Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Road Cycling
Reload this Page >

Steel vs. Carbon Dilemma

Notices
Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Steel vs. Carbon Dilemma

Old 11-11-11, 11:41 AM
  #1  
bikerjp
Beer >> Sanity
Thread Starter
 
bikerjp's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Colorado
Posts: 3,449

Bikes: 2014 Evo DA2, 2010 Caad9-4, 2011 Synapse-4, 2013 CaadX-disc

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Steel vs. Carbon Dilemma

(Oops...Dilemma. Stupid spell check.)

After a loooong time waiting (procrastinating) I've finally finished my dissertation and to celebrate I'm going to pick up a second road bike. I had been thinking of getting a SuperSix, but part of me wants a nice steel. The Gunnar Roadie or Sport look nice. Unfortunately, I can't test ride one of these to see how it rides. I know people who have them will say they are great, but I'm looking for more concrete details. What's great? How would they compare to the SuperSix? Feedback from anyone who has ridden both (or at least a similar bike) would be great.

I'm basically wanting a smoother riding but still fast and quick to respond bike. The SuperSix fits the bill perfectly but part of me wants steel - basically a stiff, fast steel frame to rival the carbons. Does it exist and in the $1000 range (frame only)?

If I go steel, my thinking is to get a Gunnar and build up with Force. Overkill for steel or perfect?

Thanks.
bikerjp is offline  
Old 11-11-11, 11:47 AM
  #2  
wkg
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 1,153
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Steel is not going to be "stiff" "fast" or "responsive" at all compared to carbon. It will be "slow" "plush" and "heavy". Carbon performs better all around than steel but some people might say that it can "break".

****
wkg is offline  
Old 11-11-11, 11:50 AM
  #3  
bikerjp
Beer >> Sanity
Thread Starter
 
bikerjp's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Colorado
Posts: 3,449

Bikes: 2014 Evo DA2, 2010 Caad9-4, 2011 Synapse-4, 2013 CaadX-disc

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
****? Really? We lock threads seeking honest, reliable feedback about bikes? I'm not trolling. I've listed specific bikes I'm interested in and seeking feedback.
bikerjp is offline  
Old 11-11-11, 11:54 AM
  #4  
Grasschopper
He drop me
 
Grasschopper's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Central PA
Posts: 11,664

Bikes: '03 Marin Mill Valley, '02 Eddy Merckx Corsa 0.1, '12 Giant Defy Advance, '20 Giant Revolt 1, '20 Giant Defy Advanced Pro 1, some random 6KU fixie

Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 138 Post(s)
Liked 12 Times in 9 Posts
I have a nice steel bike and I know it will last forever and I don't have to worry about it cracking, exploding or any of that other crap people say carbon bikes do...



...I know this because I ride it once or twice a year, otherwise it hangs on the wall in my home. It hangs there because my carbon bike is lighter (a lot), stiffer yet quiets bumps and vibrations better. I have both and choose the carbon bike 99.9% of the time...the steel bike goes out to show it off.
__________________
The views expressed by this poster do not reflect the views of BikeForums.net.
Grasschopper is offline  
Old 11-11-11, 11:56 AM
  #5  
dmcdmc
Senior Member
 
dmcdmc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: nyc
Posts: 155

Bikes: gary fisher kaitai, se draft, raleigh record, all pro 3 speed, schwinn cofee, trek 2300, cannondale synapse

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I've never ridden a gunnar but I have ridden lots of steel bikes.

I just picked up a supersix with rival. The best description I can come up with is that it feels very damp compared to steel or aluminum. The handling is very sharp but bumps feel dull and I can see why people say carbon can feel dead. When you really put power down, it is great however.
dmcdmc is offline  
Old 11-11-11, 11:57 AM
  #6  
Bob Ross
your god hates me
 
Bob Ross's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 3,977

Bikes: 2018 Cannondale CAADX 105 SE, 2016 Richard Sachs, 2010 Carl Strong, 2006 Cannondale Synapse

Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 520 Post(s)
Liked 145 Times in 90 Posts
Originally Posted by wkg View Post
Steel is not going to be "stiff" "fast" or "responsive" at all compared to carbon. It will be "slow" "plush" and "heavy". Carbon performs better all around than steel but some people might say that it can "break".
Aside from your assertion that some people might say that it can break, everything else you just wrote is the biggest crock of poop I've ever seen so succinctly crammed into a three-sentence post.

