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Old 03-19-11, 06:26 AM   #1
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Classic Italian steel or modern American steel, which should I choose?

My recent usage & ownership of a modern road bike was good but not ideal. My Ti bike has now been sold. The only negative issue I had with the bike was the short head-tube and the large drop between the saddle and the handlebars. The position was great for fast group rides or for 50 mile fitness rides. However, the position put too much weight on my hands, and after four hours of riding, my hands would tingle, and would continue to tingle for a few days or longer. I could resolve the issue with a new uncut fork and use bunch of goofy spacers to raise the handlebar, or I could use a different bike with a longer head-tube. I also discovered that Titanium is the best material for the kind of cycling I enjoy, but that a high quality steel bike is 99% as good at 1/3 the cost. It’s really the motor that matters.

So I’m considering a classic Italian steel bike or a modern American steel bike, but I’m not sure which will perform better. The classic Italian is a Gios Torino Professional from the 1980’s. The American bike is a contemporary Gunner Cyclocross model. Both use top of the line materials and construction. The Gios is a 2x6 drivetrain, I would probably upgrade the bike with modern 2x10 drivetrain and brifters.

Both bikes should make for comfortable long distance travel for century rides and 200k events. Gios is a superlative bike builder, but will the frame be too flexy for a 210 lbs rider? The Gunner CX bike is built brawny should be perfectly rigid and a good climber, but seems a little less poetic.

Any opinions?

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Old 03-19-11, 06:44 AM   #2
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Given the choice would you rather own a new Corvette or a 57 Chevy resto-rod?
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Old 03-19-11, 06:47 AM   #3
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If I were buying a steel bike I'd look for the most modern material from a builder that will match your needs. It will cost more but you will probably enjoy it more too. What size was the Ti bike? How tall was the HT? Have you considered something like a Roubaix carbon frame? Keep your options open?
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Old 03-19-11, 06:59 AM   #4
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What size was the Ti bike? How tall was the HT? Have you considered something like a Roubaix carbon frame? Keep your options open?
The Ti bike was an XL with a 58cm seat-tube, 59cm virtual top-tube and a 180mm head-tube. This is a Sportive geometry. The Roubaix does have a longer head-tube, but I'd rather not have CF due to the risk of catastrophic failure. For 100+ mile events I need a 200mm heat-tube and long reach brakes or a CX frame with a 185+mm head-tube length. I work with a professional fitter and my current CX bike and 1987 Trek road bike fit perfectly.

Someday I'll have a custom Ti bike built, but not now.

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Old 03-19-11, 07:29 AM   #5
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The folklore is that old Italian bikes were very stiff and had a harsh ride. Me, I couldn't resist the Italian and that's what I'd get. That said, I'd keep my ti cyclocross road bike as well.

I suspect the reality is that it all depends on the specific bikes. The difference in geometry may overshadow all else. If the Italian bike has a larger seat tube angle, that will make the seat to bar distance effectively longer than a more relaxed angle for the same effective top tube length. That would of course stretch you out more with more weight on the hands.

That's assuming that you keep the same saddle position relative to the bottom bracket which is normally done. The effect is magnified further if the head tube angle is also steeper.

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Old 03-19-11, 08:17 AM   #6
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Old Italian bikes are sexy, but materials engineering has advanced way past Columbus SL and Reynolds 531. The bike I use almost exclusively today (A Rodriguez built by Dennis Bushnell at R&E in Seattle) is made of True Temper's air-hardenable OX Platinum, a steel that was designed to be TIG-welded. It is 3x stronger than the old 531, and loses very little of its tensile strength when it is heated. It also gives a lively, interesting ride, way more interesting than carbon fiber. What I don't like about the Italian bikes made in the 80's is that tend to break (especially if you weigh more than 160 lbs), and their geometries are often goofy. Although such is not the case with your Gios, I've found Italian frames for US export were usually built with too-short top tubes and too-steep head and seat tubes. As a result, they would not corner very well. I remember switching from Italian frames to a carbon fiber Trek back in the late 90's, and I could not believe how stable and precise the Trek was on fast corners. Today, I think the better US builders have the geometries pretty-well dialed in for what the bike will be used for. I'd go for modern steel from a reputable US builder.

