Ride quality; Custom steel VS Ti- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
    Kam
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    Ride quality; Custom steel VS Ti

    so, i was having a conversation with a guy on the trail today and he thought that almost any ti frame would ride much better than a custom steel frame. i disagreed. my custom zona steel peyto has a very forgiving ride and with a ti seatpost and 2.25 wtb mutano in the rear, it feels like i have a good 3/4" of travel.

    i have been contemplating on getting a dean colonel with a ebb (i have a 03 dean duke and absolutely love it) or a cheaper chinese 29er ti frame. the only thing holding me back is questions of ride quality. would a relatively mid/high end frames like a dean scout, colonel, litespeed pisgah (etc) with straight gauge unbutted ti frame ride as good as a custom steel frame?

    just wanted to see what you guys that have had a chance to throw a leg over both have to say.

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kam
    so, i was having a conversation with a guy on the trail today and he thought that almost any ti frame would ride much better than a custom steel frame. i disagreed. my custom zona steel peyto has a very forgiving ride and with a ti seatpost and 2.25 wtb mutano in the rear, it feels like i have a good 3/4" of travel.

    i have been contemplating on getting a dean colonel with a ebb (i have a 03 dean duke and absolutely love it) or a cheaper chinese 29er ti frame. the only thing holding me back is questions of ride quality. would a relatively mid/high end frames like a dean scout, colonel, litespeed pisgah (etc) with straight gauge unbutted ti frame ride as good as a custom steel frame?

    just wanted to see what you guys that have had a chance to throw a leg over both have to say.
    This is really two questions:

    1. Which will ride better, an off the shelf bike, or a custom (in the real sense, not the Mountain Bike Fiction "hang whatever parts you want on a production frame" sense) bike? Well, really, there's only one question, because this isn't a question at all.

    2. Which rides better, steel or titanium? Both. One can build a fantastic bke out of either material. Steel has advantages in failure mode, repairability, cost, and for some steels, strength. Titanium's advantages are corrosion resistance and sometimes weight. The top builders in each material are within ounces of each other, so the weight issue isn't all that significant.

    Both are contenders for the current ideal material for bicycle frames, which one you pick will be a matter of your priorities. I chose steel, because I wanted pretty lugs, and because although my Rivendell won't be cheap ($2350, frame and fork), full custom Ti bikes are a lot more than that. I think Bill Holland, who would be my Ti builder of choice, gets at least 3 large for his frames. He's known mostly for his road bikes, but I've seen some fantastic Holland mountain bikes. I bet he'd build an EBB single speed frame, if you've got the bread. Spring for the Joe Bell paint job, 'cause, well, he's Joe Bell.

    --Shannon

  3. #3
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    Leaving the custom aspect aside, can anyone comment on straight gauge unbutted ti v. butted high end steel?

  4. #4
    Birdman aka JMJ
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    Straight gauge titanium vs. budget butted steel

    Quote Originally Posted by D_Man
    Leaving the custom aspect aside, can anyone comment on straight gauge unbutted ti v. butted high end steel?
    I have an early 90's Litespeed titanium frame (SS with rigid steel fork) and an off-the-shelf budget Soma Groove Reynolds 631 steel hardtail (geared).

    The ride quality of my steel bike is I think better than the straight gauge titanium bike. I may be biased because the hardtail has a very smooth Marzocchi Xfly 80 fork, but the compliance of the frame can be felt when riding. The ride of the Litespeed is still pretty nice, but not as smooth as the Soma. The Soma Groove frame is certainly no custom steel frame, but it is well made and reasonably light. I gotta give my kudos to Soma for making such a nice budget frame (and they make SS frames now too).

    FWIW: Both bikes have Syncros aluminum seatposts with firm saddles and I run 2.0" tires at about 38- 40psi.

    Just my 2 cents - JMJ

  5. #5
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    my 2 cents

    Build 2 bikes, one steel, one TI, both the same Geo, big tires, squishy forks, same parts, paint em both black and you could not tell the difference. With so many parts on a bike contributing to the feel of the ride, I think the frame makes up such a small amount of the feel.

