Road Bike, Cycling Forums banner
1 - 20 of 29 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
33 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Now correct me if I'm wrong... Ceteris paribus (all other things being equal), a steel bike will be cheaper than the aluminum one? Also the additional weight of the steel bike (1 or 2 pounds) is only going to be detrimental on ascending hills? I'm just trying to validate what my conclusions are.

I'm thinking that steel is the way to go for me. But I do have a dilemma. I live about 30 miles away from the ocean, will this cause my bike to rust? I realize with good maintenance, it shouldn't. What does that include?

Thanks for any input. :thumbsup:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
203 Posts
I wouldn't say that steel bikes are necessarily going to be cheaper then aluminum bikes, "all things being equal". You can find both steel and aluminum bikes at just about any price-point these days.

Steel will probably be slightly heavier then a comparable aluminum bike. Unless you're actually racing up a hill though you're not going to notice the extra weight. One or two pounds is nothing compared to you + bike + water bottles + anything else you're carrying around.

There's a product known as JP Weigle's Frame Saver. It's a rust inhibitor for the inside of the frame. It's easiest to apply on a totally stripped down frame, as that's the only way to get to the inside of most of the tubes. Other then that, wiping down the frame periodically and pulling the seatpost out (to get the water out) if you get caught in a rainstorm should go a long ways to keeping your bike happy for a long, long time.
 

·
Fat'r + Slow'r than TMB
Joined
·
10,086 Posts
Unfortunately in bikes there really isn't anything equal about frames. You have a difficult time comparing steel to aluminum just like comparing apples to oranges. Both are fruit, tasty, and come in variety of flavors. If you think steel is right for you then thats great. A lot of the best riders here on RBR ride nothing but steel and one of my dream bikes will be a custom steel frame. As far as maintenance I would not be too concerned. I live 1 mile away from the ocean and have zero corrosion issues but after each ride I do wipe my frame down to get salt and sweat(salt) off the frame. Just your basic schedule of cleaning and you should now have a problem for years and years.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
638 Posts
steel is a joy to ride plain and simple. Aluminum does have definate advantages as well though, my road bike is a scott aluminum with carbon seatstays and its just a fantastic bike for rides from 10 miles all the way up to a century. however my townie is a steel frame and its great, im trying to buy a fixed gear right now as well which is steel, and im building parts for a steel ss cyclocross bike. I think it really depends on what you want out of the bike. If i had the money for a pegoretti all id have steel for my main roadbike as well
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
33 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the replies so far. I'll give insight into why I am thinking steel > others. I am looking for a bike under $1,000. This pretty much gives me these two options. I live in Florida, so the additional 2 or 3 pounds of a steel bike aren't a big deal. I have some pounds to lose anyways, which would make me buying a bike based on weight silly. I prefer a gentler ride because I like to take long rides. I want this bike to last me about 6 years at around 4,000 miles per year.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
232 Posts
The Skinny on steel

Whadabala said:
Now correct me if I'm wrong... Ceteris paribus (all other things being equal), a steel bike will be cheaper than the aluminum one? Also the additional weight of the steel bike (1 or 2 pounds) is only going to be detrimental on ascending hills? I'm just trying to validate what my conclusions are.

I'm thinking that steel is the way to go for me. But I do have a dilemma. I live about 30 miles away from the ocean, will this cause my bike to rust? I realize with good maintenance, it shouldn't. What does that include?

Thanks for any input. :thumbsup:
Once upon a time (somewhere around 1995) steel frames were generally cheaper than aluminum. However, as aluminum became the norm for bicycle construction, steel be came more rare and tended to be the domain of the handcrafted market. There are still a few "mass produced" steel road bikes that are in the same price range as aluminum but on average a steel framed road bike will probably cost a bit more than a standard aluminum (no carbon seatstay) frame.

The 1 to 2 pound weight "penalty" of a steel frame is the most over-rated factor perpetrated by weight wennies who never ride steel frames. Except for top pro riders, its a total non-factor. Like mentioned above, when all weight factors are added, its less that a 1% difference in total weight (bike, rider, water, tools, etc.) from an aluminum or carbon bike.

Rust is also not really a factor, I live 40 miles from the coast (and used to live in Seattle which is right on the salt water Puget Sound) and have never had corrosion problems with my steel frames. Look how many classic steel road bikes (not to mention how many old Schwinn bikes) are still around. Many are 20, 30, 40 years old and yet they haven't rusted out. I've ridden steel mountain bikes in all kinds of NW winter nastiness and still, no rust issues. BTW-none of my frames were treated with frame saver, I just clean them off after rides and occasionally open up the bottom bracket to drain any water accumulation (usually none). But if your really worried, have the frame treated with JP Weigle's Frame Saver and you won't have to even give it a second thought.

