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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,

I know there are other forums about steel vs titanium, but my question to you guys is not about the differences between the two for a road bike. I wanted to tell you a little about myself so that you can understand where I am coming from. I have not rode a bicycle in about 14 years. The last time I rode a bike was when I had a Gary Fisher hard tail mountain bike. I eventually sold it because it was too big for me. Well, fast forward about 14 years and I am a married man with 2 kids. I have gained a little weight over the years and really want to get back into riding a bike; preferably a road bike. I weigh about 230 pounds (am also about 5' 11") and my LBS keeps telling me to stay away from Carbon due to my weight. Well, first of all, I honestly don't really want a Carbon racing bike or an aluminum bike. I have researched enough on my own and have decided that I want to look at building my first (and hopefully last) steel or titanium road bike. I am by no means going to use the bike for racing. I want to use it for long rides in the country, riding with friends, and to get some exercise! This will be my one and only bike for a while and probably my only road bike I will ever purchase (I know you are thinking, "Yeah right!")

From looking online and reading these forums, I have seen a few names in the business that make both steel and titanium. I have a few worries about a custom steel road bike in that I tend to sweat a lot and like another rider mentioned on this forum, I am afraid overtime it is going to rust my bike. I also at times may ride my bike in the rain and thus I am afraid of the steel rusting. I like everything that I have read about titanium and how it is such a great metal to use for a road bike, but my main point of this thread is to ask you guys that have the experience building a custom steel bike and/or a titanium bike what is the approximate cost difference that I am going to be looking at? Has anyone had a custom steel bike built for them and a custom titanium bike done as well?

If there is any more information you guys and girls can give to me to help my decision for my first road bike build, it would be greatly appreciated.
 

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You can look at some of the companies that offer both steel and titanium frames to get an idea of the cost difference. The gap is much higher at some of the Italian companies like Tommasini or De Rosa.

Seven Cycles (Resolute SLX is steel, many Ti models)
Custom Bicycles and Frames | Independent Fabrication | Carbon Fiber and Steel and Titanium (Crown Jewel steel and Ti)

Stainless steel is another option if rust is a concern. Many companies build with Columbus XCr and KVA MS2 stainless, and a few use Reynolds 953 or 931. It is usually close in price to Ti.

A few companies like Cyfac and Casati offer a cataphoresis coating to prevent rust on non-stainless frames.

I was a titanium fan for years, but have become a new steel fan. My experience with Ti vs steel is that steel frames feel more solid and give more feedback from the road (which I prefer), while Ti is plusher, more compliant and isolates you from the road more. Steel offers more options than just TIG welded joints like Ti. Steel can be welded to keep costs down, but can also have fillet brazed, lugged, or bi-laminate joints. Bare Ti can look nice, but can be dull too. Painting Ti or stainless will add to the cost.
 

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I dont think rust is a concern on a well made steel bike and shouldnt drive your decision. Keep it clean and you wont have a problem. I have seen some surface rust on one of mine from a paint chip that I didn't take care of but it was just on the surface. It's not like it's going to rust through in my lifetime.

That said, get what you want or what you can justify spending. If you are going custom, you are getting a quality bike either way. Carl Strong makes steel and titanium. Give him a call and talk to him about it. I am told he is fantastic to work for and if I ever did a custome bike, it would be with him. Off the top of my head, I think his titanium frames are about $1,000 or $1,200 more than the steel but check out his site. It has pricing.
 

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I have had the same steel bike since 1976. Schwinn Superior, a lite weight bike back then, 28lbs but heavy by todays standards. However my weight is 230 lbs and I ride all the time. I have taken this bike on many long mountain roads and where this bike proves itself in going down hill, no shake no shimmy. Some of the light weight bikes today with your weight may not give you the same stable ride. Rust is not an issue because I take care of my ride. Like you I have thought about Ti but with my weight I don't think I would gain anything and could loose some stability.

tony
 

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Your physical condition and capabilities will change as you get back into riding. Since your physical condition and capabilities affect the design of a costom bike, I suggest getting at least a year or so of riding under your belt before considering a custom. Also, you have a better understanding of what you want in a bike.

