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Steel Road Bike Search

Old 03-26-11, 01:42 PM
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Daddy Wags
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Steel Road Bike Search

I'm in the process of figuring out what steel road bike I would like to buy for myself this summer.
I'm in my 60's and haven't had a road bike for 20 years. I do most of my riding with an old mountain bike I hybridized. I'm over 6 feet tall and 230 lbs. I do 90% of my riding on rural highway roads and would probably put a rack on my bike to carry a few grocery items. 10% of my riding would be around town.
Being an older guy, comfort is a more important criteria than it was when I was a young man.
I'm not very informed, generally speaking, to make an expert decision on this bike purchase, thus I'm looking for that expertise here.

1. I'm looking to spend somewhere between $1200 and $1700.
2. I would probably prefer a relaxed geometry design with a more upright riding position. Probably run 28's or 32"s for tires.

3. I want a steel frame but was wondering if the addition of a carbon fiber fork might be a good idea. What are the pros and cons of steel or CF forks?
4. I would like to purchase a bike from an area bike shop....this would include the Seattle area although I live up on the Olympic Penninsula.
5. On my list of possible bikes to consider are the Surly Pacer near the $1200 level and the Jamis Quest up at the $1700 level. I would appreciate any comments on these two bikes. Also, any other bikes in my price range that I might want to consider?
6. Would a touring bike like a Jamis Aurora or a cylocross bike like the Surly Cross Check be a more comfortable bike for me than the ones I am considering?

Thanks ahead of time for any information or suggestions offered up.

John
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Old 03-26-11, 01:53 PM
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You might also want to try a Trek 520. A carbon fork will save you about a pound in weight, but you won't miss it.
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Old 03-26-11, 03:48 PM
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I think the Quest is a great choice (I almost got one myself). Not your basic steel, great components, and awesome wheels for the price. I'd like to note that it's relaxed in the geometry, just not the most relaxed.
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Old 03-26-11, 06:52 PM
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I recently bought a Salsa Casserole and love it. Check out their website, its affordable (around $1200) and really comfortable. Comes with 32's and is a lite touring/modest off road vehicle. I've only been out 6 times this year as winter is really holding on here in the Northeast, but it does great on those rural roads that still have road dirt and ice patches. Can't wait untill the dirt roads have thawed so I can venture out some more. So far, it seems like a great all around bike. It is my second ride, as I still have a road bike that I enjoy a lot, but at 58 yrs. old, I enjoy the feel of steel and wider tires.

good luck with your purchase, let us know what you decide on.
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Old 03-26-11, 08:56 PM
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I commute on a Cross Check with a rack and panniers and it's great. A plush ride but with a short enough wheel base to be snappy in traffic. I am a big fan of the Cross Check, but it's jack of all trades, master of none. It seems like you missed the bike in Surly's lineup that is most suited for your needs. Did you check out the Long Haul Trucker? Steel frame, upright riding position, eyelets for racks and fenders front and back... Seems like that's just what you need. I'm not saying it's the best choice, but if you're already looking at Surly, the LHT might suit your needs better (in terms of ride position) than the Cross Check or the Pacer.
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Old 03-26-11, 10:16 PM
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Surly's LHT is a little more touring oriented than I would like. The Cross Check or Pacer are more of interest to me.
Also, the earlier mentioned Salsa Casseroll (light touring/modest off road) has perked my interest.
After I make a list of the handful of bikes I am interested in, then I will attempt to find as many as possible to ride. The Seattle area should be a pretty good place for tracking down the bikes of my interest.
Although my choice of frame material is steel, can someone explain to me the differences in the types of steel that are offered? For instance, what are the differences in Reynolds 520, 631, 4130, etc.?
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Old 03-26-11, 10:41 PM
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How about looking at a cross bike. There are several that would fit your need such as the Soma Double Cross and Specialized Tricross. Accepts racks, tires up to about 40mm, tough and rugged but not overly heavy. I really like cross bikes for general riding.
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Old 03-26-11, 11:09 PM
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My current bike is steel. I think the carbon fork is worth it for the added comfort. And down the road a carbon seatpost and/or carbon-railed saddle are also good additions to a steel frame. Nothing damps road vibration like carbon.
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Old 03-27-11, 09:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Daddy Wags
Although my choice of frame material is steel, can someone explain to me the differences in the types of steel that are offered? For instance, what are the differences in Reynolds 520, 631, 4130, etc.?
Reynolds 520 is just regular 4130 Cromoly (but probably with higher quality control), 631 is a higher-end alloy that's lighter because it isn't as weak where welded so they can use less material (also cold-worked).
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Old 03-27-11, 09:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Daddy Wags
Although my choice of frame material is steel, can someone explain to me the differences in the types of steel that are offered? For instance, what are the differences in Reynolds 520, 631, 4130, etc.?
In terms of overall tensile strength, here is the order from strongest to weakest of common bike tubing steels:
1. Heat-treated air hardened steel
(853, Foco, OXPlatinum)*
2. Heat-treated CrMo(Tange Prestige HT, Reynolds 725)
3. Cold-drawn air hardened steel
(Reynolds 631)*
4. Cold-drawn CrMo(Reynolds 525, Tange Infinity, 4130)
5. High tensile steel(cheap dept. store bikes)

