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Old steel bikes - over-rated...

secretsamsecretsam Posts: 4,621
edited October 2013 in The cake stop
Unreal, have just seen some of the ads in the classifieds for old steel frames

People describing an old Raleigh with 501 main tubes as some sort of work of art

It's the 1980s equivalent of an Airlite 300 or something, FFS...

THE RULE IS: unless it's full 531/Columbus SL/etc (or better), it's just cheap steel and ergo nothing special

Why do people assume that all steel is good steel?

Discuss.

It's just a hill. Get over it.
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Posts

  • davieseedaviesee Posts: 6,473
    People selling big it up hoping for a mug to take the bait.

    Simples.
    None of the above should be taken seriously, and certainly not personally.
  • Is it for the same reason that;
    vinyl sounds better than CDs,
    paper books are a better read than ebooks,
    my 1976 mini clubman (my first car, which I bought in 1982) was the best car I ever drove,

    none of which are technically true, but are none-the-less definitely the case?
  • A good steel frame (i.e. decent tubes [531 as the reference standard here], cast lugs, put together by someone who knows what he is doing) rides better than anything else. Sadly, there are many steel frames out there which are anything but good. Like cheap aluminium frames, a cheap steel frame rides like a lump of metal. But, as with so many other things, fashion dictates and right now it dictates that the cognescenti must have at least 1 steel frame in their collection, even if it is of dubious pedigree. To most of us, it makes as much sense as the choice by some photographers to use film.
  • secretsam wrote:
    Unreal, have just seen some of the ads in the classifieds for old steel frames

    People describing an old Raleigh with 501 main tubes as some sort of work of art

    It's the 1980s equivalent of an Airlite 300 or something, FFS...

    THE RULE IS: unless it's full 531/Columbus SL/etc (or better), it's just cheap steel and ergo nothing special

    Why do people assume that all steel is good steel?

    Discuss.

    This sort of thing is pretty common on eBay. Helps lure in the hipsters looking for their next fixie conversion project I guess. Then again my latest road frame (RSP team issue 853, circa 1998) was an ex-singlespeed project that I "rescued" for a measly 40-odd quid. :)

    David
    "It is not enough merely to win; others must lose." - Gore Vidal
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 16,015
    secretsam wrote:
    Why do people assume that all steel is good steel?

    Discuss.

    Do they? What would you expect someone selling a 501 frame to say? "OK frame, quite nice but nothing special. Any money you put into it you won't get back" etc etc; truthful maybe but hardly encouraging to the bidders! Bigging up average frames (and, actually, there's nowt wrong with 501 or 531 main tubes frames) if you are selling them is common sense but you don't have to believe it. It gets a bit sillier when people try to big up Peugeot Carbolite frames......

    Incidentally, a 501 framed bike (btw, all 501 frames are main tubes only as Reynolds never made 501 stays) are rather more than an 80s equivalent of an Airlite 300. 501 would be the cheapest quality frame in the range. Above it you'd only expect 531 main tubes and full 531 frames so they were certainly have been at the upper end of the range.
    Faster than a tent.......
  • secretsamsecretsam Posts: 4,621
    Then again my latest road frame (RSP team issue 853, circa 1998) was an ex-singlespeed project that I "rescued" for a measly 40-odd quid. :)

    David

    Sweeeeeeet - photos?

    It's just a hill. Get over it.
  • mpattsmpatts Posts: 1,002
    I have 2 steel frames in the stable, one is a high tensile steel job, which weighs about the same as a liner, and handles similar. Has the same zing and pep as one too.

    The other is built in Reynolds 853, and makes me weep with joy a little when I ride it.
    Insert bike here:
  • ProssPross Posts: 25,459
    I'm thinking of selling my old steel framed (653) bike as I don't use it very often and hopefully I can get a decent amount for it with this trend for 'retro' steel frames.
  • YslenYslen Posts: 55
    No Sweat wrote:
    vinyl sounds better than CDs

    That one actually is true, as these days there's a seperate master for vinyl releases which is generally higher quality than that sold on CD or compressed into MP3s etc.

    /offtopic
  • secretsam wrote:
    Then again my latest road frame (RSP team issue 853, circa 1998) was an ex-singlespeed project that I "rescued" for a measly 40-odd quid. :)

    David

    Sweeeeeeet - photos?

