Is Steel Real? | 6 Things You Didn’t Know About Steel

Is Steel Real? | 6 Things You Didn’t Know About Steel


The popularity of high-end steel bike frames has risen from the ashes in recent years. Simon Richardson tells you 6 things you may not know about the traditional tubing material.

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Ex-Professional Cyclist Simon Richardson explains some key facts about steel bicycles and why they are still a popular choice for a traditionalist. Particularly those who wish to have a frame built to their exact needs.

Simon explores topics such as:
– Is Steel Real?
– Is Steel Heavy?
– Is Steel Comfortable?
– Is Steel Customisable?
– Can Steel Be Repaired?
– Can Steel Rust?

Let us know what you think of steel frames in the comments below! 👇

Watch more on GCN…
5 Things You Didn’t Know About Aluminium 📹
7 Things You Didn’t Know About Carbon Fiber 📹

Music:
Kir Royale – Arthur Pochon

Photos: © Bettiniphoto / & ©Tim De Waele /

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100 Comments on "Is Steel Real? | 6 Things You Didn’t Know About Steel"


  1. Your YouTube clips never disappoint! What a great service you provide. I ride an old 1989 Cinelli during the shoulder seasons, and a carbon Colnago during the heat of the summer here in Canada. I truly enjoy riding both bikes. You're absolutely right in declaring that one cannot reach the conclusion that one material is better than the other. It depends. At age 56, I'm finding a greater affinity for steel because of the forgiving ride quality. Speed, on the other hand, diminishes with each passing year. LOL.

    Reply

  2. This is probably the most important thing that you have to know. If you ride for fun, steel is fine. If you are a pro racer, carbon is the best for you. If you ride for fun and you have a lot of money, carbon is a choice. But I will definitely not recommend an aluminum frame. Go get a plastic instead. 😂😂😂

    Reply

  3. Can anyone advise me where to buy frame saver online? I searched in crc and didn't find anything

    Reply

  4. Bikes don't actually make you faster even a kilogram lighter. Most pro racing bikes exceed the UCI minimum by up to a kilo, because pros are more concerned with other aspects of bikes.

    Reply

  5. You explain exactly why the biggest load of crap ever sold to consumers was the idea that we should trade with communist China…..They make crap from square one. IM old enough to remember when they couldnt even get cardboard boxes right. We consider it silly, but that also requires decent "recipes" and processes. Trump and the trade issues will be a blessing for consumers in the western world in the long run….we will go back to expecting quality even at lowest rung. NO we do not get what we paid for…and havent for a long time.

    Reply

  6. What say you guys from dude here in California? I want a steel bad. I think about it almost daily. Custom made steel or factory made?

    Reply

  7. I have a custom steel mountain bike, 29er. I love that it is made for my physiology, although I can't prove that it actually is, and that it matters, but it is mojo. And it is made in the US, I live in the US, so I support US craftsmanship, which I think is a good thing. Does that make me a Nationalist? And the tubing was made in the US. And I know it probably won't break, because I am a big guy and it was built very strong. My only non-steel bike in my life was an aluminum Trek mountain bike, and I will say that it seemed to me that the frame was not very compliant, like it was rattling around underneath me on the rough stuff, and steel seems to absorb more of the energy from hits. And my frame was affordable. Steel is good!

    Reply

  8. I switched from aluminum to steel..and the ride is way better on steel..yes takes a little more time going up hill but ive found that the have to pack so much aluminum to make it strong that the difference is only a couple of pounds in weight..touring bikes are mainly steel from my observation..

    Reply

  9. Si, for how long will you carry on having a cold?!
    My personal record is 8 weeks.
    Do yourself a favor and stay at home for 5 days.
    Get well soon.

    Reply

  10. I built a 15 lb bike with extra oversized 853 steel. Okay John Slawta built the frameset but I picked out all the parts and assembled it.

    Reply

  11. One thing you didn’t mention which is one of the most important factors of steel is its fatigue characteristics.

    Steel (without corrosion) can in theory last forever, under a certain stress steel can withstand any number of stress cycles, aluminium however no matter how much stress it receives will fatigue over time ending in catastrophic structural failures.

