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Thread: Which steel?

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    imi
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    Which steel?

    Any opinions on the advantages/disadvantages of these different Reynolds steels for a fully loaded 700c rig for riding mainly on paved roads (Europe, USA, OZ, NZ)?
    I'm 154 lbs, up to 40 lbs of gear mostly on the rear rack, 28/32 mm tires...

    The difference in price from the cheapest to most expensive is about $500 which is irrelevant.
    I'm obviously going to discuss this with the builder before ordering - but you guys' wisdom would be most appreciated as well

    631 tubing
    631 oversize tubing
    725 tubing
    725 oversize tubing
    853 tubing
    853 oversize tubing
    853 Pro Team tubing

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    I would go with oversized tubing to try to prevent the shimmy effect when loaded. The difference between the tubing numbers is mainly inner wall thickness. The 853 will be thinner, which will make the frame lighter. Some may say that each will ride differently too, but I doubt you'd notice the difference.

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    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    For touring applications, I don't think it matters.

    Plenty of people put plenty of miles on cheap steel bikes (notably Surly, 4130) with the same level of reliability and performance as spendier steel.

    You may want to look into a little bit of ovalized tubing for additional strength. However even round tubes are fine, and give you the option to throw on a set of S&S couplers if you are so inclined.

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    4130 is the designation for Chrome Moly steel by the steel industry , You are listing products of the Reynolds company
    Columbus Oria , Tange, etc also supply thin-wall seamless tube for the bike biz

    they are all shooting towards thin light, strong considering how thin wall they are

    the numbers you need to have in mind are the wall thicknesses of the tubes 1.0mm . 0.9., .8. etc.

    for touring when you will be fitting a few bottle braze ons in the middle of the tube then putting gear on the rear rack

    Even Double Butting begins to be un needed.. thinning 0.2 or 0.3mm from the middle of the tube ..

    with a load a bit more wall thickness in the tubes helps, and a lateral stiffness to the top tube gives oversize that
    to also be 9/8" like the downtube is commonly done..

    an ovalized tube wide aspect horizontal as the top tube, and vertical for the down tube,
    would be a good thing for a load carrying bike frame.

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    631 is pretty high-end steel compared with a lot of bicycle steels out there. I think the Jamis Aurora Elite uses 631. I had a Jamis Sputnik (ss/fixed) that was 631 (and a carbon fork) and I thought it was one of the nicest feeling road bikes I ever had the pleasure to ride. Basically, I'd go with the 631 oversize and leave it at that.
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    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Lets see...

    First long tour was on a High Ten steel bike, made it over 2,000 miles no failure. FWIW I wouldn't worry too much about the type of steel, but choose strength over weight. The geometry is probably more important. FWIW I still ride the lower end steel frames for touring. Giant Iguana with 4130 and a Giant Excursion which is Chromemoly. I have a Dawes Galaxy that is 531, but it is set up as an old school club racer.

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    imi
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
    Lets see... First long tour was on a High Ten steel bike, made it over 2,000 miles no failure. FWIW I wouldn't worry too much about the type of steel, but choose strength over weight.
    Yeah I hear you... I did my first tour (Sweden to Spain) on a 5-speed Monark... since then my touring bike has been a faithful 25 y/o Miyata 100 but the frame is now bent.
    I completely rebuilt it last year before this winter's tour as I wouldn't have had time to have got the custom frame together - still held up, but the rear wheel had to be under-dished to align correctly :/

    Now, however, I'm going for my "dream" frame, fully custom... In a not-so-distant future I'll be living permanently on the road, following the sun on my bike 'til the end of my days

    Not saying it has to be my last frame... a 26" expedition bike could well be more suitable in the future but for now I'm looking to replace my nifty 700c "sport tourer"

    In light of this, durability is obviously most important, as I imagine somewhere there's a trade off between weight and durability in the different types of steel, 'though probably 631, 725 or 853 normal or oversized would all be suitable.

    I've decided against S&S couplers as this wouldn't really gain me any advantage with airlines.

    Thanks everyone for your input so far

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    eternalvoyage
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    953 is another option. There are many opinions out there about this steel and the available tubing made from it, but there is no doubt that it is an extremely strong material.

    Of the ones you mention, I would go with 853, probably oversized (more stable, less likely to shimmy).

    Dent and fatigue resistance is much higher with these steels than with standard 4130.

    Co-Motion chose 725 for some of their tubes, in part because 853 was not available in the same range of tubing diameters and thicknesses.

    There are some other hardened stainless steels, besides 953, that might also be worth a look.

    If you have the time and inclination, it might be worth going to http://www.mtbr.com/reviewscrx.aspx and reading through some of the reviews of bikes made from 853 and other materials. Some of those guys are very hard on their bikes. There are some 853 reviews that talk about how much better the steel held up through all the abuse. The paint was scratched and dinged, but the tubes didn't dent nearly as easily, and the bikes could simply be repainted.

    I've spoken with frame builders who have torture tested 853. They say the difference is huge between the standard 4130 and the 853, which is extremely tough and resilient.

    http://www.roadbikereview.com/ might also have some interesting reviews, although the hardcore mountain bikers' reviews might be more interesting and useful.

