As best as I can tell, the real advantage of many of the modern alloys (there are a few) is that you can go very light on the tube gauge with an oversize tube - thinner and bigger than with a more standard type steel (i.e 853 vs. 531). Plus, the new air hardened steel alloys (853) aren't heat sensitive in the same way.
The upshot? Oversize steel frames that are both light and stiff - at least "stiff enough". One of the best riding frames I've ever been on (and others agree with me on this) is the Waterford 853 RS22T. Amazingly comfortable, wonderfully lively, and flexes just the right way, for me anyway, so that it feels really quick. Plus it has the smooth ride that oversize tubes convey very well. I just don't believe one could build this frame with a 531 alloy in identical tube gauge and have it hold up. Now, the feel of such a bike is different from a skiny tube frame - not necessarily better, but certainly different.
Therefore, there is some magic in those new alloys - it isn't all marketing hype - so don't loose sight of what does matter because of all the petty claims that don't matter.
Mike "loving the ride on my 95,000 psi tensile strength Baylis these days" Kone in Boulder CO
At 01:00 AM 5/31/02 -0400, Joe Bender-Zanoni wrote:
>Well this sure went around today, in fact full circle to the point where
>Sheldon added that maybe these Gran Sports weren't 1020 straight guage
>carbon steel after all.
>Starting with the possibility that Raleigh used good tubing and a bad
>sticker I have to think that is unlikely from a corporate entity that made
>Reynolds tubing. Sheldon is usually right, but this needs better proof. Wild
>speculation- Maybe they had some leftover Ackles and Pollack Cro-Mo and no
>As to Brandon's theory, lets start with empirical evidence. Show me the
>great riding bike with 1020 straight guage tubing. I've owned some, sold and
>ridden many. A tube with a low yield strength must by a heavy guage to
>survive normal use. Usually it is too stiff in the wrong places and has a
>harsh lifeless ride, like the ordinary Japanese bikes of the late 70's (Fuji
>S10S) or a Raleigh Grand Prix. Ordinary French bikes (UO8 etc.) probably
>pushed the limit on this material by using thinner guages and different
>diameters.. A fair riding bike at best. And many shop owners cringed when
>selling low end French bikes to heavy customers. They also cringed when they
>straightened the forks on new bikes bent during ordinary shipping. Not just
>because they were bent but because of how easy it was to bend them back!
>As to science I agree with Mike Kone's and Brian Blum's comments. The Scott
>Nichol article is excellent. I can guarantee you that "ride quality" is
>quantifiable by a structural analyst and the analyst will need to know the
>entire tubing guage profile.
>Myths and bunk are strong words when generally citing a Bicycle Guide
>article as your support. Show me where it says equivalently performing
>frames can be built from 1020 straight guage (or any low carbon steel) vs.
>double butted cro-mo. If the Bicycle Guide answer starts with "using
>oversize tubing" as a 90's discussion might, it is ranging very far from my
>point about a 1962 bike. One is also implying that all the effort spent on
>quality tubing for a century has been in vain!
>By the way- the myth I have "fallen" for is based not just on my own riding
>experience but the whole nine yards through a graduate mechanical
>engineering degree plus plenty of aircraft design experience verified by
>design reviews, test and fielding of my designs. As an aside, the drive
>shaft on the F-15E ammunition container is a silver brazed lugged crome-moly
>construction. It is a torque tube so it is straight guage. And it is
>specified to be either seamed or seamless tubing because their are no
>mechanical strength differences by specification or test. But it had better
>not be 1020!
>Loads, tubing lengths, diameters, material and butting all figure in and can
>be readily analyzed. Joining methods and quality are tough to analyze. I am
>not a snob about materials and love cost effective bikes. But quality tubing
>material and quality tubing shaping (butting) matter.
>For example, seamed butted cro-moly like True Temper is great stuff and an
>excellent value. I readily agree that sort of tubing would be very difficult
>to distinguish from Reynolds 531. But gaspipe the same? No way.
>Great Notch, NJ
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Brandon Ives" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>To: "Joe Bender-Zanoni" <email@example.com>; "Sarah Gibson"
>Sent: Thursday, May 30, 2002 10:01 AM
>Subject: Debunking time again (Re: [CR]1962 Raleigh Gran Sport)
>> At 12:12 AM -0400 5/30/02, Joe Bender-Zanoni wrote:
>> >This is a very hard bicycle to value. It is in such nice condition and
>> >equipped, but the lack of good frame tubing means it will never be a
>> Sorry, but Joe has fallen for one of the great myths of bikes. The
>> tubing really doesn't matter all that much to ride quality. Design
>> and construction are the real keys to a quality ride. This is just
>> more marketing hype from the industry. This was a myth that was
>> debunked in the early 90's in Bicycle Guide. The bicycle tubing used
>> back when this Raleigh was built was all pretty similar on a basic
>> level. Most of the attributes people lend the tubing actually reside
>> in the length and diameter of the tubes. A good design is the first
>> aspect of a great ride. No mater what you build the bike with if
>> it's a bad design it'll ride poorly. Quality construction is the
>> next key ingredient to the right mix for a righteous ride. If the
>> tubes are cut square and shoved in the lugs or if the joint isn't
>> full of joining material. This will affect ride quality
>> dramatically. The fenders on the bike will affect ride more than if
>> this bike was built from 531.
>> I'm sure most people will chime in that I'm just full of it. Before
>> you react look for the article in Bicycle Guide and look at the
>> materials used in bike construction 40 years ago. Also note that
>> we're talking about ride and not weight, longevity, ETC. . . Like
>> everyone I want to believe that it really does matter since I'm
>> paying extra for quality tubing, but when it comes to ride it just
>> doesn't matter. I'm now off to put on my asbestos underwear.
>> Santa Barbara, Calif.