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Old 05-05-12, 01:00 PM   #1
b.d.gauge
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Steel frames: Is there an "average" weight?

Hello framebuilders and all,

Hope this is the right forum to ask this (if not, it can be moved). I've been looking at the Jamis Coda Sport -
http://www.jamisbikes.com/usa/thebik...asport_rd.html - as a relatively affordable, steel framed road-type bike.

It's sure lighter than my current, front-suspended hardtail - the Coda Sport weighs in at 26.75 lbs.; my current bike is nearly 34 lbs. - but it's still not a "lightweight" bike.

What I'm curious about is this: Are there/can there be/what factors go into significant differences in the weight of steel frames between, say, the off-the-rack aforementioned Jamis Coda Sport and a custom made, $1500+ steel framed bike of the same style (flat handled road/fitness hybrid type)?

Somewhere I saw a post of a steel framed road bike that weighed roughly 15.5-16 lbs. While I'm sure the owner had done everything with the components he could to shave off some pounds, I had to wonder - if a bike like the Coda Sport were stripped bare of all its parts, leaving only the frame, would it weigh considerably more than a higher-end steel frame - and why?

Looking forward to your responses. Thanks!
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Old 05-05-12, 01:38 PM   #2
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Most road frames can weigh from 3 to 4.5 pounds depending on size and, of course, tubing specs. Braze ons, brake mounts, crown and drops all affect this too. As the weight gets lower more expensive tubes are to be expected. Then the skills in joining all these choices start. Having said all that the components are the larger weight aspect. My choice is to blend the frame and the components to a mix that reflects the expectations. Then i ride the damn bike as fast or slow as my conditioning allows... Andy.
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Old 05-05-12, 06:42 PM   #3
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The dominant factor in the weight of a steel frame of a given size is the type of tubing used and lighter = more expensive. This will be mated to components that also follow the lighter = more expensive rule. As a rule of thumb multiply the frame and fork weight by four to get a target total bike weight: you can obviously go lighter at greater cost or save money and end up heavier.

Your Coda uses Reynold's lowest tier steel, given the wall thickness profiles (available here in PDF) the frame weight would be around 2kg and the fork another 0.8 or so. The bike weight is more than four times this; they've cheaped out a bit to bring the price down but that's what you expect at $600.

A higher end steel frame would use a higher strength steel, say 853. If you look at the chart in the PDF you'll see that the 853 tubes are thinner walled but they are generally used in a larger diameter to maintain the right level of stiffness. It's not hard to get around 1.5 - 1.6 kg with these tubes, lower if you try. These days you'd match this to a carbon fork, call that 400g.

The "Quest" (631 tubing) and "Eclipse" (853) models in your link are pretty close to my rule of thumb: the "Quest" frame and fork would probably be a little over 2kg total and the bike comes in a little over 8 kg; the price is a bit south of $2k. The "Eclipse" frame and fork will be a little under 2kg, bike under 8 kg, price over $3k.

BTW if you can get a custom made 853 framed bike fully built for $1500 you are doing extraordinarily well and someone is losing a bucket load of money.

Last edited by Mark Kelly; 05-05-12 at 06:48 PM.
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Old 05-06-12, 12:29 PM   #4
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you can get a bike made from Columbus Spirit that results in a bike that weighs about 16 pounds without too much weight-weenism. I think that's what the bike the OP mentions was made of. I don't know how much a True Temper S3 frame weights, but it's probably close.

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BTW if you can get a custom made 853 framed bike fully built for $1500 you are doing extraordinarily well and someone is losing a bucket load of money.
they aren't losing money, but they are donating their time. It seems like a lot of the guys that were charging $1200 for a frame a few years ago are gone now, it's not so much fun that doing it for free for a customer (who may have unreasonable expectations) is something that holds most people's interest.


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Old 05-06-12, 01:31 PM   #5
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Here are a couple of data points of bikes I own and have weighed.

2007 61cm lugged 953 frame (OS tubes), 3.6 pounds

1987 62cm lugged Columbus SL with SP down tube (standard size tubes), 5.1 pounds

See THIS POST by iab for comparison of lightweight steel to carbon fiber.
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Old 05-08-12, 09:17 AM   #6
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Hey everybody,

Sorry for the late reply! Didn't have a chance to check this thread on the weekend. Thanks to all of you for these posts - and those links, which I'm going to check out. I've got a better idea, now, of what determines the weight of a steel frame (and the matching of components), and understand that not all steel frames are created equal. I appreciate you all taking the time to reply. This gives me more to think about for if/when I choose another bike.

Cheers!
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Old 05-08-12, 04:59 PM   #7
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I think the takeaway from iab's comparison is that the medium size top of the line Cinelli "Pro Best Of" carbon fiber frame with carbon fork is only 330g (0.73 pounds) lighter than the medium size Cinelli XCr stainless steel frame with carbon fork, and the medium size Cinelli "Pro Estrada" carbon fiber frame with carbon fork (Cinelli's lightest frame) is only 530 g (1.17 pounds) lighter than the medium size XCr frame with carbon fork.
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Old 05-08-12, 10:58 PM   #8
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https://16incheswestofpeoria.wordpre...weekends-back/
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Old 05-09-12, 04:38 PM   #9
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That's impressive!

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Originally Posted by Scooper View Post
I think the takeaway from iab's comparison is that the medium size top of the line Cinelli "Pro Best Of" carbon fiber frame with carbon fork is only 330g (0.73 pounds) lighter than the medium size Cinelli XCr stainless steel frame with carbon fork, and the medium size Cinelli "Pro Estrada" carbon fiber frame with carbon fork (Cinelli's lightest frame) is only 530 g (1.17 pounds) lighter than the medium size XCr frame with carbon fork.
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Old 05-09-12, 04:40 PM   #10
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Great post, thanks! 10.8 pounds - with a steel frame, wow. Frankly, I'd be thrilled to bits to have a steel framed bike that weighs even 20 pounds.

From the post: "My frame is very light for a steel frame, but the bulk of the weight is saved on the components."
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Old 05-10-12, 09:45 AM   #11
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The lighter the bike the higher the cost per pound. It's not difficult to do, it just takes money.

I haven't the chance yet to see Rob English's 10.8# bike, but when I lifted his 13# bike I was impressed. Light bikes are sooo fun!

As Andy noted, good quality frames are typically under 4 pounds. My latest frame is 3 1/4 pounds (minus paint). Add 11 1/2 pounds of components and whatcha got? Components are where the most weight is saved but also the highest cost. It's costs me about $300 for frame materials plus another $50 or so for consumables. Component cost? Don't wanna think about it!

As a point of reference I believe you can get one of Rob's superlights for about 12 grand. Given that you can't expect a $600 Jamis to be light.
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Old 05-12-12, 01:50 PM   #12
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My Kirk Frameworks weighs in right at 19 on the dot built up with a 'every day rider' collection of components. It's a 58cm, high end steel, never did weigh the bare frame, was far far too excited to get to building it for that. It would take some fairly significant coin for me to drop it to 16lbs, but certainly within the realm of possible. Personally though, I like her just as is. Good luck on your bike search, there are a lot of good steel frames out there to be found for reasonable prices that will serve you very well.
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