How to buy an old steel frame?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    How to buy an old steel frame?

    I'm still in the process of building up a single speed hardtail, and was wondering what to look for (i.e. brands, models, etc.) in an old frame. I've got an aluminum one mostly built up, but it looks way too similar to my old cheapo hardtail to possibly be comfortable. I'm a lightweight rider (140) and don't race, so stiffness is really not an issue. Comfort is (eventually, this will be a full-rigid rig). Weight is my second concern (no frame over 5 pounds, preferrably closer to 4). Ugliness is a plus (this bike will be ridden - and left locked outside the grocery store at times - in the Bronx).

    Everybody says steel is real, but I know that's all relative. When I switched from a Schwinn steel road bike to a Cannondale CAAD4 aluminum frame (all components swapped from one to the other) the improvement was phenomenal. No more harsh, jarring bumps. Obviously not all steel is created equal! Then again, aluminum doesn't have to be harsh either.

    So, as a turbo eBayer on a super tight budget, I need some recommendations. (When I say "super tight," consider that the bulk of my current setup cost me $51 on ebay for frame, RS fork, wheels, tires, stem, seatpost, and saddle. That was just within budget so further expense for a better frame will likely have to be mostly offset by selling the current aluminum one). Any and all help appreciated. Smart aleck comments welcome as well (as long as they're accompanied by real advice!) Recommendations regarding frame geometry as it affects handling are welcome as well.

  2. #2
    beer *****es n' bikes
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    1st rule there are no good bike deals to be had on eBay. EVERYONE overbids on old crap on eBay.

    2nd you want an old steel frame under 5lbs? Preferably under 4lbs? Sorry but probably not going to happen unless you want to lay out some cash. Old steel frames aren't light. My '91 Miele weighs a shade under 6lbs I believe. People really like their Trek 800/900 steelies and will pay good money for those frames.

    Your best bet is to ask at your LBS if they have any old frames, look at garage sales, classified ads, local websites and pawn shops. Thats where the deals are.

    Bridgestones are nice but $$$, same for Trek's 800/900 series. Panasonic and Miele both made pretty similar steel frames in the early 90's that were decent. The Miele was available in three grades of tubing and is pretty rare and heavy.

    Old steel frames are essentially roadbike frames with cantilever bosses and 26" rims. If you look at the geometry of any early 90's frame the top tube usually slopes UP towards the seatpost, curved front fork, little headtube angle, short tall rear stays... very roadie. If you haven't ridden a bike like this much it takes some getting used to. Around 95 is when you see a definate shift in geometry to more modern standards.
    bike dude, velocity employee (this is my personal account)

  3. #3
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    Ouch! You mean I should REALLY be kicking myself for missing this auction?

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...category=22679

    Went for $30 including brand new Thomson seatpost and RaceFace cranks! I've already been beating myself up over that...

  4. #4
    Tear it all out! SuperModerator
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    If you are buying an old steel frame, a lot of them have U-brake mounts on them. U brakes work quite well actually.

    Most don't have mounts for V-brake cables so cable routing takes a bit of work.

    Also check chain stay length, some frames are very long.

    Old steel bikes are fun, I have one built up as a commuter and one as a rigid beginner trials bike. The trials bike has a U-brake mount so I have modified a set of Magura hydraulic rim brakes to work.

    I want to replace the frame on my commuter as the frame has no standover (Ouch!) for trail riding. Length is good, but the horizontal top tube...

    Both are GTs, one is an Avalanche and the other is a Karakoram.

  5. #5
    DSR
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    Um, yes there are deals to be had...

    If you're patient, you can definitely pick up some good deals on ebay and mtbr classifieds. Ask questions first though. And try to get some comfort that the thing is not hot.

    Couple of tips on buying used steel...
    - rust is your biggest concern
    - get pics, especially of the bb area and stays where chips and dings can start building up rust
    - maybe more important is the insides - bb, seat tube, head tube should be rust free
    - ideally the seller proactively mentions that it's been frame saved
    - if not, ask if it's been treated and with what (if you just ask if they used Weigle (sp?) Frame Saver they're likely to be like "huh, yes, of course"
    - definitely consider where it's from - Arizona good sign, Oregon more reason for concern
    - then obviously ask if it's got any dents or bends or anything beyond the usual cosmetic stuff from use
    - keep in mind that steel is pretty strong, so you may pick up something with a TT dent from a bar swipe because it knocks a fair bit off the price but doesn't really compromise the integrity of the frame in the middle of the TT
    - and obviously the type of steel, although if you're looking to go cheap you can't get too fancy

    Those are some things to consider. Have fun. S

  6. #6
    Shortcutting Hikabiker
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    I've got an old GT Timberline steel hardtail and I love it, too bad all of the parts are dead, but the frame is still alive and kicking. You can have it for a said price......