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Old 03-19-11, 08:18 AM   #7
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The folklore is that old Italian bikes were very stiff and had a harsh ride. Me, I couldn't resist the Italian and that's what I'd get. That said, I'd keep my ti cyclocross road bike as well.

I suspect the reality is that it all depends on the specific bikes. The difference in geometry may overshadow all else. If the Italian bike has a larger seat tube angle, that will make the seat to bar distance effectively longer than a more relaxed angle for the same effective top tube length. That would of course stretch you out more with more weight on the hands.

That's assuming that you keep the same saddle position relative to the bottom bracket which is normally done. The effect is magnified further if the head tube angle is also steeper.

Al
Great information Al, Thank you!

I have sold the Ti road bike. I'm keeping a 1987 sport/touring Trek 400, is my year around utility/rain bike, it fits very well. I will also continue to keep my existing steel CX bike, a Soma Double Cross, its ride quality is magical. The Soma fits also perfectly, but is a little too flexy on climbs. The Gunnar geometry is within a few mm's of the Soma geometry and would fit as well, but it would be a stiffer climber.

I now can see that the Gios would not duplicate the fit of any of my current bikes, so the purchase is more of a gamble. Of all the sizes produced by Gios, this is the best size. It's 64cm seat-post and the head-tube looks very long in pictures. I haven’t seen the bike yet and will check the dims when I do.

The head-tube angle is 75 degrees, and the seat tube looks just as steep. Does this kill any potential for a smooth ride?
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Old 03-19-11, 08:20 AM   #8
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Old Italian bikes are sexy, but materials engineering has advanced way past Columbus SL and Reynolds 531. The bike I use almost exclusively today (A Rodriguez built by Dennis Bushnell at R&E in Seattle) is made of True Temper's air-hardenable OX Platinum, a steel that was designed to be TIG-welded. It is 3x stronger than the old 531, and loses very little of its tensile strength when it is heated. It also gives a lively, interesting ride, way more interesting than carbon fiber. What I don't like about the Italian bikes made in the 80's is that tend to break (especially if you weigh more than 160 lbs), and their geometries are often goofy. Although such is not the case with your Gios, I've found Italian frames for US export were usually built with too-short top tubes and too-steep head and seat tubes. As a result, they would not corner very well. I remember switching from Italian frames to a carbon fiber Trek back in the late 90's, and I could not believe how stable and precise the Trek was on fast corners. Today, I think the better US builders have the geometries pretty-well dialed in for what the bike will be used for. I'd go for modern steel from a reputable US builder.

L.
More good info, thanks! The Gunner is OS2.
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Old 03-19-11, 10:37 AM   #9
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Well, you seem to have problems with production bikes. There are some excellent american custom bike builders. You might think going that route. A good custom guy will give you a custom fit that suits your cycling style and your body dimensions. That is hard to beat.

Now the Italian bikes certainly have a tremedous amount of flair. If that appeals to you, that would be the way to go.
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Old 03-19-11, 10:47 AM   #10
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Old Italian bikes are sexy, but materials engineering has advanced way past Columbus SL and Reynolds 531. The bike I use almost exclusively today (A Rodriguez built by Dennis Bushnell at R&E in Seattle) is made of True Temper's air-hardenable OX Platinum, a steel that was designed to be TIG-welded. It is 3x stronger than the old 531, and loses very little of its tensile strength when it is heated. It also gives a lively, interesting ride, way more interesting than carbon fiber. What I don't like about the Italian bikes made in the 80's is that tend to break (especially if you weigh more than 160 lbs), and their geometries are often goofy. Although such is not the case with your Gios, I've found Italian frames for US export were usually built with too-short top tubes and too-steep head and seat tubes. As a result, they would not corner very well. I remember switching from Italian frames to a carbon fiber Trek back in the late 90's, and I could not believe how stable and precise the Trek was on fast corners. Today, I think the better US builders have the geometries pretty-well dialed in for what the bike will be used for. I'd go for modern steel from a reputable US builder.

