Dream Bike Speedvagen

Hailing from Portland, that hotbed of cycling culture and frame building, are Speedvagen. For 2015 they have introduced new disc-equipped road and cyclocross models, available in stock and custom builds.

Screenshot 2015-02-03 19.22.13

Speedvagen have been producing frames since 2007, which are billed as “purpose-built race machines with the highest level of innovation.” The frames are manufactured in the Vanilla Workshop, a collaborative community with framebuilder Sacha White at the heart. He’s been building frames since 1999, and produces frames under both the Vanilla Bicycles and Speedvagen Bicycles banners. He built the first Speedvagen in 2006, a singlespeed cyclocross bike.

The two brands allows Sacha to express different design influences and cater for riding styles, with Vanilla described as “pure, classic and focused on the pursuit of craft.” while Speedvagen are “modern, rebellious and built to be ridden. Hard.”

For 2015 the latest Speedvagen models are thoroughly modern: they’re now available with disc brakes.

“Discs look clean and mean and they’re a pleasure to use.” says Sache White. “The way we’re mounting the caliper is unlike any other bike out there. It’s stronger and lighter and, well, we’re darned proud of it.”

To accommodate the disc brakes, there are new Berzerker dropouts which mount the disc caliper on the underside of the seatstay. Speedvagen claims this approach dissipates braking stress into the tube and away from the dropout.

Both the 2015 Speedvagen Road Bike and 2015 Speedvagen Cross Bike can be made from True Temper or Columbus steel tubing with every tube being custom drawn to their specific size, shape and thickness. Nice details abound such as the use of a bi-axially ovalised down tube and tapered head tube, to boost the frame stiffness. Both frames also feature the distinctive integrated seatmast with an Enve carbon fibre post head. An Enve carbon seat tube upgrade is available if you want to shed some weight.

Each frame is produced by hand directly for the customer, with a choice of stock or custom frames depending if you want the full tailor made treatment. Stock bikes are available in 2cm size increments from 48 to 62cm. Full custom will consider every measurement so the frame perfectly fits you.

There are a number of paint jobs to choose from, and for this year they have added a new ‘3D Ghost’ graphic along with ‘HollaText’ and ‘Surprise Me!’ colour schemes.

You’re looking at $3,450 for a stock frameset (frame, fork and seatpost) and $4,350 for a custom frame. Waiting times are around 12 weeks for a custom frame, shorter for an off-the-shelf stock frame. There are no UK dealers so you have to buy direct. There are a few upgrades available on the frame, including custom Shimano Di2 battery integration and specific internal wire routing, carbon fibre seat tubes and much more.

Dream Bike: Stunningly sexy steel Merckx Masterpiece

Eddy Merckx Cycles relaunches steel-bike production. With the launch of the EDDY70 racing bike Eddy Merckx Cycles is opening a new chapter. That is, one of modern, high-quality steel racing bikes.

Screenshot 2015-01-28 11.27.16

The first fruit of this project, of which only 70 examples will be produced, is the forerunner of a new Heritage collection, which will be available from September at a selection of bike stores. The EDDY70 bike can be ordered from 7pm on January 28th exclusively via EDDY70.com and will cost $17,500. (OUCH)

With the Heritage Line Eddy Merckx Cycles is drawing on the past, but only in terms of the design and color, as the new steel bikes cannot be compared with the race machines from Eddy’s glory years. They are ultramodern, state-of-the-art racing bikes improved with the best Columbus steel alloys and designed for superior performance.


The EDDY70 bike is built completely according to the wishes of Eddy Merckx, and on Jan. 27 the first example, which bears the No. 1, will be handed over to Eddy himself, who turns 70 this year. From Jan. 28 at 7 p.m. precisely, enthusiasts worldwide can order their own example via EDDY70.com, where they can choose their personal number (between 2 and 70), as well as the place where Merckx can put his own signature on the steel.

In the months following the order they can follow the whole production process via the Eddy Merckx Cycles Facebook page until they are finally invited to come and collect their personal bike in Faema colours at their local Eddy Merckx Cycles Dealer. At the same time they will receive a unique photo book that has been signed by Merckx. Nice detail: the first bikes will be delivered on June 17th, which is Eddy’s birthday.


For the steel frame of the EDDY70 the newest Columbus XCr seamless steel tubes are used. The ultralight and rigid RFS (stainless steel) lends itself perfectly to the production of racing bikes. The steel is TIG welded in the Eddy Merckx Cycles workshops and fitted with a carbon fibre Columbus front fork, after which the frame is painted.


The bike is then fitted with a Campagnolo Super Record set and Campagnolo Bora Ultra 35 wheels; both with the unique EDDY70 signature. The same icon is also printed on the cockpit, seat post and Cinelli seat.

“Everyone knows that I was always obsessively focused on the equipment that I rode on. That is still the case now. And as a result, I wanted only the best and most modern components and materials for this bike. The aim was absolutely to make a high performance, contemporary racing bike and not a replica of my old racing bike,” according to Merckx.


Every release by Eddy Merckx Cycles is a tribute to the rich heritage created by the greatest racing cyclist of all time. That is why Eddy Merckx Cycles wants to produce the best racing bikes and sell them to the widest possible cycling public. The rich history of man and bicycle is thereby linked in a contemporary and self-perpetuating way to the promising future of the brand. The company was created by Eddy Merckx in 1980 and is still based in Belgium. Eddy Merckx Cycles sells high-end racing bikes in more than 25 countries via 20 distribution partners. At the Benelux level the brand is sold by around 110 official Eddy Merckx Cycles dealers.

