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Steel frames.

OnanOnan Posts: 321
edited November 2008 in Road beginners
So why don't they make em no more?

Pretty much every source I've come accross, from websites about cycling, to my road bike maintenance book keeps telling me how good steel is. Aparently, with the modern technology, you can get as good of a weight range with steel frames as you need, from entry level, through to top end bikes, with modern steel frames coming in under 18lbs on a complete bike

I realise you can probably make an aluminium frame lighter for less money, or to put it another way, a cheapo alu mframe will be lighter than a cheapo steel frame, but that seems to be the only motivation. You'd think more people would be making good quality steel frames.

Is it just another fashion thing? The perception in cycling culture is steel frame bad, carbon frame good?

Lots of people in the cycling world seem to have bad things to say about carbon too. Namely that the costs outweigh the benefits.

Just thought I'd sound out the opinions of people on here again, and hopefully get a debate going.

:wink:
Drink poison. Wrestle snakes.
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Posts

  • Know what you mean, having just had my traditional steel road bike written off when a car ran into me recently, I've had incredible problems finding a steel replacement.

    Steel's pretty much the choice for touring bike's, and there's still plenty of specialist frame builders about but not many off the peg bikes that's for sure.

    As you say it's volume, a cheapo alu frame will be lighter than a cheapo steel frame. I still find a steel frame more comfortable.
  • I think few people have a clue what riding a modern lightweight steel racing bike is like. Think silky smooth, scalpel sharp and reassuringly planted and you're only part way there.

    Weight wise, a steel frame is going to add up to 450g (yes, a whole pound) to the total all up weight of a lightweight racer: For a 56 cm build, a Reynolds 953 frame comes in at about 1.1kg and Deda 16.5 comes in at about 1.3kg.

    Cost wise, a top end custom built steel frame (inc. forks) comes in somewhere between £700 and £1500 depending on material, builder and finish, giving a fully built up bike cost of £1-£3k depending on options chosen.

    So, ride wise and price wise steel is incredibly competitive with carbon.

    It's also just a bit more robust. But then again, it is steel........
    Winter warhorse: Giant Peloton 8400 ('99 vintage)
    Couldn't resist: Spez. Singlecross Fixie ('08)
    Summer cool: Custom Rourke, Deda 16.5 ('08)
  • I have a steel tourer from Orbit cycles-don't they still make steel frames? I'm not a great fan of aluminium as its rather harsh and the frames will break if used hard. Carbon is far nicer to ride than any other frame materials, in my humble opinion, and so incredibly quick compared to a heavy steal bike.
  • edhornbyedhornby Posts: 1,780
    Genesis make steel framed bikes don't they ???

    http://www.genesisbikes.co.uk/series/croix_de_fer

    the other option is to get a second hand frame

    but it's true that volume taiwanese manufacturers win out with alu frames.... the issue of raw material prices may also be a factor, steel is in high demand at the moment, high grade stuff like Reynolds 853 is surely pricy?
    "I get paid to make other people suffer on my wheel, how good is that"
    --Jens Voight
  • I think the problem is mostly cost, cheap steel is horrible, heavy and bends. Cheap alloy is not great but usually lighter and stiffer which probably wins people over at the budget end of the market.

    Good steel can compete with the best out there. Richard Sachs has a seven year waiting list for his frames. Expect to pay good money for good steel.

    That said I've got a steel hack bike (an early 90s 531 Ribble) which I really like as it rides several pounds lighter than the scales suggest. It flexes like cooked pasta but the bonus is it's repairable as I've cracked the lugs twice.
  • OnanOnan Posts: 321
    I was looking at getting a second hand steel frame from ebay for my first road bike, but I decided I don 't know enough about bikes yet to risk it. That's definitely what I want to do for my next bike though. Those old steel frames just look so much prettier too, with their narrow tubes, than big oversized tubing on carbon or alu bikes.
    Drink poison. Wrestle snakes.
  • alfabluealfablue Posts: 8,497
    I have a 1997 Dawes Audax with a British built Reynolds 531c (531c (c for competition) tubes are thinner than the 531ST (super tourist) tubes on the Galaxy) frame (one of the last they made), it is so comfy its like a favourite armchair!
  • dennisndennisn Posts: 10,601
    I thought they were still out there? Maybe not as common as they used to be but if I'm
    not mistaken Gios, Colnago, and a few others still make a lugged steel frame. You don't see them too often in shops or online catalogs but they are out there. They have fell out of favor in recent years due to carbon, titanium, and aluminum being lower in weight.
    www.excelsports.com sells a really nice Gios.

