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  1. #1
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    Looking for a lighter steel frame

    I currently have a Schwinn Traveler, which I love, but it's absurdly heavy. It's created from 4130 chromoly. I have been looking at the unbranded Motobecane Jury frames, which seem to made from Reynolds 520. Would that be lighter than 4130? Should I look for a used 531 frame? What are the light steels that are reasonably priced?

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    Reynolds 520 is (literally) just brand name for 4130, but that's not the whole story. The weight of a frame is conditional on the material it is made out of (such as 4130) and, arguably more importantly, the thickness of the tubes (butted vs not, for example). You can make some very light bikes out of 4130 steel, and some boat anchors.

    A 531 frame will be very nice, but also quite old and likely expensive. For now, just compare the weights of various frames in your price range.
    I have a front brake, but I only use it for slowing or stopping.

  3. #3
    Comanche Racing PedallingATX's Avatar
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    I would go w/ some Reynolds 631. It is light and has a very lively feel. The cheapest (I think...) 631 frame you can get is the IRO Angus frameset for 320. Soma Rush is Tange Prestige which is pretty light and then I have a Jamis Sputnik which is 631 w/ a carbon fiber fork.

    I would recommend getting an Angus frameset and putting a carbon fiber fork on it. If you want a complete bike, though, the sputnik is pretty light weighing in at 17 lbs complete.
    skinnytire

  4. #4
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    Alien Bikes, IRO, EAI, KHS they all make lighter steel bikes that wont break the bank. Its cheap steel, but its not as bad as the Schwinn.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member devilshaircut's Avatar
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    What exactly does the Alien weigh in at?

  6. #6
    Comanche Racing PedallingATX's Avatar
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    all of these frames are ~ 4 lbs. IRO is like 3.9 whereas a 4130 bike will be maybe 4.2? Point is, there are a lot of other ways to lose weight on your bike. All of these bikes will be a lot lighter than your traveller. If you want to make your bike really light, though, get a light saddle, CF fork, light wheelset, etc.
    skinnytire

  7. #7
    Senior Member frymaster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zacked View Post
    arguably more importantly, the thickness of the tubes (butted vs not, for example). You can make some very light bikes out of 4130 steel, and some boat anchors
    +1

    1. double-butted 4130 will be much lighter than your current frame... a 55cm butted 4130 frame is usually about 4-ish pounds. not that bad.

    2. if you choose to go with the soma rush, note that tange prestige is considered to be for "lighter" riders (ie 160lbs or less) and that riders who weigh more than that may experience "flex issues".
    "Let's try and keep the constructive answers in the commuting forum." --SheistyMike

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    Senior Member frymaster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PedallingATX View Post
    If you want to make your bike really light, though, get a light saddle, CF fork, light wheelset, etc.
    seriously. the frame is only 4lbs, so if you're looking for a sub-20 pound bike, that's only 20% of the total weight.

    mind you, the whole ounce-counting thing is a dangerous mentality... i once heard a roadie say that he could shave 150 grammes off his total weight by either spending $200 on carbon fibre brake levers or $20 on a haircut. if you really want to save 4 lbs, get a smaller u-lock, a short haircut and don't bring a water bottle.

    way cheaper than a new frame.
    "Let's try and keep the constructive answers in the commuting forum." --SheistyMike

  9. #9
    Comanche Racing PedallingATX's Avatar
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    yeah. and backpacks. Sonds obvious, but I am so used to riding w/ a backpack that when I go w/ out one I feel like my tires are filled w/ helium.

    OP- I do think you will notice an advantage by getting a new frame. Maybe not just w/ weight, but with overall feel. I switched from an old conversion to a Sputnik and it's like night and day. Threadless stem, stronger tubing, lighter, it just feels better. Something like an IRO Angus could be a good investment. BUT, as far as strictly weight goes, there are a lot of ways to make a bike light and the frame isn't always the best way to do that.
    skinnytire

  10. #10
    Senior Member devilshaircut's Avatar
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    Okay correct me if I am wrong ... but seriously guys ... the guy doesn't sound that concerned about getting some high-end featherlight frame or shaving ounces. He just wants something lighter than his vintage Schwinn. Those things weigh a lot. I can totally sympathize with someone who wants a lighter bike when they are riding an old steel rig around. It's not always about performance even. Half of the time, you want something lighter just for lugging down your porch stairs or on the public transit escalator.

