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  1. #1
    too fixed, too furious
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    Anybody got an opinion on Ionic steel frames? or new steel for bigger guys?

    i was looking at ionic's web site, and their bikes look like a good fit for me geometry wise. was thinking foco but at 6 foot 2, 205 i don't know if it will be stiff enough. anybody have any experience with ionic? last steel bike i had was a made with zona and it was so wiggly i sent it back to the importer and traded for an alloy rig. last good steel bike i had was a brazed GT 853 bike. that thing was sweet. any bigger guys out there ridding this super light steel stuff with good results? i know i could go custom but for the price of a carbon, i can get a bro deal on a carbon calfee luna, and i know that fits really well. ionic looks close on paper to the calfee, but i doubt i would be able to demo one anywhere.

  2. #2
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    Steel for us 'larger formed' guys .....

    I'll just say I weigh a bit more than you ! When I was searching for a new steel ride, it was suggested to me to stay away from Focco and Ultra Focco. I'm very happy with my Orbea Zona frame and can't imagine it flexing. Perhaps instead of discounting the material you should find the right maker in whose hands it will perform to your liking.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by olds_cool
    i was looking at ionic's web site, and their bikes look like a good fit for me geometry wise. was thinking foco but at 6 foot 2, 205 i don't know if it will be stiff enough. anybody have any experience with ionic? last steel bike i had was a made with zona and it was so wiggly i sent it back to the importer and traded for an alloy rig. last good steel bike i had was a brazed GT 853 bike. that thing was sweet. any bigger guys out there ridding this super light steel stuff with good results? i know i could go custom but for the price of a carbon, i can get a bro deal on a carbon calfee luna, and i know that fits really well. ionic looks close on paper to the calfee, but i doubt i would be able to demo one anywhere.

    Zona is the tubeset for larger guys. It comes in a range of sizes which make it a suitable for a wide range of riders. For a big guy, a 35mm or even a 38mm down tube is the ticket. I'd stay away from the Mega oval shaped tubes since they stiffen the ride without doing much to help stiffen the bottom bracket area. I can't imagine a frame like that being considered flexy even for a strong rider.

  4. #4
    Big is relative
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    Get one of the Merckx MX Leader frames

    This is the last production run. This bike is STIFF but not harsh. It still has some springy-ness that you buy a steel frame for in the first place. I am 6'2'' and weigh more than you and love the ride. I had the frame restored and painted before leaving Virginia and it is crated up in the garage for a future build. I saw the frame after bead blasting and it is a tank. The frame comes with a MXL fork with a 1" threadless steerer. I replaced the steel fork with a Reynolds Ouzo Pro and maintained the geometry while taking about a pound off of the bike. The bike was heavy compared to my aluminum Pegoretti, but the ride was so smooth and everything I put into the pedals went to the wheel. When I am 175 pounds, I will obsess with weight. Competive Cyclists has them on sale. Gita imports them.

  5. #5
    too fixed, too furious
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    help me out here....

    the columbus zona i was on was a first year run of that tube set. the down tube was so thin you could squeez it with your fingers and colapse it by about a quarter inch. it was an thin aerodynamic teardrop shaped tube. the top tube, if i recall correctly was not round either. maybe a triangle shape? this bike would get the wiggles going along the seat to handlebar plane at even mild speed. worse than the old old ti frames, even. are you guys talking about round tubes here? i thought zona was made in funky shapes. and you guys are saying this frame doesn't flex for you? i mean, i saw one of these zona frames accordian up the downtube after a fellow bike shop employee hit a curb (hard) with his mtb while the fork was locked out. (his own fault, but still). was this tube set possibly redesigned? both of these zona frames i speak of were under 500 bucks at wholesale, so i doubt they had specially drawn brand specific tubes. i'm not doubting you guys, youve piqued my interest.

    as far as the merckx leader goes, if i had two grand to drop on a road frame, i wouldn't be asking about an ionic ;-) believe me, i drool at the thought of riding that kind of history.

  6. #6
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    Zona

    I too have an Orbea Zona. At 6'1'' and 200lbs, I found it to be plenty stiff. The only round tubes I found on my bike were the seat and the head tube. The top tube was a bit oval and the down tube has that asymetrical shape.. form.

    I got this bike because I found some flexing in the bottom bracket of my alum bike (wilier triestina lavaredo) when I get off the saddle for a climb. I've had around 1200 miles on the Zona already and I'm still as pleased in riding it like the day I brought it home from the shop.

    With regards to Ionic, will you be getting the Nemis Sci? It looks pretty darn well. At 750, it aint too bad in the wallet. My Orbea is a shave under 20lbs with Ultegra 9spd and Ksyrium Elite wheels. Good luck with the search...

