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Thread: Stock frame recommendations for first steel build

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    Default Stock frame recommendations for first steel build

    TL;DR - good stock steel frame for nice road bike just for fun riding?

    Longer version:

    Slow day at work, and post-surgery time off bike has taken my thoughts to a new project: going steel for my road bike.

    Background: male, pushing 40, sport background (read: more ”track” than ”climber”), live in flatland, ride for meditation / type A personality self flagellation purposes.

    All my bikes until now have been carbon. I like to work on my own bikes, and I’ve had it with pressfits, carbon paste, internal routing, batteries, etc. I’m turning retrogrouch, and really like the idea of a steel frame with external cables, threaded bb, cup&cone wheels etc.

    While I possibly could swing it, I wouldn’t want to go custom before riding steel for a few years. Also, 2nd hand market is nonexistent where I live. So a stock frame is what I’m thinking. Luckily, it seems I can fit many of the stock geos pretty well.

    So, what’s good nowadays? I’ve read good stuff here and elsewhere about Ritchey Road Logic. Then there’s ”modern” steel from Mason (Resolution), Cinelli (Nemo Tig) among others, but I haven’t seen a lot of stuff on forums about those.

    As for the rest of the build, I have a pair of Zondas and C24s, and a trusty Ultegra 6800 that still has miles left and feels like a well worn pair of slippers.

    Thoughts?

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    Default Re: Stock frame recommendations for first steel build

    Hard to go wrong with the Ritchey.
    I have an aluminum Standert, which I like a lot. A little different than larger brands if that appeals to you. I believe their steel frames are made in Taiwan.
    My buddy has a steel Mason gravel bike and he likes it. Pretty sharp looking.

    With supply chain issues these days you may want to think about how soon you want one and choose based on availability as well.
    my name is Matt

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    Default Re: Stock frame recommendations for first steel build

    Where are you located ? In USA I would go for Ritchey, in UK for Shand or Genesis, in other parts of europe especially Italy the choice is quite big.

    I have a soft spot for Tommasini Tecno and De Rosa Neo Primato.

    You say you are turning retrogrouch, it all depends if you want small tubes of old and possibly quill stem or going with more modern oversized tubes and 1-1/8 steerer.
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    Default Re: Stock frame recommendations for first steel build

    Pretty sure someone will mention Gunnar in 3, 2, 1...

    But given that OP mentioned "turning retrogrouch" I'll pass on some advice that was offered to me a dozen or more years ago, something which I've subsequently referred to as "the single best piece of advice I ever got on an internet cycling forum" -- and mind you, it wasn't just a single instance of advice, but a constantly recurring reinforcement by multiple individuals of this single piece of advice:

    Get a Japanese lugged steel bike from the 1980s, preferably by Panasonic, Miyata, Bridgestone, Fuji, or Centurion.

    There are a ton of them out there, unless they were left outside chained to a tree in the rain for a decade they're indestructable, folks sell 'em for relatively little money, they're super-simple to work on, if you cold-set the rear dropouts they can accomodate all modern components, and they'll give you just enough of the "Ah-ha, so this is why folks like steel frames!" sensation without spoiling you for when you finally do get a modern, made-to-measure, hand-crafted steel frame... 'cuz you know you will eventually :)

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    Default Re: Stock frame recommendations for first steel build

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Ross View Post
    and they'll give you just enough of the "Ah-ha, so this is why folks like steel frames!" sensation
    Or you will end up with the "Is that it? really?" feeling as well.
    --
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    Default Re: Stock frame recommendations for first steel build

    Wow, so much input already, I’m humbled!

    Robin3mj: thanks for the tip on Standert, Triebwerk looks interesting - am I an idiot thinking that I would prefer external cabling?

    Sk_tle: I’m in Finland. As for ”retrogrouch”, maybe it was the wrong word, I meant that I don’t care for di2-hydro-aerorims-pressfit stuff and would, maybe, ultimately, build a steel bike as the pinnacle of the traditional style, as in, DA9100 mechanical group with rim brakes, great low profile alloy clinchers (Shamal?), and so on. Lugged frames might not be the best for that (even though the Tecno and Primato look reeeeeaally nice)..?

