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Steel Vs. Titanium Bike Frames

By Rory Delaney

Steel and titanium bike frames each present advantages and disadvantages for their owners. To pick the perfect frame for your ride, consider several factors, including your body weight, geographic location and sense of style before deciding which one best suits your needs.

Steel Is Durable

According to the American Iron and Steel Institute, steel was developed in 1856 by Henry Bessemer in Sheffield, England. Since then, steel has revolutionized life in the modern world. One advantage of owning a steel-framed bicycle is durability. With a life span of 25 to 30 years, steel framed bikes typically outlast those made from other materials because steel is a highly-repairable metal that can be bent and released within its inherent elastic range without breaking.

Titanium Doesn't Rust

According to RTI International Metals, titanium naturally resists corrosion. An advantage of owning a bicycle with a titanium frame is that it will not rust. If you live in an area where the roads are periodically salted, for example, a titanium frame will serve you longer than a steel frame, which would rust and decay under the same conditions. Another benefit to titanium's rust resistance is that you do not need to paint the frame.

Steel Is Classic

Depending upon your needs, however, you may want a bicycle with a steel frame because a steel-framed bike tends to be more stable than a titanium one as well as more comfortable. Steel-framed bikes also are considered classic and traditional, and as such, highly collectible. They climb hills better. A drawback to steel frames is their weight. Because steel weighs more than titanium, riding a steel-framed bicycle could cost you valuable seconds in a race or competition.

Titanium Is Expensive

Another factor to consider when deciding on a steel or titanium frame for your bicycle is your physical makeup, specifically your weight. Titanium is as strong as steel, but weighs only 56 percent as much as steel. Bikes with titanium frames are ideally suited for larger riders. However, titanium frames are significantly more expensive than their steel counterparts.

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