    Thats just what I think! Dont go gettin upset!

  6. #6

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    The ride quality is in the ass of the beholder. Both ride awesome - if the quality of materials and workmanship is good. It's possible to make poor riding frames with both materials.

  7. #7
    Jed Peters
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    Quote Originally Posted by scoutdog
    Build 2 bikes, one steel, one TI, both the same Geo, big tires, squishy forks, same parts, paint em both black and you could not tell the difference. With so many parts on a bike contributing to the feel of the ride, I think the frame makes up such a small amount of the feel.

    Thats just what I think! Dont go gettin upset!
    This is true. Steel and ti will ride the same in the hands of the same builder, but ti will be lighter.

  8. #8
    "Mr. Britannica"
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    agree somewhat

    Frame "feel" differences are much less discernable on a mtn bike (compared to a road bike).

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    Quote Originally Posted by roadiegonebad
    Frame "feel" differences are much less discernable on a mtn bike (compared to a road bike).
    Disagree. I have an aluminum s/s and a crmo s/s. The ride quality of the steel s/s puts the aluminum one to shame and the aluminum one is made with Easton Ultralight where as the crmo is basic non-branded double butted.

    But, there is absolute truth to how noticeable the ride of a road frame is with various materials.

  10. #10
    hispanic mechanic
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    i'm glad this thread came up...

    i'm kinda trying to decide between a steel or sttraight-gauge ti seven. either one will be fully custom.
    the price difference is considerable (around 25%), but at a certain point, i think it might not be a deal breaker. the weight difference (according to seven) is about a pound.
    on the side of steel, there's a known quantity for me on ride quality, durability, and aesthetics.
    on the ti side, you've got weight and corrosion resistance, which, if steel is treated properly, not a huge advantage.
    maybe it'll come down to the fact that i like paint, and painting ti is much more expensive. i'm torn. is saving a pound really that big of a deal? is it worth the extra money?
    AAARRRRRGH!!!!

    the los
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  11. #11
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    Apples, Oranges and Sage Advice....

    Quote Originally Posted by ssmike
    Disagree. I have an aluminum s/s and a crmo s/s. The ride quality of the steel s/s puts the aluminum one to shame and the aluminum one is made with Easton Ultralight where as the crmo is basic non-branded double butted.

    But, there is absolute truth to how noticeable the ride of a road frame is with various materials.
    I forgot who said this, but it holds true with <b>any</b> frame material, including aluminum....

    "The ride quality is in the ass of the beholder. Both ride awesome - if the quality of materials and workmanship is good. It's possible to make poor riding frames with both materials."


    Ken

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    Quote Originally Posted by sslos
    i'm kinda trying to decide between a steel or sttraight-gauge ti seven. either one will be fully custom.
    the price difference is considerable (around 25%), but at a certain point, i think it might not be a deal breaker. the weight difference (according to seven) is about a pound.
    on the side of steel, there's a known quantity for me on ride quality, durability, and aesthetics.
    on the ti side, you've got weight and corrosion resistance, which, if steel is treated properly, not a huge advantage.
    maybe it'll come down to the fact that i like paint, and painting ti is much more expensive. i'm torn. is saving a pound really that big of a deal? is it worth the extra money?
    AAARRRRRGH!!!!

    the los
    What does your heart tell you? Have you always lusted after a ti frame or is steel real? Follow your heart and the ride will come. Who are you thinking about for the builder of the steel frame? What tubing? There are some tubesets out there that will rival a plain gauge ti frame in weight. Dedacciai makes some really nice steel tubing. I have a road frame made with EOM 16.5 http://www.dedacciai.com/prodotti/eom.htm that rides fantastic and is really light - lighter than Reynolds 853.

