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  1. #1
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    Steel Full Suspension Bikes

    These seem to be gaining popularity in the small brand/hand made bike market. I love the short travel 29er segment with progressive geometry and the lure of steel makes me want one!

    Cotic FlareMAX, Swarf Contour, Starling Murmur (or SS Beady Little Eye!!!), who else? Seems to be gaining momentum, especially in the UK.

    There's also custom frame builder options like Waltworks, and I've seen a few at NAHBA the last few years, but I'm wondering how long it will be until a semi major manufacturer starts offering production steel full suspension bikes/frames?

    What other full suspension steel bikes are available?
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  2. #2
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    There are a few others, seems most are based in the UK or EU.
    Other one you didn't list was Production Privee, french company and Stanton Bikes, another UK company. One of the smaller mtb rags online did a review about a year or so ago of some of the top steel bike builders, I was dead set on getting myself a Cotic RocketMAX (wanted more travel) as I love my old On-One Inbred 29er steel hardtail, but the logistical cost of getting it to the US added a bit.

  3. #3
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    Stanton are another brand making them.

    Personally, I don't see any advantage for a FS bike being made out of steel vs alloy or carbon (obviously different story with a hardtail) but I've never ridden one so that's not based on much.

  4. #4
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    They are cool, no doubt. But steel has 3 things going against it

    Heavy
    Flex
    Rust

    Of course benefits are

    Strong
    Easy to repair

    Cant remember the brand, but the raw steel bike with brass brazing... straight up eye candy.
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    Quote Originally Posted by eshew View Post
    They are cool, no doubt. But steel has 3 things going against it

    Heavy
    Flex
    Rust

    Of course benefits are

    Strong
    Easy to repair

    Cant remember the brand, but the raw steel bike with brass brazing... straight up eye candy.
    I thought Stanton bikes are treated internally to prevent rust but I guess in the event of a crash and subsequent paint removal that would rust and leave a good looking scar. By the time a steel frame ever rusted through it would be beyond the normal life of any bike though.

    I've been considering the Stanton FS for some time now as a race bike, just something about them that appeals to me and that little bit of extra weight just adds to the stability. The rear leverage rate is solidly progressive and looks almost perfect to me.

  6. #6
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    I'd say go for it, historically speaking I'm reluctant to try anything new... it may also be because I'm incredibly cheap.

    I agree with you from the rust standpoint, sure you may get some surface rust, but certainly not destructive in terms of weakness.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by eshew View Post
    They are cool, no doubt. But steel has 3 things going against it

    Heavy
    Flex
    Rust

    Of course benefits are

    Strong
    Easy to repair

    Cant remember the brand, but the raw steel bike with brass brazing... straight up eye candy.
    Add: Poor suspension designs. Seriously, if there was a steel frame that was engineered with a DW suspension, that would be a cool bike.

    That Swarf Contour looks great until you read single pivot and 445mm chainstays.

    I get that complicated suspensions are challenging to design and build, but if I'm springing for a high end frame, it needs a high end suspension, otherwise I'd be riding rigid.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by David R View Post
    Stanton are another brand making them.

    Personally, I don't see any advantage for a FS bike being made out of steel vs alloy or carbon (obviously different story with a hardtail) but I've never ridden one so that's not based on much.
    If you want a flexy frame, in theory the flex can be designed in to be a positive attribute, though in my experience a flexy frame means tire and chain rub.

    So heavier, flexier, yeah, no real advantages, just different to be different kinda like Ti.
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  9. #9
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    Yup, should have had Stanton and Production Privee on the list, good call.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nurse Ben View Post
    Add: Poor suspension designs. Seriously, if there was a steel frame that was engineered with a DW suspension, that would be a cool bike.

    That Swarf Contour looks great until you read single pivot and 445mm chainstays.

    I get that complicated suspensions are challenging to design and build, but if I'm springing for a high end frame, it needs a high end suspension, otherwise I'd be riding rigid.
    Quote Originally Posted by Nurse Ben View Post
    If you want a flexy frame, in theory the flex can be designed in to be a positive attribute, though in my experience a flexy frame means tire and chain rub.

