Where are the inexpensive steel bikes?

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by Tai, Jun 19, 2004.

  1. Tai

    Tai Guest

    I bought a Marin steel - ok, Thron cro-mo - road bike a few years ago
    and notice Marin now have aluminum road bikes, at least at the
    low-end. Looking at other bike makes, the selection of cro-mo road
    bikes under $1K is getting smaller. I know aluminum bikes are a
    little lighter, but are consumers making the choice to go to alum
    and/or the makers finding alum bikes more profitable?

    Wondering where steel bikes are going,
    Tai

    P.S. I wasn't really asking for the pros and cons of steel vs.
    aluminum, but more about market and consumer, um, dynamics at the
    low-end of bike sales. :)
     
    Tags:


  2. Werehatrack

    Werehatrack Guest

    On 19 Jun 2004 09:52:03 -0700, [email protected] (Tai) wrote:

    >I bought a Marin steel - ok, Thron cro-mo - road bike a few years ago
    >and notice Marin now have aluminum road bikes, at least at the
    >low-end. Looking at other bike makes, the selection of cro-mo road
    >bikes under $1K is getting smaller. I know aluminum bikes are a
    >little lighter, but are consumers making the choice to go to alum
    >and/or the makers finding alum bikes more profitable?
    >
    >Wondering where steel bikes are going,


    It's important to note that the mass market is concentrating on the
    mountain bike, cruiser, youth and comfort segments today. Road bikes
    are entirely absent from the selections at many major
    non-bike-centered retailers. Even some sporting goods stores have
    stopped carrying them. As a result, there are few road bikes in the
    low-end segment; for a limited market that's perceived as being
    esoteric, the selections of materials tends to edge away from what's
    regarded as less desirable...and steel is out of fashion for most
    types of "real" bikes. It's largely relegated to tandems and the
    lowest-end units at Wal-Mart and similar places. Many custom frame
    builders still make excellent steel frames, though, and in my opinion,
    steel is still the material of choice for a long-term durable bike.
     
  3. Dan Daniel

    Dan Daniel Guest

    On 19 Jun 2004 09:52:03 -0700, [email protected] (Tai) wrote:

    >I bought a Marin steel - ok, Thron cro-mo - road bike a few years ago
    >and notice Marin now have aluminum road bikes, at least at the
    >low-end. Looking at other bike makes, the selection of cro-mo road
    >bikes under $1K is getting smaller. I know aluminum bikes are a
    >little lighter, but are consumers making the choice to go to alum
    >and/or the makers finding alum bikes more profitable?
    >
    >Wondering where steel bikes are going,
    >Tai
    >
    >P.S. I wasn't really asking for the pros and cons of steel vs.
    >aluminum, but more about market and consumer, um, dynamics at the
    >low-end of bike sales. :)


    Surly
    Soma
    Interloc/IRD
    Jamis?
    Fuji?

    Steel isn't common in the mainstream, but on the edges there are
    low(er) priced steel frames and complete bicycles which aren't custom.
    If these companies grow, you can be sure the large ones will notice
    and make steel frames at the low end.

    Not a road bike, but...

    http://www.marinbikes.com/html/spec_04_muirwoods.html

    Others like that scattered around.

    By the way, why the 'ok, Thron cro-mo' aside? Something about Thron I
    should know? I picked up a DeBernardi Thron frame last winter for
    almost nothing and am enjoying it. Is it not real steel or something?
    :)
     
  4. Tai

    Tai Guest

    Dan Daniel <[email protected]> wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...

    > By the way, why the 'ok, Thron cro-mo' aside? Something about Thron I
    > should know? I picked up a DeBernardi Thron frame last winter for
    > almost nothing and am enjoying it. Is it not real steel or something?
    > :)


    I'm very happy with my Thron frame Marin, too. The aside was meant to
    show by steel I meant cromoly.
     
  5. taimorris-<< I know aluminum bikes are a
    little lighter, but are consumers making the choice to go to alum
    and/or the makers finding alum bikes more profitable? >><BR><BR>

    Aluminum, when compared to steel, is cheaper and easier to weld together, hence
    the proliferation of aluminum.

    Specialized has a Foco frameset/fork for about $500..look for that.

    Peter Chisholm
    Vecchio's Bicicletteria
    1833 Pearl St.
    Boulder, CO, 80302
    (303)440-3535
    http://www.vecchios.com
    "Ruote convenzionali costruite eccezionalmente bene"
     
  6. Phil Brown

    Phil Brown Guest

    >Aluminum, when compared to steel, is cheaper and easier to weld together,
    >hence
    >the proliferation of aluminum.
    >
    >Specialized has a Foco frameset/fork for about $500..look for that.


