Custom Steel vs carbon?

Discuss light weight issues concerning road bikes & parts.
n1ey
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Jul 30, 2012 11:53 am

by n1ey

I've been wondering if the next bike shouldn't be carbon. I'm 86 kg in weight. I break cheap wheels. I am not convinced that carbon is durable due to the numerous posts of breaks, here. I've also noticed that carbon bikes are becoming extremely heavy with large diamter tubes. Is steel not more aero due to the smaller tube shapes? Some of the marketing ploys out there have really turned my head against carbon bling.

Anyone have some thoughts about a modern steel bike that is stiff? Are there stiff steel bikes in the 7 to 8 kg range for a size 58 or size 60?

I am thinking that I could have some more durable and actually end in the same weight range. What are people's thoughts? I don't want to spend $2k. I might spend on wheels and this whole thing is not going to be over $3k.

Bill

by Weenie


User avatar
Lewn777
Posts: 723
Joined: Thu Mar 09, 2017 5:35 am

by Lewn777

Why not carbon?
Steel is real but's also heavy, very heavy. That compliance is nice, and certainly if you are looking for a long term bike for commuting, winters, gravel, bikepacking a steel bike is a must as a bike in your stable, that reliable fall-back bike, if you don't already have one, you need one.

But the bike you want to take on a cycle holiday or on sunny summer days? No thanks, give me a carbon fiber bike every time.
  • More flickable, accelerates quickly, climbs much faster and shows your full potential for your effort.
  • As nice as steel is, a modern carbon fiber bike rides better, stiffer yet more compliant and more fun, which is why we ride.
  • Iron is a very common element, and galvanised steel tubes don't cost that much, yet somehow an 'artisan' builder seems to get top dollar. Maybe I'm being too cynical. A heck of a lot of labor goes into a carbon fiber bike too.
  • Yes, some carbon bikes crack, but they tend to be common culprits. Get a commonly owned ridden bike where problems are known if there are any maybe something like a TCR. Limits are often 100kg so no you're not too heavy.
  • Most modern steel, alu alloy and titanium bikes come with a made in Asia carbon fork. If that cracks it can mean serious consequences, so why worry about the frame so much? You're already probably trusting carbon fiber with your life anyhow.

User avatar
kgt
Posts: 7640
Joined: Sun Jun 18, 2006 10:29 am
Location: Athens, Greece

by kgt

At 86kg a nice steel frame is a wise choise unless you enjoy big climbs. You will not lose anything and you will have a ride quality that very few carbon frames can have.

spartacus
Posts: 99
Joined: Mon Apr 04, 2011 6:53 pm

by spartacus

I don't think steel is necessarily any more durable than carbon.

NickJHP
Posts: 232
Joined: Wed Feb 14, 2018 2:22 am
Location: Canberra, Australia

by NickJHP

Lewn777 wrote:
Sun Nov 18, 2018 2:27 pm
As nice as steel is, a modern carbon fiber bike rides better, stiffer yet more compliant and more fun, which is why we ride.
I have to disagree here. I have several of both steel and carbon bikes, and I much prefer the road feel of a steel frame/fork.

mattr
Posts: 4604
Joined: Fri May 25, 2007 6:43 pm
Location: The Grim North.

by mattr

Lewn777 wrote:
Sun Nov 18, 2018 2:27 pm
No thanks, give me a carbon fiber bike every time.
And i keep going back to my mid 90's custom 853 bike. I've ridden stuff all the way up and down the range of most of the major manufacturers and still not found anything as capable as an allrounder.

Only issue i have with it is the front mech hanger is at the wrong height for what i want on there now, when combined with modern front mechs.

User avatar
breezerboy
Shop Owner
Posts: 281
Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2007 8:14 pm
Location: Bristol, UK

by breezerboy

Lewn777 wrote:
Sun Nov 18, 2018 2:27 pm
Why not carbon?
Steel is real but's also heavy, very heavy. That compliance is nice, and certainly if you are looking for a long term bike for commuting, winters, gravel, bikepacking a steel bike is a must as a bike in your stable, that reliable fall-back bike, if you don't already have one, you need one.