Dream bike: one to do it all – steel Zullo Vergine

Zullo Vergine side

With exquisite craftsmanship and a stunning paint finish, Zullo’s Vergine frame is proof, if it were needed, that steel still has a place for the most demanding performance cyclists.

During the 1980s cycling was a simple sport. Racing cyclists trained on instinct and fuelled themselves not with complex sports food, but with jam sandwiches and fig rolls. The bicycles were humbler machines too, made from simple round tubes of steel. A far cry from today’s designed-by-computer and tested in a wind tunnel bikes that are prominent everywhere from the shop floor to the pro peloton.

Steel was the dominant material, and there was little alternative before aluminium made an impact some 10-20 years later. It was during this period that Tiziano Zullo started making frames from his workshop on the banks of Italy’s Lake Garda. His frames would go on to be used most famously by the TVM team, starring Phil Anderson and Robert Millar, for six seasons between 1986 and 1992.

Today, carbon fibre is the standard choice for the professionals (and most amateurs) but that said steel has been enjoying a resurgence of popularity over the past 5-10 years. Zullo decided to buck the carbon trend and, in remaining faithful to his roots, is enjoying his status as one of the few manufacturers of hand-crafted steel frames with a rich pedigree and history. Steel was never dead, it was just biding its time before making a comeback.

Today Zullo provides full custom designed frames, and they are handled in the UK by London’s Mosquito Cycles. With Mosquito’s bike fitting service, you can get yourself a fully customised frame that will fit you perfectly. And, we’re told, Zullo keep customers involved in the process with regular updates, even supplying photos of the frame as it passes through the various stages of its inception.

The frame

The Vergine is made from Columbus XCr. It’s a seamless stainless steel tubeset (unlike the other stainless tubeset, Reynolds 953, which is welded) and is manufactured with chromium, molybdenum and nickel to boost its strength. The wall thickness can be drawn extremely thin (right down to 0.4mm) which keeps the weight down while still having a higher stiffness to weight ratio than titanium or aluminium. It’s also corrosion resistant so doesn’t need treatment and will never rust.

Zullo TIG weld the frame, and it is beautifully finished in every way. It really is one of the nicest steel frames I’ve ever seen. But, as the most expensive steel tubeset in the world and being hand made in Italy, the Vergine doesn’t come cheap. A frame and carbon fork will set you back £2,995. But think about what you’re buying: Zullo only make a couple of hundred frames a year, there’s a lot of love and attention going into each and every one.

There’s loads of paint options you can choose from, take a look at this gallery for a sample of what they can do. They can’t do custom paint jobs though, but I would happily take the frame painted as it is. I’m quite taken with it. Few bikes in the world look as good as this and there’s certainly no mainstream manufacturer doing anything even remotely close to this.

This is Zullo’s frame designed for those who want a stiff and responsive ride. That means the tubes are all oversized and the chainstays are huge (for a steel frame) and combine with 8mm dropouts that counter the forces that cause the rear triangle to flex when putting down the power when sprinting or climbing out of the saddle.

The three tubes that make up the front triangle are equally oversized and this contributes to the crisp feeling when you’re dancing the bike around sweeping country lanes. A classic geometry with a sloping forwards top tube looks out of place compared to the current breed of compact frames, but is a look that gives the Vergine a great presence on the road.

The head tube is a straight-through 1 1/8in setup with external bearing cups, and a Chris King headset is fitted. A Columbus carbon fibre fork slots into the headset. Of particular note is the mirror polished driveside chainstay, to avoid the paint being battered by the chain.

Weight for the frame, fork and headset is a claimed 2.12kg. Our test model weighed in at 7.6kg completely built, which is very impressive for a steel bike. It’s lighter than many carbon bikes.

Some of this of course comes from the fact our test bike was finished with a complete Campagnolo Super Record 11 groupset. The rest of the build kit consists of Campagnolo Ultra wheels and Continental Grand Prix tyres, Deda bars, stem and seatpost and a Fizik saddle. Zullo only supply frame and fork packages and leave it to the customers discretion to build to taste. Mosquito will happily build a frame with whatever components you desire.


Taking it out into the sunlight for its maiden ride, and I have to stop and take a moment to admire its exquisite beauty. Its elegant and classical lines, splatter paint finish and mirror chromed chainstay all contribute to it easily outranking every other bike I’ve ever tested on looks alone. The Vergine has a level of class simply unmatched by anything else out there. It really is a special bike.

Fortunately, as the first test ride on it reassures me, it isn’t all looks. It has the peformance to back it up when it matters, pressing on the pedals. I tested a Reynolds 953 frame when that material first arrived on the scene, and came away from it with mixed reactions. The reaction to this XCr frameset is very different. I’ve been stunned by just how beautifully it rides. This is, without a doubt, the best riding steel frame I’ve ever ridden.

Steering feels crisp and sharp and, at times, it really doesn’t feel like a steel frame. There’s certainly less of that softness that steel frames often exhibit, with a good degree of stiffness tuned in. That said, it still feels far more comfortable than aluminium and carbon bikes on the roughly surfaced roads that make up my testing loop.

With a longer stem (12cm) than the one supplied, and a shuffle of the spacers, I achieved a satisfactory fit that allowed me to fully exploit the frame’s potential. It’s important to note that the frame wasn’t custom made for me, but that it just happened to be the right size. Anyone looking to buy a Vergine will be happy in the knowledge they’ll be buying a frame that fits them perfectly, and can be tuned to their style of riding.