Get yourself that steel bike, you will not regret it.

:thumbsup:
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
6,492 Posts
Just buy steel and be happy forever

There's a lot of misinformation circulating about frame materials, as other posts have pointed out. Steel won't necessarily be cheaper, and it's certainly not inferior in any meaningful way. All materials have good points and bad, and what one gives away in one area it gets back in another. I have two steel frames that have been ridden hard and often for 20+ years by a 240-pounder, and they're both still solid (so's my 12-year-old aluminum Cannondale, for that matter). I don't know that you'll be able to say that about 20-year-old carbon frames.
I haven't found rust to be a big problem with steel even when I lived on the coast (Santa Monica and Santa Cruz). My cheap Bridgestone MB did get some superficial rust on the stem and chainrings when I was two blocks from the beach in SC, but it lived outside on an open patio and didn't get any maintenance beyond chain lube. The Atlantis didn't rust under the same circumstances.
. I doubt you'll notice the weight difference between steel and alum--some people say they do, but I don't, and in any case, as a percentage of the total weight of bike, rider and accessories, it's a tiny amount.
I'd think 30 miles inland would make a big difference in rust potential, but that could vary with terrain. I lived for years on the SF Peninsula, between the ocean and the bay, but there was a mountain range between me and the water. No rust at all on anything under those conditions.
FInally, normal steel tubing is more durable than alum and fails differently than carbon fiber. and if you bend or break a bike that's worth repairing, steel is easier to repair. I've had new stays and dropouts brazed onto a crashed steel frame, something that's hard or impossible to do with other materials.
Regarding maintenance, there are several things you can do to protect steel from rust. Google that, or "frame saver" (gunk you put inside the frame) for advice. But in my experence, it's really not an issue.
 

·
Formosan Cyclocross
Joined
·
3,380 Posts
In reference to materials being "cheaper": Due, in part, to the construction boom in China and the increased cost of refining and shipping, the cost of steel has increased dramatically this year. China has also re-enacted a tariff on production materials used in foreign exports. These materials include Carbon Fiber and Steel. These changes will affect consumers by a roughly 10-20% price increase which will come into effect in the next few months. The price increase may not stop at its current price. Stock produced last year will be cheaper.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
33 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I never seriously shopped around for bikes until tonight. Pretty much all of the lower end bikes I found on the net were aluminum. So I'm just going to roll with whatever feels right to me, as each frame material has its ups and downs.

I'm getting off topic here, but can anyone provide a link to find out what I should look for as far as parts goes? When I hear Ultegra, 105, Tiagra, Shimano, etc. I am totally lost. :confused:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
232 Posts
Expect Sora at $800 and Tiagra around $1000 (which you previously posted as your price range). You may find some 105 on internet bikes but unlikely on anything at the local bike shop.

If you still want steel, here are a few choices in your price range:
Jamis Satellite (Sora/Tiagra)-$785
Mercier Corvus (Tiagra/105)-$750 online only at BikesDirect.com
2007 Bianchi Brava (Sora)-$800 might still be able to find at dealer
 

·
A wheelist
Joined
·
11,689 Posts
Whadabala said:
......a steel bike will be cheaper than the aluminum one? Also the additional weight of the steel bike (1 or 2 pounds) is only going to be detrimental on ascending hills? .........I live about 30 miles away from the ocean, will this cause my bike to rust? I realize with good maintenance, it shouldn't. What does that include?
The other guys have covered the points but I'll chime in. Price - steel cheaper than Al? Not necessarily so. The metal (between steel and Al anyway) has nothing to do with it. Steel frames are repairable.

Weight - definitely not an issue unless you're under 10% body fat and you're on a steep hill. Even then it's not worth considering unless you're a Pro racer. I just got a new frame (custom) and could have got any material - I chose steel.

Rust - I rust-protect my steel frames. I've seen rusted out frames. I don't use the over-priced "frame saver". Instead I get oil-based rust proofer from auto rustproofing shops (Yellow pages!). I bought 1/2 a litre and it'll last me a lifetime. In fact they gave it to me. I 1/8th fill the tubes (dollar store turkey baster!), plug the frame holes with my hands, turn the frame every way and drain. It takes five minutes.

