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  1. #1
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    Interested In High-grade Steel Luuged Bike? Which Level

    We get lots of requests these days for high grade steel bikes

    I know what is desired in an entry road in high grade steel [which is a price from $300 to $400 with full double butted 4130 and basic components and setup for sport or commute]

    Seems in CX the requests are more in line with middle area; $500 or $600 in full DB 4130 and nice middle level parts with good wheels.

    But we have started to get lots of requests for Reynolds or Columbus Lugged race bikes [like what I would call 'club racer'] with all types of different components.

    If you wanted a high-grade steel lugged bike like this; what level? spec? price? would be most interesting to you? Double? Triple? Compact? With eyelets? Carbon fork or totalling traditional with tapered 4130 type fork?

    And why would you like one; if you would
    and at what price would you feel it was too good of a deal to pass up

    A few brands like Raleigh and Jamis and Surly seem to be moving this way - any catch your attention as a super good deal and/or spec?
    mike
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  2. #2
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    most companies pay big money to do market research like this

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by bane
    most companies pay big money to do market research like this
    No they don't. Trust me.

    At least he's asking.

  4. #4
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    i would never buy a steel bike period, but if you're trying to target racers go with a double with a low-range cassette like 11-23 or so. Carbon forks are pretty standard these days even on steel bikes so i'd go with that. A steel fork would seem too "cheap."

    price point? Like i said i would never buy a steel bike because they're too flexy, just not my style of riding, and they look like crap. But depending on the components i'd pay less than an identically equipped aluminum bike.

  5. #5
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    You'd have to do something truly unique to get my attention.

    I love steel frames. I have 5 of them.

    But, what can you do that's different? If I need cheep steel, there's Surly. Lugs won't make a pacer a better bike. Slightly better steel? Soma. Really nice steel, still reasonably priced? Gunnar.

    If you painted them all black, I'd bet 90% of people couldn't tell any of them apart.

    Road frame with clearance for fenders, cross/utility frame, MTB frame. All steel, all pretty close in appearance and function.

    So do something different out of steel. Make a 29er frame that's built like an old Ivar Truss frame. Bring back your grass-track racer frame, but do it right, look at what old grass trackers really looked like. Make a commuter frame that's designed around fat franks and drop bars. Make an old-school MTB, like an 84 stumpjumper.

    Otherwise you are just going to get lost in the crowd, and all you'll have to sell your bike on is price. And while you've got excellent prices, that doesn't seem to be the point of this exercise, does it?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by skyliner1004
    Like i said i would never buy a steel bike because they're too flexy, just not my style of riding, and they look like crap. But depending on the components i'd pay less than an identically equipped aluminum bike.
    you've ridden the wrong steel frames then.

    Granted - at a bikes direct price range, you might get something slightly "forgiving" in the ride, but there are plenty of steel frames out there that will aren't flexy. Looking like crap is subjective though.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by skyliner1004
    ......
    price point? Like i said i would never buy a steel bike because they're too flexy, just not my style of riding ....
    and this is based on ..... your extensive experience with steel bikes? Yeah, I didn't think so. Your statement reflects your willingness to follow the herd -- and accept the generalities of that collective -- and accept "well, THEY say steel bikes do this...".

    This isn't coming from a steel bike lover -- only one of my bikes is steel. But I know better than to assume a frame is going to have some set of characteristics based solely on the material it's made of. Anyone who bothers to educate themselves even a little bit knows that frame material is one of MANY factors that determine the performance and handling of a bike.
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  8. #8
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    If I wanted a steel "race bike" it would be because I couldn't afford or didn't want to risk in a race a carbon frame, or as a back up rain bike. I'd go with aluminum here but for argument sake say I wanted steel.

    Because my reason for chooseing steel is the higher price of carbon.......I wouldn't want to spend too much on steel. Maybe a grand total with 105 level stuff would be max. Because we're talking race bikes I'd actually prefter to buy it with no wheels but if you're selling it with wheels I'd either want something decent or something so crappy that it wouldn't add much to the price and I'd replace with my own race wheels.