    To expand on Peter's post-wasn't he a bike rider?-you can buy an aluminium
    frame and fork from China for about $25. That's why there are no new
    inexpensive steel bikes. But the used bike market is full of very nice steel
    bikes at reasonable prices. And there are builders who make custom steel frames
    for $600 or $700 dollars as long as you don't want lugs or fancy paint.
    Phil Brown
     
  7. In article <[email protected]>,
    [email protected] (Tai) wrote:

    > I bought a Marin steel - ok, Thron cro-mo - road bike a few years ago
    > and notice Marin now have aluminum road bikes, at least at the
    > low-end. Looking at other bike makes, the selection of cro-mo road
    > bikes under $1K is getting smaller. I know aluminum bikes are a
    > little lighter, but are consumers making the choice to go to alum
    > and/or the makers finding alum bikes more profitable?


    Aluminum has almost no price disadvantage over steel now, for various
    mass-production reasons. Since an Al frame can usually be made a little
    lighter*, all but the very cheapest new bicycles default to Aluminum.
    And since some of the most expensive and lightest bikes are also made of
    Al, you get some cachet rubbing off on your "7005 ALUMINUM" Wal-bike.

    > Wondering where steel bikes are going,
    > Tai


    They're just resting. I have been known to pay as much as $10 for a
    complete lugged road bike at a garage sale. I grabbed a half-decent 70s
    vintage Italian lugged frame out of a pile of garbage last week; I don't
    even know what I'm going to do with it, since it's pretty but I have
    lots of steel frames already.

    Unless you have some very specific reasons for it (you want a special
    geometry or it's the cheapest way to get the components you want), I
    don't see a keen need to buy a new steel frame. If I was willing to
    spend a few hours looking, I could probably bring home a decent-quality
    lugged steel road frame every weekend, in most cases as complete 25-year
    old bike, for $10 or less. Modern steel, especially in welded,
    non-lugged frames, might have a slight weight advantage, but it's on the
    order of a pound at most. I ride a mid-range Pinarello with indifferent
    (105, Sora) componentry, and it weighs only 22 pounds all in.

    > P.S. I wasn't really asking for the pros and cons of steel vs.
    > aluminum, but more about market and consumer, um, dynamics at the
    > low-end of bike sales. :)


    The Taiwanese factories are very good at aluminum fabrication, and the
    price difference between raw steel and raw Al is not high. All the
    economic forces push towards defaulting to Al. Only very cheap (and
    mostly children's) bikes now use steel on the low end of the market. At
    the high end, you get into custom fabrication or companies marketing the
    cachet and positive attributes (repairability, beauty, magnets stick to
    it, etc.) of high-end steel construction. The middle is owned by Al.

    *I have a theory that whatever the relative merits of steel and Al for
    road frames, mountain bikes have a heavy natural bias towards aluminum
    because an Al frame built strongly enough to have a reasonable fatigue
    life will also be able to take relatively high one-time loads. By
    comparison, steel construction means not worrying about the fatigue life
    (which can be assumed to be nearly infinite if you don't exceed the
    yield strength), but that means you are building a bike with a lower
    ultimate tensile strength in the places where bike frames can fail. Road
    bikes don't get into a lot of super-high-load situations unless they're
    being crashed, but mountain bikes tend to get jumped, crashed, and
    dropped routinely. Does that make sense?

    --
    Ryan Cousineau, [email protected] http://www.sfu.ca/~rcousine/wiredcola/
    President, Fabrizio Mazzoleni Fan Club
     
  8. Tai

    Tai Guest

    An Al frame built strongly enough to take high one-time loads or
    reasonable fatique life will weigh close to or just as much as a
    similarly strong steel frame, no? One could argue road bikes have more
    of a bias for Al because there's no need to make them strong enough
    for one-time loads and while their fatigue life may not be as long as
    steel, it's long enough for the vast majority of riders at the low-end
    and mid-range.

    Regardless, I was curious because 3 of my and my wife's 4 bikes are
    steel (2 Gary Fisher mtn hardtails and 1 Marin road) and thought maybe
    there's been some recent development with Al that made my bikes
    obsolete, seeing as how fewer and fewer are offered. Apparently, my
    worries are unfounded and maybe I should count myself lucky to have
    fully capable steel bikes that are getting rarer.

