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Best Steel?

Old 01-07-11, 08:44 PM
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Best Steel?

Its all a matter of opinion i guess. So I'm asking the opinion of the mob. What is the best racing steel? lets try and keep it c&v for the most part.
SLX?
TSX?
Multishape?
EL OS?
531?
753?
853?
Tange?
other?

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Old 01-07-11, 08:51 PM
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I haven't tried all that many, but

SL is really nice for me
Tange Champion in ye olde Univega Super Special seemed just about as good.

MTB wise : Tange Superlight (it's a Prestige variety.) This was 1996 vintage, I'll call that C&V for MTBs, though
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Old 01-07-11, 08:57 PM
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I would include Vitus 930 and True Temper in that mix.

- But frankly, my derriere can't tell the difference between '531, Tange 2, SL or TT. I am not familiar with the others.
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Old 01-07-11, 09:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Old Fat Guy View Post
Depends on the builder.
yes it does. its play the all things being equal game.
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Old 01-07-11, 09:02 PM
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I don't think I'm a True Temper guy. I had a Trek 400T with True Temper that I found lacking. I'm not as stoked on my True Temper KHS MTB as I have been on some of my other Steel MTBs.
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Old 01-07-11, 09:03 PM
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It's not a matter of opinion so much as a silly question. The best steel is the best for a given bike and a given rider: the rider's height, weight, riding style, the type of bike, terrain, load, etc. Many custom bikes have been built from tubing from more than one manufacturer.
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Old 01-07-11, 09:09 PM
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in that list: 853 is the best for racing.

I've tried 531, 853, generic 4130 cromoly, Tange 2, Ishiwata 022/019, SLX, Columbus Foco.

I hear good things about true temper S3 and platinum OX. I have an itch to try them.

953 is untouchable and out of my reach, maybe in a few years when their owners start selling them.

853 has the best price/performance ratio when buying used.

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Old 01-07-11, 09:15 PM
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Most of the Geezers I have talked to prefer SL - But thats probably from the bikes they wish they had ridden...
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Old 01-07-11, 09:16 PM
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Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets View Post
I don't think I'm a True Temper guy. I had a Trek 400T with True Temper that I found lacking. I'm not as stoked on my True Temper KHS MTB as I have been on some of my other Steel MTBs.
I had a 400T but do not base my opinion about TT on that - But I have a 420 now and I like it a lot. I guess frame geometry is going to slant opinions.
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Old 01-07-11, 09:32 PM
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As 531phile said, I think 853 is the best in that list for racing.
take note though - for racing -
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Old 01-07-11, 09:33 PM
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Mine.

My grail steel is a Super Vitus Peugeot. When I first started looking into older bikes, that was the one that caught my attention first.

That said, it's all really a matter of opinion and what you feel fastest or most comfortable on.
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Old 01-07-11, 09:34 PM
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From 1977 - 1981 it was 753. Hands down.
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Old 01-07-11, 09:35 PM
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my EL OS frame blows my old 853 frame out of the water.

(granted, its probably because it was built by tommasini)


here is some info on EL OS:
In the 1970's and 1980's when Columbus' SL and SLX tubing were the state of the art, the top tube was 25mm in diameter and the downtube was 28mm in diameter. The tubing wall was 0.9mm thick at the ends and drawn down to 0.6mm in the center of the tubes. This is what is meant by "double butted". The internal diameter of the tube varies so that the tube is thicker at the joints, where the stress is greatest.

In the early 1990's, steel tubes underwent a small revolution. The top tube changed from 25mm diameter to 28mm. The down tube went from 28mm to 32mm. This increase in diameter allowed the tubing makers to make the walls thinner and still get a stiffer, lighter frame. An additional bonus was the profound improvement in the feel of the bike. The new bikes became more stable (mostly, I think, because of the bigger top tube) and gained a fluid, beautiful feel that is impossible to describe, but wonderful to experience.

With these bigger diameter tubes, the wall thickness at the thinnest part of the tubes went from 0.6mm to 0.5mm and even 0.4mm. Columbus' Brain Oversize (or Brain OS) was 0.8mm at the butt and drawn down to 0.5mm in the center section. People loved the feel of Brain OS bikes, especially since the price was so reasonable.

But.... there was something truly special waiting for those that bought bikes made of EL-OS. EL-OS was 0.7mm at the butt and drawn down to 0.4mm in the center section. First of all, there was a reduction in weight, about 1/4 pound. That's always nice. The biggest bonus was in how the bike felt. Anyone who has ridden an EL-OS bike built by a good builder understands what a supple, beautiful, wonderful bike really is.

