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  1. #1
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    Light Steel Commuter?

    Im looking into getting into biking. I think I want a steel frame for comfort, and I really like the STI shifters and 105-ish gear. I live in Southern CA so rain doesnt happen too often. Im not really in need of fenders or a heavy pannier system (maybe just a laptop and lunch), disk brakes aren't necessary.

    Ive been looking at the Kona ***** Inc which has everything I need, I can live with the disk brakes.

    Im just wondering if any of you know of any other choices I should compare it against before I take the dive.

  2. #2
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    6) Do you plan to mount fenders?

    7) Do you ever plan to mount a rack?

    8) Do you absolutely need STI shifters, or will bar ends work?

    9) What do you consider light?

    :-)
    "When I'm on a bike, it's like I'm 14 again, racing off to the arcade with a pocket full of quarters."

  3. #3
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    Can you determine the differences in ride quality between various frame materials?

  4. #4
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    Hey there Bryane!

    Of course, all of Jamis steel-framed bikes are comfortable. That's just the primary distinctive character of Jamis. It's especially manifested in all of the Jamis bicycle frames of steel.

    The only bikes that could approach the Kona Inc. insofar as I'm concerned would be three of the Jamis brand:

    bosanova.jpg
    The Jamis Bosanova ~ $1275 - Tiagra ~ 27 lbs.


    12_quest.jpg
    The Jamis Quest ~ $1825 - 105's ~ 19 lbs. (The second lightest)
    631 Air-Hardened Chromoly steel

    auroraelite.jpg
    The Jamis Aurora Elite ~ $1600 - 105's ~ 27 lbs.

    - Slim

    PS.

    Check the Jamis website out:

    www.jamisbikes.com/usa/thebikes/road

    * The Kona Inc. looks like a very fine bicycle!

    ...I get the feeling you've already done your homework, buddy!
    Last edited by SlimRider; 11-05-11 at 01:07 AM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member matimeo's Avatar
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    You will pay a very hefty premium if you want a steel frame that is very light. Have you considered aluminium as another option? Aluminium with a carbon fork isn't a bad ride.

  6. #6
    cyclepath daredevil's Avatar
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    I'm kinda with the other guys. If you're just getting into cycling, how did you determine steel was the only way to go and why limit yourself? Certainly nothing wrong with the Kona though.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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  7. #7
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    Hi there Bryane!

    Of course as you must already know, there is only one truly light steel-frame bicycle offered by Jamis. It is the lightest of the lightest steels and on the cutting edge of technology. It is the strongest grade of chromoly steel available in bicycle frames. It's composed enitirely of 853 air-hardened chromoly steel. It's named quite appropriately. It's called the Eclipse. Named that way due to the fact that its ride quality is second to none. When it comes to both firmness and comfort, it has no peers. It is the standard by which all future steel road bikes of the future are sure to be judged. It comes complete with Ultegra Gruppo at just 17lbs.

    Here it is!

    eclipse.jpg
    The Jamis Eclipse ~ $3400 - Ultegra ~ 17 lbs. (The absolute lightest)

    - Slim

    PS.

    Of course the Eclipse surpasses the Kona Inc. in quality, but not by much...
    Last edited by SlimRider; 11-05-11 at 01:28 AM.

  8. #8
    Senior Member matimeo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SlimRider View Post
    Hi there Byrane!

    Of course as you must know, there is only one other light steel-frame bicycle offered by Jamis. It is the lightest of the lightest steels and on the cutting edge of technology. It is the strongest grade of chromoly steel available in bicycle frames. It's composed enitirely of 853 air-hardened chromoly steel. It's named quite appropriately. It's called the Eclipse. Named that way due to the fact that its ride quality is second to none. When it comes to both firmness and comfort, it has no peers. It is the standard by which all future steel road bikes of the future should be judged. It comes complete with Ultegra Gruppo at just 17lbs.

    Here it is!

    eclipse.jpg
    The Jamis Eclipse ~ $3400

    - Slim
    My point exactly about paying a premium.
    El secreto, por lo demás, no vale lo que valen los caminos que me condujeron a él. Esos caminos hay que andarlos. Jorge Luis Borges, El Etnógrafo

  9. #9
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    That Jamis Eclipse looks sexy. It's making my steel Allez jealous.

