Custom steel v carbon

Discuss light weight issues concerning road bikes & parts.
markyboy
Posts: 814
Joined: Wed Dec 29, 2010 10:22 pm
Location: Bristol uk

by markyboy

I am in the process of thinking steel is better than carbon,i have steel master and i cant stop riding it compared to my pinarello dogma,ride quality is second to none and handles amazing.
What i am thinking of is get rid of the carbon and buying another steel bike like the arabesque or maybe another quality brand out there any input of to
any other quality steel frame builders.
Colnago master with campagnolo super record 12
Pinarello f8 with dura ace di2
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by Weenie


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kgt
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Location: Athens, Greece

by kgt

Since you already have a Colnago Master (I agree, fantastic frame) why don't you go for a modern steel one? Dozens of amazing frames to choose from.

alcatraz
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by alcatraz

If I may borrow the thread a little, how is steel when descending at fast speeds? Is it scary as hell? What happens when the road gets a little bumpy? Is it flexing like crazy?

I've seen videos of when people mount a camera on the downtube slightly off center pointed backwards, and on a ride the rear wheel moves quite wildly side to side just by frame flex. I think it was on a carbon frame.

How do cheap frames compare to top level steel frames in this aspect?

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kgt
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by kgt

IME a good steel racing frame is a much better descender than any carbon frame. The way it follows the tarmac's relief due to its higher weight and 'springiness' (that slight amount of verical flex) is what makes you feel confident and aloows you to go faster.

Broady
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by Broady

Yeah modern steel descends like no other.

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kgt
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by kgt

Even older steel feames descend better than most contemporary carbon frames.

Wookski
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by Wookski

kgt wrote:
Sun Jun 30, 2019 1:04 pm
Even older steel feames descend better than most contemporary carbon frames.
I’m a massive fan of metal bikes but that’s a huge generalisation. Geo has much more of an impact on handling than frame material.

That being said, if you’re talking similar geo (assuming both high quality, stiff etc): carbon vs steel I’ll take steel every time.

Wookski
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by Wookski

markyboy wrote:
Sun Jun 30, 2019 10:01 am
I am in the process of thinking steel is better than carbon,i have steel master and i cant stop riding it compared to my pinarello dogma,ride quality is second to none and handles amazing.
What i am thinking of is get rid of the carbon and buying another steel bike like the arabesque or maybe another quality brand out there any input of to
any other quality steel frame builders.
You already have one classic steel frame, no point in getting the same thing again. If you’re open to it I’d suggest a modern steel build- look at brands like Legor, Baum, Legend or even Pegoretti. Don’t buy off the shelf- you’ll be surprised at how tunable a custom steel frame can be.

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kgt
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by kgt

Wookski wrote:
Sun Jun 30, 2019 2:10 pm
kgt wrote:
Sun Jun 30, 2019 1:04 pm
Even older steel feames descend better than most contemporary carbon frames.
I’m a massive fan of metal bikes but that’s a huge generalisation. Geo has much more of an impact on handling than frame material.

That being said, if you’re talking similar geo (assuming both high quality, stiff etc): carbon vs steel I’ll take steel every time.
Of course, geometry is important but we are discussing top road frames with similar, racing geometry. So, a 1990s hi-end steel frame from Colnago or Pinarello or Bianchi or Battaglin or Raleigh or... will be a better descender than most contemporary carbon frames. A good steel fork, although less stiff, adds to this advantage IME.

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Calnago
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by Calnago

Hmmm... I’m not in agreement with this generalization that steel bikes are inherently better descenders than carbon bikes. You can have a noodly steel frame just as you can have a noodly carbon frame. Some of the most noodly frames I’ve ever ridden have been carbon, not steel. Although I did have a very noodly large steel Bianchi in my University days, and in general I’d say steel frames of old are more noodly than most of today’s carbon offerings. And some of the stiffest frames I’ve ridden have been carbon. But one thing’s for sure, Carbon is always a whole lot lighter, and to a point, that’s a plus. Just depends how they’re made, what they’re made of, how much material, etc etc. A lot of factors come into play but I wouldn’t trade any of my current carbon bikes for a steel of old, other than for nostalgic reasons, and their sheer beauty and simplicity of design.

Having said all that, I certainly wouldn’t discourage anyone from getting a fine steel frame from a custom builder, especially if you know exactly what you want geometry wise. Steels have come a long way, with walls being able to be drawn to scary thin thicknesses. In fact, this may become a preferred way to go in the future for those who are less than enthused with the “trend chasing” by manufacturers going on these days.
Colnago C64 - The Naked Build; Colnago C60 - PR99; Trek Koppenberg - Where Emonda and Domane Meet;
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Mr.Gib
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by Mr.Gib

