Steel yourself – metal back in fashion for road bikes

I myself am a ti fan but modern steel especially stainless steel (stronger pound for pound than titanium and also has no rust issue) is coming back onto the road scene. People realising that Carbon – especially cheap carbon bikes are a flawed concept and a waste of money.


While aluminium enjoyed a brief period as the material of choice for professional road racing bicycles, the same can’t be said for steel; it was the dominant frame material during much of the 20th century for bicycles of all descriptions.

In the world of professional cycle racing, each of Eddy Merckx’s 525 victories was aboard a steel bike, but the last time steel won the Tour de France was in 1994. That was Miguel Indurain, who won his fourth of five Tour titles on a Pinarello bike (but it was reportedly actually built by Dario Pegoretti).

– Is there still a place for steel road bikes in the age of carbon fibre?

You might well think the advance of carbon fibre would have rendered steel obsolete, but that has never happened. Steel is (and always will be) a really good material for building bicycles frames, because it’s light, stiff and durable – your local blacksmith will be able to repair a broken steel frame… just try getting a broken carbon frame easily repaired.

Enigma Elite Frameset - riding 2.jpg

Some cyclists refuse to ride anything but a steel bike, so enchanting is its ride quality. It’s not as widely available as it used to be though, but that is changing as it has become more fashionable in the past few years, with the new wave of bespoke framebuilders choosing to work with steel.

If you want a custom bike, steel is the most versatile and affordable option. Bespoke carbon fibre will cost you a fortune and good luck trying to get a bespoke aluminium frame, leaving steel to become the main choice in the growing bespoke framebuilding sector. Aluminium has now become so cheap to manufacture that you can now get it on bikes costing from as little as £165. 

Steel tube manufacturers, such as Columbus and Reynolds, thankfully haven’t given up on steel, and in fact the opposite has happened, they’ve been investing in new tubesets. The latest steel tubesets, which include the latest stainless offerings, are now lighter and stiffer than anything Eddy Merckx used to race, and a viable alternative to carbon and aluminium.

– Custom built frames: The choice, from steel to carbon

Here then are 15 of the best steel road bikes.

Cinelli XCr Stainless Steel (link is external)£3,128.99 (frameset)


When it comes to iconic bicycle brands, there are few quite as iconic as Cinelli. This is the Italian company’s XCr Stainless Steel frameset, which it describes as the “jewel in its range”. We can see why. Handmade in Italy, the TIG-welded triple butted XCr wonderfulness with laser etched graphics has a claimed frame weight of just 1,420g.

Condor Fratello Disc(link is external) £699 (frameset)

Condor Fratello.jpg

London’s Condor Cycles is both a bike shop and bike brand, and its Fratello touring bike is its most popular model, showing that there is a lot of demand for a sensible steel frame. The frame has been carefully refined over the years, and the latest update is a move to Columbus Spirit tubing with some custom shaping taking inspiration from Condor’s racier Super Acciaio. And it’s available with disc brakes now as well, making it the ideal winter training, Audax or commuting bike.

Review: Condor Fratello Disc

Donhou DSS1 Signature Steel(link is external) road bike £4,385

Donhou Signature Steel.jpg

Tom Donhou is one of the new wave of young framebuilders specialising in steel and his bikes have been well received, with a particular focus on disc brakes that led to the development of the DSS1 Signature Steel. It’s an off-the-shelf bike with a frame made from Reynolds 853 and an Enve carbon fibre fork and tapered head tube.

Review: Donhou DSS1 Signature Steel 

Enigma Elite HSS £1,499(link is external) (frameset)

Enigma Elite.jpg

The modern steel tubesets are a long way from the skinny steel tubes of yesteryear, and the Enigma Elite HSS is a fine example of how good a contemporary steel bike can be. It uses the latest Columbus Spirit HSS triple butted tubeset with a beefy 44mm diameter head tube and combined with a carbon fibre fork, it displays the sort of ride that would make you question all other frame materials.

