looking to join a club

by ben_a   April 12, 2014  

Just a few novice questions really, but does riding a secondhand steel frame have any limitations for club rides and possibly the odd racing here and there? I don't know which type of riding is my cup of tea yet but when isn't a steel frame suitable?

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IMHO steel is fine for everything.

As long as it's mechanically sound, you have good tyres and tubes and your drivetrain is running smoothly then you won't be losing out.

Steel frames are only considered 'inferior' by some nowadays because they are a bit heavier than aluminium or carbon. In the scheme of things (all-up weight) the weight difference is small. Thanks to a growing interest in handbuilding and brands like Condor and Genesis dedicating time to building with steel, it is not a poor relation.

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posted by Simon E [1941 posts]
12th April 2014 - 10:26

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Heard a great quote in relation to this this week: I couldn't win the Tour on Chris Froome's bike, but he might well be able to win it on mine... Or to quote someone less acceptable, it's not about the bike Big Grin

posted by nicstevenson [30 posts]
12th April 2014 - 10:31

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There's nothing wrong with club riding on a steel frame, and there's nothing wrong with racing on steel either. I've been in a number of races where someone on a steel bike has dropped me, and this is when I've felt like I've been going fairly well. Sure, a kg or two off the weight of your bike can make the difference to how a bike feels to ride, but there's no substitute for strong legs! Big Grin

Twitter: @velosam

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posted by SamShaw [252 posts]
12th April 2014 - 10:37

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Thanks for the feedback. I'm currently looking for a secondhand road frame or bike. I have thought about new steel but it just seems too pricey! The only saving grace would be getting a correct fit. With so many different compounds around now-a-days is 531 still the preferred choice for most people?

posted by ben_a [8 posts]
12th April 2014 - 11:22

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Not sure if many builders are making frames in 531 any more, still a good tube set though. 631 and 853 seem the popular Reynolds tubesets, you can get a better weight from them. You won't be getting dropped because your bike is 531 and not 853 though, I ride a steel frame as often as I ride a carbon - probably even more so. An extra kilo is barely noticeable on all but the toughest of climbs.

posted by Nick T [790 posts]
12th April 2014 - 12:31

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Is a 10-20 year old 531 frame going to lack the requirements for riding competitively, especially with the newer techniques to frame design and construction? I've been reading the Volare 953 review and they mention oversized tubes, pressfit bottom bracket, angles here and there, larger than normal head-tube, which aim to make the ride racey and stiff.

posted by ben_a [8 posts]
13th April 2014 - 21:57

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Fwiw I have been riding properly fo over 40 years. I have a decent job so have tried it all. Steel. Titanium. Alluxx, carbon. My latest bike is steel. Love it. Ok it's heavier but unless you already got your own weight down to 5% body fat then a couple of pounds is irrelevant to anyone not racing at a serious level. But steel is the nicest ride. You'll be one of the comfiest riders in the club.

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [559 posts]
13th April 2014 - 23:56

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ben_a wrote:
Is a 10-20 year old 531 frame going to lack the requirements for riding competitively, especially with the newer techniques to frame design and construction? I've been reading the Volare 953 review and they mention oversized tubes, pressfit bottom bracket, angles here and there, larger than normal head-tube, which aim to make the ride racey and stiff.

Essentially, no. Most if these thing mentioned are gimmicks designed to sex up what was perfected 40 years ago and has only been marginally improved with new materials and component designs.

posted by Nick T [790 posts]
14th April 2014 - 5:57

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I only ride steel myself, my only caution is that the older lightweight steel frames can sacrifice bottom bracket/ rear triangle stiffness so you can waste a bit of power climbing and sprinting.

Make up for it with excellent wheels and tyres and you'll make the time up on the descents though.

Having done the experiments, an ancient 531 horizontal top top bike with old kit on it is only about 2 mph slower than the latest super stiff aero time trial bike, this experiment was run when a local time trial added a classic bike section and some of the top clubmen and some part time pro's ran both over a 10 mile course.

Don't have data for non aero bikes, but it must be less than half of that.

All Campag

posted by Flying Scot [522 posts]
14th April 2014 - 8:03

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Hey steel is cool again.
Tips for joining club runs: have good, working and non-squeaky brakes; adjusted non-chattery gears; clean and well oiled chain; properly inflated tyres; spares and pump; food and drink and be weather-ready. This is all much more important for an enjoyable club run than the bike you are on.
Don't worry you'll find an expert(s) on every frame type on your first club run!

posted by big shug [40 posts]
14th April 2014 - 10:51

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Thanks for all the advice folks. I've taken on everything you've said and made up my mind to buy a 531 frame from somewhere or another, possibly from a charity cycle recycle project, and then get some decent wheels before setting out, hopefully without falling off!

posted by ben_a [8 posts]
14th April 2014 - 22:20

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