    Acually, nm, I like it too much

  7. #7
    Tear it all out! SuperModerator
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    I should have mentioned, before the Karakoram I had a Concorde Half-Trak but cracked a solder joint on the brake bridge. I have the frame here at work and hope to rebraze it so that I have a spare frame for the rigid trials bike.

  8. #8

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    GT Timberline...

    Quote Originally Posted by Acme54321
    I've got an old GT Timberline steel hardtail and I love it, too bad all of the parts are dead, but the frame is still alive and kicking. You can have it for a said price......Acually, nm, I like it too much
    Hello Acme...I am curious as to your Timberline setup. What kind of fork do you have on it, the orginal rigid fork? I am trying to buy it back from the co-worker I sold it to...hopefully he agrees as I regret selling it! I am considering making it into a single speed. Thanks, Steve

  9. #9

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    GT Timberline...

    I sold it 3 years ago, but absence make the heart grow founder....

  10. #10
    beer *****es n' bikes
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matno
    Ouch! You mean I should REALLY be kicking myself for missing this auction?

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...category=22679

    Went for $30 including brand new Thomson seatpost and RaceFace cranks! I've already been beating myself up over that...

    Whats shipping on it?
    bike dude, velocity employee (this is my personal account)

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by seely
    Whats shipping on it?
    Another $30. Still a good deal with those extras. Coulda sold them and come out ahead...

  12. #12
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    So...
    speaking of rust. There is a frame which will remain nameless that I want to buy, but I am afraid that rust on it is detrimental. Ideally I would buy this frame for a good deal, and get someone to take a look at it, sand it down, treat it, and re-powdercoat it. Are there any potential problems I should be aware of? And, what might that work cost?

    Thanks in advance.

  13. #13
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    i had my trusty slingshot steel mtb upgraded with disc tab and new 1" threadless disc for.
    all work by www.spicercycles.com


  14. #14
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    btw, the total cost was 107.00 and i still need paint.

    dirt diggler

  15. #15
    Shortcutting Hikabiker
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    Nope, the 99 came with a Rock Shox Jett (SUCK) fork. It still has this fork on it, the most flext p.o.s. RockShox ever produced.

  16. #16
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    I had a small rust problem with an old bridgestone mb-3 and I had Gene Spicer fix it up. There were a few small dents that he filled and the cable top cable guides had to be replaced. This is a during pic:
    Attached Images Attached Images

  17. #17
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    New Dropouts:
    Attached Images Attached Images

  18. #18
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    Gene Spicer does great work with older steel frames. He is cheap and fast.

    Frame with powdercoat:
    Attached Images Attached Images

  19. #19
    Tear it all out! SuperModerator
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    Magura hydraulic rim brakes mounted on U-brake post pics here:

    https://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.p...75816#poststop

    In case anyone else wants to keep a U-brake frame going.

    Pic of the bike.


  20. #20
    Birdman aka JMJ
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    What about a new steel frame?

    Quote Originally Posted by Matno
    I'm still in the process of building up a single speed hardtail, and was wondering what to look for (i.e. brands, models, etc.) in an old frame. I've got an aluminum one mostly built up, but it looks way too similar to my old cheapo hardtail to possibly be comfortable. I'm a lightweight rider (140) and don't race, so stiffness is really not an issue. Comfort is (eventually, this will be a full-rigid rig). Weight is my second concern (no frame over 5 pounds, preferrably closer to 4). Ugliness is a plus (this bike will be ridden - and left locked outside the grocery store at times - in the Bronx).

    Everybody says steel is real, but I know that's all relative. When I switched from a Schwinn steel road bike to a Cannondale CAAD4 aluminum frame (all components swapped from one to the other) the improvement was phenomenal. No more harsh, jarring bumps. Obviously not all steel is created equal! Then again, aluminum doesn't have to be harsh either.

    So, as a turbo eBayer on a super tight budget, I need some recommendations. (When I say "super tight," consider that the bulk of my current setup cost me $51 on ebay for frame, RS fork, wheels, tires, stem, seatpost, and saddle. That was just within budget so further expense for a better frame will likely have to be mostly offset by selling the current aluminum one). Any and all help appreciated. Smart aleck comments welcome as well (as long as they're accompanied by real advice!) Recommendations regarding frame geometry as it affects handling are welcome as well.
    Phobia steel frames at Universal Cycles for $90.

    JMJ

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