After a work enforced blogging sabbatical I thought I would try and stir some conversation about steel bike manufacturers and share MY top 5 based on the pure science of my opinion. So, what in my opinion makes for a great steel bike company? Well I have thought long and hard and in my mind a great steel bike manufacturer should have the following ingredients
Heritage – Whether it be a history steeped in black and white shots of grizzled welders making beautiful frames or companies who attempt to keep the history of steel relevant heritage is important in a steel bike manufacturer.
Beauty – If you want to buy an ugly bike to not buy a steel bike. Like titanium it is all about the lines. The market for bikes designed with lateral rigidity or 35% more vertical flex at the expense of aesthetics is full so a steel bike should look good.
Recognisable – You are out on your club ride and the new guy says “Is that a…” your answer is “Yes it’s a…” these conversations help keep steel bikes at the forefront of the generic bike buyers mind the next time they replace their bikes
Limited – Mass production of steel bikes has it’s place, large swathes of the world rely in the mass production of cheep steel bikes for functional purposes and that is great. However steel becomes the weapon of choice then it is thought about, tubing is selected carefully and welds are well constructed.
Based on this here is my subjective, and in no particular order top 5 steel bike manufacturers
Founded by Monty Young in 1948 Condor Cycles has been building their own bikes for over 60 years. Their Super Acciaio (Italian for Steel) is at the top of it’s range. Generally regarded as a thing of beauty and recognisable to those who follow the Rapha Condor Sharp pro team Condor simply have to be up there. (I also happen to own one ed.)
Genesis’s love for Reynolds steel tubing and clean aesthetic lines ticks a number of boxes above which, combined with the Madison Genesis pro team who have raced on the steel allows Genesis to comfortably sit on my list. Backed by Madison, a UK cycling distributor you may argue that this isa wolf in sheep’s clothing but either way, these are great bikes by a company that is keeping steel alive.
Brian Rourke has been building framesets for 35 years. Ridden by world champions and keen enthusiasts alike a Rourke frame is built for you and built by a single person. Riding a Rourke frmaeset in your local pro peleton / club ride is going to turn heads. Rourke also responsible for building the frame that helped Guy Martin reach a speed of 112 mph on a push bike, breaking the British record. Safe to say it was well welded
The distinctive orange and blue livery of a Holdsworth bicycle was once a common sight on the roads of Britain and at high-profile cycling races across Europe. Sadly the upsurge in cheap Taiwanese aluminium and carbon bike manufacturing and the sale of the brand nearly saw it’s demise the brand looks like it might be back. Bought by Planet X in 2013 David Loughran has vowed to bring the manufacturing of this brand back to the shores of the UK. It’s history is unquestionable. Its future looks hopeful with a launch of it’s “Heritage” range in 2015
Mercian have been in existence since 1946. They started out as a bike shop in the suburbs of Derby and have grown into a steel bike manufacturer of some reputation, selling bikes as far a field as Australia. A mercian frame is custom made for you, taking in to consideration your weight riding style and size. Another classic british brand.
I hope this has started the debate! I would be interested in your views..
What’s in the stand: My old Gary Fisher Hoo Koo e Koo which is having a single speed transplant