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Thread: Steel is Real

  1. #1
    veinte nueve pulgadas
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    Steel is Real

    I am looking at picking up a new steel hardtail. I weigh in at 200lbs and ride mainly XC...no drops, leaps, etc. It needs to be versatile, strong, and last a lifetime.

    I've been looking at Vicious, Independent Fabrications and Soulcraft. All seem to have great reviews and all seem to be in the same pricebracket (1000 - 1500). IndyFab uses 853 for the main triangle, Vicious uses Ritchey WCS and Soulcraft doesn't really tell you what they use, just that you don't need to worry about it. I would think that Soulcraft's line was BS if it wasn't for all of the glaring reviews, so obvioulsy their choice of steel is OK.

    I know Vicious does awesome paint, but that really doesn't matter to me. I don't want anything flashy.

    Any recommendations out there? Any other suggestions? If you know of something cheaper that is on par in terms of strength and quality, let me know.

  2. #2
    Time is not a road.
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    MBR-UK reviews three steel HTs

    in it's latest issue. I really like the Cove Handjob. They also review a DMR (I'm not sure this is avail in the states?) I think a new Cove frame will run you about $300. Sycip is also another company to consider, and you can get some somewhat custom geometry.

    Larry at www.mthighcyclery.com could give you some info about that company and pricing options.

  3. #3

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    I've got a steel IF.

    And I couldn't be happier with it, except maybe that I want it's road brother (I guess that would be evident from my screen name). Great geometry, craftsmanship, the paint is beautiful and you get a wide assortment of colors to choose from, and the ride is so very nice. I've talked to guys with IF's who do ride some sizeable drops, and highly technical stuff, and they told me that they don't use their dualies as much anymore since they got their Indy's. I've heard good things about Steelman frames too. That's a small shop in CA (northern, I think). And Strong frames too in MT. Steelman only works in steel, but IF and Strong work in both steel and TI. Whatever maker you choose, be very active in the process. Tell them what you want, how you ride, and be as involved as possible in every step. I think with any of the makers talked about so far in this thread, you'll be happy with the outcome. Be patient and let them do what you're paying them for. Custom isn't the same as buying the bike off the shelf, but the end result is well worth it.

    Happy trails,
    Bob

  4. #4
    jrm
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    I think

    Quote Originally Posted by nzumbi
    I am looking at picking up a new steel hardtail. I weigh in at 200lbs and ride mainly XC...no drops, leaps, etc. It needs to be versatile, strong, and last a lifetime.

    I've been looking at Vicious, Independent Fabrications and Soulcraft. All seem to have great reviews and all seem to be in the same pricebracket (1000 - 1500). IndyFab uses 853 for the main triangle, Vicious uses Ritchey WCS and Soulcraft doesn't really tell you what they use, just that you don't need to worry about it. I would think that Soulcraft's line was BS if it wasn't for all of the glaring reviews, so obvioulsy their choice of steel is OK.

    I know Vicious does awesome paint, but that really doesn't matter to me. I don't want anything flashy.

    Any recommendations out there? Any other suggestions? If you know of something cheaper that is on par in terms of strength and quality, let me know.
    That alot of the material mystery will be solved once you gewt on the phone with either builder and they know who and how you ride. Also remember that builders can make tweaks to geometry and such to find the best ride for YOU.

    I for one 180lbs love the feel of XO true tempered Platinum over 853.
    Last edited by jrm; 11-22-2004 at 01:27 PM. Reason: ...

  5. #5
    Daniel the Dog
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    Give Curtlo a call....

    Quote Originally Posted by nzumbi
    I am looking at picking up a new steel hardtail. I weigh in at 200lbs and ride mainly XC...no drops, leaps, etc. It needs to be versatile, strong, and last a lifetime.

    I've been looking at Vicious, Independent Fabrications and Soulcraft. All seem to have great reviews and all seem to be in the same pricebracket (1000 - 1500). IndyFab uses 853 for the main triangle, Vicious uses Ritchey WCS and Soulcraft doesn't really tell you what they use, just that you don't need to worry about it. I would think that Soulcraft's line was BS if it wasn't for all of the glaring reviews, so obvioulsy their choice of steel is OK.

