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Question about steel frames

Old 01-28-17, 11:58 AM
  #1  
Oldguyonoldbike
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Question about steel frames

I have two lugged steel road bikes, an early '80s Batavus made with Columbus SL and a mid-90s Colnago made with shaped Columbus Nivacrom (I believe). The Batavus is quite springy, or noodly, but the Colnago is not; it flexes more than a carbon bike, but not much for a steel bike of the period. It also fits me perfectly. The thing is, the Colnago has a standard crankset and high-ish gearing and my aging spindly legs tell me I'm happier spinning up a low gear than mashing the big old ones. I also prefer the ergonomics of newer shifters. So, I'm thinking of either updating the groupset on the Colnago, or moving the modern 10 speed gruppo from the Batavus onto a newer frame. In that case I'd be looking at either Columbus Spirit or Reynolds 853.

So, the question is, what sort of difference could I expect in terms of feel, flex and comfort between a TIG welded modern frame and a lugged Nivacrom frame? If I decide to update the Colnago I will not replace the fork with a carbon one, so I know that it will always weigh more than a newer frame with a carbon fork.

Do any of you have a fair amount of experience on a good '90s lugged frame and a modern TIG one?
What are your impressions?
Any and all advice welcome.
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Old 01-28-17, 12:04 PM
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My modern TIG-welded steel frame is more comfortable than my stiff 1987 Bianchi lugged frame, but I purposely asked for my new frame to be designed that way. I think, depending on the choice of tubing, geometry, etc., a modern frame can have a wide variety of characteristics, so there is no one simple answer. I do find I can climb slightly more efficiently on the old stiff frame.

Also, I recently put a Campy triple 11-speed Athena crank (and groupset) on that old Bianchi frame, for the exact reasons you mention, and it has given it a new life.
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Old 01-28-17, 07:25 PM
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As far as ride quality , I can't really help my only TIG welded bike was a track bike that was never ridden in the street . At one time I had a CF bike with brifters double chain ring and a huge rear cassette , it was a climber . I also had a all alum. bike that I would not recommend very harsh ride . My current ride is a Centurion Ironman , Tange 1 tubing , very nice ride . Me personally , I would not alter the Colnago in any way other than to just put a lower (more teeth) rear cassette . If you must get a bike with brifters (I really like them) then sure build a new bike , I like the Shimano 105s' . Getting closer to N .

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Old 01-28-17, 07:59 PM
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Another modern TIG welded steel frame and fork here, worked with the maker to optimize the ride And fit I had in mind. My bike is a wonderful balance of stiffness and ride comfort. However, don't forget bike geometry, wheel set, tires and saddle also contribute to total ride feel and responsiveness.
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Old 01-28-17, 09:26 PM
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The advantage of TIG welded frames over lugged frames is that the builder is freed from the constraints of tubing shapes and diameters, frame angles, etc., and modern automated welding equipment can be programmed to produce high quality mass copies of a design.

Lugged frames appeal primarily for aesthetic reasons, although there are some steel alloys that are not amenable to welding. If a customer is dead-set on a frame build from such an alloy, they'll have to agree to lugged or fillet brazed construction.
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Old 01-29-17, 11:36 AM
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A 10-sp groupset on a 30 year old el-cheapo Batavus? Yes, take it off. You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear......
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Old 01-29-17, 11:58 AM
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Originally Posted by AlexCyclistRoch View Post
A 10-sp groupset on a 30 year old el-cheapo Batavus? You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear......
Strange response.
A lively frame is highly desirable by many who do not race.
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Old 01-29-17, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Oldguyonoldbike View Post

So, the question is, what sort of difference could I expect in terms of feel, flex and comfort between a TIG welded modern frame and a lugged Nivacrom frame? If I decide to update the Colnago I will not replace the fork with a carbon one, so I know that it will always weigh more than a newer frame with a carbon fork.