    Tai

    Ryan Cousineau <[email protected]> wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
    > ...
    > *I have a theory that whatever the relative merits of steel and Al for
    > road frames, mountain bikes have a heavy natural bias towards aluminum
    > because an Al frame built strongly enough to have a reasonable fatigue
    > life will also be able to take relatively high one-time loads. By
    > comparison, steel construction means not worrying about the fatigue life
    > (which can be assumed to be nearly infinite if you don't exceed the
    > yield strength), but that means you are building a bike with a lower
    > ultimate tensile strength in the places where bike frames can fail. Road
    > bikes don't get into a lot of super-high-load situations unless they're
    > being crashed, but mountain bikes tend to get jumped, crashed, and
    > dropped routinely. Does that make sense?
     
  9. Peter Cole

    Peter Cole Guest

    "Tai" <[email protected]> wrote
    > I know aluminum bikes are a
    > little lighter, but are consumers making the choice to go to alum
    > and/or the makers finding alum bikes more profitable?


    Since weight is an important issue in bicycles, it's obvious to even the
    unsophisticated buyer that aluminum is a better material for bike frames than
    steel. Steel only continues to appeal to traditionalists.

    > Wondering where steel bikes are going,


    Away.
     
  10. Peter-<< Since weight is an important issue in bicycles, it's obvious to even
    the
    unsophisticated buyer that aluminum is a better material for bike frames than
    steel. Steel only continues to appeal to traditionalists. >><BR><BR>

    "Better' is a big word. If a frameset is lighter..it is just 'lighter', not
    better. Thery are more than a few drawbacks to really light aluminum, just like
    light steel, like longevity.

    An aluminum frameset that is made to last weighs about the same as a steel
    frameset that is built to last. All from 3.2 to about 3.6 pounds for the
    frameset. Is there sub 3 pound aluminum framesets out there? Sure, at $2500 per
    that will not last 3 years.

    Peter Chisholm
    Vecchio's Bicicletteria
    1833 Pearl St.
    Boulder, CO, 80302
    (303)440-3535
    http://www.vecchios.com
    "Ruote convenzionali costruite eccezionalmente bene"
     
  11. Derk

    Derk Guest

    Peter Cole wrote:
    > Since weight is an important issue in bicycles, it's obvious to even the
    > unsophisticated buyer that aluminum is a better material for bike frames
    > than steel.

    I completely disagree. There are also lightweight steel frames btw.

    >Steel only continues to appeal to traditionalists.

    Yeah, right.......................some pro riders also want to ride steel
    frames. I saw some frames of Tour de France bikes that were stell frames
    painted in the same colours as the alu bikes of their teammates.

    Greets, Derk
     
  12. Jim Smith

    Jim Smith Guest

    If you like Thron you should really try Navicrome !!!! Who says steel
    bikes can't be light. A Navicrome frame weighs less then a low end
    Aluminum frame and only a few ounces more then a high end Aluminum
    frame. With its ovalized down tube its both stiff a forgiving.

    I got my frame from vailcycleworks.com
    I bought a full blown custom MTB for less then a off the rack upper end
    bike--JJ
     
  13. WTF,O

    WTF,O Guest

    "Peter Cole" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:p[email protected]_s51...
    > "Tai" <[email protected]> wrote
    > > I know aluminum bikes are a
    > > little lighter, but are consumers making the choice to go to alum
    > > and/or the makers finding alum bikes more profitable?

    >
    > Since weight is an important issue in bicycles, it's obvious to even the
    > unsophisticated buyer that aluminum is a better material for bike frames

    than
    > steel. Steel only continues to appeal to traditionalists.
    >
    > > Wondering where steel bikes are going,

    >
    > Away.
    >
    >


    Troll...
     
  14. Terry Morse

    Terry Morse Guest

    Peter Cole wrote:

    > Since weight is an important issue in bicycles, it's obvious to even the
    > unsophisticated buyer that aluminum is a better material for bike frames than
    > steel. Steel only continues to appeal to traditionalists.


    I would say that it's only the unsophisticated buyer who thinks that
    Al is a better material than steel.

    "The difference between Columbus Altec 2 (Al) and regular Columbus
    Foco (steel) for the same size frame, designed for the same rider,
    is about 60 grams. Let me repeat - 60 grams. Want to lay money on
    which one lasts longer?", Anvil Bike Works, "The Frame Weight Wars"

    http://www.anvilbikes.com/story.php?news_ID=16&catID=3

    --
    terry morse Palo Alto, CA http://bike.terrymorse.com/
     
  15. Peter Cole

    Peter Cole Guest

    "Terry Morse" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]
    > Peter Cole wrote:
    >
    > > Since weight is an important issue in bicycles, it's obvious to even the
    > > unsophisticated buyer that aluminum is a better material for bike frames

    than
    > > steel. Steel only continues to appeal to traditionalists.

