Do steel/cro-moly frames make the best SS bikes?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Do steel/cro-moly frames make the best SS bikes?

    I'm getting the impression that steel bikes are preferred over aluminum for SS rigids. Is it maily because steel is more absorbant of vibrations?

    As mentioned in a few threads, I got a free cro-moly Raleigh M50 ('96 vintage). I guess this is a good thing for my SS conversion, but man is it heavy for a size 16.5 bike. I don't even think my '95 GT Timberline steel is that heavy.

  2. #2
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    Steel does ride better than aluminum. Steel bikes don't have to be super heavy, but there is a small weight penalty. Build up the old steel bike and the wheels off it.
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  3. #3
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    I think that the best SS is really a personal preference. However, I will agree that it rides smoother than Alu (I have alu) and also as mentioned that there is a wt penalty. But keep in mind that is not always the case. My cheap alu frame that I ride (motobecane) weighs in at 4.8 lbs I beleive. A Vassago Jaberwacky weighs 4.8 at about the same size. The new black label Vassago on the other hand weighs in at 4.3. This is simply due to the type of steel that is used. However, the better/lighter the steel, the more you are going to pay for it, just like with anything else.

    What is most important is that the bike fits you and the geometry of the frame works for you. Sure a light bike is nice but you can take a somewhat heavy frame (5 lbs) and get the weight down to about 20 lbs for the complete bike. I have done this personally and it can be done without spending $9 million!

    If you have the frame already, then by all means build that sucker up. Use whatever parts you got. When they break, buy something nicer/lighter.

  4. #4
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    I have a nice aluminum frame. It's a gary fisher rig.
    Aluminum will not be my choice for the frame material for my next hardtail(s).

    It creaks.
    I broke one frame already.
    Stiff, brittle, could have more life.

    I would love to have a SIR9 w/ Carbon Fork. Rigid w/ as big of honkin tires as will fit

  5. #5
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    cro-moly frames make great frames; they can be a bit on the heavy side if they are made from cheap tubing. However high-end steel will ride great. But honestly, after riding my titanium bike (I have had 3 cromo bikes) it makes my other bikes harsh.
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  6. #6
    Yeet so hard
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    Quote Originally Posted by Node View Post
    Rigid w/ as big of honkin tires as will fit
    lol
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  7. #7
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    I found out why my bike is so heavy! This morning I decided I'll remove the handlebar on the Raleigh M50--have everything removed except crankset/BB now, but that will have to wait until my new crankset comes in (TBA!) and I take it to a bike shop since this is advance territory for me. Boy, first thing I noticed was the weight of the bar. I thought it was aluminum. It had an AL color. It's steel and weighs a ton, or so it seems. I put a magnet to it just to confirm. Now I feel justified in buying a new handlebar. I was a bit surprised that the 1" stem is also steel. Guess there's nothing I can do about that, but I'm fine with that. I wished I had weighed the bike before I started taking parts off so that I can see how much weight I shed off by going SS. I'm not really concerned about weight, but the more lbs I can shed the better.

    Btw, the frame has oversize cromo tubing. Anything special about that?

  8. #8
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    oversized tubing is literally oversized, overkill and overweight. i had a marin eldridge grade before with OS cromo tubing, really harsh to ride, stiff and unforgiving.
    everything sucks but my vacuum cleaner.

  9. #9
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    Do steel/cro-moly frames make the best bikes?

    fixed it for ya, and yes

  10. #10
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    Steel is just like any other material. The lower you go in quality and design the worse the bike will feel. It can be noodly or super stiff. If can be harsh or just dead. All materials can be the same.

    A well made well designed aluminum bike will ride and feel better than a poorly made poorly designed steel bike. Ditto Ti and ditto carbon.

    But the best bike for singlespeed is the one you already have, but you already know that it seems. Good luck, the only thing that scares me is the 1" headset. You can get an adapter from performance and other bike stores that will allow you to run a more conventional (threadless) stem with your threaded fork. That way you can get a lighter stem and have much more choice regarding length and rise.
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  11. #11
    The need for singlespeed
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    With everyone running low psi and carbon seatposts, I'm skeptical of every claim regarding frame compliance.

    In my search for a new (to me) frame, material is immaterial.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by zaskaranddriver View Post
    With everyone running low psi and carbon seatposts, I'm skeptical of every claim regarding frame compliance.

    In my search for a new (to me) frame, material is immaterial.
    it's a preference thing... carbon seatposts scare me I can tell you though; i rode the same trail on my GT Lightning (Ti) and my surly 1x1 (4130 cromo); and I felt less vibration through GT. Could it be subjective may be, but it's the experience that I had.
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  13. #13
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    Steel is just like any other material. The lower you go in quality and design the worse the bike will feel. It can be noodly or super stiff. If can be harsh or just dead. All materials can be the same.

    A well made well designed aluminum bike will ride and feel better than a poorly made poorly designed steel bike. Ditto Ti and ditto carbon.

