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Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

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Old 08-17-09, 11:38 AM   #1
ottoMesh
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Pista vs. Keirin

is it true that the 80's Pinarellos, and italian bikes are superior in construction, and are made of a better steel than the NJS frames? Is it an apples and oranges, or is there a clear winner in this competition? Are the Panasonics, and kazanes of today made with the same quality steel, or inferior?
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Old 08-17-09, 11:44 AM   #2
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I think there's a lot of myth about italian racing bicycles. I don't know a definite answer to that question, but if I had to guess, I'd bet that modern japanese bikes use superior steel and production techniques.
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Old 08-17-09, 11:45 AM   #3
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Maybe a better question is, "is there any chance any of this is going to make any difference to me in my experience as a rider?"
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Old 08-17-09, 11:47 AM   #4
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Maybe a better question is, "is there any chance any of this is going to make any difference to me in my experience as a rider?"
Will it make you a better rider? No.

But Italian frames MADE IN ITALY and not outsourced to some Asian empire are better than ones that are. It's all about preserving heritage. See my signature.

When people are dropping $2000+ on an Italian name they consciously or subconsciously expect the frame to have been made in Italy by real Italians. Little do they realize 75% of these bicycles have the Italian name, the Italian pricetag, yet are mass produced in some Chinese factory for its cheap labor.

I personally don't support such companies with my money.
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Old 08-17-09, 11:49 AM   #5
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I smell xenophobia. My bike was hand built in Kyoto, Japan. I think it's a beautiful thing. It would not be what it is if it had been brazed in Italy.
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Old 08-17-09, 11:53 AM   #6
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I smell xenophobia. My bike was hand built in Kyoto, Japan. I think it's a beautiful thing. It would not be what it is if it had been brazed in Italy.
Awesome! So your bike manufacturer is ORIGINALLY based in Japan? Then that is a quality bike. I would love to see your pictures.

The moment your hand built bike starts moving operations into China, Singapore, even Italy --- is the moment when your bike manufacturer officially sucks in my book.

My point is: Italian bikes are to be made in Italy. Japanese bikes are to be made in Japan. Chinese bikes are to be made in China. American bikes are to be made in the USA. The moment a company outsources is how they immediately lose my respect and all my cash.
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Old 08-17-09, 11:57 AM   #7
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It's called a global economy.
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Old 08-17-09, 11:58 AM   #8
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The blame for outsourcing lies with the consumer. None of the manufacturing would move if people were willing to put cash on the table for a quality product made locally. People want cheaper options, more immediate purchases, and easier choices, and ultimately what happens is that the manufacturing cannot be sustained domestically. It's not like these manufacturers *want* to outsource, but when the consumer demand shifts such that they cannot afford to stay in business and keep manufacturing where it originally was, it becomes largely inevitable.
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Old 08-17-09, 12:00 PM   #9
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Yes, I'm aware of that and it's a shame. That's why my future bike purchases will be with custom & local builders of that respective country. I'm willing to pay a lot more to have a bike that preserves heritage.
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Old 08-17-09, 12:03 PM   #10
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My point is: Italian bikes are to be made in Italy. Japanese bikes are to be made in Japan. Chinese bikes are to be made in China. American bikes are to be made in the USA. The moment a company outsources is how they immediately lose my respect and all my cash.
Well, are you willing to pay the premium that's necessery for that? Maybe you are, but others are not.
I love my 600€ bike and I neither know nor care where it was produced. The thing is, welding some steel tubes together isn't rocket science. Chances are, that uneducated farmer's kid in the factory in Shanghai can do it just as well as the guy from Milan who had the craft handed down to him from his great-grandfather.

There's no art or love in such a bike, but it works just as well.
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Old 08-17-09, 12:04 PM   #11
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yes, i'm aware of that and it's a shame. That's why my future bike purchases will be with custom & local builders of that respective country. i'm willing to pay a lot more to have a bike that preserves heritage.
lol.
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Old 08-17-09, 12:06 PM   #12
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I smell xenophobia. My bike was hand built in Kyoto, Japan. I think it's a beautiful thing. It would not be what it is if it had been brazed in Italy.

Yes you do...
Anything not made in Taiwan/China/Asia
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Old 08-17-09, 12:13 PM   #13
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Will it make you a better rider? No.

But Italian frames MADE IN ITALY and not outsourced to some Asian empire are better than ones that are. It's all about preserving heritage. See my signature.

When people are dropping $2000+ on an Italian name they consciously or subconsciously expect the frame to have been made in Italy by real Italians. Little do they realize 75% of these bicycles have the Italian name, the Italian pricetag, yet are mass produced in some Chinese factory for its cheap labor.

