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August 29, 2008

What happened to chromoly frames?

Filed under: Cycling — joel.cass @ 8:43 am

Go into any bicycle store and you will be hard pressed to find a bicycle frame that is not made from aluminium or carbon fibre.

I find this real strange because when I bought my first real bike I was recommended chromoly over aluminium – the idea being that (for the price) chromoly was a stronger material than aluminium.

I don’t think things have changed much. Staff at the bike shops rarely tout the benefits of one material over the other, except that aluminium is what most customers want as they don’t know any better, and/or the Taiwanese/Chinese factories don’t manufacture steel frames anymore.

I cannot really see the benefits of any material over steel, in frames anyway, because the weight is latent – it does not affect acceleration or speed in the same way that having steel wheels would.

Furthermore, steel can be worked with if it ever failed due to fatigue or an accident. And take a look on eBay for a used downhill bike – and you will always find one or two that are being sold due to fatigue cracks in the aluminium frame. By the way, the seller does not actually have to inform the buyer of such things – so check it out first.

I don’t know why downhill bikes are made from aluminium anyway – it seems a little stupid given the abuse they get.

Perhaps the bicycle industry has gone the same way as many others – into disposable products. Sure, while aluminium or carbon fibre may be more expensive to produce, it gives the producers a source of income, and furthermore keeps many customers (who don’t know any better) satisfied.

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