Home
Carbon fibre might dominate, but steel is still the frame material of choice for many

Once upon a time, all bicycles were made from steel, from shopping bikes to Tour de France-conquering race bikes. Rapid technological developments over the past few decades have seen lighter materials like aluminium, titanium and, most recently, carbon fibre push steel out of the spotlight.

Is steel dead, though? Far from it. If anything, it is enjoying a resurgence of interest. Although racing cyclists no longer favour steel, it continues to be the desired frame material for anyone wanting a bike for comfort, distance and durability. That’s why touring and audax bikes tend to be steel, not carbon fibre.

Despite impressive material advances over the years, steel has refused to disappear into the history books. Material and tube developments from the two main steel tubing suppliers, Columbus and Reynolds, and interest from cyclists looking for something a little different, have fuelled a growth in the number of frame builders, meaning there's now a lot more choice if you want a steel frame for your next bike.

Going bespoke

There has been a surge of new frame builders joining more established names over the past few years, all catering to the increasing number of cyclists wanting to go down the custom frame route. And custom frame building is far easier with steel than carbon and aluminium.

- Great custom handbuilt frames — from makers who can craft your dream frame

donhou dss4.jpg

donhou dss4.jpg

Jim Walker, the founder of titanium and steel specialist Enigma, puts this renewed popularity down to steel being easy to work with and allowing creative freedoms to be indulged. Though he also suggests it's the attraction of the fabled ride quality of a high-quality steel frame that is drawing in new customers.

“It’s always been a great material for frame builders as it’s relatively easy to work with," he says, "plus it’s great for customisation. Steel allows a craftsman to be creative and to create something beautiful."

There's also the reputation steel has for a springy and indulgent ride character, something Walker feels is also a factor in why more people are choosing it over other materials. “It’s hard to say why steel has seen such a renaissance in recent years, but maybe it’s just that it offers a riding experience that differs from everything else.

"Steel somehow feels more alive than other materials and makes for a wonderful ‘zingy’ ride quality," says Walker. "It’s hard to articulate the ride quality of a well designed and built steel bicycle.”

“It’s the aesthetics and ride quality that makes many choose steel,” agrees Tom Donhou of Donhou Bicycles, one of the new generation of frame builders.

Enigma-Main-Elite-Disc.jpg

Enigma-Main-Elite-Disc.jpg

While a key attraction of steel for these newer frame builders is that it’s easy, and relatively affordable, to work with, for the customer it means a fully bespoke custom frame, from geometry to paint finish, right down to every little last detail. That is rarely possible from mainstream manufacturers working in other materials.

It's also the relationship with the person building their frame that makes going down the custom route appealing for many, and that's more likely to be steel than any other material. The frame is likely to be made in the UK, and probably not far from where the customer lives. It used to be the case that racing cyclists would go to their local frame builder, when most towns could boast a frame builder, to be fully measured up for a steel racing bike.

Steel bikes back in the professional peloton

Up until the 1980s, most of the professional peloton raced on steel bicycles, before new materials promising lighter weight and increased stiffness made them obsolete. But even in racing steel has enjoyed a resurgence: the Madison-Genesis team helped put steel bicycles back in the professional peloton with the highly regarded Volare race bike.

GNAB9_lifestyle_01.jpg

GNAB9_lifestyle_01.jpg

“The main driving force [behind the Madison-Genesis team] was essentially to prove that steel, albeit in this ‘super steel’ form, is still a competitive material to build bikes from,” says Genesis brand manager Albert Steward.

“With the fairly recent developments of the new ‘super steels’ (Reynolds 953 and Columbus XCr), the feeling from inside the product team was that it might be a good time to revisit steel in a race context and see what we could do," he adds.

Steel goes oversize

Conventional wisdom regarding steel is that the inherent ‘springiness’, which provides superb ride comfort, is largely due to the small diameter tubes commonly used. Steel is also durable and very strong and, provided it’s properly treated, there’s no reason why rust should be a problem. But it’s the latest advancements by Reynolds and Columbus that have opened up new opportunities for frame builders.

- 18 of the best steel road bikes and frames — great rides from cycling's traditional material

“Working with steel, you’re pretty much confined to tube shaping if you’re wanting to increase stiffness without increasing weight, the obvious quick stiffness fixes being increasing tube diameter or wall thickness,” suggests Steward, adding that the latest steel tubesets, according to feedback from the race team, were actually too stiff.

