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Best steel bike maker

Old 06-09-21, 08:48 PM
  #26  
seypat
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There's also the option of finding a frame building class and building it yourself. At least the builder and the buyer would be of the same mindset.
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Old 06-10-21, 08:33 AM
  #27  
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A little off base, but a Lynskey GR300 is ~$4-5k, depending on build options. Titanium, not steel. If you're strictly looking at steel bikes, then go ahead and ignore the suggestion.

As for modern steel, I wouldn't mind adding a Ritchey to the stable - a Road Logic Disc or Swiss Cross would likely fit the bill there.
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Old 06-10-21, 11:01 AM
  #28  
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I would recommend Standert. https://standert.de/ I bought the Triebwerk Disc with Force AXS and upgraded to the HUNT Carbon wheels for $4600 shipped. If you go with the regular wheels it will fit your budget, i believe. Columbus steel.
There's also the Pfadfinder which is their gravel bike.
Unfortunately everything is sold out at the moment (as is the current norm) but if you follow them on IG you can see when they release stuff.
Super nice people to ddeal with.
Remember their prices are including German VAT which you dont pay if you're in the US.
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Old 06-10-21, 02:51 PM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
First off, there is no best steel frame maker. There are a ton of incredible custom builders and plenty of great stock manufactured options.

As asked already, is it $4k for a frame or $4k for a full bike? That alone will determine if you go custom or standard manufactured stock.

- Custom will give you a lighter frame since it won't have to pass fatigue testing that stock manufactured frames must pass.
- Stock manufactured will be less expensive.

After you figure if you are going custom or stock manufactured, then you need to find a frame that has the geometry that you like.
Posters can list all sorts of options, but if you like a quick turning bike then a bunch of slower high trail suggestions don't help.
Part of geometry will be tire clearance. It sounds like you will want a 35-42mm tire clearance, but that's a guess.

Norco Search 725
Kona Rove LTD
Ribble CGR 725
Breadwinner
Ritchey Road Logic
Ritchey Swiss Cross
Brother Cycles
Fairlight Secan
Fairlight Strael
All City Zigzag
All City Cosmic Stallion
Jamis Renegade
Mason Resolution
Condor Bivio Gravel
Etc etc.

A stock manufactured gravel steel frame will not be light, even if it's an 853 frame or something similar. It will be overbuilt because it has to be in order to pass fatigue testing.

If I were to go custom, I would start with Breadwinner. I would also then look at local builders in my region. There are a lot, you just need to Google around.

If you go stock manufactured and want road bike clearance the Ritchey Road Logic, All City Zigzag, and Fairlight Strael would be where I would start as all are quality and have different geometries.

If you want stock manufactured gravel tire clearance then Fairlight Secan, Jamis Renegade, and Ritchey Swiss Cross would be four great ones to start with since all are high quality and geometry will vary.
I really appreciate this feedback as well as the feedback throughout the thread! Sorry for delayed responses - the forum doesn't allow newish members to post regularly. To answer some of the above questions:

- $4k for a completed for frame? Either way. My wife and I are both looking at bikes, and in the ideal world, getting something that is tailored to our bodies and needs is extremely attractive. We wouldn't even mind spending up to $6k given that this bike would be a purchase that we would cherish for decades to come.
- I have looked up all sorts of shops. I live in rural Mississippi, and there isn't many bike custom shops of note within a close distance. Thomson is in Macon, GA which is only about 5 hours from here which isn't awful.
- We would like to go custom if we can afford it given that we were already planning on dropping $3.5-$4k on a production bike like the Giant mentioned in the original post. When we add another set of wheels and tires, we would be looking at pushing $5k overall. Why not go a bit further and get something custom?
- The problem being is that there are a plethora of custom shops around. Breadwinner seems fantastic on everything I can find. Speedvagen seems cool, too, as did IndyFab, Ritte, Horse, and a host of others. However, I have no idea what separates them out. We want a bike that is well made, could handle centuries on the road and on the gravel, could do a few overnight trips by bike, and to join in on our club rides.