Do any of you have a fair amount of experience on a good '90s lugged frame and a modern TIG one?
What are your impressions?
Any and all advice welcome.
TIG vs Lugged is just the method of connecting tubes. Nothing directly to do with how a bike rides. That's more about materials, dimensions & geometry
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Old 01-29-17, 01:34 PM
  #9  
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Originally Posted by Wildwood View Post
Strange response.
A lively frame is highly desirable by many who do not race.
Not so strange, since that poster doesn't seem to know what SL refers to.
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Old 01-29-17, 05:13 PM
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what groupset does the Colnago have on it? Just speaking for myself, new brifters are not a massive improvement over mid 90's brifters, - Shimano or Campy --- but it is harder and harder to find wider range 8 speed cassettes for Campy now
I've been looking and all I can find are 13-23's

Maybe you can move the 10 speed setup from the Batavus to the Colnago ? --- Is it a modern 10 speed Veloce group and is your bike blue/white ? I saw one at the shop at few weeks back


Regarding modern steel ride quality, --- I have 2 examples that are outfitted similarly that have completely different "feels" --

The Pinarello is oversize Dedaccia tubing (with carbon wishbone style seat stays ) -- I was expecting a slam bam, thank you maam type ride , --- but it is velvety smooth -- rides like a proverbial Cadillac but has no discernible flex in the rear end



The Coppi is Tig welded Columbus Nivachrom, -- the rear stays look as if they could have popped out of the same mold as the Pinarello's , -- but this bike has an entirely different personality -- I wouldn't pigeonhole it by saying its a "crit bike", but its stiff, handles very quickly, has a little bit shorter wheelbase, and so far has been fun to ride for the little short loops I like to run


A quality lugged steel bike (both of yours sound like great bikes) can ride however the designer intended them to ride, -- from springy and compliant , to stiff as a board. A lot depends on steel used, wall thickness and thickness of the butted ends

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Old 01-30-17, 01:06 PM
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Thanks for all the replies. wgscott , it does sound like we're in the same situation. I think I will probably do what you did with your Bianchi - go for a modern groupset on the Colnago.

I was mainly curious as to whether there's as much difference between Nivacrom and Spirit as there is between Nivacrom and SL, but as always, there are too many variables involved for a straightforward comparison. I think I'll stick with the Colnago I have since it fits and is fun to ride.

DMC707: The Colnago currently has an 8 speed mostly Chorus group on it with a 53/39 up front and a 13-26 cassette. That's fine for around here. There's only one climb that I try to avoid ("the wall" on the Norman Conquest route), but I feel I would enjoy more range. I'm not tempted to move the Veloce group from the Batavus to the Colnago, because it is a black groupset and I wouldn't like the looks of it. I don't mind so much on the Bat since it's my aesthetically challenged, ride-around-town bike. And yes, the blue and white one is mine. We really should meet up some time.
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Old 01-30-17, 10:42 PM
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I'm 61 years old and I've ridden a lot of bikes, all of them steel.
About 20 years ago I bought a Centurion road racer at a flea market, took it home and put a lot of time and money into it - including a nice paint job. I rode it for a little while and put it up. It was too harsh. I went back to my Univega touring bike. The frame geometry seemed to suit me far better than the Centurion. It was a lesson learned. As time goes on I appreciate the Univega more and more. Yes, I still have it and I ride it regularly.
I want to tell the OP stick with your plan and put a wider range of gears on there. Go to a 13-28 set. I would say go to 13-32 but if you do you probably will have to change to a deralleur with a long jockey cage that can accomodate the larger sprockets. If, however, you are willing to get a different derailleur and longer chain you might not be afraid of "The Wall" any more! Good luck.
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Old 01-31-17, 03:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Oldguyonoldbike View Post
The Colnago currently has an 8 speed mostly Chorus group on it with a 53/39 up front and a 13-26 cassette.
I believe that if you change to any modern groupset you'll have to change the wheels as well, so you're into quite a lot of money. Campag 9, 10 and 11 all use the same freehub but I think the 8 was different. Have you thought about changing the cassette - may be hard to find now - or swapping the chainset for a compact one. I switched a Campag square taper 53/39 chainset on one of my bikes for a Stronglight compact one without having to change anything else on the bike.

John
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Old 01-31-17, 07:15 AM
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Lugged or tig'd is irrelevant. If you want to get a review on how a certain tubeset rides you just have to research it. And you have to take reviews with a grain of salt because people weigh different, use different wheels/tires, frames have different geometry, ect. If it's oversize tubing it's probably going to be pretty stiff. And tig welding a frame isn't a modern deal.
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Old 01-31-17, 04:09 PM
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The physics are complex and subtle, the variables virtually infinite; I've come to the conclusion that I can't credit a statement that begins along the lines of, "SLX rides like..."

It's a natural question to ask, and would seem to be an obvious topic to discuss, but, alas, ultimately an exercise in futility.
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