  13. #13
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    strength

    Quote Originally Posted by sslos
    i'm kinda trying to decide between a steel or sttraight-gauge ti seven. either one will be fully custom.
    the price difference is considerable (around 25%), but at a certain point, i think it might not be a deal breaker. the weight difference (according to seven) is about a pound.
    on the side of steel, there's a known quantity for me on ride quality, durability, and aesthetics.
    on the ti side, you've got weight and corrosion resistance, which, if steel is treated properly, not a huge advantage.
    maybe it'll come down to the fact that i like paint, and painting ti is much more expensive. i'm torn. is saving a pound really that big of a deal? is it worth the extra money?
    AAARRRRRGH!!!!

    the los
    I have a straight guage ti frame. One thing that came up for me is that lightweight butted steel can dent. Dont know how easily, but a break lever in a wipeout could ding the toptube. Straight guage ti is pretty strong stuff, in terms of ding and dent resistance. The importance of this depends on your riding (and crashing) style. You like paint, I do not. It chips sometimes while mountain biking...
    I suggest you ask the folks at Seven. My guess would be the butted steel can be tuned better during the construction of the frame. More choices for Seven to make to make things just right for you. And I do not think the pound will matter as much as the ride tuning from playing with the selection of the tubing. Just make sure they dont make it out of something so thin you will dent it.
    What I would do, if you care, is get the steel frame and take the $$ savings and have it built with S&S couplings for travel. That's also way cheaper to do with steel than Ti. I would love to retrofit my ti frame, but it's $650 vs the $350 for steel. The couplers themselves are machined ti!
    I am sort of jealous.
    Only boring people get bored.

  14. #14
    blame me for missed rides
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken in KC
    I forgot who said this, but it holds true with <b>any</b> frame material, including aluminum....

    "The ride quality is in the ass of the beholder. Both ride awesome - if the quality of materials and workmanship is good. It's possible to make poor riding frames with both materials."


    Ken
    that does not mean one material cannot make better riding bikes more than another material, <i>in general</i>, given a fixed set of frame builders. aluminum has inherent problem with its poor fatigue performance. Ti and steel are similar in that they both have endurance limits. alu doesn't.

  15. #15
    34N 118W
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    lotsa nice steel out there

    IMO, a Seven is a buttload of cash for a frame. I used to think that was The Ultimate, that I would have arrived the day I got one. But for so much less money you can get rad, custom, painted steel frames from:

    IF
    Landshark
    Vanilla
    and the list goes on...

    you can also get custom ti from Dean and Spicer for much less, too. All I know is that my custom steel Curtlo cost me $750 and its a great, solid ride that may or may not be beat if I added a "1" in front of that. But if you really really want a custom Seven, then go for it. Maybe check in with 1x1 Craig first

    In related news, I could really get into a Seven Duo!

    good luck,
    Jeff


    Quote Originally Posted by sslos
    i'm kinda trying to decide between a steel or sttraight-gauge ti seven. either one will be fully custom.
    the price difference is considerable (around 25%), but at a certain point, i think it might not be a deal breaker. the weight difference (according to seven) is about a pound.
    on the side of steel, there's a known quantity for me on ride quality, durability, and aesthetics.
    on the ti side, you've got weight and corrosion resistance, which, if steel is treated properly, not a huge advantage.
    maybe it'll come down to the fact that i like paint, and painting ti is much more expensive. i'm torn. is saving a pound really that big of a deal? is it worth the extra money?
    AAARRRRRGH!!!!

    the los

  16. #16
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    I agree...

    Quote Originally Posted by weather
    that does not mean one material cannot make better riding bikes more than another material, <i>in general</i>, given a fixed set of frame builders. aluminum has inherent problem with its poor fatigue performance. Ti and steel are similar in that they both have endurance limits. alu doesn't.
    In general. The other side of the apple is that steel and Ti can me made more brittle and less compliant than Al. If Pacific is offering you a steel frame, would you be better off with an AL Specialized?

    The answer to the original question is that it depends on the frame builder.


    Ken

  17. #17
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    My Personal Experience.....