But the bike you want to take on a cycle holiday or on sunny summer days? No thanks, give me a carbon fiber bike every time.
  • More flickable, accelerates quickly, climbs much faster and shows your full potential for your effort.
  • As nice as steel is, a modern carbon fiber bike rides better, stiffer yet more compliant and more fun, which is why we ride.
  • Iron is a very common element, and galvanised steel tubes don't cost that much, yet somehow an 'artisan' builder seems to get top dollar. Maybe I'm being too cynical. A heck of a lot of labor goes into a carbon fiber bike too.
  • Yes, some carbon bikes crack, but they tend to be common culprits. Get a commonly owned ridden bike where problems are known if there are any maybe something like a TCR. Limits are often 100kg so no you're not too heavy.
  • Most modern steel, alu alloy and titanium bikes come with a made in Asia carbon fork. If that cracks it can mean serious consequences, so why worry about the frame so much? You're already probably trusting carbon fiber with your life anyhow.
I have 3x Pegorettis in the 6.4 to 7.8 kg range (the heaviest having steel forks and alloy wheels) and have to disagree on most of the above.

Flickability is down to geometry, not frame material. Acceleration and climbing are also related to stiffness and weight, not material. I have ridden many very dull and boring carbon bikes (as well as a few good ones), just as I have for any other material.

I have yet to ride any carbon bike that gives better power transfer while boosting compliance over my steel Pegorettis. Even with the little extra weight, I would always choose them over anything else regardless of climbing, distance or road surface.

I think you'll struggle to find any artisan builder using galvanised tubing. Custom butted Columbus Spirit/XCR are far from it. With an artisan builder you also pay for their knowledge to vary geometry, tube guages, butt lengths and diameters to give the ride your after - Check out BAUM for an extreme example (admittedly at an extreme price too).

People don't just choose custom steel to eliminate the chance of cracked carbon, the choose it because it rides better. There is a slight weight penalty, but when I can build a steel bike that is below the UCI limit without resorting to exotic components or compromising ride, I don't see the point in compromising to shave an extra few 100g's.


I know with the OPs $3000 max budget a new Pegoretti may be out of reach, but there are many other good builders out there who may be able to get on or closer to budget. Best advice I can give is chat to some builders and tell them what you want the bike to do for you and take their advice. Do NOT tell them what to build as far as tubing/geometry is concerned, that's why you are going to them in the 1st place.

mattr
Posts: 4604
Joined: Fri May 25, 2007 6:43 pm
Location: The Grim North.

by mattr

Lewn777 wrote:
Sun Nov 18, 2018 2:27 pm
  • Iron is a very common element, and galvanised steel tubes don't cost that much, yet somehow an 'artisan' builder seems to get top dollar. Maybe I'm being too cynical. A heck of a lot of labor goes into a carbon fiber bike too.
Glad someone else pointed this comment out, i didn't notice it first time round.

No one uses galvanized steel tubes, except maybe on one. Most are using mang-moly or chrome-moly steel or a something along those lines. And something like 931 contains Silicon, Manganese, Nickel, Chromium, Copper and Niobium as alloying elements. Hardly "galvanised steel". I've come across it (not labelled 931 though!) while working in the aero industry.

Wookski
Posts: 1066
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2016 5:51 am

by Wookski

A friend of mine just built up a custom Legend steel with a very modern and racy geo designed for a stronger/ bigger rider. It’s an absolute beast! The issue is price- I can’t see you finding a decent steel frame under USD $3K, let alone an entire bike.

RussellS
Posts: 859
Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2010 1:31 am

by RussellS

n1ey wrote:
Sun Nov 18, 2018 1:52 pm
I'm 86 kg in weight. Are there stiff steel bikes in the 7 to 8 kg range for a size 58 or size 60?