IMO: Carbon bikes are fine at your weight (I rode them at that weight). Just get wheels with lots of spokes. IMO, unless you have way unusual proportions or strange physiology, there is little to no practical benefit of getting custom.

Steel or Ti are fine (I have Ti, Al, and CF road bikes right now). I'd recommend getting a moderately priced off-the-shelf bike and getting some miles under your belt.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hello everyone,
Thank you so much for your replies. This is a great website for newbies with questions. I am really taking into consideration some of your comments including getting a moderately priced bike off the shelf and ride it for a year or two before ordering a custom bike. I also appreciate reading the comments that if I were to purchase a steel bike that I don't really need to worry about it rusting if I take care of it.
However, would this be true if I were to be caught in the rain riding a steel bike? Would I be ok if I were to wipe it down when I got home so that it does not continue to stay wet?


I am also taking into consideration about my weight and being on a very light bike that it may cause me a little instability when riding down hill. AT this point, I am leaning a little towards a steel bike (maybe carbon), but am still interested in finding a little more about Ti bikes. I will try and give Carl Strong a call and get some advice from him and check out the pricing.

The only reason I was considering going custom now is because I was hoping to make a bike fit me perfectly and keep it for pretty much the rest of my life. I don't think my wife would like it if I were to purchase a carbon/aluminum bike off the shelf and ride it for 2 years and then turn around and spend even more money on a custom. This is just a thought. If anybody else wants to give some advice on carbon/steel for a new rider and his first bike, it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again everyone for willing to give some advice to a new rider in California.
 

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I'm fairly new getting back into road biking myself. My advice would be to ride A LOT of bikes; carbon, steel, and TI, ride them all. I also read a lot of information and did a lot of research about different materials, but once I actually got on some of them, some of my original predetermined thoughts faded when I got on the saddle.

I ended up getting what I would call an entry level carbon Masi. It is advanced enough that I will grow into it, and I can upgrade it later if I desire. I have to say that I love it! Put just over 250 miles on in the last 6 weeks and couldn't be happier.

Like you, I want to be able to get a lot of miles under my belt before spending a ton of money on a bike that might end up collecting dust after a couple years. Besides, my wife would have killed me. If things keep up like I am planning, I'll have several thousand miles on my ride before I consider getting another.

Good luck, and keep us posted.

Brandon
 

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You have not ridden a bike in 14 years and you want to get a custom titanium or steel? That's great!

Please let us know when you are over the period of bicycles and cycling and when you are ready to sell you custom bike for 30-40% of the original price! I am sure that someone on this forum will make a fair offer. We need more people like you.

I hope you get something really fancy!
 

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You have not ridden a bike in 14 years and you want to get a custom titanium or steel? That's great!

Please let us know when you are over the period of bicycles and cycling and when you are ready to sell you custom bike for 30-40% of the original price! I am sure that someone on this forum will make a fair offer. We need more people like you.

I hope you get something really fancy!
I just bought a Ti cyclocross bike with hydraulic disc brakes and Ultegra set. I used to be 240+ lbs in 2009 and did zero exercising. Then I rode 132 miles in 2010, 635 miles in 2011, 7 miles in 2012 and so far in 2013 I'm up to 873 miles, 700 in February. Last year I also ran 3,500+ miles. I weigh 160 lbs now and probably can run circles around any of you fat cyclists (16:40 5K, 2:44 marathon)....

So quit being a sarcastic jackass and support someone who's got more money than sense! OP, go get that Ti bike!
 

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Lots of good advice so far :thumbsup:
Don't worry about rust on a steel frame, as most bikes are fully painted and protected from the elements ... even in the harsh weather of California!
Depending on your budget you may want also consider Titanium, a perfect frame material with many of the properties of steel plus non rusting and a super smooth ride.

