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Long Distance Competition/Ultracycling, Randonneuring and Endurance Cycling Do you enjoy centuries, double centuries, brevets, randonnees, and 24-hour time trials? Share ride reports, and exchange training, equipment, and nutrition information specific to long distance cycling. This isn't for tours, this is for endurance events cycling

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Old 05-05-14, 08:16 PM   #1
divtag
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Light(er) Steel Fame Options?

I currently have a Salsa Vaya as my primary road bike. As I have been upping my riding/miles and going beyond metric centuries, I have started thinking about getting something a little more nimble. The Vaya is a bit of a hog.

Anyhow, obviously steel and light don't necessarily go together, I figure there has to be lighter options. The ability to run 32mm or higher is also something I am looking at.

Not looking to break the bank. Looked at the usual suspects like the CrossCheck, but doubt it will ride much different than the Vaya and the Casseroll no longer seems in production. Not sure what else to look at.
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Old 05-05-14, 08:35 PM   #2
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Velo orange pass hunter if you want room for 32c tires. Soma makes a number of different bikes that would work; the smoothie es takes standard or long reach brakes. The main triangle is tange prestige which is nice stuff. The surly pacer is 4130 steel (like the pass hunter) and takes long reach brakes. A lot depends on your budget. The Gunnar sport is light weight and you can use a carbon fork. There are other choices out there but I'd take a long hard look at the Soma smoothie es if you are looking for a road bike that can take 28c tires and fenders. If you want 32c tires and fenders, the velo orange pass hunter (with canti studs) is a good choice.
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Old 05-06-14, 06:02 AM   #3
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I don't know how much you want to spend but I considered these

The Rodriguez Rainier Randonneur Bike

I have a Rodriguez tandem and it is sweet. They make a very light steel frame from OS platinum tubing. I still might go back to steel after having ridden carbon since 1986. I really want a Parlee ESX but $5400 for the frame is a bit steep. I think the frames I linked are in the $1200-2000 range.
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Old 05-06-14, 06:06 AM   #4
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S3 Custom Bicycles from Rodriguez bicycles

2.2 pounds steel. This is lighter than my Carbon frame.

$2000
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Old 05-06-14, 08:19 AM   #5
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Anyhow, obviously steel and light don't necessarily go together, I figure there has to be lighter options.
As someone already pointed out, steel frames can be lighter than many aluminum, carbon and other frames. If it's made from high quality, modern tubes, you'd be surprised at the weight.

Are you looking for a frame/fork and build up from there, or complete bike. A number would be nice, "as breaking the bank" means different things to different people. If just a frame and in the $2000 range, there are a lot of options.
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Old 05-06-14, 08:39 PM   #6
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$2,000 for a frame is out of my budget. The plan is not to spend more than $2,000 for a complete build. Maybe my expectations are off, but that is where I am at. Even $2,000 I'd have to think twice. That is more than any bike I have bought: Vaya, El Mariachi, and Spearfish.

However, like many people, once things get going it is hard to stay under budget. The Pass Hunter has a cool classic look. I am not a super bike guru like many of you. Not sure what all the different measurements mean, like trail, and what not. Go into a LBS and they are about aluminum race bikes for the most part, so hard to get good info.
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Old 05-06-14, 09:56 PM   #7
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$2,000 for a frame is out of my budget. The plan is not to spend more than $2,000 for a complete build. Maybe my expectations are off, but that is where I am at. Even $2,000 I'd have to think twice. That is more than any bike I have bought: Vaya, El Mariachi, and Spearfish.
The Rodriguez Rainier mentioned above can be had for exactly $2,000 for the limited version. This is a COMPLETE build with custom geometry based on your body measurements. The frame is entirely handmade in the USA using very nice Reynolds 725 tubing. This bike will handle 32mm tires with fenders -- a trait not so easy to find nowadays. If you're going to be spending long days in the saddle doing long distance events, the $2,000 price of entry for a custom build should be seriously considered, IMHO. You can make other upgrades eventually: add a carbon fork, better drivetrain, etc. as you'll have a really nice frame to work with -- the heart of any bike.

