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Recreational Cyclocross and Gravelbiking This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like :The Dirty Kanza". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

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Old 06-26-12, 12:09 PM   #1
Erik_A
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Lightweight "modern" steel cross frame???

Does anyone have recommendations for a fairly lightweight "modern" steel cross frame, that comes stock with a 60cm top-tube? I have given up on looking for a carbon frame that fits, and since I am 220 lbs - it wouldn't matter much anyway!

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Old 06-26-12, 12:41 PM   #2
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Have you looked at Kona's CX line? They go quite large.
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Old 06-26-12, 12:44 PM   #3
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Lightweight steel can be done. My current race bike is a '05 Lemond Poprad with a Rival build and with race wheels it comes in 18-19lbs. The frame is built with a OX Plat tube set. Look for decent steel and you can get a nice race bike. Sorry, I don't have any specific bike recommendations for you.
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Old 06-26-12, 12:53 PM   #4
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Interesting... I have loved my 63cm 1995 Bianchi Veloce road bike with Dedacciai Zero Uno tubing which rides great for my size - but is not exceptionally light. "Deddi Zero Uno - Heavier gauge set designed for exceptionally sturdy frames. Large selection of round tubes." - I guess, I want a well crafted steel frame that is lighter than a Surly Cross Check. Being almost 40 yrs old - I appreciate the "give" of steel over aluminum; but I could be wrong - especially for a race bike.


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At your weight the last thing I'd want from a steel bike is low weight. You'll need something strong. If you want strong and light steel is probably your worst choice in frame material. Have you tried any modern aluminum frames? I have two scandium bikes that blow away my previous steel frames. They're much lighter and stiffer and have a smoother ride.
If you really want steel and have the bucks any custom builder could build you something "light" but I bet they try to steer you away from that idea.
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Old 06-26-12, 01:15 PM   #5
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You are not wrong about aluminum, it's very harsh on a cross course. My bike is OX platinum with a 59cm head tube. It's the last year Lemond made the Poprad. It rides really well. I believe that the brand that replaced it was Gary Fischer. Same bike different decals. You may want to look there.
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Old 06-26-12, 01:26 PM   #6
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If it is hand made, the materials can be specified, in conversation with the builder.

Example: from the looks of them Brent Steelman in California
makes some really nice Cyclocross race bikes in steel.

they will help you choose materials in consideration of your weight too..
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Old 06-26-12, 01:35 PM   #7
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I left out that mine is a 55cm. I replaced a Cannondale CX-9 with the Poprad mostly due to fit and being a better all around bike. The CX-9 felt fast but I wanted something I could use as a commuter, distance bike and it was simply too harsh. I'm a few short months away from 40 so these things do matter.

Also remember the old saying; Light, strong or cheap...pick two.

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Old 06-26-12, 02:40 PM   #8
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Gunnar CrossHairs
All City Macho Man
Surly Cross-Check
Soma Double Cross
Motobecane Fantom CXX

I've heard the Cross-Check is on the heavier side as I'd guess is the Fantom CXX. And the Gunnar is going to be on the expensive side. I'd go with the Macho Man. I think its being released later this year.

There are some more commuter oriented cross-style steel bikes like the Raleigh Roper (doesn't come in larger than a 57cm t-t), Redline Metro Classic, and Salsa Casserole and Vaya.
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Old 06-26-12, 02:51 PM   #9
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My size 60 Soma Double Cross has a 603mm top tube and weighs 23 lbs with Shimano 105.
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Old 06-26-12, 04:08 PM   #10
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Perhaps the Raleigh Roper ~ $1500
www.raleighusa.com/bikes/steel-road/roper-12/

Comes in 58cm top tube not 60cm...

* Nice price for chromoly 631 steel...