    I have had 4 previous mtbs to my current quiver. 3 steel and 1 alu. My #4 bike was a Bontrager that was sadly lifted from my locked garage . So for a replacement, I thought here is my chance to get a custom steel or "off the shelf" Ti. I settled on the Dean Scout in October 2002, upgraded to disc in the rear and the finish, so I was out $1k on the frame. Got it built and was thinking "man this just does not feel like 'my bike'". Of course I was comparing it to my Bontrager which I always thought was the end all be all, but it was a "off the shelf" steel bike. So for me I will always wonder, should I have gotten the custom steel? Who knows. I am very much liking th Dean now after having several rides in on it. Now, last October I picked up an On-One from a friend. Both 1st and 2nd rides on this bike were very telepathic. It was reading my mind and I was reading its. It was scary, like I had owned the bike for 10 years. Even though it is built with DN6 (I think similar to 4130 cro-mo) it is not [insert chi chi steel tubing], it feels very compliant, just weighs a little more and not made by Joe Custom. What I am getting at is, a reputable frame builder would be able to instill that extra bit of love into hand built Ti/Steel and the rides could be almost identical.
    Mike
    Tuff Schist

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by tube_ee
    This is really two questions:

    1. Which will ride better, an off the shelf bike, or a custom (in the real sense, not the Mountain Bike Fiction "hang whatever parts you want on a production frame" sense) bike? Well, really, there's only one question, because this isn't a question at all.

    2. Which rides better, steel or titanium? Both. One can build a fantastic bke out of either material. Steel has advantages in failure mode, repairability, cost, and for some steels, strength. Titanium's advantages are corrosion resistance and sometimes weight. The top builders in each material are within ounces of each other, so the weight issue isn't all that significant.

    Both are contenders for the current ideal material for bicycle frames, which one you pick will be a matter of your priorities. I chose steel, because I wanted pretty lugs, and because although my Rivendell won't be cheap ($2350, frame and fork), full custom Ti bikes are a lot more than that. I think Bill Holland, who would be my Ti builder of choice, gets at least 3 large for his frames. He's known mostly for his road bikes, but I've seen some fantastic Holland mountain bikes. I bet he'd build an EBB single speed frame, if you've got the bread. Spring for the Joe Bell paint job, 'cause, well, he's Joe Bell.

    --Shannon
    Good luck getting Holland to build you a Mountain bike, he stays constantly swamped with building road bikes. Great guy, he will be my first choice in frame builders for my custom Ti road bike I will someday be able to afford...

    --Billy


    A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kam
    so, i was having a conversation with a guy on the trail today and he thought that almost any ti frame would ride much better than a custom steel frame. i disagreed. my custom zona steel peyto has a very forgiving ride and with a ti seatpost and 2.25 wtb mutano in the rear, it feels like i have a good 3/4" of travel.

    i have been contemplating on getting a dean colonel with a ebb (i have a 03 dean duke and absolutely love it) or a cheaper chinese 29er ti frame. the only thing holding me back is questions of ride quality. would a relatively mid/high end frames like a dean scout, colonel, litespeed pisgah (etc) with straight gauge unbutted ti frame ride as good as a custom steel frame?

    just wanted to see what you guys that have had a chance to throw a leg over both have to say.
    The best riding hartail frame I have ever ridden was an Ibis Ti. Its leading competitor is a steel Indy Fab. Thirdly, somehow, I ended up with a Dean Ti, which is actually stiff for a Ti frame, but still has a great ride to stiffness ratio. I chose the Dean because I just had to have Ti and the price was right.

    --Billy


    A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.
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  20. #20
    ali'i hua
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    ok, meatfoot chagrinned me into replying. sorry for the length ahead of time.

    first off- Zonic- you think that a ti and a steel bike made by the same frame welder are going to be identical, but iwth ti being lighter? what about columbus Zona steel? (thats what Jericho uses, right?) isnt zona (again, forgive me on the steel name) lighter as a complete frame than most ti?

    secondly, the list of bikes ive ridden is long. from early cannondale aluminum, to klein aluminum, to brisgestone steel, bontrager steel, spot, and then my current bikes, dean (ti soft tail), titus (alu SS), ti roadie, and a steel custom 29er.