The Zullo rides, if I had to sum it up with one word, beautifully. There are many more words I could have used, but this is the one that frequently crops up. It’s smooth to ride, no mean feat on Surrey’s scarred roads, yet crisp enough to make it really engaging when you get on the gas. It’s not flighty like a lightweight carbon racer; there’s a little more weight to the steering that gives you a little more confidence.

If you’re looking for something special, something that isn’t carbon but won’t compromise on the ride quality, then you can’t go far wrong with XCr, and the Zullo’s use of it is splendidly realised. XCr really shows there is still a valid place for steel and it’s a serious rival to carbon if your intentions are to race.


If you thought steel was dead, think again. A serious alternative to carbon with impressive performance and a unique history.

My second Ti bride

The lure of the exotic

Here comes bike no 5 ….. That lovely pinarello which I love has got to go. I have been trying various things to make it fit but basically it is a size too large for me. Just fired up on some alternatives – steel as well as Ti and bamm ….. Lynskey Cooper is coming my way

More soon.

CINELLI XCR CRITERIUM RACER – Dream ‘pant pant’ steel roadie

Cinelli has been a leader in bicycle design since 1948. Sitting only 10 miles outside of Milan, it stands to reason that design and art also influence Cinelli products. Cinelli is a brand where competition, history, passion and performance have long melded to bring beauty to the sport of cycling.

In an adjacent factory, Columbus Steel is a close compatriot to Cinelli. Columbus began making bicycle tubing in 1919 and has a decorated heritage of powering the likes of Coppi, Merckx, Pantani, Armstrong and countless others.

For this collaboration, the seamless Columbus XCR stainless steel tube-sets are literally passing across the factory floor to Cinelli to make the Rapha Criterium Racer. With geometry specified by generations of building for the strongest, fastest and most fearless in the sport, this frame and fork are intended for the aggressive racer. The Columbus XCR tube material exceeds anything in the market for technological quality and has a higher stiffness to weight ratio than titanium or aluminium, delivering great feel and total confidence at high speeds. Painted Pearl White, except for a polished reveal of the beautiful stainless, and with pink, black and grey race bands, the Criterium Racer marries tradition and performance.

Timing & Process:
The Rapha & Cinelli XCR is limited to only 30 frames/fork per year because of the scarcity of the material. Delivery of your frame/fork is estimated for 4-months from time of order.
Cinelli will take orders direct, go to www.cinelli.it to buy your XCR Criterium Racer.

expensive to wear well

Frame/fork starting @ €3,500 + shipping

Oria Steel Frame sets and their specs

Been trawling the web trying to find more details on steel tubesets used in cycling frames. Just realised I may have got the year of my new bike wrong and it’s a 1996 Pinarello Arriba and not the 1997 I thought it was. Will find out in a week anyway.

So oria tubing never heard of it so did some digging and found this on the italian blog

 After wriring about Columbus, Falck, and Castello Mario & Figlio of Torino, we move onto another name in steel tubing for bikes: Oria.

The detailed history about Oria in steel racing bikes is bit murky and begins (?) in the 1980s as the company wanted to rival Columbus in the marketplace . Here is what I’ve been able to piece together from different sources. As in the case of Castello Mario & Figlio more information about Oria is desired.

To some degree, and possibly in all instances, Oria used steel supplied by a steel manufacture and converted the steel into specific products. One of the steel manufacturers was certainly German firm Mannesmann. Some frames built with Oria tubes stated on the decals, as seen above, “Prodotto base Mannesmann” (base product Mannesmann).

It has been said that Mannesmann had a plant in Italy in Dalmine, east of Milan, that was producing large quantities of quality seamless butted bicycle tubing in the early post-WWII period. It is thought, perhaps, that the Mazzuccato family that owned Oria, eventually purchased it. The Mazzuccato family is thought to be from the Padova area, or in the Veneto.

Among the framebuilders that used Oria are Guerciotti, Tommasini, Montagner, Olmo, Dancelli, Daccordi, Ciocc and Pinarello (began to first use Oria tubing in 1993 according to Fausto Pinarello). And, some others I imagine.

Oria Tubesets (composed of head tube, seat tube, down tube, top tube, chain stays, seat stays, fork legs; and their weights in kg.) : HI Tension (2230), HI-Ten Oversize (2850), CroMoly (2190), Ml 25 (2080), ML 34 1880), RANF (1990), GM 00 (1940), Double butted (2000), KK (1880), CroMoly-Oversize (–), SGM 00 (2720), Top (2860), Oversize (2690), Over Double (2650), Butted Top (2690), CSS 52 (2230) , 7020 (aluminum).

Oria is known to have been involved with also providing aluminum tubesets and in 2005 Oria was still involved in framebuilding but with carbon as seen here:
The caption of this photo referred to the brothers Franco and Gianpaolo Mazzuccato and an association with Olmo in the construction of the Olmo “Zeffiro” carbon frame set. The caption also said, “The brothers Mazzuccato chose instead to remain in Italy. Oria today remains at the forefront: the metal has almost disappeared inside the factory and specialization is directed toward the production of composites.”

Well, it’s the start of an investigative process…..


Then found out more about the metal with this table of different types and their weight.

Steel – different types in bike building

I was and still am slightly confused – there is a lot of steel out there, chromoly 4130, reynolds from 501 to 953, columbus thron to spirit – so I have googled, pilfered, condensed and accumulated some of the findings. I am no expert – for more info click on links. They follow after explanation roughly in order of strength, rarity and of course price

What is Steel?