    But the best bike for singlespeed is the one you already have, but you already know that it seems. Good luck, the only thing that scares me is the 1" headset. You can get an adapter from performance and other bike stores that will allow you to run a more conventional (threadless) stem with your threaded fork. That way you can get a lighter stem and have much more choice regarding length and rise.
    I didn't know such a thing existed! Now I have some options! Performance has Forte brand for $15. Not bad. Is quill stem another name for a threaded stem? I went on Ebay and I see that some call it a quill to threadless. I don't want to get the wrong size.

    I may stick with the threaded stem that's on there for now becasue it seems like a right size. It's not super long as many threaded stems are, but it's pointed pretty high, but still not bad.

    Rockcrusher, what did you mean when you said that the 1" threaded stem scares you. Is it the lack of options/weight or is it an inherently bad design?

  14. #14
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    I had them all and I think that carbon frames are the best.
    Carbon have all the benefits that Alu' and Cro' have and none of the negative things.

    BUT...
    Singlespeed is not just riding, there is something mystical in it and chromoly just pay the bill for it.

  15. #15
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    Man if you have a 1" threaded on there, don't pour money into the bike. Grab a inexpensive bar thats the right width for you and just ride it till it falls apart. Seriously. I still have one of those dinosaurs that I use for grocery runs and towing my son around on a trail-a-bike. As much as I love upgrading stuff, I won't do it with that bike. It's just not worth it. Keep it running as long as you need to, but no more than that. Just my suggestion.

  16. #16
    Keep it Simple Stupid!!!
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    By looking at my name (Steelfreak) you would assume I'm Biased toward steel. However I have 2 Aluminum 29in MTB Hardtails, A Specialized Rockhopper Single Speed and a Cannondale Caffine 2. They both ride really well but I think 29in Wheels and Big Tires are a Big Part of that.

    With that being said My Next Single Speed will be a Steel one from a Small Frame Builder
    Who cares how much gas you save, ride your bike to work because it's fun!!!!!!!

  17. #17
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    Man if you have a 1" threaded on there, don't pour money into the bike. Grab a inexpensive bar thats the right width for you and just ride it till it falls apart. Seriously. I still have one of those dinosaurs that I use for grocery runs and towing my son around on a trail-a-bike. As much as I love upgrading stuff, I won't do it with that bike. It's just not worth it. Keep it running as long as you need to, but no more than that. Just my suggestion.
    But I can't help it! Now that I know there is a threaded-2-threadless adapter, I'm entertaining the idea. Nashbar has a real nice one for not much. I know it's an unnecessary item atm, but it's something I'd like to do down the road. If the current quill stem doesn't work, then I will get the adapter. Don't get me wrong, I'm not dumping money into this SS build or putting top notch components on it. I admit I'm getting some name brand parts, but they're mainly entry- or mid-level parts. For example, Raceface Ride cranks. Also looking for used high-end parts on ebay. It's all part of the fun. If I can get good components cheaply for this frame, then I'll do it.

    From what I've read, the M50 cromo Raleigh is built like a tank, so I guess it's a good frame to upgrade with better parts than the ones it came with. I have no illusions that this is a high-end bike, even after putting on nice parts, but I think it will be a nice and even better bike with some upgrades--even if some may say it's a waste. It's all fun and I'm keeping an eye on what I spend on it.
    Last edited by djork; 09-24-2011 at 02:53 PM.

  18. #18
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    I would have to say yes. The best riding bike I have had (that was on a par with a custom Ti) was built by my local frame builder from old stock Reynolds 531 road tube set (with slightly oversize DT) and brazed it together.

    It should have been c**p even by 1996 standards as it had a 1" threaded headset, Tektro V-brakes and Shimano DX freewheel and the cheapo FSA Powerdrive cranks....but it worked, rode really well and was used much more than my geared Rock Lobster with the XTR!

    The Red/Yellow/Green rasta paint (a la Bontrager Team) just set it off perfectly!

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  19. #19
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    I've ridden steel, ti, and aluminum single speeds.

    I can honestly say there are things I like and dislike about all of them.

    As far as getting "beat up" by an aluminum frame?

    I've been racing on a straight gauge tubing, 4lbs+ frame Misfit all year (well, since April). Endurance racing. Three stage races, a hundred miler, an adventure type race, a six hour, and a 65 miler. Do I feel any more "beat up" at the end of the day?

    No.

    Like another poster said, tire pressure and parts selection go a long way in terms of ride quality. I'm not knocking ti or high end steel, but there's some give and take with each material.

    A broken Gary Fisher? Yeah, that happens.

    Like some other posters have mentioned, I wouldn't dump too much money into that bike of yours. Ride the crap out of it the way it is, and plunk down some money in the future if you fall in love with single speeding. We were all riding around with 1" quill stems twenty years ago, so save your money.

    Wanna save some weight and some dough? Dig through a shop's old parts bin and look for something better than what you have (and cheap).
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