Thanks all!
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Old 06-10-21, 03:02 PM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by Jburrow View Post
I really appreciate this feedback as well as the feedback throughout the thread! Sorry for delayed responses - the forum doesn't allow newish members to post regularly. To answer some of the above questions:

- $4k for a completed for frame? Either way. My wife and I are both looking at bikes, and in the ideal world, getting something that is tailored to our bodies and needs is extremely attractive. We wouldn't even mind spending up to $6k given that this bike would be a purchase that we would cherish for decades to come.
- I have looked up all sorts of shops. I live in rural Mississippi, and there isn't many bike custom shops of note within a close distance. Thomson is in Macon, GA which is only about 5 hours from here which isn't awful.
- We would like to go custom if we can afford it given that we were already planning on dropping $3.5-$4k on a production bike like the Giant mentioned in the original post. When we add another set of wheels and tires, we would be looking at pushing $5k overall. Why not go a bit further and get something custom?
- The problem being is that there are a plethora of custom shops around. Breadwinner seems fantastic on everything I can find. Speedvagen seems cool, too, as did IndyFab, Ritte, Horse, and a host of others. However, I have no idea what separates them out. We want a bike that is well made, could handle centuries on the road and on the gravel, could do a few overnight trips by bike, and to join in on our club rides.

Thanks all!
First off- mstate in my name= mississippi state. Cool that you are down there and yeah- its one location in the US that is for sure a desert when it comes to steel builders. There are some in KY and TN as well as OK and TX, but none really close to you.

As for what separates builders- its a bunch of things and nothing all rolled into one.
- lead time is good, it means they are in demand. too much lead time is no good because you want your bike this decade.
- some weld only, some use lugs, some fillet braze. No style is really better than another, its just aesthetic preference for the end user. Focus on one style if you really have a passion, otherwise this isnt important.
- some are limited in what they can offer like no thru axles or only post mount disc brakes. If that matters to you, then its a way to whittle down the field.
- builder's experience plays a part. Ritchey or Sachs are legendary because they have done this for so long AND market themselves. Others are incredible but dont market themselves(Jeff Bock) and you never know of them.
- look for someone you identify with- whether its their background story, their unique finishing touches to droupouts, their paint schemes, or anything like that. Then see if they are easy to work with. Just like a general contractor, if they cant ever get back to you and dont ever really listen to you, its frustrating.


Waterford/Gunnar is another option- its a Schwinn relative and some like having that connection to US cycling history.
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Old 06-10-21, 03:25 PM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
First off- mstate in my name= mississippi state. Cool that you are down there and yeah- its one location in the US that is for sure a desert when it comes to steel builders. There are some in KY and TN as well as OK and TX, but none really close to you.

As for what separates builders- its a bunch of things and nothing all rolled into one.
- lead time is good, it means they are in demand. too much lead time is no good because you want your bike this decade.
- some weld only, some use lugs, some fillet braze. No style is really better than another, its just aesthetic preference for the end user. Focus on one style if you really have a passion, otherwise this isnt important.
- some are limited in what they can offer like no thru axles or only post mount disc brakes. If that matters to you, then its a way to whittle down the field.
- builder's experience plays a part. Ritchey or Sachs are legendary because they have done this for so long AND market themselves. Others are incredible but dont market themselves(Jeff Bock) and you never know of them.
- look for someone you identify with- whether its their background story, their unique finishing touches to droupouts, their paint schemes, or anything like that. Then see if they are easy to work with. Just like a general contractor, if they cant ever get back to you and dont ever really listen to you, its frustrating.


Waterford/Gunnar is another option- its a Schwinn relative and some like having that connection to US cycling history.

no way! I live and attend/work at MSU. #HailState.

I appreciate the feedback greatly. It appears that choosing the builder is as important if not more so than choosing what to get if going custom.

