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Why steel?

Old 02-20-16, 11:13 AM
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Squeezebox
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Why steel?

Maybe this is a better question for the frame builder forum. But AL and carbon is lighter. Carbon is considered more durable than steel. My racing 10 speed of Columbus SL from 35 yrs ago was a great bicycle. It's hanging in the basement now. Currently there are good options to old style steel bicycles. IMHO! And there is the heat treated Reynolds 853 and 953 steel.
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Old 02-20-16, 11:17 AM
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Old 02-20-16, 11:25 AM
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Are you serious? Steel is cheap, strong and MUCH easier to repair as compared to Al and carbon fiber. On a long tour steel can be repaired anywhere. Try fixing carbon fiber when on an unsupported tour.

Oh, did I mention lower cost?
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Old 02-20-16, 11:30 AM
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Silly Rabbit, steel is real !
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Old 02-20-16, 11:39 AM
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Steel is a great material but there's no money it unless you change the branding, bask in the accolades of steelie-lovers and charge premium prices as if it were the equivalent of titanium. Absent the marketing and hype, you've got a steel Trek 520 tour bike and for what you get it doesn't cost much -- it's a good deal and a smart buy -- but, I suspect Trek does not make much money on it.
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Old 02-20-16, 12:43 PM
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about 1/4 of my bikes are alloy, the rest steel. I have destroyed carbon, alloy, and steel bicycles. Of the three, the steel was the most forgiving failure. I admit that steel can fail catastrophically, but its not as often. Getting any material fixed in the middle of nowhere is iffy, but the odds of getting steel patched up is a bit higher. Ive seen blogs and journals where steel was repaired on a tour, but never carbon or alloy. Probably for two reasons, less people have toured on either, and its harder to find someone with the equipment to weld aluminum. There may be a third, and that's that bikes like cannondale and koga are excellent and don't break much. I love steel, but really want one of these KOGA Trekkking bikes | collection 2016

One of my bikes is over 50 years old, with racks weighs less than a trek 920, and has more miles on it than some cars get. Someday someone else will hopefully get it, and with maintenance it will last longer than I can ride.

And even with my personal opinions and tastes in bicycle materials, I don't choose to advise others in their decisions and desires in frame material, then ask for reasons why I might do so.





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Old 02-20-16, 01:43 PM
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I've heard that a shade tree mechanic will usually destroy a steel frame because it's very tricky to weld the thin steel on the tubes. I don't know if that's true or not. I'd be interested in hearing from somebody here with first hand experience??
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Old 02-20-16, 02:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Walter S View Post
I've heard that a shade tree mechanic will usually destroy a steel frame because it's very tricky to weld the thin steel on the tubes. I don't know if that's true or not. I'd be interested in hearing from somebody here with first hand experience??
Last year was touring with a friend down south who tours on a steel Bike Friday and the connecting area near his seat tube / chain stay (strange design on those things-hate 'em) developed a crack and he couldn't go on. We found a welder within a day who was able to make it functional again, but it was not a pretty repair. I have no doubt the weld is probably stronger than the rest of the damn frame though.


Nice work Shipwreck, is that one of your creations?
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Old 02-20-16, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Squeezebox View Post
Why steel?
For the 32 reasons already mentioned in a dozen+ threads you have started. Go back and read those reasons.
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Old 02-20-16, 02:50 PM
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I've only had a steel bike rack welded while "touring". The weld didn't hold, but it lasted a day or so to get me most of the way to my destination.

For historical reasons, most of my riding has been on steel, and so far no frame failures ever, anywhere. So, I wouldn't put field repairability as my prime motivator for frame choice.

Keep in mind that a well built steel frame may be lighter than a poorly built aluminum frame, and the difference between the steel and Carbon Fiber might be that spare quart waterbottle you're carrying.

I think there is growing evidence that some CF MTB parts are tough. So, CF should be able to be made robust enough to take touring abuse. But, that may not be where the money is, or perhaps frame builders interpret that racers (road & offroad) are the only ones spending the cash on the best money can buy.
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Old 02-20-16, 03:11 PM
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Originally Posted by robow View Post


Nice work Shipwreck, is that one of your creations?
Yeah, I made a bunch of coffee cups for friends who cast iron weld steel sculptures. Back in grad school when I was studying macho metal working they used to sort of make fun of my dirty ceramics habit(it was where all the girls were), so years later making them all something that they can actually use was sort of cool! Plus making a pro steel thing out of mud makes me smile

Interesting about the bike Friday repair. I saw some pictures of a surly frame that was repaired in China by a guy with a stick welder... they used angle iron and other scrap to mend a crack. It was so ugly that it was almost contemporary art... better in fact, though the guy stripped the frame and left it in China after it got him to the end. I think that if I ever have to have it done I would try to find a shop that would let me braze it myself. If all I could find was a stick, I would also do it myself if possible, with 1/16 rod, another stripped rod for a filler stick, chiller bars near the weld to soak up excess heat, and accepting that it will look like crap!
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Old 02-20-16, 03:43 PM
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My first touring bike was 1970 Paris Sport 10-speed. It's been sandblasted down several times and repainted 6 times. Just rode it today in it's new incarnation as a fixed-speed. It's also back to it's original color--> white. I'm contemplating a touring on it this year too.