    as for a ride, I might think that with the research that i went into for the 29er, with all the framebuilders (included only steel custom or off the shelf ti) that im happy with the decision that i went with for the steel custom 29er.

    however, i might not be the best person to chime in (right, Meat Foot????) as the only custom steel that ive ridden for a long period of time is a 29er. to compare a 26er to a 29er is silly-

    heck, i dont even feel that i can compare my titus to my dean. why? the titus rides like a ti hardtail while the dean is a ti soft tail.

    the gist:
    -get a bike that suits your needs
    (do LOTS of research, ride LOTS of friend's bikes, dont be afraid to make spreadsheets on framebuilders etc- ive done it for the dean (search was for a ti soft tail) and the sofa king 29er- was looking for a custom 29er with ebb and disc)

    -ride what you like

    -build how you ride (email the welders if you go steel custom- they are the best to chat with- I had emailed the welder of my sofa king for 3 weeks before anything was written down)

    -get out and ride (need to take myself up on this last one)

  21. #21
    Bike Junky
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    Quote Originally Posted by scoutdog
    Build 2 bikes, one steel, one TI, both the same Geo, big tires, squishy forks, same parts, paint em both black and you could not tell the difference. With so many parts on a bike contributing to the feel of the ride, I think the frame makes up such a small amount of the feel.

    Thats just what I think! Dont go gettin upset!
    I agree almost completely. I have a custom made Co Motion steel frame and a PISSOFF. The geometries are extremely close. I know that if I had them both set up exactly the same with the same parts, the frame materials would play but a very small role in the difference between the two bikes.

    I went with the TI in the PISSOFF simply from a maintenance and aesthetic reason, well... Okay, there are other reasons for getting a PISSOFF

  22. #22
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    Custom custom custom...

    Well, I don't think you can ignore the benefit of going with a fully custom, fitted steel bike over a off the shelf titanium. For the same price as titanium (or less), you can get a truly custom, artfully crafted steel frame that fits you right.

    My personal experience was riding a custom Sycip and a Litespeed Obed at one of the shops I used to work for. The Sycip was a custom build for a guy who was very close to my proportions, and I just had to ask him if I could take his new ride for a rip (he was very cool with it, of course AFTER he rode it first!). The Obed was also well sized for me, but the feel just wasn't there. The fit of the Sycip was impecable (I actually stole a copy of his fit chart for future reference!), and the ride quality was unbelievable. The Obed was nice, way better then my ride at the time, but the Sycip's ride sold me. The Sycip was just buttery smooth, but not the least bit whippy. The Obed was a bit stiffer, but the bottom bracket deflected more then I'd like. That's the benefit of custom... ideal ride quality for your riding style and body size.

    The benefit of having a skilled builder set you up on a custom frame specifically tailored to your body type is worth the investment. Of course, I'm still riding an off the shelf frame, but some day dammit I'll have my custom Sycip! I don't think there's anybody offering a fully custom Ti, butted frame for anywhere near the price you can pick up a steel custom for. Admittedly, I may be biased given my freakish proporsions (6"1, 250lb+', 30" inseem, with an ape -like long torso/arms), but the custom-sized ride was just dreamy. I feel priveledged to have ridden a bike, even if only for one day, that fit me that well... and that says something.

    Oh, and by the way, in case you haven't noticed I'm a huge Sycip fan. We build up a custom steel road bike (which I road WITHOUT asking permission... ooops) and it just furthered my lust for all things Sycip. Check them out before you purchase...

    Either way, good luck,
    Sean

  23. #23
    ali'i hua
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    Quote Originally Posted by shizzle

    Oh, and by the way, in case you haven't noticed I'm a huge Sycip fan. We build up a custom steel road bike (which I road WITHOUT asking permission... ooops) and it just furthered my lust for all things Sycip. Check them out before you purchase...

    Either way, good luck,
    Sean
    you're not the only one on here- Ive never heard anything bad about the brothers sycip.

