Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Smell of Steel

Of Steel - trailer from RAPHA on Vimeo.

Ah, steel bike frames. Italian steel bike frames. The history, the heritage, hand made, old school - however you wish to label it. There's something there, perceived or not, that still oozes bike culture, even in the Land of Carbon-O-Plenty.

Torches, flame, sparks and files in the process of construction. I don't care how trick and feather light carbon frames are, and for how well they ride - popping 'em out of a mold, or gluing patches of high tech cloth together - it just ain't as romantic as the craftsman hand welding a steel frame. Especially welded by an Italian dude. Face it kids, that's a fact.

Film above features Dario Pegoretti and crew talking about steel, assembled with love in Italy. Pegoretti frames are ridable works of art. Is there a little hype and schtick involved? Of course, call me a sucker for falling for it, but there's still something to bikes from Italy - and I don't mean a Bianchi with a "Made in Taiwan" sticker hidden under the bottom bracket. The frame, the soul of it all, must be fully constructed and painted in Italy to qualify. Capiche?

Dario and crew curse in the film - Italian cursing - how cool is that? I'd like to learn Italian just to curse at erratic motorists. That would be worth the trouble of learning a second language right there. Yes, the wonders of Italy never cease.

I may order a pizza for dinner...


  1. I don't own a carbon frame. I've seen too many carbon cracks. I got a mix of steel and alum. Steel is the real deal quick and snappy.

  2. I have steel, aluminum and carbon bikes. Correctly done carbon is actually very strong, but can explode into nice pieces when crashed - however, an impact like that is more then likely to waste a frame made out of steel or whatever else.

    Most steel, aluminum, or titanium bikes run a carbon fork anyway - and that's the item I don't want to fail ever.

    I think the bikes from your earliest era of riding is what looks correct to you. For me, that would steel frames. Still, total retro guy I'm not and dig frames from various material for various reasons. Great and crappy frames can made from all available materials.

    If I was going for the custom dream (road) bike, I'd probably go with a steel frame and fork. Combined with latest running gear, still crazy overall weight.

    Mark my words - steels frames will make a comeback to sit alongside the carbon offerings. There's no other material to top carbon fiber, so the move will be full-circle back to steel. I'd bet on it. You'll see high end steel offerings from all the big players once again.

  3. I agree with Dan O.
    I too have bikes made from steel,aluminium,carbon and titanium. Each material has it's own feel. That's not to say one is better than the other- just different.
    Having said that the next bike on my 'want' list is in fact a Pegoretti Luigiano.

  4. Steals the Deal, enjoyed the post

  5. Doing my retro rebuild a few years back I found myself loving the ride of steel. With todays modern steel tubes you can have a steel bike about as light as any other bike out there.

    Steel will always look classic!

  6. @Bikewright and mrbill

    Yes, steel will always be the deal. You can build up a crazy light steel bike nowadays.

  7. @Travor

    I'd dig a steel Pegoretti as well. His aluminum bikes look pretty sweet too.

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