Review: Enigma Elite HSS 

Genesis Bikes Volare(link is external) 10 £999


Even though Brit brand Genesis Bikes now does carbon fibre, it has partly founded its reputation on fine steel bikes. It’s also responsible for raising awareness of race-ready steel bikes, with its Madison-Genesis team racing the Volare at top level races over the past couple of years. By working with Reynolds, Genesis developed new tubesets to meet the required stiffness and weight of a race frame.

It now produces a range of Volare road bikes and it has ensured that a race-ready steel bike can once again be affordable, with the entry-level 10 costing £999. It uses a Taiwanese made double butted steel tubeset with a 44mm head tube, carbon fork and Shimano Tiagra groupset.

Review: (link is external)Volare(link is external) 40

Holdsworth Professional Italia(link is external) £999.99 (frameset)

holdsworth professional.jpg

Britain used to boast many local independent framebuilders, and Holdsworth used to be one of the most famous names in British cycling and framebuilding. The shop closed down in 2013, after 86 years, but the brand has been resurrected by Planet X and it now offers a range of heritage frames. The Professional Italia is the top-end model and features Columbus SL main tubes and polished XCr stainless steel dropouts.

Independent Fabrication Club Racer(link is external) £1,750 (frameset)


It’s not just British frame builders that are bringing steel back into fashion, there has been a similar increase in popularity over in the US too. Long-running brand IF Bikes, started in 1995 out of the ashes of mountain bike company Fat City Cycles, offers a range of steel road bikes including this Club Racer, a traditional road bike with all the fitments for light touring, making it an ideal winter bike, commuter or Audax choice. It’s available with disc brakes as well.

Kona Roadhouse(link is external) £1,699


The Roadhouse is Canadian company Kona’s classic steel road bike, with a Reynolds 853 tubeset and thru-axles front and rear – making it one of the only steel road bikes with thru-axles we’ve ever come across. A tapered head tube and carbon fibre fork beefs up front-end stiffness and it’s bang up to date with flat mount disc tabs and, of course, it has mudguard mounts.

Buy it here(link is external)

Mason Resolution(link is external) £1,459 (frameset)


New Brit brand Mason debuted with two frames, and chose Columbus Spirit and Life tubes for its Resolution. There’s nothing much traditional about this bike, with internal cable routing, disc brakes and space for 28mm tyres and mudguards.

Review: Mason Resolution

Mercian Cycles Professional 853 Pro Team(link is external) £1,020


Started in 1946, Mercian Cycles is another long-running UK steel framebuilding business that is thriving today, using traditional framebuilding methods and building each frame to order and made-to-measure. Choosing a frame involves using the company’s online frame builder tool, which lets you chose a model, tubeset, geometry and other details you want on your future bike. The Professional (pictured) has been selling since the 1960s, when it used to be a flagship racing bike. It can be built from a choice of Reynolds tubesets including 631, 725 and 853.

Ritchey Ascent £975(link is external) (frame only)


Legendary bike brand Ritchey Cycles has introduced the new Ascent for 2016. A little bit of history. The Ascent used to be a mountain bike back in the 1980s, but the name has been reintroduced as a do-everything steel touring bike, with space for big tyres and eyelets for all racks and mudguards, perfectly suited to the latest gravel bikes trend. It’s a versatile bike, including the option of taking a 650b wheel with 2.1in tyre (a bit like Cannondale’s Slate).

Ritte Cycles Snob(link is external) £1,999

ritte snob.png

We were impressed with the carbon fibre Ace from US bicycle brand Ritte Cycles, and the company also produces frames in metal, including the Snob. It’s constructed from stainless steel tubing with oversized profile tubes and a tapered head tube, and compact geometry. You can choose between a regular rim brake or disc brake version.

Rourke Framesets (link is external)– Reynolds 631 frameset from £995


Rourke Framesets offer a wide choice of steel bikes with a selection of tubesets available to meet different budgets. The custom frame business is headed up by Brian Rourke who has 25-years of road racing experience, and uses this expertise to provide a full bike fit service, to ensure your new bike fits perfectly. Rourke offers framesets in a choice of flavours, from road race to Audax, and complete bikes built to your exact specification.

