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Has the "golden age" of custom steel bikes passed?

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Has the "golden age" of custom steel bikes passed?

Old 08-11-20, 01:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Mulberry20
I rode a Parlee RZ7 Saturday. Nice bike but not paying 7k for an Asian frame. I saw the Z Zero custom but as nice as it is not worth 9k just for the frame. There are new Dogma F10 frames for less than 3k around, made in Italy.
By ďAsianĒ you mean all ~50 counties in Asia? Or just all the dozen or so with people that look ďAsianĒ?
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Old 08-11-20, 01:38 PM
  #102  
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Originally Posted by Kapusta
By ďAsianĒ you mean all ~50 counties in Asia? Or just all the dozen or so with people that look ďAsianĒ?
I have never understood why being manufactured in China is bad (I actually know but don't want to go there).

I remember when mountain bikes went from the USA to Taiwan and people cried. Honestly, the welds were better and the bike were better built out of Taiwan. The Chinese can fabricate carbon and weld aluminum just as well as any other race/people.
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Old 08-11-20, 02:51 PM
  #103  
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Originally Posted by livedarklions
Wrong. Carbon fiber can't be recycled.
But it can be repaired:
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Old 08-11-20, 03:05 PM
  #104  
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Originally Posted by Mulberry20
I rode a Parlee RZ7 Saturday. Nice bike but not paying 7k for an Asian frame. I saw the Z Zero custom but as nice as it is not worth 9k just for the frame. There are new Dogma F10 frames for less than 3k around, made in Italy.
Too bad that F10 is discontinued a few months ago, which explains why it's so cheap now(and so extremely scarce), and very few sizes are available. This means having to come up with another $3,000 for the newer F12.
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Old 08-11-20, 03:16 PM
  #105  
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Originally Posted by satrain18
Too bad that F10 is discontinued a few months ago, which explains why it's so cheap now(and so extremely scarce), and very few sizes are available. This means having to come up with another $3,000 for the newer F12.
Excel Sports has a great selection of F10 frames, at least in my size. Still built its gonna be a 6k bikes.
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Old 08-11-20, 03:52 PM
  #106  
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Originally Posted by vespasianus
I have never understood why being manufactured in China is bad (I actually know but don't want to go there).

I remember when mountain bikes went from the USA to Taiwan and people cried. Honestly, the welds were better and the bike were better built out of Taiwan. The Chinese can fabricate carbon and weld aluminum just as well as any other race/people.
What I donít get (and thus my comment) is why someone lumps all East and Southeast Asian countries together and uses it as a derogatory term in this context. Sure there is some crap that comes from that region, but there are also some exquisite artisans and high precision factories as well.
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Old 08-11-20, 04:13 PM
  #107  
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Originally Posted by Kapusta
What I donít get (and thus my comment) is why someone lumps all East and Southeast Asian countries together and uses it as a derogatory term in this context. Sure there is some crap that comes from that region, but there are also some exquisite artisans and high precision factories as well.
It was derogatory only in the sense that outside of Japan quality is not impressive. Also, it is disheartening to buy a very expensive item from revered European and American names in cycling only to find out the heart and lungs of the item is subcontracted out to generic low cost producers. Has nothing to do with ethnicity.

I remember buying a BMW a few years ago and when I picked it up I noticed it was made in South Africa. I promptly cancelled the deal and bought a Lexus.
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Old 08-11-20, 06:49 PM
  #108  
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Originally Posted by Mulberry20
It was derogatory only in the sense that outside of Japan quality is not impressive. Also, it is disheartening to buy a very expensive item from revered European and American names in cycling only to find out the heart and lungs of the item is subcontracted out to generic low cost producers. Has nothing to do with ethnicity.

I remember buying a BMW a few years ago and when I picked it up I noticed it was made in South Africa. I promptly cancelled the deal and bought a Lexus.
Taiwan can make bike frames just as well as any US or European factory can.