    Dennis Noward
  • dennisndennisn Posts: 10,601
    I thought they were still out there? Maybe not as common as they used to be but if I'm
    not mistaken Gios, Colnago, and a few others still make a lugged steel frame. You don't see them too often in shops or online catalogs but they are out there. They have fell out of favor in recent years due to carbon, titanium, and aluminum being lower in weight.
    www.excelsports.com sells a really nice Gios.

    Dennis Noward
  • alfabluealfablue Posts: 8,497
    Condor make them (the Acciaio is a race bike) , Hewitt, Thorn (tourers and audax), Surly, Dawes (Audax and tourers).
  • IIRC Bob Jackson Cycles are still building traditional UK built in Leeds steel frames. Turn around is approx 6 month due to the high work load.
  • Slow DowncpSlow Downcp Posts: 3,041
    How about Mercian? I looked not long back and they had a few very good deals.
    Carlsberg don't make cycle clothing, but if they did it would probably still not be as good as Assos
  • Tom ButcherTom Butcher Posts: 3,830
    Yes Mercian always have some in stock as well as custom building. Enigma do a steel frame. As mentioned COlnago do and DeRosa did a couple last time I looked. Not sure if there is such a choice at the 300-400 for a frameset level - I think you generally are buying a niche product with steel race frames nowadays and pay a premium for that.

    Have a look at Clements range of Simoncinis - they might be the sort of thing.

    it's a hard life if you don't weaken.
  • Brian Rourke in Stoke on Trent does some lovely steel frames.

    I quite fancy one of his frames for next summers sportives....and by summer I mean the two weeks in June when the rain falls just a little easier!!
    He who dies with the most toys wins!
  • dennisndennisn Posts: 10,601
    Yes Mercian always have some in stock as well as custom building. Enigma do a steel frame. As mentioned COlnago do and DeRosa did a couple last time I looked. Not sure if there is such a choice at the 300-400 for a frameset level - I think you generally are buying a niche product with steel race frames nowadays and pay a premium for that.

    Have a look at Clements range of Simoncinis - they might be the sort of thing.

    You may be right about steel being a niche product these days. Although it would seem that top line lugged steel(from name makers) is still less expensive than top or even some mid line aluminum, carbon, and titanium. My Gios Compact Pro still sells for less than most
    other materials. Now custom builders, that's another story altogether.

    Dennis Noward
  • W5454W5454 Posts: 133
    WOODRUP - Leeds :D
  • OnanOnan Posts: 321
    I suppose volume is everything when it comes to the price of the final product. There probably isn't enough demand to get quality steel frames at an entry level price range. Whereas aluminium ones get knocked up in the hundreds of thousands in taiwan.
    Drink poison. Wrestle snakes.
  • dennisndennisn Posts: 10,601
    Onan wrote:
    I suppose volume is everything when it comes to the price of the final product. There probably isn't enough demand to get quality steel frames at an entry level price range. Whereas aluminium ones get knocked up in the hundreds of thousands in taiwan.

    There is a conspiracy theory that all the frames in the world are made in one factory
    in Taiwan. Just labeled differently. Who can say for sure? :wink::wink:

    Dennis Noward
  • octavoctav Posts: 50
    This is my current bike : A Colnago Master ( I think it is made in '88)


    photo0017lu3.th.jpg

    It has only Campy on it(in the picture the Crank is Shimano Ultegra but I have swapped for an Alu compact Centaur).

    My current dilema is that I want a lighter bike. I found a Trek Madone 5.2 at a nice price but I don't know what to do . Does the 3-4 pounds make such a difference. My bike has 10 kg and the Trek 8 kg(or 7,8kg).

    I want also to keep the Colnago because it has a special charm :D It is the bike on which I started to ride on the more serious climbs.
  • BUICKBUICK Posts: 362
    +1 Bob Jackson - have a look on the website. You can go off the peg or fully custom
    '07 Langster (dropped one tooth from standard gearing)
    '07 Tricross Sport with rack and guards
    STUNNING custom 953 Bob Jackson *sigh*
  • Buick: you lucky person: 953 on the way......................

    I had a play with a Rourke 953 recently and it is a truly remarkable bit of kit. Unfortunately a bit beyond my budget, so am having Deda 16.5 instead.