Shand Cycles Stoater (link is external)£1,395 (frameset)

Shand Stoater.jpg

Shand Cycles is a Scottish frame manufacturer and produces a number of different models, but the Stoater is its do-everything frame designed to be as versatile as you need it to be. Like the modern crop of cyclocross/gravel bikes, the Stoater has space for wide tyres and the frame is bristling with mudguard and rack mounts.

Review: Shand Stoater

Stoemper Taylor(link is external) £1,899 (frameset)

01-Stoemper Taylor.jpeg

Portland-based Stoemper takes a lot of inspiration from Belgium for its Stoemper Taylor, a frame made from TIG welded True Temper S3 tubing and a classic road bike geometry. The tubes are oversized but not by the same measure as some more modern steel bikes, with a non-tapered head tube providing a classic appearance.

Kona Rove

Love this film showing a wee adventure – makes one desire a one does it all steel bike until we really think about the weight / the components / the compromise. But the escape is always good.

Some spec on the Kona beast which follows in the footsteps of cyclocross, Salsa Surly and a few others ….

At Kona, we love building specific bikes for specific purposes. We see a cool niche, and we pool our collective creativity to come up with the perfect ride. Our all-new Rove is just that. Designed to be the ultimate cyclocross/gravel-grinding/commuting machine, the Kona Cromoly drop-bar Rove pulls in the utilitarian attributes from our best commuter models, spices it with the efficient and comfortable geometry of our long cyclocross heritage, and dashes it with the awesome compliancy and durability of steel tubing. Outfitted with large tire clearance, eyelets for racks, and disc brakes for great stopping power, the Rove will deliver you come dirt, gravel or asphalt for as many Long Sweet Rides as you dare imagine.



Losing my Fixie fixation ….

Losing my Fixie fixation …. I like looking at them but who am I kidding – My Klein MTB is set up SS for town use, My Carver Ti is my play thing and I have a Brompton for town and commuting and multi transport use. What I don’t have (and I realised on that trip to Arran) is a touring long distance road bike.

So ones that have grabbed my attention are:

1. Salsa Vaya

2. Surly Long Haul Trucker (LHT)

3. Jamis Aurora Elite

4. Pompetamine Versa Pro

5. Kona Sutra

1 Salsa Vaya £1250 (RRP £1350)

Salsa Vaya
  • Disc Brakes
  • Road / Gravel Use
  • Sloping top tube / better clearance

The Vaya is our road adventure bike, designed to take on any surface that someone might consider a ‘road’.

Crafted of Salsa Classico CroMoly, the Vaya is loaded with braze-on’s for fenders, racks, and lowriders. This makes everything from wet weather commutes to full-on touring a breeze.

Stable geometry keeps the bike from being twitchy, and makes the bike a pleasure to ride while loaded. Our two smallest Vaya sizes use 26” wheels to provide better fit, improved standover clearance, and to eliminate toe overlap. The larger Vaya sizes use 700c wheels.

Enjoy a long day in the saddle. Link up pavement and gravel. Hit that limestone rails-to-trails route you’ve always wanted to do. Do a light tour. Or load your panniers to the hilt for a month of two-wheeled exploring. The Vaya will get you there. And bring you back.

Vaya. A true do-it-all road-riding bike.

2 Surly Long Haul Trucker £900


Like all our frames, it’s made of cromoly steel.  We like steel for a lot of reasons.  Foremost among them is the ride quality a well designed steel frame delivers.  It doesn’t hurt that steel is relatively inexpensive, or that it is more easily repaired than aluminum, carbon fiber, or titanium.  You’ll probably never need to have the frame repaired, but if you do you’re more likely to find someone who can weld steel than someone who can weld ti or aluminum.  Repair carbon fiber?  Good luck with that.

We offer the LHT as a frameset or as a complete bike.  The ‘Trucker is available in a 26” wheel size across the size run, with an option for 700c in 56, 58, 60, and 62cm sizes.  Some people prefer  the larger diameter 700c, and that’s cool.  26″ is a more popular size around the world, however, so you’ll more easily be able to find replacement tubes, tires, and rims should the need arise. Smaller wheels are also stronger than their 700c counterparts, so they’ll stand up better to rough roads and heavy loads.