To the OP: You said "part of me wants a nice steel" but then you listed a couple Gunnar models. I guess it depends on how nice you mean by "nice". A Cannondale SuperSix is a very nice carbon bike by nearly any measure; whereas a Gunnar Roadie is a nice steel bike only in the modest, non-perjorative sense of the word. It's a nice bike. It's not a great bike. The Cannondale (presuming it fits and is well-apportioned) is a great bike.

iow, apples to oranges.
Bob Ross is offline  
Old 11-11-11, 12:01 PM
  #7  
wkg
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 1,153
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by bikerjp View Post
****? Really? We lock threads seeking honest, reliable feedback about bikes? I'm not trolling. I've listed specific bikes I'm interested in and seeking feedback.
It has nothing to do with you. You asked a perfectly acceptable question. This is why I said "****":

Originally Posted by Bob Ross
Aside from your assertion that some people might say that it can break, everything else you just wrote is the biggest crock of poop I've ever seen so succinctly crammed into a three-sentence post.
It's only going to get worse.
wkg is offline  
Old 11-11-11, 12:04 PM
  #8  
bikerjp
Beer >> Sanity
Thread Starter
 
bikerjp's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Colorado
Posts: 3,449

Bikes: 2014 Evo DA2, 2010 Caad9-4, 2011 Synapse-4, 2013 CaadX-disc

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Grasschopper View Post
...I know this because I ride it once or twice a year, otherwise it hangs on the wall in my home. It hangs there because my carbon bike is lighter (a lot), stiffer yet quiets bumps and vibrations better. I have both and choose the carbon bike 99.9% of the time...the steel bike goes out to show it off.
Thanks. That's precisely the kind of info I'm looking for.
bikerjp is offline  
Old 11-11-11, 12:05 PM
  #9  
bikerjp
Beer >> Sanity
Thread Starter
 
bikerjp's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Colorado
Posts: 3,449

Bikes: 2014 Evo DA2, 2010 Caad9-4, 2011 Synapse-4, 2013 CaadX-disc

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by wkg View Post
It has nothing to do with you. You asked a perfectly acceptable question. This is why I said "****":
Oh, I see. It's BF so acceptable questions are not acceptable. What was I thinking.
bikerjp is offline  
Old 11-11-11, 12:07 PM
  #10  
dmcdmc
Senior Member
 
dmcdmc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: nyc
Posts: 155

Bikes: gary fisher kaitai, se draft, raleigh record, all pro 3 speed, schwinn cofee, trek 2300, cannondale synapse

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
that EM is a beauty. it's funny how now you pull out the steel bike to show off...
dmcdmc is offline  
Old 11-11-11, 12:08 PM
  #11  
Henry III
is just a real cool dude
 
Henry III's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: The Thumb, MI
Posts: 3,167
Mentioned: 10 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 27 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 22 Times in 9 Posts
If your not spending godly amounts of cash on a carbon bike you can get a very nice and still light steel frame. Check out English Cycles on what he can do with fillet brazed steel frames. The bike below is 11.8 lbs. I ride a custom steel lugged frame I built myself with 11spd Campy Chorus and Reynold Solitude wheels at just over 16lbs for a 48cm frame. Plus if I crash and something gets damaged it can be reasonably be repaired to what Calfee or someone would charge. Mind you I had a carbon road bike also but went back to steel.

https://www.englishcycles.com/customb...-road-bike-v2/

My bike

Last edited by Henry III; 11-11-11 at 12:15 PM.
Henry III is offline  
Old 11-11-11, 12:38 PM
  #12  
eippo1
I like beans
 
eippo1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Meffa, MA
Posts: 3,353

Bikes: Tarmac Pro, Bianchi Zurigo, Raleigh Gran Sport, Fuji Del Rey, Ironman Centurion

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by Bob Ross View Post
Aside from your assertion that some people might say that it can break, everything else you just wrote is the biggest crock of poop I've ever seen so succinctly crammed into a three-sentence post.

To the OP: You said "part of me wants a nice steel" but then you listed a couple Gunnar models. I guess it depends on how nice you mean by "nice". A Cannondale SuperSix is a very nice carbon bike by nearly any measure; whereas a Gunnar Roadie is a nice steel bike only in the modest, non-perjorative sense of the word. It's a nice bike. It's not a great bike. The Cannondale (presuming it fits and is well-apportioned) is a great bike.

iow, apples to oranges.
Actually, the Roadie is a very nice road bike. It seems like you're basing this on cost and steel is cheaper, hence the Roadie is cheaper. A nice thing about a Roadie is that for a few hundred more, he could make it nicer by getting it custom-built for his body which goes a long way in making the rider faster and more comfortable.