Steel is an iron/carbon alloy that, with the addition of several elements such as chrome, nickel, manganese, molybdenum, vanadium, etc., develops specific characteristics such as tenacity, fatigue resistance, workability and insensitivity to overheating.

Al vs Steel vs Ti

Why choose steel?

Steel ensures high performance at really low weights. The new alloys give a weight close to that of the aluminum alloys, together with a perfectly balancable elastic response, that is appreciated in particular on long rides. Unlike aluminum, steel is substantially stable over time, not requiring onerous maintenance cycles. If properly rust-treated, under normal conditions of use, it has almost unlimited fatigue resistance.
It allows frames to be built with excellent performances, rigid yet comfortable, suitable for any type of use.




Reynold’ latest innovation takes steel alloys into a new league. By utilising a specially developed martensitic-aging stainless steel alloy that can achieve tensile strength in excess of 2000 MPa, with a strength-to-weight ratio that can take on the best in the world. The resilient ride of steel, very high impact strength (similar to armour plating) and fatigue resistance combine to provide an extraordinary material that can now be used for tubing.

Reynolds work with directly with fabricators to provide recommended production techniques, so that the challenges inherent in using an extremely hard metal can be overcome.

Why it works:

UTS: 1750-2050 MPa

Columbus XCR

In cooperation with Trafiltubi ed Aubert & Duval, the new Columbus seamless tube set in stainless steel named XCr, is created. Starting form a specific request of the military industry, looking for a valid substitute for cadmium plated temper hardening steels which could no longer be produced because of their highly polluting manufacturing process, a new martensitic stainless steel with high content of Chromium and Molybdenum and Nickel as alloy elements which increase the mechanical and weldability characteristics, was created. The martensitic main structure contains traces of austenite that reduces the possibility of crack formation especially during the welding process.
The great weldability properties of the new XCr stainless steel, together with its high fatigue resistance and its extraordinary geometrical stability at high temperatures, make this material the natural element for welded structures, such as bicycle frames. Thanks to the high stiffness/weight and UTS/weight ratios (better than titanium and aluminium alloys) together with the elevated characteristics of corrosion resistance, it is possible to manufacture triple butted tubes to build extremely light and indestructible frames.

Why it works:

Mechanical characteristics  UTS = 1250-1350 MPa.

NOTE: It’s the most expensive steel tubeset in the world, but it’s also the only seamless stainless steel tubeset available; Reynolds’ 953 is a welded tube.



Reynolds 853


The benefits of air-hardening steels are particularly noticeable in the weld area where, unlike conventional steel alloys, strength can actually increase after cooling in air immediately after welding. 853 is heat-treated to give high strength and damage resistance, and the steel properties allow thin walls to be used, so that lower weight but fatigue-resistant structures can be made.

Why it works:

UTS: 1250-1400 MPa, density 7.78 gm/cc
Favourite Quote – a high end Reynolds 853 with SRAM red and/or dura ace for the person with money who wants a non carbon racing bike option 


NOTE The main advantage of Reynolds 853 is its ability to air harden after joining, a characteristic not shown by other chrome molybdenum / manganese molybdenum materials presently on the market. When building frames using either TIG welding or high temperature brazing, above 1600 degrees, the joints increase in strength as the frame cools to room temperature.

 LUG CONSTRUCTION IS THE PREFERRED METHOD OF JOINING 853. It allows a much larger area to be heated than tig welding which concentrates the heat to a very small area at the weld. This completely goes against the “AIR HARDENING” building philosophy of the material and adds nothing to the strength of the joint. It is however a much cheaper joining method, requiring less time and skill to perform.

Due to the superior mechanical properties of 853 tubing, there are several benefits which will translate directly to the cyclist. The wall thickness of 853 has been reduced to 0.4 mm, a full 0.1 mm thinner than Reynolds other top of the line 753 tubing. This translates into a frame weight of under 3 pounds 5 ounces for a 56 cm frame. The final significant advantage is the increased stiffness of the frame and its ability to transmit all of the cyclist power into forward motion.

Reynolds 753 – MANGANESE-MOLY heat-treated steel:

The 753 tubeset was the first heat-treated tubeset in the race bicycle industry, based on the same alloy as 531. Used mainly in lugged and fillet-brazed framesets, Reynolds implemented a Certfication procedure for builders who wished to use the tubing, as it helped builders understand the requirement to avoid overheating the thin wall tubes. Most builders used silver-brazing for the fabrication of frames, due to the low melting point, so that 753 tubing was not annealed inadvertantly. All 753 tubes are now available in the same dimensions within the Reynolds 725 brand tubing.

753 is now only available to special order and subject to a high minimum quantity due to raw material constraints.

Why it works:

UTS: 1100-1340 MPa
Favourite Quote –   “your back just doesn’t get sore on this bike”

NOTE This was the benchmark by which all high performance bicycle frames have been judged for the last 20 years. 753 is among the strongest tubes currently available for the manufacture of high performance, light weight, ultra responsive road frames. This tubing uniquely combines terrific power transmission ability, lively ride, responsiveness and a high degree of comfort, while producing some of the lightest frames available.

Unfortunately 753 frames will never be seen in great numbers. Frame builders having access to this material is closely controlled.  Builders must be certified as to their proficiency in low temperature silver brazing 753 by Reynolds. Only after having passed a structural test on their work will they be certified and sold these tubesets. Another drawback is the cost of silver brazing material as compared to that of brass, approximately $150.00 per pound compared to $9.00. Having to keep the area to be joined at a maximum of  1200 degrees, tig welders are immediately ruled out, along with their ability to mass produce 753 frames. It is primarily for these reasons that 753 frames are not offered by the bicycle giants. Highly skilled labor and time consuming hand work are not the direction large companies wish to move in.


