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Is steel still real?

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Black Dog said:
However, 1800kg is simply nonsense. You can not just add numbers;

Oh Really?

You think you can just add mass to the bike and it disappears into the "Imperial Vortex"?

Small load * Big Reps = Big Load

If I lift 100g 18,000 times I have lifted 1800kg. What's so hard to understand about that? Have you ever shifted 5 tons of soil, 1kg at a time using a shovel? It's the same principle.
 
Jul 15, 2010
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sandbox physics

Piece of rope, bowling ball at the end. Start with it on the ground and swing it around your head. Add another bowling ball to the end and try again. Waaaay harder. Now pick up the bowling ball end and swing the rope around. Waaay easier. There you go, physics lesson for you. The more weight you have on the wheels the more energy it takes to accelerate. The further that weight is away from the hub, the more energy it takes to accelerate.

Zero grams is best, 1450g is more affordable.

Tomorrow we discuss why corn doesn't break down in your intestines and how you can recycle it into cornmeal for non-cyclists.
 
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GRavity Hill

Now theres a place, not too far from me, where when you put your car in neutral, you would swear it rolls uphill! I tried it once on my bike, which is aluminum and I just fell over. Lower mass? Non-magnetic bike frame? I blame gravity.
 
Polyarmour said:
Oh Really?

You think you can just add mass to the bike and it disappears into the "Imperial Vortex"?

Small load * Big Reps = Big Load

If I lift 100g 18,000 times I have lifted 1800kg. What's so hard to understand about that? Have you ever shifted 5 tons of soil, 1kg at a time using a shovel? It's the same principle.

I drank an "Imperial Vortex" once and I can say that many a thing disappeared afterwords including some of my mass the next morning.

Hey Hey. I get your point. I feel like I am digging my own grave around here. But you still ignore the fact that the extra mass only gets added to your shovel when you are climbing and accelerating and some comes back when you coast or descend. If the course is pure climbing or nonstop accelerating and braking then it can add up to a small amount and at the upper level of the sport this may make the difference. However, these are the exceptions. Also the differences in mass are further negated by the exponential increase in wind resistance at higher (race) speeds You are not just overcoming your own inertia you are also pushing into some serious friction that further reduces the percent difference that the extra mass creates.

Pros ride light wheels beacuse they are lighter. Weight makes a difference, we all get the point. It does not make as big a difference as most folks believe. The facts bear this out in spite of marketing and conventional wisdom. However, not all pros ride the lightest wheels, sponsorship restrictions and a strong preference for a stiff wheel usually outweigh the desire to save a few grams. If rotational mass is the end all and be all of wheels then why are the nipples still near the rims? Shimano has them at the hubs but why not everyone else? Why not go tubeless (less weight and rolling resistance)? Why the deep dish wheels? Surely a lower profile wheel is lighter than a deep dish wheel. The fact is that differences do not matter that much. Speed is earned not purchased and less weight is not always the best way to go faster.
 
Black Dog said:
But you still ignore the fact that the extra mass only gets added to your shovel when you are climbing and accelerating and some comes back when you coast or descend.

No I accept that and that's why I referred to an average load of 10kg taking into account ups and downs. That means sometimes the load might be zero and sometimes it might be 25kg but it would average out to 10kg for the trip.

I even conceded that some of the energy is returned

"And even if I get some of that energy back on the downhill sections it won't help at the next attack when I have no legs to go with them."

Anyway perhaps we are not too far apart. There are guys at my local club who could lose 20kgs from their bellies but who make sure they have all the light gear on their bikes. A case of getting the cart before the horse.
 
Polyarmour said:
No I accept that and that's why I referred to an average load of 10kg taking into account ups and downs. That means sometimes the load might be zero and sometimes it might be 25kg but it would average out to 10kg for the trip.

I even conceded that some of the energy is returned

"And even if I get some of that energy back on the downhill sections it won't help at the next attack when I have no legs to go with them."

Anyway perhaps we are not too far apart. There are guys at my local club who could lose 20kgs from their bellies but who make sure they have all the light gear on their bikes. A case of getting the cart before the horse.

Fair enough and I agree that we are not far apart. I was not sure about you notion of averaging things out.

I know those guys. $10000 of ultralight bike with a gut that looks like triplets are on the way!

This is an academic exercise. And I will now add to my personal rotational mass by having a cold beer on my hammock!
 
Mar 19, 2009
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I've only ridden steel frames, and will continue to. I've gone the even burlier frame route. I realize most here are into racing bikes, but so what. I've mostly ridden road bikes too ...... but I've been riding a Rivendell Bombadil for a while now, and I gotta say it's the most fun I've ever had on a bike. I bought the frame used sight unseen, turned out it was pretty f'd up and needed some frame repair. I had it repainted to a color I liked.