    Bob Ross: thanks for the tip, might have to look into that one, if only ’cause it would be an interesting project in its own right.

    As for the ”is that it, really” of riding steel, that’s exactly what I want to rule out before even thinking about custom. Let’s just say that cycling is not my first hobby, and I have some previous custom hobby stuff in the attic that breaks my heart every time I go there…. :D

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    Default Re: Stock frame recommendations for first steel build

    Quote Originally Posted by Arimmki View Post
    As for the ”is that it, really” of riding steel, that’s exactly what I want to rule out before even thinking about custom. Let’s just say that cycling is not my first hobby, and I have some previous custom hobby stuff in the attic that breaks my heart every time I go there…. :D
    Well try to get hold of a second hand frameset then (but made with a good tubeset, not plumbers pipe like surlys and entry level Ones). To me going back to a steel frame (a late 80's or early 90's columbus SL made frame) was a kind of deception. Probably because I expected a lot from the stupid "steel is real" mantra all hipster were spouting. I shouldn't have been deceived because all my kids/early teenager bikes had been steel and I had never felt missing steel when I moved to other materials (first was a specialized epic allez carbon with alu lugs and fork, then team issued alu bikes before going to carbon). I am still pretty sure you can have a great bike made of steel but to me there is definitely no revelation or "special extra feel" to expect from that material. The difference to me comes more from the ears, they sound different. In term of feeling I think 5 psi more or less on your tires or a few degrees/mm of difference in the geo makes much more difference than a difference in material.
    Last edited by sk_tle; 09-09-2021 at 10:18 AM.
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    Default Re: Stock frame recommendations for first steel build

    If you're in Finland, how about an older Merckx from the EU market? I love the MXL and Corsa 01 bikes I have. They're heavier, for sure, but ride so, so nicely. You'd just need to pick up an Italian threaded BB for your 6800 crank and you're good to go.

    Before getting any bike, are you pretty clear on what geometry needs you have? Helps to narrow down what you're looking for.

    Quill vs 1-1/8" stems: one issue for me with quills is that handlebar choice is more limited. If you decide to go quill stem and threaded headset, be sure you have a 26.0 handlebar you know you like.

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    Default Re: Stock frame recommendations for first steel build

    Here's your Japanese steel is real rig:



    If you ride a 60cm I have an 853 IF Crown Jewel that's in impeccable condition. Mike Flanigan of Fat City, IF, ANT, and Seven welded it and Tyler of Firefly also had a hand in the frame. It's Somerville era and would convert Thomas.

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    Default Re: Stock frame recommendations for first steel build

    I think whatever you get, you are best off with a frame where rear spacing, bottom bracket threading and wheel size (700c, not 27") allow for use of currently available (supply chain meltdown aside) parts, like the ones you've listed in your original post. Threadless fork/headset is also a plus, but there are still high quality quill stems and bars available for 1" threaded forks. Nitto makes most of those options, available through places like SimWorks or SomaFab.

    I think the Ritchey Road Logic rim-brake frame is easy pick here. Plug and play. Plus you get modern, wider road tire compatibility. After that, picking up a recent generation steel frame from some of the companies like Independent Fabrication or Serotta, where the construction quality is high and modern lightweight steel tube sets are used. Just be cautious of buying someone else's custom bike. You don't want to ride someone else's geometry mistakes.

    And get a complete frame and fork, preferably a fork original to the frame. It makes a difference. IMHO, a nice steel fork made as a match to its steel frame - nothing better. Different, lighter, stiffer, etc. but not better. But that's a completely subjective evaluation on my part.
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    Default Re: Stock frame recommendations for first steel build

    I would be amazed if you grabbed one of the modern Ritchey Road Logic frames and were disappointed by it. They're so good if you can fit one of the stock sizes.

