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Steel frame

Old 02-17-15, 03:03 PM
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Steel frame

I was thinking about getting a steel frame bike.
I live near a bike shop owned by a former Tour de France champ and a cyclocross world champion.
He sells custom made bikes. I bought my cyclocross bike there 5 years ago and the bike was pretty good but got smashed by a car a few weeks back.
I took the bike to his shop and while I was there I noticed that he also has steel frame road bikes with modern components. They looked quite classy.

Anyhoo, long story short: what are the cons of a steel frame bike other than the weight that will be heavier than a carbon or aluminium bike?
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Old 02-17-15, 03:08 PM
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Heavier, typically not as stiff, will rust.

Pro's comfortable ride, and will last forever with a little maintenance.

If you don't care about having the lightest, stiffest bike, steel is still a very viable option.
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Old 02-17-15, 03:24 PM
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I wonder what a modern steel bike with Ultegra might weigh. I'm guessing around 9-10 kg.
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Old 02-17-15, 03:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Eljot
I live near a bike shop owned by a former Tour de France champ and a cyclocross world champion.
Who?

Steel is fine, by the way.
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Old 02-17-15, 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Eljot
I wonder what a modern steel bike with Ultegra might weigh. I'm guessing around 9-10 kg.
Modern steel like 853 or something could probably go to 17 to 18 lbs depending on build, I would imagine.

My 53cm Rivendell Roadeo with Ultegra 6800, Rolf Wheels, 25mm tires, Nitto handlebars, seatpost, lugged quill stem, and Look clipless pedals weighs in at 19.5lbs. I could probably shave a half a pound if I went with the threadless option and used a lighter stem.
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Old 02-17-15, 03:37 PM
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a steel frame will weigh from 1.3kg for something very lightweight on up. with judicious component choices, you can build a bike 15-16lb.
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Old 02-17-15, 03:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Lazyass
Who?
You probably won't know him. He's 76 now: Rolf Wolfshohl.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rolf_Wolfshohl

I won't be able to afford the lightest bike components and steel frame but I hope
the bike will still be a decent weight.

I'm not sure if carbon would be the obvious better choice but somehow steel frames have something about them.

Last edited by Eljot; 02-17-15 at 03:48 PM.
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Old 02-17-15, 03:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Eljot
You probably won't know him. He's 76 now: Rolf Wolfshohl.
He never won the TdF, but did win the Vuelta.
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Old 02-17-15, 03:48 PM
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They are no longer as stiff as alternatives and can at the same time be more harsh. My favorite steel bike is an old Raleigh 753 that was stock 18# and I'm sure could be built to 16#. A lot of flex putting the hammer down on that one.

My stiffest steel bike was custom Columbus SP tubing that was real harsh - yet not as stiff as a carbon bike - just more harsh.
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Old 02-17-15, 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by rpenmanparker
He never won the TdF, but did win the Vuelta.
Sorry, I knew he never won the TdF but he did win the yellow jersey at one point. He just cycled through Europe with an average of about 80-100 miles per day at the age of 76 and without really training beforehand.
He did use a carbon road bike though but uses a steel frame cyclocross bike in the winter to cycle to his shop. I'm guessing a carbon frame is much better but since I don't compete it might not make much difference.
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Old 02-17-15, 03:59 PM
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Originally Posted by pdedes
a steel frame will weigh from 1.3kg for something very lightweight on up. with judicious component choices, you can build a bike 15-16lb.
My quite normal 531 frame from the early '90s (54 cm) weighs about 4.9 lb plus 0.75 lb for a carbon fork and I still can bring a complete bike in at 16.25 lb without pedals, cages, or computer mounts. I have FSA SL-K Light crank, Rival shifters and derailleurs, Zero Gravity brakes and a pretty lightweight cockpit. Clincher wheels weight under 1,300 g. So a modern steel frame and fork that weigh 1.5 lb less would be no trouble to bring in on a full build at under 15 lb. Red stuff would make the bike even lighter.
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Old 02-17-15, 04:16 PM
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ya, probably not as stiff as a full carbon frame and fork. might weigh a couple pounds more if outfitted the same. maybe more comfortable. and, IMHO, will definitely outlast what is essentially the daub and wattle construction of CF.

your friend has an impressive win record. say hi, to him for me.
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Old 02-17-15, 05:35 PM
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Cons? Unless you yourself are a TDF level racer you probably won't notice any. I have a vintage steel frame built up with modern components (5700 105) that is around 20 lbs. Not light by modern standards but obviously a similar frame built with lighter components would be lighter. If you have enough money to spend you can even get a 13.5 lb steel bike:

The lightest custom racing bicycles | Lighter than carbon fiber | The Steel Rodriguez Outlaw


I also have a lighter, stiffer modern carbon bike. I can tell the difference as in the steel is much more comfortable and a little flexy but according to Strava my times, avg speed etc are almost identical on the same routes with both bikes. Some days I'm faster on the carbon and some days on the steel and that is all based on me not the bike or material
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Old 02-17-15, 05:47 PM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh
Heavier, typically not as stiff, will rust.
. . . if left out directly in the rain for prolonged periods of time. Otherwise, not.

I still have the original steel bike I started cycling with 39 years ago, with zip, zero, zilch amounts of rust.