I personally don't support such companies with my money.
This post is completely irrelevant. So totally off-topic that you may as well have been discussing starting pitchers for the 1967 Dodgers or something.
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Old 08-17-09, 12:15 PM   #14
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For the best steel bike, I would choose a Japanese-fabricated frameset made of Japanese Kaisei tubing.

Even modest modern steel tubing, such as Kaisei's 4130, has better quality and strength to weight ratios compared to the best of vintage tubing.

I think Kaisei's top end 8630 tubing represents 60% of the tubing used for Keirin frames.

If I had the time to wait and the money (and if they'd make me a threadless fork), I'd go with a steel frame set from a Keirin maker over anything else available.
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Old 08-17-09, 02:27 PM   #15
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Even modest modern steel tubing, such as Kaisei's 4130, has better quality and strength to weight ratios compared to the best of vintage tubing.
really? even better than columbus sl? are you 100% sure?
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Old 08-17-09, 02:35 PM   #16
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really? even better than columbus sl? are you 100% sure?

I'm willing to bet materials engineering has made some advances in the past 25 years.
Not that there is anything wrong with vintage tubing, I ride and love it.
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Old 08-17-09, 03:28 PM   #17
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the guy in my lbs says that columbus SL tubing, especially from the 80s is far far superior to anything being used today, including Reynolds 631. What he knows, I dont know. but he seems to know what hes saying. I tend to want to believe this, cause an 80s pinarello is what i ride
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Old 08-17-09, 03:55 PM   #18
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Yes, I'm aware of that and it's a shame. That's why my future bike purchases will be with custom & local builders of that respective country. I'm willing to pay a lot more to have a bike that preserves heritage.
It would be great to put a list together of all the companies and their bike models that are still made in the original country.
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Old 08-17-09, 04:47 PM   #19
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the guy in my lbs says that columbus SL tubing, especially from the 80s is far far superior to anything being used today, including Reynolds 631. What he knows, I dont know. but he seems to know what hes saying. I tend to want to believe this, cause an 80s pinarello is what i ride
I would totally believe this. I grew up around people who worked in steel mills, and would often hear tales of how steel is suffering from poor workmanship and cost cutting just like everything else. One of the things I remember hearing specifically is that Japanese steel (mind you, this is building-grade steel) is so cheap that all the American contractors are using it in skyscrapers, but when they use/cut it it practically falls apart compared to American steel.

The only Japanese steel that matters is Hatori Hanzo.
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Old 08-17-09, 04:50 PM   #20
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With regards to the "superior in construction" part of the OP's question, that answer is easy: NJS.

NJS-certified frames have to be made to a near bulletproof standard to withstand the rigors of racing. Should more than one frame fail over the course of its professional life, then the builder's shop gets a stringent re-evaluation by the certifying board and potentially loses their ability to produce frames with the NJS stamp. Most recently, it happened to the Vivalo shop after two forks broke during a race.

Italian frames, on the other hand, even from good shops like DeRosa, are frequently inconsistent in their construction, both structurally and aesthetically. I've Cinellis, Colnagos, Pinarellos, etc that are perfectly made and some that are fine, save for an ugly file bite here or a small gap in the brazing there. It's not usually necessarily a bad thing but with most Italian frames, you just have to accept that it is not perfect.

It is still a pretty fair comparison, though, since NJS frames are willfully built with 'old-style' CrMo tubing and a good number of the Japanese framebuilders idolize/emulate/apprenticed with the old Italian masters.

Last edited by trelhak; 08-17-09 at 04:54 PM.
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Old 08-17-09, 06:25 PM   #21
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come on d00d just get a carbon frame lulz
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Old 08-17-09, 06:47 PM   #22
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I smell xenophobia. My bike was hand built in Kyoto, Japan. I think it's a beautiful thing. It would not be what it is if it had been brazed in Italy.
agreed man, seriously.
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Old 08-17-09, 11:30 PM   #23
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Steel production technology, and especially so in Japan and in some European and American low-volume mills, has improved dramatically and steadily over the years.

And I think Japan has a long tradition of producing the finest steel in the world.

From United Bicycle Institute's site:

"Kaisei tubing is a direct descendent of Ishiwata, a Japanese company that established a significant reputation in the market for high-end steel bicycle tubing in the 1970's and 1980's. When Ishiwata closed its doors in 1993, Kaisei became home to many of Ishiwata's most experienced employees and also took over its butted tube manufacturing process. Kaisei currently holds a 60 per cent share of Japan's elite Keirin frame building market."

4130 steel has existed in some form for probably over a hundred years, gaining initial use in the firearms industry because of its toughness and resiliance.

