Question: A year ago, I bought a custom steel frame equipped with Ksyrium Elite wheels and Campy components. Now when I go on group rides, other guys tell me I should have gotten a titanium, aluminum or carbon-fiber frame instead. Was steel the wrong choice? — Jean-Claude D.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: You don’t need to make apologies. Steel is an excellent frame material with several advantages. A big one is the ability to have the frame repaired should it be damaged in an accident. (Though it’s common these days to be able to fix carbon-fiber frames, too.)
Steel frames tend to weigh slightly more, but the extra ounces are a tiny percentage of rider and bike weight. The difference between a modern steel frame and one made of Ti or aluminum is negligible.
I own several steel frames and like their ride quality and the way they absorb shock. I think most riders who have been in this game for a while feel the same way about steel even if they’re currently riding a different material.
It’s also worth noting that many custom frame-builders work in either steel or Ti, which is what many customers want in a custom ride.
The pros and cons of various frame materials make for interesting technical discussions. None of it matters much as long as the bike fits you correctly and you’re out there riding it.