    If it was a commuter, touring, recreation......different story. I have no use for such a bike at the time being but in the event I did I'd be willing to pay as much, or more, for a steel version of such a bike as compared to to other options. But for racing, steel would be as a back up or compromise so I'd want to keep it cheap, because that would be the only reason I'd have to race steel.

    yeah, carbon fork.

    I know I may have taken your customers requests for 'race bike' too literally and perhaps they aren't actually looking to race. If that's the case....I guess I don't have any opinion. Not sure if they're looking at group rides, commuting, ride around the block or what. Perhaps they just think it is hipster old school cool to go steel and they aren't sure themself.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by skyliner1004
    i would never buy a steel bike period, but if you're trying to target racers go with a double with a low-range cassette like 11-23 or so. Carbon forks are pretty standard these days even on steel bikes so i'd go with that. A steel fork would seem too "cheap."

    price point? Like i said i would never buy a steel bike because they're too flexy, just not my style of riding, and they look like crap. But depending on the components i'd pay less than an identically equipped aluminum bike.
    Ride one of my steel 3Rensho track bikes and tell me they are flexy......It's not about material...it's about design
    Dave Hickey/ Fort Worth

    My 3Rensho Blog: http://vintage3rensholove.blogspot.com/

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Hickey
    Ride one of my steel 3Rensho track bikes and tell me they are flexy......It's not about material...it's about design
    speaking of which .... are you going to have one of those beee-u-tiful 3Renshos at the Booty ride? I'll be on a fixie too, but unfortunately it'll be an ugly but brutal aluminum Masi track frame. I'll be jealous ....
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikesdirect
    We get lots of requests these days for high grade steel bikes

    I know what is desired in an entry road in high grade steel [which is a price from $300 to $400 with full double butted 4130 and basic components and setup for sport or commute]

    Seems in CX the requests are more in line with middle area; $500 or $600 in full DB 4130 and nice middle level parts with good wheels.

    But we have started to get lots of requests for Reynolds or Columbus Lugged race bikes [like what I would call 'club racer'] with all types of different components.

    If you wanted a high-grade steel lugged bike like this; what level? spec? price? would be most interesting to you? Double? Triple? Compact? With eyelets? Carbon fork or totalling traditional with tapered 4130 type fork?

    And why would you like one; if you would
    and at what price would you feel it was too good of a deal to pass up

    A few brands like Raleigh and Jamis and Surly seem to be moving this way - any catch your attention as a super good deal and/or spec?
    A couple of general comments

    A lot of the fixie crowd has moved into classic steel road bikes..- The same ones that demanded NJS track bikes are now collecting high end 80's steel with Record ,Superbe, or Dura Ace.

    You've been successful in capturing a good share of the fixie market with your offerings( primarily the Kilo for the above crowd). They buy a Kilo and gradually upgrade parts like the crank to Sugino 75, Nitto Pearl stem and bars, etc......Some buyers wanted an authentic NJS track frame but couldn't afford it. They bought a Kilo and upgraded to NJS parts..win-win...

    I think you can do the same thing with a lugged steel road bike.... Spec is so it's not too expensive and let the buyer add higher end components if they choose.


    As for my personal wants-

    1. I'd love a lugged steel frame that accepts wide tires, upright position, brazeons for racks, fenders, etc...
    2. A race inspired lugged frame- tight wheel base, relatively light, and a price that wouldn't break the bank- components aren't important to me as I would likely change over most..
    3. Regardless of the frame design, a quill stem and steel fork( only if lugged fork). If you must go carbon, paint to match the frame
    Dave Hickey/ Fort Worth

    My 3Rensho Blog: http://vintage3rensholove.blogspot.com/

  12. #12
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    personally I think club riders are moving to steel because they finally realize the get a great ride at a fraction of the price. It rides great and, as others have already stated, they can be designed to be just as stiff as other materials. I have custom Hans Schneider, with a steel fork, because Hans builds forks that are as light as carbon, but gut tells me most riders want the "look" of carbon fork. I would definitely get some frames set up with fender eyelits. I would also offer a triple as an option. You can offer higher end gruppos but bottom tier gruppos like 105 are going to be sufficient. My guess is a price point somewhere between $500 - 800. My .02

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustTooBig
    speaking of which .... are you going to have one of those beee-u-tiful 3Renshos at the Booty ride? I'll be on a fixie too, but unfortunately it'll be an ugly but brutal aluminum Masi track frame. I'll be jealous ....

