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Which Steel Is Best?(8 posts)

Which Steel Is Best?xc-baby
Jan 14, 2002 2:10 PM
I recently had a chance to ride a steel frame, aluminum frame and a titanium frame over the same short, relatively flat course in the same day.

The bikes were a bit large for me but it seemed that the steel dampened the road vibrations better than any of the other two. The best I can describe the steel difference is it felt like the tires were lower in pressure. The bikes were all equipped with Ultegra and Ritchey OCR wheelsets except the alu bike had Dura Ace. All tires were pumped to 120 psi. The steel bike was 19.6lbs and the Ti bike was 19.5 the alu was 18lbs. All bikes had aerobladed carbon forks. The steel and Ti bikes had Ouzo comps and the Alu had a Kinesis carbon.

The alu bike was only slightly more harsh than the others. The steel bike took the most edge off of large jolts like road reflectors. The ti bike had a smoother ride but was still not as comfortable as the steel bike.

I now think I want a steel road bike but was wondering which steel is better?

Nivacrom, Brain, 853, Prestige, Tru-Temper, Etc, etc.?

Thanks for any input.
for one overview, you can start at...PdxMark
Jan 14, 2002 2:25 PM

then select frames, then tubing, then select the popup of tubing specs
What was the steel frame you tested made of? [nm]PdxMark
Jan 14, 2002 2:26 PM
re: Which Steel Is Best?JB
Jan 14, 2002 2:42 PM
My frame is Foco and it is really nice and light. i don't know which steel is best but I think this one is one of the lightest you have to click on the picture to see the bike. If you post your question there he'll probably answer with about two pages of details until your head spuns. if you do a search you can see where he has answered questions about lots of different tubesets.
Invalid data?Kerry Irons
Jan 14, 2002 5:38 PM
Not trying to put down the steel frame idea here, but your comparison was not too meaningful if you're trying to sort out which material you like best. The fact that comparably equipped steel and Ti bikes weighed the same tells you right away that the Ti bike was a much beefier design. Ti is only 57% as dense as steel, and therefore the frame should have been roughly 1.5 lb lighter for an "equivalent" design. I would never trust such a ride test unless I had seen that the bikes were truly designed to the same end point. Most likely you would not be able to tell the difference in a steel or Ti frame designed for the same ride, except the Ti would be lighter. The design of the bike, and the tube treatment (tapering, swaging, shaping, butting, wall thickness, diameter) will dominate over the material choice.
1.5 lb lighter?gtx
Jan 14, 2002 6:17 PM
Just wondering where you got that figure. Are the Steelman SR 853 or IF Crown Jewel not more or less an "equivalent" designs to the Litespeed Classic or Tuscany? According to info provided on the manufacturer's sites, they all weigh about the same (roughly 3.5 pounds for bike roughly 56 c-c). Are the Litespeed frames substantially beefier than the IF and Steelman frames? I haven't heard any complaint that the Steelman or IF bikes are too whippy, or that the LS frames overbuilt. The light ti frames all seem to be around 3 pounds, the light steel frames around 3.5 pounds (again, this is for frames roughly 56 c-c). The Litespeed Vortex is listed at 3.2 pounds and the heavier Steelman SR 525 is listed at 3.8 pounds. So from what I can tell if you compare quality steel to quality ti you're looking at roughly .5 pounds difference, not 1.5 pounds.
Jan 14, 2002 8:13 PM
3.5 lbs is the sweet spot for a TIG welded steel frame. Such frames will be both durable and have a decient ride quality. They will also be stiffer through the bottom bracket than most of the commonly available Ti frames excepting maybe the Ultimate or Serotta.

As far as what tubing is better, they are all good. Some are heavier but then again this makes them stiffer assuming the diamaters are the same. Many builders even mix and match tubing from different manufactuers on the same frame in order to suit the desired characteristic the rider is looking for.

The best bet is to find a good builder and tell them what you are looking for in terms of stiffness. Do not dictate weight as the over riding characteristic for the frame. Let the build select the tube thicknesses to suit your needs.
Jan 15, 2002 9:35 AM
My 55center to center foco frame weighs 3.34 lbs. with water bottle bolts and seat collar and it is plenty stiff enough for this 170 pounder.