    I know Vicious does awesome paint, but that really doesn't matter to me. I don't want anything flashy.

    Any recommendations out there? Any other suggestions? If you know of something cheaper that is on par in terms of strength and quality, let me know.
    I had a Curtlo Mountaineer that was awesome! A custom frame for $700. Wow! I think the difference in steel are only important when you talk about say Platinum vrs. 03. More manipulation, thickness and butting of the tubes vrs. just a brand name. The builder is everything.

    Check Curtlo! I would get a ST Curtlo, but I'm a FS ho.

    Jaybo

  6. #6
    the wrench
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    how about a rocky mountain blizzard frame. i had switched from a hammer frame725 to the blizzard853 and what a difference. the blizzard rides so snappy yet supple. and you also get the sweet rocky geometry. and if timing works out right and you get one ordered before the next batch is painted chances are you can get a custom paint job. mine has the standard trademark two tone paintjob with a black frontend and smoke grey on the rear to match my 04marathon. looks sweet.

    oh yeah rocky powdercoats their frames (the blizzard has 4/5 coats of powder on it to do the two tone job and those finishes are tough. i have yet to scratch mine or get any stone chips.

  7. #7
    JmZ
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    I almost went with...

    A Teesdale.

    Ended up with an Interloc due to price and geometry. Price was too good to pass up. Plus was pretty close the geometry I wanted too.

    Before I got the Interloc though, I was going to give Tom Teesdale a call. I've seen a few in person, nice bikes, plus customizable steel choices, differences in geometry, etc and all for a decent price.

    Lots of great steel bikes out there from lots of decent builders... heck some even lurk here on mtbr. I'd look into Curtlo, Strong, Interloc, Petro (I think that's how it's spelled) and I know there are a few others around too.

    Good luck,

    JmZ

    PS - 200 lbs, XC Midwest rider here too.

    Quote Originally Posted by nzumbi
    I am looking at picking up a new steel hardtail. I weigh in at 200lbs and ride mainly XC...no drops, leaps, etc. It needs to be versatile, strong, and last a lifetime.

    I've been looking at Vicious, Independent Fabrications and Soulcraft. All seem to have great reviews and all seem to be in the same pricebracket (1000 - 1500). IndyFab uses 853 for the main triangle, Vicious uses Ritchey WCS and Soulcraft doesn't really tell you what they use, just that you don't need to worry about it. I would think that Soulcraft's line was BS if it wasn't for all of the glaring reviews, so obvioulsy their choice of steel is OK.

    I know Vicious does awesome paint, but that really doesn't matter to me. I don't want anything flashy.

    Any recommendations out there? Any other suggestions? If you know of something cheaper that is on par in terms of strength and quality, let me know.
    JmZ

    From one flat land to another.

    Advocate as if your ride depends on it...

  8. #8
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    Idea! 2 other options...

    Strong does a complete custom build and specs the tube sets to what type of rider and trails you ride.

    I can testify to the strength of the best Canadian steel from Dekerf. My bud rode his Team 853 for years everywhere and he had no issues. Dekerf builds with a complete Reynolds 853 front triangle and chainstays with Reynolds 725 seat stays. Complete custom colors available also. It rides so well I went out and bought one too...

    Check out the Dekerf thread here.
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  9. #9
    Hoopy Frood
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    If you don't require a custom steel hardtail, you should also check out Gunnar's Rockhound.

    http://www.gunnarbikes.com/

    Nice bike with great XC geometry. I plan on getting one once my current aluminum hardtail bites the dust.

    - khill
    I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it. - Thomas Jefferson

  10. #10
    good ol dog dreams
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    Soulcraft

    You can't go wrong with the Soulcraft! I've had mine for almost 3 years and it is a great handling bike. Their philosophy on tubing is just that. They blend several types/brands of chromoly for a great ride. There is some 853 used in the front triangle. Their paintjobs are done by Spectrum Powderworks which are top notch, www.spectrumpowderworks.com
    All their frames are now custom as well, I'd opt for geometry set around a 100 mm fork, no extra charge. The other brands mentioned are great as well! Not sure on the Gunnar, the tire clearnce on the rear is very small on my friends (maybe 2 yrs. old), hopefully they've changed that.
    Great customer service as well!

