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Just steel frames?

Old 10-18-18, 05:50 PM
  #1  
galapogosian
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Just steel frames?

I'm trying to research bike parts because I want to put a bike together. I don't know anything about bikes, and I'm having a hell of a time finding information on frames. I want a steel frame, and every article I find seems to turn into an article about complete steel frame bikes. If I can find articles and reviews/comparisons of steel bike frames, I can start taking them apart to teach myself what I need to know to buy one, so asking me questions about what kind of steel frame I want is a waste of your time. All I know is I want a steel frame for cost, durability and ease of repair. Literally nothing else. I just need links. Please and thank you.
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Old 10-18-18, 06:01 PM
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Road racing, road comfort/endurance, flat bar road/hybrid or mountain. What price range are you looking at? It's a waste of our time to dig up links if we don't know what you want. Let me demonstrate.

https://surlybikes.com/bikes/big_dummy
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Old 10-18-18, 06:08 PM
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Say road comfort. I've sold my car and I'll be riding on roads less than 10 miles one way. Low cost.
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Old 10-18-18, 06:42 PM
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I think Bicycle Maintenance & Repair by Todd Downs might include the kind of information you're looking for. Chapter 2 covers the influence of frame geometry on handling and how to adjust a bike for proper fit. You can probably find similar information for free by googling 'bicycle frame geometry' and 'bike fit.'

Check out https://sheldonbrown.com/ too.
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Old 10-18-18, 06:58 PM
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I raced bikes in my youth. People would ask me all the time.. "what bike should I get?" I would respond Schwinn LeTour. I still think thats probably the best all round bike for most people. So look for a 1970 something LeTour. Great bikes.
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Old 10-18-18, 07:05 PM
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Sounds like a commuter bike is what you need. Commuters are generally all purpose bikes that can do all most all things aside from off road travel. Most bike shop quality bikes in steel are not going to be as price competitive as aluminum frame bikes. Aluminum bikes are OK, don't poo poo them. They usually offer a better value than steel due to the low number of steel bikes made. Regardless, be prepared to spend at a minimum $400 for an entry level quality bike. Schwinn Voyageur comes to mind.
There are exceptions to this, mainly big box store steel bikes, but they are not bike shop quality bikes so the comparison is not fair. If you are mechanically inclined and willing to do some work and know what to avoid, a used steel frame bike can be a cost effective way to get what you need.
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Old 10-18-18, 07:10 PM
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Originally Posted by galapogosian View Post
All I know is I want a steel frame for cost, durability and ease of repair.
I have seen reports of frame failures in all types of frame materials. Steel, Titanium, Aluminum, Carbon Fiber, and multi material composites.

There are differences in types of failures. And, types of things that don't cause failures. Some types of repairs are easier than others.

However, for the most part, if any frame suffers a critical failure, the frame is tossed and replaced.

This especially hits the used market hard as often a used steel frame will be say $50 to $200. A used aluminum frame about the same, and a used Carbon frame maybe $300 to $500.

Professional repair and refinishing really adds up. Even hiring a professional to do a trivial repair can be expensive.

Of course, for touring, there are those times when one might be on the road, and just needs something to keep one moving. But, still, critical frame failures are relatively rare on tour, and one may end up just replacing and keeping moving.

Anyway, I wouldn't overly limit your choices. Good Steel is Good. But, not all steel is really good. And, there are plenty of good aluminum or other materials to choose from.
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Old 10-18-18, 07:17 PM
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I really just want to find information on steel bike frames. I can appreciate that everybody has their own perspective, but I just want to find a source for reviews or comparisons. If you can help with that request, please respond.
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Old 10-18-18, 07:23 PM
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Some good info: https://janheine.wordpress.com/2017/...e-steel-bikes/

Do you live in the Galapagos?
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Old 10-18-18, 07:25 PM
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Originally Posted by galapogosian View Post
Say road comfort. I've sold my car and I'll be riding on roads less than 10 miles one way. Low cost.
Take a look at Surly. They have several models that will fit your needs. They are all available as a frame and their prices are reasonable. You won't find a good steel frame for much less money.

https://surlybikes.com/bikes

What size do you ride, or how tall are you?
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Old 10-18-18, 07:29 PM
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Originally Posted by galapogosian View Post
I really just want to find information on steel bike frames. I can appreciate that everybody has their own perspective, but I just want to find a source for reviews or comparisons. If you can help with that request, please respond.
Frame reviews can be hard to come by. Identify the bike you want and do a google search.