However, the process of producing, shaping and heat-treating steel, regardless of type or composition, has constantly improved.

Kaisei's bottom-of-the-line quad-butted 4130 tube set weighs 1970g, before cutting to dimension.

I can't find a weight for Kaisei's 8630 tube set, which corresponds to a Chrome-Moly-Nickel steel, and which, interestingly, the Germans also manufacture as an industrial knife steel, and which John Greco, an American knife-maker uses exclusively because of its toughness and resiliance.

As for Columbus sl, a quick google search found several sites that compared Columbus sl to Reynolds 531, a steel now considered obsolete for a variety of reasons.

From a highly respected technical site:

"Columbus is also a long-time maker of tubing. SL was very popular in the 80s and is similar in characteristics to Reynolds 531.

Reynolds has made their "531" tubing for nearly forever, literally dating back to the 1920s or 1930s. It's not actually chrome-moly tubing, but the material properties are similar.
"

http://sfcyclotouring.blogspot.com/2...ke-frames.html

"One of the most successful older steels was Reynolds "531", a manganese-molybdenum alloy steel...Reynolds 531 has now been largely replaced in new frames by still-better steels...More common now is 4130 ChroMoly or similar alloys."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle_frame

New and better manufacturing methods have made 4130, an otherwise older steel, superior to 531.

Further, Columbus sl corresponds to Reynolds 531 and not to Reynolds 631.

Reynolds 631 represents a major improvement over 531 and the other tubing steels of the 531 era.

Tubing from the 1970's and 80's has no relevance in comparison to modern tubing except for its nostalgic or historical value.

In terms of metallurgy, I doubt if any of the Japanese tubes compare in terms of strength-to-weight ratios to True Temper's, Reynold's and Columbus's best offerings, but they do compare favorably in quality of manufacture.
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Old 08-18-09, 12:11 AM   #24
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I would totally believe this. I grew up around people who worked in steel mills, and would often hear tales of how steel is suffering from poor workmanship and cost cutting just like everything else. One of the things I remember hearing specifically is that Japanese steel (mind you, this is building-grade steel) is so cheap that all the American contractors are using it in skyscrapers, but when they use/cut it it practically falls apart compared to American steel.

The only Japanese steel that matters is Hatori Hanzo.
Really? Then how could they build something like this?
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Old 08-18-09, 10:21 AM   #25
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Well, let's discuss this xenophobia, or, more specifically, in regards to the Japanese, Nipponphobia.

Some of this will fly in the face of what we have learned from the movies, from government propaganda (school), and "Uncle Joe."

Prior to WWII, Japan produced the finest machine tools and steel in the world, and very cost-effectively.

America and Britain could not compete with Japan on the world market, in terms of quality and price, but especially in terms of quality.

Following WWII, the Japanese literally had nothing except burned-out urban rubble and farms operated by surviving mothers, wives and daughters.

In order to rebuild, Japan needed cash flow, and with few production resources, Japan chose and filled the very bottom production niche of the cheapest goods possible (late 1940's and early 1950's).

That said, by the early 1960's, Japanese industry had regained its feet, and had re-established itself as the quality center of the planet.

Anyone who wanted a specific product produced to the absolutely highest standards would contract with Japanese manufacturers to produce that product.

In the American firearms industry, Browning, for example, contracted with Japanese machine shops to produce specialty firearms for the collector market (the Browning/Winchester Model 1892 comes to mind).

When it comes to Japanese quality today, I think it will suffice to simply say Honda, Acura, Toyota, Lexus, Subaru, and Mazda.

Regarding Japanese bicycle tubing, the Keirin NJS market requires lugged construction, and so the Japanese have not attempted to develop so-called "air-hardening" steels (which have no real use outside of the TIG-welding process) and, instead, have focused on very clean (low impurity and low inclusion) low-alloy (the best steels have less than 2% non-iron ingredients) steels; and, the Japanese have focused on the tubing fabrication process so as to make seamless tubing of very consistent and sophisticated dimensions (quad-butted, etc.).

Apart from "air-hardening" steel intended for TIG welding, the best bicycle tubing probably comes from Japan, although, I think the American manufacturer True Temper would hold up their flagship tubing, S3, as the best tubing for lugged and fillet-brazed construction.

I assume Columbus has a tubing comparable to True Temper S3 and the Japanese NJS steels, intended for lugged construction, but I don't know that much about Columbus tubing (I really only know what I read).

The Italians have thousands of years of good reputation as metal-workers and today many international manufacturers go to the Italians to have their metal prototypes made as proof of concept.

However, when it comes to quality of manufacturing, when quality matters most, the world goes to Japanese manufacturers and contracts with them.
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