Last edited by thirdgenbird; 01-07-11 at 09:41 PM.
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Old 01-07-11, 09:39 PM
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I think most of the moly steels commonly used in bike framesets have similar characteristics, although the stronger the steel, the thinner it can be rolled or drawn. What really matters is frame geometry and craftsmanship.
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Old 01-07-11, 09:59 PM
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True Temper OX Platinum
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Old 01-07-11, 10:02 PM
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auchencrow & john - You are so right!!! - Frame geometry deserves another thread - I have seen class two criterium riders get on a heavy beater touring frame and prase its comfort in a local ride...
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Old 01-07-11, 10:10 PM
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Originally Posted by John E View Post
I think most of the moly steels commonly used in bike framesets have similar characteristics, although the stronger the steel, the thinner it can be rolled or drawn. What really matters is frame geometry and craftsmanship.
That's obviously a truthful statement, but I think it tells only about 95% of the story. There are a lot of variables involved, but some frames do flex more than others, even with the same geometry. Riding style and preference affect the perception of the desirability of the characteristics, but there definitely are differences. Quantifying the differences - that's a barrel of worms.

I love the feel of my Fuji Finest. The ride is plush. I'm not sure how this would translate to racing, but it is an enjoyable ride (although it will take more than this to get me to enjoy steep climbs ).
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Old 01-07-11, 10:46 PM
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What kind of riding do you do? Different tubes are suited to different types of riding. E.g. you're not going to want to use Columbus "Record" tubing on a loaded touring bike, or Ishiwata 025 on a record attempt bike.
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Old 01-07-11, 11:20 PM
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I like 753 a lot for the balance between lively ride and decent power transfer. The 853 is not as lively but a lot more efficient than the 753. I also like french sized tubing.

I have just finished building a Columbus Genius bike. The frame is very light, less than 3.5 lbs for a 55cm compact frame. I am waiting for a decent day to do a normal ride on it. The impression I got from riding around the block is, I am going to like it more than the 753. I really want to experience a bike built with Columbus Max tubing.
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Old 01-07-11, 11:33 PM
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and the rider.
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Old 01-08-11, 08:21 AM
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man.. too impossible to give an answer a blanket question. given what size rider/frame? what kind of racing- road, crit, general, time trialing? who built it? with what geometry?

a crit rider with a 62cm frame would ride something probably ENTIRELY different than a distance road racer riding rough roads on a 54cm frame- not to mention personal preferences.

beings as i'm not a sprinter/climber- my favorite frame ever was a 531 alpine with pretty 'traditional' road geometry- 55 cm. just a fantastic rider 'cause i prefer to spin for hours at a clip rather than doing intervals. it was just flexy enough at the bottom bracket when i weighed a buck 55- but always lively and comfortable, as i remember it. i went on to ride a vitus-- which was SUPER flexy in the bottom bracket-- and i raced crits with it (!!!)-- but for day to day training on kerosene roads... oh god. what a ride.
i'm back on steel-- and the feel isn't nearly as good with 4130 oversized bidness for the same kind of riding (minus the competition..).. but i'd certainly gravitate back toward NON oversized butted steel. best thing i've ridden in a while was a custom waterford, and there was no material decal on it... didn't need it.. it just felt awesome
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Old 01-08-11, 08:33 AM
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Yeah, for a given frame geometry, diameter, and butting, steel is steel. The heat treated and SS varieties might feel a little "springier", "stiffer" or some other adjective than run of the mill cro-mo, but honestly, I think most of the differences would be in your head.
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Old 01-08-11, 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by zandoval View Post
Most of the Geezers I have talked to prefer SL - But thats probably from the bikes they wish they had ridden...
Probably because that is what is usually found on vintage Italian frames.
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Old 01-08-11, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by USAZorro View Post
From 1977 - 1981 it was 753. Hands down.
Yet this could easily be a poor choice for even a lot of pro riders for particular purposes. For instance, even Andy Hampsten's Merckx frames were only built with 753 for mountainous stage races. The rest of the year, Andy rode other frames built from other steels. Many pros would find 753 too flexy, just as some amateurs do.
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Old 01-08-11, 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Picchio Special View Post
Yet this could easily be a poor choice for even a lot of pro riders for particular purposes. For instance, even Andy Hampsten's Merckx frames were only built with 753 for mountainous stage races. The rest of the year, Andy rode other frames built from other steels. Many pros would find 753 too flexy, just as some amateurs do.
And 753 can't be cold set (if I understand it properly).

Like everyone else here, I think the question is far too vague. Different steels are good for different bikes and purposes.

Also...you forgot Miyata's tubing...I'll put that up against anything in most cases. The splined triple butted tubing in my Koga is awesome for the purpose it was intended for and their racing tube sets were usually not light, but were amazingly stiff and durable.
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