    So heavier, flexier, yeah, no real advantages, just different to be different kinda like Ti.
    Yes, clearly these bikes are not for you. You've made your opinion clear.
    Last edited by driver bob; 2 Weeks Ago at 05:45 AM. Reason: removed taunting
    Rigid SS 29er
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  10. #10
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    Like many long time bikers, the mantra steel is real reasonates, but to bring steel into the modern age, the designs must reflect modern geometry. A short travel single pivot FS bike with a 445mm chainstay is crap.

    Whos gonna buy a bike just cuz its pretty, esp when its priced the same as a quality carbon frame?

    Face it, to compete with other frame materials, steel had to be as good or better than aluminum or carbon: better geo, better suspension, better design.

    Personally Id buy an FS steel frame for a one pound penalty, if it was any good, otherwise Id buy a steel hardtail and leave the full suspension duties to my other bikes.

    Reality check, 3k gets you into Ti territory.

    Quote Originally Posted by *OneSpeed* View Post
    Yup, should have had Stanton and Production Privee on the list, good call.





    Yes, clearly these bikes are not for you. You've made your opinion clear. Please find your way to another thread that suites your taste better.
    Last edited by driver bob; 2 Weeks Ago at 05:46 AM. Reason: removed reply to taunting
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nurse Ben View Post
    Add: Poor suspension designs. Seriously, if there was a steel frame that was engineered with a DW suspension, that would be a cool bike.

    That Swarf Contour looks great until you read single pivot and 445mm chainstays.

    I get that complicated suspensions are challenging to design and build, but if I'm springing for a high end frame, it needs a high end suspension, otherwise I'd be riding rigid.
    Nice sweeping generalization mate. Check out the rear suspension on the Stanton FS.

  12. #12
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    Agree to disagree but keep it civil please. Posts edited accordingly.

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    https://www.curtisbikes.co.uk/

    Brian Curtis (as far as I know) hasn't yet built a 29er FS bike but if I had the budget I'd ask him to do it.

    I've always (for 20+ years) loved his bikes.

  14. #14
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    This thread is intended to discuss what steel full suspension bikes are available. Not argue their validity.

    I don't think what I said was taunting, just asking a persistently negative and strongly opinionated person to move on to another thread instead of derailing and plugging up this conversation with a bunch of argumentative BS.
    Rigid SS 29er
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    Fat Lefty
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    Full Sus 29er (Yuck)

    Stop asking how much it weighs and just go ride it.

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    Mone Cycles has been showing off a brazed steel FS. You can order a custom steel full sus from Marino Cycles. BTR Pinner as well. The DMR Bolt Long is a steel full sus (and 26") but kind of in between a slopestyle bike and a regular full sus.
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  16. #16
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    Rigid SS 29er
    SS 29+
    Fat Lefty
    SS cyclocross
    Full Sus 29er (Yuck)

    Stop asking how much it weighs and just go ride it.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by David R View Post
    Stanton are another brand making them.

    Personally, I don't see any advantage for a FS bike being made out of steel vs alloy or carbon (obviously different story with a hardtail) but I've never ridden one so that's not based on much.
    Steel is an alloy.

    Steel is stronger than aluminum and lasts forever, and if it's heavier, the difference is marginal.

    I hope we see a steel FS bike for sale somewhere in the US soon outside of the unreachable custom market for me. I may have to bite the bullet and buy an aluminum bike someday, but I don't really want to.

  18. #18
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    There was an article (will have to do some searching to see if I can find it) that much of what is needed out of steel to attain the same rigidity and strength of current "burly" aluminum bikes is quite a bit less thick tubes and large tubes. Much can be attained from the new 4130 Chromoly, Reynolds, or other alloys out there to attain similar results, still have that "warm" feeling that steel has but be close to the same weight (if not the same weight) as many of the aluminum bikes.