R+E Cycles (AKA Rodriguez Bikes), overall, enjoys an excellent reputation as a builder.
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Old 05-07-14, 06:25 AM   #8
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light, cheap steel don't necessarily go together. Gunnar, Soma, and others do ok on that score. There are some custom builders that don't charge enough. Curtlo, for example. Of course, then there is a wait. I would check around
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Old 05-07-14, 06:37 AM   #9
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What about the All-City Mr. Pink? You should be able to build that up for less than $2,000 and quite a bit lighter than a Vaya.
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Old 05-07-14, 07:05 AM   #10
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considered disc brakes? might open up some more stock options for you to fit tires and fenders.
what about the vaya don't you like? would things change if you got a carbon fork and a new wheel set?
what tires are you running?

buddy just went from surly pacer to a vaya for rando events and bike camping.
yes, its heavier steel than custom, but a second set of wheels should knock off some weight - and he's going to have a road set and off road / rough stuff setup.
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Old 05-07-14, 11:29 AM   #11
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I haven't done extensive research on the matter, but many folks seem to be happy with Rene Herse's frames (Boulder Bicycle, made at waterford). $1435 for an off the shelf frame. Tough to piece it all together for under $2k, but you could make it close, especially taking comps from one place to another. Rene Herse Bicycles
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Old 05-07-14, 11:47 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by divtag View Post
I currently have a Salsa Vaya as my primary road bike. As I have been upping my riding/miles and going beyond metric centuries, I have started thinking about getting something a little more nimble. The Vaya is a bit of a hog.
The Vaya frame itself isn't that heavy and is comparable with other commercial steel frames. The biggest weight difference you can make would be switching the wheelset and the fork.

From the Vaya website for frameweight:
[TABLE="class: data-table large-10 small-12 push-1, width: 749"]
[TR="bgcolor: #F9F9F9"]
[TH]Frame Weight[/TH]
[TD]50cm 2120g, 52cm 2410g, 54cm 2220G, 55cm 2280g, 56cm 2300g, 57cm 2360g, 58cm 2420g, 60cm 2500g[/TD]
[/TR]
[/TABLE]
That's about 5lbs. Soma is about 4lbs for the cross bike, 5lbs for the smallest sized touring bike. To upgrade, it's about $1-2k for 2-3lbs of weight.

Of course, Vaya might be more bike than you need, since it's built for hauling gear too. Sounds like you just want to ride unloaded. The 3lbs from Rodriguez that someone linked sounds really nice.
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Old 05-07-14, 11:54 AM   #13
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Wow. These frame weights are insane.

Aren't they going to be more prone to dents and damage in general?
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Old 05-07-14, 06:24 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Chris Pringle View Post
The Rodriguez Rainier mentioned above can be had for exactly $2,000 for the limited version. This is a COMPLETE build with custom geometry based on your body measurements. The frame is entirely handmade in the USA using very nice Reynolds 725 tubing. This bike will handle 32mm tires with fenders -- a trait not so easy to find nowadays. If you're going to be spending long days in the saddle doing long distance events, the $2,000 price of entry for a custom build should be seriously considered, IMHO. You can make other upgrades eventually: add a carbon fork, better drivetrain, etc. as you'll have a really nice frame to work with -- the heart of any bike.

R+E Cycles (AKA Rodriguez Bikes), overall, enjoys an excellent reputation as a builder.
I am impressed that someone actually read the link that I posted. When I was buying a rando bike in February, this seemed the best on the market and since I had one of their tandems......anyway.

$2k for a pretty much custom, made in America bike is not a lot of money.

Light weight and steel don't mix at a price point much below that figure unless you buy a beautiful vintage frame on e-Bay, which can be done. I bought a used frame to save some money and get something decent to ride quick

Good used steel bikes can be great deals. 631, 753, 853, Sl framed bikes. Lemond had bikes that would take fenders and racks and wide tires and the frames were 853 Reynolds. I have seen these under a grand total all in.
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Old 05-08-14, 08:28 PM   #15
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Wow. These frame weights are insane.

