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Joining the Steel is Real Contingent

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Joining the Steel is Real Contingent

Old 03-16-16, 05:26 PM
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Joining the Steel is Real Contingent

File this one in the "surprised" category.

Like a lot of us in the 50+ category, my first serious bike was a lugged steel affair. But I soon jettisoned that for a lighter, sexier aluminum bike with oversized tubing. And that was soon jettisoned in favor of a full carbon bike.

Now don't get me wrong, I still love both of those bikes, and I still ride them. But after getting a hold of a bike with a quality lugged steel frame, I have to say ... I see what all of the fuss is about. It's turning into my favorite bike.

It's certainly heavier than the other two bikes. But the difference in weight isn't making a lot of difference in how fast I climb.

It has an ordinary crank. No compact double, and no triple. But the more limited gearing is forcing me to improve my pedaling technique, to stand more, and to get stronger. I took it out last weekend for a 70 mile ride in the mountains, and long grades of 7-8% or so are totally manageable with short climbs up to 13%.

It rides much better than either the aluminum or carbon bike. Riding over crappy surfaces is a lot more tolerable with it. I've taken to explaining the difference thusly:

Aluminum: Bang
Carbon: Bong
Steel: Boing

And it descends better. Rock solid and it feels faster than either the Al or carbon bike. Maybe it's the extra weight or the rake of the fork ... I dunno.

I dunno if it is the traditional frame geometry, the frame material, the lugged construction, or what. All I know is that it is a joy to ride. On top of that, in a group full of new carbon dream bikes, the old lugged steel frame gets the most attention from other riders. So, if you're into that ...

Anyway, color me surprised. And it's got me wondering ... should I try a Ti bike? I've heard the ride and handling are similar.
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Old 03-16-16, 07:11 PM
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Welcome back!

Meanwhile check out this very lovely offering from Bianchi. Link to it.
Pricey, yes, but my-oh-my. I like the gearing too. They obviously had hilly New England in mind.

On the other hand, I'm still considering a vintage Trek, buyable from fleabay.

Folks, ever want to smack yourself in the face, because you didn't buy that high-end Trek, or Bridgestone, when you had the chance?
A co-worker has a very lovely Bridgestone. He says, with a perfectly straight face, that it will be buried with him.
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Old 03-16-16, 07:23 PM
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Where are the pics?

I love my Cannondale but then last night I took the '77 Colnago out for the first spring ride and I gotta tell ya, nothing rides like it. Not even the Trek 760.
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Old 03-16-16, 07:35 PM
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Your post makes a lot of sense. Ever since my 1980 Raleigh Grand Prix was stolen in 85', I have resolved to return to steel. I do appreciate the light weight of aluminum, but the ride characteristics that you (and Olds) have described are the only way to go.
Track has a Gunnar, so he knows what we are talking about.
I tried a carbon bike once, a 2015 Domane. I didn't like it. It taught me that carbon is not for me. I didn't feel like I was getting any "life" or "response" or "personality" out of it.
I like what you're saying about a standard crank. A 28T cog low gear should enable you to sit back down most of the time, though.

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Old 03-16-16, 10:18 PM
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I had a similar experience last year coming into possession of a DeRosa Neo Primato. Not exactly vintage and running Chorus 11spd, it is none the less a timeless homage to a finely crafted lugged steel frame. I was worried that the expense of the bike wouldn't be justified by the ride. I am happy to say that the ride quality is amazing, uphill and down. I have a few other steel frame bikes that allow me to make the further statement that just because it's steel, or lugged steel frame doesn't necessarily make it a good bike to ride. The same principle applies to aluminum and carbon frames.

DeRosa
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Old 03-16-16, 11:04 PM
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Yeah, I'm still missing my Motobecane. Nothing fancy, but a good solid bike that did everything pretty well. It just felt right, enough so that I could never quite justify buying a "better" bike, because the main limitation was always my conditioning and ability. I've considered shopping craigslist for a replacement, but since I sold all my tools several years ago it might not make sense.

I keep browsing the Surly website every few weeks.

That said, my aching neck much prefers the long wheelbase aluminum frame compact with simple spring suspension fork. Much more comfy on rough roads, potholes, etc. I used to get severe neck aches and headaches from riding the steel frame bike on rough roads. But nowadays I'd fix that by adding fatter, cushy tires, running at lower pressure.
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Old 03-16-16, 11:56 PM
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A year or two ago I bought and restored an old Schwinn Continental. I had owned a 63 Varsity as a kid... and the Continental was nearly the same and a trip down memory lane. It rode exactly as I remember the Varsity riding. At my age... there isn't many things that still feel exactly like they did when I was in my teens.

