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Italian vs. American steel(23 posts)

Italian vs. American steelpeter1
Apr 10, 2002 9:24 AM
What's the consensus (if there is any) regarding upper-end steel frames? On the American side, I'm looking at either an IF Crown Jewel or a Serotta...but how do they compare to an eqivalent priced Italian frame (each is about $1400 with fork)as far as ride quality, build quality, curb appeal, value for money? I'm looking to spend $2500-$3000, so I'll probably go with a mid-range grouppo and upgrade as my checkbook recovers.

Thanks in advance
re: Italian vs. American steelJekyll
Apr 10, 2002 10:11 AM
From what I have seen and ridden, it would be reaaaaallllly hard to do better than Serotta or IF (actually thinking about a Ti CJ as we speak).
Might also want to look at a few of the smaller builders like Steelman, Strong and Landshark - all have excellent reparations. Seven also makes some beautiful steel frames.
Any of the above will custom build at little or no extra cost.
re: Italian vs. American steelMike Prince
Apr 10, 2002 10:27 AM
Went through this same issue last year as I was living in Europe and looking for a new frame/bike. Looked at lots of different Euro options and in the end went with a Steelman Stage Race. Service from Brent & Co. was stellar throughout the whole process and I love the bike. Another neat thing is that I have yet to see another Steelman on the road, which is a shame as it's a fine bike, but nice at the same time as the "unique factor" is good.

One important point to remember is support after the sale. Steelman and most small US builders I spoke to have lifetime fit and quality guarantees. From what I could see a European frame (especially a rare one or a custom) with a problem in the US would be a headache as you fight the distributor and the mfg in Italy, etc. who don't give a you-know-what about you anymore since you're 5-8000 miles away and they have your money. Of course this is some speculation on my part (before the one person with a broken Colnago who got a replacement frame in 2 days chimes in) but it was something I was concerned about.

Have fun.
re: Italian vs. American steelgtx
Apr 10, 2002 11:30 AM
I agree with the two above posts. From what I have seen over the years, I think high end American steel is the best in terms of build quality, and yes, definitely look at Steelman. terms of "ride quality, curb appeal, value for money"--the Italians are still pretty tough contenders there. Tough call. What appeals most to you? You won't go wrong if the fit and geometry are right for you.
re: Italian vs. American steeltma
Apr 10, 2002 11:58 AM
My wife and I rented Carreras for a week in Majorca - I believe the one I rode was a Zeus frame, Record 9sp... that was it for us. We knew we wanted real good steel frames. After five years of saving our money, we bought a pair of Serotta CSIs last summer. I believe I like the Serotta ride better, but what's the real difference there? The wheels and fork are obviously not the same. Like others said, the support after the sale by the local builders can make all the difference in the world. I wouldn't do it, but some people over at the Serotta site talk about bending Kelly Bedford's ear about everything from the design of their bike to what to put on it, when it will be done, why it isn't done yet, and whether the bunion on their right big toe might be because the chain stays should be 42.75 cm instead of 42.5. It sounds like the people at Serotta have eternal patience. In our case, that they are built 30 miles from my house instead of 4000 did enter in my thinking so unless you ride an Italian bike that takes your breath away look closer to home. I bet it's hard to go wrong if you check out any of the makes that people mentioned above.
re: The differences in quality aren't all that great.dzrider
Apr 10, 2002 12:17 PM
My wife has a 1986 Pinarello. We recently brought it to a custom frame builder with a national reputation to have the stays spread and get it repainted. He told us that he had done similar work on enough Pinarellos of that era to conclude that people love them and that the high quality of their ride cannot be questioned.

IMHO the best reasons for going custom are fit and specific details. Not everybody fits perfectly well on production frames no matter how much we move seats and bars. Not every bike perfectly fits your needs. For example I like having a nimble feeling bike with eyelets for a rear rack and plenty of tire clearance.

In short, please yourself! I can't picture a Colnago, Pinarello, Steelman, or IF leaving you unhappy.
Small, American, and Cool -- Dean BikesGregory Taylor
Apr 10, 2002 12:26 PM

Dean is probably better known for its Mountain Bikes, but they also build some awesome road bikes. They make really nice steel or steel/carbonfiber mix framsets called the Culebra. Prices are reasonable and, if you are nice, they will tweak the tubing mix to match your riding style for free. Customs are available, naturally.

I've ordered a Culebra Sci... In blue. Just like the one on the web. I'm going with a mix of Campy Chorus/Record...
Small, American, and Cool -- Dean Bikesflying
Apr 10, 2002 12:55 PM
mmmm those are nice !
Thanks for the link although I own & love a MXL Colnago I like looking at fine bikes. These Deans qualify
The site is also informative about the tubing's used.
Ain't they cool?Gregory Taylor
Apr 10, 2002 1:12 PM
These folks have been very nice to work with so far. They are a small shop (seven employees), and are really willing to work with you to get you what you want.