It weighs more than my steel road bike ...... but I can't say I'm counting. I'm using some 700x42 tires on the road, which allow me to ride places I never wanted to go in my county of crappola roads with it's many hills. It just cruises over the broken pavement, but it feels as secure as my road bike. No floating or any of that stuff.

My point here is weight is all between the ears. If you want to count every gram and try to keep up with your imaginary standards of what a bike is/was/should/could or would be, keep playing the weight weenie game. If you want to have some fun, ride a steel frame with some bigger tires and you may not want to look back.
 
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lostintime said:
I've only ridden steel frames, and will continue to. I've gone the even burlier frame route. I realize most here are into racing bikes, but so what. I've mostly ridden road bikes too ...... but I've been riding a Rivendell Bombadil for a while now, and I gotta say it's the most fun I've ever had on a bike. I bought the frame used sight unseen, turned out it was pretty f'd up and needed some frame repair. I had it repainted to a color I liked.

It weighs more than my steel road bike ...... but I can't say I'm counting. I'm using some 700x42 tires on the road, which allow me to ride places I never wanted to go in my county of crappola roads with it's many hills. It just cruises over the broken pavement, but it feels as secure as my road bike. No floating or any of that stuff.

My point here is weight is all between the ears. If you want to count every gram and try to keep up with your imaginary standards of what a bike is/was/should/could or would be, keep playing the weight weenie game. If you want to have some fun, ride a steel frame with some bigger tires and you may not want to look back.

I've got a bike like that too--it's called a cyclocross bike, and yeah, they're a ton of fun. Then I get on my lightweight carbon fiber race bike and go twice as fast, and that's a lot of fun too. And a lot more fun when it comes to going up the long, steep hills. A mile or so into a long, steady slog upwards, and that "weight weenie" stuff is definitely between your legs, not your ears.
 
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tubularglue said:
Curious about twice as fast comment above ?

I'm not curious, I think there was a bit of hyperbole there but the meaning seems pretty straightforward and indisputable.

Clearly lighter is faster going uphill, and not so much a concern when riding relatively flat ground or on a track (where aerodynamics are more of an issue, hence heavier but more aero wheels). Being fit is better than being fat and a fat cyclist on a skookum bike will probably still suck wind going up hill and be passed by a skinny runt on a mtb.

If you're at the top of your game already then the question becomes, is shaving a pound off your bike (or bettering the aerodynamics) worth $500, $1000, $2,000 or whatever to shave some time (because it would be absurd to suggest that it wouldn't save time) off your event? Like most questions regarding value, that's totally subjective, no? Is 2 minutes worth it? 20 secs? Even if you're not at the top of your game, if it's your money, spend it freely.

If you think there's an correct answer regarding the value (not the efficacy) of shaving pounds or grams, or bettering your aero profile, you're mistaken. If you think that there's any real debate regarding the efficacy (not value) of shaving pounds or bettering your aerodynamics, your mistaken. But most people take as true whatever they happen to value, or they mistake efficacy for value, so the debate continues.

Is a steel frame bike slower going up hill than a carbon bike, all other factors being equal? Of course. Is steel then not real? Only if your definition of real is limited to "what's faster going up hill all other considerations being equal"? That would be a pretty fubar'd way to look at it, I think, but if that's your thing then better stay away from steel.

Well, that's it for todays pontification. I guess there'll be no more replies in this thread?:p
 
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I steel still real?

Where did that come from? I guess for about 80% of the history of bicycles they were made from steel. That's a lot of history and a lot of racing. I suppose too that many cyclists have never ridden a steel bike. Most bikes, most road race style bikes that is, are made from 7000 series aluminum and produced in China and Taiwan by the tens of thousands a day for the world market. The most common upgrade is to carbon fiber. The older guys, like me, have ridden steel in all sorts of situations and have fond memories of the feel of steel. I reckon I can tell the difference in feel between Tange, Columbus and Reynolds steel. The new generation write them off as irrelevant because they're heavier.

There is so much more to a steel bike than history and weight. I know of a steel frame builder (Baum) that are building very light steel frames. I haven't ridden them but they have a mighty reputation.

Sadly the only rider going to buy a steel bike is an older guy who longs for the 'feel of steel' and will have to commission a 68 year old boutique frame builder to knock one up, at great expense, who remembers how to do it right.

That's what I'm going to do. For me, steel is real, but for the new generation we may as well be talking about who makes the best VHS tapes. So my answer to the question "Is steel still real" is; Sadly, not any more.
 