Using an industry standard alloy with mechanical properties similar to our famous 753 brand, Reynolds mandrel butt and heat-treat this alloy so that thinner walls can be used compared to non-heat-treated steels. 725 can be TIG welded and used within our “Designer Select” combinations including 853 and 631 tubes.

Why it works:

UTS: 1080-1280 MPa

Based on a 0.3% carbon steel alloy which has been heat-treated and back-tempered for increased ductility. The chromium content promotes hardenability and resistance to oxidation. The molybdenum works in conjunction with the chrome to stabilize the alloy and maintain strength after heat-treatment and in use.

Columbus Spirit – Heat treated

NIOBIUM is a special steel with manganese, chrome, nickel, molybdenum and niobium. Columbus’s special chemical composition, the combined effect of strengthening for precipitation and reducing the alloy grain size are incredibly enhanced compared to standard steels. Niobium proves more effective than Vanadium as an alloy-strengthening agent. After specific processes of progressive drawing and forming, NIOBIUM undergoes a special heat treatment that gives the steel its final characteristics. It is a steel designed to provide superior mechanical characteristics and higher resistance to environmental effects than conventional carbon steels. A serious choice for a competition or top-of-the-line frame, where lightweight and reliability are essential.

Why it works:

UTS = 1050 ÷ 1250 MPa
Favourite Quotes – “Spirit” cromoly from Columbus. Well at least that’s what my Pegoretti is made from and I think it rides the best of my steel bikes. I’m fully aware it’s not just the tubing though. 


Columbus Life

NIOBIUM is a special steel with manganese,chrome,nickel,molybdenum and niobium.Columbus’s special chemical composition,the combined effect of strengthening for precipitation and reducing the alloy grain size are incredibly enhanced compared to standard steels.

Why it works:
UTS: 1000-1150 MPa

An all-purpose, high performance tubeset, manufactured in Cyclex steel, a top quality chrome molybdenum steel which has been cold worked to increase its strength.
These tubes in this set have short butts and are super finished to remove any surface defects. A wide range of tube diameters and shapes allow us to build frames to the customer’s exact requirements.
Why it works:
UTS: 830-965 MPa

Progetto Zona: custom, competitive road, and MTB frames

  • Nivacrom for Zona: Nivacrom is patented by Columbus. This is a steel alloy in which vanadium and niobium – precipitating in the metal matrix – block the grain growth during the elevated overheating of the welding containing the decline in the mechanical characteristics even at temperatures above 1000°C. The material developed for the Zona series, is subjected to a series of operations and treatments that, after drawing, homogenize the mechanical characteristics of the tube, making them uniform along the Iongitudinal axis. As a result, the fatigue behaviour is excellent.

Reynolds 631


Utilising the same chemistry as 853, this product is cold-worked and also has the advantages of air-hardening after welding. The alloy is a development on our famous 531 range with 10% higher strength. For cycling use, this provides tough, durable and comfortable frames particularly suitable for long distance riding, MTB and BMX . It has recently become available for touring and race fork blades.

In most applications, it should not be necessary to stress-relieve the weld zone.

Why it works:

UTS: 800-900 MPa
Favourite Quote – Reynolds 631 with Shimano 105 and a wider tire option for a person with a $1,000 to $1200 limit and who wants more of a real century bike in steel 

NOTE As 853 in composition but tube strength results from the extensive cold-working of the seamless billet without a final heat-treatment. The TIG welded part of the tube still benefits from the air-hardening feature that results in a fine grain structure within the heat-affected zone.

Reynolds 631 Air Hardened tubing is a tubeset based on their 853 Air Hardened technology. This tubeset has replaced 531 as the basic material used to construct Bob Jackson frames. The primary difference between 853 and 631 is the lack of heat treating applied to the an 853 tubeset, thus producing 631 tubing.  Tig welding is possible, however to bring 631 to its optimal strength level, brazing and the much larger heated area produced can greatly increase the finished joints ultimate strength.



Columbus Thron

An all-purpose, high performance tubeset. The formation of carbides prevents the grain enlargement, so the steel maintains it’s properties during brazing and welding, and even in the cold malleable raw state it features excellent mechanical characteristics.

Why it works:

UTS: 800 MPa


With similar properties to our original 531 brand alloy. For cycling, these are mandrel butted for accurate profiles, and available in a wide range of shapes. Weight savings from butting provide competitively priced, light framesets. The Reynolds “520” range uses the same alloy, made under license for us in Taiwan and subject to the same quality standards.

Why it works:

UTS: 700-900 MPa

The same 0.30% carbon steel chemistry as the 725 range but without the heat-treatment process. The strength and ductility can be varied by cold-working and normalizing if required. Reynolds 525 non heat treated chrome moly has been in Reynolds inventory of bicycle tubes for many years. Since 1998 it has been reconfigured and up graded to a strength level very similar to that of Reynolds legendary 531 tubing. The primary reason for it existence is its ability to be tig welded, thus producing lower cost and lower quality frames. It has no advantage over 531 except for this singular feature.



Reynolds 520 – CHROME-MOLY cold-worked steel:

With similar properties to our original 531 brand alloy. For cycling, these are mandrel butted for accurate profiles, and available in a wide range of shapes. Weight savings from butting provide competitively priced, light framesets. The Reynolds “520” range uses the same alloy, made under license for us in Taiwan and subject to the same quality standards.

