If you're in the market for a new bike, one of the things you'll have to consider is aluminum vs steel frame bikes. Aluminum and steel are the two most popular bike frames, with cyclists of all skill levels and backgrounds riding them. So, we're here to help you with the question: Aluminum vs Steel frame bikes - which is the best for you?
When it comes to strength, steel-framed bikes are the indisputable winner. Steel is significantly stronger and more durable than its aluminum counterpart, making it an excellent choice for mountain bikes. Steel-framed bikes are able to absorb more blows with suffering damage. If you are a safe rider who rarely falls down, this probably isn't going to matter. But if you have a tendency to fall or bump into things, a steel-framed bike is the way to go.
Resistance to Rust
Both steel and aluminum-framed bikes can yield rust/corrosion-resistant properties. When alloy metals like chromium are added to steel, it protects it from rust and corrosion (this is how stainless steel is made). On the other hand, aluminum is naturally rust-resistant due to the presence of aluminum oxide. Aluminum bike frames have a thin layer of aluminum oxide that acts as a barrier between it and moisture; thus, protecting it against rust and corrosion.
But there's one area in which aluminum shines: weight. Aluminum is significantly lighter than steel, which can prove helpful when riding on open streets and other flat landscapes. Lighter frames will allow you to travel longer distances with less effort. If you plan on riding on uneven terrain, however, the additional weight provided by a steel frame may offer greater shock absorption. Think about when and how you'll be riding and choose the frame that's best suitable for your needs.
What About Carbon
Of course, a third option is a carbon-framed bike. Carbon is actually stronger than both aluminum and steel -- and it's also rust-resistant, as well as lightweight. The only downside is that carbon-framed bikes tend to cost more than steel and aluminum. If you're on a budget, you may want to avoid carbon-framed bikes for this reason.
The Bottom Line
Don't worry too much about the material of which the bike's frame is made. Whether it's aluminum, steel or carbon, it's not going to have a profound impact on its performance. Instead, consider more important details when choosing a bike, such as size, gear ratios, handlebar placement, tires, suspension, etc.