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State your case: Best steel bikes according to era, manufacturer and construction

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State your case: Best steel bikes according to era, manufacturer and construction

Old 02-19-17, 05:19 PM
  #26  
OldManJones
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Originally Posted by clubman View Post
My apologies. Ridicule wasn't my intention but your questions are so vast in scope, they're overwhelming. How does one coherently talk about 'peaks' in all of the decades of butted steel bike production and tie it all together with ribbons and a bow? Well designed bikes aren't simply defined by weight, materials or other empirical data. Maybe framebuilders are the best people to address your questions and yes, there are some on the list.

I can give you my top ten list of fave steel bikes but it won't be very useful. I'm just that way.
I'd gladly read your top ten list. I understand the broad nature of the question, and the overall subjectivity. What I was hoping for was a way to narrow down some criteria and get a general sense of the top bikes of the steel era. Maybe it's too difficult a question, and honestly perhaps impossible to answer given the many variables and opinions at play.
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Old 02-19-17, 06:11 PM
  #27  
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I see collectible road bikes based on what most consider a grail. I do like many bikes and not only road though. So this is purely in regards to collecting and no emotion involved. First though, it's a fairly cheap hobby with anyone having the opportunity to own one, so I believe a concensus is difficult, which is why few to almost none skyrocket in value. For something to be valued, many have to agree which as you can see here is a sore subject.

As to what is the best collectible era. To me that began about about the time Campagnolo released the five arm aluminum crank in 58'. So basically about 60', and ended about 87' for many of the reasons Le Eroica states. I have many other thoughts on why this is, but the question was asked about bikes not time frames.

So here goes....
60's-80's Cinelli
70's-90's DeRosa
80s-Present (well I guess they sold now) Pinarello
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Old 02-19-17, 06:16 PM
  #28  
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One thing we can all agree on is that THE BEAST is The Best beer, period.
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Old 02-19-17, 06:17 PM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by AZORCH View Post
Opinion overload in 3... 2... 1...

LOL...
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Old 02-19-17, 07:01 PM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by OldManJones View Post
I'd gladly read your top ten list. I understand the broad nature of the question, and the overall subjectivity. What I was hoping for was a way to narrow down some criteria and get a general sense of the top bikes of the steel era. Maybe it's too difficult a question, and honestly perhaps impossible to answer given the many variables and opinions at play.
A few things to realize here. First, the 'steel era' was a very long time. As BikeRider007 noted, you're better off looking at smaller time periods within the nearly full century that bike road races were run and dominated by steel bikes (road racing started in the very late 1800s). For me, the late 1970s through the 1980s are my period of interest, partly because that's when I got my first road bike, and partly because there are so awesome bikes available, often for small $.

Second, for high-end steel frames/forks you're better off thinking about builders, rather than 'bikes' (by which I assume you mean marques or companies or shops). There are some excellent factory made, mass produced steel bikes, but the 'top bikes' were, and are, hand made. And of course anything that is hand made is going to vary somewhat from bike to bike.

Third, as noted, what kind of racing bike? Crit? Multi-stage race? TT?

Finally, are you asking because you want a fantastic bike to ride, and you'd like to know this bike is just about as good as it gets? Or are you looking for the most amazing wall-hangers, like a new art collector wanting to make sure they have a painting from great artists, regardless of how much they might like the art? If you want something super amazing and collectible, get something ridden in a famous race by a great rider, with an iron-clad provenance. It may not fit you, it may not be ridable, but it would surely be one of the great bikes.

But if you want a rider, and want a premium riding experience on a fantastic steel bike, I think you'll find this list varies from rider to rider.
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Old 02-19-17, 07:52 PM
  #31  
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For Bianchi ONLY, the X4 (circa around 1987) is considered by "many" to be the best steel bike they ever built.
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Old 02-19-17, 08:01 PM
  #32  
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Generally speaking wouldn't we split Cinelli, pre and post Columbus, and maybe pre and post new logo?
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Old 02-19-17, 09:15 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by nlerner View Post
I wonder if anyone has compiled a list of major stage-race winners, the steel-framed bikes they rode, and the year. Those results would say more about the engine than the machine, but seeing the data over time would be interesting.
Then we should all be lusting after Colnagos, and Ernesto should thank Eddy.

With the number of brands that have "earned" world championship stripes, the total array is pretty diverse.
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Old 02-19-17, 09:20 PM
  #34  
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This is a what bear is best thread...there is no answer and there's really no way to answer seriously. Even discussing the criteria to answer is futile and arbitrary.
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Old 02-19-17, 10:30 PM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by KonAaron Snake View Post
This is a what bear is best thread...there is no answer and there's really no way to answer seriously. Even discussing the criteria to answer is futile and arbitrary.
Yogi?
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Old 02-19-17, 11:05 PM
  #36  
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Pretty close to the best would have to be Andy Hampsten's 1988 Land Shark (labeled IIRC as a Huffy or Murray). The bike he rode to a Giro d'Italia victory with his famous ride in the snow on Gavia Pass.

Edit: this was not a team issue bike. It was custom made for Andy from a framebuilder he had a relationship with and trusted. He did not trust the team issue bikes which were also relabeled.

