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Steel Frame options?

bobbydigitalbobbydigital Posts: 254
edited October 2017 in MTB buying advice
I like to build mountain bikes and wanted to build up something using a steel frame.

From what I've read, which is not a lot, average aluminium hardtail medium sized 1.8kg, steel frame I saw was 2.7kg, so looking at a 1 kg difference in weight.

What are peoples thoughts on steel frame mtb's?

Who makes steel frames for mtbs? so Far I've seen On-One, DMR and Cotic.

I want it to have the lugs on the rear so I can use disc brakes and apart from extra weight, any disadvantages for steel? (Rust I guess)


  • fat daddyfat daddy Posts: 2,605
    I got a Commencal Meta HT I have just finished building ..... its about 1kg lighter than the same components on the full suss aluminium 5.20 frame

    Its about 1kg heavier than the Alu version

    the weight is completely unnoticeable when you are rolling around on massive chunky rubber ... when I ride I am righting the magic marys .. perhaps i I stuck a lightweight XC tyre on it I would notice the weight, but the bottle neck is the astounding grip of big arsed rubber
  • The RookieThe Rookie Posts: 27,748
    What's the budget, the Cotic frames are very nice and come in just over the 2Kg mark and undercut the heaviest (cheap bike) aluminium frames such as the Trek 4000 series or the entry Giants which are typically about 2.1-2.2Kg, mid quality alloy frames will be down to about 1.8Kg, the best around 1.5Kg, Scandium alloyed frames could be down at 1.2Kg but the cost/benefit of those has been surpassed by Carbon frames now.

    On-one are cheaper, more 'agricultural' and come in quite a lot heavier.

    Lots and lots of steel options, Ragley, BFe, Evil, Surley, Charge, Stanton etc.etc.

    Why steel, steel frames are all different in the same way alloy frames are all different, you won't get the supposed ride quality benefit steel sometimes gives on a 456 for example!

    As a weight weenie steel isn't really on the radar but I'd consider a Cotic - my full suss frame is 2.1Kg before adding the shock and 2.35 with the shock.
  • veronese68veronese68 Posts: 24,644 Lives Here
    Very happy with my Cotic, but I've not had any other recent steel mountain bikes to compare it to. A colleague had a Pipedream which he liked but never rode. Couldn't sell it so ended up stripping it and selling the components.
    As Rookie says there are lots of options out there, budget is the limiting factor.
  • Okay I will keep my eye out.

    Are the DMR frames quite poor, I've seen a few and they only want £100, which would be fine as I really just want to test out a steel MTB before spending bigger bucks on a frame.

    It's good to know a few more names, makes things a lot easier for me.

    I would be fitting x9 or xt stuff so that would I hope keep some weight off, got some rubber queen tyres doing censored all so maybe they will be good for a steely.
  • cooldadcooldad Posts: 32,601
    It's no use testing one steel frame to see if you want another. they will all ride differently.

    Steel frames can vary from nasty heavy gas pipe frames through tough chunky full on gnar bikes to lightweight butted top end steels, like Reynolds 531 and better, or Columbus Max.

    They will all feel very different.

    I have two identical looking Konas (old 1995/6), one is a Hahanna I use for occasional commuting with basic steel, the other a top end Explosif with Columbus Max OR. Apart from being significantly lighter, it feels like a totally different bike. It zings instead of thudding. The geometries are identical.
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  • Is there some reason a lot of the frames are size small that I'm seeing for steels?

    When looking at allu frames you're pretty much spoilt for choice in the medium sizes.

    I like the look of the Ragley Piglet.
  • On ebay, yes looking used. Mainly smalls thus far but could be just timing.
  • I'm only 170cm with 30 inseam so might actually be okay on a 16" so isn't all bad I guess.

    Are the inbred frames okay, I see you've said on one are less refined, but the marketing of "Quality double butted DN6 4130 chromoly steel frame" doesn't sound to shabby.
  • The RookieThe Rookie Posts: 27,748
    You sound ideal for a 16" frame to be honest.

    The Inbred is OK, it rides a lot smoother than the 456, its not a bad material but it's still a long way from say a Cotic Solaris or Soul or a Ragley Piglet, or any of the Stantons. Cromoly is better than the 'hi-tensile' that shitty bikes are made from, but not up with Reynolds/Columbus tubing.
  • I have a Cotic Solairs and it's really nice to ride,I only use it for XC stuff and trail centres now and again,if I was looking at a trail steel hard tail new it would one of the new Pace bikes 127 or 129
  • I've bought a Cotic Soul 853 frame, most I've spent on a frame, fingers crossed.
  • The Rookie wrote:
    Cromoly is better than the 'hi-tensile' that sh!tty bikes are made from, but not up with Reynolds/Columbus tubing.

    Cromoly 4130 is a grade of steel developed for the aircraft industry and used by lots of steel tube manufacturers. it is exactly the same material as used in the reynolds 520 tubing set and lots of other named manufacturers sets too . Its a brilliant material for making bikes . There are better tubing sets with slightly differant alloys or heat treated /air cooled etc but a good double or triple butted cromoly 4130 frame is still a great option that will ride brilliantly even if its not from a named steel brand like reynolds ,Columbus etc and will be cheaper as your not paying a premium for their name. The latest cotic BFE only has a reynolds 853 downtube the rest of the frame is heat treated cromoly 4130.

    The other big differance is some of the boutique brands frames are hand built/welded in the uk where as other brands design the frame here but the frames are handbuilt/welded in Taiwan . There is nothing wrong with a frame being welded by hand in Taiwan the quality can be just as good but its much cheaper labour so therefore can be reflected in the price. You will pay a premium for a frame designed and built in the UK.
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