Modern steel vs. vintage steel
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 36
  1. #1
    Our hero is saved!
    Reputation: Spaceman Spiff's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    6

    Modern steel vs. vintage steel

    I've been lurking in the retro forum long enough to know I probably belong here...

    Long story:

    Next year I'd like to get a new road bike. Currently all of my road riding (commuting, fast club rides, centuries, backroads exploring) is done on a Gunnar Crosshairs. And although I consider myself a "mountain biker," I've been riding the Crosshairs more and more. So, I'd like a road bike for club rides and centuries, but with room for fenders and 28c tires - I ride year-round and appreciate wider tires and full coverage fenders.

    I also like the ride of steel. I've owned steel and aluminum bikes, and demoed titanium and carbon fiber. If I could afford a high end road bike, I'd have Joel Greenblatt of Clockwork Bikes build me something awesome. But I'm a high school science teacher with a wife and three young kids at home, so that won't be happening anytime soon. I'll likely get a Kona Zone (aluminum, I know, but affordable and I've got a good relationship with the local Kona dealer) or a All City Mr. Pink (if I want to spend the extra $$$).

    I'm intrigued by the idea of buying an older steel frame and building it up with modern 9- or 10-speed components, like something from the neo-retro thread. I very much prefer aesthetic of the skinny tube look of a vintage steel bike and bet I could build something cool for the same price as the Zone (so long as I'm patient enough to wait for a few deals).

    Short story:
    What does a modern steel frame offer that a vintage steel frame can't? Stiffness? Better ride quality? Or just current bottom bracket shells and head tubes?

    And if I do go the neo-retro route, what should I look for in a vintage steel frame?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Lost in Space...
    Reputation: headloss's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    3,432
    Why are you't looking at the Kona HonkyTonk?

    Steel is steel. When you are comparing vintage vs current it's all standards (headtube diameter, hub spacing, etc.). There were great double and triple butted steel bikes with lightweight Reynolds or Columbus made thirty years ago and there are bikes made this way today. Not every vintage bike is worth taking the time to upgrade. The biggest problem with an older frame is the potential for rust and a worn finish.

    There have been advances in tubing material design but nothing that would cause me to choose a bike of one age over another, assuming that high quality tubes were used in both.

    Larger diameter tubes will give more stiffness. The main objective of new generations of tubing material is to create a stronger steel with various hardening techniques so that the manufacturer can use thinner tubing walls and make it lighter. I think that most of the more recent changes have simply been adding more stainless steel options.

    If you go the retro route, you need to learn the various tubes that are out there and learn to recognize a high quality frame from a low quality one... that's all covered in older threads if you are so inclined. I'd just search for the various manufacturers (Columbus, Reynolds, TruTemper, Tange).
    Last edited by headloss; 10-15-2013 at 07:01 AM.

  3. #3
    old school drop out
    Reputation: laffeaux's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Posts
    1,578
    Without going too vintage you can find inexpensive steel frames that are top-of-the-line. Frames form the late 90s and early to mid 2000s steel for little money and will perform as well as any steel frame being made today. You won;t have options for tapered head tubes and over-sized BBs, but they're of questionable value anyway (IMO).

    One inch head tubes can be on the only draw back on older bikes. They're not necessarily an issue, but if you want to install a carbon fork you'll find a larger selection of 1-1/8" forks.

    Older frames will tend to be a bit heavier than those made in the past 10 or so years. But they're not heavy - at least not high end frames. The high end frames will be lighter than most (if not all) of Surly's frames. Frames form the 70s and 80s also tend to have better tire clearance. If you wan tot run wider tires older frames often accept them, while 90s and 2000s frames may limit your choices more.

  4. #4
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Posts
    17
    Stuff to look out for in an 80s frame: no dents/dings, no serious rust, seatpost is not seized, 700cc tires.

    Note that if you do a rebuild from scratch then it could add up quickly. I embarked on refurbishing a 1989 Miyata and the total is about $1300 so far.

  5. #5
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: velodog's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    8,366
    I don't know much about Rawland except to say they look like a lot for a good price. I bring them to your attention because they are made with room for fenders and large tires.
    They've been on my radar for a little bit.

