Owen explains: I’ve been getting asked why I’m building bikes in stainless steel, so here’s a very quick blog post about why stainless is good:
There are basically two material properties that are interesting when it comes to bike material selection, strength to density ratio, and stiffness to density ratio.
For simplicity think of strength as how hard it is to dent the frame and stiffness is how hard it is to bend it.
Now from a pure material physical properties perspective:
- Steel is the stiffest material.
- As far as I know, Reynolds 953 is the strongest
- Titanium had the highest strength to density ratio, but now Reynolds 953 is about the same.
- Carbon has the highest stiffness to density ratio.
- Stainless steel and normal steel (for example 853 or Columbus spirit) have the same density and stiffness.
- Aluminium – who cares? (well OK, from a mass manufacturing point of view it’s interesting, but for custom bikes not so much)
The really clever bit is when you start making bike tubes from those materials. If the material is stronger, then it’s possible to make thinner tubes which won’t get damaged easily, therefore you get a lighter bike. If it’s stiffer then you’ll get better power transfer when you are pedalling. The frame builders job is then to select the best tubing and materials to make a custom bike perfectly designed around the rider.
Taking all of that into account, it should be possible to make a stainless bike that is lighter than normal steel bikes but retains that unique ride quality, and it should be as durable as Titanium, and stiffer than Titanium.
So the question becomes why wouldn’t you build a bike in stainless steel? Here’s a link to my stainless bikes to find out more or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org