Custom Steel or good titanium

richiegwy
richiegwy Posts: 171
edited February 2019 in Road buying advice
Thinking of building a new road machine for general good days in the saddle. I have the race bike for fast stuff
I think I would like to go metal and have narrowed it down to 2 options; custom steel or good titanium

Custom steel option is Stelbel Rodano with camp mechanical group (disc or rim)
I also like the look of Reillys titanium frames (gradient or spectre) with shimano mech or di2

I'm after something reasonably comfy for a few hours in there saddle but can be a bit of fun when I want it. I like the finish and style of the stengel bikes but the thought of titanium is very appealing.

Both frames are relatively similar in price

Have heard horror stories of titanium welds breaking but not sure if they are exaggerated
Any experience of either or thoughts on which way to go?

Comments

  • imposter2.0
    imposter2.0 Posts: 12,028
    Steel in 953 or equivalent would be my choice, rather than ti..
  • shortfall
    shortfall Posts: 3,288
    I have a titanium bike (which I love) but I'm led to believe that modern steel frames can now be made to be just as light and strong as ti. I wouldn't pay too much attention to the horror stories about titanium welds failing, many of these tend to be "friend of a friend" stories or internet tropes with little in the way of substance. I think it's trickier to weld than steel but if you buy from a reputable company you should be fine. With a good example!e in either metal the chances are you'll be getting a bike for life.
  • Tyresome
    Tyresome Posts: 113
    Steel is real yeah.
  • Tyresome
    Tyresome Posts: 113
    Shortfall wrote:
    I have a titanium bike (which I love) but I'm led to believe that modern steel frames can now be made to be just as light and strong as ti. I wouldn't pay too much attention to the horror stories about titanium welds failing, many of these tend to be "friend of a friend" stories or internet tropes with little in the way of substance. I think it's trickier to weld than steel but if you buy from a reputable company you should be fine. With a good example!e in either metal the chances are you'll be getting a bike for life.


    mde5kY5.jpg

    iiOuGOz.jpg

    1JI4dTy.jpg

    “Internet trope” you say?
  • shortfall
    shortfall Posts: 3,288
    I can show you loads of pictures of cracked steel, aluminium and carbon frames if you want, what does it prove? We don't know the circumstances that may have caused the failure, perhaps it was some utter bell end who lives with his mum carrying a massive backpack that caused it to fail? If there is any research that would prove a higher failure rate in ti over other frame materials then you're free to post it up here. Thought not. My advice still stands, if the OP buys from a reputable source with a good guarantee then he's covered.
  • Stelbel do some lovely frames. I'm sure Reilly ti is fine but the sloping TTs, which I think is a trademark of his all the way back to Enigma and before, ruin them for me. Stelbel are killer looking in comparison.
  • imposter2.0
    imposter2.0 Posts: 12,028
    Tyresome wrote:
    Steel is real yeah.
    Troll
  • To be honest the 2 things swinging me towards stelbel is the horizontal top tube and the subtle paint job.
    Thinking about sticking with rim brakes to keep it more traditional.
  • carl_p
    carl_p Posts: 989
    Tyresome wrote:
    Steel is real yeah.

    So is rust.
    Specialized Venge S Works
    Cannondale Synapse
    Enigma Etape
    Genesis Flyer Single Speed


    Turn the corner, rub my eyes and hope the world will last...
  • Look up justin burls titanium. Love mine and custom designed to my spec. Then made in russia by submarine builders.
  • yiannism
    yiannism Posts: 345
    Serious question from someone who the last time that rode a steel frame was 25 years ago. Whats the appeal of those frames other than the look? i mean you can get very comfy carbon endurance bike like my Infinito CV, or Synapse, or Roubaix etc. Why someone would chose ti or steel?
  • For me it's the craftsmanship and something different than those carbon frames mentioned. With the stelbel the fact it's custom made is appealing
  • Ben6899
    Ben6899 Posts: 9,686
    YiannisM wrote:
    Serious question from someone who the last time that rode a steel frame was 25 years ago. Whats the appeal of those frames other than the look? i mean you can get very comfy carbon endurance bike like my Infinito CV, or Synapse, or Roubaix etc. Why someone would chose ti or steel?