    For your light load (depending on your laptop), you can fit all of that into a decent backpack or messenger bag with room to spare. I love my Timbuk2 bag but I still leave the rack on for those days when I just feel like using the panniers (or if I'm carrying heavier items).

    OP, a "light" bike can depend on your definition of light. My steel road bike is a ton lighter than the old generic MTB but it's still rather hefty at 30lbs, and that's not including rack/panniers. The guys I usually ride with are riding carbon & Ti bikes while I'm still rockin' steel and down-tube shifters. I keep up though. Weight isn't everything but it sure can help. (Although at a certain speed, you're mostly fighting wind FWIW).

    If comfort and speed are your main goals for the bike, you might be able to find a good steel frame and then build it up from there. Sram Rival Group with a set of Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels will run about $1500. Just add frame, carbon fork. Not to mention a seat and handlebars to your liking and you're set. $2500 would be tops for a build like this unless you spend a lot on a frame. Just an idea.

  10. #10
    Senior Member mechBgon's Avatar
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    The Soma Smoothie ES with the carbon IRD Mosaic 57 fork might be worth a look. It uses mid-reach brakes, so it'll easily take tires up to 32mm without fenders (I usually use 25s or 28s and run SKS's thin P35 fenders). If you're interested in the actual weight, my 58cm was... lessee here... 2060 grams for the frame, 518 grams for the fork. Not featherweight. Anyway, it's sort of an all-rounder bike. The chainstays are longer, which gives you a little more heel clearance versus panniers, but also makes it a subdued sprinter compared to a road-racing geometry.

    I was able to duplicate the fit of my road-racer on the Soma, so it also got tons of training miles, many times in the form of a fast road commute. It's The One That Gets Used™


  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by bryane View Post
    Im looking into getting into biking. I think I want a steel frame for comfort, and I really like the STI shifters and 105-ish gear. I live in Southern CA so rain doesnt happen too often. Im not really in need of fenders or a heavy pannier system (maybe just a laptop and lunch), disk brakes aren't necessary.

    Ive been looking at the Kona ***** Inc which has everything I need, I can live with the disk brakes.

    Im just wondering if any of you know of any other choices I should compare it against before I take the dive.
    It's good to know that you are a knowledgeable cyclist, Bryane. As you know chromoly steel has a much longer fatigue life than aluminum. It's more durable than aluminum and has a much higher yield capacity. That simply means that when involved in small to medium impacts, aluminum would prefer to dent, crack, or break, as opposed to bend or flex. Also, since aluminum has a short fatigue life, the more it's used or cycled, the closer it reaches it's fail point. However, with steel, it has no such time limit. Steel will last for decades, if kept dry. It can be used continually as a cycling vehicle, for as long as you desire, as long as it is well maintained. Nobody can say that about any other frame material, other than titanium. If properly maintained, your great-grandkids will be able to ride your chromoly steel-framed bicycle, Bryane! Now that's what I call an investment!

    Here are some other 520 light chromoly steel-framed contenders featured by Jamis:

    satellitecomp.jpg
    The Satellite Comp ~ $1000 - Tiagra (R) + Sora (F) ~ 23.00lbs (The third lightest)


    codasport_bk.jpg
    The Coda Sport ~ $560 - Acera (R) + Shimano M191 (F) ~ 26.75 lbs.

    codaelite.jpg
    The Coda Elite ~ $1050 - Deore (R) + Deore (F) ~ 26.25lbs.

    codacomp_bl.jpg
    The Coda Comp ~ $775 - Deore (R) + Alivio (F) ~ 26.00lbs.

    You're an intelligent guy, Bryane. It has been an exceptional pleasure to assist you in your quest for information concerning light steel bicycles.

    Most Respectfully,

    - Slim

    PS.

    Supporting Websites:

    http://talu.com/materials.php

    http://tetcycles.com/bikes/frame-materials/

    www.brightspoke.com/c/understanding/bike-frame-materials.html
    Last edited by SlimRider; 11-05-11 at 01:12 AM.

  12. #12
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    How about a used Bianchi or Lemond who made some nice steel bicycles that are now out of fashion with carbon fiber crowd and available for a nice price.