Why it works:

UTS: 700-900 MPa

The same 0.30% carbon steel chemistry as our 725 range but without the heat-treatment process. The strength and ductility can be varied by cold-working and normalizing if required.

Reynolds 531 – MANGANESE-MOLY cold-worked steel:

In its 110th year, Reynolds re-launched a limited edition set of 531 tubes for brazed bike frame use. A long-running product and used in many Tour De France wins, 531 was first used in the “Aeronautics” industry from 1935

 Favourite Quote – Reynolds 531 double butted,because of it’s long history,used on many of the finest vintage bikes ever made.

531, 531c, 531OS No longer produced by Reynolds, due to its inability to be tig welded.



 Reynolds broken down - 
Reynolds 953 – maraging stainless steel
Reynolds 853 – heat-treated air-hardening steel
Reynolds 725 – heat-treated Chrome-molybdenum steel
Reynolds 631 – cold-drawn air-hardening steel
Reynolds 525 - cold-drawn chrome-molybdenum steel
some older columbus steel
columbus stickers


I thought not? Tell me what your favourite steel is.

my fav poster of steel

Lovely looking bike on eBay – steel road bike

Veneto Columbus Zona Nivachrome steel road bike

Excellent condition road bike,

The Columbus Zona frame is made of Nivachrome Steel, Asymmetric reinforced tubes for top of the range custom, competition frames. A new name from Columbus, Zona offers excellent ride quality and longevity, an obvious choice if comfort and performance are high on the agenda. Ideally suited to road frames, and also often used for Time Trial frames. A top quality chrome molybdenum steel which has been cold worked to increase its strength.
  • Nivachrome is patented by Columbus. This is a steel alloy in which vanadium and niobium – precipitating in the metal matrix – block the grain growth during the elevated overheating of the welding containing the decline in the mechanical characteristics even at temperatures above 1000°C. The material developed for the Zona series, is subjected to a series of operations and treatments that, after drawing, homogenize the mechanical characteristics of the tube, making them uniform along the Iongitudinal axis. As a result, the fatigue behaviour is excellent.
  • Mechanical characteristics: Rm = 1000 N/mm2, Rs = 920 N/mm2 Ap5 > 10%.
    Usual RRP is £1200.00 Includes frame, fork*, headset**
Componants are as follows:
Time Equipe Pro carbon forks, Modus H241XX headset, Campagnolo Daytona rear 9 Speed derailleur, Campagnolo Daytona front derailleur, Campagnolo Daytona double crankset, Campagnolo Daytona brake callipers, Campagnolo Daytona ergo brake/gear shifters, Campagnolo Daytona hubs, Mavic open pro rims, Hutchinson tech gold carbon comp tyres, Look clipless pedals, Sigma BC 800 computer, ITM Goccia head stem and bars, Carbon seatpost, Sella Italia gel seat & Elite bottle cages. 

Measurements are: 55cm centre-to-centre crossbar/top tube, 55cm centre-to-centre BB/crank to crossbar/top bar.

Overall a superb light weight bike in excellent condition, please see photo’s…










Dream bikes – fixie look hub convenience Traitor Luggernaut

luggernaut - get it?

Hub geared bikes are back in fashion, and they’re suddenly back in vogue, mainly because they’re an efficient, low-maintenance gearing option for an everyday bike. It’s no surprise that just over the channel in the low countries, where they take everyday cycling seriously, they never went away.

Another thing that’s never really gone away, but has taken a back seat for a while, is lugged steel frames. It’s a great way to make a frame, and the finished product is invariably a classy looking bike. Like hub gears, they’re going through a bit of a revival. So you could say that the lugged, hub-geared Traitor Luggernaut 3spd is right on trend… and an equally on trend thrifty £749.95.

Traitor’s Luggernaut frame is made from lugged Columbus Thron tubing and it’s mated with a sturdy lugged fork. You can have it as a singlespeed but it’s also available in this build, with a Sturmey Archer S-RF3 hub gear, controlled by a bar-end shifter. The hub has a classic 177% range (25% below and 33% above direct drive middle gear) and with the supplied 42/16 transmission (check out the lovely Sturmey Archer crankset) that equates to 53″, 70″ and 94″ gears. That should be fine for the flat but around here it ain’t flat, so we’ll probably swap out that 42T ring for something a bit smaller.

The bike is designed to run tyres up to 34mm (it comes with 29mm Halo Twin Rails) and there’s braze ons for rack and ‘guards (although you’ll have to double up on the single dropout thread at the rear). Traitor finishing kit completes the build, including some absolutely cavernous drops, and stopping is taken care of by Tektro levers pulling the same company’s R538 long drop callipers.

The overall look is minimalist and classy, helped by the low-impact decals, and our 59cm bike weighs in at 10.8kg (23.9lb) which isn’t too shabby at all for a very solidly built machine.




HEADSET Neco H886 (Polished Silver)
STEM Traitor Poser Stem (100mm, Polished Silver)
HANDLEBAR Traitor Drop Bar (Polished Silver)
GRIP/TAPE Rivet Perforated Black
SEATPOST Uno Seatpost (27.2mm, Polished Silver)
SADDLE Traitor Rivet Commuter
CRANK Sturmey Archer FCT 42t Crankset 170mm (Polished Silver)
BOTTOM BRACKET Tange Sealed Bearing Alloy 107mm
WHEELS Traitor Hoopla Singlespeed Wheelset (Black Rims w/Sturmey Archer Hubs)
TIRES Halo Twin Rail Courier 700x29C
CHAIN Yaban MK-747
SHIFTER Sturmey Archer 3spd Bar End Shifter

Is steel making a comeback as a bike making material?