Mar 19, 2009
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Hangdog98 said:
That's what I'm going to do. For me, steel is real, but for the new generation we may as well be talking about who makes the best VHS tapes. So my answer to the question "Is steel still real" is; Sadly, not any more.

Sorry, you couldn't be more misguided, steel is still very real. If you haven't been keeping up with the times, trade shows such as NAHBS and EHBE has grown exponentially in the last several years. Just in the last couple of those years, all the big brands are blatantly copying from these small builders what's going on with the trends of new gen steel bikes. The examples are everywhere.
 
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Hangdog, I don't know where you live that you have that view of the current cycling scene. There are dozens upon dozens of "new" steel frame makers in the usa these days, most with quite long waiting lists, and the biggest recent trend in cycling, fixies, is all about steel frames (vintage or new).


edit: ha! looks like we were typing at the same time.

p.s. though i always come out on the "weight matters" side of that debate, even I'm buying a steel 'cross frame tomorrow.
 
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Yeah...but. That's us. I'm getting a steel frame too, but the Taiwanese and Chinese factories are churning out tens of thousands per day. Steel is boutique. Aluminum is real and carbon is the upgrade. Like I said, "For me, steel is real" but the numbers are well in favor of 7005 Aluminium.
 
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pretty accurate excedpt

Hangdog98 said:
I steel still real?

Sadly the only rider going to buy a steel bike is an older guy who longs for the 'feel of steel' and will have to commission a 68 year old boutique frame builder to knock one up, at great expense, who remembers how to do it right.

Sadly, not any more.

I would say quality steel is a niche market, rather than boutique, and part of a muich larger phenomenon. Just as craft brewing is to the mega factory brewers, local coffee roasters are to supermarket canned coffee, same with cheese, etc etc. The "sprawl-mall-ification" of everything has created an inner desire for things made by real people for real people... but that's another topic.

Check out Waterford and Gunnar, Kelly etc I doubt they have many 68 year old welders on staff.
 
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And of course the overwhelming majority of transportation bicycle frames made in the world today are still steel - think China, India, Japan - and that output still dwarfs the enthusiast bike market.
 
Mar 19, 2009
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Hangdog98 said:
Yeah...but. That's us. I'm getting a steel frame too, but the Taiwanese and Chinese factories are churning out tens of thousands per day. Steel is boutique. Aluminum is real and carbon is the upgrade. Like I said, "For me, steel is real" but the numbers are well in favor of 7005 Aluminium.

Ah, I see. A self-deprecating steelie, though your VHS analogy was waaay off. New gen steel is far from obsolete. Not sure which side of the counter you're on, but you know why the numbers show aluminum is king as far as sales go? $300-500 comfort hybrids, it's the largest segment of the industry. If you've ever heard of B.R.A.I.N., which is the industry newspaper, they've been saying for the last few years that the big brand shops are actually on a downturn, the small specialty shops with small brands are on the rise, especially in the middle meaty part of the spectrum, even the high end carbon people are turning to the smaller shops. Probably because the general consumer is not satisfied when the sales experience at the big brand shops that involves a kid who just hit puberty right before you walked in the door who's trying to sell you a 3k Madone, and most people don't race anyway, or need that much bike. Weight is irrelevant, an argument only perpetuated by the big brands assuming everybody wants to start racing cheap aluminum equipped with 105. People are evolving, getting smarter, and the big brands bet wrong.

All the big brands jumped on the steel fixie bandwagon a few years ago, now your seeing them key off the small indie builders designs from the last few additions of NAHBS and doing curvy steel, belt drive, motards and adventure racers, lightweight lugged, full rigid MTB, touring, mixte, all steel. The list is huge. Have you seen Raleigh's new steel line up? A brand that was seemingly in the tank a few years ago, all of a sudden is back from the dead with some really nice steel bikes. No affiliation, just an observation. Surly, which started out as a very small wing of QBP by the single speed MTB cult 10+ years ago, now the biggest Taiwan made steel brand of them all with a full line up of very versatile bikes , available in every corner of the world. All steel, all real.

In the case of the small indie steel frame fabricators, North America is the new Lombardia. The best high end steel is being made here in the U.S., not by the hands of Ugo, Faliero, or Ernesto anymore.
 
Hangdog98 said:
Yeah...but. That's us. I'm getting a steel frame too, but the Taiwanese and Chinese factories are churning out tens of thousands per day. Steel is boutique. Aluminum is real and carbon is the upgrade. Like I said, "For me, steel is real" but the numbers are well in favor of 7005 Aluminium.


