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  1. #1
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    SS Frame suggestions - Building a City/Commuter Rig

    I'm looking for a steel or reasonably priced ti frame that can accommodate my size and a few special needs.

    First, I need the bike to handle my 210lbs + 20lbs of gear and not flex too much. I am 6'4" and my current road bike is a Trek 63cm and fits very well. My legs are pretty strong right now from triathlon training and I want to be able to sprint here and there if I have to get somewhere fast. I may use clip-ins for longer commutes.

    I want an efficient feel out of the bike and I want it to also be somewhat responsive (so long as it isn't carrying a cargo load).

    I will be running a Shimano outboard bearing crankset for reduced flex (I run outboards on all of my mountain and road bikes for this reason).

    Second, the frame needs to accommodate fenders and a rear rack and up to 28-32cc tires.

    I have researched a few frames and the Surly XCheck and LHT keeps coming up as well as the Salsa Casseroll Single. The LHT doesn't seem to be SS compatible. I have concerns about these cheaper steel frames being stiff enough for someone of my size/strength. Is 953 steel that much better than 4130?

    I would consider going TI but what is holding me back is not feeling comfortable spending so much money without being able to test ride such a TI frame beforehand. Had I some experience in riding TI bikes the situation might be different. Another option I guess would be to build up a steel bike with a cheaper frame and high quality components and then get a custom TI frame later.

  2. #2
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    In general, Ti will flex more than steel. of course the build comes into effect too but this is generally the case. and it seems you are going for an all rounder type frame and i just dont know any stock Ti frames that will do everything you want. the moots mootour would be perfect but its custom and i believe about 3000 dollars. so back to steel....

    953 is largely considered the best steel available right now. 4130 is considered very standard mid/low range steel. there is a lot of steel tubing in between.

    so you need braze ons for a rack, horizontal dropouts, and tire clearance. theres really not many stock frames that have this. also if youre looking for something responsive, i would stay away from any kind of touring frames. i would say your choices are a track bike with road geometry or a specialty road or cross frame. if you only need clearance up to 28-32, you probably dont need a cross frame. ill look into a few options and get back to you...

  3. #3
    Senior Member SheistyMike's Avatar
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    i think this milwaukee bicycle co frame would be a great option. theyre handmade by waterford cycles (considered some of the best builders in the country) with true temper verus tubing (high quality), eyelets for a rack option, up to 32c tires, and available in a bunch of different colors..along with way more custom options....decent price too.....

    http://www.benscycle.net/index.php?m...d9a482da9d1f6d

  5. #5
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fatigoworld View Post
    953 is largely considered the best steel available right now. 4130 is considered very standard mid/low range steel. there is a lot of steel tubing in between.

    so you need braze ons for a rack, horizontal dropouts, and tire clearance. theres really not many stock frames that have this. also if youre looking for something responsive, i would stay away from any kind of touring frames. i would say your choices are a track bike with road geometry or a specialty road or cross frame. if you only need clearance up to 28-32, you probably dont need a cross frame. ill look into a few options and get back to you...
    953 is the lightest steel tubing, but I wouldn't call it the best for a commuter bike. You can't give a 953 bike the same kind of knock-around commuter beating that a 4130 or 520 frame will take. 4130 makes a great commuter frame: It's not expensive and you can beat the snot out of it without worries that a dent might cause a structural flaw (which would be my concern using 953 on a commuter bike. It's too thin, IMO.)

    I second the IRO Rob Roy, posted above. It's got the braze-ons you need for fenders and a rack, it can handle wide tires, and it's got track ends so you can run ss/fg without an eccentric hub/BB/or chain tensioner.

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    Senior Member SheistyMike's Avatar
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    Don't forget about rust either. It's not a huge factor, but I wouldn't get carried away spending a ton on a steel frame that's going to have to trudge through everything.

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    youre right about 953, i wasnt reccomending it, i was just saying theres all kinds of different steel and they are on the opposite end of the spectrum....

    i really think that milwaukee bicycle co one is by far the best bet, being made by waterford, true temper tubing, rack braze ons , track drop outs, tire clearance, custom options.....its everything he wants and of high quality on all accounts. i would choose it over the iro, salsa, surly, etc any day.....
    Last edited by fatigoworld; 08-10-08 at 11:06 PM.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by SheistyMike View Post
    Don't forget about rust either. It's not a huge factor, but I wouldn't get carried away spending a ton on a steel frame that's going to have to trudge through everything.
    just treat it with framesaver. and besides even WITH rust, steel will probably outlast you. ti and aluminum will likely dent before a steel frame becomes problematic from rust. actually my only bike is ti and i ride it everyday in the city, but i still trust steel more for city/commuting bikes, im just taking an educated risk with my Ti choice......

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    Senior Member SheistyMike's Avatar
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    No doubt it's a beautiful frame but it starts at $500 for frame only. Braze ons for racks and water bottle/frame pump are $50 extra.

  10. #10
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    i actually thought that was a good price for what youre getting. waterford frames start at around 1400 bucks...

  11. #11
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    Cheaper frames are likely a better choice - thicker tube walls necessary for less expensive tubing will give a stiffer frame for carrying a load, and be more dent resistant.