    You get exactly what you need.

    And, IMO, the ride is superior to carbon and aluminium.
    Ben

    Bikes: Donhou DSS4 Custom | Condor Italia RC | Gios Megalite | Dolan Preffisio | Giant Bowery '76
    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ben_h_ppcc/
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  • YiannisM wrote:
    Serious question from someone who the last time that rode a steel frame was 25 years ago. Whats the appeal of those frames other than the look? i mean you can get very comfy carbon endurance bike like my Infinito CV, or Synapse, or Roubaix etc. Why someone would chose ti or steel?

    I would say the main reason is ride comfort combined with a strong durable frame that can take some abuse. Also titanium is just a gorgeous material, wonderful to touch and doesn't need painting, even an old titanium frame can polish up to look like new again. Carbon is a performance material and that is its main positive, it can be easily damaged in an accident, or damaged by over-torquing bolts and or course many carbon frames can have manufacturing flaws as they are handmade using layers of material, while it can be used as a everyday commuting bike its certainly not ideal for that. Carbon isn't for everyone especially those who aren't competitive cyclists and just want a beautiful practical bicycle. One thing I've read is making butted titanium tubes is very difficult and expensive and can lead to more frame issues. If you don't mind the additional weight I wonder if a straight gauge titanium frame is a better option especially if touring or using as commuting workhorse, bringing home shopping etc.

    I think whenever you try to make a light bike out of steel or titanium you are going against the grain so to speak and not using the right material, if you want a light bike go carbon or aluminium don't compromise a material not suitable for it. I've seen reports where super light weight Columbus tubing frames have been incredibly weak trying to achieve similar weights to aluminium or carbon and you just wonder what is the point.

    https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/knowl ... aterials-0
  • YiannisM wrote:
    Serious question from someone who the last time that rode a steel frame was 25 years ago. Whats the appeal of those frames other than the look? i mean you can get very comfy carbon endurance bike like my Infinito CV, or Synapse, or Roubaix etc. Why someone would chose ti or steel?

    I would say the main reason is ride comfort combined with a strong durable frame that can take some abuse. Also titanium is just a gorgeous material, wonderful to touch and doesn't need painting, even an old titanium frame can polish up to look like new again. Carbon is a performance material and that is its main positive, it can be easily damaged in an accident, or damaged by over-torquing bolts and or course many carbon frames can have manufacturing flaws as they are handmade using layers of material, while it can be used as a everyday commuting bike its certainly not ideal for that. Carbon isn't for everyone especially those who aren't competitive cyclists and just want a beautiful practical bicycle. One thing I've read is making butted titanium tubes is very difficult and expensive and can lead to more frame issues. If you don't mind the additional weight I wonder if a straight gauge titanium frame is a better option especially if touring or using as commuting workhorse, bringing home shopping etc.

    I think whenever you try to make a light bike out of steel or titanium you are going against the grain so to speak and not using the right material, if you want a light bike go carbon or aluminium don't compromise a material not suitable for it. I've seen reports where super light weight Columbus tubing frames have been incredibly weak trying to achieve similar weights to aluminium or carbon and you just wonder what is the point.

    https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/knowl ... aterials-0

    While i agree that compromising strength and build quality to gain a weight advantage using steel or carbon is not recommended a quality titanium frame doesnt need to be heavy.

    I based my burls titanium around my carbon giant defy geomoetry. I had the reach shortened and head tube heightened for a more relaxed ride as i suffer from a bad lower back. The outcome with same groupset and pedals, possibly saddle bag but cant remember, was only 500g heavier in the titanium. This was even with wider tubing as im a 95kg rider. Think final weight with pedals (possibly saddle bag) was 8.8kg. Which isnt bad considering im 6'2" and these are large framed bikes. This was with 1600g to 1700g wheelset aswell, oh and heavier spd pedals.
  • Harry182
    Harry182 Posts: 1,169
    Love (- LOVE -) both my Everti Ti road bike and Dekerf Team SL Reynolds 853 hardtail. They are over 10 and 30 years old respectively. Both are still going strong. A fact down to builder and QC than a comment on durability of materials. But I reckon,that’s all besides the point anyway.

