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Do you prefer steel roller coasters or wooden roller coasters?

Steel or wood?


  • Total voters
    42

Matt N

Strata Poster
Hi guys. I know this seems like a very simplistic debate, but I’m surprised we seemingly haven’t got a topic for it, and I thought it might be a fun one to discuss. So my basic question to you is; do you prefer steel roller coasters or wooden roller coasters?

Personally, I prefer steel roller coasters, although I’ll admit that I have really warmed to wooden roller coasters in recent years.

Personally, I like steel roller coasters more because even though wooden roller coasters have become more versatile in recent years with regards to the type of ride experience they can provide, I feel like steel roller coasters can offer a wider range of elements than wooden roller coasters, and they can also be stretched further in terms of thrill; as much as I’ve ridden some really great, thrilling wooden roller coasters, I often find that steel roller coasters are able to provide that little bit more in the way of thrill and fun factor without becoming very rough as a biproduct. That leads onto my second point; steel roller coasters also often tend to be more smooth, comfortable and rerideable than wooden roller coasters, on the whole. I personally value comfort and rerideability hugely in a ride, and while I have ridden some very comfortable and rerideable wooden roller coasters (newer rides like Wicker Man come to mind for me), steel roller coasters generally tend to provide smoother and more comfortable ride experiences, which I personally prefer.

I’m not saying that I don’t like wooden roller coasters by any means, though, because I do very much! I have two wooden roller coasters in my top 5, and as someone who values fun factor and rerideability over out and out intensity, some wooden coasters do really provide this to a strong extent! However, once you leave my top 5, my 3rd favourite wooden roller coaster is all the way down at #16 (for reference, I’ve ridden 74 roller coasters), and the next one down after that is at #33, so my preferences do generally tend towards steel thus far (although that might not be helped by the fact that my steel coaster count vastly, vastly outweighs my wooden coaster count).

So personally, I prefer steel, but to be honest, I think both steel coasters and wooden coasters are great in their own way, and have their own individual merits!

But do you personally prefer steel coasters or wooden coasters?
 

Benni

Roller Poster
I honestly love both.
Steel coasters on the one hand have a much greater versatility, regarding almost every aspect of it's designs. Oftenly they offer a far smoother ride, than anything else (with a few exceptions). From a technical point of view steel is the more reliable, less prone, delivers for granted a great experience. You can build sitting coasters, flying coasters, inverted coasters, launched coasters, bob coasters etc. - most of this wouldn't be possible with wooden coasters (I know, Lightning Rod..).
On the other hand wooden coasters always add some sort of out of control feeling. Wood is a beautiful material and wooden coasters always have unique aesthetics. The material is much more dependent on the weather. Wooden coasters are the real classic. I love good rides on really old woodies.
Finally I'd love to see more hybrids. They offer some aesthetics, steel coasters never can deliver, but offer smoothness, most wooden coasters can't deliver. Where needed you can add steel supports, make the weirdest twists and turns and aren't that highly restricted, like on a wooden coaster.
But I'd always vote for a steel coaster. I can't imagine a rollercoaster world without steel coasters, since they offer so much variety. This is (for me) the most important part.
 

Hixee

Flojector
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Okay, let's look at the numbers. I note hybrid separately (not sure why, tempted to swap them out at some point), so I'll annotate those.

kCgpJJN.jpg

Steel Vengeance = Steel, Voyage = Wood, Untamed = Steel

So, that means 15 out of the 20 are steel. No brainer, then.

But, a while ago I realised that doesn't necessarily tell the whole story. If I'd only ridden five wooden coasters, this would sort of show I disproportionally favour wooden coasters. So I added a chart.

JirRCTa.jpg


What this says is that roughly speaking, of the hybrids and woodies I've ridden, there's a disproportionate favouring of them over the steel. I think? In other words, steel makes up 81% of my coasters ridden, but only 65% of my Top 20.

I don't have the chart to hand, but quickly crunching the numbers would give me:
Overall: 82.8% steel, 17.2% wood
Top 20: 75.0% steel, 25.0% wood

So the same mantra would seem to apply - I ever so slightly favour wooden coasters proportionally to steel.

That said, all of that is over thinking it. Steel wins it for me, by a mile. I'll take the increased dynamics and more outrageous designs over the out-of-control feeling that woodies give. Don't get me wrong, those top woodies are really amazing, but the top steel are probably better.
 

Heth

Mega Poster
Of my ride count, I've only done 6 wooden coasters out of 74. Whilst most of the wooden coasters lurk towards the higher end of my rankings, I feel I've not ridden enough to truly call it, especially as only one of those woodies isn't a GCI.
 

MestnyiGeroi

Giga Poster
The best woodies, in my experience, are in North America (and far more of them), so I wonder if there’s a tendency for European enthusiasts to say steel is better, and for there to be at least a higher percentage of North American enthusiasts who say wood is better.
 

HeartlineCoaster

Giga Poster
What this says is that roughly speaking, of the hybrids and woodies I've ridden, there's a disproportionate favouring of them over the steel. I think? In other words, steel makes up 81% of my coasters ridden, but only 65% of my Top 20.
While I love the visualisations I wouldn't read too much into this as there's likely to be a far more significantly disproportionate amount of crap in your count that just happens to be steel. I look forward to the day when we can throw up some wooden Wacky Worms.

For this reason I always get more excited for wood than steel because there's a high chance it's both a unique and significant coaster no matter what.
I couldn't choose a favourite though, it's all about diversity for me and they compliment each other too well.
 