"Surly Long Haul Trucker Review"

https://www.google.com/search?q=Surl...hrome&ie=UTF-8
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Old 10-18-18, 07:31 PM
  #12  
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Depending upon your size, Random Bike Parts may have a killer deal on a steel frame for you.

https://www.randombikeparts.com/coll...frame-700c-new
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Old 10-18-18, 07:31 PM
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I'm trying to research bike parts because I want to put a bike together. I don't know anything about bikes,
I'm all for riders who like to build their own bikes, but a frame up build when, by your own admission, you don't know anything about bikes is a red flag for disappointment. While it isn't rocket science, there is a fair amount of knowledge required to select the appropriate size and geometry of frame, compatible components, and to properly assemble and adjust everything. There are also a few specialized tools required. I suggest something along the route I took; finding a complete used bike in decent working order and learning to adjust, service and upgrade it, starting with the basics and working your way up. If there is a bike co-op in your area, they can be an invaluable resource for information and practice. You'll also find a lot of good vintage steel frames around for very little money. Look for butted or double butted chrome-moly frames from the higher end bikes of the 1970s-90s. Avoid the department store bikes that were typically straight-gauge high tensile (HiTen) steel. While serviceable, the lower end bike frames are typically heavier and have a "dead" feel to them.

If you are hoping to save money by building your own bike, it won't happen. Custom builds with all new components can be a lot of fun and give you the exact bike you want, but in terms of cost, you will come out ahead buying a mass produced complete bike. You can, however, find a lot of good used bikes that may be candidates for a few well planned upgrades.

If you want to build an all around general purpose bike, IMHO you can't get much better than the chrome-moly (higher end steel) rigid MTB and Hybrid frames from the 1990s. Trek 830, 730-750; Specialized Hard Rock; Giant Yukon, etc. The cro-mo road bikes from the same era are also good bets. Be aware that some of the road bike frame sets on older bikes limit you to very narrow tires. I had a Trek 1500 (aluminum) that was a decent first road bike, but even 25mm tires left VERY little clearance.

Last edited by Myosmith; 10-18-18 at 07:50 PM.
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Old 10-18-18, 07:38 PM
  #14  
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Some reasonably priced steel frame sources:

https://surlybikes.com/bikes
https://velo-orange.com/collections/types?q=frames
https://www.somafab.com/bikes-frames/frames
Frames - Black Mountain Cycles

You can peruse the various frames, determine ones that interest you, then google that specific frame to see if there are any reviews.
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Old 10-18-18, 07:42 PM
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New or used?

Soma & Surly are a couple of the top steel manufacturers. But, they come at a price.

Lots of really good used frames out there. Some will be more popular than others, and carry a hefty price tag. However, look for terms like:
  • Chromoly
  • Double Butted (or triple butted)
  • Tre Tubi (less than full butted, but still not bad).
  • Reynolds 531
  • Any Reynolds number < 999
  • Columbus Tubing (various types, most is reasonably good.
  • Vitus also made good tubing.
  • True Temper

You will see various 1010, 20xx, etc tubes. "High Tensile Steel". These have their place, but they do tend to be a sign of cheaper and heavier equipment. They still make good commuter bikes.

If you do look at used and vintage frames, there are a few caveats to be aware of.
  • FRENCH (early Peugeots, Motobecane, Mercier, etc). The often have unique sizes. They are still somewhat supported, but harder to get NEW parts for than other brands. Lots of good used French parts around.
  • ITALIAN. Lots of popularity. The big thing is the bottom brackets tend to be slightly larger than other types. Still, since big brands use them, there still is some continuing support.
  • Rear Triangle Spacing. You may be able to re-space the rear triangle of most steel bikes.
    120mm Pretty much obsolete. Old 5 speed rearends (10 speed bikes).
    126mm Only moderate support. Old 6 speed rearends (12 speed)
    130mm Most common "road" spacing today.
    135mm Common MTB spacing. Loosing favor to more modern Thru-Axles.
    Thru-Axles. Gaining popularity in MTBs and Disc brake applications, but it will make things more expensive.
  • Discs vs rim brakes. The discs are gaining popularity quickly, but plenty of really good rim brakes out there. This may be a distinction of old vs new.
  • Head tubes and headsets. 1" threaded used to be standard (except for the FRENCH). 1 1/8" threadless has been booming in the last 15 years or so. Either works depending on your needs.

You won't find any single answer that fits everyone.
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Old 10-18-18, 07:44 PM
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Craigs List Schwinn +1

https://waterfordbikes.com/w/culture/schwinn-catalogs/
- Look for the lightweights: https://waterfordbikes.com/SchwinnCa...0/1979_12.html
- The weight is usually listed at the bottom of the page.

I just got a Super LeTour 12.2 for $50 (frame/fork). I paid too much. Impulse buy because I was impatient to build a single speed.
https://waterfordbikes.com/SchwinnCa...0/1976_08.html

Another link to get the same stuff: https://bikehistory.org/bikes/letour/

not mine - but an example of what you'll find: https://detroit.craigslist.org/wyn/b...699371890.html

enjoy
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Old 10-18-18, 07:55 PM
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"I don't know anything about bikes" "I want a steel frame"
If you don't know anything about bikes, how do you know you want a steel frame?
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Old 10-18-18, 07:56 PM
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So you are asking huge broad questions with no real practical answers. Give us some info so we can help you. Steel is an awesome frame material but can easily be made to have different qualities or use different parts or things like that. You can find say a superlight steel road bike with True Temper S3 tubing (or whatever the replacement is for them) for racing or a heavy department store bike made with hi-tensile pipe steel and about a billion bikes in between.