Aren't they going to be more prone to dents and damage in general?
Not sure exactly what you mean, but if you're asking about durability, very little is sacrificed using modern tube sets. Steel is steel - some properties aren't changed. Namely density & modulus of elasticity. Overall yield point, the max stress the material can undergo before deformation, does vary based on how the steel is made. Geometry can be more aggressive, removing material. Also, the higher the yield point of steel, the "harder" the material becomes.
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Old 05-11-14, 09:55 PM   #16
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+1 on Curtlo. He built me a beautiful, light, custom steel road frame for significantly less than what others would charge. Fits me like a glove, and I can ride it comfortably for 12+ hours. But you do need to be prepared to wait; mine took almost six months to arrive. If you're not in a rush, I'd recommend you check him out.

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light, cheap steel don't necessarily go together. Gunnar, Soma, and others do ok on that score. There are some custom builders that don't charge enough. Curtlo, for example. Of course, then there is a wait. I would check around
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Old 05-11-14, 10:23 PM   #17
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Not sure exactly what you mean, but if you're asking about durability, very little is sacrificed using modern tube sets. Steel is steel - some properties aren't changed. Namely density & modulus of elasticity. Overall yield point, the max stress the material can undergo before deformation, does vary based on how the steel is made. Geometry can be more aggressive, removing material. Also, the higher the yield point of steel, the "harder" the material becomes.
I got my first "nice" bike around 89/90. I followed the industry pretty closely, very closely actually, for about 5 years after that. Around that time, a 6.25 lb frame + fork for mtb's was considered light: generally tange prestige. Lugged road frames were a bit lighter, perhaps by half a pound, with heat treated steel.

If steel frames are weighing in 2 lbs lighter now than they were before, isn't there a greater risk of damage from dents, shorter life from fatigue, or higher risk of frame failure in crashes? What are steel manufacturers doing now that they weren't back then to allow them to halve the weight of their frames I assume without compromising frame strength?
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Old 05-17-14, 04:00 PM   #18
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Is a lighter steel frame really going to make much difference? You might save a bit with a lighter steel frame but not a lot. Most of the weight in a bike is the combined weight of the components. e.g. my bike weighs 10.5 kg however the frame only weighs 1.8 kg.

Bite the bullet and buy a titanium frame. Yeah they are quite a bit more expensive however they are extremely strong for their weight and very comfortable to ride. If a lighter frame is really the solution, a titanium frame will be better value in the long run. Much lighter than steel, strong and comfortable like steel and many companies offer real lifetime warranties.

DJ
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Old 05-17-14, 08:08 PM   #19
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I got my first "nice" bike around 89/90. I followed the industry pretty closely, very closely actually, for about 5 years after that. Around that time, a 6.25 lb frame + fork for mtb's was considered light: generally tange prestige. Lugged road frames were a bit lighter, perhaps by half a pound, with heat treated steel.

If steel frames are weighing in 2 lbs lighter now than they were before, isn't there a greater risk of damage from dents, shorter life from fatigue, or higher risk of frame failure in crashes? What are steel manufacturers doing now that they weren't back then to allow them to halve the weight of their frames I assume without compromising frame strength?
They are using different steel alloys that allow thinner wall thickness in the tubes.

Machka's Marinoni is a revelation in a way. It is the old Ciclo model, with Columbus Nivacrom Zona tubing that's also been shaped assymetrically (ie, the profile is not round).

I never weighed the bike when in unassembled form, but it is not far behind my Merlin C110 Works CF frame in weight, based on the feel in my hands. I was hugely surprised. (Note also, that the Merlin is an older, lugged CF design, not a monocoque).

The Marinoni has done around 60,000km, has been stolen and recovered 3-1/2 years later, and has done randnneuring as well as loaded touring across the world. It has one tiny dent in the top tube resulting from mishandling while missing after the theft. Of course, with a steel frame, a tiny dent isn't a particular issue.

The difficulty with modern steel alloys used in bike frames is the care and skill required in order to tig/mig or braze weld them to avoid deformation and to maintain their strength.

