Modern steel XC bikes are a bit rubbish?

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  • Modern steel XC bikes are a bit rubbish?
  • Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    Meh.

    25 years MTBing here. I recently did a ride with a college friend that we’d first done probably around that time on early 90s bikes. And we remarked upon how much better modern bikes are.

    Seriously – those old bikes, they flexed. Ok, big deal. I don’t particulary like flex. I like my Salsa because it’s stiff when I smash the pedals and is still comfortable because it has 2.4″ tubless tyres at 20psi on 30mm rims.

    Bike rides maybe were better back then, because I was 18, the sun was shining and I had nothing else that needed doing. But the bikes were worse 🙂

    qwerty
    Member

    To be fair to Kona, the new Explosive isn’t a million miles away from that.

    Toasty
    Member

    And we remarked upon how much better modern bikes are.

    How much of this is through bigger axles/steerers and things though?

    Building steel bikes to be completely rock solid rigid seems to kill the point of it doesn’t it? Beyond that I don’t really see why you’d want a frame that was 50% heavier than aluminium, or double the weight of carbon, for carbon money.

    Premier Icon eddie11
    Subscriber

    They flexed up until they broke. I’ll take today’s bikes please

    Toasty
    Member

    To be fair to Kona, the new Explosive isn’t a million miles away from that.

    The new one is Reynolds 520, which is just bottom end cro-mo. With a big brace on the seatpost, big Minion tyres, Revelations. The old one was a 24lb XC bike.

    Toasty
    Member

    I can’t help but be a bit miffed at modern steel, I appreciate it’s all come from European CEN changes, but we just seem leagues behind where we were 20+ years ago. It feels like we’ve fixed something that wasn’t broken.

    I’d like something like a 20 year old Explosif, without ancient geometry and component requirements.

    I only mention it as there seemed to be a mass of front page articles on modern steel at the moment. The Shands look nice I’ll admit, and they’re only 250g heavier than a 20 year old bike, with a £1200 price tag.

    Bah.

    Premier Icon mick_r
    Subscriber

    Get something made in tubes that suit your weight and fork length etc. Modern steel is heavy (ish) because it typically has to pass fatigue tests for a big heavy rider running long forks.

    Or buy some tubes from Ceeway and crack on making your own. Having personally taken this option, I can assure you ready made for £1200 is the cheaper alternative if you only want one bike…… 🙂

    Toasty
    Member

    Yeah, always an option. A chap I ride with locally works at Reynolds, so has lots of thoughts on the issue 🙂

    I just find it frustrating, the new Explosif is an ideal example. There used to be competitive XC hardtails made of steel, new regulations mean it’s not even an option. Companies very rarely bother with expensive Reynolds 753 type stuff any more.

    I’m not specifically saying everything needs to be that ancient Explosif, everything got heavier, even things like Inbred’s which were hardly known for snapping. I just miss light compliant/flexy steel frames and don’t really understand why anyone would want one of the new style overweight/stiff ones.

    I guess there’s always titanium, tragically it’s almost competitive price wise with a lot of the boutique steel now.

    **** me OP, your rose tinted glasses are massive.

    Toasty
    Member

    This it true, I should probably just buy an old retro bike and get it out of my system 😀 The Exposif was a crap example, if I’d been arsed I’d have found a nice frame from 10 years ago, going back a bit too much there.

    copa
    Member

    The bike I ride most is a 1998 Kona Lavadome.
    £99 with a few new bits added. Weighs about 23lbs.

    keir
    Member

    I used to ride a 21lb Kilauea. My 26lb inbred (rebas, 1×10) is much faster everywhere except road climbs….

    thepodge
    Member

    I love my big heavy steel Kona Honzo, love it more than my lighter Kona full suspension.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    Building steel bikes to be completely rock solid rigid seems to kill the point of it doesn’t it? Beyond that I don’t really see why you’d want a frame that was 50% heavier than aluminium, or double the weight of carbon, for carbon money.

    No? What is the point of steel? I don’t buy into this ‘lively, springy’ waffle. Flexy wastes power. I had a flexible bike, so flexible it would change out of the big ring if I hammered on the pedals. A bike should be stiff as comfort allows. And with modern tyres, this is pretty stiff. Which is a win/win imo.

    Those boutique £1200 frames aren’t that price because of any inherent characteristic, they are that price because they need to be because they are small outfits and cannot benefit from economies of scale.

    My steel frame was £450. Dunno what it weighs tbh, 5.5 lbs probably. However, when I throw it into a loose corner it drifts beautifullly, perfectly balanced. On my Fire Mountain, front wheel washout was always the risk and you were just waiting for it to happen in any corner. So you’d move your weight forward which made it damn hard to do twisty windy stuff.

