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Steel road frame buider recommendations?(29 posts)

Steel road frame buider recommendations?fallzboater
Sep 19, 2003 9:03 PM
I'm looking for a good priced, nicely crafted (but not fancy) custom steel road frame. I'm 6'3", 185 lbs, short torso (bike will be somewhere around 62x58, sloping top tube). Probably OX Platinum, S3, 853, or similar OS tubeset (or combination). I live in the Oregon Cascades, do lots of climbing and descending. Have had lots of trouble finding a big frame that doesn't death-wobble on bumpy descents. Looking for a good combination of rock-solid handling, reasonable weight, stiff BB, smooth ride, and reasonable price.

Builders I've talked to or are considering:
Waterford (or Gunnar)

Anyone had a chance to compare any of these frames, as far as weld quality, etc., or had any notable experiences (good or bad) with any of these builders? Any others I should check out? I'm especially interested in opinions on either the Gunnar custom or Curtlo, either of which are $1000 or less. I'd also prefer a builder from the NW, all else being equal.

Serotta's Cour de Acier should be on your listpedalAZ
Sep 19, 2003 9:27 PM
as should Independent Fabrication. For your size, a Serotta custom fitting session would be a good investment.

The Cour de Acier is a steel frame with carbon seat stays, made to order with custom sizing, and for under $1,800 if memory serves.
re: Steel road frame buider recommendations?koala
Sep 20, 2003 3:31 AM
Check out Carl Strong. He is in Bozeman, MT, has a great reputation, and has a 20 percent off custom. A single color steel custom is 920 plus ship and options. See his gallery and chat board. He has a lot of satisfied customers.
re: Steel road frame buider recommendations?zero85ZEN
Sep 20, 2003 5:00 AM
re: Steel road frame buider recommendations?altidude
Sep 20, 2003 5:58 AM
Dave Kirk just sdtarted building steel frames, check them out
Landshark and GVH Bikes, both in OR, I would look no furthercdhbrad
Sep 20, 2003 8:06 AM
I have a Landshark and its my favorite of my 5 road bikes. I am 6' and 175 and its a great ride. John Slawta, Landshark owner/builder is in Medford,OR and one of his biggest dealers is GVH Bikes in Coos Bay,OR. I haven't bought a bike from GVH personally, but have heard nothing but good things about him. Check out and
Landshark and GVH Bikes, both in OR, I would look no furtherchipnseal
Sep 20, 2003 8:44 AM
Ditto the recommendation for GVH Bikes. I just took delivery on a 61cm Cinelli Super Corsa from Gary. Great service all around. I'm 6'2". 200 lbs and the Cinelli feels wonderful. Land Shark was my second choice, but I just couldn't pass up the beautiful lugged frame Super Corsa.

Give him a call!
Landshark and GVH Bikes, both in OR, I would look no furtheraltidude
Sep 20, 2003 5:04 PM
Very smart looking setup.
re: Steel road frame buider recommendations?lyleseven
Sep 20, 2003 9:12 AM
You've overlooked two of the best steel frame builders around. One, is Seven and the other is a small shop in Alameda-Bernie Mikkelsen (has a website). Bernie is great and at $800 you can't go wrong. Seven is more money, but they build fantastic frames.
re: Steel road frame buider recommendations?MR_GRUMPY
Sep 20, 2003 4:55 PM
Waterford has a full custom model with lugs for $1600, and a full custom model that is tig welded, for $1300. Gunnar's are a lot like the tig Waterford, but the price jumps way up, if you need custom. They go out the door for $650, but they come standard with a plain paint job, unless you like the current "color of the month."
If you add custom geometry, and any of the Waterford paint colors, the price is close to the tig Waterford.
All are very high quality. The lugged model is a work of art.
you mentioned Curtloeflayer2
Sep 20, 2003 6:08 PM
His prices seem amazingly low to me. He will build a custom S3 frame for around $700. I hear his welds are smooth like fillets. He will be my choice for talking to when I am next in the market. His paint is plain, but that's ok with me.
re: Steel road frame buider recommendations?moschika
Sep 20, 2003 6:43 PM
i've only bought from curtlo, so my opinion is biased but still valid. he's easy to work with. builds to your specs or will discuss at length what kind of ride you're looking for and body dimensions to get it right.

I just got my road bike from him a few weeks ago and it's worlds different then the lemond i was riding. it fit's perfect.

here is what i got from him. actually it's my second curtlo. my first was a mtb. i liked it so much that i went back for seconds.
Thanks for the Curtlo photo!fallzboater
Sep 20, 2003 8:11 PM
Not many road bike photos on his page, so thanks for posting that. Curtlo does seem to have about the best pricing I've seen, and I've had other recommendations for his bikes, so I'll definitely be talking to him. I may try and get a OX Platinum and S3 tubeset mix.