“With the Volare version five we’ve actually downsized the top tube, working closely with Reynolds on a new sunk-down, fully oval custom tube with a view of dropping weight and increasing in-saddle comfort,” he says. “They’ll also run a new drawn tapered head tube which is lighter than the previously used straight Ø44mm model, so, yep, there are absolutely still improvements to be made.”

The latest steel tubesets have pushed up the diameter of tubes, and long gone are the days of skinny tubed performance steel road bikes.

Mason Cycles Resolution - riding 3

Mason Cycles Resolution - riding 3

This visual appearance is another factor in their appeal, reckons Jim Walker. 

“The new lightweight steels - and I don’t include stainless steel here - have certainly brought the weight of high-end steel frames down to a more competitive level, but that’s only part of the appeal,” he says. “They have also given steel frames a more contemporary look which appeals to many. Not everyone likes the look of skinny frame tubes.”

Despite materials like aluminium, titanium and carbon fibre superseding steel on most fronts, steel has refused to slip into the shadows and is still a very good choice for building a bicycle frame.

“I think people are now realising that carbon isn't always the best material for their type/style of riding. A carbon race bike isn't the best bike for all applications and people are now realising this,” adds Tom Donhou.

“Carbon is an amazing material, and if ultimate weight saving is what you are after then there really is no match. However, chasing numbers don't always add up to the most enjoyable ride. The steels we now use are truly modern materials and for the riders in the know, to sacrifice a few grams for more comfort and the feel of steel, there really is no competition.”

Fairlight Strael 2.jpg

Fairlight Strael 2.jpg

There's another consideration many cyclists are factoring in when buying a new bike. A carbon frame can look dated pretty quickly, as larger bike brands change models and paint jobs every season. That's not the case with a steel frame, which has a timeless quality to it and will still look good many years down the line. What's more, it's easy to get a steel frame resprayed, so if you get bored of the colour after a couple of years, you can easily strip it down and give it a new lick of paint. 

Are steel frames expensive?

Yes and no. If you want a fully custom steel frame, it's not going to be cheap. The likes of Donhou Bicycles, Saffron, Feather, Paulus Quiros and so on have very limited resources and therefore extremely packed order books, meaning a long wait and slow turnaround time. A frame from any of these builders can start from £1,000 and rapidly rise to several times that.

It's worth remembering that you are involved in the process throughout, from the initial concept to every detail of its build, and eventual completion. You're not simply buying a frame off the shelf. It's like buying a bespoke tailored suit: you have a say in every decision.

If you aren't fussed about a custom paint job or geometry, there are cheaper options. Small UK companies like Condor, Genesis, Rourke and Enigma produce steel frames on a slightly larger scale and that means they are more affordable. Prices can start from as little as £449.99, making owning a steel frame really quite affordable. You certainly can't buy a carbon frame for that sort of money.

For all these reasons, it looks like the future for steel bicycle frames is a bright one.

- Choosing a steel, aluminium, titanium or carbon road bike

Will your next bike be made of steel?

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.

42 comments

Avatar
Peowpeowpeowlasers [604 posts] 4 months ago
10 likes

Carbon Fibre frames are alright, but IMO they're generally pretty ugly.  A giant, gopping headtube punctuated by a steerer tube and miniature scaffolding clamp for the stem.  An integrated headset that takes hours of questioning on the internet to find a compatible replacement.  A massive fat downtube leading to a similarly massive bottom bracket shell, containing some bespoke bottom bracket arrangement that will tend to creak and ruin the whole experience.  Internal cabling that's a nightmare to route and which will, inevitably, rattle at some point, again spoiling the experience.  Chainstays that lead to a soft aluminium hangar that will bend at the slightest sign the bike is laid down.  A top tube that is so much smaller than the downtube, along with the seatstays, that the whole frame looks completely unbalanced.  And a seat tube that requires a seatpost twice as long as a frame with a horizontal top tube.

And don't get me started on the logos.  Huge, garish logos on every surface that benefit only the manufacturer.  You become a moving advertisement - well I'm sorry, but if you want me to advertise your brand, pay me.  Otherwise, keep your silly logos small and tidy.

I'll take steel.  I'm not a professional athlete so I don't care if it weighs a few pounds more.  I still regularly sail past my CF-framed peers on the local hills.  Give me slender tubes, standardised sizes and shiny, silver components any day of the week.

Avatar
bottechia [6 posts] 4 months ago
7 likes

Every cyclist should have at least one steel frame bike - so you can never forget how good they are.