As a fanatical and aggressive descender (former ski racer), I am convinced it's possible to have the best of both. A carbon frame with the right geometry and the right fork (very important), and big enough tires on wide enough rims, should create a bike that will descend as well as any steel, titanium, etc. without the added weight. I grew up racing steel bikes. I still have a really nice 853 Bob Jackson - a great descender. And while it descends better then many carbon frames I have ridden, it is not as good as my Cannondale Synapse (which still blows my mind when going downhill). The Cannondale's shock absorbing properties are simply superior. Also, it is easier to choose and hold a precise line in high speed curves. And I think the Synapse could even be improved further with slightly quicker steering and a slighly longer wheelbase. Part of what makes steel feel good is simply the added weight of the frame. It takes more energy to upset the addition mass of a heavier bike. However a good "pilot" need not rely on the extra mass: their active and athletic approach to the "art" of descending puts them in control.
wheelsONfire wrote: When we ride disc brakes the whole deal of braking is just like a leaving a fart. It happens and then it's over. Nothing planned and nothing to get nervous for.

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Calnago
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by Calnago

Mr.Gib wrote:...Part of what makes steel feel good is simply the added weight of the frame. It takes more energy to upset the addition mass of a heavier bike.
I couldn’t agree more with this statement, and that’s why I stated that the lighter weight of carbon is good, “to a point”. But to state that out loud in a forum like this is almost blasphemy.
All my best riding carbon frames are rather “heavy” by lightweight standards, but feel so much better to ride than their lightweight siblings, especially if you’re a bigger guy like me, so rider weight certainly plays a large role in the equation as well. Best example I have is my Trek Koppenberg vs an Emonda SLR. Virtually the same identical geometry yet the SLR, while I would love to ride it all day uphill, has a lot more “wiggle” in the top tube during my wiggle test. And as such, I wouldn’t trade my Koppenberg for a second on the downhill.
Another good example is the stability of wheels... take a 32spoke low profile Nemesis rim and hold that thing by the axles while getting it to spin as fast as you can. Twist it around a bit... what does it want to do, it wants to right itself quite strongly. Now take an uberlight carbon wheel and do the same thing. While the gyroscopic effect wants to do the same thing, it’s not nearly as strong and tends to writhe around all over the place. The low profile Nemesis, while heavier (with most of the weight at the perimeter to boot), it is by far the most planted wheelset I have. Thrown that on a solid frame and descend downhill and it is sheer joy. And pretty much unaffected by crosswinds versus the deeper profile carbon rims. Not saying I’m throwing away my Boras, but damn a well built Nemesis wheelset is nice to ride.
Colnago C64 - The Naked Build; Colnago C60 - PR99; Trek Koppenberg - Where Emonda and Domane Meet;
Unlinked Builds (searchable): Colnago C59 - 5 Years Later; Trek Emonda SL Campagnolo SR; Special Colnago EPQ

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kgt
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by kgt

I agree that the wheelset adds a lot to the stability when going fast downhill. IME a good quality shallow alu rim with 32 spokes is better in descending than most medium to high profile lightweight carbon wheelsets. Again, it depends on the wheelset, the weight, the stiffness, the tires etc. but in general that is my experience.
To sum up: a hi-end steel frame on a shallow alu wheelset with 28-32 steel (not alu) spokes descends better than many contemporary lightweight carbon machines. There are exceptions, of course, but in general the above is true IME.

It goes without saying that a racing bike is not only about descending but alcatraz opened this discussion.

tarmackev
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Joined: Sat Jan 15, 2011 9:59 pm

by tarmackev

From 91 to 96 I rode 531 steel and I have an almost physical memory of how the bike felt, it’s felt like it had a momentum of its own like it almost worked with your body.
This was riding on the flat only, not so much the hills.
It’s a feeling I’ve looked for since and I’ve never found in any bike.
I something’s wonder if it’s just in my head.
I often look at classic geometry steel bikes and think about building one with a more modern groupset.
Carbon is certainly lighter and stiffer but it doesn’t have the feel that I long for.
I’m a big gear guy on the bike and think it’s in part to the rhythm of cycling I got in to riding steel.


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dim
Posts: 534
Joined: Fri Oct 13, 2017 11:25 am
Location: Cambridge UK

by dim

I recently bought a 1983 Miyata 1000 Gran Tourer (full steel, triple butted Cro-Mo), and this is by far the most comfortable bike that I have ever owned. (could also be due to the fact that I am using Continental Grand prix 5000 clinches in 32mm wide)

slower than my Trek Emonda SL6, but I have front and rear racks etc etc and the Miyata is only 5 speed with a triple crankset) .... I prefer the ride quality of the Miyata and am planning a fishing/wild camping trip (with a tent/sleeping bag etc) around the coast of Ireland soon

I'm now looking for another Miyata 1000 frame and if I find one in my size, I will build it up with light tubeless rims and more modern gearing (no racks etc and will try and keep it as light as possible with the steel forks aswell)

.... looking at the prices of new custom steel frames, you are looking in excess of 3000 USD .... :
https://www.strongframes.com/frames-and-pricing/road/

I paid £560 for my Miyata (complete bike)
Trek Emonda SL6
Miyata One Thousand

by Weenie


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