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best steel

Old 12-10-11, 11:10 AM
  #26  
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In terms of "greatest steel of all time for Vintage & Classic bikes" I think the throne is strongly held by Reynolds 531, and will never be usurped.
All the others are pretenders, even if they are better, an improvement, stronger, lighter, what-ever.
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Old 12-10-11, 11:11 AM
  #27  
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Tubing is 1/3 part of a combination I call the "love triangle" - frame material, geometry, and wheel type/build.

The end results can range from heavenly to horrific.
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Old 12-10-11, 11:25 AM
  #28  
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The purported differences in ride characteristics between different types of steel is nothing but wine snobbery. A nice mental playground for hobbyists. As far as physics goes, it's just wine snobbery without the wine, since wine, after all, does have real differences. Different tubing, identical geometry, identical components, identical ride and comfort, such that no ordinary human being can tell them apart.

Having said that, in the DC comics universe, Superman was able to tell the difference between various grades of Columbus tubing by using his X-ray vision to read and analyze the crystalline structure of the metal grain inside the tubes.

While in the Marvel Universe, Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four was able to loop his body under tension around various sections of tubing while downhilling on various old school mtn bikes, and still distinguish the harmonics of the tubes to the nearest nano-meter.

Now, I am in no way implying that bikeforum.net is NOT full of extraordinary ladies and gentlemen.

Last edited by Drakonchik; 12-10-11 at 11:41 AM.
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Old 12-10-11, 11:29 AM
  #29  
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EL and EL-OS!

I'm a believer.

Not to mention Columbus Spirit.

I rode a 953 framed bike the same day as a Spirit, and both bicycles were a delight, partially due to the frame material no doubt.

Too many variables though, between tires, purpose of frameset, geos, etc.
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Old 12-10-11, 11:53 AM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by michaeljames View Post
what do you think were the top 5 types of steel in order for c&v frames? what's your thoughts on types of modern steel?
As far as modern steels are concerned, I think stainless Reynolds 953 and Columbus XCr are the hands down winners. They're light, strong, and corrosion resistant. Because they're corrosion resistant, they don't need paint which can scratch and adds to the bike's weight. Since the OP's question was limited to steels, I won't comment on the relative importance of geometry, fit, etc.
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Old 12-10-11, 12:51 PM
  #31  
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I doubt I could tell much difference barring a controlled experiment. I have ridden SLX, SL/SP mix, 531, Tange OS, and Ishiwata Triple Butted and they all felt nice to me. From an aesthetic viewpoint I like the speciali tubi with the little dove sticker the best.
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Old 12-10-11, 01:02 PM
  #32  
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I'll agree with the modern 953. That stuff a amazing.
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Old 12-10-11, 01:43 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by jr59 View Post
I'll agree with the modern 953. That stuff a amazing.
...and they look pretty sweet as well.

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Old 12-10-11, 01:45 PM
  #34  
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I just realized I missed the point.....

Whatever you're fastest on.
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Old 12-10-11, 02:02 PM
  #35  
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I don't want to start a huge debate here, but hear me out. While I agree that the differences in tubing are subtle. I assure you that they are there, and can be discerned. Sure there are too many variables to pick a frame out in a double blind test and say, "Oh, this one is made from TSX". But, the difference between SL and SP is noticeable even if you use the same exact components otherwise. For someone to say that there is no difference between steels is like saying that there is no difference in sound between 9ft grand pianos. Just because not everyone can tell the difference doesn't mean it's not there.
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Old 12-10-11, 02:19 PM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by Drakonchik View Post
The purported differences in ride characteristics between different types of steel is nothing but wine snobbery. A nice mental playground for hobbyists. As far as physics goes, it's just wine snobbery without the wine, since wine, after all, does have real differences. Different tubing, identical geometry, identical components, identical ride and comfort, such that no ordinary human being can tell them apart.

Having said that, in the DC comics universe, Superman was able to tell the difference between various grades of Columbus tubing by using his X-ray vision to read and analyze the crystalline structure of the metal grain inside the tubes.

While in the Marvel Universe, Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four was able to loop his body under tension around various sections of tubing while downhilling on various old school mtn bikes, and still distinguish the harmonics of the tubes to the nearest nano-meter.