    If you want light, strong and compliant, we now have carbon. Why would you want steel when we have carbon? Nostalgia, probably.

    markrh
    Member

    If you’re riding the same type of trails we were riding twenty years ago i’m sure a twenty year old design would be great but things have moved on for most of us…

    copa
    Member

    I used to ride a 21lb Kilauea. My 26lb inbred (rebas, 1×10) is much faster everywhere except road climbs….

    My other bike is a Scandal, weighs about 24lb, and the Kona is much faster for me on pretty much everything apart from rocky downhill.

    Premier Icon somafunk
    Subscriber

    If you want a light steel frame then i’ll sell you my 15.5″ Soulcraft Option 3 frame for £250?, no use to you if you are much over 5ft 7″ though.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    If you’re riding the same type of trails we were riding twenty years ago i’m sure a twenty year old design would be great

    I am riding the same trails, and the modern bikes are still better.

    keir
    Member

    My other bike is a Scandal, weighs about 24lb, and the Kona is much faster for me on pretty much everything apart from rocky downhill.

    I’ve had retros faster than the Kilauea, A Merlin XLM most notably. When I was absolutely on my game it was incredibly quick, but as soon as I stopped riding offroad every week it became a tricky sod. The Inbred is pick-up-and-go accessible for the every now and then that I ride offroad these days

    Toasty
    Member

    I am riding the same trails, and the modern bikes are still better.

    Well indeed, which is why I said I’d like a modern geometry/componentry fitted xc steel bike that doesn’t weight or cost the earth.

    Aluminium frames haven’t suddenly got a pound heavier in the last 10 years.

    Isn’t the answer to that a Cotic Soul then?

    TurnerGuy
    Member

    Why would you want steel when we have carbon? Nostalgia, probably.

    longevity – a steel bike really does feel like it could be a bike for life, whereas I doubt you are going to see many old carbon frames around.

    Just built up a 26 cove handjob for my nephew and it was really nice on the test ride – wider bars, shortish stem, high volume tyres, 100mm Sids, 1×11 SLX.

    His mum has my old steel Voodoo Wanga.

    markrh
    Member

    Toasty, I think you’ve inadvertently hit the nail on the head there. True xc bikes now tend to be aluminium these days unless you want to spend big money.

    mindmap3
    Member

    Not all modern steel frames are dead harsh. I borrowed the new Slackline from the Stanton boys last year for a few weeks and was surprised at how comfy the 853 tubeset was given the big head tube, dropper compatible seat tube and bolt through rear end. It felt a lot like the original Slackline which blew my BFe out of the water. I was a bit meh about steel frames until I had an original Slackline.

    If I’m honest, that new Slackline was probably a bit comfier than my Ti Switchback (second generation).

    Steel isn’t dead light and loses out compared to modern ali and carbon frames.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    So, it’s not that modern bikes are rubbish – it’s that they are 1lb heavier than they used to be. That about right?

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    I doubt you are going to see many old carbon frames around.

    I bet you are. It doesn’t fatigue or corrode. Why wouldn’t it last forever?

    My road bike has had a hard life and is still going at ten years. Does that count as old?

    Toasty
    Member

    Yeah, the Soul was the only example I could think of that wasn’t built like a tank and used decent metal. It’s obviously possible and people seemed to love them.

    I just wonder if most steel frames sell on niche/retro value alone and the cost of expensive tubing usually doesn’t pay for itself.

    I’m with the OP here, slightly trailsy xc hardtail with a bit of zing would be lovely. Got a modern steel hardtail and it’s pretty dead in reality. Cracking bike but just lacks that tiny bit of spring which I’ve felt on 90s steel and even alu, on my nunu

    Toasty
    Member

    So, it’s not that modern bikes are rubbish – it’s that they are 1lb heavier than they used to be. That about right?

    Im just saying I don’t see the point in the ones that are super stiff, super heavy and super expensive. Which seems to be the majority. People used to buy steel for the way it rode.

    I know it’s a half marketing rubbish and there’s loads of compliant aluminium frames about. My Scandal was more comfy than my Swift to be honest.

    qwerty
    Member

    The new one is Reynolds 520, which is just bottom end cro-mo

    …. Yea it is, so they also made a Ti one 😈

    For the curious: https://www.wideopenmountainbike.com/2017/09/steel-real-demo-day-heads-forest-dean-october-29th

    Building steel bikes to be completely rock solid rigid seems to kill the point of it doesn’t it? Beyond that I don’t really see why you’d want a frame that was 50% heavier than aluminium, or double the weight of carbon, for carbon money.

    I think that misses a lot of the benefits of steel.

    I regularly treat my bikes like crap (I shouldn’t say that, I’m in the process of selling one!), steel bikes really do tolerate being crashed, ridden hard, crashed, crashed, thrown over walls, dragged over trees, crashed, etc etc and just shrug it off.

    I’ve an El-Mariachi (like Molgrips) and it’s definitely at the stiff end of the steel spectrum, but it still rides in a different way to an aluminum frame.

