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Suggestions for a mid-priced steel frame(25 posts)

Suggestions for a mid-priced steel frameMel Erickson
Jul 9, 2002 6:38 AM
A buddy of mine is looking for a new production frame and is interested in a mid-priced steel frame. He's no racer, just a fitness/recreational cyclist who wants comfort and reasonable performance (still has to win those sprints). He needs a 54-55cm but has short legs and a long torso, thus needs a long top tube. Any suggestions on where he should start looking?
What is his price range?DINOSAUR
Jul 9, 2002 6:50 AM
"mid-priced" can cover a lot of territory....
Yeah, I knowMel Erickson
Jul 9, 2002 6:59 AM
I don't really know what he considers "mid-priced" but that's what he said. He likes nice things and has a general ides of what good bikes cost. I mentioned $750 and he didn't gulp. He just bid on a Kestrel frame on Ebay and stopped at $500 (it went for $560). He's now glad he didn't get it after discussing his needs/wants.
Assuming just the frameloop
Jul 9, 2002 7:44 AM
I'd recommend: Teesdale, Dean, Steelman, Soma (by far the cheapest).

Full bike: Jamis or possibly S'Go's Scatannte 853.

Or you could just send him to Sheldon Brown's site to snoop around the links.
How much is "mid-priced"?klay
Jul 9, 2002 6:55 AM
With out knowing a price range I'm going to have to guess...

Marinoni ( has always seemed a very good value. Their top-end (Foco tubing with carbon rear end and fork) is around $1200 at my LBS. They go down from there into the $500 range. They will also build you a custom bike for some minor up-charge ($100 rings a bell) if your friend needs a longer top tube. Lead time on a custom frame might be a few months though...


PS I have a Foco (no -carbon rear end) Marinoni that I love.
Jamis makes a good mid-priced steel frame!!!BMW
Jul 9, 2002 6:58 AM
Tommasini Sintesi...C-40
Jul 9, 2002 8:24 AM
The Sintesi is a very high quality frame & fork for about $1000. Colorado Cyclist carries it, but only in 2cm increments and one color. It's made in 1cm increments and many colors.

Good luck finding a "long top tube". There is seldom more than 1cm difference in TT length in this size range. Also remember that seat tube angle must be considered when comparing TT length.

As an example, a 55cm Colnago with it's 74 degree STA and 54.3cm TT, is effectively the same as a 55cm Litespeed with a 73 degree STA and a 55.5cm TT. Only the nominal saddle position is different.
Question about seat tube angleNessism
Jul 9, 2002 9:55 AM
I understand how the seat tube angle relates to the top tube length: more upright seat tube effectively shortens the top tube. Ok, well and good.

So we have a Colnago with an upright seat tube angle and short chainstays - which results in a rearward weight bias. How is the weight distribution effected if the rider needs to get further behind the bottom bracket? Seems to me that the weight distribution will move further rearward. True? I'm not sure but at some point this can't be good.

Jul 9, 2002 1:29 PM
A more upright STA lengthens the top tube, as in my example, the 54.3cm TT with a 74 degree STA lengthens the TT to the same as a 55.5cm TT with a 73 degree angle.

You can't assume that chainstay length will necessarily be shorter just because the STA is more uprtight, although it could be. The main purpose of changing the STA is to produce a nominal saddle position that is compatible with the rider's femur length and desired KOP posittion. I can make anything in the 73-74 degree range work.

The shorter top tube frame will have a shorter wheelbase (if both frames have the same chainstay length) and slightly more weight on the front wheel.
Jul 9, 2002 2:59 PM
I understand the geometery related to upright seat tube angles.

The question comes in when talking about a Colnago specifically or a similar upright seat tube / short chainstay frame.

If the rider needs more setback, they have to shove the seat back on the rails and/or get a seatpost with a lot of setback. When positioning the saddle in this manner, frames like this carry a LOT of weight on the rear wheel.

For this reason, a Colnago is NOT similar in layout to a Litespeed as was so noted earlier in this thread. The weight distribution is different.

Sure a rider can get a reasonable position relative to the crank and bars on both frames, but the weight ballance will be different. Maybe I'm splitting hairs here but to me, there is a noticable difference between these frames.

sorry you don't understand....C-40
Jul 9, 2002 5:52 PM
If you understand the geometry, how come you said that a more upright STA shortens the TT (that is backwards)???