    Some of the steels are easier to weld than others, some stay stronger than others after welding, and some even strengthen near the welds.

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    Crazyguyonabike
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    Quote Originally Posted by imi View Post
    I'm 154 lbs, up to 40 lbs of gear mostly on the rear rack
    I weigh 195 lbs just by myself, which is the same as you plus your gear. I think, honestly, that you don't have to be concerned about the frame material, because just about any touring bike should be strong enough to handle your weight. That said, my impression is that oversized diameter tubing matters much more than the type of tubing when it comes to frame strength and stiffness. My Co-Motion Americano is made from oversized 725, for example, which some might think isn't as "good" as 853. However Dwan Shepard of Co-Motion told me that Rohloff recently did one of their tests on a Rohloff-specific Americano frame (can't remember exactly what they were testing, but it was something to do with stiffness or torsion or whatever). Rohloff came back and told Dwan that this was the strongest frame they had ever tested.

    But like I said, at your light weight, it probably doesn't matter. Only fat asses like me need to worry about this sort of thing. I hate you.

    ;-)

    Neil
    Last edited by NeilGunton; 09-11-10 at 12:04 PM. Reason: speling

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    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    all those are high grade tubesets, air hardening and some are stainless?

    but like someone else mentioned its the tubing thickness more than the steel grade you need to worry about IMO. I'm not a framemaker however. i believe you can purchase tubesets in those grades in a variety of wall thickness and taper.

    yes, a good discussion with the framemaker, what might be more important is what tubeset the builder likes to work with, and then specify burlier wall thicknesses.

    PDF from renyolds here about available tubesets for you to look at.
    Last edited by Bekologist; 09-11-10 at 12:56 PM.
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    imi
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    Quote Originally Posted by NeilGunton View Post
    But like I said, at your light weight, it probably doesn't matter. Only fat asses like me need to worry about this sort of thing. I hate you.
    HAHA!!! Thanks Neil, that gave me a good laugh!

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    imi have you decided what tubes you are going to use and have you a frame builder in mind .
    what about money would it be rude to ask how much .
    i was looking at the paul villiers web site he sure makes some lovely bikes in your choice of steel 1000 euro or there about's for a custom frame paintwork included.

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    imi
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    Quote Originally Posted by antokelly View Post
    imi have you decided what tubes you are going to use and have you a frame builder in mind .
    what about money would it be rude to ask how much .
    i was looking at the paul villiers web site he sure makes some lovely bikes in your choice of steel 1000 euro or there about's for a custom frame paintwork included.
    I'll me going to england in december to get fitted and order. The three frames I have been looking at are the Bob Jackson "World Tour", Mercian "King of Mercia" and Chas Roberts "Transcontinental"... All pretty similar (traditional),

    Mercian seem to put a lot of emphasis on taking the time to get the fit right and going over the details with customers, which is tipping the balance strongly in that direction. It was there I got the list of steels in my original post. Not having discussed this with them yet, I'm leaning towards 725 oversized.
    Here's the Mercian specs and prices for the different tubings

    Not rude at all to ask about the price - If my reckoning is right the BJ would be cheapest, followed by Mercian then CR - add ons up the price of the basic frames, so I'm reckoning on around 1000 - if I saw any real advantage in S&S couplers I'd go for that as well.

    It's a great to be able to spec everything from threaded head, extra bottle cage bosses to vertical dropouts, kickstand braze on, paint job etc... some off-the-peg frames get close to what I want but not "precisely"...

    I completely rebuilt my bike last year, so I'll just move everything onto the new frame and pedal happily off into the sunset

    p.s thanks everyone for all the great advice and links ya'll posted in this thread!
    Last edited by imi; 09-12-10 at 08:35 AM.

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    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    I had a Bob Jackson Tourist semi custom back in the mid 70's, I only got a few hundred miles on it before it was stolen. But it was a great ride and I might just get another one some day.

    Aaron
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    imi
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
    ... I only got a few hundred miles on it before it was stolen...
    that's a real shame :'(

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    Crazyguyonabike
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    Quote Originally Posted by imi View Post
    It's a great to be able to spec everything from threaded head, extra bottle cage bosses to vertical dropouts, kickstand braze on, paint job etc... some off-the-peg frames get close to what I want but not "precisely"...
    Couple of things to think about:

    1. Bottle cage mount position. If you ever want to have oversized bottles on your bike, then the standard position for the cages might not allow for this. For example, on my Americano I didn't think about this before ordering the bike, and I found that when I wanted to put on my stainless steel insulated bottles, which are wider than usual, it wouldn't work. The cages were too close to each other and the bottles interfered with each other. I had to rig up an adapter to move the cage on the downtube up a few cms. You may not think you will want this, but it's nice to have the flexibility, so just something to think about.