    I believe the OP’s already stated that the choice will come down to bespoke frame or not. For what it’s worth - I’d test ride bikes from all considered and probably go for the bespoke frame experience.

    I look forward to the future post/photos in ‘your road bikes’ and reading about ride impressions!
  • cycleclinic
    cycleclinic Posts: 6,865
    The nice thing about titanium it can be left unpainted. It does not need cleaning or polishing. My daily bike is titanium for this reason. It never really needs washing and when I do it come up November the only problem is galvanic corrosion of mudguard bolts so use ti bolts.

    Stainless steel need painting or if kept unpainted will need regular cleaning to stop pitting. Rust is not a big problem for steel frames. They don't even need much care.

    Titanium is special though they have a unique feel, as although that could be in my head.

    Steel frames can also be lovely to ride. I have 58cm Columbus genius steel frame that weighs 1650g. Steel can be lighter than titanium
    http://www.thecycleclinic.co.uk -wheel building and other stuff.
  • k3vinjam3s wrote:
    YiannisM wrote:
    Serious question from someone who the last time that rode a steel frame was 25 years ago. Whats the appeal of those frames other than the look? i mean you can get very comfy carbon endurance bike like my Infinito CV, or Synapse, or Roubaix etc. Why someone would chose ti or steel?

    I would say the main reason is ride comfort combined with a strong durable frame that can take some abuse. Also titanium is just a gorgeous material, wonderful to touch and doesn't need painting, even an old titanium frame can polish up to look like new again. Carbon is a performance material and that is its main positive, it can be easily damaged in an accident, or damaged by over-torquing bolts and or course many carbon frames can have manufacturing flaws as they are handmade using layers of material, while it can be used as a everyday commuting bike its certainly not ideal for that. Carbon isn't for everyone especially those who aren't competitive cyclists and just want a beautiful practical bicycle. One thing I've read is making butted titanium tubes is very difficult and expensive and can lead to more frame issues. If you don't mind the additional weight I wonder if a straight gauge titanium frame is a better option especially if touring or using as commuting workhorse, bringing home shopping etc.

    I think whenever you try to make a light bike out of steel or titanium you are going against the grain so to speak and not using the right material, if you want a light bike go carbon or aluminium don't compromise a material not suitable for it. I've seen reports where super light weight Columbus tubing frames have been incredibly weak trying to achieve similar weights to aluminium or carbon and you just wonder what is the point.

    https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/knowl ... aterials-0

    While i agree that compromising strength and build quality to gain a weight advantage using steel or carbon is not recommended a quality titanium frame doesnt need to be heavy.

    I based my burls titanium around my carbon giant defy geomoetry. I had the reach shortened and head tube heightened for a more relaxed ride as i suffer from a bad lower back. The outcome with same groupset and pedals, possibly saddle bag but cant remember, was only 500g heavier in the titanium. This was even with wider tubing as im a 95kg rider. Think final weight with pedals (possibly saddle bag) was 8.8kg. Which isnt bad considering im 6'2" and these are large framed bikes. This was with 1600g to 1700g wheelset aswell, oh and heavier spd pedals.