I'm pumped about the bike. It will be a virtual twin of the light Blue Culebra Sci that is pictured...interestingly enough, that particular bike belongs to the guy that took my order over the phone.
even more choices....surly357
Apr 10, 2002 1:20 PM
You really can't go wrong with American steel, from the old school guys who learned from Eisentraut back in the day to the newer generation builders like Soulcraft, Seven, etc. Depending on your tastes I can vouch for Soulcraft in the tig welded steel department, and my wife and I love the frames Mark Nobilette built for us as well(hers is fillet brazed, mine is lugged 753).
Good choices on both sidesdjg
Apr 10, 2002 2:52 PM
I've had a brief spin on a friend's custom Pegoretti (Deda EOM tubing, TIG welds). IMO, it's a very fine bike--maybe not as fine, cosmetically, as some of the primo US customs (although a very nice looking bike all the same), but an excellent ride. Very solid. Made to measure, incidentally, not off the rack. Seems to me it's certainly worthy of consideration for anyone looking for custom steel. Maybe he'll post his own assessment. Bill?

One thing to consider with custom Italian frames, especially from the better known workshops (Derosa, Pegoretti), is that turnaround takes time. I enquired about a Derosa Corum a while back and was told to expect something like a 6 month wait.

Seen tons of Serottas around here (haven't been on one in ages). Very nice, to be sure. With IF I have only rep and a few sightings to go on--certainly well regarded.
Apr 10, 2002 4:16 PM
Irt's also worth checking out Marinoni from Montreal. It's essentially an Italian bike made in Canada. The steel frames are excellent.
I just went through this...DINOSAUR
Apr 10, 2002 4:56 PM
I researched high and low for over a year. First I nailed down the tubing. I already have an aluminum bike so I was split between steel and titanium. I settled on steel as I thought steel would provide the type of ride I was looking for. I've always lusted over Colnagos since the 70's when I started spotting that little three leaf flower on the head tubes of the bikes in the racing photos. I've also heard very good things about small American frame builders. At one time I was all set for a fitting for a american steel custom. On a lark I called the owner of my LBS and told him what I was doing and I wanted to talk to him before I made a commitment. He set up a before hours meeting at his shop and he did a fitting and we talked about what I was looking for. He cut me a very nice deal on a '02 Colnago Master X-Light LX23 Team Robabank ($600 discount). The frame is scheduled to arrive Friday from Trialtir, the Colnago distributor in Texas. I'm told that this is the first order for a MXL LX23 in the U.S. this year.

For me it came down to money. When I started to add up the price of the American custom steel and an off the peg Italian steel, I really couldn't pass up the deal on the Colnago.

For a midline grouppo you are looking at Dura Ace or Campy Chorus. I opted for Chorus as it was $100.00 cheaper than Dura Ace.

Whatever you decide, you really can't go wrong. For me it came down to money...
Sounds nice, please post a ride reportNessism
Apr 10, 2002 6:42 PM
In previous discussions I remember you talking about the "Merckx" and "MXL" so I mistakenly thought you were talking about the Merckx Max frame. It's hard to fault you on your choice. BTW, what fork are you going with? The chrome steel straight blade always looked nice to my eye.

Flash fork...DINOSAUR
Apr 10, 2002 8:54 PM
I opted for the Colnago Flash Fork, another incentive my LBS threw in, no extra charge over the Precisa steel fork. We thought I would prefer the carbon fork, comparing the Master X-Light to the ride of my Klein.

Our fellow board mate GTX, helped me a lot narrowing down the choices between the Colnago and a Merckx. It came down to geometry and fit.

I also had no idea my LBS would provide such a great discount. Funny what a difference one little phone call will make. It goes to show, it never hurts to ask.
You will love the MXLColnagoFE
Apr 11, 2002 7:18 AM
I have basically the same setup...though with a few record parts thrown in and a king hs. Super nice bike. I like the ride better than my previous Merlin XL.
You will love the MXLDINOSAUR
Apr 11, 2002 7:44 AM
The owner of my LBS was so convinced that I would love this bike that he offered me a refund if I didn't absolutely love it. I'm just kind of curious as to what the LX23 paint scheme will look like as all the ones I have seen are in photos. Blue is my favorite color, but I thought I would do something different, tired of looking at all those blue shirts hanging in my closet. I imagine when I'm out riding I won't notice the color. The frame is due in tomorrow and they are forecasting rain this weekend, looks like my Klein will be my beater bike..
If you don't like the LX23, I trade you my C-40 for itSlipstream
Apr 11, 2002 8:02 AM
Just kidding. That is my favorite color scheme; mine is Mapei & is not my favorite but I bought it used. I can't wait to hear your raves once you get it. You must be feeling like a kid waiting for Xmas.
Apr 11, 2002 8:10 AM
I might be a tad excited, at one point I was laying awake at night losing sleep over this decision and actually broke out into hives because of a nervous condition. Hard to believe a 59 year old guy still gets excited over anything...
have got the AD-4 myselfColnagoFE
Apr 11, 2002 8:45 AM
I'm sure it'll look great. Pictures can't really do those paintjobs justice.
Rabo-carbon heredjg
Apr 11, 2002 10:54 AM
On a CT1, not an MXL. It's not available in the US--way cool, IMO.
here's a site that has custom frame builder listingsTig
Apr 10, 2002 6:33 PM
I can't add to the above mentioned wisdom. Modern American steel is hard to beat! Bookmark this URL that lists most of the custom builders and their websites:
For what it's worth...DINOSAUR
Apr 11, 2002 7:55 AM
I came very close to ordering a Steelman. They were very polite and co-operative and resonded to all my email inquiries, usually on the same day. They were also willing to do a weekend fitting. If my LBS hadn't come up with such a good price on a Master X-Light I would be riding a Steelman right now. I would recommend this company to anyone looking for a steel bike...