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  1. #1
    Senior Member masi61's Avatar
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    Wanting a stiff steel frame

    The last few years my weight has stayed firmly in the 255-265 range. I did ride over 1100 miles this year in a minor cycling comeback but this has not been enough to offset my love of ice cream in the evening
    I am on a 2 bike rotation right now, a fairly modern aluminum Flyte SRS-3 and an older Japanese 1980's era "Saint Tropez" bike built with Ishiwata chromoly frame tubing. I love how the Saint Tropez takes bumps and has great manners, its comfortable for long rides etc... Unfortunately I've noticed that when I attempt any amount of climbing out of the saddle, the bottom bracket flex is ever present. Since I'm just doing fitness riding on my own its usually no big thing. I just sit back down and carefully trim the front derailleur to eliminate the rub. My Mavic down tube lever moves the front derailleur quite a bit with only minute movements (I'm not using integrated shift/brake levers on this bike).

    So my question is. How do my fellow clydes handle bottom bracket flex with subsequent need to trim the the front derailleur when over torquing the bottom bracket area?
    Does anyone know of a (vintage) steel frame I could seek out that is better in this regard? I've seen the Merckx MX Leader or other frames build with Columbus MAX or MXL (not sure if I have these designations right). Any domestic framebuilders that work with these frame tubes?

  2. #2
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    steel flexes. no way around that.

    I have a cannondale t400. Huge aluminum tubing, cromo fork. the fork flexes enough and with 32mm tires its pretty soft on bumps. But it does eliminate the flexy bottom bracket. I don't think you will be able to find a stiff enough steel frame when your weight is over 180. The extra weight us clydes have causes the steel to flex more when we aren't even out of the saddle.

    I can jiggle my 64cm SR semipro, which is steel. like 2 inches or so of lateral movement. just the nature of the beast (steel).

  3. #3
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    I had an old Univega hybrid that I gave to my son and started to use a Specialized Sirrus.

    Son was having some issues with the bike, I fixed it and took it for a ride. Dang, I forgot how supple the ride of a steel bike is. Yea, you might have some flex, but steel rides nicely.

    You could try to go to a top pull derailer and use cable stops to reroute the FD cable along the top tube and seat post.
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  4. #4
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    I ride a Surly Cross Check, do plenty of out-of-the-saddle climbing, and don't have any need to deal with derailleur trimming. (I've ridden the bike at weights from 250 to 225.)
    "I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
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  5. #5
    Senior Member redvespablur's Avatar
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    I had a 86 Specialized Allez and a Surly Cross Check. The Allez has a rather thin tubed steel frame. I set it up with a Campy Ultra Torque crank set and it really served to stiffen up the BB. Recommended.

  6. #6
    Senior Member socalrider's Avatar
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    If you are looking for custom steel frame, look at Landshark.. They are in Oregon and I know John works with a variety of tubings depending on what you need.. Reynolds, True Temper and Columbus.. If you want something as little better priced and 1990's steel frame with Columbus SLX or TSX tubing will work great.. Columbus TSX is "superbutted" CrMo with continuous helical reinforcements.

    http://www.landsharkbicycles.com/

  7. #7
    Used to be fast surfjimc's Avatar
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    If you're a big guy frame flex is a fact of life. I was a cat 2 at 190lbs. I could swing my bb on any climb and even in sprints. If you don't want flex, I would look at Cannondale's frames. Some of those old AL things were stiff beyond belief. You could also look at some of the newer cf frames that the pro sprinters are riding. If you want steel, just about any custom builder can do something with OS tubing, and add beefier chain and seat stays. LLewellyn actually makes a semi sloping lug set for this tubing. Check out this thread for info on building with steel for big guys. I'm going to build myself a touring frame next summer and will begin with lugs and an OS tubing set. It will be nice to have a lightish beefy frame that will hold up to my size and weight plus the weight of all my touring gear.

  8. #8
    I'm Carbon Curious 531phile's Avatar
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    The stiffest vintage steel frame that I ever road was the Rossin Ghibli. It had a special ribbed Columbus SLX tubing. It was almost too stiff for me. The bottom bracket area was stiffer than some cannondale that I rode. The lugs were webbed at the bottom bracket area. Good Luck find it though. I sold my a few years ago. Sorta regret it, but my 853 Lemond has a more forgiving ride and it is lighter.