Ann Asian gent was walking around Interbike about 5 years ago with a complete MTB frame in his hand, complete with all the brazeons on it..Price? $15. Aluminum is cheap, why the vast majority of bicycles made today in the lower tiers are aluminum. Aluminum makes for the ideal race bike. Stiff, light, even easy to make custom and cheap. Kill it and replace, particularly in 'cross.

But for a bicycle you want to ride 3-4 hours? Steel, titanium or suited to you carbon.

I own Waterford Stainless, Moots Vamoots, Ciocc, Merckx MXL, Merckx Corsa
 
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Bustedknuckle said:
Aluminum is cheap, why the vast majority of bicycles made today in the lower tiers are aluminum. Aluminum makes for the ideal race bike. Stiff, light, even easy to make custom and cheap. Kill it and replace, particularly in 'cross.

But for a bicycle you want to ride 3-4 hours? Steel, titanium or suited to you carbon.

Totally agree, low end aluminum is the most cost effective way to start racing. Big picture though, the fastest growing population of cyclists are 50+ that have no desire to race but still have good fitness. Pepsi challenge; both $1000 bikes, Trek 1.5 vs. Surly Pacer, both Tiagra equipped. First the aluminum ride, then the steel. After the steel ride they always come back with a smile on their face like they just discovered plutonium. :D
 
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I'm glad we're back on topic :) Having ridden extensively - but not owned, alas :( - a Pegoretti Marcelo, I would like to propose Dario Pegoretti as the purveyor of the 'best high end steel'. There are no words to describe how this bike felt to ride. And yes, I do ride steel every day. This is how it makes me feel: :D
 
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Steel

My best bike is steel - hand built lugged bike by a local builder (Dave Bohm). My Ti bike is nice, mostly use it for commuting (many miles a week) and save the steel bike for primo weekend rides. Don't do carbon - I break stuff (awesome power output plus large size - height not weight) and like to lag technology by a few years, plus I'm big and getting a custom frame in my size is harder to do with carbon if not impossible.
 
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The topic is very much open to interpretation and that, I think, is reflected in the variety of comments.

Is steel real? What do we mean by real? If we take Randy's interpretation "Yo dog, check it out man, just keepin' it real dog, just keepin' it real". Which I suppose means that he's being honest. Can steel be honest? Can claims that a 1000g steel frame offers the same energy transfer from pedal to road as a 1000g carbon bike be honest, and in this example "real"?

Then there's real as opposed to fake. If steel is real, are the other frame materials fake, or even pretenders? No that doesn't fly either.

To the commuter crowd, real means riding your bike as transport (and fitting panniers). The idea of wearing team kit is the very definition of fake and riding a Pegoretti Marcelo on a Sunday coffee run with the other CEO's is the height of fakery. Most of these commuters I believe, in the free world at least, ride aluminium (and wear socks with sandles).

Do steel riders keep it real by wearing sensible retro clothing or do many of them restore an old frame to make it a fixie (or buy one off the shelf) so they can take it for a walk along the high street, being seen by the cool cats in their skinny jeans and making a very real fashion statement? No, I don't think that's real either.

What I think is real about bikes, is the idea of being honest with yourself about what your bike should do for you. Fo me, having a Alu or carbon bike means a less comfortable ride, less feel and a shorter lifespan. If I was still racing then these would be negligable considerations and a carbon bike with Dura Ace would be the real choice. Right now I'm really excited about getting my next steel frame made for me. Will I spoil it all by wearing team kit on the coffee ride and adding a layer of fake that smothers the real steel? I probably will because my Hincapie kit is the most comfortable kit I've got.

So for me the bottom line is that the idea of steel being real is a very personal one. For my son, I'm not so sure he'll want to race that old Pegoretti "Dad, what are those cables going to the derailleur for, and where's the data acquisition sensors?"
 
The question should be: 'Is steel relevant?'. I think that the answer is yes. And that goes for other outdated materials like Titanium and Aluminum. Carbon can be very good and so can any material as long as it is well engineered and crafted. Any well built frame can be comfortable, stiff, and light enough for 99.9% of riders and racers regardless of material used. It is hard to have this discussion in the carbon and weight obsessed world of cycling that marketers have created. Ride what you like, not what you are told to like, and you will be happy on the bike regardless of the material. At the end of the day it is best to just ride, regardless of why you turn the pedals.
 
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There is clearly something that steel brings to the table that carbon and aluminum can't. More interestingly, I am willing to bet that sales of titanium frames will actually return nearly to levels seen in the late 90's, once the shortages created by the wars in the middle east subside.

I find it fascinating the amount of partisanship this discussion creates. I can't imagine people arguing over wood vs aluminum vs vinyl vs clad windows.
 

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