Now, I am in no way implying that bikeforum.net is NOT full of extraordinary ladies and gentlemen.
I've ridden Tange 1&2, Reynolds 531, Columbus SL and others, and I'm pretty sure that I could not tell one from the other. Then again, I ofttimes mix my wine with lemonade.
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Old 12-10-11, 02:56 PM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by rat fink View Post
I don't want to start a huge debate here, but hear me out. While I agree that the differences in tubing are subtle. I assure you that they are there, and can be discerned. Sure there are too many variables to pick a frame out in a double blind test and say, "Oh, this one is made from TSX". But, the difference between SL and SP is noticeable even if you use the same exact components otherwise. For someone to say that there is no difference between steels is like saying that there is no difference in sound between 9ft grand pianos. Just because not everyone can tell the difference doesn't mean it's not there.
Do you have any proof of this claim? E.g., blind test, 4 identical bikes, 2 SL, 2 SP and you determining correctly every time which two are the "same".

There could be princesses who can feel the pea, but what percentage of the general population are princesses? How many can detect a soupçon of road buzz? How do you know it is the material and not the workmanship? Does it really matter?
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Old 12-10-11, 02:57 PM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by Drakonchik View Post
The purported differences in ride characteristics between different types of steel is nothing but wine snobbery. A nice mental playground for hobbyists. As far as physics goes, it's just wine snobbery without the wine, since wine, after all, does have real differences. Different tubing, identical geometry, identical components, identical ride and comfort, such that no ordinary human being can tell them apart.
Beer is my beverage of choice. Most red wines give me a headache.

I'd argue that most riders can readily appreciate the difference in "ride qualities" between a cheap "gas pipe" frame and a fine, lightweight steel frame. However, there are too many variables and a lot of subjectivity involved when comparing the ride qualities of different brands of high-quality steel tubing. I happen to prefer old-school Reynolds 531 and Columbus SL based on the frames I've ridden over the years. YMMV.
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Old 12-10-11, 03:20 PM
  #39  
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I am a princess and could not tell you the differences between one tube set over another without checking the weights and measurements if all other aspects were the same and the road was flat. If the tubesets came from different makers and were dimension-ally the same and of similar weight and quality I doubt anyone but a metallurgist could tell the difference.

I like the Helium tubes on my '57 Peugeot... mostly because they were put together so nicely to make such a lovely bicycle.

I do not know what mix of tubes was used on my Cooper... bottom line is that it comes off the line like a rocket, corners like it is on rails, and is perfect in every respect and much of that comes from the brilliant fork.

My teacher and mentor has never put much stock in the hype and uses the tubing he needs that is appropriate to the build at hand and most often we use custom drawn tubes and will use a specific tube set if someone requests it.

He also has said that many folks who obsess over frame tubes really don't know much about frame building as this is where the magic lies... you can take the nicest tube set and turn it into crap or use a lesser tube set and build a masterpiece.

As a lighter guy who used to be able to lay down some frame bending power found that my 531 frames gave me everything I wanted in terms of performance and ride whereas I would get far too much flex out of lesser frames which were not designed for that kind of riding.
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Old 12-10-11, 03:52 PM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by iab View Post
Do you have any proof of this claim? E.g., blind test, 4 identical bikes, 2 SL, 2 SP and you determining correctly every time which two are the "same".

There could be princesses who can feel the pea, but what percentage of the general population are princesses? How many can detect a soupçon of road buzz? How do you know it is the material and not the workmanship? Does it really matter?
Well, I said that a person can tell a difference. I didn't say they could accurately determine what the difference was. The blind test you propose would be interesting. I would certainly be interested in trying it, though I'm not saying that I expect I would correctly identify which frame is which. I am willing to say that I would be surprised if I didn't detect a difference. I don't know how many people would be able to detect differences in road buzz, but some could. Even so, I'm not talking about differences in ride quality exclusively. For me it goes further than that. The main differences I have found have been in high speed cornering, the way a frame handles braking response, and the way it responds in a sprint.

The quality I have come to appreciate in some of the frames I have enjoyed most was that they felt 'planted'. The quality is hard to define, but I seem to appreciate it most when I am approaching a corner at 40-50mph, speeds I am comfortable descending at on a regular basis. That all that matters to me.

