What's it like riding steel?

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  • What's it like riding steel?
  • tacopowell
    Member

    As my rear shock has gone on my spesh epic 03 and I’ve no intention of replacing it I’m considering going steel, keep things simple, 1×9.

    Question is what’s it like riding on a steel frame? I figure you feel the bike more, could it help to improve skills?

    mrjmt
    Member

    I’d have said the difference from FS to HT will be far larger than frame material.

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Subscriber

    Can’t tell any difference from aluminium (except a bit heavier up hill).

    andeh
    Member

    Like warm apple pie….

    Premier Icon cp
    Subscriber

    I assume you’re talking about going to a steel hardtail rather than to a steel FS?

    Frame geometry has more of an impact on how the ride IMO. Also if you are talking hardtail, it’s impossible to say ‘steel rides like this’ or aluminium rides like this’. Depending on the exact material used, the butting etc… the geometry, the ride will vary.

    Will a hardtail improve skills over a full sus? Yes IMO – it makes you careful about line choice & makes you react to stuff rather than just ploughing through. You do ‘feel’ the bike/ground interactions a lot more.

    It’s also satisfying to go faster downhill on a hardtail than someone on an FS 🙂

    Heavier
    Less stiff under pedaling and doesnt seem to buzz like aluminium
    Marginaly more comfortable over long distances
    Don’t give a f*** about crashing it as it won’t break and if it does it was probably cheep.

    My currently being built HT is alu and made from mahoosive box sections, my other one’s a Swift. People prefer different charateristics of either design philosophy (brutaly stiff Vs a bit of give) for different reasons and end uses.

    Premier Icon AlexSimon
    Subscriber

    There’s steel and then there’s steel and also steel.
    They all ride so differently, that it’s not really worth generalising.

    I’ve hated some of the bikes I’ve ridden and love others.

    Didn’t like:
    DeKerf
    Spot
    Alpinestars

    Did like:
    Bontrager
    Independent Fabrication

    Haven’t tried loads of others.

    So I would say that if you are moving to steel purely for ‘feel’ then you’d better get testing. (mind you the same can be said of loads of on-paper-similar bikes).

    PTR
    Member

    Not necessarily heavier, it depends on the steel and the build, most people are amazed by the lack of weight in my ’93 Kona Cindercone. Just because tanks & railway engines are steel, it is deemed to be heavy.
    as for the ride, you do actually find youself riding as apposed to sitting or hanging on.

    tacopowell
    Member

    Yeah meant Hardtail,

    My first bike was an aluminium hardrock, I figure what said with choosing your line more carefully would suggest you need more skill, which I’m not convinced I’ve got masses of!

    Maybe I need to make the switch as a training bike? Until the day I can afford a FS again!

    Premier Icon AlexSimon
    Subscriber

    Contrary to some other people’s opinion, I don’t believe a hardtail makes you more skilful than a fs. ymmv.

    Mackem
    Member

    I think the material mattere less than it used to. In the old days it was alu stiffness and steel springiness. My Alu Chumba feels comfy and seems to have a bit of give. (same as my old PACE 303).

    tacopowell
    Member

    I’m considering the ragley piglet due to reccomendations and decent affordable price.

    Rob Hilton
    Member

    Don’t give a f*** about crashing it as it won’t break

    But it will bend like a bendy thing, never to return, if you crash hard enough

    toxicsoks
    Member

    Er,for a hardtail, NORMAL. I’ve only ever owned steel hardtails.
    M Trax 2000L > Marin Pine Mountain > Inbred 853 (+ Inbred S/S) > Pipedream Scion. (Finger, currently, hovering over order button for the Pipedream 853 29er)

    rewski
    Member

    I’m still lusting after one of these, frame builders like enigma use super skinny steel tubes, very light and very strong and very a smooth ride.

    slimjim78
    Member

    I prefer to ride my Soul. It’s made of gnartanium. Apparently.

    (853 till I die)

    donks
    Member

    Were you ever a kid with an old second hand Raleigh or for that matter any bike pre 1990? cos they were all steel….or are you one of these “young uns” who have never known a life prior to mobile phones and more than 3 or 4 TV channels. 🙂

    Good steel = nice.

    Bad steel = like a train made of lead.

    Good alu = nice.

    Bad alu = like a scaffolding pole that’s been beaten a little more just to make sure it’s dead.

    Hope that helps. 😀

    tacopowell
    Member

    Yeah used to have a Saracen HardTrax beautiful bike (for the paper round!)

    b r
    Member

    I think moving from an 03 frame to a current one will make a far bigger difference than what its made off, never mind the fork I’ll have probably twice the movement.

    smell_it
    Member

    If found when i started riding steel riding skills increased beyond belief, I could ride through buildings, women found me more attractive and my cat AIDS disappeared overnight (and it was the bad kind). ymmv.

    tacopowell
    Member

    You had cat aids? I’ve got cat aids, which vet do you use?

