If money isn't an issue there are quite a number of custom steel frame builders out there with great reputations. I rode with a group of guys a few weeks ago which included bikes built by Kelly Bedford and Karl Strong. The group also included a De Rosa Neo Primato, a Tommasini, and a Cinelli Super Corsa. All beautiful steel bikes.
A custom steel bike is a little out of my budget ... but I did build up this Kona steel frame road bike last year. It's a nice ride - much stiffer frame than my Jamis Aurora Elite.
Update since the photo was taken, the cross tires are off and 25c road tires are on.
It's a Seven Axiom Race so it is supposed to be stiff. I rode a Moots Vamoots once and it felt springy by comparison, my Seven feels a lot like the CAAD5 I used to have.
I wish I had a bike that was a cross between the Seven and the Gunnar. Maybe the next one will be.:)
btw, I've put about 30K miles on the Gunnar and about 10K on the Seven.
Even long before CF, a bike for the most part, was as good as the motor. I did ride a friend's Cannondale Aluminum back in the '80s for about half an hour (bike didn't fit me). It was light alright but it did feel a little unforgivingly stiff as I vaguely recall. I've only owned a few steel bikes but about the nicest combination of riding and handling bike I've had was a Tange tubed Univega (which I foolishly sold).
Personally I just like the looks of painted steel. Some of the $4000 CF bikes just have a department store kids bike appearance to old fashioned me.....But my tastes are old school in general.
The guys over in C&V would add some good feedback to this thread. A lot of them do new steel builds as well as old. First thing they'd probably ask is: "What are you primarily using this bike for?"
I ride a Salsa Casseroll. It is the best bike I ever owned.
My newest steel frame is a Ritchey breakaway, but that's a cross bike and doesn't ride like any of my road bikes. My Columbus gilco tubing Colnago steel frame w/CF fork is my lightest and favorite bike at 18 lbs. That's a 61cm frame. It is from 1996.
My primary road bike is a Gunnar Roadie with custom fit. So a road racing bike with touring geometry, set up like a 1x10 cross bike with some mtn bike components. Mavic kysrium elite wheelset, 25 mm tires, GB Aravis saddle - just under 20 lbs. The ride is a perfect (for me) blend of responsiveness and comfort.
I ride mainly a Salsa Casseroll and a Soma Doublecross. Part of the reason is force of habit; I've been riding steel bikes for a long time. I like the way they ride. The material is well understood and the envelope isn't being pushed so you have an uber reliable bike. I'm not racing anymore so I don't care too much if the bike isn't the latest greatest thing out there. Part of the reason is cost. Most of us have a point where we think the bike and/or the parts are too crazy expensive. Good quality steel frames from Salsa, Soma, Surley, etc. are, in the modern world of bicycles, pretty affordable:
Attachment 370616Attachment 370617
My friend who had a similar vintage Colnago racing bike says the same thing - it was a very stiff, fairly harsh ride, even compared to what he changed to which was a series of Cannondales - CAAD8, 6-13, Super Six.
My next search will be for a more relaxed vintage-ish steel bike, maybe british, so I can see if I can feel that steel ride people talk about.
I did have a 90s cheap Bianchi back for a while and it definitely flexed a lot more, in the bottom bracket especially, and just the feeling of "give" as you went along the road.
Any frame is about how and why its shaped. The stiffness of the steel alloy is already there because of its inherent qualities. What's left? Its weight and aerodynamics. That's what you give up.
Fast forward and see what Cervelo tried to do with Prodigy and Renaissance. The Columbus steel alloy tubes were custom made for Cervelo. Tube shapes were different depending on what the engineers wanted to do.
That's why the Cervelo was not quite "traditional".
I ride a steel Landshark - had it built in 2010. It's a beautiful bike and rides wonderfully (there are photos posted of it in this forum). Glad I invested in it. Unfortunately the builder no longer does steel (focusing now on carbon) but that said alot of great steel builders out there. My bike is lightweight (probably not hte lightest but with good components and wheels its lighter than most) and I believe built to last forever which is good since ths will probably be the last road bike I build. If you have the money and time to wait, have a bike built - in the long run way cheaper than some of the production carbon bikes out there which you can spend upwards of $5000...
I bought a Gunnar Sport last year. Liked it enough to order a Roadie this year. Mine is a stock geometry 66cm, so the frame and steel fork are about 5 1/2 lbs. Given it's size, I figure I'm giving up about 2 lbs. to a comparably sized carbon bike, but there really aren't any in stock sizing. It seems plenty stiff, smooth, but not harsh. It easily takes 28mm tires, and has 32's on for the winter, but 25's do not detract from the ride. The real attraction is the fit. I had a GURU fit. I had been riding a 63cm Cannondale since 2002, and thought that was big enough. When I first got on the Sport, it felt huge, but after the first long ride...., well...., I just didn't realize a bike could be that comfortable. I sold the Cannondale, just no desire to get back on it. I ordered the Roadie to have a more aggressive geometry in the same basic fit. My fitters data base showed a couple of carbon frames that could be made to fit, but said they wouldn't be ideal, and would be substantially more expensive. The Gunnar pricing has allowed me to go with some upgrade paint schemes, which kind of gives them some individuality, it's not likely I'll see others like them.
Affordable.......how about $600 for a complete Reynolds 520 steel framed Taiwan built bike with Shimano 105.
Save Up to 60% Off Schwinn Road Bikes, Le Tour Legacy, Reynolds 520 Chromoly steel frame road bikes
Only size medium left, which is probably why the price dropped. This is the bike I currently ride, only in blue. Really, this is a great riding bike, not the lightest, but smooth over varied terrain. And it's not bouncy or springy at all. It's smoother or more comfortable than aluminum, but with more road feel then carbon.
For $600 with free shipping, you will not find a better bike or deal anywhere.
Attachment 371448This is my brand new 2012 Bianchi Vigorelli. Weight was 22.66 lbs with no pedals and the stock wheelset. I've replaced the wheels with Kysrium Elites and the pedals are Look Keo Classic. Haven't got to ride it yet, maybe Sunday or Monday. Spring weather might finally get here in Indiana, at least that's what they're saying.
Attachment 371449Also looking forward to riding my new Litespeed T5. It weighs 17.11 as shown. This season I'll get to ride titanium and steel for the first time. Adding to my stable of carbon and alum bikes.
Gonna be a GREAT summer.
I just got an All-City Space Horse. I bought the complete bike which comes with Tiagra components. Nice, smooth ride. My only complaints so far are that there was a bit of toe strike, so I had to adjust the size of my toe clips and fenders (I have not, nor do I intend to, swap out the stock 35mm tires). I also don't like the stock handlebars (Salsa Pro Road Medium 3). It's a good do anything bike frame.