Thinking about buying a steel frame road bike


New Member
Oct 6, 2016
Southern California
I found a Specialized Allez Steel Frame Road bike on CL for $700. Has all Campy components and Cinelli Stem and Bars. Will try to post a pic if I can figure out how. Any advice or suggestions from Steel Frame Roadies would be appreciated.
Just got my 1980s Giant Quasar back on the road today. Bit of a Frankenstein creation with a borrowed front wheel and saddle from my other bike, but I really enjoyed the ride today. The extra weight on the hills was not a problem. I felt just as quick even though I was not quite hitting the same segment times I do on my other bike.

Steel will last a long long time. Unless you are racing you will enjoy it very much. Steel (in my case anyway) has more road feel and seems more responsive compared to aluminum and lower end carbon. My hands and wrists did feel it at the end of the ride today, but I'm looking forward to my 25 mile ride on it tomorrow.

Best of luck.
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I like the mid level Centurion road bikes a lot. I'm focusing my search on the Ironman Expert/master Dave Scott 58 cm/22 1/2 inch road bike or a Schwinn Super Sport road bike. Either on would fit the bill.
Rust and cracks. Wrinkles and dents. Lugs that are not completely filled with braze or are leaking rust or show a gap. Straightness and alignment. Steel can be bent out of alignment and, of course, it can also be straightened and put back in alignment.

Only the most collectible frames would justify the cost of a tube replacement and re-paint, but I've watched guys throw $500 at a $200 frameset before. Personal choice, so no biggee.

Schwinn Super Sport fillet brazed models are tanks. Damned near indestructible tanks at that. They aren't super light, but they did ride reasonably well. Sport Tourers are basically the same frame with a slightly higher level of components.
Steel may be old school, but it's still my favorite, road bike or MTB, and I own and have owned every type of frame material. Steel bikes have a feel that simply cannot be duplicated with other materials and a steel frame with beautiful welds is a work of art. Carbon, aluminum and composite bikes come and go for me, but my steel bikes I will never sell. We steelies tend to be a bit cultish about our bikes. Welcome to the club. :)
Campybob is having a bad hair day. Don't let his drama persuade you not to get steel, almost all my bikes are steel including one that has over 160,000 miles with about half of that racing in the mountains of California, and I have none of the problems that good ol Bob is going on about, in fact only the cheapest steel bikes for the most part will have poor construction, but even those will hold up better than Carbon or aluminum as it testified by the thousands of old cheap crappy steel bikes from department stores that are still rideable 50 years later.

I guess I could get dramatic about carbon fiber too, lets see, it cracks and breaks suddenly killing the rider without warning, rocks kicked up from tires have been known to put holes in the frame, repairing a carbon frame can cost more than just buying a new frame. So steel isn't alone in problems.

The Specialized Allez Steel Frame Road bike you're looking at is superior and lighter than the Schwinn bike Bob mentions.
I'm having a fabulous hair day! As usual!

160 THOUSAND miles? Really? A funny thing happened on the way to the forum...I broke a Colnago in under 16K miles. Must be my massive Watt output! I've got between 25K and 30K on my cheap carbon Douglas. Maybe I need to drag it back out and cheapskate my way to 160K on it so I can post it on a BBS 30 years into the future.

The catagory of broken frames that I've seen the most of is department store junkers. Tube separation, split tubes, **** welds, so thin they rusted through in a couple years, bad steel. I watched a head tube pull completely off a Sears Free Spirit...quarity!

AFAIC, Ti is the most 'durable' frame material for real world use and even is fails regularly. Google.

Steel is a damned good frame material and I think I've got 20+ steel frames hanging around a couple houses. They were the choice when drum brakes and carburetors ruled the earth and dinosaurs walked among us. Today...even the last of the dinosaur builders ship mostly carbon forks in those steel frames they labor over. And those uber-light stainless steel jobs? The life spans are less than cheap carbon.