L.
^ THis. Plus you don't have to worry about spreading the Italian to get to 10 speeds.

The Gios has very steep seat and head tube angles. While that doesn't necessarily mean the ride will be uncomfortable, it will have very quick steering. That's something you may not like for long rides - like driving a sports car on a 500 mile interstate trip.
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Old 03-19-11, 11:12 AM   #11
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Choosing between those specific bikes, I would go to the Gunnar, much as I love the Gios.

You can get the Gunnar in custom geometry if you want to (longer head tube) but the Gunnar will be a more versatile bike in the long run.

It will have fender mounts and rack mounts. I am always surprised by how few people place any I pittance on fender mounts.

For those two bikes - Gunnar.
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Old 03-19-11, 11:46 AM   #12
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My recent usage & ownership of a modern road bike was good but not ideal. My Ti bike has now been sold. The only negative issue I had with the bike was the short head-tube and the large drop between the saddle and the handlebars. The position was great for fast group rides or for 50 mile fitness rides. However, the position put too much weight on my hands, and after four hours of riding, my hands would tingle, and would continue to tingle for a few days or longer. I could resolve the issue with a new uncut fork and use bunch of goofy spacers to raise the handlebar, or I could use a different bike with a longer head-tube. I also discovered that Titanium is the best material for the kind of cycling I enjoy, but that a high quality steel bike is 99% as good at 1/3 the cost. It’s really the motor that matters.

So I’m considering a classic Italian steel bike or a modern American steel bike, but I’m not sure which will perform better. The classic Italian is a Gios Torino Professional from the 1980’s. The American bike is a contemporary Gunner Cyclocross model. Both use top of the line materials and construction. The Gios is a 2x6 drivetrain, I would probably upgrade the bike with modern 2x10 drivetrain and brifters.

Both bikes should make for comfortable long distance travel for century rides and 200k events. Gios is a superlative bike builder, but will the frame be too flexy for a 210 lbs rider? The Gunner CX bike is built brawny should be perfectly rigid and a good climber, but seems a little less poetic.

Any opinions?
In another forum (non-BF) Jan Heine recently wrote that he always prefers lighter-tubed frames because of the "liveliness" or "planing" effect. I doubt a flexy frame will feel noodly or bad in any way. More likely it will feel lively. But I really think it has more to do with strength than weight.

Do you prefer stiff frames? You like your Paramount and just said you liked the feel of Ti. I suspect you'd like a supple frame. I'd go for the Gios, myself, if the geometry was right.

I also think you need to think about how long a head tube you need to avoid the drop problem you had with the Ti bike. It would also be worthwhile to figure out how much saddle setback you need, i.e how far behind the BB the saddle needs to be, the part of it that actually hits your sit bones. If you get a Gios or whatever and it does not allow you to place the saddle far enough back or forward to get proper weight distribution, you may still have too much weight on your hands.

If one of your bikes is already perfect (and if you can do a comfortable 200k on it, that's a pretty good indication), measure it and use that as a basis for selecting a new one.
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Old 03-19-11, 11:52 AM   #13
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... What I don't like about the Italian bikes made in the 80's is that tend to break (especially if you weigh more than 160 lbs), and their geometries are often goofy. Although such is not the case with your Gios, I've found Italian frames for US export were usually built with too-short top tubes and too-steep head and seat tubes. As a result, they would not corner very well. ...
If one avoids the criterium geometries referenced above and selects something more traditional, such as my Bianchi, the ride quality and cornering are delightful.
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Old 03-19-11, 11:58 AM   #14
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Old Italian bikes are sexy, but materials engineering has advanced way past Columbus SL and Reynolds 531. The bike I use almost exclusively today (A Rodriguez built by Dennis Bushnell at R&E in Seattle) is made of True Temper's air-hardenable OX Platinum, a steel that was designed to be TIG-welded. It is 3x stronger than the old 531, and loses very little of its tensile strength when it is heated. It also gives a lively, interesting ride, way more interesting than carbon fiber. What I don't like about the Italian bikes made in the 80's is that tend to break (especially if you weigh more than 160 lbs), and their geometries are often goofy. Although such is not the case with your Gios, I've found Italian frames for US export were usually built with too-short top tubes and too-steep head and seat tubes. As a result, they would not corner very well. I remember switching from Italian frames to a carbon fiber Trek back in the late 90's, and I could not believe how stable and precise the Trek was on fast corners. Today, I think the better US builders have the geometries pretty-well dialed in for what the bike will be used for. I'd go for modern steel from a reputable US builder.
Hence my question about the Corvette vs. the resto-mod. There is no question in my mind that the modern Corvette would be the better car. For pride and fun of ownership, however, I'd pick a well done resto-mod hands down. I suspect it has to do with which side of your brain is dominent.