I've since sold the Schwinn... and honestly... I prefer modern alloy bikes for most of my rides. But I always keep at least one real steel bike with downtube shifters and toe cages. Keeping a classic-vintage bicycle is such a tiny price to pay for feeling like my old teenage self again from time-to-time.
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Old 03-17-16, 12:24 AM
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I have owned several bikes of late (buy one .... ride it then sell it and get something better) ....

I have one that I will keep and only use it on special occasions .... My 1980's steel Koga Miyata .... it weighs less than 9kg and is an absolute pleasure to ride ...

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Old 03-17-16, 01:17 AM
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Old 03-17-16, 01:18 AM
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What's the bike?

I own four steel bikes, and, these days, only one CF bike. Mainly I go steel for its versatility - I do a lot of touring, for example, and if you want to mount a rack and panniers then for practical purposes one has to go steel or aluminium. Plus one of my road bikes is custom, and a custom carbon frame would be astronomically expensive.

You notice I don't mention ride quality. There is a difference, no doubt, and I absolutely get the "bang, bong, boing" contrast you describe. Carbon's a noisier ride on any less than smooth surfaces, for example. But I doubt that the difference in ride quality is much influenced by the frame material per se. Forks, definitely. Someone whose opinion I respect told me he'd taken part in a blind test of forks (they wrapped them so the riders couldn't tell one from another) and the Reynolds 531 steel forks beat off all-comers for killing road buzz. Unfortunately, of course, a lot of the weight difference between a top-line steel bike and its carbon equivalent is in the fork crown, which is why so many modern steel frames, including my own road frame, are paired wth carbon forks.

Geometry and frame design also makes an impact, I think. CF allows for a much greater variety of shapes and tubing diameters without weight penalty, so you'll get some really stiff offerings these days. Light steel bikes with traditional geometry will tend to be a bit more compliant. Some people regard that as a disadvantage, of course.

Finally, I like the aesthetics. It's probably a sign of age, but steel frames with horizontal top tubes are what bikes should look like in my mind, there's an elegance about them that my TCR, for all that it is an attractive bike, can't match.

So, I'm both a fan of steel bikes and a sceptic about whether frame material in itself is a big factor in ride quality. The custom steel road bike is the one I ride the most, but I think that's mostly because the geometry was selected precisely to meet my desires, so it handles like a dream. I daresay a carbon bike built to exactly the same measurements would be just as perfect, if indulging that fantasy was a practical possibility.
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Old 03-17-16, 06:09 AM
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Reynolds had some good stuff back in the day....

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Old 03-17-16, 06:27 AM
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Originally Posted by OldsCOOL View Post
Reynolds had some good stuff back in the day....
And, they still do.... both steel and stainless steel tubes that are the cat's pajamas.

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Old 03-17-16, 06:28 AM
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Originally Posted by trackhub View Post

Meanwhile check out this very lovely offering from Bianchi. Link to it.
Pricey, yes, but my-oh-my. I like the gearing too. They obviously had hilly New England in mind.
I had a chance to take an up close look at that bike last week at the Toronto bicycle show. Pics taken from somebody else's post in C&V from the show.







[/QUOTE]
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Old 03-17-16, 06:35 AM
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Yep, but the $3500.00 MSRP stops me from going to the LBS for Bianchi here, and ordering one in my size. Love the one off Campag mechs made just for Bianchi, that three arm spider looks like the old Raleigh Competition's crankset. Specially made centerpull brakes from Dia-Compe, please stop this madness in my head and wallet. I understand that it is legal for the L'Eroica races as it sits, too (note the "Certified" tag hanging from the top tube!). Want this badly, but it ain't going to happen.

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Old 03-17-16, 07:44 AM
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Originally Posted by qcpmsame View Post
Yep, but the $3500.00 MSRP stops me from going to the LBS for Bianchi here, and ordering one in my size.

Bill
C'mon, Bill, it's only money.

Lately I've been thinking of a new Waterford. It was dumb to go to their website and look around.
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Old 03-17-16, 07:48 AM
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Originally Posted by OldsCOOL View Post
Where are the pics?

I love my Cannondale but then last night I took the '77 Colnago out for the first spring ride and I gotta tell ya, nothing rides like it. Not even the Trek 760.
Here ya go. It's that '96 'Nago a friend sold me a while back. It was practically new and unridden. All I did was change the handlebar tape and the tires. Neptune's Net is an iconic low brow cafe along Pacific Coast Highway.



