Nicest steel ride?

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  • Nicest steel ride?
  • Premier Icon Trailrider Jim
    Subscriber

    I’m talking feel on singletrack. Which steel hardtail frame has given you the most compliant feeling? I’m imagining, for example, the Soul over the P7, with its 853 front triangle and skinny tubed rear, as opposed to the P7’s extra – perhaps OTT – tubing.

    Steelfreak
    Member

    Surely ride feel will be determined by a whole host of bike/rider variables, making direct comparison difficult?

    But for what it’s worth, Sanderson Soloist with ****-off big rear tyre for me…

    Premier Icon LAT
    Subscriber

    The nicest riding hard tail I’ve owned was a 725 tubed De Kerf Generation. It was pre -CEN regulations, so that probably makes a difference. That said, I’d like to try the new 725 Ribble mountain bike.

    Premier Icon chakaping
    Subscriber

    My old 1996 Team Marin made with quad-butted, heat-treated Fuji cro-mo was the most compliant and classically steel feeling.

    Would probably feel like a soggy noodle and handle like a kids’ bike compared to my current SolarisMax though.

    Premier Icon AlexSimon
    Subscriber

    Nicest I ever had was an Independent Fabrication Steel Deluxe
    No springy or twangy like the DeKerf or Spot that I rode. Instead it was silky smooth and flowy.
    Shouldn’t have got ride of that one 🙁
    I sold it because it was built around 80mm forks which seemed limiting by the time I’d had it 10 years in 2012, but I should have kept it anyway.

    kazafaza
    Member

    Mk1 Longitude (rigid ss 29+) and the Slackline 853 (carbon rigid ss B+)

    Premier Icon slackalice
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    ‘89 splatter paint Explosif (Tange Prestige tubeset) with Tange Switchblades forks, it zinged, it buzzed, it skipped… 30 years ago now…

    Premier Icon letmetalktomark
    Subscriber

    My Pipedream Skookum rides like a 90s steel HT comfort wise. This is a good thing.

    My Genesis Fortitudes are sublime to ride.

    Best thoroughly modern frame that was comfortable ….. Santa Cruz Chameleon but that’s the wrong sort of Alloy I guess 😉

    Premier Icon jezzep
    Subscriber

    Hiya,

    Bit of a steel fan. It started with a tange Marin Eldridge grade. It was sort of ok but actually too stiff. Roll forward the frame died when a seat post well and truly welded itself into the down tube. The replacement was a rock lobster Reynolds 853, love it still do I ride it every month and the give in the frame is just perfect. I purchased later on I purchased a cotic soul, it was better geometry wise, but the frame doesn’t give as much. It’s still great but perfect in other ways.
    A few years ago I got a back injury, which means I need to ride a full suspension bike more. The first was a Boardman fs pro, it’s a great bike absolute pig to get it working right, but the frame is too stiff to be honest. Onto the latest addition. A new cotic flaremax. This is the closest to perfection in all the bikes I have owned an tested.

    Now onto a major gripe. Why do people keep saying they need stiffer bikes? I’m an engineer stiff is not good! Flex in the right places is what you want. When I hear a bike journo say it’s stiffer so much better I know they are talking carp 😉

    BR
    JeZ

    Premier Icon takisawa2
    Subscriber

    Niner SIR.9.

    Case closed.

    (Or Niner MCR if you can find one).

    plus one
    Member

    I’ve got a 1994 Kona lava dome double butted compliant as ****!! What you seek is all smoke and mirrors 🙂

    Premier Icon epicyclo
    Subscriber

    First model Singular Swift.

    Its fork was lovely and felt much nicer than the carbon fork I replaced it with for lightness (temporarily).

    My opinion is much of the feel of a steel bike comes down to its fork.

    Premier Icon martymac
    Subscriber

    Epicyclo: ‘its fork’
    Yes, me too.
    Best for me was a ‘92 eldridge grade.

    Premier Icon djflexure
    Subscriber

    Had a Columbus life frame from enigma that rode well

    Mbnut
    Member

    Best for a compliant rear was a Cove Hand job.

    Best for rip snorting geometry was my Evil Sovereign.

    Best hardtail I’ve ever ridden for a combination of feel and geometry is my current Sonder Transmitter with a 2.6 rear tyre with insert inflated to 17psi.

    Geometry is king, tyre pressure is key and frame material and built in feel come in 3rd on a modern HT.

