Spend enough time in bike shops and you'll hear the phrase “steel is real”. It evokes the days when everyone rode lugged steel frames and implies that this material is somehow more genuine, more authentic than alloy or carbon. But is that true? And does it matter anyway?
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My favourite bike (bought with my own money) is made from steel. Reynolds 725 tubing to be precise, heat-treated in Taiwan for extra strength. I love how comfortable and springy it feels. I also like the classic, clean looks of thin tubing, and the fact it can be repaired anywhere in the world with a welding rig. And if I treat it right, it should last longer than I do.
Yet I still marvel at the ride qualities of titanium, the lightness of carbon, and the stiffness of alloy. I'm not sure it really matters if I'm riding the same material as Eddy Merckx once did. Does every bike need to last forever? Do steel frames actually have a soul? Is steel 'real'?
These are big questions, so I need help from BikeRadar readers — what do you think? Please tell us in the comments below!