Avatar
StraelGuy [1444 posts] 4 months ago
5 likes

My summer and winter bikes are both steel. The carbon fibre one is up for sale. Steel IS real.

Avatar
dreamlx10 [251 posts] 4 months ago
8 likes
Peowpeowpeowlasers wrote:

Carbon Fibre frames are alright, but IMO they're generally pretty ugly.  A giant, gopping headtube punctuated by a steerer tube and miniature scaffolding clamp for the stem.  An integrated headset that takes hours of questioning on the internet to find a compatible replacement.  A massive fat downtube leading to a similarly massive bottom bracket shell, containing some bespoke bottom bracket arrangement that will tend to creak and ruin the whole experience.  Internal cabling that's a nightmare to route and which will, inevitably, rattle at some point, again spoiling the experience.  Chainstays that lead to a soft aluminium hangar that will bend at the slightest sign the bike is laid down.  A top tube that is so much smaller than the downtube, along with the seatstays, that the whole frame looks completely unbalanced.  And a seat tube that requires a seatpost twice as long as a frame with a horizontal top tube.

And don't get me started on the logos.  Huge, garish logos on every surface that benefit only the manufacturer.  You become a moving advertisement - well I'm sorry, but if you want me to advertise your brand, pay me.  Otherwise, keep your silly logos small and tidy.

I'll take steel.  I'm not a professional athlete so I don't care if it weighs a few pounds more.  I still regularly sail past my CF-framed peers on the local hills.  Give me slender tubes, standardised sizes and shiny, silver components any day of the week.

You don’t like carbon frames then ?

Avatar
hawkinspeter [2006 posts] 4 months ago
1 like

The last steel framed bike I had was an old Peugeot racer with downtube shifters. The frame ended up with a huge crack behind the headtube.

Avatar
50kcommute [109 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes
hawkinspeter wrote:

The last steel framed bike I had was an old Peugeot racer with downtube shifters. The frame ended up with a huge crack behind the headtube.

Poorly built mass manafacturing - as with all materials in bikes, there are some cheapies to avoid  1

Avatar
hawkinspeter [2006 posts] 4 months ago
1 like
50kcommute wrote:
hawkinspeter wrote:

The last steel framed bike I had was an old Peugeot racer with downtube shifters. The frame ended up with a huge crack behind the headtube.

Yep, it was a cheapo bike and I got it 2nd hand, so who knows how it had been treated.
Poorly built mass manafacturing - as with all materials in bikes, there are some cheapies to avoid  1

Avatar
BehindTheBikesheds [2038 posts] 4 months ago
8 likes

I have bikes made of alu, steel, titanium and CF, also alu with CF stays, I like all of them, they all offer something different and are used for different types f rides. I don't get why some people get so angsty, just buy what you want and ride, giving it 'steel is real' and all the rest of it is just a bit silly/sad.

Avatar
maviczap [198 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes
BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

I have bikes made of alu, steel, titanium and CF, also alu with CF stays, I like all of them, they all offer something different and are used for different types f rides. I don't get why some people get so angsty, just buy what you want and ride, giving it 'steel is real' and all the rest of it is just a bit silly/sad.

Exactly, same here. Only one I've not really liked was a cheap alu Colnago which rattled my fillings, as it had big dia tubes. It looked nice.

Sold my Litespeed Mira, which had alu frame and cf seatstays, this one scared the shizzle out of me on the descent of Ventoux.

Avatar
risoto [72 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes
Peowpeowpeowlasers wrote:

Carbon Fibre frames are alright, but IMO they're generally pretty ugly.  A giant, gopping headtube punctuated by a steerer tube and miniature scaffolding clamp for the stem.  An integrated headset that takes hours of questioning on the internet to find a compatible replacement.  A massive fat downtube leading to a similarly massive bottom bracket shell, containing some bespoke bottom bracket arrangement that will tend to creak and ruin the whole experience.  Internal cabling that's a nightmare to route and which will, inevitably, rattle at some point, again spoiling the experience.  Chainstays that lead to a soft aluminium hangar that will bend at the slightest sign the bike is laid down.  A top tube that is so much smaller than the downtube, along with the seatstays, that the whole frame looks completely unbalanced.  And a seat tube that requires a seatpost twice as long as a frame with a horizontal top tube.

And don't get me started on the logos.  Huge, garish logos on every surface that benefit only the manufacturer.  You become a moving advertisement - well I'm sorry, but if you want me to advertise your brand, pay me.  Otherwise, keep your silly logos small and tidy.