    I've attached a not-very-good one (I can build bikes a lot better than I can photograph them!!). Although the frame was cheap, there were lots of hidden costs - travelling up to London to collect the thing, getting it powder coated, new stem (as I was reverting to a quill set-up), new decals/tape/bottle cages, etc., etc. Still cheaper than a new 853 frame though!



    David
    "It is not enough merely to win; others must lose." - Gore Vidal
  • secretsamsecretsam Posts: 4,621
    @DavidBelcher: quill stems are utter shi'ite, do what I did and get a converter for a few quid (mine came from Edinburgh bikes) and use a modern stem.

    Ironically, given your stem choice, you went STI!!! I've kept D/T levers (although gone indexed) - which has honestly proved to be a PITA...

    I too powder coated, locally, not the greatest finish but at least the frame is now covered against the elements...mine's 531, BTW

    It's just a hill. Get over it.
  • 47p247p2 Posts: 329
    Steel frames are much more forgiving than aluminium or carbon, try one on a rough section of road and the difference is amazing. I've a gaspipe Carbolite 103 frame and a Reynolds 853 frame and the gaspipe is the best frame for comfort. Saying that I would hate to do 100 miles around here on it as it's heavy therefore not the best for climbing. Aluminium is harsh compared to steel but no where near as harsh as carbon and even though I enjoy modern frames the gaspipe will always be my favourite ride
  • secretsam wrote:
    @DavidBelcher: quill stems are utter shi'ite, do what I did and get a converter for a few quid (mine came from Edinburgh bikes) and use a modern stem.

    Ironically, given your stem choice, you went STI!!! I've kept D/T levers (although gone indexed) - which has honestly proved to be a PITA...

    I too powder coated, locally, not the greatest finish but at least the frame is now covered against the elements...mine's 531, BTW

    Never had any problems with quill stems myself - Planet X were selling 3TTT Status ones NOS at a nice price and it fitted the bill. Almost all of the other components are the ones off the previous road frame; I do a fair few time trials on it as training for the CX season so it's not purely a retro piece built to look nice, hence the Ergo levers. My last bike (also steel) had a carbon fork/Ahead set up but found it a bit light at the front end and a twitchy ride hence the move back to a steel fork for stability; I could have just stuck a steel fork on the old bike but the RSP was too good a bargain to ignore. Thanks to modern tubing and TIG-welded construction there's no weight penalty; it may even be lighter than my previous machine.

    David
    "It is not enough merely to win; others must lose." - Gore Vidal
  • laurentianlaurentian Posts: 1,773
    Perhaps considered Numpty questions but:

    Does a higher number (eg 583 vs 501) mean better quality steel?
    Does this numbering system only apply to steel tubes?
    What, specifically, does the number refer to?

    ta
    Wilier Izoard XP
  • secretsamsecretsam Posts: 4,621
    laurentian wrote:
    Perhaps considered Numpty questions but:

    Does a higher number (eg 583 vs 501) mean better quality steel?
    Does this numbering system only apply to steel tubes?
    What, specifically, does the number refer to?

    ta

    Good question

    It was (and I may be mis-informed) a labelling system used by Reynolds, which in the case of seminal "531" referred to the ratios of metals in the tubing.

    Subsequently, Reynolds expanded their range, with IIRC 753 being the next tubing - hyper expensive at the time, and a total 'mare to work with.

    Generally, you're right - for Reynolds tubes, higher number = higher quality. Top of the tree now is 953, about which there are threads on the Road Bike pics forum...

    Other manufacturers - Columbus, Tange, Ishiwata - tended not to use numerical hierarchies for their tubes (although Ishiwata had one called "0245", IIRC). Nowadays, it's mostly called "Cro-Mo" (generic) or the name. Makes include True Temper, Dedacciai (sp?), Tange, etc.

    It's just a hill. Get over it.
  • ProssPross Posts: 25,459
    Why did you find going for indexed DT shifters a pain? I switched my old 7 speed to 9 speed really easily despite being a numpty with a spanner. Bought a 10 speed cassette, ditched the smallest sprocket, fitted Dura Ace 10 speed shifters and a new Tiagra rear mech (only as I'd broken the original Ultegra 600 mech), blocked off the finally movement on the mech, changed the cables and within 2 hours I had a fully indexed 9 speed system on an old 7 speed bike. Kept the quill stem too, they look so much nicer and never had a problem with one. If I keep the bike I'm going to get it re-sprayed at some point though.
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 16,015
    secretsam wrote:
    @DavidBelcher: quill stems are utter shi'ite, do what I did and get a converter for a few quid (mine came from Edinburgh bikes) and use a modern stem.