    Fair enough, you have more real world experience with titanium than I have. I've never owned a titanium bike but have seen comments where butted titanium frames were overly flexy with heavy riders and they seem to be the titanium frames that are often reported to have failed, the small difference in frame weight between butted and unbutted/straight gauge and the often much lower pricing of straight gauge titanium frames plus sometimes enhanced ride quality makes me favour straight gauge if I ever get a Titanium frame. This might mean it's not as weight competitive as carbon or aluminium but should still be lighter than steel, offer equal ride quality and reduced maintenance. For me titanium is the premium material, it looks and feels amazing and this fully recyclable material just seems in keeping with the ethos of cycling being a material that will never reach landfill due to its high value. There is something about carbon I really dislike, it's brittle nature and non-recyclable material often short life frames it just seems to epitomise our wasteful society.
  • step83
    step83 Posts: 4,170
    I'm 78Kg and not noted any flex on my titanium frame. PM showed I managed 780W max stampy power so I doubt I'm pushing any limits. It is butted rather than straight gauge.

    the 500g weight increase is about right, old bike was 7.98Kg New bike it 8.47Kg so I'm going 500g with an error margin.

    You can get Reynolds 953, Columbus HSS or XCR frames from most bespoke builders though some will obviously have a preferred metal.
    You can build it light but the frame builder will be able to advise what can and cannot be done.
  • Step83 wrote:
    I'm 78Kg and not noted any flex on my titanium frame. PM showed I managed 780W max stampy power so I doubt I'm pushing any limits. It is butted rather than straight gauge.

    the 500g weight increase is about right, old bike was 7.98Kg New bike it 8.47Kg so I'm going 500g with an error margin.

    You can get Reynolds 953, Columbus HSS or XCR frames from most bespoke builders though some will obviously have a preferred metal.
    You can build it light but the frame builder will be able to advise what can and cannot be done.

    I think the average weight of a man in the UK is about 82kg and in the states close to 90kg. Some bikes allow up to 136kg for rider weight alone with a total load capacity including bike weight of 160kg. I would think 78kg was not a weight that be overly flexy with a titanium butted frame and you would be well within the weight limits of that frame. Like steel, titanium has an endurance limit where it can resist fatigue while flexing but only up to a certain value then it will fatigue.

    This chart from fuji-ta (the world's biggest bike manufacturer by units) shows their opinion of different materials although they make most of their money from steel and aluminium bikes. I always find it interesting as the graph so favours titanium even though titanium is only a small part of their business.

    123_9c7e71089e5e791241f96d3bdb3d83fb8cb7f436.jpg
  • Tyresome
    Tyresome Posts: 113
    Shortfall wrote:
    I can show you loads of pictures of cracked steel, aluminium and carbon frames if you want, what does it prove? We don't know the circumstances that may have caused the failure, perhaps it was some utter bell end who lives with his mum carrying a massive backpack that caused it to fail? If there is any research that would prove a higher failure rate in ti over other frame materials then you're free to post it up here. Thought not. My advice still stands, if the OP buys from a reputable source with a good guarantee then he's covered.

    :lol:
  • Those Stelbel's look lovely....

    I think though I'd also consider a UK built steel frame like a Bob Jackson or a Brian Rourke. I'd also have a look at Mercian although they are a bot more expensive...they sort of grow on you - at least they're growing on me....
  • neeb
    neeb Posts: 4,470
    I had a Ti frame from Enigma (an Esprit) which I eventually sold because it didn't fit perfectly - I replaced it with a stainless steel Columbus XCR frame, also from Enigma (an Extensor).

    Both were/are great. Both built up into bikes a bit over 7kg but the Ti frame was a little lighter (maybe about 100-150g?). Both were stiff enough while also having a nice metal zingyness, but the XCR frame is maybe a little stiffer while the Ti frame was a little zingier. The XCR frame is actually properly stiff and not particularly compliant - nothing like your traditional steel ride feel at all.

    I love the XCR frame but I kind of miss the Ti one. XCR is a very special steel, it actually rides more like carbon than old-fashioned steel. It's like a very good carbon frame with a little extra weight, great style and more durability. I use it for trips abroad because I don't need to worry about it getting cracked or gouged by baggage handlers.. The Ti frame had a special ride feel though, it wasn't quite as stiff as the XCR frame but it wasn't far off (it had considerably wider tubing), and to the extent that it had a slight springiness you felt that it was driving you along rather than sapping power..