    All imho.

    Jez, I agree.

    Premier Icon StirlingCrispin
    Subscriber

    My Stanton Sherpa (latest gen) is up there, particularly with fast tyres on. It is so much fun and makes you want to accelerate into everything. Grintastic.

    Have fond memories on my Cotic Souk (mkII) until the chainstay cracked. The geared Inbred had days where I just grinned too 🙂

    Sanderson Life was nice but ripped the mech hanger too many times to really feel that I could trust. it. Sanderson Soloist never really felt that fast – unlike my ss Inbred. Definitely not the Pipedream Scion which felt dead (and was a straight swap of all the kit from the  Soul.

    I need a beer or two to really get into this discussion though 🙂

    Premier Icon jameso
    Subscriber

    Now onto a major gripe. Why do people keep saying they need stiffer bikes? I’m an engineer stiff is not good! Flex in the right places is what you want. When I hear a bike journo say it’s stiffer so much better I know they are talking carp

    Agreed. Stiffer can feel more responsive but that’s not the most important thing every time, more for road race bikes. It’s easier for a brand to maximise stiffness and sell this as a benefit or as an absolute aim, than to ‘optimise’ stiffness for a rider since the right amount of flex is subjective. It changes for a rider over time also imo. I used to like stiffer bikes than I do now, eg I’m becoming much more appreciative of flex in a frame that I don’t push as hard or load up as much. it’s a feeling of riding with the bike, that the flex can work with you in the same way that using your weight to preload suspension can. But what works for my taste in my size of frame might be different for a stronger, heavier, weaker rider etc of the same height, and that’s the bit that a production frame can’t really account for.

    Not an MTB but I’m really enjoying a Colnago steel road bike at the moment. Stiff enough but flexes under power or through corners in a way that feels as if it works with me. I don’t think people always work well with totally rigid bikes, depends on the rider and the feedback we prefer. We don’t apply loads in a square-wave piston-like way – some will be closer to that than others though.

    Premier Icon sheck
    Subscriber

    My Salsa El Mariachi had a better ‘feel’ than the Soul/Solaris that preceded it and the Sherpa that followed. Not to say it’s a better bike… the Sherpa’s versatility probably nudges it ahead, but on the right day, in the right mood, on the right trail, the Salsa was a joy

    Premier Icon tomd
    Subscriber

    I’m not really convinced on the “steel feel” thing based on my own experience.

    The stiffest frame I’ve ever owned, in both good and bad ways is a Willier steel gravel frame. In contrast, a 10 year Merida alloy frame I have set up with the same kit is a joy. It’s very well designed with the shapes stays.

    I think I’ve had 6 steel frames bikes now. If I buy another it’ll be because it’s got the right design features rather than any mythical ride feel.

    Andy
    Member

    @jameso wise words, think “Nicest” is very subjective. One persons steel is real is another persons noodly and also very dependent on rider weight and type of riding / terrain.

    For me. 90kgs and mostly SE XC two modern bikes that really stand out now are my Stanton Sherpa and Fairlight Secan, both have that springy feel but dont feel noodly. The Sherpa stands out over the Solaris, El Mariachi, Sir9, Swift, Rooster, Inbred, Fargo and Jones Plus that preceded it.

    Premier Icon jameso
    Subscriber

    I’m not really convinced on the “steel feel” thing based on my own experience.

    The stiffest frame I’ve ever owned, in both good and bad ways is a Willier steel gravel frame. In contrast, a 10 year Merida alloy frame I have set up with the same kit is a joy. It’s very well designed with the shapes stays.

    That’s the tube sections combined with the material. Steel can make a more flexible bike with sufficient durability but doesn’t always, particularly now vs 15-30 years ago where these reputations or materials generalisations came from.

    I’ve been enjoying riding my Stanton Slackline Next Gen since it’s launch ,which is now over 3 years ago .Bike feels great to me but I’ve got nowt to compare it too though unless my Raleigh Burner counts .

    ton
    Member

    back in the 90’s i owned a bontrager privateer, which was a very nice bike to ride, i replaced it with a 853 rock lobster. sublime comfort even on trails that were too much for it.

    the nicest modern steel bike was a swift 29er, again just a perfectly comfy nice bike to ride.
    god knows why i sold it.

    Premier Icon kayak23
    Subscriber

    Not ridden anything that rivals the smooth feel of my Production Privee Oka.