The LHT complete is set up with quality parts meant for the purpose of this bike.  Add racks, fenders, pedals, and bags and then, well… go someplace.

3 Jamis Aurora Elite £1130 – 28lbs

Any colour as long as it's brown


  • 631 steel – air hardened Reynolds 631, a touring benchmark.
  • 10 speed cassette
  • disc-braked
  • rack and guards as standard

Road bikes are too light duty. Mountain and city bikes are too heavy duty. Welcome to the Just Right world of Aurora Elite, Aurora and Bosanova, the town bikes for smart urban speedsters and cyclo-tourists.

Legendary Reynolds steel is our chassis material of choice, for its unbeatably robust performance and the resilient ride-damping you’ll appreciate while loaded up and bombing around on the streets. This is magic stuff, especially for full pannier touring and rough-road adventures.

This year’s rides are simply better and lighter—Aurora Elite gets SRAM’s new Apex group, with double-chainring shifting and a huge gear range that’s lighter and faster than a repurposed triple-ring MTB gearset.

4. On One Pompetamine Versa Pro £1000

Pomp and Ceremony


Our ultimate commuting, touring and cross bike. Steel frame, 8 speed Shimano Alfine hub gears, Versa VRS-8 drop bar shifters, and top end componentry make this the On-One C2W must have purchase.

Due to popular demand we are proud to introduce a drop bar version of the On-One Pompetamine- our disc only steel framed multi-purpose hybrid.

Versa VRS-8 drop bar shifters are a perfect match for Shimano’s renowned 8 speed Alfine hub gear system, offering unmatched low maintenance performance and a gearing range nearly as wide as conventional derailleur systems.

Breaking new ground in cross over bike speed and versatility the drop bar Pompetamine bikes are fast, reliable and tough enough to take a right hammering- whether that be on rough city streets, canal towpaths, bridle-ways, touring, expeditions or even cyclocross (now UCI are allowing disc breaks these bikes are competition legal).

The Pompetamine Versa Pro has an upraded spec over the standard model shedding weight and increasing riding effieiciency. A Selle Italia Shiver Kevlar saddle, Planet X Ultralight CNC stem and folding Continental Top Contact tyres are just some of the many highlights of what is unquestionably a beautifully well specced build.

Complete bike weight: 24.7 lbs (11.2 kg)

5. Kona Sutra £1000

'conduct of life'


  • Disc and Racks included
  • Sloping top tube

Kona’s Sutra touring bike adds a slice of mountain bike mechanics to your world domination plans to guarantee good global karma.

The world of long-haul touring bikes is dominated by traditional English manufacturers and specialist long-haul suppliers, such as Dawes, Thorn and others. Kona brings a sensibility that’s rooted in mountain biking to the notion of the sedate touring bike.

Ride: steady as she goes

With a 30lb all-up weight, the Sutra is definitely on the heavy side, but it is designed more as a yak than a racehorse and it fills that role superbly.

The weight you feel on the climbs is what gives it stability when the big panniers are fully loaded. It’s still much faster than an MTB anyway, and once you settle into its steady stride, it’s a resolute and enjoyable roller.

The steel frame is deliberately stiff to stop it wobbling around all over the place when you’re thundering down a pass with all your worldly possessions on board. Even with a sturdy straight leg fork, it’s still a lot more forgiving over potholes, cobbles and bridleways than an aluminium frame.

As you’d expect from a Kona, unloaded handling is still perky enough to play about on winding paths and woodland tracks. Ideal when you’ve set up camp, or fancy heading out for a local play instead of a once-round-the-planet lap.

On more technical trails or filthy days, the Avid disc brakes give a superb confidence boost, with their controlled and consistent stopping. Traction is only as good as the tyres, though, so if you’re heading off-road regularly then get yourself some more knobbly cyclo-cross rubber.

Frame: retro steel appeal

Kona has gone for big retro appeal with the white panel graphics over baby blue paint. Like the Charge Plug, it has a steel frame, although here it’s a quality, butted pipeset from Italian manufacturer Dedacciai.

Kona has also loaded the Sutra with an impressive set of standard fixtures, including v-brake/cantilever studs, as well as the fitted disc brakes and triple bottle cages for long days in the desert.

