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Steelman, Strong, Gunnar, Waterford?(25 posts)

Steelman, Strong, Gunnar, Waterford?HENRY K
Nov 2, 2003 2:24 PM
I am looking for feedback from experienced riders on choosing a steel frame. I want to get my order in soon because some companies take 3 months or so. Could anyone please share their knowledge on the listed frames. It appears that Waterford would be the priciest of the bunch with Gunnar being the least expensive. I am looking for feed back on Steelman compared to Strong. When contacting the 2 companies by e-mail, Strong responded right away and Steelman took 3-4 days and a second e-mail. Although I have heard good things about Steelman frames. Would I notice any difference in ride quality of Gunnar compared to the other higher priced bikes? My riding is mostly group rides or summer Centuries. I want a bike with little flex while out of the saddle but I do not want to feel beat-up after a century ride.
Thank you
An FYIScot_Gore
Nov 2, 2003 2:55 PM
I'll leave it to others to sound off on which would be better. But just to clarify, you understand that:

Waterford Brand = Custom bicycle by the Waterford Bicycle company.

Gunnar Brand = non-custom bicycle by the Waterford Bicycle company.

There are some tubing and perhaps welding differences between the two, but likely alot of similarites as well, depending on the price point.

Good Luck.

You can also get a custom Gunnar. (nm)TFerguson
Nov 3, 2003 5:23 PM
re: Steelman, Strong, Gunnar, Waterford?FTMD
Nov 2, 2003 3:01 PM
I have a Strong non-custom frame, the Hyalite. Been on it for one year. I came over to it from a CAAD 4 Cannondale, so I know stiff and my Strong is comparable. I've done 3 centuries on it and don't feel as though the bike contributed to any fatigue. However, if you go w/Strong, your bike and mine might differ due to tubing choice. Mine's Zona mostly and some Foco. Overall, I love my Strong. Check out my review in the review sections.

You can ask other for other opinions on Strong at:

I read elsewhere on the web that Steelman is moving locations, so that may be contributing to the delay you experienced.

Good luck.
re: Steelman, Strong, Gunnar, Waterford?theBreeze
Nov 2, 2003 4:34 PM
Well, I can only comment on my Gunnar, but I have nearly 10,000 miles on it in two years riding and it's been great. For centuries it is a great bike. I have done six on mine as well as a week long tour in Colorado and felt very comfortable. Well as confortable as one can be in those conditions. It has been ridden on roads both smooth and rough as well a generous amount of dirt. Just today I had it on a loose stretch of dirt and gravel and it handled just fine.

One response suggested Waterford is all custom. Are you sure? They are lugged frames rather than TIG welded like the Gunnar, so that's part of the price difference.

Now I haven't spent a lot of time on other bikes so I can't make an across the board comparison. When I test road bikes (long test rides on the same course) I definately felt the Gunnar rode better than a comparably priced Lemond and a lugged steel Marinoni.

The common complaint with Gunnars is that the decals peel easily. To me that's not a big deal, it's only cosmetic.

I feel I got a LOT of bike for my money. And when I inquired about touch-up paint I got an email direct form Richard Schwin the same day.

How it feels to you will partly depend on the frame size and your weight. I ride a 50 cm (CT) and weigh about 120 lbs. When you think about it smaller frames will ride a little stiffer. In my experience, being small and light, I get bounced around more than bigger guys.

Good luck!
One response suggested Waterford is all custom. Are you sure?Scot_Gore
Nov 2, 2003 6:47 PM
From Waterford's web site

All Waterfords in 2003 will be made-to-measure at no additional cost...including the new 14 Series. This gives you maximum flexibility to address each of your individual geometric and physical requirements. Our catalog specs provide an excellent starting point and your Waterford dealer is knowledgeable and ready help you make all the proper decisions.
Gunnar decalsPmbH
Nov 3, 2003 10:05 AM
Mine has clear coat over the decals. Dunno if that's because of "color of the month" or if they're doing it on all the 2004 OS2 frames.
All "older" color of the month bikes had a clear coat andMR_GRUMPY
Nov 3, 2003 11:19 AM
now all 2004 stock bikes do, also, at the $725 price.
I've got two of themterry b
Nov 2, 2003 5:00 PM
Gunnar and Strong. Really no comparison, the Strong is heads and shoulders above the Gunnar in terms of quality and materials. You might expect that given the $500 price difference. Strong is fantastic to work with and he delivers an excellent product when he says he will. The Gunnar though is a fun bike - smooth ride, a little on the porky side, but certainly a value at $649.

I've been lusting after a Waterford for some time, but frankly I'm put off by the price. $500 to $700 more than Strong and $1400 more than the Gunnar (for the R33 that I want anyway.) Seems like a lot of coin for something that may not be better than any number of other custom builders who charge less.