As for whether or not it's the material or workmanship; yes. In seriousness, I feel that whether intentional or otherwise, the design, not the workmanship has the most relevance in the frames functional character. Two frames with a 73.5 head tube and a 43mm rake with the same length wheelbase, chain stays, BB drop and front-center dimension depending on the shape and thickness of seat and chain stays down tube, type of fork crown, thickness, taper, and shape of the fork legs, for example. I'm not saying that SL is better than SP, Aelle, EL-OS, etc. I do find that a frame with a 73.5 HTA, 43mm rake fork, ~69mm BB drop, slender seat stays, and largish diameter downtube is appropriate for my weight and riding style. Several frames made with SL that I found have had these traits and ridden the way that matches my preferences. I have also ridden frames made of different tubesets that met those criteria, that did not deliver my desired ride. Some were too harsh feeling, some didn't have the right 'snap' to them, others may have been too soft (for my taste). That is the extent to which it matters to me. Your mileage may vary, (and I'm okay with that).
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Old 12-10-11, 04:08 PM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by iab View Post
Do you have any proof of this claim? E.g., blind test, 4 identical bikes, 2 SL, 2 SP and you determining correctly every time which two are the "same".

There could be princesses who can feel the pea, but what percentage of the general population are princesses? How many can detect a soupçon of road buzz? How do you know it is the material and not the workmanship? Does it really matter?
Well, since it hasn't been asked and would seem to be relevant: are Columbus SL and SP really different "types of steel?" How are they different in a way other than, say, two different wall thicknesses of Reynolds 531 in 1973, which would be considered the same "type of steel," but with different wall thickness. I'm not sure the nomenclature is as well-sorted here and maybe it should be. Tubing decals are after the fact, and don't always tell the real story.

Last edited by Picchio Special; 12-10-11 at 04:14 PM.
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Old 12-10-11, 04:23 PM
  #42  
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Miyata STB. Hi-tech, low cost. Custom drawn for the application.
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Old 12-10-11, 04:25 PM
  #43  
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Here is the test!

http://bulgier.net/pics/bike/Articles/SteelShootOut.pdf
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Old 12-10-11, 04:26 PM
  #44  
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I recently read a quote from a bicycle engineer(?)who said the material is immaterial. Ride and response, he said was all about angles, not the composition.
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Old 12-10-11, 06:50 PM
  #45  
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My old Sprite 27 with hi-ten tubing rode quite nicely when I put new alloy wheels on it. I liked it better than the Grand Prix of the same vintage which still had its original wheels.

My Pinarello with SL rides like a dream; I like it as much as my 2005 aluminum/carbon Orbea. Still haven't gotten the Colnago with Gilco tubing up and running. The Gardin with Excell tubing has a nice feel to it but it's currently set up with albatross bars; desperately needs drop bars to go with its aggressive geometry.

The Raleigh Ltd. 3 with relaxed geometry and low grade lugged frame rode heavy and slow with steel wheels and almost as slow and heavy with alloy wheels. Never got into it. My Bianchi San Jose with double-butted chromoly rides much better but as a singlespeed/fixie has a decidedly different feel altogether.

So, different bikes, different setups, different wheels, different steels, different impressions.

Best way to find the best steel(for you) is to go ride lots of different bikes.
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Old 12-10-11, 08:24 PM
  #46  
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Double-butted 531 with tapered stays and forks have always worked beautifully for me. And carried the most champions to victory, I believe.

The legend is legendary for a reason.
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Old 12-10-11, 08:47 PM
  #47  
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steel eh? I prefer my bike to be made of.....adamantium.. or balsa wood.
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Old 12-10-11, 09:12 PM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by jr59 View Post
Exactly. It's more about what the builder does with the material than the material itself.
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Old 12-10-11, 09:46 PM
  #49  
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Why don't you send me one of each, I'll try them all and get back to you.
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Old 12-10-11, 10:21 PM
  #50  
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Supposedly at one time the Cinelli SuperCorsa was rated the finest riding lugged steel racing bike ever...of course that's an opinion by a bunch of reviewers. I've never ridden one so I can't offer my own opinion. Those are still being made too. There are a lot of Italian lugged steel bikes still being made just have to look. http://www.cbikeusa.com/cinelli_supercorsa.htm

I think there a few older steels no longer made that would give modern steel a run for their money. Especially the Miyata triple butted splined tubeset, followed by the Ishawata 019, then the Fuji quad butted Valite, Reynolds 531c, p, and sl (those had rider weight limits, but the cs did not making the cs more reliable). I think the best steel frames in the mid to late 80's came out of Japan not Italy. Touring wise the Reynolds 531t and st is legendary.
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