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steel frames vs. others(22 posts)

steel frames vs. othersmtbroadie
Jul 14, 2001 5:46 PM
I currently ride a Bianchi Giro and am looking to build a road racing bike from the ground up. I typically ride 30-50 hilly (Oakland, Ca hills) miles and am looking to do centuries, crits, and team time trials on this bike. I was thinking carbon all the way, but today was cruising by the LBS and saw some steel framebikes. They LOOK NICE with the lugs and classic styling. The last steel bike I rode was "mushy". Well after talking to the shop owner who ONLY carries steel, I decided to try out an Eisentraut. What a ride! It's about a pound heavier than Al but that's no big deal, especially if I use a nice wheelset like Mavic Ksyriums to reduce my rotating weight (I am guessing here). I also liked the Waterford 2200.
So what do people feel about the frame materials steel, aluminum, and carbon. Anyone with an Eisentraut (made in Oakland, CA which is nice) or Waterford?

re: steel frames vs. othersLone Gunman
Jul 14, 2001 6:05 PM
No experience with Eyes and Trout, but I ride an 853 steel frame and I like steel. The waterford is 853 I believe. You mention such a wide range of cycling events to ride that one bike as a jack of all trades is a tough selection. Steel is nice for a long haul(century), Aluminum is stiff and fast, normally (crits and TT's), Ti (which you did not mention) and CF I hear are good all around performers. I am still leary of the crash survivorship of CF and you were talking about racing in crits. Try to catch a ride on a Ti frame since you liked steel but fit and geometry before frame material is the spoken rule on this board.
re: steel frames vs. othersCliff Oates
Jul 15, 2001 5:19 AM
I have a Waterford 2200 and I am very pleased with it. Here's my web page with pictures and a description of my bike. My LBS and the Scwinn rep have told me that Stone's does a huge volume of business for Waterford, so they'll have a great selection of frames for you to choose from. I'm over the hill from you in San Ramon, by the way. I don't race, but do a lot of centuries and middle distance rides that usually feature all the hills I can stand. My Waterford has been a sweet bike and I would buy another.

To be honest with you, I have not been particularly tempted to try an aluminum or ti bike. My LBS is a Kestrel dealer, and one of these days I am going to take one of his floor models for a spin (he's cool about that for the regulars) and get a sense of what a carbon frame rides like. I don't particularly care for the way Kestrels look though. Calfee, on the other hand...
Nice ride CliffCSIguy
Jul 15, 2001 11:56 AM
Great looking Waterford Cliff. Thanks for sharing!
Steel is real!
re: steel frames vs. othersSpectre
Jul 15, 2001 7:42 AM
Eisentraut has a great reputation. He's been around for quite some time. You might want to also check out Ritchey & Steelman frames as well.

The ride of a nice steel frame is wonderful. It really is night & day compared to a low end steel frame. I do hear that the ride quality of aluminum is getting much better. However, aluminum & carbon have a damped ride quality that doesn't have the liveliness of steel or titanium.
re: steel frames vs. othersHank
Jul 15, 2001 11:27 AM
Eisentraut is the grandaddy of West Coast framebuilding - taught Ritchey and others his tricks. If it fits, buy it.
look at Tommasini...C-40
Jul 15, 2001 11:48 AM
The Sintesi is only $900 at Colorado Cyclist. A fine value in classic steel. The Sintesi has fine paint and lots of chrome, which many other brands lack. If you've got more bucks, the lugged Tecno is even better. See it at

You don't list your size and weight. Standard diameter steel frames are great for many riders, but larger/heavier riders may find them a little flexy.

The Colnago Master X-light is also a great steel bike, generally recommended for riders over 160lbs.

I wouldn't worry about the pound or so of extra weight. You'll never notice it.
Jul 15, 2001 1:23 PM
I've been eying the Tommasini web site. Might be a good substitute for the Colnago Master X-Light at a reduced cost. It certainly would be something different...
only the Sintesi is cheaper...C-40
Jul 15, 2001 3:41 PM
Tommasini's other models get pretty pricey. The Tecno is about $1400. I'm still looking for a european dealer web site that might offer it cheaper.

The colnago master x-light can be had for $1000 or less at or totalcycling.
only the Sintesi is cheaper...DINOSAUR
Jul 15, 2001 4:13 PM
Owner of my LBS said he could build up a Master X-light with Campy Chorus for around $2300. It sounded like a good price to me. He mentioned that he had a Tommasini and a Seven frame in his warehouse. I didn't inquire on which models. Seven is a Serrotta correct??
The Techno is available for less...Doll Face
Jul 15, 2001 5:01 PM
if you can order direct from Tommasini. This may not be possible if you are in the USA because the have two importers, but you can try emailing Tommasini and asking.

Another alternative is to get a mail-drop in Canada. They will ship direct there because there is no importer.

Also - there are some shops in the UK that carry Tommasini (see Cycle Sport), check out their prices.

Tommasini's geometry is quite different from Colnago. IMO it is better suited for longer rides. The Techno weighs in at just 3.5 lbs using Columbus Nemo tubing drawn to Tommasini's specifications. Not bad for a lugged frame which has been entirely chromed and then painted.
The Techno is available for less...DINOSAUR
Jul 15, 2001 7:00 PM
Thank you very much for the info. Any idea where I could get ahold of the geometry specs for Tommasini? I have the Tomassini web site in my favorite section, but no mention of geometry anywhere. I was scoping out the Techno this morning on their site. I think I'm getting close to what I am looking for.....
The Techno is available for less...Hank
Jul 15, 2001 8:16 PM
there's a chart in the Colorado Cyclist catalog. They measure c-t. 57 has a 56 tt. 59 has a 57tt and 61 has a 58tt. All have 73 degree STA.