  11. #11
    veinte nueve pulgadas
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    Thoughts

    My buddy has a Gunnar. While the low BB may be nice in some places, when you have roots and rocks to contend with, it is a bad thing. Gunnar is out.

    The Rocky Mountain Blizzard looks decent. Reynolds 853 for under $600...that's nice. There has to be a catch, but I don't know what it is. I'd prefer a custom paint job over the black/white maple leaf fade. Nothing against maple leaves. Problem is, I can't find anyone with a 19.5 for me to test ride, and there is no way I am going to get a non-custom frame without a test ride.

    Strong and Soulcraft are very appealing and cheaper than IF, but IF has one hell of a solid reputation.

    I just can't get over how cheap the Blizzard is. Being 200lbs and wanting a frame that will last me an indefinite amount of time though, I think that the custom route is the best option, as they will know what material will be best suited to my needs. I really don't need the lightest material out there. The difference between a 4 and 4.5lbs frame is meaningless when you take into account the rider/bike combo weight.

  12. #12
    Lazy People Suck
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    ByStickel is another excellent choice.

    Another top notch builder to consider is Steve Stickel of ByStickel. He posts on these boards as D.F.L. He has built two frames for me and is truly an artist and does great work. If you do a search of these boards, you can see examples of his work and I have not seen anyone yet who has been disappointed. One nice thing about using Steve is that he really likes to do the little creative things that set your frame apart.
    "Son, The world needs ditchdiggers, too"-Ted Knight, Caddyshack

  13. #13
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    Another vote for ByStickel

    I've put at least 6000 miles on my ByStickel in the last year. It's great. I use it for everything from semi-pro racing to 7 hour rides on the Colorado Trail. When I got it, I had a Moots YBB SL that I was planning to use as my 'race only' bike but I found that I was faster on the BS, so I sold the Moots. I had an Independent Fabrications and found it to be really sketchy at speed (but magical at 8-18 mph). I told Steve I wanted a bike that rode like an IF in the midrange and was more stable when ripping. I'm not sure what he did, but I got what I asked for.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by nzumbi
    There has to be a catch, but I don't know what it is.
    The Blizzard is nice, the front has 853 tubes, but the rear triangle is 4130, and I think the headtube may be also.
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  15. #15
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    inbred

    Check out the On-one Inbred (geared) deal at bikeroom - $520 CND with a 2005 Marzocchi MX Comp 120 w/ETA.

    All the singlespeeders rave about their inbreds - the frame may be a little bit heavy but with the money you save you can put it towards some lighter parts.

    At that price you really can't go wrong.

    http://www.bikeroom.com/

  16. #16
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    I beat around a Redline Mono-cog and it's great! Strong and hell! Also, I've ridden some Surly's and they feel pretty nice (geometry wise). Pretty steep price tag though...but you're paying for the Surly name for the most part.

  17. #17
    Go faster
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    Salsa makes the Ala Carte which uses 853 tubing... Also maybe check out the Jamis Dragon

  18. #18
    veinte nueve pulgadas
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    no offense

    I'd prefer an American made frame. There is something very unappealing to me right now about mass-produced frames. Call me crazy.

    Still not sure what to do at this point, but I appreciate all of the suggestions so far.

    I'm still pretty sure I want custom, but at the same time, why go custom if there is a stock frame out there that fits?

    The main reason I'm thinking custom right now is that I believe that a frame builder will make me a stronger ride than I can get off the shelf. Again, I weigh 200lbs, and I'm not sure how many non-custom frames out there were designed to support a clydesdale.