I know nothing about Steelman so I won't comment. If I was shopping at the moment it would be either another Strong or a Vanilla.
Check out Ionic bikescrankset
Nov 2, 2003 5:34 PM
They are part of Dean bikes and they offer some nice deals on steel bikes. You can even customize them if you want:
As usual, I'll say "what he said"mickey-mac
Nov 2, 2003 8:00 PM
My experience with Carl Strong was also great. I have about 20,000 miles on my Strong Foco, and it's the best bike I've had in over 20 years of riding. I'd buy from him again without any hesitation.
re: Steelman, Strong, Gunnar, Waterford?Frank121
Nov 2, 2003 7:55 PM
I like trying different bikes, and had long wanted a Steelman but never managed to buy one. I found one two years ago in like new condition with less than 100 miles on it at a great price ($475 w/new Ultegra headset and bottom

The wait was well worth it! The welds are absolutely flawless, and the powdercoated metallic blue paint looks like wet paint...very nice. The Steelman builds up very nicely and easily as the alignment and frame construction details are spot on accurate. The Steelman is a perfect
all-around road bike...stable on descents, quick on sprints, smooth on long straights, and not a liability on hills.

Brent Steelman seems to have put the same quality and design that he puts into his SR 853 top end frame and fork into the SR 525, but at a lower price. I only wish I had bought a Steelman years ago!

I still like to buy and sell bikes, but the Steelman is the one bike I have that is not for sale.
re: Steelman, Strong, Gunnar, Waterford?copenhavertl
Nov 2, 2003 8:28 PM
I have been looking at almost the exact same bikes you have over the last six months and asking a lot of questions on this site. Thanks to all who responded. I also looked at Serotta and IF on the custom side and LeMonds for Non custom.

My bottom line came out Waterford or Strong, I really wanted a custom bike so I discounted Gunnar. I really liked the Zurich, but they are no longer an all steel frame and the part carbon/part steel was just not to my taste

I wanted a Waterford for its classic style and beautiful lugs, especially the stainless ones. Waterford was great, but both dealorships I looked at had terrible customer service and that turned me off.

I was very impressed with Carl Strong and ordered my bike there last week. Carl has been superb and very responsive and helpful throughout the ordering. I expect a lot from someone I going to spend 2.5 to 3K with and Carl delivered in every respect. I eagerly await the arrival of this bike spec'ed just like I wanted. If you haven't been to the Strong site lately, there is a sale going on now.
re: Gunnar and Waterford.MR_GRUMPY
Nov 2, 2003 8:56 PM
Waterford R22 : Lugs, custom, True Temper OX Platinum & Reynolds 853 = $1600 Frame
Waterford R14 : Tig welded, custom,True Temper OX Platinum & Reynolds 853 = $1300 Frame
Gunnar : Tig welded, Stock sizes, True Temper OX Platinum & Reynolds 853 = $725 Frame
Gunnar just jumped their prices because they now include a clear coat on all their paint jobs and they switched to a 1 3/8 down tube.
Custom is nice if you really need it, but 8 out of 10 people don't.
Gunnars have improved a lot since 2001. Part of the reason the price is going up, is because people are starting to hear about them, and buy them. Waterford can now mark them up a little higher. Still a bargin, for what you get. Most bikes in Gunnar's price range use obsolete tube sets.
Some thoughts...Chicago_Steve
Nov 3, 2003 7:02 AM
1) Where is IF in this selection? Great paint, quick turn around, fully sealed frames, Funky graphics...

2) Strong uses a powdercoat process whereas, Gunnar, Waterford, and Steelman use wet paint. IMHO powdercoating is the way to go to prevent paint chips and rust. One of my buddys has a Gunnar Cross Hairs and has rust issues after two years of all season riding. No issue on my powdercoated frame.
Some thoughts...Poptart
Nov 3, 2003 7:53 AM
agreement that IF belongs on this list

bought a gunnar sport this year and it's great. availability of clear coat was the clincher. it's optional last i heard, but threads i read said that the gunnar paint was not too durable without it. gunnars are available with custom geometry, but the price increase approaches waterford territory. the gunnar is available with any custom paint/decal scheme that you can think of from waterford for a moderate price.

no experience with strong, but it seems like they get unanimous praise. i've seen all the other bikes in various lbs's, except for the strong which must be direct only.

steelman's bread and butter is mountain and cyclocross, so i don't know how their raod frames are. kelly bikes is the same ilk, but it sounds like their factory relocation has caused some customer service and lead time hiccups.
Some thoughts...gtx
Nov 3, 2003 10:03 AM
Steelman is powdercoated, too.

For me it would be a toss up between Steelman and Strong. If Strong replied more quickly to e-mail and was cheaper I'd probably get the Strong.
re: Steelman, Strong, Gunnar, Waterford?jrm
Nov 3, 2003 9:09 AM
I tend to be a fan of true temper XO Platinum tubing. In light of this i have bought a Kelly and am currently awaiting a Curtlo.