    It’s got ovalised seat and chainstays, which I know you’re not allowed to think make a difference but, all I know is it’s a really smooth bike.

    I wouldn’t own an ally hardtail ever now I don’t think.

    Premier Icon YoKaiser
    Subscriber

    I’ve had a few corkers over the years, Vicious Cycles Metal Guru, YoEddy, Ritchey team comp, Salsa alacarte. At the budget end a Muddy Fox Courier Prestige and a Kona unit rode really nicely.

    Premier Icon seadog101
    Subscriber

    Nobody mentioned Pace yet?

    My RC127 Boost is spot on, 140mm Sektors and 2.25 tyres (which seem much bigger).

    I was going to mention the pace 529. Just fun and fast.

    Premier Icon chakaping
    Subscriber

    Best for a compliant rear was a Cove Hand job.

    Yes that was a singletrack demon, must be about 10 years ago I sold mine and it was feeling a bit too flexy at the time IIRC.

    My current Cotic is way stiffer, but still has a nice bit of give and even the odd zingy feeling when it gets up to speed. And it’s much, much more capable obvs.

    wl
    Member

    Can’t comment on the Soul but my P7 27.5 is mint – fast, fun and plenty comfy with 2.4 Maxxis tyres fitted.

    Premier Icon lawman91
    Subscriber

    Nicest steel bike I’ve ridden would have to be my latest Soul. It is incredibly comfortable yet has enough brawn to be ridden like a loon. It’s far smoother than my old BFe and others I’ve ridden, an old OnOne Inbred I rode was nowhere near as nice and Stanton frames I’ve ridden haven’t been quite there either. Way, way back when I rode an original Evil Sovereign for a day and that was ace, properly nice frame

    Premier Icon snotrag
    Subscriber

    Original dialled bikes Prince Albert, that has a lovely smooth compliant ride. I had a few later ones and they got firmer over the years (due to testing?)

    I had a Cotic Bfe too, that was really well made but as the name suggests, was rock solid, and great fun for riding round a BMX track but not so good as an actual trail bike to sit down and ride.

    fudge9202
    Member

    Would say dialled alpine also but really liked the two Sherpas I owned , must look at cotic thinking of a hardtail

    kayla1
    Member

    The mk3 (tapered head tube) 26″ Soul I had was lovely.

    mint – fast, fun and plenty comfy with 2.4 Maxxis tyres fitted.

    That describes my 2009 P7. With 2.4 tyres and 130mm squishers on I’m left at the borderline limit of wondering how much of a part the ’feel of steel is playing’ 😉

    Similarly with the Mk1 Longitude and 2.2 rubber. But I think I can just about ‘feel the steel’.

    OTOH, long-departed 1997 M-Trax 150 custom-butted cromo (another mid-range rigid steel MTB of yore) felt much zingy-er than both, even on 2” tyres. 1990s RSP-produced steel bikes under the name M-Trax were hugely under-rated, IMO.

    My (1990?) British Eagle Touristique (Reynolds 531 Super-Tourist tubeset on 28c Schwalbe Super Marathons) feels zingy-est. It’s my King of Zing, and yet still plenty stiff when loaded. Would possibly make an epic gravelly bike but as of now I keep it in road-touring clothes

    Regarding the whole thread – variance in tyres, pressures, forks and rider-weight do tend to mess up the whole ‘what is the best?’ metric. ‘What steel bike have you most enjoyed riding and why?’ makes more sense as a question

    I’d love a bike made out of Tange Prestige.

    Can you still buy it?

    avdave2
    Member

    it zinged, it buzzed, it skipped… 30 years ago now…

    In 1988 I had a Robert’s White Spider in a mix of Columbus tubing and the above describes in perfectly. I transferred all the parts from a 1986 Rockhopper with the one exception of the seatpost – you see even then there were all these different standards that made swapping frames such a pain.:-)

    fudge9202
    Member

    I think the Soma Bside is Tange steel

    trumpton
    Member

    I cannot help thinking that CEN testing has ruined some modern steel frames.

    This may be wrong though as modern frames are likely to be designed to be ridden harder than retro ones so they not come alive until they are pushed hard. Having said that springey frames should be nice even when ridden gently.

    Premier Icon ajantom
    Subscriber

    Independent Fabrication Steel Deluxe

    I’ve got a ’98 IF Steel Deluxe Single Speed. Still a great ride.

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