    Joe
    Last edited by santosjep; 04-04-2005 at 05:16 AM.
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  7. #7
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    Zona comes in both round and "Megatube" shapes. I recommend round since it resists lateral stresses in more than one plane. As far as the thickness of Zona is concern, most tubes go down to 0.5 mm in the center butted sections. Butts are medium long by modern standards. This compares to many other tubesets that go down to 0.4 mm with even shorter butts.

    I currently own one frame with a Zona 35 mm down tube and 24 mm chain stays and it's the stiffest frame I've owned - compared to more common "oversize" tubes on some other frames. If you get a full Zona frame using 32 mm top tube and 35/38 mm down tube you will be in good shape. A 32 mm seat tube would be nice as well but seat posts are hard to find in that size - I know because I have one .

    Check the following link for some good Columbus tube info.
    http://ceeway.com/Columbus-Tubing.htm

    Good luck.

    Ed
    Last edited by Nessism; 04-04-2005 at 11:00 AM.

  8. #8
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    Get the Calfee

    I ride a Calfee Tetra and new custom steel, and love them both. I'm 6'2" 200, get the Luna, ask for the stiffer tubeset. You won't regret it.

  9. #9
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    Steel frames are about the maker.

    We can all talk about the steel or TI frame that you could flex by leaning on it hard enough. For that matter, if you're old enough, you'll remember AL frames that were the ultimate in "noodle". It's all in the hands of who's selecting the tubes, and welding them. Most quality (as in not bargain-basement) builders won't build something that will flex significantly for someone your size. If you want a non-custom/boutique steel frame that is fairly light and stiff at the same time, take a look at the LeMond "Spine-bikes". They're a mix of OX Platinum and 120 OCLV carbon fiber. A nice ride, stiffened and lightened by the carbon. They also make a nice TI "Spine-bike" frameset. If you want a frameset only, talk to your dealer. They ARE available.

    Another option with steeper angles might be Gunnar, the TIGed cousins of Waterford. They do custom 853 frames for pretty reasonable prices.

    I'll throw in a vote for my favorite bikes, IF. Full custom steel for $1500, or with a Ouzo Pro fork for $1700. They are a ride that can't be beat.

    I find it interesting that you would be wanting a steel frame but would instantly go to a carbon fiber frame if you can't get the price you want in a steel. Those are such different rides. A quality steel frame is lively and compliant (without being a noodle), and a carbon frame is a stiff muted ride. I like both for their qualities, but wouldn't substitute one for the other.

    Bob

  10. #10
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    Specialized Cro-Mo

    I was a 205 lb rider when I got my Specialized cro-Mo (now 188 ) and it rides great-certainly not overly flexible despite the Foco tubing. I think the compact geometry really helps in that respect. But get one fast as they are not making anymore after this years (=last years) stock is gone.

  11. #11
    too fixed, too furious
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    to answer your question....

    "I find it interesting that you would be wanting a steel frame but would instantly go to a carbon fiber frame if you can't get the price you want in a steel. Those are such different rides. A quality steel frame is lively and compliant (without being a noodle), and a carbon frame is a stiff muted ride. I like both for their qualities, but wouldn't substitute one for the other. "

    i didn't say just any carbon frame. i test rode a calfee luna pro. the calfee i rode felt so much like a good steel bike it amazed me. it was very lively. plus it fit really well. i can also get one for a "bro deal" from an old employer. much cheaper than custom steel.
    the ionic geometry come very close to the calfee in the top tube, seat tube angle and head tube length. the ionic also corrects the only flaw that i found with the calfee: the steering. i'm sure i can get used to the very fast handling of a calfee, but my salsa scandium is miles ahead in my mind in terms of handling, and the ionic front end numbers match the salsa. the ionic seems like it was built exactly how i wanted, i just don't know about the newer steels or the quality of their work. or the accuracy of their geometry when the frame is complete.

  12. #12
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    I'd shoot Doug Curtlo and Tom Teesdale e-mails and see what they recommend for you and what they'd charge.

  13. #13
    toomanybikes
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    Doug Curtlo's "typical" pricing is on his website and well worth a look.