Narrowing it down...fallzboater
Sep 20, 2003 8:31 PM
Thanks for all the recommendations. Obviously, there are tons of good builders out there. There's a pretty wide range of prices, so I'm narrowing it down at around the $1000 price point (without fork), and also giving some preference to WA and OR builders. Since I haven't seen many of these bikes at all, it's also helpful if they've got a decent web page (detail shots).

I think I've narrowed it down to:
Curtlo (Winthrop, WA)
DeSalvo (Ashland, OR)
Strong (MT)
Mikkelson (CA)

I haven't talked to any of these builders, yet, but would still appreciate any recommendations, if you've seen their bikes, or worked with them. I admit that I'm real picky about things like weld or braze smoothness, and would like something a little different than the norm, but not necessarily fancy finish (paint) work.

shots of weldsmoschika
Sep 20, 2003 9:31 PM
here are a couple pics of curt's fillet brazing.
on the road bike

on the mtb
Narrowing it down...lyleseven
Sep 21, 2003 9:16 AM
If you use Mikkelsen, he uses a fantastic painter. I have bought two from him and I spent $100 more (total $900) for a custom paint job and got a fantastic metallic green with white panels. If you know the specs for the bike you can do it all over the phone. Need to have access to paint chart, however. Bernie's welds are absolutely invisible. He also uses great tubes and can mix them depending on your size,e tc. Seven does the same but costs about $1,500.
Why restrict material to only steel? Just curious....10speedfiend
Sep 21, 2003 5:25 AM
Have you thought about Tom Teesdale of TET cycles? A choice of materials and reasonable prices for a great product. Also SYCIP and Rock Lobster in your area. I own a SYCIP (mtn bike)and although pricey, work is flawless and ride is very nice.
Steel is real!fallzboater
Sep 21, 2003 6:41 PM
Actually, I've mostly been riding aluminum, lately. I just had a chance to ride a Merlin Extralight, and a Waterford R33 (True Temper S3 steel), and much preferred the stiffness and lively (but not punishing) feel of the S3 bike. I prefer the aesthetics, too. Plus, it turns out that there are several builders who will do full custom steel for $1000 or less (even high-end tubesets), which means I can afford some nicer paint or component upgrades.

Thanks to everyone for the replies!

I've owned a TET, and really liked it. nmMShaw
Sep 22, 2003 4:02 PM
Kelly and Rex bikescw05
Sep 21, 2003 5:46 AM
Chris Kelly at and Steve Rex at, Anyone with experience with these brands?
For brazed or lugged: jtallerico@earthlink.netSantaCruz
Sep 21, 2003 7:11 AM
Jon Tallerico is in the SF Bay Area and builds custom frames. His weld quality and finishing are superb. I was going to buy a Waterford or Rivendell until I discovered Jon. If I lived in Oregon I'd likely go to Co-Motion, I own one of their tandems and find it to be rock solid.
Vanilla in Portand Oregon-
Sep 21, 2003 7:15 AM
the knowledgable folks at the Serotta Forum love his work
Not in your price range, but, wow [pics]pedalAZ
Sep 21, 2003 12:09 PM
Here's a plug for a steel frame builder in the desert southwest. A little out of your price range (well, maybe a lot), but look at this artwork.

First off, you gotta have beautiful stainless steel dropouts.

Next, your headbadge should be cusotmized for hte customer, in sterling silver, with jewels.

Then, the little things, like your seat stays should be properly lugged.

Or, you could just say, "What the heck, let's make the whole thing out of stainless steel for the looks."
I'm sure that's a Columbinecdhbrad
Sep 22, 2003 3:25 AM
Whenever I want just stare at fantastic steel framed bike art, I go to that site. That frame alone was probably about $4,000 or more, depending on what other goodies they added.
Sorry. Guess again. Desert Southwest origins.pedalAZ
Sep 22, 2003 9:42 AM
I was wondering if those shots would whet anyone's appetite for steel.
I'm stumped, want to share the builder's name?cdhbrad
Sep 22, 2003 1:05 PM
That is beautiful lugwork and the headtube badge looked a lot like one from the Columbine site. Either way, both are way out of my price range and I don't think I could convince my wife to let me hang one on the wall and call it ART anyway, though it definitely is art.
OK, here it ispedalAZ
Sep 22, 2003 2:05 PM
David Bohm, Bohemian Bicycles, Tucson, AZ

I've visited his site occasionally to drool. He is an artist, that's for sure.
I thought he got out of the business (?).sn69
Sep 22, 2003 2:59 PM
His frames are terrific, however.

re: Steel road frame buider recommendations?saltytri
Sep 21, 2003 1:22 PM
Do seriously consider Mike DeSalvo. He built me a steel cross frame and fork that I use as a dual purpose touring bike (pulling a trailer) and off road bike (with different wheels and tires). Very good workmanship and attention to detail and it's a sweet ride. I think the frame and fork were a little under a thou.