  13. #13
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    Wow! Thanks for all the replies, I didn't expect so much after just joining. Let me try to answer all the replies in one post.

    -- Schwinnrider
    + Don't need fenders immediately as it rains about 12 days a year where I live, having the option in the case that I relocate isnt a bad idea.
    + Having the option of a rear light weight rack would be nice, I am thinking something just to get me to work, not camping gear and such
    + Yes, I do kind of like the STI shifters, but maybe I could be sold on the bar ends, but not likely.
    + I am not looking for a pounds per se, I have just found that some of the commuter bikes that I have picked up in stores seem like tanks....something good to go camping on for a few days. As I write this I am thinking my nomenclature might be bad, perhaps I am looking for a 'commuter', but have test riden many 'tourers'? Like I said, Im still trying to learn all this stuff. The bikes I have tested with bar-end shifters/fenders/heavy weight braze-ons and such seem like tanks to me. Something you would want next to you for a week long ride. Im looking for something more nimble than that.

    -- no1mad
    + Yes, I have a decent feel for the differences between carbon/alu/steel, but certainly not expert or even well developed probably. Alu feels icky to me, most of the cycle paths and such in my area have many roots and holes and such. I think I am just sensitive to stiff frames. I also like to explore and hit roads Ive never been on which puts me on less than smooth pavement at times...

    -- SlimRider
    + Thanks for the Jamis links, totally not on my radar. Im gonna see if they have a local distributor and try them out. From the pics they look right up my alley (I'll check the specs later).

    -- matimeo
    + Thanks for the insight. The alu that I have tried have felt kinda funky to me, maybe I am just old school or something? That said, my idea of light may be different from people more experienced than me. My light may be your heavy, as I mentioned above, my heavy may be called a touring bike, and my light may be called a commuter bike - Im still learning here. I'm gonna keep test riding bikes and try not to shut out a alu bike if a salesperson pitches it, we will see.

    -- daredevil
    + Like I said, I have test ridden a handful of bikes, actually mostly are alu or carbon (because I really like the STI's and its hard to find that in steel in my town). The alu / comp bikes seemed awkward to me, but maybe just because I am not used to them. The only steel I really liked was the kona and I just wanted to see if I could compare that to others. The reason I liked the kona was because it had nice-ish components on it (at least in my book). The other steel frames that are in the few stores in my town had components a level or two below the 105-ish level (which put me off a bit)

    -- SlimRider
    + Thanks again for more Jamis links. I think I'll save the eclipse for my dream state, at least until cycling becomes an central part of my life .

    -- mechBgon
    + Thanks for putting the Soma on my radar, I'll dig into them a bit. Your bike looks nice in the photo!

    -- Jim-in-Kirkland
    + I havent had my hands on a Lemond, but they do have a nice Bianchi in a local store. Its not in my size so I am waiting for them to refill their stock so I can test one out. I'll look into the Lemond, thanks for pointing it out.

  14. #14
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    Bryane, if you're going to be riding over many roots and holes, as you have stated here, you just might be more interested in a mountain bike. Possibly even a hybrid would be more to your liking, but most certainly NOT a light road bike.

    If you particularly enjoy taking the occasional unbeaten wooded path in hilly or mountainous regions, a MTB (mountain bike) would most definitely be what the doctor has ordered for you. MTN bikes are specifically made for the traversing of roots, rocks, and crevices. You can ride a MTB anywhere, but you can't ride a road bike just anywhere. Road bikes like smooth pavement. They will traverse the wooded trails, but its not their forte. Hybrids do much better on the wooded trails than road bikes. The Kona Inc. is a road bike. A few of the Jamis bikes that I referenced, are road bikes. It wouldn't be advisable to routinely take them onto the wooded trails, because of their narrow tire widths. In general, the wider the tire and the more knobby the tire, the more you can venture onto unpaved roads and trails. If going downhill over roots, rocks, and crevices, a front suspension would be in order along with wider treaded tires. That perfectly describes the job of a MTB!

    Sounds to me like you should rule out road bikes completely. Hybrids and MTN bikes, I personally believe, are more for you.

