bike plopps up. What, if it has just a tiny break in the frame? Or when I see a scratch? Would I pay for a safety scan of the frame? With steel, this problem doesn’t even arise. Even thirty years after building, the frame is usually usable. You see that now, on the vintage bike trend.
Steel is stylish
The look of the bike usually has a timeless elegance. When you see a steel bike, you also see adventure, class, history, love, hours of handcrafted work, and a life. I love the little scratches that tells the story of the bike. It’s just more than a pure speed machine.
Carbon is for the speedfreak.
Aluminium is for the recreational rider.
And steel is for the adventurer.
What’s your favourite frame material?