They're nice bikes, but I'd take an Eisentraut over a Tommasini any day of the week. (and I've had several examples of both in my repair stand). No comparison. Eisentraut is a master. Maybe THE most important/influencial American framebuilder.
Techno vs Master X-Light???DINOSAUR
Jul 16, 2001 1:05 PM
Stupid question, but I'll ask anyway, how does the Techno compare with a Master X-Light? Taking into consideration that they have different geometry and the Techno is more expensive.
I clicked on Eisentraut's website and you can purchase a lugged steel custom frame for $1800, not a bad price in this day and age for a custom.
Techno vs Master X-Light???Hank
Jul 16, 2001 6:21 PM
I had no idea Eisentraut was that cheap. I wasn't even aware that he was building that much anymore. I met him a few times while working in shops in the 80s. Kind of a nut. Maybe his son is doing some of the building now?

I don't know enough about those current models to answer your question. I doubt you'd really go wrong with either bike if the fit was right. The Colnago might be a bit beefier, tubing wise.
Jul 16, 2001 8:02 PM
I clicked back on site, noticed that these were 1999 prices.

Still in the looking mode, need to sell my Mopar first to free up some money. I wouldn't sell it, but my daughter will start driving next year (enough said).
Jul 16, 2001 8:21 PM
well, for a custom lugged frame he's gonna be hard to beat - even if inflation has kicked in a bit. Richard Sachs would be nice, too. Have you seen these pics? This is a full on retro mobile, but you get the idea

If I had the money I'd be interested in that Satellite of yours. I finally figured out the whole seat belt deal. If you want to make your car safer, do the front disc brake conversion and put in three point belts. There's a guy down in Orange County who makes a shoulder belt kit for mid 60s Mustang convertibles and I talked to him and he seemed to think he could adapt it to work with B-body hardtops (or convertibles). His number is 714-639-4457. But yeah, teenagers. I shudder when I think of some of the stunts I pulled.
Jul 17, 2001 8:07 AM
The name Eisentraut clicked on the old memory bank. I remember reading about his frames back in the 70's. For now I'm sitting on the new bike idea. I'm thinking about selling the Satellite, upgrading my Klein, investing the money and having a custom frame built. After three years on the comeback trail my riding is changing and I'm finding out what I like and dislike as far as geometry. The disc brakes would be the first upgrade if I were to keep the car. Sadly it's running the best since I've owned it.
Hey Eisentraut ain't that old, only 2 years older than me!!
Tommasini GeometryDoll Face
Jul 15, 2001 8:17 PM
Tommasini publishes seat "set-back" and not the seat tube angle in the last catalog I rec'd from them.
Colorado Cyclist has the seat angles in their catalog (sorry I threw it out), the Sintesi and Techno share the same geometry I believe.

You can compare the seat set-back with Eddy Merckx ( to figure the seat tube angle.
The importer, has the geometry.
(Note the setback for the 54 size is 14.8)

The bottom bracket heights are 26.5 or 27, and chainstays are between 40 and 41, gradually increasing with frame size.

Nothing rides like a Tommasini. Merckx and Moser probably come close, but they lack the finish. The drop outs and the way in which the seatstays are attached to the seatcluster really make the Tommasini unique.

There may be some ELOS Techno frames still hanging in bike shops heavily discounted. wmlewis could probably give you some leads. These frames had even more ornate headtube lugs than the current Techno.
try ti before you buyStarliner
Jul 15, 2001 4:08 PM
Today in the middle of a hilly group ride I traded my four-year-old ti LeMond with a guy my size who was riding his six-month-old custom 853 steel bike.

Both bikes have Kestrel EMS carbon forks; my bike has Helium wheels, his has Open Pros/DA hubs; mine has Vredestein TriComp tires and his has Michelin Axial Pros.

Going from mine to his was like going from a car to a truck. His bike was tight and solid but had a heavier and more sluggish feel. It lacked the responsive "jump" that I take for granted with mine. Climbing with it made me feel older than I am. Plus, I didnt think it was particularly comfortable dealing with the patchy old pavement we were riding on. I was happy to switch back to my bike.

My friend liked my bike very much. He said it felt light and comfortable, but seemed to think that the wheelset difference was the explanation. Maybe to some degree, but there really was a difference between the bikes themselves - not only in climbing where light wheelsets shine, but on the flats as well.

You should try to find the opportunity to ride similarly equipped examples of each frame material if you can to make a decision you wont have to regret later on.
re: steel frames vs. othersmtbroadie
Jul 15, 2001 8:18 PM
Thanks for all the responses. Nice to see there are so many stealies out there! I am going to check out Eisentraut's place tomorrow. I like the idea of supporting a local guy and getting a custome fit.

re: steel frames vs. othersHank
Jul 15, 2001 9:25 PM
I'm sure he could build you an incredible bike. Be sure to report back on your findings. If it doesn't work out for some reason, a couple other top notch Bay Area custom builders to check out are Bernie Mikklesen (also in the East Bay), Steelman (Redwood City), and Sycip (I think they moved to Santa Rosa or something). Have fun.