    These bikes are the type I would recommend for you:

    1) The Kona Steely

    2) The Kona Dew Deluxe

    www.konaworld.com

    3) The Jamis Coda Comp

    www.jamisbikes.com

    4) The Salsa Fargo 3

    5) The Salsa Vaya 3

    www.salsacycles.com

    6) The Surly Troll

    7) The Surly Ogre

    www.surlybikes.com

    8) The Cannondale Quick CX 1

    9) The Cannondale Quick CX 2

    10) The Cannondale Quick CX 3

    11) The Cannondale Quick SL 1

    12) The Cannondale Quick SL 2

    www.cannondale.com

    13) GT Karakoram 1

    www.gtbikes.com

    14) Schwinn Sporterra Comp

    www.schwinnbikes.com

    - Slim

    PS.

    Yes, Bryane!

    I failed to mention that there's something called a cyclocross bicycle that looks more like a road bike than the usual hybrid does, but it typically has wider treaded tires, and sounds perfect for your desired terrain variation (See VaBobK and Matimeo's posts below).

    * BTW - If were talking terrain variation, there's nothing more versatile than a MTB...
    Last edited by SlimRider; 11-08-11 at 12:58 PM.

  15. #15
    Did I catch a niner? Mr Pink57's Avatar
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    Last edited by Mr Pink57; 11-05-11 at 07:44 AM.

  16. #16
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    Looks like SlimRider has done a good job of providing plenty of options. Light and steel = expensive. Looking for a complete steel bike from a major manufacturer is difficult. Jamis is one. Raleigh has a line of steel road bikes. Trek only offers the 520. Specialized did a couple of years ago, but not any longer.

    You can look at the frames Soma offers. You could probably build a light(er) bike with a Surly Pacer frameset.

    How about looking at Gunnar?I have a Gunnar Sport. It's going to cost you as much for the frame as some complete bikes, but you will have a light steel frame with the option of mounting a rack and fenders later.

    http://gunnarbikes.com/site/bikes/sport/
    "When I'm on a bike, it's like I'm 14 again, racing off to the arcade with a pocket full of quarters."

  17. #17
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    Since wider tires will smooth out road irregularities, perhaps OP should check out CX bikes...

  18. #18
    Gearhead old's'cool's Avatar
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    I don't know if you've ruled out a used vintage bike, but if you haven't there are many excellent japanese-built touring-oriented bikes that would fit your description. Upgrading the drivetrain to STI is quite do-able, but a previous owner may have done this already. To learn more, visit the C&V forum (many C&V commuters hang there). http://www.bikeforums.net/forumdispl...c-amp-Vintage?
    Geoff
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  19. #19
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    Bryane,

    Another option I haven't seen mentioned is a Fuji "Touring". I'm using the "Touring" for my commute and absolutely love it. Heavy? Just shy of 30 lbs and that includes the standard rear rack. It has a triple crank, 9 speed cassette, bar-end shifters, and chain stays long enough for panniers.

    I have a Fuji Roubaix ACR 2.0 road bike. It has alu frame with carbon fork and seat stays and 105 components. I do like it and I do like the STI shifters, but the bar end shifters on the "Touring" work just fine. In fact, when I get on the Roubaix, I sometimes find myself reaching for the bar ends to make a shift...

    I first started commuting on a hybrid that didn't have a rack, so I carried my stuff to work with a shoulder bag. That absolutely sucked, so I added a rear rack. Getting that pack off from my shoulder made the ride so much nicer! Now with the "Touring", not only do I have the standard rear rack, but I also added a nice "rack pack" from "Lone Pine". And, when I want to go to the grocery store, I bought a pair or rear baskets: "Basil Cardiff". How much can they carry? I've put six bottles of wine in each basket on one grocery run....

    The "Touring" comes without fenders and so far, I haven't really missed them. When it rains, I just get wet...

    The all-steel frame provides me with a wonderful ride and I've found the stock saddle to work just fine. The longest ride I've given it was about 50 miles, and I never felt uncomfortable.

    I bought it as a commuter because: It's the only thing I could find locally; was my size; had drop-bars; had provisions for and came with a rack. I just find it amazing at how nicely it rides! Now, I know when it's time to "upgrade" my Roubaix road bike, I'm gonna look for something all-steel. Forget the alu and forget the "crabon". I'll want steel! (Maybe titanium or stainless?)