* Air-hardened steels actually gain strength in the weld area after welding, but not along the whole tube.

4130 is an industrial standard that is common for bike building, most cold-drawn CrMo is produced to this standard.
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Old 03-27-11, 09:56 AM
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Killer deal.

https://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...our_legacy.htm
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Old 03-27-11, 10:14 AM
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It's a hot looking bike, but I see a few red flags: Takes fenders in the front but not in the back (the rear stay holes wouldn't hold full fenders due to the distance from the rear axle and I doubt they have threading anyways), and only four sizes!?!?!? (I suppose if you know it'll work for you).
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Old 03-27-11, 10:33 AM
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Except for the price, this is exactly what you are looking for.

https://gunnarbikes.com/site/bikes/sport/



Fork's mostly a style thing. But if you're thinking about touring, steel.
We do lite touring, no more than 20 pounds and we stay at motels and B&Bs. Mine has a steel fork.
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Old 03-27-11, 12:24 PM
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It is interesting that 15 years ago I lived not far from Waterford, Wisconsin, (where Gunnar is headquartered) and didn't realize they existed. I may stop by the Gunnar dealer in Seattle just to further my interest but it appears a little too expensive for my blood.
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Old 03-27-11, 01:18 PM
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The Salsa Casseroll is a great suggestion. Check out the Soma Smoothie ES as well. A carbon fork will do nothing for you except remove more cash from your pockets.
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Old 03-27-11, 02:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Daddy Wags
It is interesting that 15 years ago I lived not far from Waterford, Wisconsin, (where Gunnar is headquartered) and didn't realize they existed. I may stop by the Gunnar dealer in Seattle just to further my interest but it appears a little too expensive for my blood.
Don't test ride one.

That was my mistake.
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Old 03-27-11, 02:38 PM
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Originally Posted by niknak
The Salsa Casseroll is a great suggestion. Check out the Soma Smoothie ES as well. A carbon fork will do nothing for you except remove more cash from your pockets.
Would you like to back up that comment (RE: carbon forks) with some helpful information from your experience?

Last edited by slipstream8; 03-27-11 at 02:38 PM. Reason: clarification
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Old 03-27-11, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by niknak
The Salsa Casseroll is a great suggestion. Check out the Soma Smoothie ES as well. A carbon fork will do nothing for you except remove more cash from your pockets.
I have a Soma Double Cross. I was lucky to find a new fork taken off a Ridley. That Ridley carbon fiber fork is better than any steel fork.

However, I will say the the lugged steel on my vintage road bike is better than the lighter and very flexy fork I had on a new road bike. That fork was spooky at speed.

Nothing wrong with a nice steel fork on a sport style steel road bike.
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Old 03-27-11, 08:02 PM
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There seems to be some discussion regarding carbon or steel forks. I can't say anything regarding cost. As for comfort I don't feel a difference. Some of my bikes have steel, some carbon. It doesn't seem to matter to me. I think I'm feeling the fork as a component of the feel of the whole frame or bike. You can get a comfortable ride with a steel fork though - my all steel Waterford built Paramount is the most comfortable bike I have.
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Old 04-01-11, 10:14 PM
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Well, I have narrowed my search down to three bikes. I have backed off the Jamis Quest and Surly Pacer and I'm heading in the direction of a more all round light touring/commuting bike. My considerations in order of preference are:

Salsa Casseroll
Surly Cross Check
Jamis Bosa Nova

I'm no lightweight at 230 lbs but would be carrying very light loads on the bike (10 - 15 lbs max). Would the Salsa Casseroll carry my weight OK? Jamis changes the size of steel tubing throughout their bike sizes to compensate for different size riders. Not sure how Salsa or Surly handle size differences.
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Old 04-01-11, 11:06 PM
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All those bikes are spec'd with Tiagra, mainly. This bike is in your price range and spec'd with 2009 Ultegra. You can ask them if it will accommodate 700x25c tires (I would think that is a "yes"), but probably not larger tires as you mentioned in the OP.
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Old 04-03-11, 02:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Daddy Wags
5. On my list of possible bikes to consider are the Surly Pacer near the $1200 level and the Jamis Quest up at the $1700 level.