In other words, I totally agree with you but would probably make the opposite choice.
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Old 03-19-11, 12:04 PM   #15
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The Ti bike was an XL with a 58cm seat-tube, 59cm virtual top-tube and a 180mm head-tube. This is a Sportive geometry. The Roubaix does have a longer head-tube, but I'd rather not have CF due to the risk of catastrophic failure. For 100+ mile events I need a 200mm heat-tube and long reach brakes or a CX frame with a 185+mm head-tube length. I work with a professional fitter and my current CX bike and 1987 Trek road bike fit perfectly.

Someday I'll have a custom Ti bike built, but not now.
Don't fly in a modern airplane then. Or drive the latest Mercedes creation.
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Old 03-19-11, 12:17 PM   #16
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Don't fly in a modern airplane then. Or drive the latest Mercedes creation.
I think this is a somewhat limited view. The examples given are different uses of carbon in different applications. Each of the vehicles you've mentioned have their own unique set of stressors, and limits as to where or how carbon should or could be used. I've had at least three carbon frames that suffered what could be considered catastrophic failures, in that they failed suddendly and were not able to be repaired for under the cost of a new replacement frame. The OP's concern seems to me to be a vaild one. If he's seeking longevity and understands how he uses and abuses his bikes, carbon may not be his best bet.

To the OP: If you're collecting bikes for the sake of collecting them, I'd go Italian. Your own assessment, however, leads me to believe you should go for the Gunnar. As the owner of a custom built Ti, I would also encourage you to think about if "somday" can be moved up a bit. At just a few months shy of 60, I decided that "waiting" was a young man's game for some things in life. This meant, given my economic circumstances, finding creative ways to finance a custom build. There's not a day I ride that bike, that I'm not glad I didn't wait.
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Old 03-19-11, 12:46 PM   #17
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Don't fly in a modern airplane then. Or drive the latest Mercedes creation.
You need to understand that consumers have a choice. If I wanted to win the TDF or if I wanted a TT bike, I would pick carbon fiber. But I'm seeking a bike for 200k events. Explain to me how carbon fiber benefits me? Plus, Titanium and steel have far better resale value. I would not even consider a used CF bike.

Michael
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Old 03-19-11, 12:50 PM   #18
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Nah, since there is such a bias about carbon frames gotta keep reminding people that carbon is an accepted structural material. I keep looking for any kind of reputable analysis about carbon frames. Nada. On the ther hand manufacturers continue to expand carbon use in bicycles and other vehicles. If there was any significant problem I'm sure the Hungry Lawyers Society would have sued them to death by now.

Buy whatever you want since each material has a bit different characteristics. But, dangerous material isn't one of them.

By the way, I suspect this, like a couple other current threads, has more to do with keeping up the post count than anything else. Play away.


Another post snuck in while I was typing. The original post cited the danger of carbon fibre as the reason not to buy a bike constructed from it. I'm merely pointing out there is little of no factual data to support that so the concern is misdirected. Buy what you wish but based on desiire, not misunderstanding.