Ian

From CoasterForce
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There’s room for both in my world, but steel will always have the advantage for doing stuff that wood struggles to do. That’s why the Navy don’t make battleships from wood anymore.

Most of my top coasters are steel. If I had to choose, I’d go steel...but I’d be having a secret affair with wood.
 

Hixee

Flojector
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While I love the visualisations I wouldn't read too much into this as there's likely to be a far more significantly disproportionate amount of crap in your count that just happens to be steel. I look forward to the day when we can throw up some wooden Wacky Worms.

For this reason I always get more excited for wood than steel because there's a high chance it's both a unique and significant coaster no matter what.
I couldn't choose a favourite though, it's all about diversity for me and they compliment each other too well.
Fair point.

Thankfully, I have a metric in my spreadsheet for such a thing. I categorise everything roughly as "small" (kiddie creds and below), "medium" (family coasters) or "large" (everything else) on an "intensity factor". You're quite right, the majority of stuff (~54%) are "small" or "medium".

Everything in my Top 10 is "large" (not surprisingly, I suppose), so let's see how the wood/steel split compares if I only look at the "large" coasters in my count.

Overall: 82.8% steel, 17.2% wood
Large Only: 80.1% steel, 19.9% wood
Top 20: 75.0% steel, 25.0% wood

So, margin narrows a fair bit, but there is an ever so slight difference still. Of the "large" woodies I've done, they make up a higher percentage of my Top 20 than they do my overall count.

Not sure that really means very much still, but at least it's a little more considered than my first go. :p
 

Hyde

I Lied About My Age!
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Okay, let's look at the numbers. I note hybrid separately (not sure why, tempted to swap them out at some point), so I'll annotate those.

kCgpJJN.jpg

Steel Vengeance = Steel, Voyage = Wood, Untamed = Steel

So, that means 15 out of the 20 are steel. No brainer, then.

But, a while ago I realised that doesn't necessarily tell the whole story. If I'd only ridden five wooden coasters, this would sort of show I disproportionally favour wooden coasters. So I added a chart.

JirRCTa.jpg


What this says is that roughly speaking, of the hybrids and woodies I've ridden, there's a disproportionate favouring of them over the steel. I think? In other words, steel makes up 81% of my coasters ridden, but only 65% of my Top 20.

I don't have the chart to hand, but quickly crunching the numbers would give me:
Overall: 82.8% steel, 17.2% wood
Top 20: 75.0% steel, 25.0% wood

So the same mantra would seem to apply - I ever so slightly favour wooden coasters proportionally to steel.

That said, all of that is over thinking it. Steel wins it for me, by a mile. I'll take the increased dynamics and more outrageous designs over the out-of-control feeling that woodies give. Don't get me wrong, those top woodies are really amazing, but the top steel are probably better.
To mirror @Hixee's approach, here's the same rundown on my own preference. One clarifier though, I do a straight binary rundown of steel vs. wood - aint nobody got time for hybrid qualifiers. 😜

First of the top 20:

RankCoasterTrack Type
1Steel VengeanceSteel
2VoyageWood
3Storm ChaserSteel
4MaverickSteel
5X2Steel
6Outlaw RunWood
7SkyrushSteel
8Fury 325Steel
9Intimidator 305Steel
10Ravine Flyer IIWood
11Millennium ForceSteel
12Top Thrill DragsterSteel
13Twisted TimbersSteel
14Iron RattlerSteel
15New Texas GiantSteel
16GoliathSteel
17Storm RunnerSteel
18TatsuSteel
19AlpengeistSteel
20Steel CurtainSteel

... breaks down in a similar manner of being super steel coaster heavy:

Screen Shot 2021-04-22 at 12.03.49 AM.jpg
But like others, I also have ridden far more steel coasters than wooden, nearly 1 wooden coaster for every 3 steel coasters:

Screen Shot 2021-04-22 at 12.15.55 AM.jpg
With that run-up (and sticking to the numbers), the moment of truth then lies in a simple question; on average, how do I rank wooden coasters versus steel?

Well, let's see both how I rank the top 20, and overall coasters - wood to steel (lower number = better):

Top 20 Roller Coasters
TypeAVERAGE of Rank
Steel11.29411765
Wood6

Overall Roller Coasters
TypeAVERAGE of Rank
Steel103.6904762
Wood107.0188679

While I am not surprised at the Top 20 coasters having wooden coasters with a higher ranking, definitely surprised at just how close steel and wood stack up on average overall ranking.

Steel is still the overall pick, but there's definitely a hand full of wooden gems I'd be encouraged to change my mind for.
 

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HeartlineCoaster

Giga Poster
Wasn't satisfied with my wishy washy wordy answer so have some numbers.

Total count - 77 wood (7.46%) | Top 10% - 26 wood (25.24%) | Top 25 - 8 wood (32%) | Top 10 - 3 wood (30%)

Wood is clearly punching above its weight for how many I've ridden, but as we've established there's a lot of rubbish steel bloating those numbers and I have to turn to my list of 'significants and uniques'.

Significants and uniques (379) - 67 wood (17.69%)

51131068337_d70ed55e69_o.png


Surprised a whole ten dropped off there for being either clones (those damn Jungle Trailblazers) or small (Tomahawk?). Not enough to sway the evidence though, removing all the +1s in the world still shows that wood does better than it should amongst all of my top ratings for how many there are.

Final check is my average scoring for those 379 then
Steel = 11.69/20
Wood = 13/20

And there we have it. I prefer wood, on average.
I think prevalence is still a factor though, there's just more opportunity for duds with there being so many more steels out there and they offset all the amazing ones.
I also can't ignore that the absolute best is steel for me. For now.
 
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