    Rorschach
    Member

    I died from the cat aids (the bad sort)……..it’s notsobad.

    tacopowell
    Member

    *COUGHS* riding steel….

    But it will bend like a bendy thing, never to return, if you crash hard enough

    I was thinking more the downtubes of steel bikes seem to take far less of a battering, and my steel bikes din’t see to get dented, scratched (into the metal) or worn through heel rub as much as their alu stablemates.

    Basicly after a crash I don’t really wory about a steel frame, I’m always paranoid my alu ones are going to get a big dent in them.

    Obvioulsy they’ll both have comparable forces required to bend them.

    djglover
    Member

    The only benefit is the knowing nod you get from the mtb fashionistas in the trail centre car park. The will likely be an alloy mtb hard tail thats better on almost every level for the price.

    But hey, if you want a heavy, flex rusty frame then you go right ahead 🙂

    Premier Icon jameso
    Subscriber

    frame builders like ‘any that do’ use super skinny steel tubes, very light and very strong and very a smooth ride.

    …or in other rider’s opinion, a twangy nightmare of pingflex-selfsteer. Some spring is ok, depends on how hard you want to push it to feel the flex I guess.

    Depends on the bike frame design. There are very stiff steel bikes (Sovereign) and there are very compliant ones (Skinny Duster).

    _tom_
    Member

    Like riding an aluminium frame but heavier and better looking due to clean round tubes rather than awful looking hydroformed crap.

    gonzy
    Member

    just as everyone else has said, it all depends on the frame geometry and materials used. just like on alu frames different grades of aluminium give you different ride charactaristics, the same can be said for steel frames.
    generally it is said that steel frames are a bit more forgiving than a lighter alu frame and i tend to agree with that…all my frames have been aluminium bar my first proper mtb which was a 96 marin eldridge grade made using tange prestige tubing…thinking back i dont think any of my frames since have ever left me with a big a grin as the marin did…i’m sure there will be people who disagree with this but that just boils down to a matter of personal opinion.
    also the other factor you’ll need to consider is component spec sa that will also determine how the bike rides.
    i’ve always longed for a hardtail with reynolds 853 tubing and i’m still tryng to devise a cunning plan to get one without incurring the wrath of the missus!!
    regarding riding a hardtail in my opinion you become a more skilled rider as you have to learn how to choose the correct lines, shift your weight on the frame, use the correct gear and how to float the bike over terrain that a full suss would handle easily…as CP has suggested sometimes we riders forget the skill we learn on a HT when we get a full suss as we do end up ploughing over object simply because the suspension can handle it.

    Premier Icon jameso
    Subscriber

    just like on alu frames different grades of aluminium give you different ride charactaristics, the same can be said for steel frames.

    Sorry not picking on you, but not true. I’ve heard custom frame builders saying that 853 is stiffer and bike journos stating that 853 is lighter, so you’re not the only one. Grade ie alloying agents used affect strength mainly (some formability / heat affects too), stiffness and density remain the same. Design can be influenced by strength-weight ratio and in turn can affect ride feel, or not.

    xiphon
    Member

    Your skills increase by a factor of 3.6, and the bike feels 0.04 times better.

    Ignore the haters, it’s true!

    Premier Icon mattbee
    Subscriber

    When I told my mortgage company I had an 853 steel frame they offered me a massive rate reduction. The ginger wiskers in my beard also turned brown.

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Subscriber

    andeh – Member

    Like warm apple pie….

    Premier Icon jameso
    Subscriber

    Her flute was 853 too. But it went rusty so she upgraded to 953.

    Premier Icon iainc
    Subscriber

    old school pre CEN testing skinny tubed Rock Lobster 853 here – very comfy compared to the Spesh Rockhoppr it replaced, but as others have said all depends on the apples and oranges you are comparing. Oh and it feels nothing like my orange 5 😆

    gonzy
    Member

    Jameso – lol dont worry about it. i think what i meant was that all of what i said when combined with the different ways tubes are manipulated i.e. how many times they are butted, the size of the tubing itself and the shape of the tubing.
    my last alu HT had round stays and was more forgiving than my current one which has square stays.
    i suppose the only way the OP is going to find the frame of his dreams is to try as many steel HT frames as posible so he can compare how material, geometry and spec affect the way the bike feels.

    tacopowell
    Member

    i suppose the only way the OP is going to find the frame of his dreams is to try as many steel HT frames as posible so he can compare how material, geometry and spec affect the way the bike feels.

    Which is just what I’ll do, problem is demo steel HT are harder to find, luckily due to frame prices, the option to buy and resale without a loss is gonna be a decent and potentially exciting prospect!

    Some great advice put forward,
    Kudos to you all

    Much obliged!

    Premier Icon firestarter
    Subscriber

    Only time I’ve really been able to tell difference in frame materials is on a road bike on hard skinny tyres on tarmac rather than on big soft tyres in mud

    my enigma ergo st made from columbus life tubeset from memory and weighs under 4 pounds for 140mm travel option one so heavy? i dont thinks so

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