Ritchey does have me intrigued. Are they custom as well? I know they do make production-esque stuff.
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Old 06-10-21, 04:21 PM
  #32  
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Iím extremely happy with my Ritchey, so happy Iím considering buying a second.
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Old 06-10-21, 04:27 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by bampilot06 View Post
Iím extremely happy with my Ritchey, so happy Iím considering buying a second.

awesome! Do they build custom stuff? Are they an off-the-shelf brand? I know nothing about Ritchey minus their handlebars.
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Old 06-10-21, 04:41 PM
  #34  
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Tom Ritchey

Ritchey is an amazing guy. I think of him as the American equivalent of Cino Cinelli---not just frame builders, but also superlative designers and restless innovators. I don't think he has built custom frames since the 1980s or so, however.
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Old 06-10-21, 04:44 PM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by Jburrow View Post
awesome! Do they build custom stuff? Are they an off-the-shelf brand? I know nothing about Ritchey minus their handlebars.

Iím not sure about custom, but shoot them an email, they have always responded to my emails and phone calls.
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Old 06-10-21, 04:47 PM
  #36  
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This is a 2002 ish Ritchey Steel Breakaway, the frame comes apart and fits in a case designed by Ritchey for travel.
Iím debating now between getting a new Road logic, or Cross.
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Old 06-10-21, 04:55 PM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by terrymorse View Post
Wonderful qualities of steel?

Wondering what those might beÖ

Ooh, I got one: steel sets off the traffic light sensors.


Speaking just for myself: I can build it myself, and I can repair myself, should the need arise.
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Old 06-10-21, 05:40 PM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by bampilot06 View Post
Iím not sure about custom, but shoot them an email, they have always responded to my emails and phone calls.
thanks for the responses! I see that Ritchey sells frames and everything else for a bike. I assume you just need to put it together?

I may reach out to them. My wife and I are kinda scratching our heads at either getting a custom or just sticking to a production bike. There is of course a price difference, but considering that we arenít racing, we donít donít know what to do. We do want a lighter bike to make the climbs a bit better for us. But, we want something that is comfy to ride centuries. I assume Ritchey can accommodate.
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Old 06-10-21, 05:43 PM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by bampilot06 View Post
Iím extremely happy with my Ritchey, so happy Iím considering buying a second.
awesome! Why do you love your Ritchey so much? I am curious as I am comparing their lineup with the likes of All-City and Surly.
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Old 06-10-21, 05:59 PM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by Jburrow View Post
awesome! Why do you love your Ritchey so much? I am curious as I am comparing their lineup with the likes of All-City and Surly.

My other bike is a carbon C2 by Cervelo. The cervelo has endurance geometry, where the Ritchey is a little more aggressive. I find the Ritchey to be more comfortable. This month I have done two 120 mile rides, one on the cervelo and the other on the Ritchey. For me the Ritchey is a joy to ride, more responsive, and smoother feel.

I bought mine used, but if I get another one here is one of the dealers I would consider.

https://www.adrenalinebikes.com/store.cfm?do=search
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Old 06-10-21, 08:09 PM
  #41  
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Waterford. My 2007 RS33 Campy Record is still performing exceptionally, comfortable, fast and handles like a dream. Custom built and quite honestly, I see no reason to upgrade the frame. Excellent company.
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Old 06-10-21, 10:16 PM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by Jburrow View Post
no way! I live and attend/work at MSU. #HailState.

I appreciate the feedback greatly. It appears that choosing the builder is as important if not more so than choosing what to get if going custom.

Ritchey does have me intrigued. Are they custom as well? I know they do make production-esque stuff.
Ritchey doesn't do custom frames. Their production frames are on the lighter side of things.
- their Road Logic road frame is well loved, but only clears 32mm tires.
- their Outback gravel frame is improved over prior versions and well made. Geometey isn't for everyone though, especially the long chainstays. Cable running along the top tube is a dated style.
- their Swiss Cross CX frame is well loved and has clearance for what you want. Cable running along the top tube is a dated style.

I built a road frame in a framebuilding class a few years ago. It was an amazing experience and I absolutely love the bike. Had Ritchey made a road fame in my size, I would have gone with the Ritchey. I geek hard on the brand.

As mentioned- geometry is the biggest thing to consider. If a bike turns faster than you like and feels too twitchy, then it's less fun. If you are spending this much, even for a stock frameset, get what you like. There is enough geometry variety across brands for everyone to find something quality that responds how they like.
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Old 06-10-21, 10:29 PM
  #43  
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You can get a custom Gunnar or Waterford. Gunnars are less expensive.
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Old 06-11-21, 01:20 PM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by Broctoon View Post
Letís see... if the bike tips over and gets a little nick or ding, it usually wonít render the whole thing unsafe, requiring you to either scrap it or spend hundreds of dollars for the repair. So thereís that.
LOL.

