When it comes to making a decision about whether to purchase steel or aluminum bike lights, there are many different arguments you can take or traps that you can fall into. While there is no “one-size-fits-all” conception here, it is important to obtain the element of the bike light that matches the functionality you need as well as your own style preferences. In this guide, we’ll go over steel versus aluminum bike lights and what you can expect from each.
The difference between the two elements
Before we can really dive into steel versus aluminum when it comes to bike lights, we first have to think about them as separate, individual elements and the effect these elements have on the riding experience in general.
At one point, steel was the preferred building material for manufacturers all over the world. It is a heavier, sturdier, and cheaper element than aluminum. However, steel is also extremely durable, fatigue-resistant, and easy to repair.
Mentioning that steel is durable is extremely important for those that are in need of a bike light that can withstand lots of damage. Perhaps you are in a location where inclement weather is a normal, everyday occurrence. Especially during hurricane season in North and South America, this could be a major contributing factor to what kind of material you choose. That being said, steel has the ability to also withstand major impacts. If you are a more adventurous rider, then getting steel bike lights is likely the better option due to their sheer durability.
The additional idea that steel is a material that is very easy to repair should prove enticing to some riders that are currently in the market for a new bicycle. While a bike light might fail at some point during its lifetime, any local welder can repair the steel material on a bike light. Since steel was the original material in creating bike frames themselves, it is the defacto material welders can shape and manipulate in order to fix. This can extend out to steel bike lights themselves.
If maintained with the proper care, steel lights can last an extremely long time – even a lifetime or multiple generations. If you’ve ever seen old bike lights in your family’s attic, chances are that it was developed with steel as the core element.
Unfortunately, steel is extremely heavy, making bike lights relatively cumbersome to carry and store away in case you want to take long trips with them. The steel bike light is also prone to rust if it is kept out in the elements. Rust can be dangerous for riders as slipping on it can cause physical injury. Rust also causes paint peeling, so painted steel bikes might have some chipping on the bike light if not properly taken care of.
Aluminum bike frames and bike lights are a more recent innovation that has come about by manufacturers that develop bikes for the world over. Bikes made from the element typically average a few pounds less than steel frames due to the core density being one-third the density of steel. This can be extrapolated out to the aluminum bike lights themselves, which also have a much lighter density than their steel counterparts.
The great thing about aluminum bike lights is that they do not rust. Instead, aluminum corrodes and produces aluminum oxide, a compound that is tougher than rust and means that the product will last longer when left out to the natural elements in tougher conditions like rain, sleet, and snow.
When it comes to actual aluminum performance, because it is a lighter element in general, it allows for more flexibility in the products that are made from it. This means that the overall performance of bike frames as well as bike lights with an aluminum makeup will likely be greater than that of steel frames.
Unfortunately, aluminum bike lights are harder to repair if they get damaged. The reason for this is that the density is lighter. This also concludes that they will have a shorter lifespan than steel products. Every vibration during the riding process will have a greater net damaging effect on aluminum bikes than steel bikes, contributing to this phenomenon.
Which to choose
Whether you wish to go with a steel bike light or an aluminum bike light is completely up to you and depends on what you value when it comes to the two elements. While they are similar in a number of ways, they are also extremely different.
If you value the aerodynamic capability of your riding experience, then choosing a lighter aluminum bike will be the move that you want to make. Additionally, this bike will be better able to handle inclement weather as it does not rust or corrode as quickly as steel bike lights. On the other hand, however, they are not as easy to repair if they get damaged and have a much shorter lifespan than their steel counterparts.
On the other side, going with a steel bike light will give you a sturdier and more reliable element over the course of the bike light’s lifespan. It is also cheaper meaning you will be saving money by not only buying a cheaper light but also in the case that you need to repair it. Having said that, they are abit bulkier than their aluminum counterparts. This means that if the smoothness of riding is what you are seeking, they might not be as good of an option as aluminum bike lights.
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At the end of the day, both steel and aluminum bike lights have their pros and cons. The important thing is that you as a rider know exactly what you value when it comes to determining what kind of bike light you feel will fit best with your goal in creating the most optimal riding experience.