Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Steel is Real! Plus, it Rhymes Good.

You know, steel is great stuff. Many excellent bicycles are made of steel. People can do wonderful things with steel, including build sweet lugged frames that I have a soft spot for. Many sing the praises of steel frames as being superior in that they flex just enough to offer a smoother ride. The single biggest plus for steel, however, is that it's easy to rhyme. "Steel is Real". Oh yeah.

Both of my current bikes (which I have named "Winter" and "Summer") have frames made of aluminum. While aluminum frames are usually marginally lighter than steel, that is not why I chose it, because 1) I'm no racer and 2) I have many pounds to shed before the weight of my bike will matter. I have always rather liked the ride qualities of my aluminum bikes; maybe I'm a glutton for punishment, I don't know. My last commuter was a nice old lugged steel sport-touring frame from the 80s... it rode nicely, but to be honest, I didn't notice enough difference to think "wow, does steel ever rock!" I chose aluminum because my bikes get ridden in the rain and snow and salt. I am not particularly careful with my bikes, and they get scratches and dings, and I don't want to care what happens when the paint or clearcoat or both get damaged.

I find the "Steel is Real" thing a little curious. I mean, are other metals or fibres less real? What is "real", anyway? I'm thinking a little philosophy is in order. Just as people have favourite frame materials, people have favourite philosophers; I think any serious analysis of this topic demands that at least some of their voices be heard, or at least printed in a callout.

Well, the last couple of thinkers may have missed the point a little, but I think it is abundantly clear that "real" is a rather abstract concept and a poor adjective for trying to describe a bicycle frame material. People just like "real" because it rhymes.

I want to hear any and all rhyme solutions you've got for Titanium, Carbon or Aluminum! Bring 'em on, oh creative reader.

I will attempt to get the ball rolling:

Now, who's going to debate the meaning of "zoominum"? Nobody, that's who.



MJ Klein said...

one of Taiwan's best known recumbent designers once told me that he prefers titanium for his frames because they flex so much that the frame doesn't require suspension.

RANTWICK said...

Recumbents and titanium - the two cycling-related things I am least likely to ever have... Never say never, I guess!

MJ Klein said...

that's what i thought too, until i actually tried a trike and found that i could ride all day without discomfort of an upright bike. plus i'm truly aero without being all bent over and my neck craning to see. :)

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