    Rawland Cycles - Quality Production, Custom Qualities
    Too old to ride plastic

  6. #6
    Proud luddite
    Reputation: azpeterb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    7,119
    I was in a similar situation as you a couple years ago. I wanted a nice, new steel frame but one that would honor the tradition of Italian steel bikes, with that unmistakable Italian flair, but also one that would not break the bank. I found the perfect solution in the Pelizzoli Corsa GP frame and I have been very happy with it for 2 years now. The frame itself cost 600 euros to build and another 100 euros to ship to the U.S., and at that time 700 euros was about $1000.....an absolute steal for a hand-built, lugged frame like that. I added a 2010 Campy Chorus gruppo that was discounted by the LBS since it was late in the year as the 2011's were coming out, swapped the wheels, saddle and pedals from my previous bike to save some money....and I ended up with a stunning, fantastic Italian bike of my dreams for about $3500. I like to think that it's the best of both worlds, the look of a frame that you may have seen in the early 1980's but with modern components that reflect the current bicycling technology and performance. So it can be done if you shop carefully, and get the right frame with the right combination of components. Here's a photo of my Pelizzoli, not the best picture quality but it's what I've got:

    IMG_3301-1.JPG
    Last edited by azpeterb; 10-17-2013 at 09:50 AM.

  7. #7
    Decrepit Member
    Reputation: Scooper's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    1,811
    Quote Originally Posted by Spaceman Spiff View Post
    Short story:
    What does a modern steel frame offer that a vintage steel frame can't? Stiffness? Better ride quality? Or just current bottom bracket shells and head tubes?
    I own a 1972 Schwinn Paramount built with Reynolds 531, and a 2007 Waterford RS-22 built with Reynolds 953 stainless steel. They are both 61cm frames with essentially identical geometry. The Paramount uses standard diameter tubing (25.4mm TT, 28.6mm DT, 28.6mm ST, 31.7mm HT), while the Waterford uses OS diameter tubing (28.6mm TT, 31.7mm DT, 28.6mm ST, 31.7mm HT).

    All steels have virtually the same density (~8 grams/cu cm) and virtually the same Young's Modulus or "stiffness" (~200 GPa). Tensile strength and yield strength vary with the alloying elements and heat treatment, though, so stronger alloys can have the tubes drawn with thinner walls making the tubes lighter. But, since steel tubes with thinner walls will not be as stiff as tubes with thicker walls, increasing the tube diameter will increase stiffness.

    The bottom line is that my 531 Paramount frame with standard diameter tubing and my 953 Waterford frame with OS diameter tubing have essentially the same ride, but the Waterford frame is nearly 2 pounds lighter than the Paramount frame because of the Waterford's thinner walled tubing. The much higher yield strength of 953 (~1700 MPa compared to 690 MPa for 531) permits the 953 walls to be thinner and therefore the frame to be lighter, while increasing the tube diameter provides the same (or more) stiffness.

    So, the newer, stronger, lighter OS steel tubes provide the same ride as vintage steels, but the frames are lighter. The current crop of stainless steels is also corrosion resistant and doesn't require protective paint which adds weight.

    As complete built-up bikes, the Waterford weighs six pounds less than the Paramount, so it climbs better and accelerates faster (granted, much of the weight difference is in the lighter, newer components on the Waterford).

    Here is a photo of the two bikes side by side.

    -Stan
    my bikes

  8. #8
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    1,055
    Geometry and the parts hanging on it are probably more important than OS in ride quality.

  9. #9
    Decrepit Member
    Reputation: Scooper's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    1,811
    Quote Originally Posted by Bridgestone View Post
    Geometry and the parts hanging on it are probably more important than OS in ride quality.
    Do you think so?

    I'll guarantee you the 61cm Waterford would be way too whippy with the 0.3mm - 0.4mm walls (953 wall thickness) if it were standard diameter tubing hauling my 190 pound carcass around. With the 28.6 TT and 31.7 DT, it's a perfect ride even on multi-day 100 miles per day rides.
    -Stan
    my bikes

  10. #10
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    1,055
    Quote Originally Posted by Scooper View Post
    Do you think so?