Take a look on line:

Good
Shimano Tiagra/Sora, 27 Speed 2011 Schwinn Le Tour Sport $599
Schwinn Road Bikes, Le Tour Super, Reynolds 520 Chromoly steel frame road bikes


Better
Shimano 105, 20 Speed 2011 Schwinn LeTour Legacy $799
Schwinn Road Bikes, Le Tour Legacy, Reynolds 520 Chromoly steel frame road bikes


Best
Shimano Ultegra 20 Speed Titanium 2013 Le Champion Ti $1,899
Road Bikes, Titanium Frame Shimano Ultegra - 2013 Motobecane Le Champion Ti
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I know what perpetuum_mobile is thinking and most likely joking, but I am not the type of person to start something and move on. 10 years ago I had my heart on motorcycling so I saved enough money to buy one outright and I have been motorcycling ever since. The same thing goes to my other hobbies. Once I start something, I don't usually just give it up. I know 100% that I will enjoy cycling because of my love for being outdoors, the sense I get on a motorcycle and am coasting down the street, and from my past of riding bicycles. I am just now tired of gaining weight and want to start riding again to get off this weight so that I can continue running as well. I just am a slightly picky person and wanted to get a bike that I will be happy with. That is all. I came to this forum looking for riders like yourself asking the proper questions due to my absence from riding for the last decade.
After I do some more research on the cost vs benefit of steel vs titanium, I will be able to make my decision. I will also try to find a place that lets me ride one of each before the decision is made. I appreciate flatsix911 showing me the Schwinn bicycles. I obviously haven't researched enough to know that Schwinn (and most likely other companies) offer a titanium bike in stock sizing so that you don't have to custom order the bike. After reading some of these posts, it has put me at ease that if I were to get a steel bike, I don't have to worry about the rust if I take care of the bike. That is the type of information I have been looking for.

On a side note, I was hoping someone could reply with how much they spent on a custom steel build vs a titanium build (if possible). I checked with the company Seven and it is about a $700 price difference for a steel custom built frame vs a ti custom built frame.
 

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Hello,

I know there are other forums about steel vs titanium, but my question to you guys is not about the differences between the two for a road bike. I wanted to tell you a little about myself so that you can understand where I am coming from. I have not rode a bicycle in about 14 years. The last time I rode a bike was when I had a Gary Fisher hard tail mountain bike. I eventually sold it because it was too big for me. Well, fast forward about 14 years and I am a married man with 2 kids. I have gained a little weight over the years and really want to get back into riding a bike; preferably a road bike. I weigh about 230 pounds (am also about 5' 11") and my LBS keeps telling me to stay away from Carbon due to my weight. Well, first of all, I honestly don't really want a Carbon racing bike or an aluminum bike. I have researched enough on my own and have decided that I want to look at building my first (and hopefully last) steel or titanium road bike. I am by no means going to use the bike for racing. I want to use it for long rides in the country, riding with friends, and to get some exercise! This will be my one and only bike for a while and probably my only road bike I will ever purchase (I know you are thinking, "Yeah right!")

From looking online and reading these forums, I have seen a few names in the business that make both steel and titanium. I have a few worries about a custom steel road bike in that I tend to sweat a lot and like another rider mentioned on this forum, I am afraid overtime it is going to rust my bike. I also at times may ride my bike in the rain and thus I am afraid of the steel rusting. I like everything that I have read about titanium and how it is such a great metal to use for a road bike, but my main point of this thread is to ask you guys that have the experience building a custom steel bike and/or a titanium bike what is the approximate cost difference that I am going to be looking at? Has anyone had a custom steel bike built for them and a custom titanium bike done as well?

If there is any more information you guys and girls can give to me to help my decision for my first road bike build, it would be greatly appreciated.
You need not worry about rust. The paint protects the metal from rust just like the millions of cars on the roads. I simply give my steel bikes a good hose down if I rode them through heavy rain or mud but that measure is more to protect the drivetrain than the frame itself.

My roady is an Indy Fab Crown Jewel. I got the frame set for $2100. The Ti version costs about $2000 more I think. I am very happy with my the bike and the my experience with the company.

ETA: If I were to go Ti, I will go with Bill Holland of San Diego, CA
 

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Your physical condition and capabilities will change as you get back into riding. Since your physical condition and capabilities affect the design of a costom bike, I suggest getting at least a year or so of riding under your belt before considering a custom. Also, you have a better understanding of what you want in a bike.
I think this is excellent advice and something you should strongly consider. A custom bike built for your current weight may feel 'harsh' after you drop some pounds. Your flexibility will also improve over time so that means your fit may change as well.