    It depends....I'm bringing two bikes.....

    If one of the booty riders wins the Collin Merckx, I'm going to hand deliver the bike

    If someone else wins the Collin Merckx, I'm bringing a 3Rensho and my custom single speed/fixie

    My custom is going to be my primary Booty bike....
    Dave Hickey/ Fort Worth

    My 3Rensho Blog: http://vintage3rensholove.blogspot.com/

  14. #14
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    I'm a retro-grouch, so my views are probably far different than those of the masses. That said, I was at a local time trail over the weekend, and somehow, I've got a carbon fiber itch in the back of my head. Must purge impure thoughts!!!!

    My feelings are you can't get too expensive. No one's gonna buy a lugged steel frame from a mass marketer when they could get a custom built for the same money, or less.

    I like lugged steel on road bikes. TIG'd steel for me means mountain bikes. Although I've also entertained the idea of replacing my old Specialized Sirrus winter beater with something like a Surly, so I'm not totally against it.

    Steel frame needs a steel fork. 'Nuff said. No unicrowns, please.

    I've also become a Campy devotee, so that means Centaur at least. And no carbon bits if it can be helped. 105 and Ultegra should do, though.

    No sloping top tubes. It should look like a classic road bike.
    Eff the King's Guard. Eff the city. Eff the King.

  15. #15
    cmg
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    saw a tomasini and de rosa at last nights monday ride both were probably made from SLX tubing. The chrome was gorgeous. If i buy another steel bike it would have to made out of S3 tubing or Deda 16.5 or something that would get the frame as light as an aluminum frame, components would be campy centaur. It don't really matter what the components are i'll wind up stripping them off and just using the frame. fixie crowd discovered steel road bikes because they ride great and when you strip them you can get close to a 17lb bike easy.

    Best luck for a company would be a fixie with a steel frame, horizontal dropouts and derailluer hanger so the fixie stuff can be stripped off for full road conversion.

  16. #16
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    Needs to be lugged and double butted. I think you could do well using Tange Prestige tube set. It should come with a steel lugged fork and be of race type geometry. Maybe a bit more relaxed with a slightly longer top tube, e.g. LeMond suggested geo. The lugs should be sculpted, including the bottom bracket. Tange makes some nice affordable ones.

    Down tube shifter bosses would also be great for the retro crowd that would prefer down tube shifters. Internal rear brake guides would be nice but braze ons are fine. Horiztontal or Breezer rear drop outs are both good but the former is preferred.

    An added feature of chrome fork blades, seat and chainstays with one primary color would add a touch of class. Leave the decals off so the buyer can do what he pleases or pass along a sticker kit so the buyer can choose.

    $450.00 as a price point and you'll sell a million.

    BTW sign me up for a a red one with a 50cm seat tube and 53.5cm top tube.

  17. #17
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    Waterford

    Been riding steel for 67 years so you might say I'm a bit set in my ways. My lastest ride which I've had for 9 years is a Waterford, which is by far the best, most fun riding bike I've owned. Waterford steel fork; Easton carbon handlebar; Mavic open pro; Fizik Aliente; Tompson post and the rest Ultega. I'd love to try Chorus , but $$$. Waterford make a hell of a nice bike, but if you want flash buy a trek.

  18. #18
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    Hmmm...the Salsa Pistola was recently discontinued and that is a real shame. Do something like that. A comfort geometry steel steed with 105 or Rival (maybe Apex) for around $1200-1500. For most riders, this would be the perfect training bike. Think of it like a metal Roubaix - great for long days, sportives, and base miles that lets you save the light sexy carbon ride for days and rides that matter.

  19. #19
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    1)Unlike the Motobecane Le Champion I bought from you, I'd suggest a significantly taller head tube and a shorter top tube than the Le Champion. Racers aren't going to buy this.

    2)OS tubing is a must. Columbus would be a plus!

    3)Chromed Lugs would really set it apart.

    4)White paint with red panels are a must, and an optional light Metallic Blue with cream panels.

