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I'm feeling more and more that a steel frame is the only thing that's going to satisfy the 'purist' inside me. Due to the characteristics of steel it sounds like I could expect a very comfortable ride too!

Two questions: if steel is such a nice and 'springy' material for a frame, why are carbon forks often preferred by the makers of the finest steel bikes, and: I'd like to spend my money on a British frame - any top recommendations? It needs to be something pretty sprightly, but nothing that will necessarily be raced seriously.

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John_the_Monkey [438 posts] 5 years ago
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Weight saving, I'd guess, would be the reason for the CRABON fork. Not sure how differently they ride, as I've not ridden a steel bike with a CRABON fork. I suspect Steel would have a longer life & be easier to repair is that's a concern.

British makers - you don't say where you are, or what your budget is, but Bob Jackson, Brian Rourke & Mercian would be where I'd be looking, if I had the cash.

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cat1commuter [1421 posts] 5 years ago
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The steel forks on my commuter are so springy that my brake blocks rub when I'm out of the saddle. Carbon forks would fix this.

FWIW, I don't think frame material makes much difference to comfort. How much do "laterally stiff yet vertically compliant" carbon frames actually flex up and down when ridden? Run 25 mm tyres instead of 23. What steel really has going for it is longevity. Aluminium and Titanium frames are much more likely to crack around the welds.

I think that a fillet brazed steel frame is somewhere in my future, but probably with a carbon fork.

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simonmb [353 posts] 5 years ago
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Interesting to hear your comment on just how much your steel forks flex cat1! That can't be ideal. And JtM, thanks for the pointers for the frame builders.

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dave atkinson [6258 posts] 5 years ago
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Quote:

Bob Jackson, Brian Rourke & Mercian would be where I'd be looking

Dave Yates, Burls, Demon Frameworks and Argos are worth adding to your list too.

I don't know whether steel frames are de facto more comfortable than carbon frames, but i do know that the most comfortable bikes i've ridden have been steel bikes...

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dave atkinson [6258 posts] 5 years ago
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And Enigma, natch  1

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cat1commuter [1421 posts] 5 years ago
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simonmb wrote:

Interesting to hear your comment on just how much your steel forks flex cat1! That can't be ideal. And JtM, thanks for the pointers for the frame builders.

Well, it depends on how they're built too. The manufacturer built mine deliberately for springiness.

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John_the_Monkey [438 posts] 5 years ago
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You can build a crappy frame out of anything - and good frames can be built out of most materials, as long as the manufacturer knows their properties & works within them.

Quote:

Aluminium and Titanium frames are much more likely to crack around the welds.

The joining processes for those materials are much more finicky and far less tolerant of small deviations, iirc.

Steel's advantages; the amount of time people have been working with it for bicycles, the relative ease of doing so... Folk know a lot about it, about how it ages, how it reacts to stress &c. You can get it built here, in the UK, by someone you can chat to about the properties you want from the frame. The newer steels are doing amazing things too - a poster on cycle chat recently described riding a 953 frame, and it sounds incredible - steel ride, with Ti's lightness & corrosion resistance.

FWIW, I've had no problems with flex from my LHT's steel fork, but then it's built to carry load on lowriders, so no surprise there! It does underline that you need to talk to your builder about what you want from the frame though.

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jeremyrundle [2 posts] 5 years ago
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Only one I go for

http://sanderson-cycles.com/content/sanderson-life

Here is mine

http://sirpatrickmooresales.co.uk/Ourpage.aspx

Now has all SLX parts and blackspire bash ring

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jameso [3 posts] 5 years ago
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Steel is more rigid than aluminium as a raw material, and you can get very stiff steel forks and very flexy carbon forks.
The most comfy forks that i've ridden, that tracked well on a road bike, were steel. but they don't mix steel blades with alu steerers so steel forks add weight overall, maybe 350g on average, so carbon is a popular choice for forks. I do like the steel/steel combo though, there's something 'complete' about it.

Like most frame material-related things, generally it's less about what you use and more about how you use it. I'd choose steel for looks, durability and the ease of having one built in the UK at a fair price.

I'll second the pro-953 comments, if you can afford a Rourke 953. It's lovely stuff and although about the same price as good ti it's still worth considering.

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Stofish [61 posts] 5 years ago
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An interesting thread!

I have a couple of thought to share.

Firstly I remember reading an S.B. article suggesting that very light-weight steel forks (70s & 80s style) were no longer made due to frame builders fear of litigation, so many newer steel forks are relatively rigid and heavy due to over building.

Also carbon has has excellent vibration damping properties regardless of flexibility or springiness.

I'm currently riding on a pair of '80s vintage Super Vitus forks, they are comfortable and give positive handling though maybe not as direct feeling as the carbon forks I have used previously.

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jameso [3 posts] 5 years ago
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CEN regs take care of fork safety now - you can build a pretty lightweight fork in steel now and still pass CEN. Look at the common lugged stilleto design on SS or classic road bikes - CEN passed from my experience and not significantly heavier than the really slim ones of the 70s. if you do relavent testing and spec tubes with sense then you've done your job and shouldn't fear litigation; the earlier point about the levels of experience with steel count for a lot here, it's a more known material with a long track record.

Vibration damping levels of carbon layups aren't something i know about. The ability to flex a little over small / high-frequency type bumps is important to ride feel and steel or carbon can both be made flexible still with a good safety margin.

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Fringe [1047 posts] 5 years ago
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how about building your own steel frame, is it Dave Yates* that runs a course where you come away with your own frame?. sound good to me.

* quick google search reveals that it is.

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simonmb [353 posts] 5 years ago
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Some really great information and a variety of ways to look at things here. Thanks to all. I fear I may have deviated slightly from my original plan - I've settled on a tasty Enigma Esprit (titanium) with Ritchey carbon forks. Fringe, I looked at Dave Yates and his frame-building course. There can surely be nothing more rewarding than building one's own frame. I'm living outside the UK just now, but when I'm back that'll be one of the first things I investigate! And at that time 953 seems the way to go, but still with carbon forks.

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simonmb [353 posts] 5 years ago
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My Enigma Esprit titanium frame was delivered ten days ago. Built up and several rides in now, and I have to say I feel it fairly hums at high speed. Beautiful ride, as smooth as silk. Most of all it looks like a classic, and if it looks right, then one knows that it MUST be right. And the weight is not too shabby at 7.2kg. So, I didn't get the steel frame I set out to get, that'll have to wait for another day, I think perhaps instead I got something even better. Two thumbs-up to Jim and Greg at Enigma.

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davebinks [152 posts] 5 years ago
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cat1commuter wrote:

The steel forks on my commuter are so springy that my brake blocks rub when I'm out of the saddle. Carbon forks would fix this.

That is the wheel flexing sideways, not the forks!
If the wheel is not built tight (with sufficient tension in the spokes) it will flex sideways as the rider leans one way then the other.

Forks of any material can only flex backwards and forwards, not sideways.

All my bikes are steel, both frame and forks, and I have never had that problem in 45 plus years of cycling and racing, unless the wheel was poorly built.

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jboyslick [5 posts] 5 years ago
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What about a Surly? Not u.k. i know but a lovely ride i must say

Ahhh i see you have purchasde already! my bad