    I think the only problem with quill stems is ingress of water - which isn't a problem on my bikes as I don't leave them outside. Otherwise, they are great. You can adjust the height in seconds if your back suffers at all and, tbh, A-head stems look terrible! They have none of the elegance of a well sculpted quill!

    Indexing was a thing before its time for DT shifters I think. Obviously essential for STi shifters, for DT shifters it just needlessly complicates things. There is something great about needing only to get the cable tension and limit screws set for perfect gear operation. Yesterday I converted my Raleigh Randonneur (Raleigh Lightweight Division - effectively much the same source as David Belchers frame) from 6 to 7 speed. This involved prising the rear dropouts apart to squeeze the rear wheel in and adjusting the limit screw so that the rear mech could reach the largest sprocket. That was it - nothing else to do. No expensive shifter purchasing, no messing with indexing. A five minute job!
    Faster than a tent.......
  • kajjalkajjal Posts: 3,380
    I have an old Orange MTB which has a chromo steel frame. It is much smoother on road than similar aluminium framed bikes.
  • Rolf F wrote:
    secretsam wrote:
    @DavidBelcher: quill stems are utter shi'ite, do what I did and get a converter for a few quid (mine came from Edinburgh bikes) and use a modern stem.

    I think the only problem with quill stems is ingress of water - which isn't a problem on my bikes as I don't leave them outside. Otherwise, they are great. You can adjust the height in seconds if your back suffers at all

    My bike usually lives in the kitchen so no rain issues there :). One of the reasons for fitting a quill was the ability to tinker with the bar height easily - I don't have any back problems but even so a good position is all important. And you're right - they look a hell of a lot better. My CX bike has a threadless ITM Eclypse stem which is one of the better Ahead offerings and uber-shiny to boot, still not quite as classy as the quill version though (which is what my touring bike has).

    David
    "It is not enough merely to win; others must lose." - Gore Vidal
  • laurentianlaurentian Posts: 1,773
    secretsam wrote:
    laurentian wrote:
    Perhaps considered Numpty questions but:

    Does a higher number (eg 583 vs 501) mean better quality steel?
    Does this numbering system only apply to steel tubes?
    What, specifically, does the number refer to?

    ta

    Good question

    It was (and I may be mis-informed) a labelling system used by Reynolds, which in the case of seminal "531" referred to the ratios of metals in the tubing.

    Subsequently, Reynolds expanded their range, with IIRC 753 being the next tubing - hyper expensive at the time, and a total 'mare to work with.

    Generally, you're right - for Reynolds tubes, higher number = higher quality. Top of the tree now is 953, about which there are threads on the Road Bike pics forum...

    Other manufacturers - Columbus, Tange, Ishiwata - tended not to use numerical hierarchies for their tubes (although Ishiwata had one called "0245", IIRC). Nowadays, it's mostly called "Cro-Mo" (generic) or the name. Makes include True Temper, Dedacciai (sp?), Tange, etc.

    Thanks for that - I'm now a couple of degrees wiser!
    Wilier Izoard XP
  • ProssPross Posts: 25,459
    Here's mine
    2012-02-21152706-1.jpg

    It was a Ribble (Dedaccai??) 653 originally with Ultegra 600 group and Mach 2CD rims, Cinelli bars stem and seat post and Rolls saddle. I have replaced the front mech to an old Campag Chorus I had lying around after breaking the original in a crash and I have a Veloce chainset after damaging the original trying to remove seized bolts. I also switched the rear mech to a Tiagra and front changers to get 9 speed with indexing. Everything else is original.

    Here it is in its first year before the respray (purple was all the rage in about '94) on my way to a 25 mile PB that still stands despite the oversize jersey!

    mark.jpg
  • RideOnTimeRideOnTime Posts: 4,712
    Ribble is a nice bike...
  • secretsamsecretsam Posts: 4,621
    Right.

    The saga continues.