Originally Posted by merlinextraligh
If you don't care about having the lightest, stiffest bike, steel is still a very viable option.
Indeed.
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Old 02-17-15, 06:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Eljot
I wonder what a modern steel bike with Ultegra might weigh. I'm guessing around 9-10 kg.
I've got a steel Waterford (1992) in a size 57 built with DA, an updated CF fork with thread less headset, and Ksyriums. It weighs 18.2 lbs complete with pedals and cages.
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Old 02-18-15, 12:14 AM
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1. Steel never goes out of style, so no need to chase the latest and greatest.
2. Comfortable ride, better than any of my CF road bikes, especially because I can squeeze in 28mm tires.
3. I get more compliments and questions about my steel bike than all my other bikes together.
4. I get more respect if I win a spurt on my steel frame, since people are convinced it must be a lot slower.
5. If I have an off day I can always blame the frame. If I have a good day it must be the motor.
My Colnago Master weighs around 9 kg, so you can probably save 1-2 kg on CF which will never make any visible difference. After 30 years of riding I have never had a steel or aluminum frame damaged in a crash. However I broke the top tube of my Ridley Noah in my first crash with that frame when I went down and my knee slammed into the top tube. $500 to fix...

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Old 02-18-15, 12:25 AM
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Steel is real [/thread]
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Old 02-18-15, 12:28 AM
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I am a fan of steel bikes now, I picked up a Jamis Coda last weekend and my CF Sirrus hybrid is going on sale. The difference in long distance comfort is pretty big. The SL4 frame is stiff, fast feeling but for me I only liked to ride it to the parks and back. Too much of the road felt. If I ever do get a road bike it would be a Jamis Quest Steel one.

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Old 02-18-15, 12:57 AM
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Originally Posted by BillyD
. . . if left out directly in the rain for prolonged periods of time. Otherwise, not.

I still have the original steel bike I started cycling with 39 years ago, with zip, zero, zilch amounts of rust.


Indeed.
Besides rain, Sweat is very corrosive and it is hard to remove!

With two classique Reynolds 531 frames it is always a fight to keep rust at bay!

But I sure enjoy riding them!

Last edited by VNA; 02-18-15 at 01:07 AM.
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Old 02-18-15, 03:00 AM
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My Guru steel with a mix of SRAM (mostly) Red and Rival weighs in at under 18 lbs as I ride it. That is to say with bottle cages, seat bag, one mirror and mini-pump. It's a 55 frame made from Columbus spirit w/CF fork. It also has Ksyrium S wheels with Vittoria Open Corsa CX clinchers. What is the brand of the steel bike you are considering?
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Old 02-18-15, 03:40 AM
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Originally Posted by hairnet
Steel is real [/thread]
steel is more metaphysical, or something
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Old 02-18-15, 06:15 AM
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Originally Posted by redfooj
steel is more metaphysical, or something
Put that pipe down and go ride.
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Old 02-18-15, 07:15 AM
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I'm not sure all this weight talk is the relevant benchmark for steel over the past 20 or 30 years. Lightweight steel has been around a long time, so the focus on development was, primarily, not to make tubesets lighter, but stiffer at the same weights. I think the physical properties of steel kind of constrain the weight issue due to practical durability and construction issues, anyway.

I'd be willing to bet that a current 19lb steel bike is stiffer than a 19lb bike of the '80s or even '90s. That's been my experience, I think (Bridgestone RB2 vs Breezer Venturi); I don't recall actually weighing the RB, though. It was whippy, and I weighed about 20lbs or so less back then.
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Old 02-18-15, 09:06 AM
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Originally Posted by BillyD
. . . if left out directly in the rain for prolonged periods of time. Otherwise, not.

I still have the original steel bike I started cycling with 39 years ago, with zip, zero, zilch amounts of rust.

Steel frames can rust without being left out in the rain. It's certainly a manageable issue, but an issue.

Steel frames rust where they're scratched, so you need to touch up scratches.

Steel frames can rust from the inside over long periods of time, particularly if they're ridden in the wet. ( I had this happen on the boom tube of a bike friday tandem) So you should prep the frame with rustproofing, and make sure you drain it if its ridden in heavy rain.

Steel frames can rust just being stored in non climate controlled garages in coastal environments. I've got a 1977 Schwinn Paramount track bike thats never been ridden in the rain, and its rusting from just being stored in the garage.

None of this means you shouldn't buy a steel bike, but rust is a "con" for steel bikes compared to carbon, titanium, and to a lesser extent aluminum (which doesn't rust, but does corrode.)
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Old 02-18-15, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh
Steel frames can rust without being left out in the rain. It's certainly a manageable issue, but an issue.

Steel frames rust where they're scratched, so you need to touch up scratches.

Steel frames can rust from the inside over long periods of time, particularly if they're ridden in the wet. ( I had this happen on the boom tube of a bike friday tandem) So you should prep the frame with rustproofing, and make sure you drain it if its ridden in heavy rain.

Steel frames can rust just being stored in non climate controlled garages in coastal environments. I've got a 1977 Schwinn Paramount track bike thats never been ridden in the rain, and its rusting from just being stored in the garage.

None of this means you shouldn't buy a steel bike, but rust is a "con" for steel bikes compared to carbon, titanium, and to a lesser extent aluminum (which doesn't rust, but does corrode.)
The above has certainly mirrored my own experience.
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