    I have used my lightweight steel road bike for ~15 years, including 6 months as a bike courier, and without any rust inhibitor it has lasted just fine - a little flexy under my 260 lbs and any luggage, tho.

    Ti is a great choice, but I doubt you will find what you are looking for in stock frames... most people want light ti, not tough ti. An exception would be if you can find a ti touring bike with horizontal dropouts. Or go custom, but that will cost $$$$$. Any stock touring frame coulb be acceptable if you can convert it to a ss using an eccentric hub.

    Cross bikes (like the surly coross check) are generally built lighter because they are not specifically designed to carry a load.

    Consider a custom steel bike (much cheaper than ti) if you can't find exactly what you are lookign for.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by LarDasse74 View Post
    Cheaper frames are likely a better choice - thicker tube walls necessary for less expensive tubing will give a stiffer frame for carrying a load, and be more dent resistant.

    I have used my lightweight steel road bike for ~15 years, including 6 months as a bike courier, and without any rust inhibitor it has lasted just fine - a little flexy under my 260 lbs and any luggage, tho.

    Ti is a great choice, but I doubt you will find what you are looking for in stock frames... most people want light ti, not tough ti. An exception would be if you can find a ti touring bike with horizontal dropouts. Or go custom, but that will cost $$$$$. Any stock touring frame coulb be acceptable if you can convert it to a ss using an eccentric hub.

    Cross bikes (like the surly coross check) are generally built lighter because they are not specifically designed to carry a load.

    Consider a custom steel bike (much cheaper than ti) if you can't find exactly what you are lookign for.
    im not sure if i agree that cheaper tubing will be stiffer and more dent resistant.....maybe in comparison to ultra light steel, but a lot of brand name steel will be heat treated to make it stronger and they use a larger diameter of tubing resulting in a stiffer frame. also a cheap frame may result in poor geometry choice. although any of the companies mentioned so far seem to have a good reputation. i dont think you need custom for this application, any of those mentioned above should do just fine....

    surly x check
    salsa ss
    iro rob roy
    milwaukee orange one

    but fyi the cross check may be lighter than the LHT but its known to be a pretty heavy frame. i doubt it will feel as "responsive" as some of the others....

    if you decide to go with an eccentric hub or chain tensioner, i would definetly reccomend the....

    soma smoothie (or smoothie ES)

    gunnar sport

    the soma has tange prestige heat treated tubing. and the gunnar has 853 with true temper OX platinum (basically the best steel before 953). the gunnar is made by waterford as well, very nice frame...

  13. #13
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fatigoworld View Post
    but fyi the cross check may be lighter than the LHT but its known to be a pretty heavy frame. i doubt it will feel as "responsive" as some of the others....
    I ride a geared Cross Check, and if you're looking for a SS specific frame I'd probably go with something different. Not based on the weight (although it is heavier than some of the other choices), but more on the fact that it's got the der. hanger and a bunch of cable stops you don't need. For a SS cross bike, the IRO ends up being a much cleaner looking build.

  14. #14
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    Thanks for all of the responses. I'm a bit confused about the varieties of steel used in building these frames. Could anyone post a link or explain the difference between true temper, heat treated tubing, 953, 4130, etc?

    I think I will ultimately go with a steel frame but I need to educate myself a little more to make the right choice!

  15. #15
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    heres my knowledge on the tubings, someone correct me if im wrong somewhere. listed from most high end to most low end....

    reynolds 953 (heat treated, air hardened, stainless steel, will not rust)
    true temper OX platinum (heat treated, air hardened)
    reynolds 853 (heat treated, air hardened)
    columbus foco (heat treated, air hardened)
    tange prestige (heat treated)
    reynolds 725 (heat treated)
    reynolds 631 (cold drawn, air hardened, same weight as 853)
    true temper verus (heat treated, stress relieved 4130)
    tange infinity (cold drawn)
    reynolds 525 (cold drawn)
    4130 (cold drawn)

    heat treated basically means they heat treat it to make the tubing stronger. air hardening is a process it goes through in which the welds themselves get stronger.

    i rode an 853 frame for a couple years and loved it, the older lemonds were all 853 and can be found cheap on ebay, if your willing to run an eccentric hub or chain tensioner. actually the early 90's ones had semi vertical dropouts as well....
    Last edited by fatigoworld; 08-12-08 at 08:49 PM.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by CliftonGK1 View Post
    I ride a geared Cross Check, and if you're looking for a SS specific frame I'd probably go with something different.
    I am a Surly Cross Check rider, too, and a Surly true believer. I am neither weak nor light (320 and built like a weightlifter), and my Surly can take whatever I dish out. In other words, with Surly, cheaper only means less expensive.

    Surly makes a really sweet SS frame called the Steamroller that should do what you want, and then some. You can just buy the frame, or you can go for a complete bike.

    They also make the 1x1, also set up for SS, but with mountain bike geometry and the ability to use a front suspension fork.

    Inexpensive and tough as nails, and the company had great attitude
    Last edited by mongo; 08-14-08 at 03:04 PM.

  17. #17
    Cute, fluffy, and illegal gotls1's Avatar
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    Surly also has the Karate Monkey 29er frame with a horizontal dropout.

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