Ever ridden or looked closely at a Pivot?
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Old 08-11-20, 07:36 PM
  #109  
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Having started in cycling when the only option was steel I don’t quite have the romantic attachment to the material as others. I think overall Carbon is the pinnacle of current technology for bicycle frame material, light, strong, easily configurable characteristics, durable and affordable. Steel frames are can be robust which is ideal for travel and touring but most importantly are an excellent expression of a craftsman’s skill. Expensive watches can display status, quality and manufacturing excellence however they mostly keep time the same and equivalent in durability than cheaper ones. A Casio is every bit as durable and accurate as a Rolex. A high end custom steel frame is a functional piece of art and is viewed that way by many.
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Old 08-12-20, 05:22 AM
  #110  
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Originally Posted by satrain18

Except when it can't. I really don't care. This cf vs. steel crap is way off topic, and I will never get why people get so heated about stuff like this. I have little or no interest in cf frames, but it's mostly an esthetics issue--I hate the look of them. I don't feel a need to convince anyone that's rational. I'm not bashing them here, but just thought it was funny that the guy who was actually referred to the cf bikes going into the recycling bin.
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Old 08-12-20, 05:32 AM
  #111  
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Originally Posted by velopig
Having started in cycling when the only option was steel I donít quite have the romantic attachment to the material as others. I think overall Carbon is the pinnacle of current technology for bicycle frame material, light, strong, easily configurable characteristics, durable and affordable. Steel frames are can be robust which is ideal for travel and touring but most importantly are an excellent expression of a craftsmanís skill. Expensive watches can display status, quality and manufacturing excellence however they mostly keep time the same and equivalent in durability than cheaper ones. A Casio is every bit as durable and accurate as a Rolex. A high end custom steel frame is a functional piece of art and is viewed that way by many.
I have a Pepsi dial Rolex from the 1960ís, I am wondering if any of your Casios from that era are still in prime working condition? Probably not.
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Old 08-12-20, 06:13 AM
  #112  
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Originally Posted by Mulberry20
I have a Pepsi dial Rolex from the 1960ís, I am wondering if any of your Casios from that era are still in prime working condition? Probably not.
My old man still has a couple Casios and a Timex from the 60's in his drawer and they all still work.
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Old 08-12-20, 06:57 AM
  #113  
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Originally Posted by Litespud
Those old frame builders were working with racers to build the best no-holds-barred racing bikes possible, because racing bikes were steel. That space has been taken over by CF, and generally "off the peg" CF at that. Steel frame builders are now building bespoke cruisers for the well-heeled "civilian" cyclist - not saying that these aren't lightweight, well-handling bikes, often rolling works of art, but they're not balls-to-the-wall racing bikes, so input from actual racers is irrelevant. Racers aren't interested in pretty steel bikes, they want light, bordering-on-disposible, plastic bikes.
I think you have a good point about racers ≠ most people buying custom steel bikes. I wasn't really thinking about experience working with racers as meaning that those builders were good at making racing bikes, though. I was more thinking that, in contrast with builders working with "civilians" who make maybe one, two frames for an individual, a builder working with a lot of racers would build more frames for each individual and get more, and more immediate, feedback from people with far more experience than most of us on a bike. The builder would thus learn more, and more quickly, about what changes to tubes/geometry would result in which changes to the bike in use.

Whether that would successfully translate into success with builds for "civilians" is a good question. For example, I don't think someone working with racers would have to consider how geometry changes would affect a rider with a paunch (mine is little, I swear ... almost inconsiderable ... well, just ignore that man behind the curtain).

And the original question never implied that there are not sufficient builders making custom steel. To me, though, many of the builders who are no longer making frames had a … cachet? … that most of the current builders don't. Could I, an enthusiast who rides a few thousand miles a year and who has never raced, tell the difference in a blindfold test between a Sachs and a ... (grabbing a name from someone's post) Landshark? Not a chance. Would I gain any benefit from choosing to spend extra (time and/or money) on a Spectrum vs. a Seven? Maybe not. But that’s not the question.

Most of this is simply nostalgia, I suppose, for a day when life was seemed simpler, bikes looked like bikes (and not rocket ships or praying mantids - NTTIAWWT, many do look pretty cool) and were made of steel. But I wonder if that is all it is?
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Old 08-12-20, 07:39 AM
  #114  
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So, in conclusion, the small niche of custom steel bikes has shifted from a small number of racers paying top dollar to a small number of non-racers paying top dollar.