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    No, i'm not a weight weenie, and I actually think it's kind of and obsessive.

    It's just a really heavy frame.

    How much of a weight difference is there really between something like a Traveler and a new steel frame? Is it really as dramatic of a difference as people make it out to be? What's the typical weight difference between a steel and aluminum frame? What's the heaviest components of a bike then? The wheels?

  12. #12
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    I think the moral of the story is that any decent frame will do, be it double-butted 4130 or 631. It's just a matter of budget.

    My opinion is that no matter what you get, don't go cheap on the wheelset. Use double-butted spokes and a light 32h rim and the bike will be very, very responsive.

  13. #13
    Senior Member devilshaircut's Avatar
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    Why don't you just plop down the ~$300 for a new BD bike? Many frames suggested thus far cost that much alone. Sure, the frame you'll end up with won't be as light as, say, a Soma Rush with Trange Prestige tubing, but you'll get lighter parts too. Compared to a stock oldschool Schwinn Traveler, you'd probably save like 5 lbs, which is plenty.

    EDIT: And about the wheels, what the above poster said, totally. If you are concerned about the weight from a performance standpoint (as opposed to a practical standpoint), you'll notice more gains if you shed weight in your wheels. I know the difference between my beater wheels and my lightweight wheels is pretty dramatic. I can easily feel it when I ride.

  14. #14
    Dances With Cars TRaffic Jammer's Avatar
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    If you end up shaving a couple lbs off the bike, you'll notice it, coming off the light, haulin' up the hill. etc. I have a pretty hearty steel frame and have been contemplating something a bit lighter as well.

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    What makes a rim "light"? How many spokes? The type of aluminum it's made of?

  16. #16
    Senior Member devilshaircut's Avatar
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    Material, overall design, etc.

    E.g., Deep Vs are a little heavy, but they are a little more aero/durable also. New box section rims are usually lighter (less material), but they are less aero. CF is lighter than aluminum, but high end ones have very deep sections which push the weight up some. Hubs also will vary in weight. Trispoke, or disc wheels are obviously the most aero options, and are relatively light because they are usually CF, but the extra material adds more weight than would be there otherwise. For your purposes (it doesn't sound like performance is your top concern), I would look for something that can withstand street riding. Keep maintenance low. The variation of wheel weight isn't a ton at your price point, and it will only be noticeable when you're riding.

  17. #17
    Senior Member frymaster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jollysnowman View Post
    I think the moral of the story is that any decent frame will do, be it double-butted 4130 or 631. It's just a matter of budget.
    i agree. i was reacting to the implication that the op thought his frame was heavy because it was 4130...

    if you want to improve your ride, the frame is the component that will make the biggest difference. not just because of weight but also from stiffness, wheelbase, better fit and all that. i think if you get a double-butted 4130 frame that fits well and has a tighter wheelbase then you will notice a world of difference.
    "Let's try and keep the constructive answers in the commuting forum." --SheistyMike

  18. #18
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    I have a new Jury coming from a 501 butted tube Trek conversion. The Jury feels better than the Trek but is also a quite a bit heavier. Geometry on the other hand, the Jury feels wack compared to the racing geo on the Trek.

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    Here's a question that I think will better help me understand weight.

    In order, what components on a bike typically weight the most? i.e. frme, wheels, fork ...... brakes, etc.?

    How much will a complete steel bike weight compared to a complete aluminum bike? A complete CF bike?

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    Most likely goes like frame, wheels, fork etc. Come on, it's only 20 lbs, no need to nitpick.