    Reply

  12. I grew up with steel. Started with a Schwinn Varsity. Continued to all Campy Italvega bicycles. I still have my Italian bikes and boy are they beautiful!

    Columbus, Reynolds, Tange, Ishiwata, and True Temper—if it's steel, I love it. My bicycle fleet is mostly steel with a few aluminum bikes in the mix. Never accepted carbon.

    Reply

  13. Having recently bought a steel touing bike after years of having both aluminum and carbon frames I had forgotten what a beautiful ride steel provides, it's so smooth and a lot of fun, steel Is still the daddy of bike frames

    Reply

  14. I had a lotus made with champion number 2 tubing I put so many miles on it I cracked the rear dropout. ……I was heartbroken. ……took it to a welder……he had it fixed in about 1 day and could not even tell it was ever damaged

    Reply

  15. All i know is that a kilogram of steel is heavier than a kilogram of feathers.

    Because steel is heavier than feathers

    Reply

  16. 80 years ago the french used to make 7-8 kg fully equipped custom touring steel bikes, now we have 7-8 kg carbon bikes and everybody says how light they are in comparison with steel. READ "The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles: Craftsmanship, Elegance, and Function" and you will learn.

    Reply

  17. I have a Bianchi Pinella 2005 steel born, been riding it for 13 years now has not rust at all very good frame that I'm riding

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  18. Furthermore steel is a very environmentally friendly material, in terms of energy use when being produced (particularly compared to aluminium) and in terms of capacity to being repaired and recycled. That is a factor worth mentioning considering that the bike is used by many as a sustainable form of transport. Furthermore if steel fatigues and breakes, the cracks tend to appear slowly, while the likes of aluminium or carbon just break suddenly. I once stopped a slowly growing crack on one of my steel bikes at the seat tube by drilling a hole. And after another 10 years the frame is still fine.

    Reply

  19. For those of you fortunate enough to ride a custom Sachs, Litton, or Rex, there is nothing to match the quality of a custom steel frame made by a master framebuilder- and NOT by a robot! And not to mention a custom steel fork as well.

    Reply

  20. You should just do an episode on designing and building a custom bike then you can have a custom bike of your own when your done welding it

    Reply

  21. Thats why i love my bike haha, and thats what i keep tellin my mates… steel is better than carbon case closed folks.

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  22. Ffs. I tried to brake ant the fron wheel advanced like 8 meters without me. Im buying a fucking new one. Turns out i got a frame that was cracked and soldered like crap

    Reply

  23. Excellent video! As an old "Biker" friend would say.. "there's only two kinds of bikers in this world… those that ride Harleys, and those that don't"! The advantages… and the disadvantages are not "cut & dried", more personal preference. I learned a lot about steel, thanks.

    Reply

  24. I would prefer a carbon frame but opted for a Reynolds 953 in case of a bad crash not much difference.

    Reply

  25. Steel is fully recyclable, aluminium alloys as well, if it's sorted properly. Pieces made of carbon fiber are not, it ends as waste. End of discussion for me as far as cf is concerned.

    Reply

  26. Steel is for real men who make their own beer or wine and eat home made pickled olives. Carbon is for girly men who talk about protein shakes, power meters and strava times.

    Reply

  27. I bought a rather expensive Ciocc retro steel frame, new 3 years ago. It developed fatigue cracks on the down tube during the 3rd summer of riding. I can confirm steel is VERY comfortable but the tubes are made so thin, I don't believe it's any more durable. I wouldn't trust it being repaired either. My new bike is aluminum.

    Reply

  28. I do prefer steel frame bike when I’m off road and aluminium when i ride my touring bike or road bike

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  29. I sold my two aluminium bikes and bought one steel. Best decision I made in my life. Will take that bike to my grave. I swear.

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  30. You can narrow it down to one simple question.
    If there is a fire in your basement or garage and you only have time to save >one< of your bikes. Which one would you grab? Your state of the art 5000,-$ plastic Ferrari or your '88 Colnago with the original Campa Record group which you bought with your last penny at the age of 18 and which has been in your possession ever since ??????????