I'll take steel.  I'm not a professional athlete so I don't care if it weighs a few pounds more.  I still regularly sail past my CF-framed peers on the local hills.  Give me slender tubes, standardised sizes and shiny, silver components any day of the week.

Just my words. I ride aluminium only because it's so difficult to find steel frames (in DK). Carbon is nice but brittle and generally vulnerable to damages. I follow a couple of cycling groups on Facebook - I'm almost chocked by all the carbon riders who post damages to their carbon frames. I understand the benefits of carbon if you race for money or have a big wallet, but when you haven't got a sponsor to pay for your cracked/damaged carbon, well, some expensive miles you're riding.

Avatar
BehindTheBikesheds [2038 posts] 4 months ago
1 like

Carbon isn't expensive, it's cheap at the low end or if you can find a NOS frameset, certainly there are loads of lightly used/used bikes/framesets out there for a pittance.

I bought a NOS specialized road frameset last year for £250 delivered, it was one rung below the 2009/10 S-Works MTB modulus (FACT 9M to be precise), so whilst it's not a superlight (still less than 8kg as a 'gravel bike with 38mm tyres) it's going to be a very, very robust frame.

A Reynolds 525 frame plus Carbon forks+ headset would cost me the same money from Ribble which is about as cheap as it gets.

Avatar
Jimnm [296 posts] 4 months ago
1 like

I have three bikes, Aluminium framed Claud Butler, Genesis Equalibrium 10 Steel and a Spitfire Mark Reilly Titainium.

the ally one ok but harsh ride, the steel is a dream to ride comfortable. The Titainium is by far the best to ride. It has it all IMO 

Avatar
luiandlui [17 posts] 4 months ago
2 likes
BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

I have bikes made of alu, steel, titanium and CF, also alu with CF stays, I like all of them, they all offer something different and are used for different types f rides. I don't get why some people get so angsty, just buy what you want and ride, giving it 'steel is real' and all the rest of it is just a bit silly/sad.

Totally agree. You can get good bikes and bad bikes made out of all frame materials. When you are judging a bike, the last thing you should think about is the frame material (unless its concrete)

Avatar
fukawitribe [2448 posts] 4 months ago
3 likes

Obligatory link to someone who knows stuff about frame materials....

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JjYNIaI26EQ

Avatar
kil0ran [924 posts] 4 months ago
2 likes

Both my bikes are now steel - a Fairlight Faran built as a tourer/general dogsbody and a Bowman Layhams for something a little faster.

Compared to alloy/carbon bikes I've owned what I particularly like is that they're both utterly silent, even over crappy roads. The Layhams is noticeably more comfortable than the alloy bike which donated all its parts, including wheelset. It is also much more direct, stiff, and responsive. I'm a heavy rider and even though the Layhams is heavier than the alloy bike it feels like it accelerates faster when I put my weight through the pedals. Really noticeable that I'm getting less hand pain from road buzz too and my back seems happier. Fit is as close to identical as the frame allows so its a reasonable comparison.

Avatar
armb [141 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes

Is "You certainly can't buy a carbon frame for that sort of money" supposed to be "You certainly can't buy a carbon framed bike for that sort of money"?
Because you certainly can buy a carbon frame for less than £499:
https://www.planetx.co.uk/c/q/frames/road-bike-frames/carbon-bike-frames...
https://www.radialcycles.co.uk/bikes/framesets/revere-carbon-1-1-radial-...

(Will a £499 carbon frameset be any lighter than an alloy or steel £499 frameset, and if so what other compromises are involved in getting down to that price? I don't know, but that's a separate question.)

Avatar
Lukas [44 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes

One of my bikes is a Condor. Would recommend. 

Avatar
Lukas [44 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes

One of my bikes is a Condor. Would recommend. 

Avatar
Lukas [44 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes

One of my bikes is a Condor. Would recommend. 

Avatar
Psi Squared [9 posts] 4 months ago
3 likes
BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

I have bikes made of alu, steel, titanium and CF, also alu with CF stays, I like all of them, they all offer something different and are used for different types f rides. I don't get why some people get so angsty, just buy what you want and ride, giving it 'steel is real' and all the rest of it is just a bit silly/sad.

Yup.  I've also had bikes made of all of 4 big frame materials.  The diffferences in ride feel and performance between the bikes I've had have been small at best.  My next bike will be Ti, not for any performance reasons but rather because Ti looks dead sexy with a lot of black components and a hint of pink added in.