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    Default Re: Stock frame recommendations for first steel build

    Quote Originally Posted by sk_tle View Post
    In term of feeling I think 5 psi more or less on your tires or a few degrees/mm of difference in the geo makes much more difference than a difference in material.
    I understand. Does it work the other way around, too, in the sense that riding a steel frame, you wouldn’t think that you’re missing something that only carbon can give (again, for the purposes of fun riding)?

    My biggest motivation, perhaps, is (perceived) ease of ownership. External cabling, threaded bb, rim brakes, all parts as standard as possible. Seems the only frames that still provide this are steel…

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    Default Re: Stock frame recommendations for first steel build

    Quote Originally Posted by thomas View Post
    If you're in Finland, how about an older Merckx from the EU market
    I’ve thought about vintage frames, and there the biggest challenge could be my OCD: I couldn’t see myself putting a modern groupset on a vintage Merckx, so then I’d have to hunt down some NOS parts, learn how to maintain them, etc…which would probably be awesome, all the way until my wife files for a divorce.

    Yes, maybe one of the main points of the build is to make it easy to work on, so that a maximum share of the precious moments I get to spend on bike-related stuff could be spent on the bike instead of agonizing over spare parts and tools.

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    Default Re: Stock frame recommendations for first steel build

    Quote Originally Posted by holliscx View Post
    If you ride a 60cm I have an 853 IF Crown Jewel that's in impeccable condition.
    Sounds really nice. Unfortunately, I’m a 55/56 depending on the geo.

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    Default Re: Stock frame recommendations for first steel build

    Quote Originally Posted by j44ke View Post
    I think whatever you get, you are best off with a frame —— allow for use of currently available (supply chain meltdown aside) parts

    I think the Ritchey Road Logic rim-brake frame is easy pick here. Plug and play. Plus you get modern, wider road tire compatibility.
    Thanks for your view, and I’m leaning the same way. Cinelli Nemo, Standert Triebwerk and Mason Resolution are all around 2000€, while Road Logic in rim brake goes for 1300€. Italy vs Taiwan, but for my money, I’ll trust that Tom has QC in place.

    Customer service said should be back in stock in October. And I get 15% off for first order on their EU website!

    I hope they have a new colorway coming, current yellow on grey is not very exciting…then again, could go well for a ”working man’s bike” aesthetic :D

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    Default Re: Stock frame recommendations for first steel build

    Quote Originally Posted by rmplum View Post
    They're so good if you can fit one of the stock sizes.
    Indeed, I just ran the numbers and it seems that with the 16mm stack height of the headset I could get my current position with size 55 frame, 110/-7° stem, and zero spacers. Cue dramatic soundtrack.

    Not sure of how much difference in ride feel it would make compared to my current setup of 20mm of spacers, but I’ve understood that young females will throw panties at charmingly greying older men in weird stretchy outfits if there are no bits between the stem and frame of said man’s vehicle.

    I might have misunderstood. Anyway, starting slammed would leave some room for upwards movement in the future if and when the years start to take their toll on my back and hamstrings.

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    Default Re: Stock frame recommendations for first steel build

    Quote Originally Posted by Arimmki View Post
    I’ve thought about vintage frames, and there the biggest challenge could be my OCD: I couldn’t see myself putting a modern groupset on a vintage Merckx, so then I’d have to hunt down some NOS parts, learn how to maintain them, etc…which would probably be awesome, all the way until my wife files for a divorce.

    Yes, maybe one of the main points of the build is to make it easy to work on, so that a maximum share of the precious moments I get to spend on bike-related stuff could be spent on the bike instead of agonizing over spare parts and tools.
    This 1981 frame built with a hodgepodge of parts is probably the best bike I've ever owned.



    Other than maybe a headset wrench, there's no unusual tools required.

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    Default Re: Stock frame recommendations for first steel build


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    Default Re: Stock frame recommendations for first steel build

    Those canti Ebisu are so nice. But for the price (new), you're in Indy Fab, Gunnar, etc. territory.
    my name is Matt

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    Default Re: Stock frame recommendations for first steel build

    Used titanium is another option for maybe similar money.
    Ti can be thrown around like no other material.
    I agree with the advice it should fit wider tires though.

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