    I'll guarantee you the 61cm Waterford would be way too whippy with the 0.3mm - 0.4mm walls (953 wall thickness) if it were standard diameter tubing hauling my 190 pound carcass around. With the 28.6 TT and 31.7 DT, it's a perfect ride even on multi-day 100 miles per day rides.
    I doubt any accomplished vintage builder would have built a 61cm bike with .3-.4mm tubing . Many will argue these points , here is one view I respect;

    " i'm gonna try to bring this thread back to its roots and avoid the personal stuff. the OP asked about changes relating to the three sizes of pipes commonly used in steel frames. so let's forget the comparisons between a cannondale and a litespeed, or if someone has a 70s 56cm guerciotti and holds it against his 2006 54cm pegoretti BLE. what i bring to the conversation continues to be this - i've had a lot of frames, all the same design, and with a myriad of tubes, brands, sizes, and combinations. the laundry list was aired on the other thread. whenever i switched or got a new bicycle, the material never entered the equation. eyes closed, i wouldn't be able to tell you what it was. again, i used them often and race them hard. if someone else uses the science to tell me why he thinks the bicycles he rides are different, first i'd want to know if the bicycles are the same. i haven't seen that here. then i'd like to know what is the difference, since it seems like a focal point of those saying there is a difference. if i concede that we have feelings for the different bicycles we ride but can't really feel the tube diameters, their guages, whether they're heat-treated or not, etc., why would these words incite? is it that hard to consider that the bicycle is not the pipe(s) and that the sum of their assembly (and quality involved with it...) also plays a part? that's where i come in to this. it's not rhetoric, it's not cryptic artisan-cum-visionary speak, and there's no charlatanism at work here. i couldn't express my views about the OP subject and be any more pragmatic. i make the stuff, i use the stuff, and the replies i have given on the subject at least have a control - the frame design - it remains the same. i can't ever remembering feeling that the material was as important to the builds (my builds...) as the other parts of the equation. this is not some message summoned up for this thread or threads like it. i make one frame model, not five. i have one assembly process, not three. and i have no issues using a prescribed set/combination of tubing, diameter, and gauges for nearly all of my clients bicycles - and the changes to this have always been sweeping. when i get to the end of a run with a type of steel, a brand of steel, a size of it, or even the distribution chain it comes through, i move on. and from that point forward, all of the frames are made from whatever i decide was worth supplanting whatever came before it. that's been my way going back to the 70s. it worked well in chester and continue to do so in warwick.

    thanks for reading. "
    Richard Sachs

  11. #11
    lighthouse54.1
    Guest
    Older steel frames probably do not have clearance for 10 speed cassettes.
    Last edited by lighthouse54.1; 02-13-2014 at 11:18 PM.

  12. #12
    Decrepit Member
    Reputation: Scooper's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    1,811
    Quote Originally Posted by Bridgestone View Post
    I doubt any accomplished vintage builder would have built a 61cm bike with .3-.4mm tubing .
    I don't disagree. The vintage builder (pre-OS - circa 1990) would have been using standard diameter tubing, and a 61cm frame built with standard diameter tubes having 0.3mm - 0.4mm walls would be way too flexy unless the rider was extremely light. There are only two ways to make a steel tube stiffer: 1) increase the wall thickness, or 2) increase the tube diameter.

    The OP asked about the advantage of modern steel vs vintage steel frames, and I tried to explain that modern steels are stronger, and can therefore be drawn with thinner walls. The downside of the thinner walls is reduced stiffness, but that loss of stiffness can be compensated for by increasing the tube diameter. The net result is a significantly lighter frame without loss of stiffness.

    I'm pretty confident e-RICHIE would agree with me.
    -Stan
    my bikes

  13. #13
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    1,055
    Quote Originally Posted by Scooper View Post
    I don't disagree. The vintage builder (pre-OS - circa 1990) would have been using standard diameter tubing, and a 61cm frame built with standard diameter tubes having 0.3mm - 0.4mm walls would be way too flexy unless the rider was extremely light. There are only two ways to make a steel tube stiffer: 1) increase the wall thickness, or 2) increase the tube diameter.

    The OP asked about the advantage of modern steel vs vintage steel frames, and I tried to explain that modern steels are stronger, and can therefore be drawn with thinner walls. The downside of the thinner walls is reduced stiffness, but that loss of stiffness can be compensated for by increasing the tube diameter. The net result is a significantly lighter frame without loss of stiffness.