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Old 03-19-11, 01:40 PM   #19
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Nah, since there is such a bias about carbon frames gotta keep reminding people that carbon is an accepted structural material. I keep looking for any kind of reputable analysis about carbon frames. Nada. On the ther hand manufacturers continue to expand carbon use in bicycles and other vehicles. If there was any significant problem I'm sure the Hungry Lawyers Society would have sued them to death by now.

Buy whatever you want since each material has a bit different characteristics. But, dangerous material isn't one of them.

By the way, I suspect this, like a couple other current threads, has more to do with keeping up the post count than anything else. Play away.


Another post snuck in while I was typing. The original post cited the danger of carbon fibre as the reason not to buy a bike constructed from it. I'm merely pointing out there is little of no factual data to support that so the concern is misdirected. Buy what you wish but based on desiire, not misunderstanding.
Now you’re making assumptions without data, but that's how you keep your post count up. No-one has even attempted to explain how I would benefit from CF, that’s because there is no benefit for my cycling requirements.

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Old 03-19-11, 03:02 PM   #20
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To make general characterizations of how any frame material rides, that can be supported by statistically significant data, is rare and difficult. The claimed benefits of a Spec Roubaix (I don't own one nor have I tested one) are comfort with performance. It's hard to generalize that all carbon frames will deliver comfort with performance. If one or even a few carbon models are not reliable, that says nothing about the set of all carbon bikes. Similarly for steel and aluminum, or anything else. It's possible to engineer or build any frame badly. Probably less likely with steel due to the depth of industry experience, however.

I'm less interested in C because few of my stashed parts will work, for the most part. It's also hard to fine one that will take wider wheels, fenders, and racks; which are options I want. But if a Spec Roubaix arrived on my doorstep, I'd ride it.
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Old 03-19-11, 03:03 PM   #21
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The Ti bike was an XL with a 58cm seat-tube, 59cm virtual top-tube and a 180mm head-tube. This is a Sportive geometry. The Roubaix does have a longer head-tube, but I'd rather not have CF due to the risk of catastrophic failure. For 100+ mile events I need a 200mm heat-tube and long reach brakes or a CX frame with a 185+mm head-tube length. I work with a professional fitter and my current CX bike and 1987 Trek road bike fit perfectly.

Someday I'll have a custom Ti bike built, but not now.
I have an Indy Fab Ti Crown Jewel I'm trying to sell that has a 198mm HT and a 60cm traditional TT. The STA is 72 so it's on the slack side which depending on your last bike's geometry might be close. If you're interested drop me a PM and I'll fill you in on the details.
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Old 03-19-11, 04:09 PM   #22
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I have an old Italian steel frame that is already set up for 10 spd, columbus SLX tubing, it is a real joy to ride. If you can pick up something like that I would consider it. I know nothing about the Gunner. My last new bike was about 4 years ago, a new CF Specialized Tarmac. I good bike and after working out the fit issues, acceptable for long rides. I use it when I know there will be a lot of climbs, it is stiffer and better geared for hills.

Steel has continued to evolve and the new materials are quite amazing. Columbus has a new XCr tube set for lugged frames, that is what I would consider if I were having a new frame built, I like the looks of a lugged frame.

So lots of choices, but the thing to remember is that no matter what material you choose for your frame, do some research and make sure to get something with quality, there are lots of grades of steel, CF, Al and Ti and what the builder uses makes a difference both in cost and in the ride.
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Old 03-19-11, 04:31 PM   #23
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You must be looking at a choice between two used bikes? If I were considering a Gunnar for long distance paved road riding, I believe my first choice would be a Sport, not a Crosshairs.
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Old 03-19-11, 04:39 PM   #24
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I have the Gunnar Sport which is very close to the geometry of their 'cross frame. It's very stable and plenty stiff at the BB. Mine is a 62cm and has a 220mm head tube. It has about 25,000 miles now and I'm quite impressed with it.
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Old 03-19-11, 04:52 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BluesDawg View Post
You must be looking at a choice between two used bikes? If I were considering a Gunnar for long distance paved road riding, I believe my first choice would be a Sport, not a Crosshairs.
+1
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