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Long story short, the frame of my current bike got busted and it is essentially a write-off now.

As I'm shopping for a new bike, the Surly Straggler came to mind again.

Here are the specs for the Surly Straggler: https://surlybikes.com/bikes/straggler

Relevant stats for the frameset can be found here. relevant screenshot

Even though I don't really know what this means given their intellectual property protection, I would like to know how their material compares with the steel material in other bike frames.

Would you happen to know? Thanks in advance!

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  • It is not directly to your question about the materials in the frame, but i can give some advice about the Straggler. I have one, it is a great, versatile bike. The one point I would consider is the dropouts. The front exit horizontal dropout means a retaining screw must be used in the drive side in order to prevent the axle from pulling forward under power. This make all rear wheel operations more of a time suck. You will spend minutes to turn this tiny screw anytime you have a rear flat or drivetrain maintenance. And so far the dropout has not had additional utility for me.
    – SamA
    Mar 4, 2023 at 13:34
  • If the ability to change the rear wheel positioning is important for you, the Straggler is uniquely capable in this respect. If not, the feature becomes annoying. I have considered trying to flip this bike for a similar steel bike, but I like it enough and have few enough problems with the rear that I haven't yet gone to the trouble of getting it in shape to sell. But if I were in the market today, I might be looking at the Midnight Special, or even a much simpler Crosscheck, to avoid the dropout.
    – SamA
    Mar 4, 2023 at 13:40
  • Sounds like dealing with rear flats is enough of a pain in the ass that may not worth its premium features?
    – stanigator
    Mar 4, 2023 at 17:29
  • It's not enough to make me hate the bike, but it keeps me from loving it enough to want two...
    – SamA
    Mar 5, 2023 at 0:58
  • Just get the Cross-Check instead. Mar 6, 2023 at 17:40

1 Answer 1

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The most important thing to think about when you're looking at contemporary steel disc road bikes is not the material, because a lot of them are 4130 or alloys like it. It is how judiciously the material is used in terms of weight. Many mainstream steel disc road bikes go way beyond reasonable in wall thickness and tube diameter spec. For example, it's easy to buy one that has a 38mm downtube with .9/.6/.9mm wall thickness. That is a heavy tube and it used to be the domain of freeride hardtails, but buyers are acclimated to the chunky look now and so many DTC steel bikes have it all over, and wind up ludicrously heavy. The most important to understand is that when someone says "4130 bikes are heavy," "531 bikes are light," the sole piece of information that person is telling you is they don't understand how steel frames work. Weight and performance are factors of base material and tube spec choices.

Surly tends to do a more-reasonable-than-most job with this, and they dial the diameters and wall thicknesses to individual size bikes more than most brands.

In terms of the material itself, 4130 is a standardized designation. In other words it refers to specific proportions (or range of acceptable proportions) of iron, carbon, molybdenum, and chromium. It has strength and toughness properties far beyond high-tensile steel. It also has somewhat less ductility than some other steel types used on bikes, so there are areas like dropouts where other materials might be chosen instead. There are many bicycle tubeset products that are much like 4130 and perform only incrementally different in any direction, but add manganese and some other elements. Reynolds 531 and Columbus SL are examples of this. All these materials do more or less the same thing functionally for the same tube specs. From there you move to much more expensive "super" steels that are much stronger per weight, and therefore can make frames that are lighter for the same strength or stronger for the same weight. In practice, 4130 and other classic materials often perform better in terms of actual toughness and longevity than such frames, but are heavier.

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  • Basically the designation indicate the build of the material (and likely the durability)?
    – stanigator
    Mar 4, 2023 at 8:08
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    @stanigator Basically it says that in terms of strength and durability per weight, it's above the junk. Some view 4130 as one of the best all-around choices period, while others would more say it's the beginning of the acceptable choices, but that is a question of dogma. Mar 4, 2023 at 8:29

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