    I'm pretty confident e-RICHIE would agree with me.
    e-RICHIE seemed to be saying that he saw no difference in ride quality between standard and OS tubing. , which was the second part of the OP's question. Again I will repeat my original assertion , which I stand by "Geometry and the parts hanging on it are probably more important than OS in ride quality."

  14. #14
    Lost in Space...
    Reputation: headloss's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    3,432
    Quote Originally Posted by Bridgestone View Post
    e-RICHIE seemed to be saying that he saw no difference in ride quality between standard and OS tubing. , which was the second part of the OP's question. Again I will repeat my original assertion , which I stand by "Geometry and the parts hanging on it are probably more important than OS in ride quality."
    I think it's one of those all-else-being-equal sorta things... Ride quality is the same, because other variables have been changed i.e. it's lighter which is the only claim that Scooper made. There is nothing contradicting e-RICHIE in anything that was stated.

    If you took that same OS tube frame but didn't reduce the wall thickness, so that it would be the same weight as a comparable non-OS tubed frame, you might notice a difference in ride quality. Seeing as each generation of tube is more or less designed for an ideal balance of stiffness and flex, it goes without saying that the various designs would feel the same in a blind test... so the advantage of OS is lighter weight (or increased stiffness, without the lighter weight, if specifically designed for that purpose i.e. touring and dependent on wall thickness).

  15. #15
    lighthouse54.1
    Guest
    .....
    Last edited by lighthouse54.1; 02-13-2014 at 11:19 PM.

  16. #16
    Decrepit Member
    Reputation: Scooper's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    1,811
    Quote Originally Posted by headloss View Post
    I think it's one of those all-else-being-equal sorta things... Ride quality is the same, because other variables have been changed i.e. it's lighter which is the only claim that Scooper made. There is nothing contradicting e-RICHIE in anything that was stated.

    If you took that same OS tube frame but didn't reduce the wall thickness, so that it would be the same weight as a comparable non-OS tubed frame, you might notice a difference in ride quality. Seeing as each generation of tube is more or less designed for an ideal balance of stiffness and flex, it goes without saying that the various designs would feel the same in a blind test... so the advantage of OS is lighter weight (or increased stiffness, without the lighter weight, if specifically designed for that purpose i.e. touring and dependent on wall thickness).
    Thank you for elaborating; you explained it far more eloquently than my clumsy attempt.
    -Stan
    my bikes

  17. #17
    Big is relative
    Reputation: bigbill's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    11,887
    Quote Originally Posted by lighthouse54.1 View Post
    Older steel frames probably do not have clearance for 10 speed cassettes. Not sure which bikes do or don't.
    Any frame after around 1990 will have 130mm rear spacing which is 8-11 speed. Most steel frames before that were 126mm spaced with a few older ones and track bikes at 120mm. A good bike shop or frame builder can "cold set" a 126mm spaced frame to 130mm for a modern component build. Some will say you can spread the rear and install a 130mm hub, but you risk a misaligned rear derailleur. A good "cold set" will maintain the rear dropouts parallel so the installing a wheel is easy and the shifting is not affected by an angled rear derailleur.
    Retired sailor

  18. #18
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: velodog's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    8,366
    Quote Originally Posted by bigbill View Post
    Any frame after around 1990 will have 130mm rear spacing which is 8-11 speed. Most steel frames before that were 126mm spaced with a few older ones and track bikes at 120mm. A good bike shop or frame builder can "cold set" a 126mm spaced frame to 130mm for a modern component build. Some will say you can spread the rear and install a 130mm hub, but you risk a misaligned rear derailleur. A good "cold set" will maintain the rear dropouts parallel so the installing a wheel is easy and the shifting is not affected by an angled rear derailleur.
    I have never had my 126mm frame cold set and there has never been a problem.

    Yes, I have to spread the drop outs when installing a wheel but that's easy enough, not worth breaking a sweat about. Shifting has never been a problem, but if it was it ain't nothin' that a little work with a Park DAG-2 won't take care of.
    Too old to ride plastic

  19. #19
    Big is relative
    Reputation: bigbill's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    11,887
    Quote Originally Posted by velodog View Post
    I have never had my 126mm frame cold set and there has never been a problem.