I also make sure there is a small drain hole under the BB shell to let any water out too. I was going to ask my frame's maker to provide a hole but I forgot. When it arrived, it already had two drain holes. Smart fella.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
89 Posts
I also live in FL, and am looking to do some road riding (maybe some Tri's and other races too)... I have been looking around casually for the last few months at different options. I've really been attracted to the "comfort" reputation that steel frames seem to have. I'm a trail rider and this will be a totally different element for me.

I'm leaning towards a Surly Pacer frame and then picking and choosing what components I put on it (as I do w/ my MTB's). I'm shooting for a $1k-1.5k for the overall build. So my component group is still up in the air. And my frame is not final... As I'm gonna swing by the LBS's in my area and do some hands on research as well...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
136 Posts
Steel doesn't necessarily have to be heavy. My SOMA Smoothie ES weighs in at 18.7lbs. I traded in an aluminum/carbon frame for the SOMA and I don't think I'll ever go back to aluminum.

If you're looking for a mid/low priced steel frame be sure to add SOMA to your short list. They're made with better steel than Surlys and they're priced less too...I'm not really sure why SOMA doesn't have a big following like Surly...I guess Surly knows how to build it's name! I'm not dissing Surly...they're great bikes too!

Jared
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
44 Posts
Longevity near ocean - 2 miles from ocean 22 year old Steel road bike (Scapin Columbus), 4 year old steel track bike (Custom S3), 3 year old steel mountain bike (Niner), 2 month old steel road bike (Pegoretti Marcelo . . . my second) all in the garage, all ridden regularly, all clear of rust and in great shape.

Price/quality - You will find it difficult to get a high quality new bike in the price ranges you are looking at, on the other hand, I have found that you can find excellent used bikes in your target price range. Assuming you are going to get Shimano components, get at least 105. The lower end stuff is not suitable for real riding. 105 and Ultegra are great values.

Aluminum or Steel - I also have an aluminum framed road bike, and had an aluminum framed mtn bike . . . I am faster in sprints on my Pegoretti because it is stiffer, same with climbing hills . . . on the other hand, I am more relaxed at the end of an 80mi - 120mi ride on my Pegoretti, because it does not seem to chatter and vibrate like my aluminum road frame does. The Pegoretti weighs roughly 1.5 lbs more than a comparable Time Carbon frame and less than a pound more than a comparably sized Cannondale aluminum frame. I have never noticed the additional weight, but I do notice the improved handling (especially while descending [material & construction] and cornering [Geometry].

Price for the steel people are talking about when they talk about steel - The frame of a Pegoretti Marcelo is $2,800 for just the frame and fork. It delivers an incomparable ride, but it is not cheap, unless you compare it to carbon bikes with similar attention to detail which can be over $7,000 for a custom frame. In other words, it is not just that any frame made of steel is exquisite . . . it is that the most exquisite ride can be created by the most skilled craftsmen and engineers by using steel. Pegoretti's Scandium frameset the Love #3 is also $2,800, and some folks believe it rides as nicely as the Marcelo in steel. Everyone I know who has both prefers the Marcelo in steel.

My recommendation is that you find the best quality used bike you can find, get many many miles in the saddle, then begin to adjust your ride to suit yourself and your riding style as you can afford it, assuming adjustment is needed. Very few riders are actually conniseurs, and can be happy with commonly available quality stuff.

Have a good ride.
 

·
A wheelist
Joined
·
11,689 Posts
Whadabala said:
When it comes to Shimano components... I am confused as to what is of better quality. Such as Sora, Tiagra, 105, Ultegra. If I am correct, that is in order from cheapest to most expensive?
I'm not sure about the cheaper stuff but you missed the mighty DuraAce off the pointy end.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
232 Posts
Correct

Whadabala said:
When it comes to Shimano components... I am confused as to what is of better quality. Such as Sora, Tiagra, 105, Ultegra. If I am correct, that is in order from cheapest to most expensive?
Cheapest to Most Expensive

2200, Sora, Tiagra, 105, Ultegra, Ultegra SL, Dura-Ace

:thumbsup:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
136 Posts
Whadabala said:
Sorry about all the questions but I have only one more I can think of right now. What are the pros/cons of 2 and 3 piece cranksets?
A 2 piece crankset is generally stiffer since there are less joints to bend. They're also usually lighter. Plus with the outboard bearings they're better supported. They're also usually more expensive.

Jared
 
1 - 20 of 29 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top