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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Been thinking about switching from Aluminum to a lightweight steel frame for more long range comfort. I'm interested in the Salsa Primero 3 lb steel frame. Anyone ride one of these? Haven't found much info on the net about them. They are about the same price as a comparible all carbon frame (Giant), but I like the idea of having something a little different, not so mainstream. Any other steel frames of this weight range I should consider? I'm coming from a 2.5 lb Aluminum frame, so I'd prefer to keep the weight difference in check.
 

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Weights are notoriously misrepresented by marketing departments.

Convention usually refers to weight based on a 56cm frame, however Salsa's web site prould notes the Salsa Primero as a new ultralight 3.1 lb steel frame then only references a size 49cm frame. No other information given, such as an expanded geometry chart, just "coming Spring 2006". That last statement may be why you haven't read any reviews by users. Speedgoat.com doesn't even list the Primero among their Salsa offerings.

Do you ride a 49cm frame? If not, the 3.1lbs means nothing.

One of the best values in a steel frame out there is Gunnar, and their 56cm Roadie weighs 3.6 lbs. (Gunnar web site) Likewise, a 56cm Colnago Master X-Lite is 3.5 lbs.(GVH Bikes)
 

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It appears the Salsa Primero is made of True Temper S3 steel. According to Web Cyclery, the 49cm frame (compact frame) is equivalent to a 56cm and weighs 3.1 pounds. See below.

That sounds right. I have a Curtlo S3 frame in a standard 50cm that weighs exactly three pounds. $1450 seems a bit pricey for an off-the-rack steel frame, though. Curtlo built mine to my custom specs for about $950, and I paid $189 for a carbon fork.

Keep in mind that if you are looking for "long-range comfort," the S3 frames are pretty durn stiff. My S3 frame can feel as stiff as any oversized alu frame depending on what wheels and tires I'm running.

<i>
http://www.webcyclery.com/product.php?productid=17455&cat=77&page=

The new Salsa Primero frameset is an ultralight steel racing thoroughbred crafted from True Temper S3 (Super Strength Steel) tubing. The Primero provides carbon-like weight savings in a steel package. A 49cm (56cm equivalent) Primero frame weighs in at a mere 3.1 lbs (Yes, 3.1 - for STEEL).
The Primero uses a sloping toptube design for greater rider comfort and provides a fit-friendly platform. The doublebutted S3 tubeset is optimized with a bi-axially ovalized downtube and tear-drop shaped toptube to maximize the frame?s strength-to-weight ratio and ride quality. The Primero frameset uses an Alpha Q CS20 full carbon fork made with True Temper?s Carbon Rooting system. The fork weighs 400 grams and is designed to provide optimum vibration damping, stiffness-to-weight ratio, and fatigue life. All this results in a delightful road machine, built for long hours in the saddle in the glorious pursuit of pavement. Steel has never been so real! Paprika Red. 27.2 post (Salsa Lip Lock included). Sizing Note - the Primero measures about 7cm smaller than the Campeon. If you ride a 56cm
Campeon, you most likely ride a 49cm Primero. Available in Spring '06 - but you can place your order now and you will be one of the first to get one -and we won't charge you until we actually ship the frame.
 

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The 1450 price is for the frame and fork. Not to bad comparing it to other frames in it's catogory. Quality has these in stock now.
 

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3 lb steel frames

ibhim said:
Weights are notoriously misrepresented by marketing departments.

Do you ride a 49cm frame? If not, the 3.1lbs means nothing.
A frame larger than 49cm may not weigh much more, and it is entirely possible that steel frames can weigh less. I have a custom built 54cm frame (T.E.T. Cycles) built with True Temper S3 tubes (same as the Primero) with a horizontal top tube that weighs 3 lb 0.6 oz (3.04 lb). Plus, the Salsa Primero is a sloping top tube frame, which can weigh slightly less than an otherwise identical "traditional" horizontal top tube frame.
 

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Durability

A steel frame that weighs 3.1 lb is going to have VERY thin tube walls. It will, without question, dent easily. How well it holds up in daily use is an open question because the tubes will be so thin. Steel is a fine material for building bikes, but you just can't get past the fact that Al is 35% as dense as steel and Ti is 57% as dense as steel.
 