    Have taken my old 531 to my LBS and they say that cold-setting the frame will just end up in it being damaged, apparently Bob Jackson gave this advice as well.

    So in order for it to work with modern components, it's time to muck about with the rear wheel. So another £100. And a set of wheels which will be useless for anything else.

    You know what? I wish I'd never bothered, and had just sold the damn thing and bought something modern.

    Old steel? Over-rated.

    It's just a hill. Get over it.
  • morstarmorstar Posts: 3,896
    I used my old 531 bike for a couple of years until buying a carbon in 2010.
    Just getting decent gear ratios saw nearly £100 buying assorted NOS cassettes. Local shop was happy to build wheels for 126mm but the costs start mounting.
    It does need a respray too.
    Thing is, it's a serviceable and decent bike. I could ride it as is without spending another penny on it beyond consumables but it would only last a year or two. Alternatively, I could make it as good as possible but it costs way more than makes economical sense. It is something I will maybe do when I have spare cash.
  • davieseedaviesee Posts: 6,473
    Expectations - Over-rated.
    None of the above should be taken seriously, and certainly not personally.
  • secretsamsecretsam Posts: 4,621
    daviesee wrote:
    Expectations - Over-rated.

    Game, set and match.

    I hereby apply to join the far-from-exclusive-club of "Idiots who've spent a lot of money needlessly pursuing their long-lost cycling youth"

    It's just a hill. Get over it.
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 16,015
    secretsam wrote:
    Right.

    The saga continues.

    Have taken my old 531 to my LBS and they say that cold-setting the frame will just end up in it being damaged, apparently Bob Jackson gave this advice as well.

    So in order for it to work with modern components, it's time to muck about with the rear wheel. So another £100. And a set of wheels which will be useless for anything else.

    You know what? I wish I'd never bothered, and had just sold the damn thing and bought something modern.

    Old steel? Over-rated.

    I converted my Raleigh Randonneur from 6 to 7 speed. It involved easing the 7 speed rear wheel in between the droputs which have to move out by about 3mm. Mildly irritating when having to take the wheel out but that was it aside from adjusting the rear mech limit screw. Nothing more to it than that. How much to fund going from 10 to 11 speed (not that there would be any point to that)?

    Looking forward to riding it to York next week - it's like the bicycle equivalent of a Rolls Royce lovely smooth ride and a silent gear train. Beautiful bike.
    morstar wrote:
    I used my old 531 bike for a couple of years until buying a carbon in 2010.
    Just getting decent gear ratios saw nearly £100 buying assorted NOS cassettes. Local shop was happy to build wheels for 126mm but the costs start mounting.

    But not more than the cost of a normal wheel surely? A standard 130mm hub will fit with a reduced nds spacer. You'd just dish it slightly differently.
    Faster than a tent.......
  • kajjalkajjal Posts: 3,380
    secretsam wrote:
    daviesee wrote:
    Expectations - Over-rated.

    Game, set and match.

    I hereby apply to join the far-from-exclusive-club of "Idiots who've spent a lot of money needlessly pursuing their long-lost cycling youth"

    :D , luckily I stopped and bought a new bike. My old steel framed one is a still a good bike but I am not spending £100's to bring it up to spec when a new bike costs not a great deal more. It may become a project at some point to do bit by bit.
  • I've got a Bob Jackson from 1985 in Reynolds 531c. It's currently being resprayed by Kevin Winter in Co.Durham. I've wanted it done for ages but up until now I've been thwarted by Bob Jackson being uncooperative about supplying copies of the original decals. Kevin has sorted that out so it's due back to me in November.

    I'm happy with the respray price but the extortionate cost of buying old Campag bits had me stumped for a while. Luckily I spotted a second hand bike for sale in a bike shop in France that had everything I needed - it cost me £85. I think the seller was disappointed that I didn't even haggle.

    Got to admit that restoring the bike is just about nostalgia and nothing to do with it being a fantastic ride. Just wish I could get my body back to it's 1985 shape too.
  • heavymentalheavymental Posts: 2,010
    I decided a while ago that rather than mess about with an old frame I'd just get one of those ti frames direct from China and get it sprayed in the retro design of my choice. I know it defeats the object for some people but if you just want a metal frame that looks cool then it's an alternative worth considering.

    Not that I have got around to doing this yet...

    Edit: Also I have no idea how steel compares to Ti in feel.
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