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Old 06-26-12, 08:38 PM   #11
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The Civilian Vive Le Roi looks like the best option so far:http://www.ridecvln.com/bike-types/cyclocross/
http://www.competitivecyclist.com/re...Bike.4375.html

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Old 06-27-12, 03:27 PM   #12
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I appreciate the "give" of steel over aluminum; but I could be wrong - especially for a race bike.
Maybe. It all depends on how sensitive you are to ground chatter, and how much you're willing to contend with. I rode a steel frame/fork last year and went with an Alu/carbon setup this year. Yes, there's some additional chatter at the rear-end, but the carbon fork quiets out the front end rather well. I find that the stiffness of the frame has more benefit in power transfer (especially when climbing) than any detriment to overall comfort.
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Old 06-27-12, 03:30 PM   #13
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what frame and fork did you end up with?

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Maybe. It all depends on how sensitive you are to ground chatter, and how much you're willing to contend with. I rode a steel frame/fork last year and went with an Alu/carbon setup this year. Yes, there's some additional chatter at the rear-end, but the carbon fork quiets out the front end rather well. I find that the stiffness of the frame has more benefit in power transfer (especially when climbing) than any detriment to overall comfort.
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Old 06-27-12, 06:26 PM   #14
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Well, I switched gears trying to justify a custom high end steel frame vs a 4130 (welded in Taiwan) frame that wouldn't be much better than the Cross Check that I just sold.

I went ahead and bought a NOS: 60cm 2009 Cannondale CAAD9 CX9 cyclocross frame. The geometry is exactly what I would have ordered custom: a 600mm top-tube and 200mm head-tube. I will install a All-City Nature Boy steel fork instead of carbon due to my heavy 220 lb body weight. Many have mentioned that the CAAD9 have a great ride quality, so I can't wait to find out.

I am fairly confident that other than carbon, this is the lightest frame that would safely hold up to my weight.


2009 - 60cm - CAAD9 GEOMETRY:

Horizontal Top Tube 600mm
Seat Tube Angle 73 deg
Head Tube Angle 73 deg
Chainstay Length 432mm
BB Height 290mm
Wheelbase 1057mm
Trail 59mm
Standover Height 876mm
Head Tube Length 200mm
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Old 06-28-12, 06:41 AM   #15
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Thanks again guys for all of your advice - it came down to the geometry and in order to get a 600mm top-tube and 200mm head-tube on a decent steel frame, I would have had to go custom - and I couldn't afford to do that presently. Eventually, I may sell all of my bikes and get a custom frame and just use different wheelsets for cross and road. Someday...
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Old 06-28-12, 07:09 AM   #16
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yea- the Gunnar looks to be a sweet ride. Got the C-dale for less than 1/2 (almost 1/3) the cost - and honestly that helped sway the decision. Now with the BB30 requiring new cranks; it may be a wash... I have heard that the C-dale CAAD9 with the wishbone rear-end makes for a fairly forgiving/ but stiff ride - not quite steel smooth though.


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Not trying to be picky but a 62 or 64 Gunnar have a 60-ish top tube and 194 to 214 headtube..need the exact 60/200 for sizing??
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Old 06-28-12, 08:08 AM   #17
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You should be riding on big tires and low pressures. How much 'give' do you expect a rigid frame to have in comparison? Honestly, in my experience, tires are 95% of the equation.
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Old 06-28-12, 08:13 AM   #18
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good point. On my steel Bianchi road bike - I ride 28mm tires at 110 psi - and love the vibration dampening of the steel frame. This C-dale is for cross, and will likely not be used for long road rides with high pressure tires.

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You should be riding on big tires and low pressures. How much 'give' do you expect a rigid frame to have in comparison? Honestly, in my experience, tires are 95% of the equation.
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Old 06-28-12, 01:42 PM   #19
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good point. On my steel Bianchi road bike - I ride 28mm tires at 110 psi - and love the vibration dampening of the steel frame. This C-dale is for cross, and will likely not be used for long road rides with high pressure tires.
Unless you're pretty heavy (i.e. 275#), this is too high. I often ride tires labeled as 28's that actually measure at 26.5mm. I ride them at 80 psi. True 28's you could probably take down another 10-20 psi.