    Ray
    Carrboro, NC, USA

  20. #20
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    The morning bowl of Alphabits revealed that OP has a decision to make.

    -Go with the ***** Inc, as "it has everything I need".
    -A complete bike with a good frame and lower spec components and upgrade
    -Build one up from a frameset of choice
    -To truly save weight, consider ditching the gears altogether

  21. #21
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by matimeo View Post
    You will pay a very hefty premium if you want a steel frame that is very light. Have you considered aluminium as another option? Aluminium with a carbon fork isn't a bad ride.
    Soma frames are between 4 and 5 lbs. Prices are between $350 and $650.

    http://www.somafab.com/frames

    The Double Cross has disc mounts and removable canti mounts. Ready for cross, trail-riding,commuting and loaded touring. We make them in a wide range of sizes to fit you right.

    - Tange Prestige heat treated CrMo front triangle; butted CrMo rear end
    - Clearance for 700x38c tires with fender
    - Rear spacing is 132.5 and fits road or mtn hubs.
    - Fork options: You can get a matching straight blade disc only fork or -if you intend to run cantilevers- a black lugged crown steel fork that features eyelets for front rack and braze-ons for low-rider panniers.
    - Disc mount: v.2 has disc mounts on the chainstay which allows you to put almost any rack or fender on it. V.1 has the disc mount on the seatstay and also has down tube shifter bosses. V.1 is discontinued and only available in limited sizes.
    - 1-1/8" size headtube - w/ extra height so you use less spacers.
    - 10 sizes: 48cm to 60cm
    - 4.2 lbs
    - Color: Slick Black and
    Midnight Silver
    Last edited by Barrettscv; 11-05-11 at 07:15 PM.
    2012 Pedal Force CG2: "Secolo Bicicletta" the modern carbon fiber road bike
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  22. #22
    SE Wis dedhed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by old's'cool View Post
    I don't know if you've ruled out a used vintage bike, but if you haven't there are many excellent japanese-built touring-oriented bikes that would fit your description. Upgrading the drivetrain to STI is quite do-able, but a previous owner may have done this already. To learn more, visit the C&V forum (many C&V commuters hang there). http://www.bikeforums.net/forumdispl...c-amp-Vintage?
    +1 Numerous older frames of high quality, light weight steel out there at a fraction of the cost of new stuff, most with great geometry and braze ons to make excellent commuters .
    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...STI-s-or-Ergos
    '68 Raleigh Sprite, '02 Raleigh C500, '84 Raleigh Gran Prix, '91 Trek 400

  23. #23
    cyclepath daredevil's Avatar
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    I hate threads like this...just makes me want more bikes and I already got plenty.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    "Without music, life would be a mistake."
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    Cyclocross bikes would also be a good choice for variable commute conditions. I like by Gary Fisher/Trek Lane a lot. I went looking recently for a steel bike, and am very pleased with my Lane. It's a very comfortable bike to ride. Great geometry, smooth ride, and rated for mild off road riding for drops of up to 12 inches. And the drop bars are great for different hand positions.

    Not a serious MTB by any means but easily handles the potholes and cobblestones of DC and old town Alexandria.

  25. #25
    Senior Member matimeo's Avatar
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    x2 on cyclocross being a good option that is more versatile than just a mountain bike or just a road bike. That's what I went with as a commuter when I was trying to get down to just one bike. I can take it off road and on the road it rides like a road bike.

    I don't know what your experience is as far as assembling or maintaining a bicycle, but bikesdirect has some good deals if you're into that kind of thing. If you want to stick to steel there is this option: http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...fantom_cxx.htm

    I bought the Windsor Cyclo which is the same price and comes with 105/Ultegra setup and carbon fork. I couldn't be happier with it as a commuter, even though I was never a fan of aluminium previously.

    I don't know what your budget is, but if money isn't a big concern, get something from your bike shop- if you're on a budget and you want the most bang for your buck, I think bikesdirect is a good way to go (again with the disclaimer that you're either going to need to know how to assemble and maintain the thing yourself or pay the bike shop to do it).
    El secreto, por lo demás, no vale lo que valen los caminos que me condujeron a él. Esos caminos hay que andarlos. Jorge Luis Borges, El Etnógrafo

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