  24. #24
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    Ride quality


  25. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by Billy
    Good luck getting Holland to build you a Mountain bike, he stays constantly swamped with building road bikes. Great guy, he will be my first choice in frame builders for my custom Ti road bike I will someday be able to afford...
    I didn't say it would be fast, or cheap, just that I bet Bill would build it. I've seen Ti Holland MTBs, so I know he's done it before.

    --Shannon

  26. #26

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    Ride quality = stiffness right?

    Just my thoughts but:

    Had an Airborne Lucky strike which is straight gauge Ti IIRC. Stays were stiffer than any other bike I've had. The front triangle was a somewhat less so. It was quick but didn't really feel like it until near the end of a long ride for some inexplicable reason. I constantl felt that I was being battered by it in fact.

    My wife on the other hand has a SC Juliana Cushtail which is seriously butted in the stays and ends up being much more forgiving than the LS was whilst steering really accurately. Similar sized bike with same 100mm travel forks and identical wheels etc. It's a shame they dont make a version for blokes as it really, really is great.

    Now I have a custom filet brased 853 frame which is heavier than either of those frame wise (LS 3.25Lbs, SC 2.9Lbs, 853 Mather 4.1Lbs). But it has the geometry I requested and it is totally unique. It is early days but my first impression is that it is the only bike that has ever fitted me perfectly. The ride quality and feel of it is also spot on. Again it has similar components and I wouldn't hesitate to go the custom route again.

    If you can find an off the shelf bike Ti or otherwise that fits really well then go for it. If not Steel is a very good option and IMO better than straight gauge Ti unless you are worried about paint chips and corrosion.

  27. #27
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    It's not about the material its about ...

    I have a sweet Moot Uno that I never ride any more. I build a steel frame with the geometry exactly the way I wanted it for SS. It is a pount heavier or so but it's better in the corners, doing drops, and climbing. Get a bike that fits your riding style first. Worry about the material as a secondary.

  28. #28

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    here's an interesting snippet from Don Ferris...

    (FYI - Don Ferris is the man behind Anvil Bikeworks, a top-quality frame builder AND framebuilding fixture designer/builder)... this is straight from Don's essay called "Free Advice for the New Framebuilder...

    "Today's customers may not realize that steel is king. They may be more easily swayed by the hype and pictures of Lance Armstrong storming along on that damn Trek, but you'll never get a chance to educate them otherwise if they don't contact you for a bike. You don't have to like any new material or any new technology, but it makes sense from a business and survival standpoint to understand them and learn how to work with them, to learn their advantages and disadvantages. You can still offer the best lithiumcubiczirconiumcarbonfiberkevlarcoatedvector analyzed frame made today and when that customer calls you up to inquire about something you hate worse than Jesse Helms, you can then tell them, "sure, it's cool, but it costs more and in my opinion it doesn't really work as good as......."

    "I get asked a lot to build Ti bikes. Everyone who asks for a custom ti frame gets the same question posed to them, "Sure, be happy to build you one, but you know, for the price of a Ti frame, I can build you a custom steel frame that will perform as good or better, weigh no more, and you get a nice paint job and have money left over for parts. It's up to you." 95% opt for the steel bike, but if I didn't offer Ti and have the ability to produce with it, the customer may never have called me."

    Here's the link for the whole essay as well as the rest of Anvil's web page content.

  29. #29
    try driving your car less
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    wow

    Quote Originally Posted by UnoPete
    I have a sweet Moot Uno that I never ride any more. I build a steel frame with the geometry exactly the way I wanted it for SS. It is a pount heavier or so but it's better in the corners, doing drops, and climbing. Get a bike that fits your riding style first. Worry about the material as a secondary.
    wow. that's something. your moots uno is considered pretty sweet, yet you prefer your own build. i think that's really cool.
    Only boring people get bored.

