Is Steel STill Real?

On the ride in this morning, as the Yorkshire roads rolled beneath my handmade steel bicycle fitted with trusty 700 x 25 tires, I found myself pondering a curious trend in the cycling world – the relentless push for wider tires. The heavy tarmac of Yorkshire is no secret, yet my 41-year-old posterior finds no discomfort with the 700 x 25s. Is it the magic of my skinny tubed steel frame that keeps the ride so smooth? Does steel still hold the authenticity we fondly dub “real”?

Carbon fiber, touted for its potential to deliver a ride that’s supple in the right places and capable of dampening vibrations, leaves me wondering why a multitude of riders find themselves resorting to tires that were traditionally reserved for touring bikes.

In my contemplation, it seems that the disparity lies in the unmet expectations of many carbon bikes. Perhaps it’s an inevitable consequence.

At the top-tier, where one would anticipate meticulous engineering in monocoque designs and layups to manifest the desired ride characteristics, the outcomes are often commendable. However, delving into the realm of low to mid-range carbon bikes unveils a different story. It appears that the careful consideration given to high-end models may be somewhat neglected in these more affordable counterparts.

Compounding the issue is the necessity for carbon frames to accommodate a broad spectrum of rider weights, including the heavier end of the scale. Consequently, for riders on the lighter side, the frames are prone to being overbuilt, resulting in an unintended stiffness that may not align with the nuanced expectations of a discerning cyclist.

This is where the distinctive superiority of a handmade steel frame truly shines. Rather than conforming to a one-size-fits-all approach, these artisan-crafted frames are tailored for the individual in every conceivable aspect – from the precise frame size and riding style to the nuanced ride feel and the specific fittings required. It’s a bespoke experience that caters not to the masses but to the unique essence of each rider, ensuring that every journey is a personalized masterpiece.

In conclusion, as I dismount and reflect on my ride, I can’t help but reaffirm my belief – steel is undeniably real. The tactile pleasure, the timeless strength, and the sustainability it represents make my handmade steel bicycle not just a mode of transport but a lifestyle choice. So, as the wider tire trend continues its journey, I’ll be right here, savouring the authenticity that comes with a skinny tubed steel frame. After all, in the world of cycling, some things never go out of style.