    What is Jackson charging for the blessed 953 then? Both arms and both legs or just one of each?
    Winter warhorse: Giant Peloton 8400 ('99 vintage)
    Couldn't resist: Spez. Singlecross Fixie ('08)
    Summer cool: Custom Rourke, Deda 16.5 ('08)
  • giant_mangiant_man Posts: 6,878
    I've always fancied a Colnago master x light but I don't know what the steel used ie. DT15 V tubing feels like compared to something like 853 or 953 Reynolds tubing.
  • What is all this nonsense about not being able to get steel frames!

    there are plenty about if you know where to look, on-one and planet-x both do very good entry level steel, they're not 953 light but they're very nice. I've got a steel hack bike (pompino singlespeed that i'm hoping to take fixed) and a steel mountainbike (inbred 456) I really do just prefer the way they ride to the ali frames i've ridden and I can't afford Ti or CF atm.
  • octavoctav Posts: 50
    I don't know exactly what steel. It's a Cr-Mo steel with Columbus tubing.I can say that is a very confortable steel and also very stiff on the sprints. It is stiffer than my training partner's Pinarello FP6.
  • BUICKBUICK Posts: 362
    Hey PhillipTom - it all depends on the spec you want. In my case I decided to opt for a reputedly 'reliable' groupset rather than a top end superlight gruppo - likewise I've got some 'good' wheels (an improvement on what I'm riding on at the moment) but nowhere near top end. I figure with such a good and well fitting frame there is going to be plenty of time to upgrade :D

    I think the total cost is somewhere around about the £1800 mark. I had been looking at getting a race bike and had been looking at around that cost anyway (at bikes like the focus cayo expert and an alu bike from Felt at about the same cost) but I've always admired the look of a more traditionally built bike and I like the ethics of providing work for builders in this country and taking advantage of skills that have been learned and earned over lifetimes and that could be lost if everyone bought Taiwanese. It's also been an advantage for me to go for a custom build as I have slightly 'odd' proportions: short legs and a long body!

    As I think somebody else mentioned, 'steel' hasn't stayed the same - there have been advances, so if you really wanted to you can go for a very modern style of bike, with shaped tubing and modern geometry - or go traditional and lugged - without there being the enormous weight penalties that some people seem to expect.
    '07 Langster (dropped one tooth from standard gearing)
    '07 Tricross Sport with rack and guards
    STUNNING custom 953 Bob Jackson *sigh*
  • Buick,

    Quite agree: my Deda 16.5 will have "Rourke" all over it when it arrives. Strums fingers.......

    Now is the time to get everyone back on home built bikes. Mind you, could be a bit of a queue.........
    Winter warhorse: Giant Peloton 8400 ('99 vintage)
    Couldn't resist: Spez. Singlecross Fixie ('08)
    Summer cool: Custom Rourke, Deda 16.5 ('08)
  • BUICKBUICK Posts: 362
    You are right about the queue! But with enough demand hopefully more people would be interested in learning the skills. I think it's scary to think that there may come a day when there are no more bikes built in England because of the competition from offshore production - it doesn't look like an attractive prospect for an apprenticeship, despite the considerable wait you may have for a custom steel bike (shows there is plenty of interest in getting one still)
    '07 Langster (dropped one tooth from standard gearing)
    '07 Tricross Sport with rack and guards
    STUNNING custom 953 Bob Jackson *sigh*
  • Salsa does some very lovely bikes (I have a salsa 29er and have had several before).
    I'm saving to buy http://www.salsacycles.com/archive/primero.html
    It is possibly the most beautiful bike on the planet. 853 steel, weighing in (with Roval wheels, S-Works bar and stem, bottle cages, Look Keo pedals and full SRAM Rival kit) at just under 8kg or 17.6lbs.
    At £1000 for the frame alone, I'm doubting if I can get that and not sell my 29er.
    I've had a full race carbon bike, and I ride a alu frame at the mo. The carbon was lovely, like riding on carpet compared to alu. I just want a nice steel frame now.
    Steel frames are only good if you get properly made frames, and they cost money. :cry:
    jedster wrote:
    Just off to contemplate my own mortality and inevitable descent into decrepedness.
    FCN 3 or 4 on road depending on clothing
    FCN 8 off road because I'm too old to go racing around.
  • JWSurreyJWSurrey Posts: 1,173
    One more for the list of brands: Pinarello - Although they seem to have closed their European manufacturing, I have seen a few of their steel frames kicking around - Dauphin have at least two in stock.

    Me? I'm riding a steel Condor made from Deda. tubes. Deda do 3 types - a classic diameter tube, then two other grades, 16.5 being the better of the two... condor retailing bikes in all 3.
  • I've just bought my first carbon bike after 14 years of riding a 653 steel racing frame. I think the differences between them are greatly exaggerated.

    I dont believe that the vertical deflection of either material contributes much to comfort. Compared to tyre, bar tape and saddle choice I think frame material is pretty irrelevant to comfort.
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