Alienator got one thing correct in all his weird postings. You can tune any of the popular frame materials to 'ride' like steel. There's no magic in any of of them. A little more material here...a little less angle there...more length in this tube...less shape to that tube...Voila!...we're right back to the 1960's!
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...and since the bike is used and aged, it is almost a given that the brake blocks, hoods, cables, etc. be replaced and all bearings repacked and/or replaced. Unless it's that one in a thousand seller that just replaced all that stuff in order to move it on CL.

Who knows...since it's steel and not any other could have 160,000 miles on it.
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I'm having a fabulous hair day! As usual!

160 THOUSAND miles? Really? A funny thing happened on the way to the forum...I broke a Colnago in under 16K miles. Must be my massive Watt output! I've got between 25K and 30K on my cheap carbon Douglas. Maybe I need to drag it back out and cheapskate my way to 160K on it so I can post it on a BBS 30 years into the future.

I always have a bad hair day! Lucky you.

I am a cheapskate, I've even mentioned that many times on this forum. The bike I have 160,000 plus miles on is a 84 Trek 660 with Suntour Superbe components and was my primary racing bike until I retired from racing (by the way this WAS NOT pro just Cat 3), anyways I retired in 88 but continued to use that bike long afterwards, even after I bought a replacement bike to race on in 1987 a Miyata Team which I rarely use because I used the Trek until 2013 when I got the Lynskey Peloton, now the Trek is semi retired. I have other bikes but those were either found in dumpsters or cheap on CL. The only other road bike I bought new was a 07 Mercian Vincitore but I sold it.
Nice! Why did you sell it?

I bought the bike while in England but I bought it irrationally. I thought I was going to use it for touring but the bike turned out to be too good looking to be abused by the rigors of touring, then I ended up finding a mint condition 85 Schwinn Le Tour Luxe for $60 which is the bike I use for touring, thus the Mercian sat around not getting used. So I sold it to a friend who had been hounding me to sell it to him for the price I paid for it! It had Campy Athena silver which had the skeleton brakes.
Froze - the merc sounded cool, but can see why you parted company - good for your buddy good for you.
CampyBob - literally laughed out loud at the "funny thing happened on the way to the forum..." comment! That was mint! :D

You two have some great thoughts on this & I appreciate your history with the sport/lifestyle providing you with your viewpoints.

Throughout the years I've owned/used so many bikes & gadgets for biking that I've come to the mindset that just because it's ________ (insert the material or name brand) does NOT mean its good or ****.

From my first Huffy "muscle bike" as a 5 year old (FREEDOM! I've got wheels!) to the crappy John Deere 10 speed steel hunk-a-junk my dad thought he was upgrading me to. To my first "real bike" an old Raliegh Technium 440 with aluminum main tubes (cause I thought I had to get away from steel, & aluminum was the latest & greatest)(which I still have this bike, for memory-sake & love to pull out for vintage rides). To all the different variations of frame materials and group sets I've used (one of my old racing Cannondales I've kept the old "Biopace" chainring when it first came out, but then man, did I get laughed at with that look what Froome just won the TdF with - Biopace 2.0o_O)

Anyway, after all the years trying all the stuff including grossly overpriced ridiculously expensive new carbon machines, my absolutely favorite ride is still my 1995 Serotta CSI full Dura-ace. That all steel beauty shuts up the jeers from my younger riding pals, who think of it as ancient old-school relic. Yet, no matter how expensive their frames I can still keep up & then some. My bike is within pounds of theirs some lighter some slightly heavier. And the after they ride it, as I've occasionally swapped for a ride or two to "compare" their bike to mine. My friends have always come back with comments like "that's a 95?!?!", "wow. That thing is smooth!", "do they still make these?"

There are great bikes made from: steel, aluminum, carbon, & titanium. But there are also some Junkers that are selling off the fact their using a specific material, or have a certain brand name.