The kellys can be order stock or custom for $850 whereas the Curtlo comes in @ $700.

Im not knocking the other builders youve mentioned but have chosen the ones i have due to price and tubing selection. This way i can blowe the wad on CF forks, Ck headsets and other goodies
Consider Serotta and Dave Kirk FrameworksSpiderman
Nov 3, 2003 9:32 AM
Serotta has a the Colorado III with custom geometry, they have the fierte which is non-custom for $4-500 less. Also Dave Kirk, who used to build for both Serotta and Strong might be able to put something together for you.

Some more things to throw on the board...
Consider Serotta and Dave Kirk Frameworksbcm119
Nov 3, 2003 11:45 AM
A Serotta Colorado III is a good recommendation for a comfortable but resposive frame. Serottas are known for their plush ride, while not losing any drivetrain efficiency. The new Serottas are built with a custom drawn Columbus tubing, and their paint is as good as any. Kirk (an ex Serotta guy) is also quickly gaining an excellent reputation on his own.
check out Brew bikes -- cheaper and faster nmandy02
Nov 3, 2003 10:36 AM
re: Steelman, Strong, Gunnar, Waterford?MShaw
Nov 3, 2003 10:44 AM
Man, there's a few people you're leaving out... Hollands in the DC area, Holland in San Diego, Tom Teesdale, etc.

I had a Teesdale-built cross frame and it was really well built, rode nicely, and didn't cost and arm and a leg. It was entirely too bad that it was 2cm too small...

There's also Sycip, Land Shark, Vanilla, Richard Sachs, Andy Gilmour, Harry Havnoonian, Hot Tubes, and more that'll come to me. (this list has been growing throughout this email...)

Who is a local builder to you? There's bound to be someone around. If you talk to the local guy, you'll get more personalized attention, and generally lower prices than some of the more well-known guys. I'm lucky, Russ Denny's up the road from me. He'll build a full custom (AL only though) custom frame for about $750 frame and Ouzo fork. Mine's painted pearl black.

So, while the choice is definitely yours, you may want to google some of the other guys I've listed above and check them out too.

IF definitelycustomsteel
Nov 3, 2003 2:25 PM
IF....Full custom, any spec. Steel fork! One month turnaround. Sweet paint. Serious riders, serious builders.

I ordered a custom 64cm planet X with a low BB and stable angles for road and singletrack. I was riding within a month after ordering and have had a smile on my face ever since. Super stiff, fast and ultra comfortable. Would consider a Vanilla or Sycip as a backup only.
Its great to comtemplate...Good Luck!
re: Steelman, Strong, Gunnar, Waterford?mapei boy
Nov 3, 2003 2:35 PM
Recently I've been testing, multi-use, century style light touring bikes. I've managed to get a leg over the Gunner, a Rivendell Atlantis and a Steel Bianchi Cross-Concept. ...At least I think it was a Cross-Concept.

The Gunner was beautifully put together and very handsome in an understated way, but sorry to say it felt kind of like a dog underneath me. It didn't ride especially softly. It felt heavy and unresponsive. It slogged along. It seemed to resist my every move. It made me glad I own a Colnago.

By comparison, the Atlantis (which actually weighed a couple of pounds more than the Gunnar) felt happy, quick and pillow soft. It was a revelation. It put an instant grin on my face. It had a ride all-day, go-anywhere, let's play hooky kind of vibe. Someday I think I'm gonna hafta get one.

The Bianchi was a revelation as well. Poised. Willing. It flew uphill. As soft as the Atlantis. It's too bad they don't seem to make them anymore.
My Steelman experiences -- All positive!Dale Brigham
Nov 3, 2003 5:04 PM
My Steelman EC 525 hauled my sorry butt across France and back during PBP this August, as well as getting me through the qualifying brevets and training rides. It's one of my all-time fave bikes.

Brent and Katrin Steelman are a joy to work with. They have seemingly infinite patience for an old geek like me who endlessly dithers over powdercoat colors, braze-ons, and decals. Once I finally made up my mind on the details, they worked quickly to get the frame done and shipped to me.

The welds are things of beauty, the powdercoat is flawless, and the complete bike rides wonderfully. I could not imagine anyone being disappointed in a Steelman.

Brent has SR 525 bare frames with forks in stock (you get to choose powdercoat, decals, and braze-ons) on season closeout for a reduced price (check for size availability). I bought my EC 525 frame last year with that deal, and Brent also made me great deals on components I needed.

One last note -- If you are at all considering getting one of the SR 525 frames but are reluctant, thinking that Reynolds 525 tubing would be substandard and way heavy, I had the same misgivings at first. Since I got the frame and built it up, I honestly can't detect any difference between it and my Reynolds 853 or Columbus tubing bikes. Brent says it weighs about 2 to 8 oz. more than the 853 tubing bikes. That ain't much to me.

Good luck frame hunting, Henry!