Steel road frame advice needed for a newbie

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by agent orange, Sep 10, 2007.

  1. agent orange

    agent orange New Member

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    Hello all,

    I'll apologise in advance as I suspect this question has been asked many times before, sorry!

    OK, I've got a Claude Butler Professional which I've had for 7 years or more now. I bought it for winter training as my real passion is MTBing. However it has rekindled my interest in road riding although I don't have as much time as I'd like either on or off road at the moment.

    Anyway my one criticism of the CB is the aluminium frame, I find any distance over 30 miles or so on rough pourous surfaces (read typical British road surfaces) really makes my arse and wrists ache. I suspect the stiff alu frame and fork is to blame.

    So my questions are:
    1. Will a steel frame make a difference?
    2. Is there an affordable steel frame on the market?
    3. Will it be compatible with my Shimano 105 groupset?
    4. Any recommendation either new or second hand?
    5. Roughly how much would it cost for a bike shop to swap the groupset to a frame?

    I'm not too bothered about weight, I'm 6'4" and weight around 13.5 stone so a few extra pounds is a sacrifive I'm willing to make for additional comfort. Also I'm not bothered about it being new, I'm 42 and don't give a rats arse for fashion/trends, so I'm open to buying a quality second hand frame, in fact I'd prefer this route as my budget is pretty tight, probably no more than £300.

    I'm sure I've missed a few questions out but that'll do for the time being. Thanks for reading and I look forward to your responses.

    Cheers,

    Gary
     
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  2. tafi

    tafi Member

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    To give my answer to your questions (I'm sure there will be others who disagree):

    1) It might. Steel has that reputation. I once had a steel Tomassini which I now wish I never sold becasue it was so smooth. Then again it might not. Heavier gauge tubing will make for just as tooth shaking a ride as "stiff" aluminium. Not to say that all aluminium rides "roughly" either. Many well made aluminium frames make for just as smooth a ride as any other material. My point is it comes down to material choice AND how it is built. Generally these days you pay for the expertise in building the bike. Raw materials are cheap.

    2) I don't know precisely. But I do know there are lots of steel frames out there.

    3) Provided the rear dropout spacing is the same as your current bike (and if you've only had it for 7 yrs then it should be).

    4) A steel frame is one that I would by second hand though new is always preferable. Make sure it has been treated well by its previous owner.

    5) I have no knowledge of what pricing schemes are like in GB.

    One thing I would add is that you don't rush in and blame the frame. You could look at the way you are sitting on the bike. After only 30 miles I wouldn't expect the road surface/bike to be responsible for sore arms & arse. You could try moving your position so that you put less weight on your arms and a saddle which is better matched to your ... uhm... undercarriage might be worth a look. Cheaper than a new bike.
     
  3. kdelong

    kdelong Well-Known Member

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    +1 to tafi. Get your LBS or someone who is well aquainted with bicycling to check your fit and riding position before you blame the frame. I ride some really awful roads around here on my aluminum road bike and have no problem going 50+ miles with no pain.

    If you do want to go with a steel frame, the best ride that I have ever had is from a 1976 Raleigh Grand Prix made in your country. They sure knew how to make a nice bike back then. Thankfully I still have the bicycle, however it is in pieces. I want to restore it but cannot locate any accurate decals, so I am trying to have some made. At the cost of custom made decals, I could hire Rembrandt to come paint them on by hand (if he were still alive)! Anyway, that is a really sweet riding frame. The only thing that I would change is I would add a derailer hanger instead of using the clamp on adapter.

    BTW, is a stone approximately 18 pounds? I used to know this but now I'm not sure. Here in the US we do not use the term "stone" anywhere but steeplechase horse racing.
     
  4. artemidorus

    artemidorus New Member

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    1) no. comfort comes from fit, tyre diameter and tyre pressure, with seat, bar and glove padding probably making a little difference. The geometry of the frame, rather than the material, is important for comfort.
    2) I don't know, but have a look at ebay.
    3) yes.
    4) both are options.
    5) you could do much of it yourself - I don't know what a wrench would charge.
     
  5. gclark8

    gclark8 New Member

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  6. agent orange

    agent orange New Member

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    Thanks guys. So the general consensus is that I'm being too hasty in blaming the frame, right? I suspected I might get this response, although I was hoping for a bit of moral support so I could justify the cost of a new toy to tinker with ;). I'm sure you know how it is.