For the original poster, if it's still applicable... A Specialized Allez i used to have was a very good ride. It would be great starter bike (it is not a racer. More comfortable, absorbs vibrations better than a stiff racer which is more concerned about transfer of energy for power) I would bet you might find one for a little less if you're patient, but that's not a horrible price with those components if the bike is in great shape. IMHO
I probably owned more steel bikes over the years than Team Sky has in their Service Course. I still ride my steel track bike on the road every Winter, but that's a bad example to judge the ride qualities of steel with. On a cold Winter day when the roads and ground beneath are frozen and the sew-ups are carrying 110 PSI the 'ride', such that it is, from that short, steep, stiff track geometry will drive the Selle Italia Rolls right up my backside. The thudding and the jarring from the straightish fork sends shockwaves right up the wrists to the shoulders.

Don't get me wrong. I LOVE that beating and relish finding long, flat stretches of road to hunker down over those track bend Cinelli bars and rip that gear to shreds with not a stop sign within five miles.

Now...if I want plush I'll drag out the Litespeed. So wimpy the rear tire...a narrow 23 MM one...will rub the chainstays under power or while climbing hard.

Fortunately, I've got a selection of everything in between to choose from. I've posted pics on the forum of some of my collection in the past, but the pic hosting function of the site is FUBAR.

I still revert to my carbon frames...and those are less money than almost any decent steelie nowadays thanks to our benevolent Chinese overlords. As I said above, I consider that Douglas to have delivered well on its service life when compared to what it cost and how far technology has come over the last 10 years. I will freely admit to being the type of rider that appreciates less weight, more gears, stiffer ride, etc. I don't need the absolute cutting edge top tech, but I do want at least a second tier machine under my low-Watt ass. I need every advantage I can get!

As stated above, there really is no bad choice on any of the popular frame materials. Any of them can be a good, long lived ride or they can be made into trash.

I do kind of shy away from those die cast Magnesium frames. Talk about wanting a bigger payout on my life insurance policy...
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CampyBob - literally laughed out loud at the "funny thing happened on the way to the forum..." comment! That was mint! :D

Thanks, JSESKI! Most of my humor goes sailing right over the heads of most folks. I would never made it as a standup comic working cycling conventions or cruise ships, for sure!

I cracked the Colnago and I also cracked a carbon Wilier. Both were replaced under warranty. And somehow, back in my misspent youth, I managed to longitudinally split the underside of the downtube of a 32-pound Schwinn Continental. I really don't think I hopped that many curbs...
I saw a lot of those old Schwinn Continentals, Suburbans, and Varsitys split and break in various places when I was young; they may have been heavy as tanks but they weren't built like tanks, yet they still survive to this day. Most of the breaks from what I can remember was at the electro forged (also known as flash welding) areas where a tube was joined with another, and I think most of the failures were at the BB and the headtube. But in all honesty kids of the day were jumping those bikes before the manufactures caught on to what the kids were doing and started making BMX bikes, so maybe the jumping put too much stress on the frames, but we kids didn't weight a lot either.
My faulty memory caused me to state Continental when I meant to say it was my 3-speed Schwinn racer. My bad!

Yeah, I didn't weigh much and although I was as dumb and brave as any other kid on the block when it came to doing stunts, it really did not get a lot of abuse. It looked clean when I sold it to a neighbor kid and those double wall Schwinn steel rims were still spinning pretty true.

Like I said and JSESKI stated, it isn't so much the material as the design and build job. Some of the first carbon frames (mass production models) are still being ridden daily and that includes those El Explodo Vitus and Alan glue jobs. I see and old Kestral and that relic is ridden on fast club rides on an almost daily basis. Yeah...that's only 1986 at the oldest, but the miles that bike has seen are many. Very many.

I still can not get my mind around any bike with 160K on the clock. 30-35K is probably the max I've put on any one frame or component group and even then I was through cables, chainrings, chains, cassettes, wheels, headsets, pedals, sometimes cranksets (just replace a Campy Record carbon with the new 4-arm due to it needing a second pair of rings and bearings), brake pads, etc.