    Yes, I have to spread the drop outs when installing a wheel but that's easy enough, not worth breaking a sweat about. Shifting has never been a problem, but if it was it ain't nothin' that a little work with a Park DAG-2 won't take care of.
    Spreading the dropouts to install a wheel isn't a problem that could be solved with a cold set? Well, good for you. I've got a Mercian that was cold set and swapping out rear wheels is a snap, they just slide in.
    Retired sailor

  20. #20
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: velodog's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    8,366
    Quote Originally Posted by bigbill View Post
    Spreading the dropouts to install a wheel isn't a problem that could be solved with a cold set? Well, good for you. I've got a Mercian that was cold set and swapping out rear wheels is a snap, they just slide in.
    Well good for you too.

    All I'm saying is that there are options, and a 130mm axle can be used without being cold set. Steel is flexible and an owner can cold set his/her frame or not, and either way a 130mm can be used.
    Too old to ride plastic

  21. #21
    Big is relative
    Reputation: bigbill's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    11,887
    Quote Originally Posted by velodog View Post
    Well good for you too.

    All I'm saying is that there are options, and a 130mm axle can be used without being cold set. Steel is flexible and an owner can cold set his/her frame or not, and either way a 130mm can be used.
    All I'm saying is spreading the rear dropouts to get a wheel into your bike is a half ass solution when a permanent solution is available. Some people prefer to have their bikes correctly configured, not something that works good enough.
    Retired sailor

  22. #22
    Decrepit Member
    Reputation: Scooper's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    1,811
    Quote Originally Posted by lighthouse54.1 View Post
    Older steel frames probably do not have clearance for 10 speed cassettes. Not sure which bikes do or don't.
    This can be an issue even on new frames with 130mm OLD dropout spacing. My frame had to be sent back to Waterford to shave another 2mm off the seat stay at the dropout to provide clearance for the chain to shift to the smallest cog.

    -Stan
    my bikes

  23. #23
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: velodog's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    8,366
    Quote Originally Posted by Scooper View Post
    This can be an issue even on new frames with 130mm OLD dropout spacing. My frame had to be sent back to Waterford to shave another 2mm off the seat stay at the dropout to provide clearance for the chain to shift to the smallest cog.

    I was worried that this was going to be an issue with mine, but it wasn't. Would a smaller cog have worked in there, or did the cassette already have an 11.

    I ask because when my cassette is wore out I'll be replacing it with something with a more usable small cog, as in larger, and am wondering.

    Thanks
    Too old to ride plastic

  24. #24
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: velodog's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    8,366
    Quote Originally Posted by bigbill View Post
    All I'm saying is spreading the rear dropouts to get a wheel into your bike is a half ass solution when a permanent solution is available. Some people prefer to have their bikes correctly configured, not something that works good enough.
    Whatever you say.

    Too old to ride plastic

  25. #25
    Decrepit Member
    Reputation: Scooper's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    1,811
    Quote Originally Posted by velodog View Post
    I was worried that this was going to be an issue with mine, but it wasn't. Would a smaller cog have worked in there, or did the cassette already have an 11.

    Thanks
    The cassette is a ten speed Record 13-29. The stay wouldn't have needed removal of any material if the smallest cog had been an 11.

    The LBS that built up the bike (American Cyclery in San Francisco) said the chain barely cleared the stay when shifting to the 13t smallest cog, but they thought it was too close, so they sent the frame back to Waterford.
    -Stan
    my bikes

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Modern-ish Steel frame: What should I look for?
    By jordo_99 in forum Bikes, Frames and Forks
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 07-09-2013, 08:10 PM
  2. What modern steel do you like?
    By High Gear in forum Retro-Classic
    Replies: 23
    Last Post: 07-12-2012, 03:13 AM
  3. Modern Steel Frame
    By DY123 in forum Bikes, Frames and Forks
    Replies: 19
    Last Post: 09-10-2008, 06:41 PM
  4. MX Leader Vs. Modern steel frame
    By Beekeeper in forum Bikes, Frames and Forks
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 03-26-2008, 10:56 AM
  5. Modern stainless steel framing.
    By Neon in forum Bikes, Frames and Forks
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 08-10-2007, 06:46 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

THE SITE

ABOUT ROADBIKEREVIEW

VISIT US AT

© Copyright 2020 VerticalScope Inc. All rights reserved.