    It's a tough call but if I didn't have the XCR frame and was choosing between that and Ti again I'd probably go for the Ti. Just because I have two very nice carbon bikes, so the point of having a metal bike too is to have something different, and the XCR frame rides quite like carbon. Perhaps with different tubesets the properties of these frames would be reversed however - I imagine that something like Columbus Spirit rides more like the double-butted, oversized 3AL 2.5V Ti my Esprit was made from, and 6AL 4V Ti (like the Enigma Excel) probably rides more like XCR.. I think Ti will be very slightly lighter than even high-end stainless steel for the same ride properties, however. And there is just something a bit magical and rareified about titanium..
  • Bondurant wrote:
    Stelbel do some lovely frames.

    Hadn't heard of these before. Noted for the future, thanks.
  • froze
    froze Posts: 207
    My god, if I show you a picture of Bigfoot will you believe that too? All frame materials have suffered failure, some more then others like carbon fiber and aluminum, but steel and TI is the most durable of all the materials currently on the market, does that mean they can't fail? no it doesn't mean that all, but failures with those of materials is far and few between. Ti is a difficult material to weld and if not done right it can go bad, which is why I would stick to major makers and the foremost is Lynskey. Yes I can hear the screams of denial, but consider this, Lynskey, who started Litespeed, invented the method of welding ti that is used by all ti manufactures, so I think their experience speaks more volumes than other manufactures regardless of cost.

    https://lynskeyperformance.com/about-ly ... rformance/

    This next website is Litespeed, keep in mind that Lynskey started and owned that business before he sold in 2005 (I think that was the year) so all the accomplishments that Litespeed speaks of is all about Lynskey! Litespeed did change the story a bit because they are in direct competition with Lynskey so they tried to exclude a lot of his founding work, but Lynskey was the first to be contracted by NASA to build various space vehicles out of titanium components, and worked on many programs for NASA, Litespeed since then simply took over where Lynskey left off with NASA due to contracts Lynskey had with NASA when he sold Litespeed. https://litespeed.com/pages/innovation

    Here's more: https://roadcyclinguk.com/gear/industry ... y-993.html

    This is tough to read but try: https://books.google.com/books?id=3Iy0n ... hUK94MKHV-
    5BaI4FBDoATAAegQICRAB#v=onepage&q=lynskey%20innovations%20in%20titanium&f=false

    Watch this too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dz1Xf6btlGM

    When I went looking for a new bike I did a lot of research, and wanted something different than steel that I have several bikes made of that material, aluminum (I did own Scandium once but it was fragile and cracked at the top of the headtube about 8,000 miles into owning it). I was able to test ride two TI bikes, a Serotta and a Motobecane, and I could tell the ride was different, it seemed more comfortable to me in regards to road vibration and shock, so those two bikes closed the deal for me, but initially I was going to get the Moto because it was very inexpensive for TI, but when I went to order one they were out of stock and they're were going to be out of stock for about 2 years it turned out, so I turned to the leader and got a Lynskey Peloton which was their lowest costing bike that was a introductory price so I got even a better price for it.

    Obviously this all my opinion, but if I were in the market to buy another TI bike I would get another Lynskey without question.
  • -kk-
    -kk- Posts: 15
    Admittedly Ive never ridden titaniums before, but those Stelbels = sex on wheels. Id definitely go with them .
  • kingstonian
    kingstonian Posts: 2,847
    I'd go with steel. The Stelbel is lovely, but there are a lot of other custom steel options out there so have a good look around first.
  • drlodge
    drlodge Posts: 4,826
    I have a 953, its lovely, the perfect all round bike. 853 is more cost effective, a lot cheaper with minimal increase in weight. If you're going custom I would prioritise the "customability" of the build, and what the whole build experience will like. You can for example, go 853 with 953 rear stays and keep them bare.
    WyndyMilla Massive Attack | Rourke 953 | Condor Italia 531 Pro | Boardman CX Pro | DT Swiss RR440 Tubeless Wheels
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