I am thinking that I could have some more durable and actually end in the same weight range. What are people's thoughts? I don't want to spend $2k. I might spend on wheels and this whole thing is not going to be over $3k.
Don't want to spend $2000 on a custom frame. And whole bike cannot be over $3000. Good luck. I'm sure you can find a few custom steel builders who make cheaper bikes. I think Gunnar builds custom frames, no fork, for $1600. Frame would weigh 1500-2000 grams I suspect. You don't get to choose which steel is used. Maybe its possible to get an 8 kg bike for $3000. If you get lots of cheap deals on eBay or the local want ads.

I have a carbon bike, several steel bikes, several aluminum bikes, and a titanium bike. Can't tell much difference riding any of them. They are all good bikes.

Wookski
Posts: 1066
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2016 5:51 am

by Wookski

Wookski wrote:
Sun Nov 18, 2018 8:52 pm
A friend of mine just built up a custom Legend steel with a very modern and racy geo designed for a stronger/ bigger rider. It’s an absolute beast! The issue is price- I can’t see you finding a decent steel frame under USD $3K, let alone an entire bike.
Image

Seedster
Posts: 525
Joined: Fri Jun 05, 2015 11:05 pm

by Seedster

I love Bertoletti bikes. Considering getting one of his custom titanium frames

2lo8
Posts: 539
Joined: Thu Mar 31, 2016 10:32 am

by 2lo8

Lewn777 wrote:
Sun Nov 18, 2018 2:27 pm
  • Iron is a very common element, and galvanised steel tubes don't cost that much, yet somehow an 'artisan' builder seems to get top dollar. Maybe I'm being too cynical. A heck of a lot of labor goes into a carbon fiber bike too.
The commodity price for plain crmo (Reynolds 520/Columbus Thron) is closer to 4130 DOM tubing, which is basically what it is, except butted over a mandrel. Anything beyond that, you're getting into niche territory, custom melts, higher reject rates, a combination of needing more work done and being more work resistant, heat treating, etc. An artisan builder gets top dollar because they're an artisan builder. If an artisan builder buys off the shelf Toray T800, they still charge artisan custom carbon prices. If you take a look on Aliexpress, you can find lots of cheap steel frames made from Reynolds 520/Columbus Thron too.
  • Most modern steel, alu alloy and titanium bikes come with a made in Asia carbon fork. If that cracks it can mean serious consequences, so why worry about the frame so much? You're already probably trusting carbon fiber with your life anyhow.
I agree there though. I keep seeing "steel" bikes with more grams of carbon than steel on them, and probably with more carbon than the 105 equipped carbon bike I used to have.
[6.6kg of no carbon fiber]
[2lo8.wordpress.com]
Your one-stop source for information and reviews on cheap eBay bike junk.

2lo8
Posts: 539
Joined: Thu Mar 31, 2016 10:32 am

by 2lo8

RussellS wrote:
Sun Nov 18, 2018 11:03 pm
Maybe its possible to get an 8 kg bike for $3000. If you get lots of cheap deals on eBay or the local want ads.
It's not that hard. The only deal you really need is to score a Lemond Zurich and be willing to carbon on your steel frame.
[6.6kg of no carbon fiber]
[2lo8.wordpress.com]
Your one-stop source for information and reviews on cheap eBay bike junk.

n1ey
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Jul 30, 2012 11:53 am

by n1ey

Any word about the Wraith Hustle? I checked out the geometry. I might be able to make it work. I've seen carbon and aluminum frames break.

I want a nice bike and I've noticed the weights of carbon bikes have climbed up in price, considerably. The industry ignores weight savings, now. The biggest thing to aero is having a small cross section. I'm not inclined to follow the marketing and buy a carbon bike that weighs 20# and is "aero." I can't my head around huge tubes somehow being aero. I've also noticed the disclaimers and the optimized aero for the 3T carbon bike. 3T is the only one to claim that they optimized a bike for 20mph. Everyone is 25 or 30mph...or is this wishful thinking?

Anything else like the Wraith Hustle around? What is the weight of their large frame ??

Bill

by Weenie


Post Reply
  • Similar Topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post