  20. #20
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    Something built with Columbus spirit tubing, doesn't have to be lugged, or all spirit tubing...Just the three main tubes and then put something a bit cheaper in the back. That way you can market it as a columbus spirit tubed bike! Mention that pegoretti uses the same tubing and you will no doubt have a winner! A couple of years ago orbea put some out tig welded frames spirit frames, i am riding one now lots more than my Orbea orca . How about geometry from the past, a 73-73 all the way around, even in the smaller sizes. Carbon forks seem common place and cheep enough. Any chance you can still get some older ultegra 10 and you have a winner!
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  21. #21
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    1. Lugged frame, chrome lugs would be classy
    2. Racy geometry ala 1980s Italian steel, like a Cinelli SC, lively and fun to ride
    3. Carbon fork with a steel fork optional upgrade
    4. Apex groupset, easily upgradeable for the buyer
    5. Classic paint schemes
    6. Allows 28c tire clearance
    7. Less than $700 with a decent wheelset, $450 with cheap wheels

  22. #22
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    For someone like me, who wouldn't normally consider (non-vintage) steel, I'd want to see a lightweight tubeset w/carbon fork of course. Not sure how feasible this would be at a reasonable price point.

    If you could build a lightweight steel road or CX frame, I would consider that for a winter/back-up/second bike. The steel would sure take the edge off for gravel riding and broken up pavement.

    Components also wouldn't matter to me, as I would probably strip it to use what I have, as long as the frame is light enough to consider building around.

    And it sure would be nice if you could start to publish confirmed frame weights. I've had at least two friends buy your bikes based on my recommendation, and they are happy with their purchases.

  23. #23
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    Thanks for all the input; this is a tricky type bike spec

    On forks - I think it is clear a nice steel fork that matches the bike is best; as you can always buy an aftermarket CF fork -- PLUS a steel fork looks and rides great on a nice steel frame

    Cost of Lugged High-Grade Steel frames is much higher than anyone expects; exceeds the cost of CF frames.

    So the best way I think for us to get past the cost issue is to offer bikes where the complete package is so aggressive that the wheels & group are worth the price. Then if buyers want to change things around to alter specs or cost - they can easily do it.

    On the $299 butted 4130 and $399 butted 4130 road bikes; the specs are easy. And everyone sees the value right away. But on high-grade tubing lugged bikes it is much harder; I have even gotten quotes that exceed Ti frames [and Ti frames are 2 to 3 times more than CF] -- so steel is tricky as the cost goes from about the same as Aluminum to higher than Ti!

    I am going to do something very aggressive for nice frames with complete groups; just to see how much interest there really is in this style road frame.

    Thanks again
    mike
    http://www.bikesdirect.com - supports Mtbr.com and RoadBikeReview.com as great places to exchange ideas
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by skyliner1004

    price point? Like i said i would never buy a steel bike because they're too flexy, just not my style of riding, and they look like crap. But depending on the components i'd pay less than an identically equipped aluminum bike.
    The custom steel cross frame I just had built weighs less, and is stiffer in the bb, than the Ridley Crossbow I had last year. It also rides smoother, and looks exactly how I want it to look.

    To the OP, I have 3 steel frames currently. One lugged 531 circa 1983, an MXL (yet to be built), and a custom cross out of Columbus. I also have had MANY aluminum and carbon race bikes. I like steel to ride, but for racing I prefer high end carbon. Cheap carbon rides like junk and is often heavier and flexier than a equally priced aluminum frame.
    Anyway, if I was looking for a club racer type bike I would want it in lugged 853. I would want a lugged steel fork, or a carbon fork w/Al steertube depending on what I wanted to use it for. I would want eyelets, and I would expect that you could put a 28 tire on it. I would want it to be spec'd well, but not high end. Double only. Compact is for girls and destists. Actually, I don't even know a single girl that rides compact. Just dentists.
    For a 853 frame and fork the price I would have a very hard time saying no to would be in the $700-800 range

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbbmet
    For a 853 frame and fork the price I would have a very hard time saying no to would be in the $700-800 range
    Me too.

    When would this bike hit market, if ever?

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