That Bianchi is beautiful! I've had an unrequited love affair with old school celeste Bianchis beginning from the day when they weren't old school.

BTW, here's a taste of the local terrain:

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Old 03-17-16, 07:54 AM
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I just finished my 1st CF last weekend and love it but already looking for a vintage from the same maker as my next +1. From everything that's said a lugged steel bike is a must and is likely even more so for me since it's becoming painfully obvious I'm never going to be fast.
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Old 03-17-16, 08:03 AM
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I ride lugged steel exclusively. I like the look, I like the feel, I don't mind the weight, and I like the price. (OK, the rare Capo Sieger (second photo, white with red) is now evidently a $2500 collectible, but the others would all still be affordable on the open vintage market.)
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Old 03-17-16, 08:06 AM
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I just have the one bike that you can see in my icon. It's a 1961 Schwinn CoEd, welded steel bike. Obviously, I'm not a high tech, high performance cyclist. I bought a brandy-new aluminum bike and used it for a few days. Even though the aluminum bike had front shock absorbers, I found the ride of the old Schwinn to be much more to my liking. The LBS was kind enough to give me a full refund on the aluminum bike and I'm happily back to riding the old Schwinn.
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Old 03-17-16, 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by qcpmsame View Post
Yep, but the $3500.00 MSRP stops me from going to the LBS for Bianchi here, and ordering one in my size. Love the one off Campag mechs made just for Bianchi, that three arm spider looks like the old Raleigh Competition's crankset. Specially made centerpull brakes from Dia-Compe, please stop this madness in my head and wallet. I understand that it is legal for the L'Eroica races as it sits, too (note the "Certified" tag hanging from the top tube!). Want this badly, but it ain't going to happen.

Bill
Yep. according to the guys at the Bianchi exhibit, the only current production bike that qualifies.
I thought it kind of funny that with all the fancy schmancy carbon fiber bikes they had on display, that was the one that drew all the attention.
I had an exhibit at that show too, and it was right around the corner from those guys, so I was over there drooling over that bike quite a lot.
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Old 03-17-16, 08:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Dan Burkhart View Post
I thought it kind of funny that with all the fancy schmancy carbon fiber bikes they had on display, that was the one that drew all the attention. I had an exhibit at that show too, and it was right around the corner from those guys, so I was over there drooling over that bike quite a lot.
It's like that in the street too. I had more compliments on that Colnago in 2 weeks of riding than I've had for all my other bikes combined in years. I guess they're just something you don't see everyday.
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Old 03-17-16, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Dan Burkhart View Post
Yep. according to the guys at the Bianchi exhibit, the only current production bike that qualifies.
I thought it kind of funny that with all the fancy schmancy carbon fiber bikes they had on display, that was the one that drew all the attention.
That price though. There is a full Campy Raleigh Professional in the local buy and sell for $700 - about $525 US. Half the cost of the Bianchi would buy a world class vintage bike. Seems like it would only appeal to the cost is no object people.
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Old 03-17-16, 08:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Slash5 View Post
That price though. There is a full Campy Raleigh Professional in the local buy and sell for $700 - about $525 US. Half the cost of the Bianchi would buy a world class vintage bike. Seems like it would only appeal to the cost is no object people.
Well, I don't fit that group profile, but it certainly appeals to me. Not that it's high on my list of proposed acquisitions mind you.
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Old 03-17-16, 09:09 AM
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I must admit to not being an expert on the pros and cons of various frame materials, although I have ridden many steel, aluminium and CF bikes.

My latest bike is a Reynolds 725 steel Genesis Equilibrium with carbon fork and I absolutely love it. It's difficult to pin down what's so good about it other than that here is hardly any judder or buzz whatever the state of the road and noticeably less tiredness when I finish my normal 2-3 hour rides.

Since I never ride against the clock or against other riders I don't worry if it's a bit slower than a CF. It's fast enough for my abilities and I'm more concerned with the ability to ride distances without undue fatigue.
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Old 03-17-16, 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by trackhub View Post
Welcome back!

Meanwhile check out this very lovely offering from Bianchi. Link to it.
Pricey, yes, but my-oh-my. I like the gearing too. They obviously had hilly New England in mind.
That is such a breathtakingly beautiful bike! Very, very tempting, but really pricey. Agreed on the gearing, that is really one sweet bike.
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