I do have to take on board Donnie Johnson's point, too. By the time you have loaded on the wheels, a cassette, a BB cartridge, crankset and pedals, the frame's weight sort of becomes a part of the whole, not the whole itself. The rear wheel/cassette and the BB/crankset add a fair bit of weight on their own. Even our titanium bikes don't feel quite so titanium-y with the stuff added to them.

In the end, it comes down to the engine on the bike. The rider. Our touring bikes, Thorn Club Tours, are heavyweights by comparison with our other bikes, but we can still clip along at a steady 22-25km/h on flat windless roads with 28C Schwalbe Duranos or 32C Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres.

And as an example, I know a randonneur whose beloved steel-framed bike that had been around the clock several time finally decided to break. While waiting for his replacement to be built, he rode his front-suspensioned, heavyweight MTB with Geax tyres (not renowned for anything except durability) on a 600km qualifier for PBP. He was among the first to finish in something around 30 hours. The conclusion is that he was very fit, and that overshadowed the bike shortcomings in weight.
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Old 05-17-14, 08:20 PM   #20
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I currently have a Salsa Vaya as my primary road bike. As I have been upping my riding/miles and going beyond metric centuries, I have started thinking about getting something a little more nimble. The Vaya is a bit of a hog.

Anyhow, obviously steel and light don't necessarily go together, I figure there has to be lighter options. The ability to run 32mm or higher is also something I am looking at.

Not looking to break the bank. Looked at the usual suspects like the CrossCheck, but doubt it will ride much different than the Vaya and the Casseroll no longer seems in production. Not sure what else to look at.
This might seem strange, and goes against the desire to buy new because it is best, but the bike that I like to ride the most out of my stable is a Shogun 400 lugged steel frame that has been converted to a fixed gear.

Every time I get on that bike, I feel comfortable, and I can ride a century over somewhat hilly terrain and not think about it. It has a Brooks saddle, moderate gearing (around 68gi), and bullhorn bars.

Without the extraneous stuff that a fully geared bike entails, it feels light enough end nimble enough on 28C tyres. Some of the ride quality may have to do with the length of the chainstays (longer than a modern road bike) and the fork and the tyres I use.

It was recovered as a parts bike from a local rubbish dump, and cost around $400 to $500 for new wheels and brakes and other parts. I did a year of centuries a month on it, and a quarter of PBP straight through. But it's not the FG part I am getting at, it's the comfort of the frame.

I considered getting a framebuilder friend to do a clone in one of the Reynolds lighter tubesets, and I may still do so, but there are other bikes on the acquisition list at the moment, and the Shogun is still intact...
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Old 05-17-14, 08:30 PM   #21
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I have an orbea made out of columbus zona tubing and a carbon fork. It is a very sweet riding bike.

You could pick up a 2013 salsa colossal 2 for just under $1400 online: Salsa Colossal 2 Complete Disc Road Bike in Tree Fort Bikes Endurance (cat43)

I really, really don't need another bike but I was tempted to pick this up; it takes up to a 28c tire (not all road bikes do), disc brakes, and nice wide ranging gearing. Steel frame and a carbon fork makes a good combo.
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Old 05-18-14, 03:31 AM   #22
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Look at Soma, they have several frames that are moderatly light and affordable. Certainty lighter than the Vaya. The ES and the Stanyan will fit a 700x32 and the San Marcos and the Double Cross takes 700x35 with fenders. The Grand Randonneur fits 650b x42.
I put about 15,000 miles on a Double Cross and was very satisfied with the frame quality and performance. My complete bike weighed about 23 lbs, but a 19 lbs Soma road bike is doable.

What size frame and how heavy are you?

http://www.somafab.com/bikes-frames/frames
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Old 05-18-14, 08:16 AM   #23
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I'm enjoying my Surly Pacer, though it weighs in at about 26.5 pounds as pictured (with the bags loaded for a ride). I'd been considering the Soma ES but by the time I found out it came in a complete version I was dead-set on the Surly.
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Old 05-18-14, 09:41 AM   #24
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Consider the Jamis Quest Elite

* Comes with rack mounts and < 20 pounds

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Old 05-18-14, 10:28 AM   #25
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Yeah, I forgot to mention the Jamis. Was also looking at that before I decided I wanted to avoid carbon fiber for now.
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