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Steel HT frames

snowey's picture

By snowey - Posted on 28 April 2015

NB: Originally posted elsewhere on the Global Riders Network and appears via syndication.

Hi guys

I am looking to get a new HT bike soon, possibly something unique.

I was looking at steel framed hardtails and i am just wondering whether its worth it or not?
What sort of experiences have you guys had with steel framed MTB?

My riding only really consists of just all day XC fun and a few XC races here and there.


Slowpup's picture

Niner SIR 9 if you are thinking of trying single speed.

I'd much rather ride a good steel hardtail than a bad aluminium one.

hawkeye's picture

I rode a Spot Rocker steel belt drive SS for a few months.

It had me seriously considering one as a race 29er albeit with a 2×10 transmission and a Lefty fork.

fairy1's picture

Oooh, I have owned a bunch of cr-mo frames over the years and they have all sucked in either build quality or geo so I am still in search of the perfect hardtail.
Late last year I had a custom AM frame with 65deg HA made in Oz but it was a heap of shit so I chopped it up before I even built it up hahaha.

I am currently on a German made 2Souls 41.5 which at the time was the best of a bad bunch in terms of geo but the build quality is rubbish and the snazzy 853 tubing is much harsher than a cheap and nasty On-One, another WOFTAM.

I am either going to a NS Eccentric(slightly short reach wise but their quality/price ratio is unequalled) or if funds permit I will get a BTR Belter.

Most hardtails are running seriously dated geometry, hardtails should be very similar to a dually in the same category but a bit slacker and lower but companies still makes them short and tall which makes them horrible on the downs and just as bad on the ups, if your stem is longer than 50mm you bought the wrong frame!

mtbdavos's picture

I raced elite XC with a Jonesman 26" for 5 years. Still have it as my SS. And my road bike is a steel Salsa thats 12 years old. Steel feels great. Smooth, planted, springy, forgiving, all those clichés. A little heavy, but easier to find your zen on blue tag with steel than carbon.

Also worth checking out the Salsa El Mariachi and Ritchey P-29er/P-650b. They aren't too expensive to get something a little different. Also check out some more obscure brands that have cheaper 'factory' sizing runs.

Some of my faves: About $1000AUD, British. Full custom $1800USD and up, but very nice!

The Salsa and P-29er have slider dropouts which make them versatile for SS'ing, but add some weight. The P-650b has normal dropouts. The Niner has an EBB, which I've heard varying reports about creaking and slipping.

I have never ridden a smoother MTB than a steel 29er. Dreamboat. For the record, it was a Niner MCR.


singlespeeder's picture

Worth it for sure. I ride and race a Kona Unit SS steel hartail and also ride a Ritchey P2 steel bike on the road. Sure, they are a little heavier, but ride well and last through crashes and jumps. My rear seat stay has a dent in it from crashing in rocks and still works fine. A carbon frame would have had it.

Sliding dropouts on the Unit allow you to change to a derailleur too. Soma Juice is another nice frame. The P29er Ritchey only takes one inch steerer and are not tapered, so no good with most modern suspension forks. Lots of choice out there with many nice custom frame makers all over the world. Check out has a thread going on steel SS frames at the moment as well.

Good luck.

DigDig's picture

Love my on-one inbreed if you dont have a cromo HT you need one.

chrischris's picture

I have two SIR9's. One is left as a SS. The other has front squish & gears.

The geometry isn't quite as much fun in tight twisty stuff compared to my old 26", but still great overall.

The old EBB was a hassle. No doubt. But the new version (Biocentric II) is very reliable. You'll need a torque wrench.

EDIT: The current model SIR takes a tapered fork, and a 142x12 rear end. Rust proofing is advisable. It'll last longer than you.

fairy1's picture

If you want to go custom you could go Curtis of Swarf but you should be able to find an XC cr-mo frame off the shelf that will be good enough.

Chromag and Xprezo do some nice frames-

Timoth's picture
Tom, their Australian distributor in Canberra will sort you out.
Steel is alive.

badchef's picture

Built here in Perth,Tim builds some fantastic dj hardtails and full cromo shallows too, an xc hardtail would be a breeze

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