Steel(man) is real, man

My main racing bike from back in the day, a Steelman Eurocross, slightly the worse for wear after two hours of dusty trail.

My main racing bike from back in the day, a Steelman Eurocross, slightly the worse for wear after two hours of dusty trail.

It was Ride the Neglected Bike Day again today. And I must declare myself a shameless hypocrite.

For years I’ve inveighed against gram-counters, contending that a strong black cup of coffee and a productive few minutes in the reading room pre-ride is immeasurably preferable to flushing a fat wad of coarse notes down the loo of the latest and greatest bike-lightening comosellama.

Well, yesterday I spent two hours aboard the Salsa Vaya on the mean streets, bike paths and bumpy byways of Bibleburg, and today I did likewise astride one of my old racing bikes, a Steelman Cycles Eurocross.

And whaddaya know? I felt considerably friskier on the elderly ‘cross bike than I did on the young gravel grinder.

Let’s go to the tale of the tape, shall we?

The Salsa Vaya tips the scales at 28.9 pounds.

The Steelman Eurocross weighs in at 22 pounds.

Hm. A 6.9-pound dump is not out of the question, depending upon what was had for dinner. But it seems unlikely.

So for the moment I’m forced to declare myself full of shit.



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18 Responses to “Steel(man) is real, man”

  1. bromasi Says:

    Hey after reading your site, I went to the Steelman web site, his bio was real interesting, I would like one of his bikes but I can’t afford any more bikes, I might get one of his jerseys though.

  2. psobrien Says:

    Wait a damn minute. You have TWO Steelman Eurocross bikes? Isn’t that like not fair or something?

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      It is slightly over the top, hey, Pat? Even worse, I have a Steelman time-trial bike, too.

      I met Brent Steelman about a thousand years ago at Interbike Anaheim and we hit it off for some reason; he’s been kind enough to cut me some slack on prices.

      First bike I bought from him was a CC (for cyclo-cross), a precursor to the modern 29er. A Eurocross came next. Both of those bikes are now in the hands of a former teammate and occasional riding buddy.

      It’s silly, I know, but it’s kind of nice to be able to put a face behind the torch that built your ride.

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        It was just a flash of jealousy on my part. Knowing the person who built your frame is really special. When are you building a bigger garage?

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Oy. Don’t remind me. I’ve run out of hooks, and more important, places to put them. Happily, the Sutra will be going back this week, so the herd is thinning a bit … for now.

  3. md anderson Says:

    For over ten years my main ride was a steel Gunnar Roadie (granted light for steel). It’s been a terrific bike. Then last August I was seduced to the dark side and purchased my first new bike in over 8 years, a sweet “plastic-fantastic” Colnago CX-1. In a nutshell, it’s fast and sexy.

    Steel is real. Carbon is real too, it just doesn’t rhyme.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      MD, I have a Bianchi Zurigo Disc en route. It’ll be the first bike I’ve reviewed that isn’t steel or titanium. I’m trying very hard to clamp the lid down tight on my prejudices.

      What do you like about the Colnago? What makes it different from the old beast?

  4. md anderson Says:

    It’s lighter for one. The CX-1 has a fairly traditional geometry and reviews describe it as “the carbon bike for steel riders.” I love how smoothly it rolls, in fact it is a little smoother than my Gunnar. Now you have to realize that I am a pretty small person (I ride a 48 cm frame), so I often have a different experience on a bike than a larger/heavier rider. I can get bounced around pretty easily. The ‘Nag is responsive without being overly twitchy, descends great and generally is just a real pleasure to ride. It doesn’t hurt that I am faster on all my routes than on the Gunnar. I don’t weigh my bikes, so I don’t know the exact difference between the two, but it’s not a 7 pound difference.

    It’s also really purty!

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      MD's Colnago

      Well, shucks, now you have to send us a picture (see above). But no more cracks about “larger/heavier riders,” please. Harumph. I resemble that remark.

  5. Libby Says:

    Tres elegante.

  6. Larry T. Says:

    Seven pounds isn’t nothing, but bike weight (or lack thereof) is vastly overrated If one bike feels a lot more sluggish than another, the first thing I’d compare is the wheels, second the quality of the frame tubes. Thick walled, straight gauge tubing lacks the liveliness of the good steel tubes. But when it comes time to hoist one up to the roof rack I say lighter is ALWAYS better!

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Lots of elements in play here, Lorenzo. The Eurocross is intended for an hourlong race in the goo sans water bottles, while the Vaya is intended for going places at your leisure, with three sets of bottle bosses plus rack and fender mounts and a pump peg.

      Discs vs. cantilevers certainly affect weight. And yeah, the two wheelsets are worlds apart.

      Despite the weight differential, the Vaya is a comfy ride. But I sure would hate to run up a muddy hill with it draped over my right shoulder.

  7. John Dallager Says:

    Sorry to burst some bubbles, but I was told years ago by a road pro that “if your bike weighs less than 20 pounds and you’re getting dropped on the hills… isn’t the bike!”

    That said, the carbon fiber bikes are really sweet……I just wonder about the hollow sound.

    • Steve O Says:

      Back in high school in the late ’70s, my baseball coach told us, you can’t get a solid hit with a hollow bat. Times have a-changed. The top road racing bikes in 2020 will have tubes made from genetically engineered spider web silk, or maybe components recycled from the recently decertified Large Hadron Collider.

  8. khal spencer Says:

    As must of a lard ass as I am, I do notice the weight difference between the two Cannondales (a CAAD5 and a Six-Thirteen) and my steel bikes in ride quality. Two of my steel bikes are not top grade steel. The Salsa La Cruz feels OK; it is some sort of heat treated alloy. The Surley Long Haul Trucker definitely feels sluggish with its basic 4130 but the idea, according to Surley, is to make a bike any welder can fix in a pinch. The Co-Motion Primera, with its really nice thinwall tubes, feels light and lively. I think Larry is right–its not just the fact that it is a ferrous alloy, but the technology used. I’m thinking of eventually looking to have Co-Motion make me a touring frame out of its good thinwall stuff.

  9. Pat O'Brien Says:

    Went riding today for the first time after stubbing my toe on that chair. It was really good to be in the saddle again.
    One of the reasons I sold my Trek 520 and bought the Saga was I wanted to know what steel it was made of and where. The Saga is made from double butted Tange Prestige tubes. Same for the ES. The Niner is double butted Reynolds 853. I think it makes a difference you can feel.

    • Larry T. Says:

      I read somewhere that Tange Prestige is not what it used to be. Back-in-the-day it was heat-treated and very thin in the tube center, the wife has a LandShark very similar to the one John Slawta built for A. Hampsten to race in 1988 and I can easily squeeze the down tube and watch it compress. Scary thin, but it’s held up to a crash or three. My deadest-feeling bike is an SLX tubed Tomi, with tube diameters typical of old-time steel bikes. My ancient Bianchi feels similar but with fat, “epoca” style tires, offers a softer ride. My “modern” steel bikes, Mondonico’s built with NEMO 747 tubesets are much more lively. I test-rode a Mondonico fillet-brazed with Ultra Foco and felt it was another notch up on the liveliness scale..wished I’d had one made before Antonio closed up his shop. The steel bikes we have in our rental fleet in Italy fall somewhere below the NEMO 747 ride quality, but are better than the old-time steel frames. They’re tig-welded with slightly oversized tubes from Oria
      I’ve heard claims that some super high-end carbon constructions can approach the lively feel of high-quality steel, but the last plastic bike I rode (in 2013) wasn’t a lot better in ride quality than the first one, an awful Trek…I think it was one of the first ones they made, a 5000 maybe?

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