  14. #14
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    I may have to look at Calfee sometime.

    i didn't say just any carbon frame. i test rode a calfee luna pro. the calfee i rode felt so much like a good steel bike it amazed me. it was very lively. plus it fit really well. i can also get one for a "bro deal" from an old employer. much cheaper than custom steel.
    the ionic geometry come very close to the calfee in the top tube, seat tube angle and head tube length. the ionic also corrects the only flaw that i found with the calfee: the steering. i'm sure i can get used to the very fast handling of a calfee, but my salsa scandium is miles ahead in my mind in terms of handling, and the ionic front end numbers match the salsa. the ionic seems like it was built exactly how i wanted, i just don't know about the newer steels or the quality of their work. or the accuracy of their geometry when the frame is complete.[/QUOTE]

    I've also heard that about the carbon frames by Steelman (not inexpensive) and the Look frames too. But that's not my personal experience, someone else talking there. For the same reason I can't comment on Ionic. The new steels are really nice. Again, I'd say it's a matter of who's putting it together. Is there an Ionic dealer in your area? Or at least near enough to take a scouting trip for? If you like the frame that much, I'd think it worth driving a couple of hours to check it out. The frame is the soul of your bike.

    Bob

  15. #15
    toomanybikes
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    What I'm trying to get a sense of is what are the comparatives on all these steels.

    We have Reynolds 531, 6XX, 7XX and 853.

    Where do tubes like Foco, Zero and ZeroUno fit in relation to the various Reynolds offerings?

    Anyone know??

  16. #16
    too fixed, too furious
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    unfortunatly, i live in WV and Ionic is out west...

    I've also heard that about the carbon frames by Steelman (not inexpensive) and the Look frames too. But that's not my personal experience, someone else talking there. For the same reason I can't comment on Ionic. The new steels are really nice. Again, I'd say it's a matter of who's putting it together. Is there an Ionic dealer in your area? Or at least near enough to take a scouting trip for? If you like the frame that much, I'd think it worth driving a couple of hours to check it out. The frame is the soul of your bike.

    Bob[/QUOTE]

    driving to see one would be nice. driving to see anything nice around here is difficult for that matter. i can test ride 4500 mtbs any day of the week, but road bikes? not much chance, and definatly not in big sizes. pittsburg, pa maybe, but i haven't had any luck in the areas i visit up that way. you mentioned indy fab, and believe it or not, i was looking into those as well. having a straight blade steel fork would be great, except for the weight, but the price kinda killed it at this point. the other two bikes were cheaper for me. ionic being much cheaper. do you own or have you owned an indy road bike? curious as to why they are so special to you. i've seen tons of their mtb work, but only one road bike, and it was a beat up repair in a shop and must have been quite old. threaded stem, eyelets, very small diameter tubing, so that was not a good indicator of what a new one in my size would look like so i didnt want to pass judgement. their mtb work is very nice, and i have wanted one from the day they opened, just because i liked the sticker kit. still haven't ridden one.

  17. #17
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    I've ridden a couple of CJ's.

    [/QUOTE]

    driving to see one would be nice. driving to see anything nice around here is difficult for that matter. i can test ride 4500 mtbs any day of the week, but road bikes? not much chance, and definatly not in big sizes. pittsburg, pa maybe, but i haven't had any luck in the areas i visit up that way. you mentioned indy fab, and believe it or not, i was looking into those as well. having a straight blade steel fork would be great, except for the weight, but the price kinda killed it at this point. the other two bikes were cheaper for me. ionic being much cheaper. do you own or have you owned an indy road bike? curious as to why they are so special to you. i've seen tons of their mtb work, but only one road bike, and it was a beat up repair in a shop and must have been quite old. threaded stem, eyelets, very small diameter tubing, so that was not a good indicator of what a new one in my size would look like so i didnt want to pass judgement. their mtb work is very nice, and i have wanted one from the day they opened, just because i liked the sticker kit. still haven't ridden one.[/QUOTE]

    Oldscool-

    First I have to say that I love the ride of steel. Even my early '80's Raleigh road bike built of lugged, butted, 531 that I could flex the BB pretty easily and weighed quite a bit by today's standards (about 20#) had a ride quality that I loved. But that was then.

    I've only had limited time on a couple of CJ's, and they weren't near my size; a 56 and a 57 (just going by their STD geo chart I'd be a 53 or 54). Like you, most of my experience is from shop work. The 57 was very short ride on a newer one in the parking lot of the dealer here in Albuquerque (not us unfortunately). The 56 was an older one that we got for service when somebody who shouldn't hold an allen key built it up from an Ebay purchase. It still was a pretty nice ride, for the distance I was on it. It soaked up the bumps and rough pavement we have in our parking lot (quite a bit larger than the other lot above). I didn't get the BB to flex (although I'm about 5' 10", I weigh about 215#). I didn't have the time that day to take it around the block, on something a little closer to a real ride.