What kind of magical frame material are we talking about which renders itself useless with a nick or ding?
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Old 06-11-21, 02:12 PM
  #45  
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Originally Posted by MattTheHat View Post
LOL.

What kind of magical frame material are we talking about which renders itself useless with a nick or ding?
A guy I ride with hasnt had his carbon road bike for the last month due to it falling over- the NDS chainstay cracked. He bought some DIY carbon repair system and is working on seeing if he can repair it since there is no downside- it works or he gets a new bike.

Freak incident, but it very much happened.
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Old 06-11-21, 03:18 PM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
Ritchey doesn't do custom frames. Their production frames are on the lighter side of things.
- their Road Logic road frame is well loved, but only clears 32mm tires.
- their Outback gravel frame is improved over prior versions and well made. Geometey isn't for everyone though, especially the long chainstays. Cable running along the top tube is a dated style.
- their Swiss Cross CX frame is well loved and has clearance for what you want. Cable running along the top tube is a dated style.

I built a road frame in a framebuilding class a few years ago. It was an amazing experience and I absolutely love the bike. Had Ritchey made a road fame in my size, I would have gone with the Ritchey. I geek hard on the brand.

As mentioned- geometry is the biggest thing to consider. If a bike turns faster than you like and feels too twitchy, then it's less fun. If you are spending this much, even for a stock frameset, get what you like. There is enough geometry variety across brands for everyone to find something quality that responds how they like.
I appreciate the comments so far. I see Gunnar and Waterford recommended frequently as others have mentioned. My wife and I would ideally love to find a one-stop shop for both of us. She is hard to fit, and I am a bit more normal in terms of geo. That said, having something custom must be nice which is why I am considering also. But, is it worth the $$ if you are of average proportions? Looking at Ritchey and Jamis/Giant/Specialized/RodeoLabs for off-the-shelf-esque stuff. Breadwinner, Speedvagen, Stinner, Gunnar, Waterford have me intrigued if I go the custom route. I just canít decide if there are pros-cons I am missing between the two sects of bike, CF/High end steel, and between the custom shops. I basically want something that is well made, fits me well, and can do everything from the gravel/road event, centuries, and leisure cruises.

I think she likes the look of Breadwinner, Speedvagen, and Gunnar/Waterford the best. I have actually emailed with Ira at Breadwinner - very friendly and willing to talk to a total stranger about what they do and what they make. Leaning Breadwinner.



Thanks everyone so far!
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Old 06-11-21, 04:34 PM
  #47  
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
A guy I ride with hasnt had his carbon road bike for the last month due to it falling over- the NDS chainstay cracked. He bought some DIY carbon repair system and is working on seeing if he can repair it since there is no downside- it works or he gets a new bike.

Freak incident, but it very much happened.
Let me offer one additional data point. I can think of 9 crashes Iíve had on 5 different crabon road bikes over the past 3 years. Not a single one suffered anything other than scratched paint. I think I crashed my Diverge at least 4 times.
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Old 06-11-21, 05:18 PM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by Jburrow View Post

I think she likes the look of Breadwinner, Speedvagen, and Gunnar/Waterford the best. I have actually emailed with Ira at Breadwinner - very friendly and willing to talk to a total stranger about what they do and what they make. Leaning Breadwinner.
Breadwinner frame and Enve fork-$2845. Gunnar frame and Enve fork-$1500. Made to measure, add $350.
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Old 06-11-21, 05:39 PM
  #49  
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Originally Posted by big john View Post
Breadwinner frame and Enve fork-$2845. Gunnar frame and Enve fork-$1500. Made to measure, add $350.
ah! Thank you for breaking this down. Any real difference in quality? I also want to throw in Mosaic bikes as well. They also caught our attention.
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Old 06-11-21, 06:25 PM
  #50  
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You need to consider what steel you are getting in your frame.
They are certainly not all equal.
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