    I think the generalization of heavy, flexy, rusty, etc. was all true 10yrs ago but today the processes to be able to "mold" steel tubes and the advances in geometric understanding, kinesthetics, leverage ratios and all the stuff to be able to "build" those awesome bikes we have now transfers over to steel. This is why we are starting to see a resurgence of steel bikes popping up. If this weren't the case we would not see as many people starting companies with steel bikes. They are no longer just the ss or city commuter type bikes they used to be.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by *OneSpeed* View Post
    This thread is intended to discuss what steel full suspension bikes are available. Not argue their validity.

    I don't think what I said was taunting, just asking a persistently negative and strongly opinionated person to move on to another thread instead of derailing and plugging up this conversation with a bunch of argumentative BS.
    Then let people express their opinions without feedback. My comments are no less or more important that yours. And I really don't appreciate negative reps for BS.

    Edit: I'm gonna add you to my ignore list, you might want to do the same to me, then we won't trigger each other.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by gregnash View Post
    I think the generalization of heavy, flexy, rusty, etc. was all true 10yrs ago
    Nope, it wasn't.
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by robmac48 View Post
    Nice sweeping generalization mate. Check out the rear suspension on the Stanton FS.
    The Stanton 27.5 bike looks good (CS 435), but again the 445mm chanistays on the 29er are looong.

    As to suspension design, I'd have to be convinced that a boutique builder has designed something that's as good or better than something like the established brands who have R & D out the wazoo. Even if the steel builder copies a known design, just as long as it works.

    I totally support small brands which is why I ride Guerilla Gravity, Lenz, etc... but like Greg suggested, a steel frame has got to be competitive with the other materials. Even Ti can suck if it's poorly designed.

    I am in the USA, so UK brands are probably not going to make into my quiver due to no test ride options and concerns over warranty, but a domestic option might be intersting if the geo was "normal".

    Anyone got kinematics to compare some of these steel FS frames with the known designs?
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by twodownzero View Post
    Steel is an alloy...
    That's why I'll only settle for an iron FS bike.
    Do the math.

  23. #23
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    I love these steel suspension bikes from the UK. Probably not gonna order a FS from the UK but I have ordered a hardtail. These guys are much more at the forefront of geometry than the big brands. A steel frame is going to be heavier than a carbon wonder bike but will still be going strong when the former is landfill.

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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nurse Ben View Post
    Like many long time bikers, the mantra steel is real reasonates, but to bring steel into the modern age, the designs must reflect modern geometry. A short travel single pivot FS bike with a 445mm chainstay is crap.


    Whos gonna buy a bike just cuz its pretty, esp when its priced the same as a quality carbon frame?


    Face it, to compete with other frame materials, steel had to be as good or better than aluminum or carbon: better geo, better suspension, better design.


    Personally Id buy an FS steel frame for a one pound penalty, if it was any good, otherwise Id buy a steel hardtail and leave the full suspension duties to my other bikes.


    Reality check, 3k gets you into Ti territory.
    I'm quite certain my single pivot will out perform your unicycle all over the mountain, but that doesn't stop you from riding one...
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    Stop asking how much it weighs and just go ride it.

  25. #25
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    I agree with gregnash, the old generalisation doesnt sit as well with the new wave of FS steel bikes. They are streets ahead of past iterations.

    They have turned around a negative trait to a very positive trait. The grip a new FS steel bike can get is often quite a lot better than the flashy brands from my experience and thats just not me saying that, all of the recent reviews have lauded the handling of these bikes.

    They are back in vogue due to a confluence of recent developments. Up to date geo, great fabrication/execution/material, 29er wheels and 1x12 gearing. All these things help them carry the extra pound well and the bikes just plain rip.

    The whole ride feel is tactile, alive, and invigorating, if you want an engaging, exciting and fast ride, try the new steel.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by WilliamK View Post
    The whole ride feel is tactile, alive, and invigorating, if you want an engaging, exciting and fast ride, try the new steel.
    Heck, that describes my old chrome moly Bridgestone MB5 frame that has been collecting dust. I can't bring myself to throw the frame out and keep thinking I need to refurbish it and build something up. I loved the feel of that bike.