Lately, doing that over the life of the frame is not cost effective to me not because frames are now carbon, but rather because the technology is improving so much in all areas so quickly. It's just cheaper and easier to buy a new bike as it is to keep an older one on the road if you're looking to stay near current with technology.

More gears, lighter frames and components, electronic shifting and integrated Bluetooth / ANT+ sensors, devices, power meters, built-in amenities such as chain minders, electronic and mechanical internal routing, more aero designs in both components and frames, the new tire size offerings, disc brake never ends. i.e. It isn't that I need a power meter, but I train with one and it has not only improved my stats, it's change how I train. The results speak for themselves in terms of fitness, endurance, speed and whatever metric we choose to measure with.

Yes, for many people steel is more than adequate, but I stand by my advice to the OP and anyone looking at steel, especially a used steel frameset. They rust, they dent, they bend, they were often made so far out of alignment the tweaks could be spotted with the naked eye (followed a friend's TREK 531 IIRC the right model number) that they tracked like a wrecked car. Catastrophic events sent them to the garage wall just as it does to carbon. Or aluminum. Or Titanium. Ask the man that totalled out three Pinarello Treviso and Montello steels...and a couple others...over the years. That would be And yes, they all left scars, but chics dig scars!
CampyBob, a lot that you say I have no problem agreeing with you, but I have to take exception to your rant against steel. I've already stated my objections to your drama rants and I don't feel like hashing that again, so my advice to the OP is to FORGET about what CampyBob or myself is telling you about steel instead do a google search about the differences in frame material and learn for your self, but read a lot of different sites not just one and call it a day.

As far as old CF frames still around, yes you are right, but those old carbon fiber frames weigh the same as modern steel does today because the CF tube thicknesses were a lot greater than today. I have a friend that has a 98(?) Trek 5200 that with Shimano Ultegra (of that era of course) weighs 21 pounds which is about the same (20.8 pounds) as my steel 1984 Fuji Club! So yes, those thick heavy (heavy compared with today's CF frames) CF frames of yesteryear are actually quite strong, but people didn't want strength so the marketing drove the CF frames to being lighter and lighter each year.

Steel is much more than adequate, steel is very strong, you won't find a CF touring bike made to handle panniers front and rear. When you say steel dents, well that's true, but you left out one important fact, that same amount of energy that dented the steel will crack or put a hole in the CF; when you say steel bends, again that's true, but again you left out one important fact, the energy it took to bend that steel would have snapped a CF frame in half. I know what you're going to reply next that CF won't crack or have a hole, or that it would break in half, so I wonder what would happen if you took a steel fork and a carbon fiber fork and started bashing them together which material would win? You have a lot of bike parts any spare steel and CF forks you're not using that you want to test it? Fine, you don't have to test it because it's already been done, see:

I ain't skerred. And as for loaded carbon tourers? Google is your friend.
Enough gear for you?
I see 300+ pound riders on carbon all the time. The local clubs are full of...uh...really 'big' people.

No asplosions of carbon. If they can take that mass they can take a 200-pounder with 60 pounds of gear. Again: See the above pic at the last link.

17-pound carbon roadie going touring. Not exactly the angles I would choose to go over the Alps, but obviously he's about as skerred of carbon as I am.
Do you think he could have possible put just one more bag on that LaPierre?

The total weight of this fully loaded package, ready for touring is 45 pounds. The includes the bike, all bags and their contents.
The contents include tent, air mattress, sleeping blanket, clothing, camera, toiletries, maps, plastic eating utensils, tire repair equipment, etc.

With the rig fully loaded there is adequate capacity to add food items.

The author and owner of this rig has just completed a 900 mile tour of the Pacific Coast camping every night for a 15 day journey.

The owner reports no malfunction nor deficiencies of the bike, bags and equipment on this tour."

And to think...I had to ride a clunky steel Holdsworth across Europe that weighed 27-28 pounds BEFORE I strapped on the gear! Yeah. Steel was definitely very real going up the side of those mountains.

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