    BTW, I'm not a clyde. The bigger version of this bike might not ride like the smaller one. Though if I was a betting man I would say it would still be stiff as hell.

    Last edited by 531phile; 10-13-10 at 01:15 AM.

    Quote Originally Posted by avner View Post
    I loled. Twice. Then I cried. Then I rubbed one out and cried again, but thanks for sharing.

  9. #9
    Used to be fast surfjimc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by socalrider View Post
    If you are looking for custom steel frame, look at Landshark.. They are in Oregon and I know John works with a variety of tubings depending on what you need.. Reynolds, True Temper and Columbus.. If you want something as little better priced and 1990's steel frame with Columbus SLX or TSX tubing will work great.. Columbus TSX is "superbutted" CrMo with continuous helical reinforcements.

    http://www.landsharkbicycles.com/
    Don't know how I missed your post before I put mine up. John (Landshark) builds amazing frames. I've had a few, and still ride the tandem Twin Dirt Shark he built for me. Amazing riding frames, beautiful fillet brazing, and paint to drool over.

  10. #10
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    The other possibility is to look at touring frames, which are typically built heavier to resist the flex and wallow you'd otherwise get by loading them with panniers etc. I could give you lots of British examples but I'm not familiar with the US vintage market. But if you could pick up a Koga Miyata, those are great bikes.

    Of course, you'd be a buying a frame that was at least a couple of pounds heavier than an out-and-out roadie frame. But a few pounds doesn't mean much, really, and you'd certainly get more rigidity.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  11. #11
    Senior Member masi61's Avatar
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    Wow thanks for the great responses! I forgot I started this thread. The Saint Tropez is an awful lot like the mid 80's specialized Allez already mentioned. It really has a great ride and is fine for what it is. My moniker is "masi61" and this is my classic bike that I keep locked up. Perhaps its time to get this guy out. Someone mentioned extra beefy chain and seat stays. This frame has that. Don't know why I haven't tapped into it more, I think I'm saving it cause its a classic.

    Will look into a Land Shark. It would be fun to raise the cash to have a really stiff steel purpose built clyde road bike. Sounds spendy though.
    Last edited by masi61; 10-13-10 at 12:19 PM.

  12. #12
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    IFf will make you a frame with tubing selected to match your weight and riding style (e.g., out of the saddle climber vs. spinner). I have a Steel Crown Jewel SE and never have to trim the front even when climbing out of the saddle. But this doesn't come cheap.

  13. #13
    Senior Member redvespablur's Avatar
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    Here is my recent Marinoni Sportivo in Zona steel. Stiff. Very stiff.



    IMG_0560..jpgIMG_0558..jpgIMG_0555..jpg

  14. #14
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    How about one of those Jamis steel framed bikes....Aurora....BosaNova...and others. In their sizing, they have larger sized tubing for the bigger sized bikes and smaller tubing for their smaller sized frames. I'm 6'2" and 245 lbs and I am leaning strongly into purchasing a BosaNova for myself.
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  15. #15
    Senior Member DanteB's Avatar
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    I ride a Waterford that they built for me. Marc used a medium weight tubing that didn't increase the weight of the bike but it did stiffen the bottom braket area. I'm 230 and I ride double centuries with my Waterford, in fact I'm getting ready to leave on one in about and hour. I put around 7,000 mile a year on this bike and have a little over 65,000 miles on it.
    Make mine a double!