    My main mtb is a Cannondale 800SL with an XL frame and I find this far more comfortable over distance. OK I know it's an unfair comparison especially with mtb tyres but the Cannondale frame seems to absorb road vibration far more then my CB. To such an the extent that I use it pretty much exclusively on and off road, whilst the CB gathers dust underneath the stairs.

    Perhaps I should get my act together and have my riding "style" and posture analysed by my local bike shop. However I've had numerous road and mtb over my extensive years and I've never had any problems before.

    kdelang - there's 14lb to a stone, even I'm not that heavy :eek:. So 13.5 stone = 190lb or 86kg for you europhiles.

    George - Good plug there and a very tasty looking bike, I love understated machines like that. Out of curiousity what's the spec on that one?

    Any more thoughts out there and does anyone have have justification for me to invest (read squander :rolleyes: ) money on a replacement steel frame.

    Cheers,

    Gary
     
  7. gclark8

    gclark8 New Member

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    For the whole story, see:
    http://www.cyclingforums.com/t403611.html
    :)
     
  8. agent orange

    agent orange New Member

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    Thanks for the link George, that looks well :cool: , shame you're on the other side of the planet really. Oh well good luck with the sale though I doubt you'll need it :).

    Cheers,

    Gary
     
  9. kdelong

    kdelong Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the update! For some strange reason I was thinking that it was 18 lb. That would have made you quite heavy, but that's about where I was at before I started seriously training again after 10 years of sporadic pleasure riding.

    Like you had said, your Cannondale does have larger tires which makes for a more comfortable ride. You also normally have a more upright riding posture on a mtb than a road bike. I'm not trying to talk you out of getting a steel frame bicycle, I'm just saying that I don't think that your sore wrists and arse will be cured by riding a steel frame bike.
     
  10. agent orange

    agent orange New Member

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    Thanks KD, another reason I'm considering a possible frame upgrade is there's significant oxidisation around the cable stays, the paint is flaking off quite badly.

    Other considerations are the wheels, tyres and fork. My wheels are Mavic CXP11's with 105 hubs and my tyres are Michellin Actic 23's. The fork I'm not sure about as it came with the bike. I seem to remember the guy who built the bike for me saying it was a steel fork and would throw the balance of the bike out a little to the front. He recommended a carbon fork as a possible future upgrade.

    Other info that might be relevent, the frame is 58cm (probably a bit too small) and I an have an extended seat post and stem as my inside leg measurement is 36.5" 92.5cm

    Hope this helps.

    Cheers,

    Gary
     
  11. JohnO

    JohnO New Member

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    For what it's worth...

    When I got off of the mtb and returned to road cycling, I experienced pretty much the same aches. Hands going numb after an hour, butt would either get very sore or get that nasty squishy feeling. And this was on a carbon fiber beam frame, supposedly the most comfortable road frame you can get.

    The solutions I found, after a year of experimenting. Some are cheap, some not so cheap. For the sore butt problem...

    The saddle was rubbish. Way too padded. I went through several saddles until I finally found one that wouldn't cause saddle sores or other discomfort - Fizik Aliante. Pricey, but worth every penny. Keep in mind that butts are different, so that saddle might not work for you.

    Acclimation. After a few months, my butt became accustomed to road riding. That took some of the edge off of the soreness, but a good saddle stopped the problem completely.

    That took care of the butt. The hands were another matter, going very numb within an hour. What helped there...

    Position. I was leaned over too far, too much weight on the hands. Raised the handlebars about an inch, that helped.

    Gel gloves. Really helped.

    CF handlebars. Grabbed a used set of Cinelli RAM bars on ebay fairly cheap, that seemed to take more of the edge off. Don't know that I'd recommend buying them new, the price is sinful.

    Milder wheelset. I started out with a set of Rolf Vector Pro's. Very aero, but brutally stiff. Replaced them with a set of Campy Zondas, definitely better, hands weren't getting nearly as numb.

    As for frame material... the smoothest bike I've ever been on was a Cannondale tandem, with an aluminum frameset. The extra weight and the 4 cross laced tandem wheels probably explain the smooth ride. So frame material alone doesn't really decide ride comfort.
     
  12. rwinthenorth

    rwinthenorth New Member

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    I'm a sucker for steel. That looks great and the price is right!

