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Curtlo or Steelman?(8 posts)

Curtlo or Steelman?Racerb
Apr 26, 2002 8:54 AM
I'm looking at new road frames. Curtlo or Steelan? Both are custom steel road frames. The Steelman is more expensive- is it better? Thanks, Mike.
impossible to answergtx
Apr 26, 2002 9:11 AM
The Steelman is twice the price. Personally I'd rather have a Steelman--I think he builds the nicest tig steel road and cross frames out there. But the Curtlo is a hell of a deal. I know that lots of people are crazy about his mtbs. And there are tons of other great builders out there. I think the first thing you need to decide is, how much do you want to spend? Is it going to come down to a Curtlo with DA vs. a Steelman with Ultegra?
Or Anvil???mikebikr
Apr 26, 2002 9:53 AM
Don at Anvil certainly knows a lot about building frames.
re: Curtlo or Steelman?jc66502
Apr 26, 2002 10:53 AM
I've only seen one Curtlo, and the guy who had it was very unhappy with the frame and his experience with Curtlo. This was many years ago and the frame was an aluminum mountain frame. No personal experience with Curtlo.

Steelman is another matter. I got a Manzanita mountain frame from Steelman last Spring. I love the bike and Steelman was excellent to deal with. No regrets at all about the bike or the buying process. If I were to do it again, I would still go with Steelman.

Check out the link I posted below for a look at a really pretty Steelman track bike. If you have any questions, you should contact Brent directly. He's very accomodating and easy to talk to. I spoke with him several times before and after I got my Manzanita. Right before I ordered the frame last Spring, I broke a tie-rod on the front end of my truck (a huge, crater size pot hole hit at 45 mph ... ouch). I emailed Brent and let him know that I was going to have to postpone the purchase briefly while I had my truck fixed. He called me at home a week or so later to let me know he understood my predicament and he would hold a slot for my frame.

Anyway, Steelman is a class act. I can't recommend them highly enough.
re: Curtlo or Steelman?sprockets2
Apr 26, 2002 11:37 AM
Why not look a bit more broadly, to include Waterford, Serotta, Strong, etc, etc.

FWIW I don't know much of Steelman, but I have seen a number of Curtlo frames in various stages of assembly and I was not really impressed with the operation.

FWIW again, I don't know why, maybe it is an anti-corporate thing, or a Small-is-Beautiful proclivity, but many folks on this board and "into bikes" in general really seem to look almost instinctively for a bike produced by the small independent frame builder, but having been down that road a few times, I don't think that is necessarily the way to go.

I have worked with a few small builders, and talked to several more during the process, and on the whole I never got the idea that I was going to get as good a bike from them as I could have gotten from a larger-though not megaBig-frame builder. Many of these shops simply don't have the resources, cash flow, or experience to really do the kind of job that some larger builders can do. Sure, they can braze up or weld a frame, paint it nice, etc., but I was not convinced that they had the tube selection or the ability to work tubes to ideal shapes that they had arrived at through good engineering.

As materials have changed and the engineering aspect of design and construction have become much more sophisticated, the small shops of yesteryear have lost many advantages that they might once have had. I don't think it is a good idea for us cling to this idealized concept of bike construction in the "small, independent shop of dedicated craftsmen handbuilding bikes one-at-a-time". There are some good builders out there, but the fact that you may have ridden one of his bikes and it felt nice doesn't necessarily justify the big thumbs up.

I remember a nationally known local builder trying to convince me his tandem felt sloppy because of the wheels and not his frame design or execution. I did not tell him that I had changed out the wheels on our test ride to 48h rigid touring wheels and the slop had not gone away. I just walked out the door. That experience became the moment of clarity that my cycle search needed to put all of the various discussions with builders together into a working concept. FWIW, I recommend that you do some serious homework.
re: Curtlo or Steelman?gtx
Apr 26, 2002 11:58 AM
I think I saw you post this before. I agree with you up to a point. Some builders like Ibis I think achieved a sort of best of both worlds--big enough to spec their own tubing, small enough to have some very good quality control and customer serivce--but it is very difficult to survive in the middle--Ibis went out of business. Serotta and IF seem to be making it somehow. There might be some flakey small builders out there, but there are also plenty of builders like Steelman who really know their stuff. If you can find one of these guys and afford their bikes I think you'll be a happy camper. If you want "cutting edge technology" and a bunch of marketing hype then sure, look elsewhere.
Apr 26, 2002 12:23 PM
Both are nice bikes.

I have an stock Ibis and a custom Teesdale. Both great.

Totally depends on the whole experience...service, price, communication, lead time, welds, paints....

I've heard that both Steelman and Curtlo have long lead times, but that doesn't tell you anything about 'the ride.' Also, I think Curtlo only does True Temper.
Apr 26, 2002 12:46 PM
He was advertising a special a while back on rec.bicycles.marketplace

FS: TET Road frame custom build special-$460

Hi from Tom at TET Cycles
Ok...this is always fun, cheapest custom road build i can make with nice tubing. I have limited your build choices to keep the price low.

You do have a choice of .......

general geometry(Geometries available--Road, Crit, SportRoad, TT, Tri, Cross--can send specs )
ANY of the major frame dimensions are your choice, frame can be
"compacted",head tube extended, any seat angle,ect. 1" or 1.125" headset size
Color-any basic color in plain or metallic with or without fender eyelets optional rack bosses (+$5)

TrueTemper OXRC is a H.T. Cromoly, same as Reynolds 725.
----$460 TrueTemper OXRC (175/185,000 psi) (as nice as Columbus ELos, ride just as well)

FRAME SPECS---(choice of 700c or 650 wheels)
130mm r spacing, 27.2 post, 1" or 1.125" headset, 68mm eng bb(CroMoly), 44mm brake reach(or canti's)
OS road tubing 1.125" seat tube, 1.125" tt, 1.25" dt. Breeze rear drops w/eyes split stops on dt at ht for sti(or lever bosses), threaded on cable guide under bb. split stop under cs, split stops on tt at 7:30, allen bolt machined brake
bridge, pump bump on ht, chainrest. Seat tube is split and reinforced in the rear. Requires 1.125"id slide on collar(not supplied).

Frame and drop outs tig welded, fittings are brazed. Frame is prepped and ready to assemble.

Choice a basic color----blue, green, white, ...ect. Can be plain or metallic

FORK Choices --if you want a fork too.....
TET Fork $100, investment cast crown, curved or straight blades, forged drops w/eyelet, 1" threaded or 1"ahead or 1.125" ahead
Tange CrMo road fork, unicrown, chrome $55 , 1" threaded or threadless
Surly crowned fork black $75, 1.125" threadless
Kinesis Road-D aluminum $110 1" threaded or threadless

That's it. I have generic spec sheets for geometries for reference that I can send

Let me know if you are interested. If you are, give me a top tube and seat tube dimension (and any other dimensions you want) . I will make a drawing and an invoice to send for your approval.

Thanks tom

TET Cycles

Killer prices on custom built frames. I have no personel experience with him but he is very experienced.