Best Steel frame?


New Member
Aug 5, 2012
I made a thread a few weeks ago about the best aluminum frame, I have now changed my mind again and will try to stick to steel, I have bought two bikes the last weeks, one Cervelo R3 2008 and then a few days later I stumbled over this beauty:

Merckx MK leader fully restored with complete mostly NOS dura ace 74xx and nice wheels for around $1000 :D

Really enjoy the feel and the ride of the merckx even though the Cervelo probably goes faster.

Unfortunally the Merckx is to big for me so Im in hunt for the best steel frame instead and plan to keep the weels and all dura ace parts to build my perfect bike :)

I would prefer to buy and old frame and not a new one because its fun with vintage stuff but im open for suggestions.

I am 174cm tall, 83cm legs, around 171cm from finger to finger and weighs 152 pounds.

I was looking at the MX leader in 52cm size and apperently the top tube on that one is around 54cm? Since I have rel. short upper body and arms I would like to have 52-53cm top tube I guess?

Was the MX leader built in even smaller sizes? What other cool steel frames should I look for? Does my assumtions seem healthy?

Thank you!


Well-Known Member
Jun 10, 2004
What whatever is claimed to be the best frame is a matter of bicycle religion, personal preference, what you need the bike to do, the skills of the builder, and so on. The Merckx MK is not doubt a good bike. But the number of builders using steel is huge: Richard Sachs, Vanilla, Speedvagen, Demon, Kirk, Strong, Alchemy, Bilenky, Cherubim, Cielo, Cyfac, Waterford, Pegoretti, Gilmour, Della Santa, Walker, Hampsten, Indy Fab, Ryan, Serotta, Sycip, Colnago, Signal, Nagasawa...... I think the best thing to do would be to look at pictures of steel bikes that others have had made or that are production bikes and see what tickles your fancy. IMHO, one of the nice things about steel bike makers is that the vast majority of them are small, custom builders which allow you to get a bike that's pretty damned optimized for you. Take a look in the The Manufacturer Thread as there are some steel bikes in there. By all means if you come across a picture of a beautiful frame, add it to that thread.


Well-Known Member
Feb 19, 2011
There are some some very cool vintage nos frames from pinarello etc for sale on the net BUT they dont comply to todays safety standards anymore. EN etc... They might even over-exceed them but they were not designed with them in mind. (Thats written in Sheldon Brown somewhere). They are cool but maybe the forks might be a bit too "elastic" etc... Plus if they are used things to consider are probably fatigue damage that they might have sustained and corrosion is also an issue with steel frames.

They still look very cool though. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif Especially if you just keep the frame and change everything else to a new groupset. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif

On the other hand there some new steel frames. There are some which have branded tubes from manufacturers like columbus etc but they seem to be very expensive. Since steel is also 3 times stronger then aluminium these frames have very very thin walling with the butting and all that goes on on their manufacture. So the bike is strong enough (for the loads that manufacturers take account when they design a bike which its a bit "uknown" which ones they are...) but if for example the bike gets knocked on a light post it might get dented it in an inrepairable way and new high end steel frames are not cheap. The stainless Cinnelli XCr for example costs a few thousand euros...

On the other hand there are some nice generic cro-mo frames. Some brands which make them are trek (They make a nice steel Cyclocross frame) and Surly (also a few nice cro-mo bikes) there but from unbranded tubes. Its written on the Surly website that the bikes are produced in Taiwan. (Like quite a lot of the bikes lately).

But its interesting to check where the tubes are actually from. For example a nice audax bike (The bike brand is "Tifosi" and its written in the description that the tubing is the "company's columbus" tubes. So the tubing might be sourced from a reputable manufacturer but without the branding which might be saving some money on the final price of the bike... /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif)


Well-Known Member
Apr 12, 2011
Some good builders are mentioned above.

Torelli sometimes slips under the radar as modern steel race frame. My favorite, the Nitro is a pound lighter than it's 80's counterparts, and available with a 1-1/8 threadless steerer for contemporary forks and stems:

The best? I dunno. But it's red and I-talian and farkin' sexy!

Dr Lodge

May 3, 2012
The best steel frame? Reynolds 953. It has ultra thin wall tubing (0.5/0.3mm) but since it is such a hard material, like armour plating, it is very resistant to denting. And of course, rusting.


Apr 21, 2016
Depends on your weight or how durable you want the bike to be, really. If you're not on the higher end of the weighing scale, your average steel frame would do, since it's built for your average man. If you want a sturdier one, or you need a frame that can support your added weight, you can always go up the tier in frames, just so you can be confident that the bike would be able to support you without injuring you in the long run. If your wallet can handle it, I say why not give it a shot?