  27. #27
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    I've always wondered why there aren't more steel FS rides out there. I know some of the smaller builders had one or two but it wasn't a large part of their business I suppose. I seem to recall a builder named Culver or something like that that I was looking at years ago. I have zero interest in riding a plastic bike on mtn trails. My roadie is an old Lemond half carbon half ti and that's as close as I'll get to carbon.

    I prefer smaller builders if I can find one I gel with when talking on the phone. I would like a FS again someday and steel would be my #1 choice. I've ridden nothing but steel MTB's for over 10 years and just love the ride quality and feel. I'm not a weight weenie so an extra pound is nothing.

    So yea, I'm highly interested in this subject.

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  28. #28
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    I've got a set of 26x2.8" tires&wheels, I'd like a steel 27.5er with tire clearance to replace my 26" aluminum Camber. I'm definitely interested.
    By continuing to browse my posts, you agree to send chazpat cookies.

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    Ive had a Waltworks steel 29+ 160mm FS for about 3 years now. He did it with 425mm chainstays and it is both stable and super nimble for its size. (530mm reach and 720mm stack) Nicely complements the XXL GG metal Smash. Both excellent bikes!

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    I think the ability to easily hydroform aluminum has really changed the game for bikes in general. My google fu didn't turn up much for hydroforming steel other then low carbon steel, and in that case idk if that would make a great material for bike frames.

    Pound for pound steel tubing doesn't stand a change against a hydroformed aluminum tube designed specifically for the application. And hydroforming is much more precise and repeatable with much tighter tolerances when compared to bending steel tubing.

    All the arguments above totally overlook this.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Rager View Post
    That's why I'll only settle for an iron FS bike.
    Fair enough. I resent the term "alloy" to represent aluminum. It demonstrates ignorance about the precise topic these threads are already about, which is discussing which metal makes the best bike. Even saying "aluminum" really doesn't tell you anything about the material either (since there are so many types), but it at least identifies that we're talking about a narrower class than all alloyed metal.

  32. #32
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    Most of the arguments against building from steel seem to apply a lot more to online geekery and marketing mumbo-jumbo than actual riding IMHO. My Al hydroformed and carbon fiber bikes don't actually ride any better than my steel HT and FS bikes. I'm sure some people can go full dork and pull out spreadsheets and diagrams showing fractions of percentages gained in some areas, but in the real world, I can't feel the difference and I'm betting the majority of others couldn't either.
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    Just saw an ad for this company .. made in USA claims modern geo etc.

    https://ferrumbikes.com/

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by supermoto65 View Post
    Just saw an ad for this company .. made in USA claims modern geo etc.

    https://ferrumbikes.com/
    Crazy! Never heard of them and they are semi-local to me (at least in my state). Looks to be a single pivot suspension design similar to something like an Orange bike. Frameset is only $1300 USD which is nice.

  35. #35
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    Stanton's full sus is an aluminum rear triangle.
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  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by supermoto65 View Post
    Just saw an ad for this company .. made in USA claims modern geo etc.

    https://ferrumbikes.com/
    Enduro frame 7#, not too bad.
    Chainstays are a tad long, but adjustable 440-455mm
    Made locally I guess, the business is located in Vegas, I suspect the frame is out of Asia.

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  37. #37
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    Steel single pivot, done right:

    Steel Full Suspension Bikes-wr3.jpgSteel Full Suspension Bikes-wht.jpgSteel Full Suspension Bikes-sil.jpgSteel Full Suspension Bikes-purp1.jpgSteel Full Suspension Bikes-green.jpg
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  38. #38
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    ^ I love seeing those every time. Can we hang out so I can test ride all of them?
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    Stop asking how much it weighs and just go ride it.

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by *OneSpeed* View Post
    ^ I love seeing those every time. Can we hang out so I can test ride all of them?
    Most of those are scattered around New England being thrashed by riders far better than myself.

    But if you find yourself in White Mountains of NH at some point, I could maybe get you on something interesting for a spin.



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