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lightweight steel

if you have some wait time you might consider a curtlo , i just picked up my custom S3 steel with all campy record components . it weighs in at 16 lbs 29 grams complete . frame weight is right at 3lbs . my first custom build . the fit and the ride are so much more comfortable than my carbon trek .
 

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yep, you and a couple of other people who have contacted me. :)

i finally have photos of zanconato machining some of the tubes. i need to get him on the phone to remind myself exactly what he was doing. should be posted this week. thanks for waiting.

jtferraro said:
team_sheepshead,

I eargerly await your next Zanconato/Sachs build post. How's it coming along?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for the info. Yeah, the frame sizing on the Salsa Primero is somewhat odd. The 49 is equivalent to a 56 or something. Thanks for the other frame suggestions. I had also toyed with getting the Surly pacer frame instead since it is so much cheaper, but it's a solid pound heavier than the Salsa. Anyone have any input on which type of steel rides the nicest? I see 4130, 853, Salsa's S3 etc. Wondering how much difference there is between the types.
 

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i, too, was worried about durability. believe it or not, i've already crashed my S3 curtlo twice, and it is fine. both were low-speed falls.

first fall was at ~8 mph. i swerved to avoid a ped on a bikepath and caught the bars in a plastic construction fence. i went down on my right side. enough torque to rip my cleat off my shoe, but the frame was fine. the next fall was at ~10 mph. hit some ice and went down on the soft road shoulder. again, frame was fine.

much to my surprise, so far, so good with my S3. ymmv.

Kerry Irons said:
A steel frame that weighs 3.1 lb is going to have VERY thin tube walls. It will, without question, dent easily. How well it holds up in daily use is an open question because the tubes will be so thin. Steel is a fine material for building bikes, but you just can't get past the fact that Al is 35% as dense as steel and Ti is 57% as dense as steel.
 

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Found the other site that provided more about the bike. Really weird bike sizing geometry table. Most other manufacturers of compact frames, while listing the ST size, won't also reflect that as the frame size then a footnote below to add 7cm. Most will have a column labeled 'size' like Salsa but will do the math so people don't confuse a 49 with a 56. As they did note, Effective TT is the more appropriate measure anyway.

**This frame features a sloping toptube. Add 7cm to the listed size for equivalent level toptube size frame. Or size frame by using TT (horizontal) which is more appropriate anyway. **

That frame does seem a little pricy at $1540 for an off the rack frame/fork. For a couple hundred $ more (to include the fork) there is the Ti Dean, or custom steel IF Crown Jewel, Seven Axiom, and Serotta Coeur d’Acier to name a few. Those can be built to your specifications. For reference, the Gunnar Roadie, built with True Tempers XO Platinum tubing (rather than the S3 tubing) is $999. A 50% increase in price is a little steep to explain a different tubing set by the same company. Based on these build kit prices, perhaps $100 would be justified based on material.

http://www.henryjames.com/ttkits.html
 

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I'll second the Gunnar recomendation. I have a 58cm Roadie and I love it. Rides great, fits great and is fairly light for steel. The 3.6lbs stated on the web is accurate too. I just did a component swap and decided to see what my frame actually weighed. Stripped it down to the bare frame (pulled off seat collar, cable guide, everything) and it came in at 3.68lbs. Not bad considering this is one size larger then they used for the listed 3.6lb weight. Got it built back up with Record and some full spoke count wheels with pedals, cages, computer and everything for a sub 19lb steel bike.

Had it sub 18lbs with set of Bontrager Race X Lite wheels and a Record cassette but decided to stick with the durable Centaur hubs/cassette and Campy Montreal rims instead.
 

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thanks for posting this link. it is interesting to see how low-low-low the pricing is for even the high-end steel tubesets.

ibhim said:
Found the other site that provided more about the bike. Really weird bike sizing geometry table. Most other manufacturers of compact frames, while listing the ST size, won't also reflect that as the frame size then a footnote below to add 7cm. Most will have a column labeled 'size' like Salsa but will do the math so people don't confuse a 49 with a 56. As they did note, Effective TT is the more appropriate measure anyway.