If you're saying that a Sachs, Zoncanado or IF bike would be a better steel bike, you're right, but those will also be customs. Another option would be a Serotta stock which would be more expensive than the Gunnar, but have some nicer finishes etc. Then there's the thought of going with a smaller builder that's producing nice bikes, but has slightly lower prices like Dornbox Bikes. Incredible bikes that he builds for a steal.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg
dornbox_full_view_600.jpg (52.7 KB, 59 views)
eippo1 is offline  
Old 11-11-11, 01:19 PM
  #13  
2ndGen
CAADdict
 
2ndGen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: BF Heaven
Posts: 6,756

Bikes: 2009 Cannondale CAAD9-?

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Listen to what everyone here opines,
but before you spend a dime,
put in some actual riding time,
then make up your mind.
2ndGen is offline  
Old 11-11-11, 01:25 PM
  #14  
Seattle Forrest
Senior Member
 
Seattle Forrest's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 21,731
Mentioned: 71 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 13980 Post(s)
Liked 5,118 Times in 2,900 Posts
I had a steel bike back in the day, but the frame got damaged in a crash, and LBS "condemned" it. It was a comfy ride, but felt dead, and not as comfortable as my carbon bike. Of course, that's probably more to do with the engineering in the particular bikes, and less to do with the materials involved.

You can get a light steel bike, but it probably won't be cheap.
Seattle Forrest is offline  
Old 11-11-11, 01:35 PM
  #15  
UC223
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: NYC
Posts: 58

Bikes: Cervelo S1

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by eippo1 View Post
Actually, the Roadie is a very nice road bike. It seems like you're basing this on cost and steel is cheaper, hence the Roadie is cheaper. A nice thing about a Roadie is that for a few hundred more, he could make it nicer by getting it custom-built for his body which goes a long way in making the rider faster and more comfortable.

If you're saying that a Sachs, Zoncanado or IF bike would be a better steel bike, you're right, but those will also be customs. Another option would be a Serotta stock which would be more expensive than the Gunnar, but have some nicer finishes etc. Then there's the thought of going with a smaller builder that's producing nice bikes, but has slightly lower prices like Dornbox Bikes. Incredible bikes that he builds for a steal.
i believe you just backed up his point. the OP is comparing a very nice carbon bike to a still nice (but not top of the range) steel bike. on price. i am not sure where the OP is getting a supersix frame at 1k.
UC223 is offline  
Old 11-11-11, 01:39 PM
  #16  
Commodus
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Burnaby, BC
Posts: 4,144
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 3 Times in 3 Posts
My feeling is, it comes down to what you want to do with the bike. Once you decide this, a lot of the other questions kind of answer themselves.

For example, I bought an aluminum frame because I'm going to race on it. Once I decided the primary purpose of the bike, an aluminum frame made the most sense: it's light, stiff, has racy geo, and can perhaps better survive the inevitable hard crashes. If it does break, it's cheaper than the carbon frames I would want to race on. Probably it is much less comfortable than nice carbon, but seeing as how I've ridden it on several 200km brevets I guess it's comfy enough. 25s and reasonable pressures help a lot I think.

When I was just doing the brevets and other shorter, but still fairly long rides I rode steel. It's cheap and comfy and sporty and the weight is irrelevant. About the only scenarios that would make me buy carbon is a real surplus of money, or a serious interest in long stage races.
Commodus is offline  
Old 11-11-11, 01:45 PM
  #17  
AngryScientist 
Lost
 
AngryScientist's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: nutley, nj
Posts: 4,513
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 1 Post
Originally Posted by wkg View Post
Steel is not going to be "stiff" "fast" or "responsive" at all compared to carbon. It will be "slow" "plush" and "heavy". Carbon performs better all around than steel but some people might say that it can "break".

****
first off, this post is wildly uninformed, and totally worthless. dismiss it promptly.

Second, if you are serious about wanting to get into a nice steel bike, i suggest you research some of the custom frame builders that may (or may not) be local to you. there are a whole new wave of very skilled people making custom steel frames these days, and you would be surprised what you can get for your $$. find someone in your price range with a good reputation based on customer feedback and give that person a call to discuss exactly what you are looking for, and you may very well end up with the best bike you have ever owned.

that said, the used high end bike market is very good for buyers right now. surfing ebay and other outlets, you can easily find a very high end steel bicycle for good prices, which may be your best bet.
AngryScientist is offline  
Old 11-11-11, 01:46 PM
  #18  
Snydermann
Lotus Monomaniac
 
Snydermann's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 1,046
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 3 Times in 3 Posts
I feel the same for the carbon plastic bike as I do the Bic pens, disposable razors, Cricket lighters, plastic sporks, paper cups, Swatch watches, and boxed wine. They serve a purpose in a high-tech disposable society.