/thread
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Old 08-12-20, 07:46 AM
  #115  
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I learned long ago that "the best bike" is the one that makes you happy to ride, regardless of what it's made of.

In my ~30 years of cycling to date, I've owned steal, aluminum, and carbon bikes. In compiling a "pros and cons" list for each material, I can come-up with a compelling list for each frame material that varies depending on the intended use of the bike. While I personally prefer carbon for my current riding style and needs, I darn near lust after some of the highly custom steal frames that I've seen online. Part of my interest in steal frames is that it's nostalgic as steal was the frame material of choice when I started road cycling as a teen in the 80's. Today, I just appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into creating ornate frame lugs and custom paint jobs.
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Old 08-12-20, 09:19 AM
  #116  
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Originally Posted by Kapusta
Taiwan can make bike frames just as well as any US or European factory can.

Ever ridden or looked closely at a Pivot?
You could even argue they could be better. I am still ridding my old 5-spot and keep looking out for a Burner but that model (Zen made) tends to crack a lot. Turner would have been much better off shifting to Taiwan and selling a dw linked aluminum frame for $1800.
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Old 08-12-20, 09:45 AM
  #117  
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Originally Posted by vespasianus
You could even argue they could be better. I am still ridding my old 5-spot and keep looking out for a Burner but that model (Zen made) tends to crack a lot. Turner would have been much better off shifting to Taiwan and selling a dw linked aluminum frame for $1800.
Are we the last two people riding 5-Spots?
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Old 08-12-20, 09:50 AM
  #118  
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Originally Posted by Kapusta
Are we the last two people riding 5-Spots?
We could be! Mine is a 2011, what is yours again? I recently stuck a Burner rear end on my spot but am still running it with 26" wheels (but like the extra rear tire room). I have a new IBIS Ripley as well but still ride the 5-spot quite a bit!
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Old 08-12-20, 09:55 AM
  #119  
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Originally Posted by Johnk3
Comparing a mass produced Asian CF bike with mid and low end components to a fully custom, handmade Columbus XCr stainless steel frame with Campy Super Record group and WR Compositi components is like comparing a Fiat to a Maserati. I have 2 high end carbon fiber bikes. I'm not impressed with either of them. I would not have either electronic shifting or disc brakes if you paid me. My bike will be ridden decades after your CF cheapie is in the recycle bin.
I only own steel frames and built one in a class. Clearly I like steel.

Your bike is nice and finished well, but it would be tough to say its 'better' than the ribble frame with the same components costing thousands less.
We all view 'better' in different ways. Some value the look(you) while others value the cost(not you) or performance(not you).

I wouldn't ever say your bike is a good deal. I also wouldn't say its a bad deal. The word deal turns a product into a commodity and a handmade bike isn't a commodity.
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Old 08-12-20, 10:01 AM
  #120  
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr
I only own steel frames and built one in a class. Clearly I like steel.

Your bike is nice and finished well, but it would be tough to say its 'better' than the ribble frame with the same components costing thousands less.
We all view 'better' in different ways. Some value the look(you) while others value the cost(not you) or performance(not you).

I wouldn't ever say your bike is a good deal. I also wouldn't say its a bad deal. The word deal turns a product into a commodity and a handmade bike isn't a commodity.