Steel, Ti, aluminum alloy, and CF are all real.  Vibranium is imaginary, so don't expect a vibranium bike in the future.

Avatar
ktache [825 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes

Building my Ultimate Commuter at the moment, steel, and I have given it one coat of JP Weigle's Frame Saver, have to give it a second.  Should give it a nice coating on the inside, and inhibit the dreaded internal rusting.

Avatar
Dunhoy [5 posts] 4 months ago
6 likes

Folk should ride what they feel comfortable riding. Cycling became fashionable and the marketing mob moved in and now we are forever told we must have carbon this and disc brake that and aero this and climbing bike that etc etc... the reality is for the vast majority of cyclists (not the wannabe racers nor the all the gear no idea crowd) the only real difference they will find between steel, aluminium, carbon or titanium is the impact it has on their bank balance. For many losing a few Kg will give better returns than spending thousands on whatever is the latest fashion.

I have bikes made from aluminium (Cube), steel (Colnago and Raleigh), and carbon (Colnago)... and they have all made it up Mont Ventoux -  at the end of the day the bike doesnt make me go any faster and truth be told I cant tell the difference between any of them in the nuanced and bullsh!t way most cycling publications talk about differences between frame materials - its just marketing bull!

Bikes are for riding - so ride what you are happy riding at the price point you can afford. 

Avatar
BehindTheBikesheds [2038 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes
armb wrote:

Is "You certainly can't buy a carbon frame for that sort of money" supposed to be "You certainly can't buy a carbon framed bike for that sort of money"?
Because you certainly can buy a carbon frame for less than £499:
https://www.planetx.co.uk/c/q/frames/road-bike-frames/carbon-bike-frames...
https://www.radialcycles.co.uk/bikes/framesets/revere-carbon-1-1-radial-...

(Will a £499 carbon frameset be any lighter than an alloy or steel £499 frameset, and if so what other compromises are involved in getting down to that price? I don't know, but that's a separate question.)

I bought my new (purchased in 2014) 2013 Conti pro team level frameset direct from the team sponsor/UK importer for £430 including the same 5 year warranty. It's a 59cm and came in at 1085g including the braze on front mech plate, rear hanger, headset cups AND importantly (for me) had threaded BB shell.

Contrast that with the 2012 Scott CR1 SL (HMX) which in approx same size is 930g with press fit and no cups fitted, but to my mind is not as resiliant (I can easily squeeze the tubes in with my fingers) and even less resiliant than the Sirrus Pro Ltd frame I picked up last year for £250, that's a (comparatively) hefty 1350g for a 58.5 incl threaded BB, V pegs on the rear stays and headset cups.

That 1350g is about the same as the 01/02 Principia RS6 and circa 100g less than the Rex e, the Rex and RS6 pro versions were approx 1180g/1120g for a 55cm respectively. Dunno what a Caad12 is.

1996 Raleigh Titanium special Products in a 62cm is approx 1650g but obviously it's a big bugger and no sloping geo.

My 57cm Gitane Vitus GTI triple butted steel frame is about  2000g - it's lighter than 520/525/725/probs 653 and on a par with R531 professional/753 give or take weight wise.

Avatar
BehindTheBikesheds [2038 posts] 4 months ago
2 likes
Dunhoy wrote:

Folk should ride what they feel comfortable riding. Cycling became fashionable and the marketing mob moved in and now we are forever told we must have carbon this and disc brake that and aero this and climbing bike that etc etc... the reality is for the vast majority of cyclists (not the wannabe racers nor the all the gear no idea crowd) the only real difference they will find between steel, aluminium, carbon or titanium is the impact it has on their bank balance. For many losing a few Kg will give better returns than spending thousands on whatever is the latest fashion.

I have bikes made from aluminium (Cube), steel (Colnago and Raleigh), and carbon (Colnago)... and they have all made it up Mont Ventoux -  at the end of the day the bike doesnt make me go any faster and truth be told I cant tell the difference between any of them in the nuanced and bullsh!t way most cycling publications talk about differences between frame materials - its just marketing bull!

Bikes are for riding - so ride what you are happy riding at the price point you can afford. 

Whilst I agree with some of your points you sound like the all the gear and not as much idea as you'd like to think you have.

There are noticeable differences in how certain materials and indeed how certain geometries ride, you've admitted yourself you can't tell the difference, that's fine but to state it's bullshit is cobblers.