    Anyway to give an opinion, being a steel rider, they do ride beuatifully. I actually believe my 1995 Van Tuyle rides smoother than my 2005 Co-Motion Espresso. Which brings me to 2 points. 1. the fit is a little better on the Van Tuyle and the geometry is a little better for my body. 2. I love both bikes, but if I knew you could pick up a phenominal bike for $375.00 on craiglist( all Campy Record), I wouldn't of splurged on the Co-Motion!$!$!$. So if you do go steel, your best bikes for the money are used. Recycle and kdelong, get that Raleigh back on the road. The heck with the decal, just ride it, man. And now that you moved to the brighter side of OH, let's go.:D
     
  13. CAMPYBOB

    CAMPYBOB Well-Known Member

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    And now that you moved to the brighter side of OH, let's go.:D

    Hey! N.E. Ohio has had a great, sunny summer!

    Now...about these winters...:D
     
  14. rwinthenorth

    rwinthenorth New Member

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    Sun and HEAT all over...
     
  15. kdelong

    kdelong Well-Known Member

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    Hey, come on, the advantage of the heat AND humidity is that you don't have to bathe after your ride. Just remember to soap up at the midpoint:D ! Seriously though, I have thoroughly enjoyed the heat. I know I'm strange but it feels good to me to ride when it is really hot. It is a little uncomfortable for about five minutes when I stop riding, but I enjoy the heat as long as I am moving. I do take a lot of water with me so I can stay hydrated. Makes akk the difference in the world!
     
  16. agent orange

    agent orange New Member

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    Thanks for all the info guys, I'm looking into a few possibilities.

    One potential option is a second hand (2006) Mercier Serpens with Reynolds 853 tubing and a full Ultegra groupset. Here's the spec:

    Complete Bike
    Make: Mercier
    Model: Serpens
    Size: 61cm
    Seat Tube: C2C: 57.5cm
    Seat Tube: C2T: 60.5cm
    Top Tube: 58.7cm
    Stand Over Height: 84cm
    Material: Reynolds 853 Steel
    Fork: Reynolds Ouzo Comp
    Wheels: Ritchey Aero
    Wheel Size: 700c
    Tires: Michelin
    Shift/Brake Levers: Shimano Ultegra
    Crankset: Shimano Ultegra 175mm 52/42/30t
    Bottom Bracket: Shimano Ultegra Exteranl Bearings
    Brakeset: Shimano Ultegra
    Rear Derailleur: Shimano Ultegra
    Front Derailleur: Shimano Ultegra
    Cassette: Shimano Ultegra 12-23t 10 speed
    Chain: Shimano Ultegra
    Handlebar: Ritchey Bio-Max
    Stem: Ritchey Comp 90mm
    Seatpost: Ritchey
    Headset: FSA Cartridge
    Saddle: Velo
    Weight: 20lbs 8 oz
    Condition: Excellent+

    Any thoughts/opinions on this? The price is $770 from the US although I'll have to pay $190 for packaging and delivery and customs charges too. I have to say my resolve (and budget!) is weakening and I'm favouring this option, especially as the exchange rate is so good at the mo. If there are any Serpens riders out there I'd love to hear your thoughts.

    Any more suggestions for me, just to confuse me even more? Although I'm easily confused at the best of times!

    Cheers,

    Gary
     
  17. gclark8

    gclark8 New Member

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    It may be cheaper to Fly to OZ and pick up my black beauty. :D
     
  18. agent orange

    agent orange New Member

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    Don't tempt me George. I've got an Aunty in Adelaide I could combine the trip and put a few miles on your bike, whadaya reckon? ;) :D

    Actually scrap that plan, I've just seen that there's 2,793 miles between Perth and Adelaide :eek:. The immortal words of Captain Oates, "I am just going outside and may be some time" spring to mind, albeit it'll be a little bit warmer.

    Cheers,

    Gary :)
     
  19. gclark8

    gclark8 New Member

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    I just did a table of the parts required to make the Classic Steel bike into a Drop Bar Road Bike with a 175mm crankset, 3x8 speed Sora STI and Derailleurs. $750! :eek:
     
  20. 531Aussie

    531Aussie Well-Known Member

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    nah, I disagree; buying steel (or maybe ti, too) is almost a guarantee that the ride will be compliant. The only thing that could possibly wreck this is some SUPER stiff carbon forks. There would be rare examples, like heavily drawn and/or heavy oversize tubes, or very small frames, but.......

    Fit and tyres are obviously important, but steel is forgiving and a little on the flexy side, which is one reason the great majority of racing riders think they can't race on it. I've had about 20 steel and alu frames, and some of the aluminiums have been on the harsh side, but all of the steels have had the charactersitic 'bounce' to them

    Having said that, I don't know much about the new Columbus steels, Spirit and Life.
     
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