    My main experience is with my steel Deluxe. I've ridden a few steel MTB's and several bikes of other materials too, but this thing feels like a softail. I don't get the flex in the BB that I can get with even my old AL GT. We don't have the roots here like back east, but we have plenty of rocks of all shapes and sizes so a too stiff riding bike is just that - too stiff (at least for those of us with enough miles on us to remember LBJ, Nixon, etc.). I also like the balance of the bike. Granted, I did work out my position as if I were setting up a road bike, but it does start with the geometry of the frame.

    I wish I could offer more insight on the IF road bikes, but I haven't had the opportunities to ride them that I'd like. Good luck in your decision.

    Bob

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by olds_cool
    i was looking at ionic's web site, and their bikes look like a good fit for me geometry wise. was thinking foco but at 6 foot 2, 205 i don't know if it will be stiff enough. anybody have any experience with ionic? last steel bike i had was a made with zona and it was so wiggly i sent it back to the importer and traded for an alloy rig. last good steel bike i had was a brazed GT 853 bike. that thing was sweet. any bigger guys out there ridding this super light steel stuff with good results? i know i could go custom but for the price of a carbon, i can get a bro deal on a carbon calfee luna, and i know that fits really well. ionic looks close on paper to the calfee, but i doubt i would be able to demo one anywhere.
    I am 6' 2" and 198 lbs.and have owned many 60-62cm steel frames including OS 853 frames.I have a 62 cm Raleigh International made with a full Zona megatube set in Taiwan.It is anything but wiggly--It is as stiff as any steel bike I have ridden and the rear triangle is perhaps too stiff/harsh,w/ little or no detectable BB flex.In fact it feels like somewhat like a damped Cannondale CAD4 which I also own. Perhaps your Zona frame had a lighter gauge Zona tubeset.My Zona down tube has a very slight beer can flex with hand sqeeze-less than 1mm. What Zona frame did you find wiggly?

  19. #19
    too fixed, too furious
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    it was an eastern european company, but,

    Quote Originally Posted by jordan
    I am 6' 2" and 198 lbs.and have owned many 60-62cm steel frames including OS 853 frames.I have a 62 cm Raleigh International made with a full Zona megatube set in Taiwan.It is anything but wiggly--It is as stiff as any steel bike I have ridden and the rear triangle is perhaps too stiff/harsh,w/ little or no detectable BB flex.In fact it feels like somewhat like a damped Cannondale CAD4 which I also own. Perhaps your Zona frame had a lighter gauge Zona tubeset.My Zona down tube has a very slight beer can flex with hand sqeeze-less than 1mm. What Zona frame did you find wiggly?

    i would rather not name names, as, at the time, i friends with the importer when he lived in pittsburgh, and our local pros all rode for their team. he treated me fairly, by taking the frame back and giving me a zonal tubed bike, which was one of the best rigs ive ever ridden. i don't get it, really. i could grab the seat and stem and litterally bow the frame, it was so thin. said columbus zona right on the seat tube sticker. the back end was stiff enough, just the front was a complete whip. maybe columbus knew they had porblems and changed the profile of the tubes. they were really thin and tall. not very round at all in the bottom part of the profile. this would have been in about 2001 when i bought this bike.

  20. #20
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    Considered EL-OS?

    I'm just a shade over 6'2 and 120kg (and strong with it) and ride a custom semi-compact in Columbus EL-OS. I don't get any discernable flex around the BB or front end, either in out-of-the-saddle climbing or balls-out sprints, plus the ride is buttery smooth (I was around 140kg when I had the frame built). Not the lightest tubeset, fitting in somewhere between Foco and 853 for weight and cost. In Columbus-speak it fits in between Zona and Foco. There's a pic at http://forums.roadbikereview.com/sho...1&page=3&pp=50 FYI.
    EL-OS might be a bit hard to find these days but ask around. I have a .pdf describing about 30 different tubesets that I could email to you if you like (the file's too big to attach here).
    Who the hell are these children...and why are they calling me "Dad"?

  21. #21
    too fixed, too furious
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    here's the scoop....