You also seem to insist that a bike with a steeper STA has shorter chainstays. This is not true. Look at a geometry chart for the Litespeed Vortex. The small frames with a 74 STA have the same 40.6mm chainstay length at the larger 73 STA frames.

If you position a rider in any one particular relation to the bottom bracket (forward or back), it makes no difference whether the rider's position was attained by virtue of a slack seat tube angle or by moving the saddle back on the post. Only the position of the saddle on the seatpost is different.

If both bikes have the same chainstay length, the one with the LONGEST wheelbase will have the greatest percentage of weight over the rear wheel. In my Colnago/Litespeed example it's likely that the Litespeed with the longer top tube would have a longer wheelbase and have MORE weight on the rear wheel than the Colnago. You are concentrating too much on the rear wheel and neglecting the wheelbase, which is much more likely to be the area of significant difference.

I think you are right that there would a measureable difference in the weight distribution between the two frames, but it would only be about 1% (the same as the percentage difference in the wheelbase) and it would be just the opposite of what you have in mind.
Reality checkNessism
Jul 9, 2002 7:00 PM
Aren't you the guy that always says that a Colnago has the same "effective top tube length" as other frames with slacker seat tubes? I don't understand what the confusion is about - I agree with you! But an "effective top tube length" IS NOT a REAL top tube length. Framebuilders do not cut and miter tubes to fit imaginary dimensions.

Lets go back to the example you mentioned.

Colnago 55 cm c-t, 54.3 cm top tube, 74 degree STA

Litespeed 55 cm c-t, 55.5 cm top tube, 73 degree STA

Clearly, the Colnago has a shorter top tube and steeper STA. But both frames have the same "effective top tube length".

My claim is that even though these frames may have the same "effective top tube length" they have very real differences between them. By using a more upright seat tube angle and shorter chainstays, the Colnago will carry more weight on the rear wheel (assuming the rider is positioned the same relative to the bottom bracket on both frames). Very simple.

I understand that not all frames with steep seat tube angles use short chainstays. But Colnagos do.

Reality checkgtx
Jul 9, 2002 7:38 PM
Ed, I'm not sure I follow you. I don't think STA has anything to do with anything in this example. With regards to how your weight is centered over the rear wheel, I think it's just c-stay length and bb height--which you guys didn't mention--assuming you set the saddles up the same relative to the bb. With regards to actual weight distribution (over both wheels--taking the bike as a whole) it seems there are many more variables. It feels to me like I have more weight over the back wheel of my Merckx that I do with my other bike. My Merckx has a more slack STA, a longer wheelbase and a longer tt (both "effective" and otherwise). I have the saddles adjusted the same on both bikes relative the the bb.
Think about it like this...Nessism
Jul 10, 2002 5:54 AM
The overall weight of the rider and bike is supported by the tires. Lets assume the weight distribution is centered equally so 50% of the weight is carried by each tire.

Now imagine we extended the length of the chainstays by 1 cm without changing anything else. The net effect is that the weight distribution will shift slightly to the front wheel.

Of course this is splitting hairs stuff since the weight distribution shift will only be a few percentage points, maybe not enough to warrant this back and forth discussion. At any rate, it is real.

Honestly, when I first commented in this thread it was intended as a question (a poorly phrased one at that):

"How is the weight distribution effected if the rider (of a short chainstay bike) needs to get further behind the bottom bracket? Seems to me that the weight distribution will move further rearward. True? I'm not sure but at some point this can't be good."

Case in point is someone like myself. I ride a 55 cm c-t frame with a 72.5 degree seat tube angle (using an offset seat post). Put someone like myself on a Colnago (or similar steep STA short chainstay frame) and I have to slam the seat all the way back on the rails. When coupled with the short chainstays, a LOT of weight is sitting back over that rear wheel. I'm not sure how big an issue this is, but it is a issue that should be considered before spending major $$ on a frame purchase.

Reality check--or a quibble.djg
Jul 10, 2002 10:25 AM
Sorry to be so picky--generally I find your posts to be pretty sensible, but if I'm not mistaken this isn't the first time you've posted the wrong figures for Colnago frames, despite corrections from the board.