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daddy Wags View Post
    How about one of those Jamis steel framed bikes....Aurora....BosaNova...and others. In their sizing, they have larger sized tubing for the bigger sized bikes and smaller tubing for their smaller sized frames. I'm 6'2" and 245 lbs and I am leaning strongly into purchasing a BosaNova for myself.
    If they're anything like my Jamis Coda, no dice. It's just too flexy. Any kind of serious effort and I can really feel the flexing...I'm 6'1" 240. I went to an AL CX frame/steel fork...rides nice, no flex.
    2009 Motobecane Fantom CX
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  17. #17
    Senior Member Wogster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by masi61 View Post
    The last few years my weight has stayed firmly in the 255-265 range. I did ride over 1100 miles this year in a minor cycling comeback but this has not been enough to offset my love of ice cream in the evening
    I am on a 2 bike rotation right now, a fairly modern aluminum Flyte SRS-3 and an older Japanese 1980's era "Saint Tropez" bike built with Ishiwata chromoly frame tubing. I love how the Saint Tropez takes bumps and has great manners, its comfortable for long rides etc... Unfortunately I've noticed that when I attempt any amount of climbing out of the saddle, the bottom bracket flex is ever present. Since I'm just doing fitness riding on my own its usually no big thing. I just sit back down and carefully trim the front derailleur to eliminate the rub. My Mavic down tube lever moves the front derailleur quite a bit with only minute movements (I'm not using integrated shift/brake levers on this bike).

    So my question is. How do my fellow clydes handle bottom bracket flex with subsequent need to trim the the front derailleur when over torquing the bottom bracket area?
    Does anyone know of a (vintage) steel frame I could seek out that is better in this regard? I've seen the Merckx MX Leader or other frames build with Columbus MAX or MXL (not sure if I have these designations right). Any domestic framebuilders that work with these frame tubes?
    Steel frames flex, the ability to flex a little without plastic deformation is what gives steel bikes that Cadillac like ride they have (funny that the Cadillac bikes are aluminum and ride like a 30 year old GM city bus). The key to avoiding BB flex, is too keep the torque down to reasonable levels, instead of climbing out of the saddle, choose a lower gear and remain seated as much as you can.

    I like ice cream too, which is why I avoid it, mind you there is some in the freezer that has been there for over a week . We need to change one thing in our thinking, food is not your friend, food is not your comfort, food is fuel that provides the energy that allows you to ride, and more importantly live. If you want a friend who will comfort you, get a dog, realise that the dog needs to be walked, which gives you an excuse to get out and walk the dog.

  18. #18
    Senior Member redvespablur's Avatar
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    BB Flex can be engineered down to appropriate levels with modern steel tubing. Modern steel tubing looks more like aluminum tubing. I used a Campy Ultra Torque crankset on my 86 Allez that took away -substanially - the issue of BB flex - and I would recommend this as a great crank for a powerful clyde on a skinny tubed bike.

    I looked at a Jamis and the one I saw was quite thin tubing with quite a bit of flex.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by barturtle View Post
    If they're anything like my Jamis Coda, no dice. It's just too flexy. Any kind of serious effort and I can really feel the flexing...I'm 6'1" 240. I went to an AL CX frame/steel fork...rides nice, no flex.
    I don't think Jamis changes the size of the tubing on the Coda's like they do on some road bikes.
    "If life were logical, men would ride sidesaddle."
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  20. #20
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    I've got an aluminum-framed Specialized Tricross I purchased in 2007 when I weighed 260+ pounds. I've never had flex in the bb, but then again, I've never had much flex in that frame. I do have some old steel bikes - an '86 Trek, '83 Kuwahara, '78 Schwinn LeTour, which all flex, but not to the point it bothers me much. On those old friction shifters it's easy to trim the front derailleur as necessary. Those are all Reynolds 431 tubing, as I remember (maybe not the Schwinn). I love my tricross, but the old steel ride is hard to beat.

    If you find a good old frame that works, please post it, I'd be interested to see what you end up with. Good Luck!

  21. #21
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    I would recommend a Serotta if you want stiff steel frame. He uses conical-tubing that's fatter near the BB for extra stiffness.

  22. #22
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    Here's a ******* from Zinn Cycles...

    http://zinncycles.com/Zinn/index.php...ries/merano-st

    Or - if you are bigger than the average bear... The Project Big Stelvio is built specifically for bigger or taller riders

    http://zinncycles.com/Zinn/index.php...ies/stelvio-st

    And here's a few photos...

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/zinncyc...34803249/show/

    Things of beauty!
    Last edited by Sassonian; 10-29-10 at 02:54 AM.

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