    Reply

  31. I have a carbon Madone Project One, aluminum Spec. Diverge, aluminum Crockett cross, and my favorite a 3 yr.old Ritchey Road Logic with carbon bars. It's ride is Sweet. The Madone has Dura Ace deep carbon rims . It's stiff. The Ritchey is my favorite road bike . A bit heavier but a lot nicer riding. Would not buy another carbon bike. Every one I've had broke including the Madone , twice I'm 7 for 7 with carbon. I have steel bikes from the 70s and 80s
    They still ride fine. I ride thousands of miles on gravel. Aluminum or steel only for me.

    Reply

  32. As long as you keep them out of the rain, steel frames last for many, many years. My Pinarello, 1988 edition, has a Columbus lugged steel frame, and the bike is still alive and kicking 31 years later, although it needs a complete restoration. All Italian components, mostly original. Getting a new carbon fiber bike next month because it is probably time to retire old Red (Ferrari red color).

    Reply

  33. I love steel bikes. I've never rode a carbon bike but sure do love steel over aluminum. Weight isn't an issue for but I enjoy the feel off steel. And I love the look of a retro steel look.

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  34. Carbon fibre for performance,
    Steel for ruggedness and reliability, especially for everyday use.

    Reply

  35. I've gotten hit many times, on my steel bike; in San Francisco, the only thing I've replaced has been the wheels.

    Reply

  36. In the auto world there was a saying now out of date a bit – there is no substitute for cubic inches. In the cycling world when doing long hill climbs the saying is there is no substitute for cubic mass as in less of it in the rider. No matter how light or new the bike is when two riders of equal fitness climb a hill the light guy will always summit first

    Reply

  37. My 2 carbon bikes weigh 10,5kg and 11,5 kg. My steel bike weighs in at 18,5kg. So, I call shenenigans on 7,75kg steel bike in this video

    Reply

  38. Yes Steel is real, but it's constantly trying not to be.
    …it wants to deteriorate more than any other alloy does, only thick paint and galvanization..keep it from doing so.
    I know because I worked with Hot & Cold steel for 25 years.

    Reply

  39. Maybe People today forget about purpose of training with heavier weight equipment yet working smooth..

    Different story if you going in competition or casual riding in cycling..

    Reply

  40. steel titanium and aluminium the best material for bike carbon fibre is a crap hahahaha

    Reply

  41. Old has been triathlete here. IMO it is all about the training and bike fitting. When starting to hit the podium and the bike weight could truly make the difference between a gold , silver or bronze medal: then is the time to pony up the bucks for carbon. Of course I bought carbon wheels for race days at first opportunity. Carbon 404's made an obvious improvement for non draft legal triathlon racing.

    Reply

  42. Have a Nishiki Modulus SRT it's steel. Got it 1996 still runs great. Looking at Bianchi and Cannondale carbon or aluminium. Nice Presentation 🚲👍

    Reply

  43. 6.8 kilo's. You can do it with steel. And it will last 100's of years and still col hunt.

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  44. Weight differences between carbon, aluminum and steel bikes are not as great as most believe. In my stable of bikes the Volagi Liscio II (carbon) is the lightest, but only by 1-1/2 lb. under my Trek Crockett (alum). My wife’s Trek Madone (carbon) is actually 1/2 lb. heavier than the alum Crockett and less than 2 bs. Lighter than my Volagi Viaje (steel). The heaviest bike in my garage is the Trek FX-2 (alum) which is more than 4 lbs. heavier than the steel Volagi.
    Volagi Liscio II (carbon) 18 lbs.
    Trek Crockett (alum) 19.5 lbs.
    Trek Madone (carbon) 20 lbs. (2009 wsd 4.7 model)
    Volagi Viaje (steel) 21-3/4 lbs.
    Trek FX-2 (alum) 26.5 lbs.
    The steel Volagi is a very comfortable ride, and if I were inclined to replace the alloy wheels, bars, stem and seatpost with carbon, it could be very close to 20 lbs., the weight of the older carbon Madone.