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    all dissimilarities asside....

    steel bikes will ride differently, depending on WHAT steel is used. if you build two bikes equal in geometry and parts, it would depend on the steel used. zona is very thin, and has to be shaped, normaly, to eliminate whip. 853 is rather stiff, and can be more like aluminum in feel. some steels retain more spring, such as 530 steel. if you like pretty metal working, steel can be cool. if industrial is ok, ti is nice. straight gauge ti can work best for tall, and/or heavier guys, over its butted counterpart....it is also cheaper. most steel rides nice and smooth, with a hint of reverberation in the pedal stoke. ti whispers, like a ghost in the trees. if the ti fits you, go for it. i really dig fancy steel work, but given my choice, money asside, ti wins for feel. ive owned in the neighborhood of thirty mtb frames over the last fifteen years, and the only steel i'd take over a good ti frame, is tange prestige. that stuff was bliss.

  31. #31
    Out spokin'
    Reputation: Sparticus's Avatar
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    Holy smoke!

    Quote Originally Posted by shizzle
    Admittedly, I may be biased given my freakish proporsions (6"1, 250lb+', 30" inseem, with an ape -like long torso/arms), but the custom-sized ride was just dreamy. Sean
    Your proportions are truly amazing. I'm only two inches taller than you but my legs are 6 INCHES longer than yours! Whoa! Truly, if anyone needs a custom built frame, it is you.

    Like a 17" frame with a 26" TT... or something like that...

    --Sparty
    disciplesofdirt.org

    We don't quit riding because we get old.
    We get old because we quit riding.

  32. #32
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    Yeah, a good builder can to a certain degree emulate whatever 'ride quality' you like, regardless of material. I say 'to a certain degree' because there are limiting factors.

    If you really want to modify 'ride quality', your best bet is to work with a custom builder who can also recommend components that also attribute to the overall ride feel of the whole bike - not just the frame. The frame is only a small part of the equation.

    As to whether to choose steel or ti, the limits are basically budgetary. US$1200 will get you a nice Foco tubed custom singlespeed steel hardtail, whereas for the same bike in Ti you're looking at US$1575. ( My prices ) Obviously it will be more if you go with an EBB or decide to paint the ti.

    Generally speaking, I think the ti will be a little 'softer' in the ride, plus it has the advantages of its corrosion resistance and lighter weight. Longevity might just be on the side of the ti, too. There's not much in it - titanium just has a higher chi-chi factor, which largely attributes to it's higher desirability and price.

  33. #33

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    There's more to it than builder and steel

    Some have said above that ride quality can differ between builders and different steels. In addition, even bikes by the same builder using the same steel can have vastly different ride properties. For example, my '94 Fat Chance Yo Eddy and my brother's '94 Fat Chance Wicked were built by the same guys, using the same True Temper steel, but the Wicked rides like a Cadillac and Eddy's more of a Porsche. Both are very smooth on washboard roads, but the Wicked, with it's skinny tubes and more relaxed geometry, is way more compliant than the Yo Eddy with it's quad-butted oversized tubes and short chainstays. The ride of the Yo Eddy is to my mind identical to my Voodoo Bizango, which has virtually identical measurements and is made with Tange Ultimate Superlight tubing.

    To weigh in on the steel vs. ti question, I also ride a Litespeed Obed hardtail (but a butted model, not straight gauge). It's all of 3 ounces lighter than the Voodoo (3.4 pounds vs. 3.6). The Litespeed's geometry is slightly different from the Voodoo or Fat, with a shorter top tube, and while the ride is similar, I could tell I was on the Litespeed if you put me on it blindfolded. I don't think I could tell the Voodoo from the Fat, however. To me, the steel bikes both ride "better" in choppy, rough conditions, and climb better with their longer top tubes. The Litespeed is a little quicker to accelerate and feels stiffer in the rear end, but not rough. They're all great and I couldn't complain about any of them.

    Titanium (especially if it says Seven on it) will retain its value better in most cases, if that's a concern; you can also ride it and ignore it, as it ain't gonna rust. And I can vouch for its toughness, having crashed many times and marveling that the top tube didn't get a big dent when the bars slammed into it. And you can scotchbrite it if it gets a scratch, and it'll look as good as new.

    You can't go wrong either way. Seven makes steel and ti, maybe they can help you decide.

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