If you want info on steel tubing I would look at Columbus, Reynolds, Tange, Dedaccai and Ishiwata who make some of the steel tubes many use and have been using for a long time. Here is another great article on steel tubes: Tubing Article ? Nothing is better than a bike that fits

Basically you are asking: I am hungry I want to know about foods? What you should be asking in that context would be "I like spicy food and want noodles what should I eat?" and then someone could reply say "Pad Kee Mao" or "Penne All'Arrabbiata" or "Dan Dan Mian" and you could say well I cannot eat basil and then we could further narrow it down.

My Co-Motion touring bike is loads different from my Phil Wood road bike is different from my Single Speed Fixed Gear RandoCross Fun Time Machine. Yes they are all steel bikes but they are built differently with different tubing and different width tires (though techincally the Touring and SS/FG bike are similar tire sizes) and all sorts of different parts. Depending on the riding I would be doing I would pick the bike that most fits that but I could not make that determination randomly for someone without some good knowledge of what they are looking for.
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Old 10-18-18, 08:27 PM
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Based on your described riding plan, I'd recommend you look at a used Trek 830, 820, 800, or 520. All of those will be similar to a Surly LHT steel frame bike, were made in Wisconsin with True Temper Cromo tubes, and will cost you a fraction of what a LHT or similar frameset costs, for a frame plus at least some components you can use in your build. They're also plentiful, and still available in a good range of sizes. And the fact that they're 20-30 years old has zero impact on their performance for your purposes.
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Old 10-18-18, 10:21 PM
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I've built up several bikes from 1980s steel frames. I agree with @bcpriess, that old Trek frames are nice. I have one. But they tend to be overpriced here in Wisconsin, compared to decent frames from Schwinn, Fuji, etc. Here are some of the things that I look for:

1. A frame with some reasonably intact components is a plus because it saves you time and money. Especially if it has a seatpost that fits but is not stuck. Figuring out the correct seatpost diameter on a bare frame is tricky. Stuck seatpost could be the death knell for a frame. Even if you don't plan on keeping the parts, having them on the bike so you can measure them is a time saver.

2. Mechanically sound, of course, and well aligned. I can correct some alignment issues, but I'm not a magician.

3. Horizontal dropouts are a plus, since I'm interested in single-speed and IGH builds.

4. Correct size.

5. Clearance for wider tires, which rules out a lot of old "road" bikes.

6. Learning to build wheels is game changing for building bikes.
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Old 10-19-18, 01:35 AM
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Originally Posted by bcpriess View Post
Based on your described riding plan, I'd recommend you look at a used Trek 830, 820, 800, or 520. All of those will be similar to a Surly LHT steel frame bike, were made in Wisconsin with True Temper Cromo tubes, and will cost you a fraction of what a LHT or similar frameset costs, for a frame plus at least some components you can use in your build. They're also plentiful, and still available in a good range of sizes. And the fact that they're 20-30 years old has zero impact on their performance for your purposes.
Absolutely, except that the 700 series is closer in geometry to the LHT. I looked at an LHT when I got back into cycling but ended up with a Trek 720. I later found a 730 frameset that was just a tad larger and went on to become my favorite bike. I'll put it up against an LHT any day for weight, comfort, durability, etc.
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Old 10-19-18, 02:19 AM
  #22  
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You can get frames from here:

https://www.thorncycles.co.uk/bikes
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Old 10-19-18, 08:24 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by galapogosian View Post
Say road comfort. I've sold my car and I'll be riding on roads less than 10 miles one way. Low cost.
Buy a used hybrid for $75 - $100. 99% of them have steel frames.
Put a rack on the back to carry things.
Add your approximate location to your profile.

When something needs fixing, post in the Mechanics sub-forum.
https://www.bikeforums.net/bicycle-mechanics/
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Old 10-19-18, 08:56 AM
  #24  
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So a little something about bikes, since you are not sure what you want.

Material is less important than tire size when it comes to comfort: Wider is better.

Getting at least a 32mm wide tire and you will find it more comfortable. Some bikes go up to 50mm, which is pretty plush.

Carbon handlebars are also quite nice. Very stiff, but does not transmit vibration as much as aluminum. Shop around, you can find flatbars in the $30 range, and drop bars in the $60 range.

My recommendation for a steel frame: Home - Black Mountain Cycles

BTW, steel frames are not as repairable as they used to be. If they are welded, and not brazed, then you can't really repair them or replace a bent tube.

Outside of custom builders, I don't know of any production bike that is lugged and brazed.
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Old 10-19-18, 09:01 AM
  #25  
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There are some great leads here. Thank you all.
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