John
My brother just bought a Pacer frameset from the LBS. They swapped his old group from a 9 sp Trek 1200 and added cables, casings, stem, headset, chain an bar tape to the build. He wound up saving $400 over a complete Pacer. Not only that they gave him free tune ups for a year and %20 off the parts he bought.

The Surly seems to have a more relaxed geometry than the Trek IMO.
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Old 04-03-11, 04:01 AM
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I think all of the bikes recommended are likely going to meet your expectation and be decent bikes, but I think you would be remiss if you didn't at least stop by your Gunnar dealer before writing this one off. The knowledge and years of experience within the Waterford operation would lead me to focus on one of these. And their bikes need no introduction to customer satisfaction. Outfitted with Shimano 105, you would likely have a steel bike that only has peers.
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Old 04-03-11, 04:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Daddy Wags
I'm in the process of figuring out what steel road bike I would like to buy for myself this summer.
I'm in my 60's and haven't had a road bike for 20 years. I do most of my riding with an old mountain bike I hybridized. I'm over 6 feet tall and 230 lbs. I do 90% of my riding on rural highway roads and would probably put a rack on my bike to carry a few grocery items. 10% of my riding would be around town.
Being an older guy, comfort is a more important criteria than it was when I was a young man.
I'm not very informed, generally speaking, to make an expert decision on this bike purchase, thus I'm looking for that expertise here.

1. I'm looking to spend somewhere between $1200 and $1700.
2. I would probably prefer a relaxed geometry design with a more upright riding position. Probably run 28's or 32"s for tires.

3. I want a steel frame but was wondering if the addition of a carbon fiber fork might be a good idea. What are the pros and cons of steel or CF forks?
4. I would like to purchase a bike from an area bike shop....this would include the Seattle area although I live up on the Olympic Penninsula.
5. On my list of possible bikes to consider are the Surly Pacer near the $1200 level and the Jamis Quest up at the $1700 level. I would appreciate any comments on these two bikes. Also, any other bikes in my price range that I might want to consider?
6. Would a touring bike like a Jamis Aurora or a cylocross bike like the Surly Cross Check be a more comfortable bike for me than the ones I am considering?

Thanks ahead of time for any information or suggestions offered up.

John
Hampsten

Call up Steve and/or visit his shop. He will measure you and Max Kullaway (Merlin, Seven) will weld you an AWESOME bike! They are located in Seattle!

For the month of April, MAX (Steel, read about the process in the link below) frames are $200 off.
https://www.hampsten.blogspot.com/

Yes, it is $2200 and over your budget, but where can you get a custom, USA-handmade frame that rides awesome (custom fit to your geometry and riding), looks classy yet had modern, ovalized and oversized tubing, and comes with an ENVE 2.0 carbon fork for that sort of price?

Steve can design it to allow fenders as you describe, have long reach calipers, etc.

IMO that Strada Bianca MAX in white will not only meet all your criteria for the next 20 years of your riding (60 is the new 30), it will just allow you to enjoy your ride a lot more (aesthetics, ride quality, and most importantly, fit) than getting a generic steel bike that won't cost significantly less.

https://www.hampsten.com/

Full disclosure: I bought a custom Hampsten Ti and it's awesome! I wish I saved all the money I spent on my other bikes from the start and just went custom.

Last edited by kimconyc; 04-03-11 at 04:26 AM.
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Old 04-03-11, 12:23 PM
  #25  
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I'd like to throw these in for your consideration, Soma and Pake :

https://store.somafab.com/roadframes.html

https://store.somafab.com/pacfrfoset.html

This is where I'm already aiming my sights for when I outgrow my carbon fiber phase....

Here's a nice pic of the Pake :

https://www.flickr.com/photos/1159058...ream/lightbox/

Last edited by RickB.; 04-03-11 at 02:32 PM.
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