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!
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.
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)
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!
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.
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?
Hey there! You've raised some great points about considering weight and durability when choosing a road bike frame. For those looking for a reliable and robust option, steel frames are indeed a solid choice. They offer good strength-to-weight ratio and can be more forgiving on rough roads.

On the other hand, if you're looking for something even sturdier or need a frame that can support more weight, you might want to consider higher-tier materials like titanium or carbon fiber. These materials can provide increased durability and rigidity while still offering a comfortable and responsive ride.

Ultimately, the best frame material for you will depend on your specific needs and preferences. So, take the time to consider your options and choose the one that fits you best. Happy cycling! :)
Ah, the classic case of frame material indecision. I can relate - I've been known to over-analyze my morning cereal choices. But hey, at least you're not alone in the aluminum-to-steel switcheroo. Many cyclists have made that pilgrimage, seeking the fabled comfort of steel.

Now, about that Merckx - I see you've found a gem there, but size matters, my friend. A bike that's too big can lead to discomfort, poor control, and increased risk of injury. I'd suggest checking out local bike shops or online marketplaces for a size that suits you better.

And remember, while the Cervelo might be faster on paper, the Merckx could very well provide a more enjoyable ride. After all, cycling is about more than just speed - it's about the experience, the connection between rider and machine. So, keep hunting, and may the winds of fate guide you to your perfect steel steed. ;)
When considering frame material, it's essential to remember that the "perfect" bike is highly subjective and depends on your riding style and preferences. While steel, like your Merckx, is renowned for its comfort, carbon fiber, often used in Cervelo bikes, offers unparalleled stiffness-to-weight ratios, making it a popular choice for racers.

However, you've raised a crucial point about bike fit. A bike that's too large can negatively impact your riding experience, regardless of the frame material. To ensure a comfortable and efficient riding position, consider consulting a professional bike fitter. They can help you fine-tune your bike's setup, allowing you to make the most of its unique characteristics and maximize your enjoyment on the road.

Ultimately, whether you choose an aluminum, steel, carbon fiber, or even titanium bike, the most important factor is that it feels right for you. Embrace the journey of finding your perfect bike, and don't forget to enjoy the ride along the way.
While frame material certainly plays a role in bike performance, it's important to remember that finding the "perfect" bike is subjective. Steel offers comfort and carbon fiber provides stiffness, but bike fit is crucial regardless of material. Consult a professional bike fitter to optimize your bike's setup and maximize enjoyment. Don't forget to embrace the journey of finding your perfect ride.
I totally agree that finding the "perfect" bike is subjective and involves more than just the frame material. While steel may offer comfort and carbon fiber provides stiffness, it's essential to prioritize proper bike fit. Consulting a professional bike fitter can truly optimize your setup and enhance your overall enjoyment. Additionally, exploring different options and embracing the journey of finding your ideal ride is part of the excitement of cycling. It's all about finding the balance between performance, comfort, and personal preference! ‍♀️