  19. #19
    shaved yeti
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    853

    Quote Originally Posted by SSteel
    The Blizzard is nice, the front has 853 tubes, but the rear triangle is 4130, and I think the headtube may be also.
    FWIW,

    Reynolds 853 is only approved for main tubes, so you'll see most bikes have 4130esqe seat and chain stays. Reynolds recommends ?735? which is similar to 4130. I don't know anyone that does 853 chain and seat stays (reynolds doesn't draw tubing for them anyway).

  20. #20
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    Good job!

    Quote Originally Posted by nzumbi
    I'd prefer an American made frame. There is something very unappealing to me right now about mass-produced frames. Call me crazy.

    Still not sure what to do at this point, but I appreciate all of the suggestions so far.

    I'm still pretty sure I want custom, but at the same time, why go custom if there is a stock frame out there that fits?

    The main reason I'm thinking custom right now is that I believe that a frame builder will make me a stronger ride than I can get off the shelf. Again, I weigh 200lbs, and I'm not sure how many non-custom frames out there were designed to support a clydesdale.
    - Phil Wood SS.
    I was around your weight & this bike is a solid choice you may want to look into.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by nzumbi
    \. Again, I weigh 200lbs, and I'm not sure how many non-custom frames out there were designed to support a clydesdale.
    200lbs is not that much, especially if you are looking at a large (19inch frame). A salsa ala carte has a gusset at the headtube-downtube junction and a ring reinforced head tube.... I am pretty fond of mine

  22. #22
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    Steelies

    If you decide to go Vicious, investigate the welding process they use for the Ritchey tubing. WCS tubing is ultra light and ultra thin, but also flexy. The two Ritchey's I owned used this tubing, and were very flexy (I'm 6'1" 160#). Vicious may use a different philosophy welding their frames vs. Ritchey while using the same tubing, but if they weld it in a similar fashion, then you'll probably end up folding it like a paper bag (also revolves around your riding style, but even the most finesse Clydsdale would have problems). IF, Sycip, Seven, Soulcraft, Strong are all very good companies if you want to stay American. You might look into Cherry Bicycles (W. Lafayette, IN) as well.

  23. #23
    veinte nueve pulgadas
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    Decision Made

    After not too much deliberation, I decided that custom was the way to go. Then it was just a matter of deciding between the dozens of builders I have heard of, not to mention the ones that I hadn't heard of.

    A few folks made some references to WaltWorks. After checking out his site, talking to him, seeing a few shots of his work, reading some reviews and checking out the price, I was sold. Hopefully design work will start early in 2005.

    What I haven't decided yet is whether or not to incorporate a bushnell BB. I am assuming that my frame is already going to be a tad on the heavy side compared to today's standards, and adding a bushnell would add another 200grams to the frame weight. But having the ability to go SS and disc without much hastle sounds awesome. However this may be my "race" bike for the limited racing that I do (24 hours of Snowshoe/Big Bear and a few smaller races here and there), so maybe I want to keep it light.

    Alternately, maybe after I get my waltworks, I'll send my old (1995) Obed off to Strong and let them put disc tabs on it for me. Then that could be my light weight race machine.

    Any thoughts?

  24. #24
    mtbr member
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    I can only recommend what I bought - IF

    I picked up a custom (17 inch frame w/ 23.5 inch top tube) Independent Fabrication Deluxe three years ago and have been very happy with it. It has a solid paint scheme that was called Platinum at the time. It looks like Ti. I no longer see that color being offered. Nothing flashy, just a basic dark gray that seems to go with whatever color accessory being used.

    I have had no problems with the bike, like the way it rides and handles and was surprised at how fast I got delivery - Two weeks from placement of order to arrival at an LBS in North Jersey.

    Weight of the frame when delivered was 4.25 lbs.

    The paint has held up well over three years of XC riding.

    I weigh 185 lbs. for comparison to your 200 lbs. Although I have run rim brakes since I got the bike, I am having a disc wheelset built up and will be switching to Marta Louise hydro brakes shortly.

    I've seen both Soulcraft and Vicious frames from time to time and they appear to be the same quality as IF. Having never ridden either I can't comment on ride quality and handling.

    Good luck.

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