**This frame features a sloping toptube. Add 7cm to the listed size for equivalent level toptube size frame. Or size frame by using TT (horizontal) which is more appropriate anyway. **

That frame does seem a little pricy at $1540 for an off the rack frame/fork. For a couple hundred $ more (to include the fork) there is the Ti Dean, or custom steel IF Crown Jewel, Seven Axiom, and Serotta Coeur d’Acier to name a few. Those can be built to your specifications. For reference, the Gunnar Roadie, built with True Tempers XO Platinum tubing (rather than the S3 tubing) is $999. A 50% increase in price is a little steep to explain a different tubing set by the same company. Based on these build kit prices, perhaps $100 would be justified based on material.

http://www.henryjames.com/ttkits.html
 

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I suppose that an S3 frame might very well dent easier than a lugged DT14V frame, but I don't think it means they're easy to dent.

Heard the same thing about the early Boron frames - Pinarello Opera, Bianchi Boron, with people relaying anecdotal evidence that they were easy to dent. Even heard that Opera owners were seeing dents on the downtube from pebbles on the road. That and the ability to squeeze the tubes to a crimp.

Well, I have 5000 miles on an Opera and 2000 on a Boron and they're both pristine.

I also have 5000 on an Ultrafoco frame that had the same pre-reputation that hasn't played out.

Now, with 1500 on an S3, that's been dinged hard enough to chip the paint down to the steel, still no dents. And that includes the manhandling it gets when it's stored among other bikes.

Sure, the logical thought process would say that "thinner = more dent-able" but I don't think that it's as scary as people might want it to be. All metallic bikes dent if you treat them poorly. It's just not been my experience that they dent easily, and certainly not if you treat them with some respect.
 

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ibhim said:
A 50% increase in price is a little steep to explain a different tubing set by the same company. Based on these build kit prices, perhaps $100 would be justified based on material.
Especially true when custom builders only ask an additional $200 to use S3. Both Strong and Vanilla ask in that ballpark to upgrade from their basic tubeset. At $1400 for a custom Strong, I know which way I would go vis a vis that Salsa.
 

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terry b said:
Especially true when custom builders only ask an additional $200 to use S3. Both Strong and Vanilla ask in that ballpark to upgrade from their basic tubeset. At $1400 for a custom Strong, I know which way I would go vis a vis that Salsa.
Yeah, the S3 costs a little more but I bet that stuff is delicate when it comes to welding and machining it. I imagine someone could easily burn a hole in it if they aren't careful or put a nice dent when putting into a chuck. Also, the builder would have change the cutters often to get the mitering correct.
 

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consider a Kelly luscious it is S3

I really like mine--although if i were picky i prefer standard to sloping geometry--mine is sloping.
that does make it lighter, though.
I am selling mine this spring when i move to the seattle area--have 3 steel bikes and am only keeping one (or none)--right now that is my waterford r33 (which is yet to be built up, so i may change my mind). I obviously have not ridden teh R33 yet, but had a waterford 1200 a few years back and it was great
the kelly fits like a 56 if you are interested email me

also, I too have a bianchi boron, and had a pinarello opera--not a dent among any of these light steel bikes--not from storage, transport, or riding.

good luck
jim
 

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farva said:
Thanks for the info. Yeah, the frame sizing on the Salsa Primero is somewhat odd. The 49 is equivalent to a 56 or something. Thanks for the other frame suggestions. I had also toyed with getting the Surly pacer frame instead since it is so much cheaper, but it's a solid pound heavier than the Salsa. Anyone have any input on which type of steel rides the nicest? I see 4130, 853, Salsa's S3 etc. Wondering how much difference there is between the types.
Different alloys have different ultimate strengths, but most alloying is to allow for welding without needing heat treating. As far as it goes, a designer uses an alloy and engineers a bike from it. It's not the quality of the alloy you feel in the bike, it's the geometry the engineer put into it. Too many people are hung up on the minute differences between alloys of steel, aluminum and carbon fiber. All bikes are engineered and you ride the result of the engineering, not the material it was engineered with. What rides the nicest is a slack geometry and the amount of flex built into the frame. That said, wheels and tires have a great effect on comfort, not to mention the saddle. Proper fit is everything else about the quality of the ride of a bike.
 

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Ionic S3 Nemis

Rather than the Salsa, You can order an S3 Nemis frame in compact geometry from IONIC / DEAN bikes for 950.00 with an easton ec90 fork for an additional 250.00. another plus is you can choose the color. Spectrum powder coat does the finishes. Built in the USA(Colorado). I placed my order last week.
 
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