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Old 2019-07-22, 01:57 AM   #9
Albertosaurus
Dinosaur
 
Join Date: Jun 2019
Location: Biddeford, Maine, USA
Age: 60
Posts: 21
Steel vs aluminum

I don't have enough unicycle experience to help. However when after years of riding a steel frame road bicycle, I tried an aluminum frame road bicycle, which happened to have a steel fork. The forks were very similiar, and the primary difference was the frames. I found that I became fatigued quicker on the aluminum frame and had trouble keeping my normal steel frame pace. This was doing weekly group rides with a local club, so I think it was fair of me to judge my ability to keep up with the same riders week after week. What I eventually learned was that aluminum frames are nice and light, but often much stiffer than a steel frame. The aluminum frame doesn't flex and give as much of a soft ride over small road ripple type bumps. It does however, flex great over the bigger obstacles absorbing those impacts. On my road bike, I tryed a carbon fiber fork in place of the steel fork, which for me only provided a very minor improvement. I then tryed a Rock-Shox suspension road fork, and wow! It was a whole new game. The aluminum bike that was beating me up was now as comfortable as any road bike I'd ever ridden. The suspension fork made up for the stiffness of the aluminum frame and I could keep up with the group again.
So while not dirrectly comparable, I hope the experience helps. On a unicycle it probably depends more on the type of riding surfaces. Lighter is generally always better. But if you ride in an area with a lot of small high frequency ripple type bumps, I would expect aluminum to be a little tougher on you than steel. But aluminum might be better if you take a lot of hops and big drops. And not to sound potentially contradictory, but I have been very comfortable on an aluminum framed road unicycle on smooth roads.
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