    If you want something that rides like a mid-90’s bike (in a good way, not the ‘won’t go where you point it because it’s so flexy’) then you have to accept that a 29er will weigh more than a <4lb explosif. The Swift fit’s that description perfectly though, it rides like you think a steel bike should, but with enough confidence to pin it on singletrack.

    I have a few year old Kona Smoke – it’s a 29er v-braked steel commuter frame that im in the process of shaving the brake mounts off and TIGing a disc mount on to make it more useable.
    It’s a great frame in that old school steel XC style.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    Im just saying I don’t see the point in the ones that are super stiff, super heavy and super expensive. Which seems to be the majority.

    The majority aren’t expensive.

    I bought steel because it was more durable than alu and cheaper than carbon.

    Toasty
    Member

    Cheers for the link! I genuinely might pop along to this to have a look. Just having a moan really, I ride a Swift so I’m not totally against the idea. My old mk1 Scandal 29er was notably more comfy, a pound lighter and cheaper though if I’m honest.

    On an old note:

    I bet you are. It doesn’t fatigue or corrode. Why wouldn’t it last forever?

    I’ve had 2 carbon mountain bikes, both broke from having a huge long seatpost with 200 pounds bouncing on the end (Ibis Mojo and Zaskar). I’ve had a couple of steel bikes and a good 20 or something aluminium frames, I’ve never broken one.

    newrobdob
    Member

    They flexed up until they broke. I’ll take today’s bikes please

    I bought this new in 1994. Has been ridden for 23 years and still as good as new. This is a recent pic after I had it repainted and restored.

    A good friend of mine has had 2 carbon frames fail when he dropped them on their sides onto the floor and they hit a piece of wood. 😯

    I’ll stick with my Kilauea thanks. 😀

    I don’t think anyone takes pride in the tubing sticker on their frames so much nowadays.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    I’ve had 2 carbon mountain bikes, both broke from having a huge long seatpost with 200 pounds bouncing on the end

    Are you saying all carbon frames are weak? That’s simply not true. You may have bought badly designed or weak carbon frames, but there are also badly designed and weak steel and alu frames, that has nothing to do with the material. Ask on here who’s broken or cracked alu frames.

    Carbon frames need not be weak. And the fact remains they don’t corrode or fatigue.

    EDIT in fact wasn’t there a thread just the other day about corrosion protecting steel frames, and loads of people popped up saying they’d rusted their steel frames though?

    TurnerGuy
    Member

    And when it’s time to move on you know that a steel or alu frame can be recycled, whereas carbon…

    Premier Icon kelvin
    Subscriber

    Disc brakes, dropper post, proper forks… I’m in no rush to lose them.

    velocipede
    Member

    Steel bends. Carbon fails. End of.

    However, I choose to ride a custom steel road bike, and an old(ish) carbon MTB. Why?

    Because I like riding them. In fact, I look forward to riding them. Which is the only thing that matters, is it not?

    And when it’s time to move on you know that a steel or alu frame can be recycled, whereas carbon…

    That’s of so little consequence in the grand total of cyclingd carbon footprint its not worth considering.

    Throw it in an incinerator and it’ll power STW for a few minutes.

    Premier Icon scotroutes
    Subscriber

    turnerguy wrote:

    And when it’s time to move on you know that a steel or alu frame can be recycled, whereas carbon…

    http://www.elgcf.com/

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    Carbon fails. End of.

    Sorry, what? Carbon is definitely going to fail?

    velocipede
    Member

    Sorry, what? Carbon is definitely going to fail?

    If you crash hard, you ride at your own peril next time…….not so with steel

    (I’m a Materials Scientist by the way – so I do realise I’m making sweeping statements here – but in a generally speaking kind of way, if you hit your lovely carbon beauty hard, it definitely won’t react as well as steel!)

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    Ok. But I can be pretty confident that certain of my bikes will never be crashed hard.

    Meanwhile, check your steel frame for rust and cracks…

    it definitely won’t react as well as steel

    You can break steel frames in crashes too. I’ve seen it done. I’ve also bent one by shifting into the wrong gear…

    velocipede
    Member

    Meanwhile, check your steel frame for rust and cracks…

    No rust on mine….it’s stainless!

    It is a bit more susceptible to impacts than say an 853 frame though because it’s a slightly less forgiving material…..

    I’ve broken plenty of steel road frames (in a past, younger life when I used to win road races with a killer sprint – those days are long gone :D)….I’ve snapped a couple of downtubes in bunch sprints many, many years ago (753 and 531sl) as well as dropouts but what was really key (with the downtubes especially) is that the rest of the frame didn’t instantly fail…..in both cases, there was a complete break in the downtube near the lever bosses, and in both cases the top tube held and just acted like a spring and I stayed on and stopped perfectly safely….if that had been a carbon frame, I doubt I’d be writing this!!!!!!

    Oh yes, and all the steel frames I broke were subsequently repaired!

    Just sayin’

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