I completely agree that a steel frame generally reduces the pass-through of vibrations (compared to AL), but the effect of tire pressure is much, much greater. When you also consider that a lower pressure may actually be better in terms of rolling resistance (unless you're riding a velodrome or a billiard table), it might be a win-win. Try it, you'll be surprised.
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Old 06-28-12, 02:00 PM   #20
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I want to hear more about how lower pressure helps with better rolling resistance. I mainly do it to avoid pinch flats do to my weight. Glad to hear 80psi is usable though - that is much more comfy!

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Unless you're pretty heavy (i.e. 275#), this is too high. I often ride tires labeled as 28's that actually measure at 26.5mm. I ride them at 80 psi. True 28's you could probably take down another 10-20 psi.

I completely agree that a steel frame generally reduces the pass-through of vibrations (compared to AL), but the effect of tire pressure is much, much greater. When you also consider that a lower pressure may actually be better in terms of rolling resistance (unless you're riding a velodrome or a billiard table), it might be a win-win. Try it, you'll be surprised.
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Old 06-29-12, 09:32 AM   #21
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From high end steel to 4130 Cross check the frame weight equals what, +1lb? Fork can be changed on any bike so consider that for weight reduction.

You went Alloy so you probably saved 2 lb over steel but then added a lb back on the fork. At 220 youre not "too heavy" for a carbon fork either, but youll be happy with what you chose I'm sure.
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Old 06-29-12, 10:43 AM   #22
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On 'rough' surfaces, a rigid tire will cause the whole bike to move up and down. This makes for a lot of rolling resistance. Now 'rough' is a moving target. Pro's race Roubaix at pressures down to the mid-50's. Of course, they are light and riding tubulars, so they don't worry too much about pinch-flats. It does show where their priorities are, though.

Have you ever actually gotten a pinch flat on the road? I've gotten exactly 1 and it was because I inadvertently hit a really rough part of a train track crossing. I think they really aren't too common.

Do me a favor. Drop your pressures to 90psi front and 100psi rear for a ride or 2, then report back.
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Old 06-29-12, 11:39 AM   #23
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what frame and fork did you end up with?
I went with a 2011 RL Conquest Pro; the Alu/CF version before the 2012 full carbon model came out.
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Old 06-29-12, 12:51 PM   #24
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Have a pretty light steel TIG welded Pinarello Cross frame,
would shave a little off
if it had a lighter uni-crown fork rather than a cast crown,
but that is minor.

It replaced an AlAn cross super..
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Old 06-30-12, 11:04 PM   #25
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Most competition bike frames, regardless of material used, are designed by manufacturers for riders that are between 145 lbs and 170lbs in mind, because people that do compete in events are, on the average, around that weight range. This is one of the reasons that when a 230 lbs customer tells a serious custom wheel builder that they want him or her to build them a set of "bomb proof" light wheels that they can put on a light road or off road bike, if that wheel builder is honest, he or she will usually tell them to get their weight down to at least 170 lbs, and give them a call back. A lightweight frame will start behaving unpredictably when you start putting 200lbs or more weight on it, and even more if that bike then has to take on gravel or broken pavement. Some manufacturers have started addressing this issue with bikes that have a beefier set of top tube and down tubes. Waterford Precision Cycles, for example, also makes the Gunnar brand of bicycles, which in turn has a lineup of cyclocross frames. They have their original CX frame, the Crosshairs, with their regular OS2 Air Hardening tube set. They have their new disk based competition frame, the Hyper X. And finally they have their heavy duty frame, the Fastlane, which has a beefier sset of the OS2 Air Hardening top tubes and down tubes. Not only can they accommodate a heavier rider, they can also double as a lightweight touring machine if set up properly. The downside with the Fastlane, is that the beefier tube set make the bike a little heavier. But what you trade in weight, you gain in pure comfort enjoyment and resilience.
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