    Alum, CF, Steel, Ti...it really depends on the manufacturing process. I've molested my fair share of light and heavy bikes of all materials with the exception of Ti. Probably only because it's so cost prohibitive to work with that it just demands the person know what they're doing.

  21. #21
    Senior Member devilshaircut's Avatar
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    The weight of steel, aluminum, and CF vary a lot because the quality, age, and construction vary a lot.

    My friend has a vintage Trek lugged CF frame that weighs as much as my steel Free Spirit beater. My aluminum P2T weighs in at 19 lbs which is heavier than a fully built up CAAD9.

    What you should be asking yourself is how much weight you can shave off for a given amount of money. You'll be able to lose a lot of weight because your original bike is so heavy. But the more you want to take off, the more it'll begin to cost you. I would just say, I wanna get a bike that's about 5 lbs lighter, and not worry about comparing anything beyond that. Given your budget, it seems reasonable.

  22. #22
    Comanche Racing PedallingATX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by devilshaircut View Post
    and it will only be noticeable when you're riding.
    haha. As opposed to when you're walking w/ your bike? Sorry I just thought that was funny.
    skinnytire

  23. #23
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    When it comes to frames, with a certain price range, you won't see a whole lot of deviation IMO. Expect a frame to weigh 3.5-4.5lbs. If you're working under $1k, pretty much any bike you get will start off around 18-20 pounds, with the IRO Angus, Jamis Sputnik, and a few others being the lightest.

    I'm gonna say again that you should definitely splurge on the wheelset; you can save a couple lbs and your bike will be much, much quicker than with a lighter frame. Pick any low-profile box section rim (I say Mavic CXP, Open Pro/Sport), lace it with double-butted spokes to 32h hubs. You can get a used road hub for the front to save some more grams. Open Pros are arguably the most popular rims out there because of their light weight and durability. This'll cost around $300, but will last forever.

    You can also get a carbon seatpost. I'm guessing you save maybe 1/4 to 1/2 a pound, and people say the ride quality is a little better. Carbon forks are the same way, but can be pricey, and it might be hard finding a fork with the same rake as what you have.

    Upgrading any other components (brake levers, brakes, handlebars, etc.) is a little pointless. You're only saving maybe 20 grams for each component, and the price gets elevated very quickly.

    Also, keep in mind that ANY bike you can buy today will be lighter than a Schwinn Traveler.

  24. #24
    Senior Member devilshaircut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PedallingATX View Post
    haha. As opposed to when you're walking w/ your bike? Sorry I just thought that was funny.
    I was referring to carrying it, as I mentioned before, like on public transit, or transporting out of your house, in your car, whatever. Personally, I carry my bike a lot. I live in an apartment building and often take public transit.

  25. #25
    Senior Member frymaster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jollysnowman View Post
    I'm gonna say again that you should definitely splurge on the wheelset; you can save a couple lbs and your bike will be much, much quicker than with a lighter frame. Pick any low-profile box section rim (I say Mavic CXP, Open Pro/Sport), lace it with double-butted spokes to 32h hubs. You can get a used road hub for the front to save some more grams. Open Pros are arguably the most popular rims out there because of their light weight and durability. This'll cost around $300, but will last forever.
    i heartily agree with this sentiment. wheels are rotational weight, ie you move the weight forward and around and around, so it counts for pretty much double. my geared roadbike has tubulars glued to some very light rims and the difference is *very* noticable.

    secondly, on the wheel front, is rolling resistance. keeping your tires inflated to their rated max makes a big difference in ride quality and choosing a slick tire also helps.

    ultimately, it comes down to what the op really wants. a new frame will be lighter and may be stiffer, have a better geometry and better fit (lots of conversions are based on convenient frames that often are a poor fit for the rider). a new wheelset will definitely be lighter, may have less rolling resistance and may have a better true (again, lots of conversions i see, especially those with re-dished rear wheels, tend to have some frighteningly un-true wheels). he'll just have to decide which solution best fits his problem.
    "Let's try and keep the constructive answers in the commuting forum." --SheistyMike

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