    i called ionic and talked to an actually person. the guy said that ionic, which is basically the same company as dean, builds each steel bike to spec for the rider. he said i was too heavy for zona, and would find the frame just as wiggly as the one i had before. that at my size, what they do is replace spacific tubes to stiffen up the front end. he did recommend going round instead of multi-shaped tubes. he said zona was fine for the seat tube on back, but the down tube and top tube would be replaced. he mentioned if i wanted shapes, there was a diamond shaped tube for a down tube that was usable. weight for a 58 cm would come in a hair over four pounds. price would be 750 with a 100 dollar upcharge for the white on blue paint like the web site shows. easton fork 225 extra.
    that's a great deal for a made in merica' frame. there is the question of dean/ionic's business practices, which i have no experience with and have hear horror stories.
    i shot an email to indy fab, to see what they say. i really like the straight legs on the steel indy fork, but i don't know about gaining two pounds over my current ride. i used to love steel forks, and never really thought carbon came close in ride quality, but it is light. plus 1600 bucks for an indy is alot of ching for heavier/low tech stuff. it's funny, on the mtb, i perfer older stuff, no discs, no suspension or short travel forks, but on the road, i dig nouveau geekery. someone convinve me that steel is still real and is worth the extra weight over carbon.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by olds_cool
    someone convinve me that steel is still real and is worth the extra weight over carbon.

    As far as Zona "not suitable" for someone over 200 lbs, this is not accurate. I can accept that the Zona tubes Iconic offers are not suitable, but to say Zona is not sturdy enough for a large rider is BS.


    Simple math:

    Rider weight = 205 lbs

    Frameset "A" = 6 lbs (total bike = 20 lbs)

    Frameset "B" = 4 lbs (total bike = 18 lbs)

    Total Rider w/bike "A" = 225 lbs

    Total Rider w/bike "B" = 223 lbs

    Total difference between A & B = 0.9%

    Less than 1% is not significant in my opinion. Your opinion may vary.


    Ed
    Last edited by Nessism; 04-08-2005 at 05:18 AM.

  23. #23
    too fixed, too furious
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    not sure what you mean....

    Quote Originally Posted by Nessism
    As far as Zona "not suitable" for someone over 200 lbs, this is not accurate. I can accept that the Zona tubes Iconic offers are not suitable, but to say Zona is not sturdy enough for a large rider is BS.


    Simple math:

    Rider weight = 205 lbs

    Frameset "A" = 6 lbs (total bike = 20 lbs)

    Frameset "B" = 4 lbs (total bike = 18 lbs)

    Total Rider w/bike "A" = 225 lbs

    Total Rider w/bike "B" = 223 lbs

    Total difference between A & B = 0.9%

    Less than 1% is not significant in my opinion. Your opinion may vary.


    Ed
    you may be right about zona, but taking two pounds out of a frame set affects the stiffness of the frame. you are talking about 30% of the frame weight dissappearing in your equation. (i'm bad at math btw). that's alot of structual material. no way a three and a half pound steel frame in a 60 cm is going to be as stiff as even a four and a half pound steel frame in the same size. you get to a point where the material wont hold the weight. i wonder if the bikes you guys have are all zona tubing inspite of what the builder told you. i don't have a clue, but that's one i rode that sucked, and one builder who said if they didnt replace the down tube with something else, it would be no better than the one i had. who knows. i guess i could email columbus, but it is a moot point if i buy an ionic, caue it will be another tube set. indy fab said they would build my size with 853. thanks for the input, i appreciate the help.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by olds_cool
    you may be right about zona, but taking two pounds out of a frame set affects the stiffness of the frame. you are talking about 30% of the frame weight dissappearing in your equation. (i'm bad at math btw). that's alot of structual material. no way a three and a half pound steel frame in a 60 cm is going to be as stiff as even a four and a half pound steel frame in the same size. you get to a point where the material wont hold the weight. i wonder if the bikes you guys have are all zona tubing inspite of what the builder told you. i don't have a clue, but that's one i rode that sucked, and one builder who said if they didnt replace the down tube with something else, it would be no better than the one i had. who knows. i guess i could email columbus, but it is a moot point if i buy an ionic, caue it will be another tube set. indy fab said they would build my size with 853. thanks for the input, i appreciate the help.

    Your question was about steel vs. carbon, thus my example. I agree that a light frame will not properly support you.

    Honestly, Zona is not a super light tubeset. A frame the way you seem to want will come in at 4.25 lbs. or so. Not heavy per say, but not light by modern standards.

  25. #25
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    Shop around some more

    I too love steel. I've owned a 531 Trek, a CAAD 4 C-Dale, two 853 Gunnars and a Zero Land Shark, for some reason I keep going for steel. Have yet to try a CF bike. When I was shopping around for my last bike there are a number of small builders that will build exactly what you want. You may not get the IF drool factor but you will get a frame that was built for you and at a $400-$500 savings. My Land Shark was a grand, with a nice straight blade steel fork, bought through GVH Bikes during their fall sale. I think their regular price now, when they reopen, is $1295 with a CF fork. I also considered Steelman, Kelly, Strong, IF and a few others but went for the Land Shark. It is a better value, F/F and a very unique paint job if you want for the price of a frame only from the other builders.

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