Steel is Real, Again

As has been noted around the bicycle internets, many of the big, mass-production bicycle makers will offer steel bikes as part of their line ups, and come spring, local bike shops should be full of new “old fashioned” bicycles from the big names. Here are a few:

Electra Ticino:

Fuji Connoisseur:
Picture 6

Specialized Allez Steel:

Trek Belleville:

These are all mass-market, major names in cycling, and they seem to be paying attention to what’s going on not only on the custom framebuilding scene, but also to utility cyclists who create very practical randonneuring and city bikes from Soma, Surly, Kogswell, and Rawland on the low-price end. Move up the price and quality chain, and I’m sure plenty of inspiration has been gathered from many of the bikes built up by Rivendell, Jitensha, and Waterford and the many excellent reviews in Bicycle Quarterly.

I have read in some places that these new steel bikes are “ripping off” ideas from the insurgent retrogrouch movement (Velo Orange), but most of the good ideas from niche bicycle designers or retailers just borrow from tried-and-true ideas. When people know what they are doing (Grant Peterson, for example), the combination of design knowledge and a reliance on time-tested bicycle ideas can create cycling nirvana.

I hope that these new steel frames create a larger tent for those seeking a more interesting riding experience, although none of them interest me that much (I love the Soma Buena Vista). Maybe that will happen. Maybe when one of these bikes comes in 650B!



  1. EBEEP

    The beginning of the end. If they’d actually produce quality rather than mimic it, I’d be celebrating the rebirth of bicycles as practical transport. Instead, this will successfully pair the notions of novelty and poor quality with distorted visual aesthetics of legendary builders. A sad day, but as with all trends, this too shall passe!

  2. thom

    I love that all of these things that are now considered “new” are really just bringing back what we lost during the ten-speed and racing bike boom of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s and later the mountain bike boom of the 1990s. Nothing against these styles of bicycling, but their respective fads completely wiped out the transportational cycling market that was still making a valiant effort at making good quality, mass-produced bikes for transportation in the 1950s. There’s nothing inherently wrong with mass producing transportation bikes, as long as it’s done somewhat well. I don’t think it’s a fad, I think it’s just a recognition that there’s another market out there. And these are not necessarily “old fashioned” bikes or styles, either, it’s just that transportational cycling itself came to be seen as outdated during the sport cycling booms of the last few decades. I’m glad it appears to still exist, or rather, exist again.

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