Yes publications like Road CC and others make very subjective and unquantified statements too often,  often making statements that are contradictory or simply nonsensical. Yes there is a load of marketing crap but then that's being the case since forever in human history and selling the next 'best' thing is not new. Some things are driven by a need to push sales without having any discernable benefit, stuff like helmets and hi-visibility clothing, mugs who buy into that are actually having a negative effect on my safety and everyone elses as well as aiding with reducing responsibility and promoting victim blaming.

For most people something new and shiny encourages you to want to push harder and/or further, if the marketing bullshit gets people riding at all or riding more then one cannot argue too much against it so long as it adds positively.

Also you saying it's not the bike is yet another error, this is repeated so often and is patently untrue. Yes the human is most of the difference but improved components, wheels, tyres, better foot/pedal interaction, less weight, better handling properties and importantly often a subtly more aero position adopted, DO make you go faster.

How much faster am I on my CF bike compared to my retro steel or my Ti bike, I don't keep a count but my average is above that of the other bikes on the same rides, I feel faster but they all are different in their own way, none are wrong, they are just different.

Avatar
drjohn [52 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes

I've got some Mercians, springy and classy bikes. Anyone else get that impression that when you jump on a nice classic steel bike and push those cup'n'cone bearings, it feels like it takes less effort to pedal than a stiffer rig? Why is that? Am I just in a lower gear?

A complete contrast is my Gosforth Airlight, which is lively in a different way. It's a proper hoot!

One more.... an All-City Mr Pink, assigned to commuter duty, not light, springy or racy, but a very solid citizen. No rattles or creaks at all. 

Avatar
EM69 [13 posts] 4 months ago
2 likes

I have four bikes, two bespoke steel, one aluminium & one carbon...and love them all...

Avatar
Yrcm [44 posts] 4 months ago
2 likes
Psi Squared wrote:
BehindTheBikesheds wrote:

I have bikes made of alu, steel, titanium and CF, also alu with CF stays, I like all of them, they all offer something different and are used for different types f rides. I don't get why some people get so angsty, just buy what you want and ride, giving it 'steel is real' and all the rest of it is just a bit silly/sad.

Yup.  I've also had bikes made of all of 4 big frame materials.  The diffferences in ride feel and performance between the bikes I've had have been small at best.  My next bike will be Ti, not for any performance reasons but rather because Ti looks dead sexy with a lot of black components and a hint of pink added in.

Steel, Ti, aluminum alloy, and CF are all real.  Vibranium is imaginary, so don't expect a vibranium bike in the future.

I own one of each too and they're all great at their slightly different jobs. I'd suggest there are too many variables to say one material is definitely better than another, for example tyre choice and pressure can have a major impact on how they feel to ride. 

 

 

Avatar
LastBoyScout [448 posts] 4 months ago
1 like

I've got an old steel Claud Butler San Remo frame, which is horrendous to ride - it's cheap high-tensile steel that may as well be built of scaffolding poles. A woeful warranty replacement for the original Reynolds 531 Claud Butler Elite frame it replaced.

Avatar
PpPete [50 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes

I own 3 steel bikes.  Two are high quality Reynolds 531 from a reputable manufacturer (when they were still made in UK).  I enjoy riding them both, but neither has the ride quality of my Ti frame / CF fork - made in PRC.

Avatar
Jack Osbourne snr [713 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes

Over the last 30-odd years I have built up a collection of several metal bikes and every single one of them has a different feel.

Within the steel category, I have frames in Reynolds 531c, 653 & 725 and Columbus Cromor, SL, SLX and SLX New. Plus a Planet X in Maxwall 4130

For a great day (ie not carrying a ton of gear) in the saddle I can heartily recommend vintage steel from a decent builder in Reynolds 653 or Columbus SL. 653 loves the hammer whilst SL is a delight to cruise around on at or below 20 mph.

I've just built up a tourer in Reynolds 725 and although it weighs approximately one metric tonne, it can tank along quite happily and has a noticeable spring whilst still being adequately stiff around the bb. My Planet X in 4130 on the other hand, is like a bowl of noodles if you try to push it hard with visible flex and scraping chainrings.

My aluminium cross/commuter needs 32mm tyres as a minimum or it feels like the saddle is attempting sodomy. Its quick away from the lights though!

My Ti framed audax bike has been redesignated as the special trips machine where it excels at climbing or eating up long days on unknown roads with ease. It also has no paintwork to chip when in a flight bag and won't rust when I drip gallons of sweat all over it...

I recently ordered my last ever frame (hahahaha)... its steel.

Pages