    2. Tire clearance. Again, this is not something I thought about before ordering my Americano, and I found out afterwards that due to the monster chainstays, I couldn't put anything larger than 700x35 on there. That bummed me out at first, since I wanted the flexibility to be able to take on rougher trails as well as roads (but I'm over it now, the bike has won me over with its other attributes). The thing is, if I had asked Dwan about this beforehand then they could have easily tweaked things a bit to allow for more clearance. The other place where clearance can become a bit of an issue is between the bottom of the fork steerer tube and the top of the tire. This is the case on my Rocky Mountain Sherpa - everywhere else on the bike, 700x50 tires are no problem, but that is the spot where it's fairly close. It's always a shame when you have plenty of clearance everywhere else on the bike but this one spot. So, worth having a discussion about this beforehand. It's always nice to have the space for larger tires - you don't have to use it, but at least it's there, and makes the bike much more flexible!

    3. Ask for a mount hole right at the front of the fork, right at the bottom of the head tube (i.e. just above the top of the tire). This can be useful for mounting small top platform racks like the Rivendell Mark's Rack. Or a light (which is what I think that position is for). Don't assume it'll be there if you don't ask for it. It can either be threaded in its own right, or else if you also have a hole on the back (for fenders) then you can just put a long bolt through both holes and use a nut.

    4. Think about a kickstand plate just aft of the bottom bracket - this would allow you to use the Pletscher two legged kickstand (if you want that) without having to worry about clamping the chainstays (and potentially denting them in the process).

    5. Is this going to be a disk brake or rim brake bike? If disk brake then make sure the disk mounts are positioned such that they don't interfere with the rack mounting - that means on the inside of the seat stays on the rear. Sounds like you're talking about a rim brake bike, though.

    6. How will they do the mount points for racks? My Americano has these built into the dropouts - so it's all one piece of metal, which makes the rack point very much stronger than if it was welded or brazed on. See if the builder can make (or use) dropouts which have the rack holes built in. Co-Motion CNC machines their own, so they can design it exactly how they want it (the disk tabs are also part of the one piece). Believe it or not, people do break those little rack brazeons. It's quite a stress point on the bike, all the weight that's on the rack rests there, so worth thinking about. If they have to weld them, then make sure they do an extra beefy weld to make it as strong as possible.

    7. Make sure they give you a long enough steerer tube to be able to play with handlebar positions (assuming you're getting threadless headset - if you get a quill stem then this doesn't apply so much, but in that case you need to make sure the quill stem is long and deep enough to give you the option of raising the handlebars if you want that). Key thing is to give yourself options.

    8. Further to the steerer tube thing - if you going threadless stem and are able to get the bike sized so that you have the stem situated at or near the top of the steerer tube, with a bunch of spacers underneath it, then this can be VERY useful - it means you can fit on either a second stem beneath the "real" one (inverted, probably, so that it slopes down instead of up) or one of the Thorn Accessory Bars (which is like a stem and short piece of bar all in one piece, very nice). This then lets you mount a handlebar bag or other stuff like pepper spray or whatever below the handlebar. Mainly it's useful for the handlebar bag, because drop bars have limited space for stuff like this. So I have my bike computer and GPS on top, and the handlebar bag below. Also helps to get the bar bag a little lower. Just something else to think about.

    I'm not saying you need all these things, but they are hopefully food for thought...

    Neil

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    say neil have you any detailed photo's of your bike love to see it thanks.

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    imi
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    Quote Originally Posted by NeilGunton View Post
    Couple of things to think about...


    I'm not saying you need all these things, but they are hopefully food for thought...

    Neil
    Food for thought indeed! I have to get some sleep before work tomorrow morning, and will probably be thinking about these finer points all day! Thank You Neil!

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    I'm not commenting on different steel types, I haven't toured on all of them.

    That said, I think Raleigh has their head on right these days... so much so, that I almost pulled the trigger on a Clubman or Port Townsend for myself just on a whim.

    And I still might

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    Crazyguyonabike
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    Quote Originally Posted by antokelly View Post
    say neil have you any detailed photo's of your bike love to see it thanks.
    I posted a couple of pics of the latest incarnation on my profile here:

    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/neil

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    thanks neil I'll pop along there now and have a look.
    cheers
    anto.

    edit .
    that is one class looking bike.does it preform as good as it look's.
    thanks again for the link.
    Last edited by antokelly; 09-12-10 at 02:34 PM.

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    Stiffness goes up to the third power of diameter, and strength to the second. So that pretty much tells you what you need to know about oversized. It doesn't really tell you whether you will prefer a stiff ride or a softer one. I don't bother with high tech steels that mostly have their purpose on racing bikes. No point, really, in going to them if you want thicker walls anyway for BOs etc... The total amount of steel that is shifted going to butted, only affects two tubes. Assuming your tubes will be butted because you are buying a "nice" bike, then the difference is shifting one size either way in two tubes. Completely meaningless. And stiffness and strength wise this is a case where the 2nd and 3rd powers will be working in favor of the thicker wall tubes.

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    $.02 with no knowledge of those designations that the steel is somewhat irrelevant compared to the dimensions and geometry. If you go for thin tubing it'll dent more easily and for touring thin tubing has little practical use. For 40lbs of gear I'd be inclined to get something with oversized tubing. When I was your weight regular Reynolds 531 worked fine for 20lb loads but for 40lbs I'd want something more solid.

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