It's just not the case that an off the shelf Colnago sports a 55 cm (c-t) seat tube and a 54.3 cm top tube. The frame that Colnago calls a "55" is measured (as I believe all their frames are) from the center of the bottom bracket to the bottom of the seat tube collar, which is roughly an extra cm above the c-t measurement. If you want a bike that measures 55 cm, center-to-top, from Colnago, you need to buy what they call a "56". And on that frame, the real, not "effective" (supposing that's different) top tube length is just about 55 cm. Or you can have them build you a custom, but that takes a while and throws the rest of the discussion out the window besides.

Now of course you're all right that there are differences between the Colnago and the Litespeed--just not this particular difference that you insist is a real one.

Actually noNessism
Jul 10, 2002 12:11 PM
Colnago measures their frames center to top to top tube - dimension "P" in the chart below.

And I can't remember anyone ever bringing this up before you.

Feel free to check the web site yourself at the link below.
Actually no, you're still mistsaken.djg
Jul 10, 2002 2:21 PM
The picture may be ambiguous--the extra cm to the bottom of the seat tube collar may not be all that clear in the picture--but:

(a) if you look closely at the picture, I think you'll see that the line segment demarcating the top of "P" does appear to hit the frame slightly above the top tube;

(b) you can send an e-mail to Colnago if you don't believe me; and

(c) you can find a Colnago and get out a tape measure and measure the thing. (That's what I did when I got mine--which didn't jibe with my prior expectation that they measured c-t; it was following the measurement that I actually bothered to ask, which is how I got the information I conveyed, information which does match my frame, surprise, surprise, see technique (b)).

Look, I don't think this is a huge big deal or anything, but I'm pretty sure you are mistaken and, given the discrepancy I pointed out, I'm just mystified that you think that the Trialtir diagram resolves the disagreement in your favor. I can see how you could look at the picture and be unclear as to whether they are going precisely to the top of the top tube or slightly higher. I cannot see how you can look at the picture and be utterly convinced that they are NOT going to the bottom of the seat tube collar (the collar itself not being depicted). Remember, I did not say that they measure to the top of the collar (as Trek appears to do, at least on the OCLV frames) or the top of the seat tube--just to the bottom of the seat tube collar, which turns out to be about a cm higher than the traditional c-t measurement. OK, this has gone on way further than is interesting--partly my fault I suppose. I just meant to point out a technical and easily verified fact of limited interest. If you don't buy it, you don't buy it.
Jul 10, 2002 2:46 PM
although I'm quite sure I've seen others post just the same information I'm offering about Colnago geometry on this site, my impression that you were involved in those posts was not something I checked and may have been mistaken. To the extent THAT part of my post seemed an accusation of some sort--and got us off on the wrong foot--well, I'm sorry about that.
Jul 10, 2002 7:59 PM
If you have actually measured a frame I believe you. I'm not sure I believe the difference is a full cm however. Keep in mind that the actual top of the top tube is difficult to determine since it's not possible to see this intersection point.

Honestly, while I like Colnagos I'm not an expert on them. The first reference to the 55 cm Colnago in this thread was not mine, it was C-40's. I just picked up on his lead and went with it.

Time for this thread to die. Have a good one.

re: Suggestions for a mid-priced steel frameBarton
Jul 9, 2002 9:28 AM
Jamis Quest is a nice mid-priced frame.
re: Suggestions for a mid-priced steel framePicshooter
Jul 9, 2002 9:44 AM
Carl Strong has come out with a Signature Series. $799 intro offer until the end of August.
Custom too...miposy
Jul 9, 2002 11:15 AM
Carl can set him up with a custom for $1,200 as well, which will be able to accomodate his needs for a long top tube and short everything else.
re: jamis, iron horse, scattantebigrider
Jul 9, 2002 9:39 AM
Fort RO.Zona or RO.UltrafocoAndreas_Illesch
Jul 9, 2002 10:20 AM
high end steel, moderate price
Lemond ZurichKen of Fresno
Jul 9, 2002 10:31 AM
I love mine. It's 853, handles great, and a 55cm frame has has a 56.5cm top tube. Fits me perfectly.

Best of luck,