More bikes are made out of steel than any other material, but not all steel is created equal. Our bicycles at Detroit Bikes are made out of American chromium molybdenum steel, commonly known as Chromoly. Chromoly is a chrome-alloy steel with a medium carbon content and .8% - 1.1% molybdenum for strength. It is a steel that is stronger than carbon steel (more commonly used in bike manufacturing), so we can use thin wall tubing, giving you a lightweight frame that will last through years of riding.
Of the lead materials used for bike frames, ranging from aluminum to titanium and even carbon fiber, Chromoly offers the best cost-benefit ratio.
Aluminum is the second most commonly used material for bicycle manufacturing. It’s lighter and stiffer than steel, but it's also more brittle and easily damaged. Chromoly is slightly heavier than aluminum, but the frame can be thinner and has reduced stiffness, which provides a smoother ride.
Steel is ductile, unlike aluminum, which makes it possible to offer stronger seamless steel tubes. Also, steel is reliable: it fails in a predictable way, bending before it breaks. Aluminum, on the other hand, is more like glass, which breaks before it bends.
Far higher in price than steel or aluminum are more exotic materials, such as titanium and carbon fiber. These are great materials for bicycles, offering their own advantages. We choose high-quality steel because it offers the best bang for your buck when it comes to leading quality options. Titanium has been used for several decades now. Its strength is comparable to steel, but it’s lighter. Compared to Chromoly, titanium is not only a more expensive material but also requires a more meticulous manufacturing process because it can be easily contaminated, which results in a significantly more expensive bike.
Carbon fiber is strong and light, but it can be brittle if stressed in the wrong way. This type of material can be easily molded compared to the others, so it’s popular for bicycles of unconventional shapes. A high-quality carbon frame bicycle with a high strength to weight ratio costs thousands of dollars.
While Chromoly itself is arguably one of the best materials for a bicycle, the way the material is used to create a bike matters, as well. In addition to sourcing our Chromoly steel from US manufacturers, Detroit Bikes produces our USC line of bike frames right in our Detroit factory, where we also paint, assemble, wheel build, and package our products.
If you’re looking for a high-quality urban commuter, consider one of our Chromoly steel bikes. They’re durable and classic, and they provide a wonderful to ride. Even if a Chromoly bike hasn’t been on your radar, we encourage you to find a retailer near you to test out the best Chromoly bikes and feel the difference.
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