Well, I would argue that it is better FOR HIM as it was custom made to his specifications. I would almost always argue that a custom built and fitted bike is better than an off the shelf bike.
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Old 08-12-20, 10:19 AM
  #121  
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Originally Posted by Litespud
Those old frame builders were working with racers to build the best no-holds-barred racing bikes possible, because racing bikes were steel. That space has been taken over by CF, and generally "off the peg" CF at that. Steel frame builders are now building bespoke cruisers for the well-heeled "civilian" cyclist - not saying that these aren't lightweight, well-handling bikes, often rolling works of art, but they're not balls-to-the-wall racing bikes, so input from actual racers is irrelevant. Racers aren't interested in pretty steel bikes, they want light, bordering-on-disposible, plastic bikes.
But RIDERS are still interested in light, responsive, well-handling, minimal, bikes with very light wheels as in the '60s through '80s, and want a perfect fit to our aging bones. It's not all about faux-French randonneuse with big tires, fenders, and minimal bags and it's not all about carbon racer-boy imitation.
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Old 08-12-20, 12:05 PM
  #122  
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Having been involved in the racing community in the 70's Racers viewed their steel bike back in the day the same as Racers view carbon today which is a tool to get the job done. I have owned some classic race bikes including Masi's and a T.I. Raliegh and the build quality was good but be where near where the artisans have taken frame building today.
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Old 08-12-20, 01:03 PM
  #123  
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Originally Posted by noimagination
I think you have a good point about racers ≠ most people buying custom steel bikes. I wasn't really thinking about experience working with racers as meaning that those builders were good at making racing bikes, though. I was more thinking that, in contrast with builders working with "civilians" who make maybe one, two frames for an individual, a builder working with a lot of racers would build more frames for each individual and get more, and more immediate, feedback from people with far more experience than most of us on a bike. The builder would thus learn more, and more quickly, about what changes to tubes/geometry would result in which changes to the bike in use.

Whether that would successfully translate into success with builds for "civilians" is a good question. For example, I don't think someone working with racers would have to consider how geometry changes would affect a rider with a paunch (mine is little, I swear ... almost inconsiderable ... well, just ignore that man behind the curtain).

And the original question never implied that there are not sufficient builders making custom steel. To me, though, many of the builders who are no longer making frames had a Ö cachet? Ö that most of the current builders don't. Could I, an enthusiast who rides a few thousand miles a year and who has never raced, tell the difference in a blindfold test between a Sachs and a ... (grabbing a name from someone's post) Landshark? Not a chance. Would I gain any benefit from choosing to spend extra (time and/or money) on a Spectrum vs. a Seven? Maybe not. But thatís not the question.

Most of this is simply nostalgia, I suppose, for a day when life was seemed simpler, bikes looked like bikes (and not rocket ships or praying mantids - NTTIAWWT, many do look pretty cool) and were made of steel. But I wonder if that is all it is?
I think it is nostalgia. If your definition of cachet is someone who was building decades ago... then sure, the golden age is over.

But keep in mind that you usually donít know you are in the midst of legends until a much later date.

All I can say is that IMO the Golden Age of bikes is right now.
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Old 08-12-20, 01:16 PM
  #124  
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Originally Posted by Kapusta
I think it is nostalgia. If your definition of cachet is someone who was building decades ago... then sure, the golden age is over.

But keep in mind that you usually donít know you are in the midst of legends until a much later date.

All I can say is that IMO the Golden Age of bikes is right now.
That may be, but you usually won't know until a much later date.
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Old 08-12-20, 01:32 PM
  #125  
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Originally Posted by vespasianus
Well, I would argue that it is better FOR HIM as it was custom made to his specifications. I would almost always argue that a custom built and fitted bike is better than an off the shelf bike.
Sure, it was better for him.

I responded because it was claimed that the frame was a 'real bargain' at $3600. I simply think the word 'bargain' is not well used in this instance and will get a lot of push back, even if the owner feels it was a good deal. When the cost of a frame is in the top 4% of anything you see on the roads, the word bargain isnt something that should be used. Even if its a frame that usually costs $4500, using that word isnt exactly a great way to describe the value of the frame.

As for a custom build and fitted bike being better than an off the shelf bike...yeah sure thats true for some, but for a lot its nonsense. I reside at the extremes and would be one to benefit from custom, but even I could have off the shelf options that would work just fine and match the geometry I like. My gravel bike's frame is stock and I built it up to fit me perfectly even though I am at the extreme end of the size spectrum. Someone that is closer to average will have seemingly unlimited options and can find a frame that has the geometry they want(or think they want) with components they want(or think they want).
Even the road bike frame that I built in a class that was created specifically for me has geometry that I can match.
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