This was all gleaned from MBAction and the KVA site but makes interesting reading. Amazing to see that steel manufacturers keep on coming up with new formulas and techniques for tubing.


KVA STAINLESS™ processed martensitic stainless steel tubing is Precision Made in U.S.A. for high-performance bicycle frame applications.

MS²™ is an air-hardenable, martensitic stainless steel with amazing tensile strength > 200 ksi (1400 Mpa) which means it’s twice as strong as titanium with a frame weight comparable to high-end aluminum. The tubing has excellent corrosion-resistance, with elongation > 14% and a hardness ~ 38-42 HRC.

Excellent mechanical properties, including specific strength and stiffness, toughness and fatigue performance, in addition to corrosion-resistance, can be achieved using KVA STAINLESS™ martensitic stainless steels in place of other materials.

KVA STAINLESS™ processed air-hardening stainless exhibits:

  • tensile strength > 200 ksi (1400 MPa)
  • elongation > 14%
  • hardness ~ 38-42 HRC
tensile strength

Ideal applications include silver brazed lugged-construction and TIG welded bicycle frames. ER309L filler wire and 350° F stress-relieve recommended for best welded joint performance.

Already proven by KVA STAINLESS™ in other industries, patented KVA STAINLESS™ martensitic stainless structural tubing can now be integrated into high performance bicycle frames to reduce weight, increase strength and stiffness, at significant cost decreases over competitive materials. KVA STAINLESS™ controlled atmosphere thermal processing ensures consistent, high-quality results.

Tensile strength

Bicycle Frame Materials

Strength, Safety, and Weight

In the hierarchy of cycling needs, cyclists care about weight, the feel of the ride, strength, and price.

Weight has been hyped in the media to the point that manufacturers are creating frames that are just one bad bump away from disaster. If you have not seen the results of failed forks and handlebars, try Googling “broken fork.” It’s not a pretty picture. The number of failures in high-end forks and frames is astounding, all because manufacturers feel pressure to defy the laws of physics with lighter and lighter forks and frames.

Safety is defined not just by the durability of a part, but also by the warnings the rider receives before component failure. A part that bends before it breaks is safer than one that snaps suddenly. Material strength equals safety, but what kind of strength?

Strength is measured in several ways, and it pays to consider all of them:

Impact Strength denotes how much concussive energy a component can absorb in a single blow without failing. Impact strength can be tested in a laboratory, but as a practical matter in cycling it is irrelevant. That’s because a severe impact will dislodge a rider long before it threatens the integrity of a frame or fork. Once the rider is down, the state of the part is meaningless.

Fatigue Strength is a measure of how well a material withstands repeated stress cycles. Fatigue strength is critical for a bicycle, since the rider constantly flexes a frame by pushing the pedals and pulling on the handlebars. Aluminum has the least fatigue strength among popular frame building materials. Steel, and Stainless Steel, by contrast, has the best… even exceeding that of titanium alloys. It can flex an infinite number of times below its “endurance limit” – a stress threshold for which no amount of cyclic loading will cause failure. This stress level is never approached simply by cycling on a properly designed and built steel (and stainless steel) frame.

Material (Fracture) Toughness is the feature of a material that describes its ability to prevent a nick from turning into a crack, and a crack from turning into a break. Toughness is another area where steel and Stainless Steel far outperforms aluminum, carbon fiber, and titanium. Think about it: When was the last time you saw carbon fiber nails, or aluminum rebar? Never.

Ultimate Tensile Strength (UTS) is a widely cited measurement of material strength. UTS is measured by pulling apart a test coupon made with material of a specific thickness and length. The UTS of tubing is not insignificant, but it is vastly overrated as a measurement of the strength. Bicycle frames are not torn in half, nor do they fail because of uniaxial tension. Other factors, such as fatigue, cracking, and impact will cause a frame to fail long before UTS becomes a factor. Glass has extremely high UTS because it is difficult to pull apart, but a glass bicycle would not last long on a mountain trail or even a street. All the materials used in traditional bicycle tubing have sufficient UTS to be safe.

The feature most critical to rider safety is its mode of failure. That is, how long the material will support the rider after its integrity has been breached by a crack, a hole, a dent, or even a deep scratch. A rapid–even instantaneous–failure is known as a catastrophic failure. Catastrophic failure leads to injury.

Of the most common materials used in bike frames today, carbon fiber has the highest rate of catastrophic failure. Steel and Stainless Steel has the lowest rate of catastrophic failure. When steel fails, it fails slowly. In a sport where speed is the name of the game, failure is the one area where it’s good to be slow. Real slow.

Metals respond to force by bending, denting, and even stretching (elongation), not by snapping and shattering. The slow rate of failure provides time for the rider to pick up warning signals, feeling something is wrong prior to the failure of a component, preventing injury.

Of secondary importance, but worth considering, is repairability. The old auto body shop adage is “metal has memory.” Steel can be repaired more completely and more easily than other materials can.

Comparing frame materials that are new is one thing, but what about frame materials that have aged? Different materials age in different ways. Environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, air salinity, ozone, and ultraviolet radiation all affect framing material. Life is a laboratory that is constantly fizzing.

In the harsh world of chemical change, metals outlast plastics and carbon fiber. A weak point of carbon fiber is in the resins that hold the carbon fiber layers together. These resins are prone to degradation when exposed to ultraviolet light from the sun.