There are mounts for mudguards and conventional low-rider front racks, and it comes with tough tubular alloy racks fitted as standard.

Equipment: standout discs & racks

The Avid discs are definitely going to be a big draw for mountain bikers, but from experience make sure you take plenty of pads on any long trip, because wet weather rips through them in double-quick time.

In versatility terms, the included pannier racks are superb. The rear one isn’t the stiffest we’ve used under heavy loads, but its unique design means plenty of clearance around the disc brake for easy maintenance.

The Continental Contact tyres are classics, while the Shimano Deore hubs can be home-serviced and re-greased for years of smooth running.


It looks great, it handles great – loaded or unloaded – and it’ll carry your weekly shop or your worldly possessions all the way to Thailand safely and securely.

Overall weight dulls its sporting edge, but it’s a confident and versatile bike that’s not afraid of a bit of rough.

MORE to come I am Sure

COOPER T200 £895 COMPLETE The Cooper T20…


The Cooper T200 is inspired by the classic lightweight steel racing bikes of the 60’s, and combines timeless styling with the latest materials and technology. Simple. Elegant. Beautiful.

The T200 Reims combines style and beauty with the convenience of 5 gears.

Cooper bikes use their Engineering expertise to create bikes that are designed and manufactured to meet the high standards demanded by our customers. Cooper bikes ensure that all components meet or exceed the latest CEN test standards, and only work with trusted, established industry specialists and component suppliers to deliver the perfect package. The Reims perfectly combines this modern Technology and Engineering with classic style and elegance.The beautiful lugged and brazed frame uses Reynolds 531 Mg Mo butted steel tube to ensure lightweight strength and durability. Cooper Engineering Team worked with Sturmey Archer to design a unique crankset, and combined it their timeless 5 speed rear hub to provide outstanding performance maintaining a classic, clean look. Mavic Open Sport rims and Tektro brakes provide the stopping power. The classic Brooks swallow saddle and Brooks leather bar tape guarantees quality and comfort. Finished in Classic Cream with Reims decals.

Independent Fabrication Steel is real $POA for a frame

Grass track racing was popular in England in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. We’re not sure exactly how popular, but there are photos from the period, and grass track bikes were featured in some of the old British lightweight catalogs. Anyhow, inspired by an old photo, Independent Fabrication were motivated to do something to bring to Interbike.

milani velocita urbana

The Velocita brings a new level of sophistication to the whole ‘fixie thing which seems to be sweeping London town – the difference here is that this bike will not only look right right outside those Hoxton bars but should you be so radical as to actually ride the thing and put those winter training miles in on this beautiful machine – you will come back smiling and ready for more. In fact you should probably ride this bike wearing a pair of those Paul Smith brogues featured in the Rapha advert, some plus fours and tweed socks – like something out of a CTC poster circa 1935!

Like the Replica, at the heart of the Velocita is an Italian built lugged steel frame, beautifully finished and ready to be built up into whatever suits your taste – commuting bike or simple training bike – whichever, you will love it for years.

Mosquito bikes can supply as a complete bike as shown at £1850  or as a frameset which we can build up for you to your desired specification.

Mosquito bike also have this lovely thing in stock

Fixie Inc Blackjack £1249

FIXIE Inc. is the story of two idealists, never having been satisfied with the de facto standard. Their drive and innovative solutions, together with an eye for unique design, has defined what the FIXIE Inc. brand is today. FIXIE Inc. stands for individualism, purity and a love for detail. We regard our products as state-of-the-art in efficient, detail-oriented design. The FIXIE signature is simply a sum of its parts, which reveals our product‘s true genius.

the 2010 bike

Pegoretti Frames – lovely

Kona Grand Wagon £1700 complete

Shame that have mixed the brown and black theme but nothing some new treads wouldnt cure

(blurb)Taking the Wagon series high into the bling-o-sphere, cycling aficionados will love this piece of mobile art: lugged frame, Dedacciai SAT bronze-welded Chromoly tubing, and a Mavic Track Ellipse wheelset. Bipedal candy if you ask us. If this bike doesn’t get you dates-like, really hot dates-you might have issues.