    >
    > I would say that it's only the unsophisticated buyer who thinks that
    > Al is a better material than steel.
    >
    > "The difference between Columbus Altec 2 (Al) and regular Columbus
    > Foco (steel) for the same size frame, designed for the same rider,
    > is about 60 grams. Let me repeat - 60 grams. Want to lay money on
    > which one lasts longer?", Anvil Bike Works, "The Frame Weight Wars"
    >
    > http://www.anvilbikes.com/story.php?news_ID=16&catID=3


    Based on the only published frame fatigue tests I've seen, I'll lay my money
    on the Al ones.
     
  16. g.daniels

    g.daniels Guest

    ask the guys at the flea market
    then rebuild to stage 3
     
  17. Peter Cole

    Peter Cole Guest

    "Ryan Cousineau" <[email protected]> wrote >
    >. All the
    > economic forces push towards defaulting to Al. Only very cheap (and
    > mostly children's) bikes now use steel on the low end of the market. At
    > the high end, you get into custom fabrication or companies marketing the
    > cachet and positive attributes (repairability, beauty, magnets stick to
    > it, etc.) of high-end steel construction. The middle is owned by Al.


    You're leaving out Ti and CF, the latter is the undisputed strength to weight
    champ.

    > *I have a theory that whatever the relative merits of steel and Al for
    > road frames, mountain bikes have a heavy natural bias towards aluminum
    > because an Al frame built strongly enough to have a reasonable fatigue
    > life will also be able to take relatively high one-time loads.


    I think there is some truth to this, but the real reason Al dominates the MTB
    market is that those buyers aren't carrying the weight of tradition.
     
  18. dianne_1234

    dianne_1234 Guest

    On 21 Jun 2004 12:47:58 GMT, [email protected] (Qui si parla
    Campagnolo ) wrote:

    >An aluminum frameset that is made to last weighs about the same as a steel
    >frameset that is built to last. All from 3.2 to about 3.6 pounds for the
    >frameset. Is there sub 3 pound aluminum framesets out there? Sure, at $2500 per
    >that will not last 3 years.
    >
    >Peter Chisholm


    The all-aluminum Trek 2300 frame weighs less than 3 pounds and has a
    lifetime warranty. It's also less than the $2500 you quote; the whole
    bike goes for about $2000.

    http://www.google.com/[email protected]&output=gplain

    or

    http://tinyurl.com/2yvy4
     
  19. "Peter Cole" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:<[email protected]_s54>...
    > "Terry Morse" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    > news:[email protected]
    > > Peter Cole wrote:
    > >
    > > > Since weight is an important issue in bicycles, it's obvious to even the
    > > > unsophisticated buyer that aluminum is a better material for bike frames

    > than
    > > > steel. Steel only continues to appeal to traditionalists.

    > >
    > > I would say that it's only the unsophisticated buyer who thinks that
    > > Al is a better material than steel.
    > >
    > > "The difference between Columbus Altec 2 (Al) and regular Columbus
    > > Foco (steel) for the same size frame, designed for the same rider,
    > > is about 60 grams. Let me repeat - 60 grams. Want to lay money on
    > > which one lasts longer?", Anvil Bike Works, "The Frame Weight Wars"
    > >
    > > http://www.anvilbikes.com/story.php?news_ID=16&catID=3

    >
    > Based on the only published frame fatigue tests I've seen, I'll lay my money
    > on the Al ones.


    True. When you look at the EFBE frame fatigue tests posted by Damon
    Rinard, now on Sheldon Brown's website, the much maligned Cannondale,
    Principia aluminum, and equally maligned Trek OCLV were the only ones
    to withstand the tests. The Merlin titanium, lugged steel bikes, etc.
    all broke. Very odd and unsettling how perception and reality don't
    always agree. Or even rarely agree.

    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/rinard/EFBe/frame_fatigue_test.htm
     
  20. Terry Morse

    Terry Morse Guest

    dianne_1234 wrote:

    > The all-aluminum Trek 2300 frame weighs less than 3 pounds and has a
    > lifetime warranty.


    lifetime warranty != built to last. Could Trek be betting that the
    typical lifetime of a bike is about 500 miles, if that much? Most
    riders never wear out their tires, no to mention the frame.
    --
    terry morse Palo Alto, CA http://bike.terrymorse.com/
     
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