As everyone else has said, rust is certainly not a problem if you take care of your bike. I have a steel bike that I purchased 20 years ago and was my only road bike for several years. It has been ridden in the rain numerous times and still looks great.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thank you PRB for the advice. I do believe this is good advice as well.

I have a question regarding bike geometry that I would hopefully receive several responses on. Whether I go Ti or Steel, I am looking for a rode bike that doesn't have to be the geometry trype for the fastest bike or strictly for racing. I am looking for brands that offer a model that is still fast but somewhat comfortable as well. I am hoping to ride the bike for hours out in the country, century rides, and be able to adapt to stay on the bike for hours. I don't exactly have to have a frame that "makes you sit more upright", but I also don't want a frame that is too aggressive and uncomfortable over time. Does this make sense? Can anyone recommend bike brand and models that would be good for racing, fast team rides, but also long century rides, etc?

BikesofALesserGod: How do you like the geometry and overall feel of your Indy Fab Crown Jewel? That bike looks pretty sweet on their website.

Thanks again everyone for the useful information.
 

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I am just now tired of gaining weight and want to start riding again to get off this weight so that I can continue running as well. I just am a slightly picky person and wanted to get a bike that I will be happy with. That is all. I came to this forum looking for riders like yourself asking the proper questions due to my absence from riding for the last decade.
After I do some more research on the cost vs benefit of steel vs titanium, I will be able to make my decision. I will also try to find a place that lets me ride one of each before the decision is made. I appreciate flatsix911 showing me the Schwinn bicycles. I obviously haven't researched enough to know that Schwinn (and most likely other companies) offer a titanium bike in stock sizing so that you don't have to custom order the bike. After reading some of these posts, it has put me at ease that if I were to get a steel bike, I don't have to worry about the rust if I take care of the bike. That is the type of information I have been looking for.
Get a stock entry level aluminum or carbon bike. Buy used to save yourself some money. Ride it for a year or two. And then order yourself a nice custom steel or titanium bike. After a year of good riding you will be able to make a better decision on frame geometry and material that would fit you the best. And as others stated before your preferences will change as you lose weight and get fit.
 

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My take on this ...

1. You've been off the bike for a number of years. After you ride for a year or two, you'll be in better shape and know better what you want out of a bike. Going off the deep end and buying a $8000 custom bike initially strikes me as crazy. Like other have said, get something affordable and ride it. If you really get into this like you plan to, its no crime having two or more bikes.

2. Are you sure you even need a custom bike? Most people don't. My boss if about 6'6" and has a 32" inseam. He's all torso. He has a custom Spectrum bike. I'm 5'9" and have a 33" inseam. I have three off the rack bikes (Colnago, Litespeed, Merckx) with 56 cm seat tubes and roughly the same size top tubes. They all fit me great.

3. You are not too heavy for a carbon fiber bike. You are too heavy for a rear wheel with 20 spokes.

4. Steel bikes don't rust anymore than your car does. That's what paint is for. I think steel and titanium have similar riding characteristics. Bikes may differ, but I think the material is pretty similar. One thing I like about my titanium bike is the lack of paint, and the lack of worrying about scratching the paint.

5. Have you thought about used? Local or on ebay. What about buying a used frame? I've done that a couple times and then bought parts from a UK website. I did this bike for my wife last year for around $2000. Yeah, its retro, but the components are Athena 11-speed with Chorus shifters. A little heavy, but it rides really nice.
 

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Get something cheap and reliable for your 1st bike. You will almost always drop it/fall over a few times, scratching up the pretty components. New motorbike riders will also drop their first motorbike eventually, that's a fact of life. Get used to what you like and don't like about it, and figure out what type of riding you're doing, before dropping 8G on a custom bike.
 

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Most people dont get the new custom 8k bike , therefore the consensus that you should try some biking out for a Year or 2, listen, you got the money, go for it, why not. I would never pay 8k or even 6 k for a bicycle, and I can afford them, to me its all about the potholes, you hit one good with a 2k bike, damage might be less then hitting it with a 8k superlite bike, I almost bought a 6 figure car last year, did not do it and regret it every day.
 
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