    Reply

  45. Have you tried stainless steel frame bike? From what I've heard it's better than the chromoly frame

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  46. First, claiming one material is outright better is nonsense. Steel bikes don't always ride nicer than bikes made from other materials. It all comes down to how the material is used. I've ridden steel bikes which were brutally harsh. Ditto for titanium bikes. Ditto for carbon bikes. As an example, anyone who says aluminum is harsher riding than steel is clearly too new to cycling to have ridden a Vitus 979 or an Alan back in the 80s. The 979 and the Alan used aluminum tubes but instead of making them large in diameter and with thin walls they were the same diameter as steel but with much thicker walls. This made the bike VERY compliant…almost too compliant for some sprinters. It also meant that many pros who might normally ride a steel frame would switch over to a rebadged Vitus or Alan 'cross bike for a race like Paris-Roubaix. This is just one example. Another is claiming that an inexpensive steel frame such as a Surly has that "steel is real" ride. Again, if you think this you've clearly never ridden a frame made from Reynolds 531, Columbus SL or any other 7-4-7 non-oversized steel tubing! Surly make fine bikes for the price but they're also pretty harsh riding and just as bad as many alloy frames.

    As for weight, what a lot of people seem to forget is it's not just the weight of the bike. It's the weigh of the bike, anything carried on the bike (water bottles, etc.), anything the rider wears/carries and of course the weight of the rider. When you add up the whole package chopping a pound off the weight of your bike represents a total weight reduction of less than 1%.

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  47. I have had ~5 or 6 frame failures during my cycling carreer. All these failures except for one happened with steel frames. The aluminum frame that failed was a road bike I rode abuseively off-road for a few years. I replaced that frame with an identical replacement, and without such abusive use it has about 10k km on it and is still going strong.

    The fact that steel can sometimes be repaired is negated by the fact that it is more likely to need repair.

    Reply

  48. I had the luxury of having a steel bike custom built for me. I have owned many bike before, and since, made of all sorts of materials, but none have even remotely compared to the steel frame.

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  49. Steel is the father, or grand father, of modern bicycle design. When you choose a experienced custom frame builder a two wheeled wonder, in a steel, aluminum or carbon fiber can be created. Back in the 1970's I choose an American builder who apprenticed under UK masters. He worked with me and my steel frame came with features rare in the 1970's, but not exactly common today. Weight was not a central factor, performance was. The tubing was not from a single manufacturer. The frame has no sticker for this mix. Two of my favorite features are the seat tube had internal ribbing to stiffen the bottom bracket and the dropouts are nickel plated,

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  50. I in love with my columbus steel bike, I like how I feel every pour on the road. It weighs just under 10 KGs, for me it's as light as a feather, no need for carbon

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  51. Give me a steel frame, threaded bottom bracket, good aluminum tubular wheels, (please let me build them myself) rim brakes, and a leather saddle. Oh wait, I’ve been riding that for 45 years.

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  52. I love steel bikes. I own four of them and there really is a difference in ride, they have a very nice ride and have a spring feel to them that propels you forward. Steel is real.

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  53. For the record, a Columbus spirit frame (about 52.5 cm) fitted with chorus 11 and zonda wheels and pretty much carbon/titanium everything else will tip the scale at about 17 pounds. COnsider it. It's reaaaally awesome on long rides.

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  54. I rode a 50 pound Schwinn Fastback Stingray with a 5 speed stick shift as a kid. I did 10 miles a day on my paper route. I have considered all 30 lb. bikes a blessing ever since.

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  55. Does the bike in the background have interchangeable tubes in the frame to the rear wheel or is that just a truck of the paint?

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  56. If you ride a Steel: Fixed Gear, SSCX, single speed, theres this brilliant group on Facebook called Steel Fixed Gear , you're welcome to join https://www.facebook.com/groups/SteelFixedGear/

    Reply

  57. I have no problem with carbon steel. I love a Rigid frame. I'm a heavy dude. And my fat ass will flex a carbon fiber frame.

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  58. It s impossible to make a real Freestyle bmx frame in other material , only in steel! That is a proof of superiority of the steel.

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  59. I've got several steel bikes that are 30 – 40 years old and don't have a problem with rust. Also, if you care about the environment, metal frames are recyclable where as carbon fibre is very difficult to recycle. With so many cheap carbon frames these days, most will end up in landfill in the future.

    Reply

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