However, metals are not exempt from environmental degradation. Typical bicycle tube set aluminum alloys, for example, “age” naturally to higher strengths over an extended period of time. While a stronger tube may appear better, the microstructural change robs the material of its ductility and can cause premature brittle failure – especially around welded joints.

The phrase “environmental degradation” often evokes images of metallic corrosion–rusted wheel wells, corroded hinges, and leaky watering cans. Rust (a term reserved for the corrosion byproduct of steel reacting with oxygen) actually builds up a protective layer that protects the underlying steel against further environmental damage. That is why it is not uncommon in some parts of the world to see 20-, 30-, even 40-year-old rust-covered steel-framed bikes still in use. Of course, the thicker the steel, the less vulnerable it is to failure due to corrosion. Super-thin, 0.35mm steel tube frames are more vulnerable to damage from rust than thicker-walled tubes are. However, diligent care with anti-rust, protective film sprays such as FrameSaver, Boesheild T9, and LPS can prevent corrosion. If you prefer old-school solutions, try coating the steel frame with linseed oil or automotive waxes. Alternatively, Stainless Steel tubing offers corrosion resistance as well as high strength. A “passive layer” of adherent chromium oxide forms to protect stainless steel from further environmental degradation. Under most conditions, this protective layer is self healing – if scratched new chromium oxide layer will form nearly instantaneously.

Shiny loveliness

Another important, but rarely discussed, aspect of frame material is defect tolerance. No one wants to admit that materials have defects, but they do. It is impossible to manufacture quantities of anything without occasional defects. Even in the white-coated, “dust-free” environments, defects creep into materials. That’s why everyone from rocket engineers to computer chip manufacturers build defect tolerance and safety factors into their designs. Bicycle manufacturers should, too. The important thing to know is how an unseen defect will affect the strength and integrity of the material. A material that is more defect-tolerant is less likely to fail. Steel and Stainless Steel are materials that are highly defect-tolerant, due to their high toughness and durability. Carbon fiber is the least defect-tolerant of all materials used in the making of bicycle frames.

Shock absorption is another material quality that makes for a safer and smoother ride. The physics of shock absorption are as old as Newton’s laws of motion: Every action causes and equal and opposite reaction. A shock is absorbed by motion–compression, deflection, or both, and dissipated within the material. Something has to give.

The idea that a shock can be absorbed without motion is a myth. One marketing claim is that carbon fiber forks absorb shocks well, creating a smoother, more comfortable ride. It sounds promising, but it conflicts with basic physics. Carbon fiber is very stiff, so there is relatively little movement to absorb the shock. Metal absorbs some shock through compression and deflection, but only suspension forks truly absorb shocks, because they move. Otherwise, the best way to create a smoother ride is to deflate your tires and lighten up on your grip.

Vibration damping is a phrase heard a lot in the cycling world, but its importance is exaggerated. The term refers to a material’s tendency to absorb and dissipate vibrations after some force causes it to start vibrating. Wind chimes produce sustained vibration, pleasing their owners but often annoying the neighbors. Vibration is the result of high-frequency flex or applied loads. The flex of a component is influenced by the material it is made with, its size, and its shape.

The entire discussion of vibration damping is somewhat academic when it comes to cycling, however, since bicycle parts are not suspended in the air like a tuning fork. A bicycle is composed of multiple components, including the frame, the fork, rubber tires. Most importantly, a bicycle is in contact with the ground and it supports a rider whose body absorbs vibrations of the frame. Having said this, the bulk material properties can be used to generalize the “feel” of a frame and its tendency to damp vibrations. Carbon fiber, being very stiff (with a high elastic modulus) is considered by many to be harsh, transmitting every bump and ripple directly to the rider – causing fatigue and discomfort after long rides. Aluminum, magnesium and even titanium have been described as “soft and mushy”, with their lower elastic modulus and stiffness. Riders enjoy the feel of steel and stainless steel – the resiliency and liveliness of the material is without comparison.

Physical comfort on a bicycle is influenced by several factors, of which frame materials is the least important. The height of the handlebars, the distance from the seat to the pedals, and the air pressure in the tires all contribute more to a comfortable ride than the frame materials do. Raise the handlebars, move the seat back, and decrease tire pressure for greater comfort. Remember to relax your body and lighten your grip, too.

Comfort is as much psychological as it is physical. A bike may fit your body perfectly, but if your mind is unsettled about it, it won’t feel right. For example, a woman who grew up with an open “girls” frame might not ever feel comfortable on a standard diamond style frame. Similarly, hardcore racers who curled their 6-foot bodies around a 56cm frame might never get used to a 62cm frame, even if it is a better fit for their size. The same goes for frame materials. Steel affords the maximum strength and safety, but some people resist it on psychological grounds, mainly because of perceived weight penalties.

Consider this: The weight of the bicycle frame makes up only ¼ of the overall weight of a bicycle, and the bicycle is only 1/10 of the overall weight with a rider in place. In other words, frame weight is only 1/40 or 2.5 percent of the overall weight. So shaving a pound off the frame weight will change your overall weight by less than one percent. You can double that weight change simply by losing two pounds of body weight.

Many people believe engineering is more important than materials, but that is not entirely true. The differences in material–especially failure modes–can increase safety and reduce injuries. Steel and stainless steel frames may sound out of date, but for strength, safety, repairability, durability, and aesthetic beauty, nothing beats steel or Stainless Steel. Enjoy the Feel of SteelTM