Monday, October 24, 2011


So I've been reading up on bicycle frame material, mostly of the steel variety.
It's interesting to me that there are like a GAGILLION different types of tubes out there!
It's also interesting to note that everybody and their builders have their favorites.
Most builders in fact don't even use one particular type, building with a "blend" of different tubes to tune the bicycle to the rider.
Of course if you know what you want, builders will be more than happy to build to specs.
I for one have no clue and despite all the 'splaining out there, I remain well, clueless.
I mean it would seem easy enough: just build me a bicycle with the newest bestest steel available.
Easy it is not.
I've been taking a look at stainless steel, only because it's seems reasonable that living next to the ocean, stainless steel would be the way to go.
Excepting that it's like really expensive.
Like really, really, really expensive.
For me anyways.
The prices seem to rival that of titanium while the benefits of going one way or the other are not very clear.
Then you got like different kinds of stainless.
Columbus Xcr:

Deda T99:

Last but not least, Reynolds 953.
Which everyone seems to be using.
Now lemme make on thing clear.
I'm not in the market for a stainless steel frame.
There's something about stainless that just doesn't sit right with me, not for a bicycle anyways.
Besides the prohibitive cost, it's just a little too shiny.
I can't believe I just said that.
I also seem to remember that stainless has a very low carbon content and that carbon sort of gives steel it's springy quality and adding chromium tends to make it more brittle.
To say that I'm generalizing is probably a gross understatement.
I mean if stainless were stiff and brittle, no one would be using it, non?
Well after reading up on it there are some intriguing qualities about stainless that can't be overlooked.
Apparently Reynolds 953 is being heralded as the strongest lightest tubes available so out of strong, light and cheap, it's well, strong and light.
I'm guessing that's it's easier to work with than titanium, titanium being subject to weld contamination and the tubes need to be purged with an inert gas while being welded.
Okay, I lied.
Just a little as I am sort of interested in stainless steel if only because of a new player in the game.
KVA, a company that specializes in stainless steel has started to penetrate the stainless steel market.
They use some sort of newfangled process and it will be interesting to see how the market(prices) changes.
If at all.
Who knows, down the road, my feelings may change and a stainless steel bicycle may just be the pinnacle of all things acciaio.


Steve A said...

Stainless has the exact same springiness as a regular steel tube the same size. It also weighs the same.

John Romeo Alpha said...

Pretty soon you'll have us debating the Rinard Frame Deflection tests, and we'll be thinking like grouchy Gumby...

limom said...

Steve A, I shall defer to your wisdom.
By the way, I read that KVA is now supplying Reynolds with stainless.

JRA, I wish you hadn't shown me that.