Ben
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Old 02-20-17, 08:44 AM
  #37  
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Big Mig's Pinarello was the last steel bike to have a TdF win to its credit, -- I'll start with that one

Likely a Pegoretti machine, but other than that, looks like any other 21-22 lb steel bike out there
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Old 02-20-17, 08:56 AM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by armstrong101 View Post
For Bianchi ONLY, the X4 (circa around 1987) is considered by "many" to be the best steel bike they ever built.
But what separates it from their other SLX frames?
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Old 02-20-17, 09:01 AM
  #39  
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Early 1970's Schwinn Varsity/Continental/Suburban. They do exactly what they are designed to do with a minimum of fuss. Decades of day-to-day use and other than replacing consumables, keep on running.
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Old 02-20-17, 09:08 AM
  #40  
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In 1951, Claud Butler began using "bi-laminated" lugs on some top models, and I think they were a game-changer. This advancement in frame technology is one of the main reasons that this marque was and still is, so highly-thought-of. I think these frames were top-of-the-crop in the 1950's:
Claud Butler bilaminates

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Old 02-20-17, 09:10 AM
  #41  
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While the only frame I have any experience with in this class is my Bianchi Proto I am going to say the early '90 class of Columbus Nivachrome tubing like MAX, EL, EL OS, Mini MAX etc and Genuis. I think with the newer material steel was becoming lighter and using differential tubing designs like in the MAX fram and pioneered to an extent in Columbus MS designers and manufacturers the ability to more finely tune ride and performance of the steel frames.

Sadly carbon fiber became cheaper and everyone was convinced they had to have it instead.
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Old 02-20-17, 09:15 AM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by Bianchigirll View Post
While the only frame I have any experience with in this class is my Bianchi Proto I am going to say the early '90 class of Columbus Nivachrome tubing like MAX, EL, EL OS, Mini MAX etc and Genuis. I think with the newer material steel was becoming lighter and using differential tubing designs like in the MAX fram and pioneered to an extent in Columbus MS designers and manufacturers the ability to more finely tune ride and performance of the steel frames.

Sadly carbon fiber became cheaper and everyone was convinced they had to have it instead.
I'm curious about how 953, XCR and Spirit compare with EL OS and MAX.
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Old 02-20-17, 09:17 AM
  #43  
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Dede Demet's 2002 World Championship lugged steel Mariposa. Wish I could find a better pic.

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Old 02-20-17, 09:23 AM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by KonAaron Snake View Post
I'm curious about how 953, XCR and Spirit compare with EL OS and MAX.
Someone should do a test on modern tubing like the one in the link below from '96, where the writer couldn't tell a difference in the feel between EL/OS and straight gauge Aelle.

Magnificent 7
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Old 02-20-17, 09:25 AM
  #45  
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Old 02-20-17, 09:45 AM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by Kevindale View Post
A few things to realize here. First, the 'steel era' was a very long time. As BikeRider007 noted, you're better off looking at smaller time periods within the nearly full century that bike road races were run and dominated by steel bikes (road racing started in the very late 1800s). For me, the late 1970s through the 1980s are my period of interest, partly because that's when I got my first road bike, and partly because there are so awesome bikes available, often for small $.

Second, for high-end steel frames/forks you're better off thinking about builders, rather than 'bikes' (by which I assume you mean marques or companies or shops). There are some excellent factory made, mass produced steel bikes, but the 'top bikes' were, and are, hand made. And of course anything that is hand made is going to vary somewhat from bike to bike.

Third, as noted, what kind of racing bike? Crit? Multi-stage race? TT?

Finally, are you asking because you want a fantastic bike to ride, and you'd like to know this bike is just about as good as it gets? Or are you looking for the most amazing wall-hangers, like a new art collector wanting to make sure they have a painting from great artists, regardless of how much they might like the art? If you want something super amazing and collectible, get something ridden in a famous race by a great rider, with an iron-clad provenance. It may not fit you, it may not be ridable, but it would surely be one of the great bikes.

But if you want a rider, and want a premium riding experience on a fantastic steel bike, I think you'll find this list varies from rider to rider.
Thank you for the response. It helps me to understand more of why I'm curious. I think what I'm most interested in is the construction methods used around the time just before they left the tours. How would a bike used by top riders in the late 80s compare to the early 80s and previous times. Were there significant improvements leading to much better performances all the way until riders went to carbon fiber? Maybe these questions would be best answered by framebuilders.
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Old 02-20-17, 10:15 AM
  #47  
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Originally Posted by KonAaron Snake View Post
This is a what bear is best thread...there is no answer and there's really no way to answer seriously. Even discussing the criteria to answer is futile and arbitrary.
Ice Bear has an opinion.

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Old 02-20-17, 10:15 AM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by Bianchigirll View Post
But what separates it from their other SLX frames?
I've read that upon close inspection the shape of the tubes are different.
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Old 02-20-17, 10:21 AM
  #49  
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Originally Posted by Lazyass View Post
Someone should do a test on modern tubing like the one in the link below from '96, where the writer couldn't tell a difference in the feel between EL/OS and straight gauge Aelle.

Magnificent 7
I re read that -- I remember reading it in 1996 and feeling a bit vindicated by my decision to go with an Aelle machine. It was a special order, (not a custom frame) so I had already weighed the pro's and cons in my mind.

Until I saw this article, I had intended to ride the Aelle bike for a season then dump it for something "better" when I was more financially stable. When I read the comparison to EL-OS, I just stopped worrying about it , --- purely psychological- I thought I had purchased the bargain basement machine, so surely there are some real and tangible performance trade offs, -- but not so according to the test, - just a few oz. of additional weight.

At the time my main thoughts were on stiffness and power transfer anyway

I wound up putting 30k (estimated) on that frameset and rewarded it last year with a full restoration built up with my personal 95/96 dream kit


It just goes to show, when reading these subjective bicycle evaluations, we have to cast a bit of a jaded eye and look at other factors influencing an evaluation, such as wheels, tires, and even groupset level.
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Old 02-20-17, 10:33 AM
  #50  
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
Ice Bear has an opinion.

I still say Mike Singletary, but someone always comes back with Sweetness, Butkus, Cutler...
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