STEEL:



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Old 02-20-16, 04:37 PM
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It's just a bike, not a heart/lung bypass machine. Some of us don't need a good option for a piece of equipment that already works well.
When I can't do a tour with the bikes I have is when I'll start looking for alternatives... so far that hasn't happened yet.
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Old 02-20-16, 05:28 PM
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Why does a Squeeze Box exist?

Why does the earth have a Van Allen Belt and what benefit is It?

Last edited by fietsbob; 03-06-16 at 10:52 PM.
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Old 02-20-16, 06:28 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Why does a Squeeze Box exist?
I don't know but according to Pete, mama's got one and daddy never sleeps at night.
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Old 02-20-16, 06:43 PM
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Its that old In and Out and In and Out..
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Old 02-20-16, 07:12 PM
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12 High-End Frames in the EFBe Fatigue Test

- thinking of selling my RockHopper and going al-u-min-ee-um. Although I've got nothing against steel. Just keeping my mind open to other materials that might be "better", since I'm unlikely ever to be riding my bike across any other continents where I'll be stranded for weeks waiting for a new bike.
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Old 02-20-16, 08:12 PM
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Thats a very interesting article, never heard of it. Considering that it was done in 97 I wonder what the materials strengths are now. Even though it did so well in that test, Carbon has gotten a lot better since then.

I would like to see fatigue tests done with frames that have scrapes, scuffs and dents in controlled spots. Not saying that it might change the results or be more conclusive, but still.

And this test makes me like my cannondales even more!!!
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Old 02-20-16, 08:37 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
For the 32 reasons already mentioned in a dozen+ threads you have started. Go back and read those reasons.
Yeah, there's already too much space wasted on it. I am surprised that I survived this far in this thread. If there happens to be a great revelation further on I would beg someone to PM me of the revelation.

Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
I think there is growing evidence that some CF MTB parts are tough. So, CF should be able to be made robust enough to take touring abuse.
That I do not doubt and welcome that thought. The problem is that the new "hot rod" MTB stuff is all suspension, front and rear. I have no fears of a CF touring frame.............it would be nice were one made.
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Old 02-20-16, 09:47 PM
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Originally Posted by shipwreck View Post
Thats a very interesting article, never heard of it. Considering that it was done in 97 I wonder what the materials strengths are now.
I think they same company is maintaining a database. I was poking around the website, but it wasn't intuitive to me. The article definitely challenged my "steel is king all else is cr*p and I'll never listen to anybody anyway anyhow lalalalala..." - mindset. So I'm thinkin' about the GIANT Tough Road. I'm thinking GIANT to support my LBS. He carries GIANT and also deals in SCOTT. The SCOTT touring bike looks a WHOLE LOT like the GIANT Revolt. But SCOTT is using a full aluminum fork.

I thank GOD for my first world problems. Really.
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Old 02-20-16, 09:57 PM
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Originally Posted by shipwreck View Post
Thats a very interesting article, never heard of it.
Unless you're an extremely large, powerful cyclist who spends all of your time out of the saddle, the EFBe test is basically meaningless. (And even then it's debatable whether their test apparatus secures the frame in a way that realistically distributes forces).

Different materials (and framebuilding approaches) have very different fatigue characteristics, and subjecting frames to unrealistic forces doesn't tell you much about real-world durability.

For example.
Partly because aluminum takes fatigue damage from any stress no matter how small (whereas steel and ti have a stress threshold below which they take no fatigue damage), aluminum frames tend to be more overbuilt. This is favorable in a high-stress low-reps test like EFBe, where nothing gets to dodge any fatigue damage.

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Old 02-20-16, 10:18 PM
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I prefer iron-carbon alloy to steel.
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Old 02-20-16, 10:49 PM
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At the low end it is cheap. At the high end it is the most easily configured material. They still race on it, in odd races like the PRP, so how bad can it be technically for a bunch of tourists. The fancy metals tend not to be amade up in butted tubes, or many tube options compared to steel.

It is possible to weld it on the road, and it has happened, it is very difficult to get that right, I mean it isn't easy when the thing is in a jig. I was talking to a friend about the difficulty of getting some marine welding done, and there were five problems that are specialties: Marine; tube; thin wall, odd alloy; and a fifth thing. Same deal here, the roadside guy may be a great welder, but he doesn't really know what he is getting into, and is unlikely to be an expert on it. However with epoxy, fiber and splints most materials can be just as effectively repaired as steel can be welded.

I did a thread with info on how to stick weld your bike, or how to improve your chances of a random welder not blowing it up on you. Should be searchable here.
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Old 02-20-16, 10:56 PM
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https://www.bikeforums.net/touring/53...k-welding.html

That is the roadside stick welding thread I did a while back. Always thought it would make a good sticky, but these days people don't talk about roadside welding that much.
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Old 02-21-16, 02:13 AM
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I loved my old 531 & Columbus road frames but I don't like how the major production steel touring frames are stuck with heavy cromo. Companies don't mention the frame weights--I was surprised to read yesterday that Surly LHT frame+fork was over 7 lbs/3 kg. Move to a higher grade steel & you're in the lower end of Ti price range at least. Tourists are an older demographic in the bike market so they're partial to older tech even w/glaring inadequacies. Need to repair frames in far-flung locations applies to only a small minority of bike tourists.

Potential competition from aluminum, Ti or even CF means that big companies are not going to invest in better steel touring frames. Sensible approach is for stiff Alu touring frames combined with elastomer suspension to give snappy handling yet comfy ride, also allowing lighter rims & tires & even saddles.
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