But when I want something quality I prefer a Montblanc, Schick Safety, Standard Zippo, stainless flatware, a heavy beer mug, a vintage Timex and nice bottled wine.
Snydermann is offline  
Old 11-11-11, 01:58 PM
  #19  
justkeepedaling
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Ogden, Utah
Posts: 693

Bikes: CAAD 10, Cervelo P2 SL, Focus RG-700, Quintana Roo #101

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
You've obviously never owned a ultra high end carbon bike then. A custom Parlee, Spin, or even a Look 695 or R5 CA is like a work of art
justkeepedaling is offline  
Old 11-11-11, 02:01 PM
  #20  
AndyK
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Northern N.J.
Posts: 1,979

Bikes: '08 Roubaix SL '03 De Rosa Planet, '77 Cinelli Supercorsa, '79 Paris Sport (Moulton)

Mentioned: 17 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
Liked 4 Times in 3 Posts
What doesn't feel dead is aluminum, another option in the non-carbon arena.

PS--That is one nice bike HenryIII !
AndyK is offline  
Old 11-11-11, 02:08 PM
  #21  
Seattle Forrest
Senior Member
 
Seattle Forrest's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 21,731
Mentioned: 71 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 13980 Post(s)
Liked 5,118 Times in 2,900 Posts
Originally Posted by Snydermann View Post
I feel the same for the carbon plastic bike as I do the Bic pens, disposable razors, Cricket lighters, plastic sporks, paper cups, Swatch watches, and boxed wine. They serve a purpose in a high-tech disposable society.

But when I want something quality I prefer a Montblanc, Schick Safety, Standard Zippo, stainless flatware, a heavy beer mug, a vintage Timex and nice bottled wine.
So you're saying steel is a good choice for alcoholics?
Seattle Forrest is offline  
Old 11-11-11, 02:09 PM
  #22  
bikerjp
Beer >> Sanity
Thread Starter
 
bikerjp's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Colorado
Posts: 3,449

Bikes: 2014 Evo DA2, 2010 Caad9-4, 2011 Synapse-4, 2013 CaadX-disc

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by UC223 View Post
i believe you just backed up his point. the OP is comparing a very nice carbon bike to a still nice (but not top of the range) steel bike. on price. i am not sure where the OP is getting a supersix frame at 1k.
Gunnar steel frames are around $1000. The supersix is built and is around $2300 (the one I found) so I'm thinking about $1,300 to build up the steel if I go that route (not counting wheels which I have) gives me roughly the same cost for the complete bike.
bikerjp is offline  
Old 11-11-11, 02:11 PM
  #23  
Snydermann
Lotus Monomaniac
 
Snydermann's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 1,046
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 3 Times in 3 Posts
Take a fine bronze sculpture by a famous artist. Now have him cast the same thing in plastic. What's it worth?
Snydermann is offline  
Old 11-11-11, 02:11 PM
  #24  
rat fink
Iconoclast
 
rat fink's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: California
Posts: 3,183

Bikes: Colnago Super, Fuji Opus III, Specialized Rockhopper, Specialized Sirrus (road)

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I've owned and ridden some real nice steel bikes. I wouldn't get one over a SuperSix, but that's just me. I don't think a Gunnar is equivalent to a SuperSix. I would say that a Pegoretti is a closer match. A real nice steel bike is definitely a keeper, but if I had the choice, I'd go for Cf race frame.
rat fink is offline  
Old 11-11-11, 02:17 PM
  #25  
bikerjp
Beer >> Sanity
Thread Starter
 
bikerjp's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Colorado
Posts: 3,449

Bikes: 2014 Evo DA2, 2010 Caad9-4, 2011 Synapse-4, 2013 CaadX-disc

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by rat fink View Post
I've owned and ridden some real nice steel bikes. I wouldn't get one over a SuperSix, but that's just me. I don't think a Gunnar is equivalent to a SuperSix. I would say that a Pegoretti is a closer match. A real nice steel bike is definitely a keeper, but if I had the choice, I'd go for Cf race frame.
So a nearly equivalent steel frame is double the cost of carbon? I was sort of thinking it should be cheaper though not precisely equivalent given inherent differences in the materials.

Thanks for the info re the gunnar vs supersix.
bikerjp is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.