When alloy and carbon race bikes kicked steel out of the podium, they paved the way for new materials that promised stiffness and light weight. Despite these advances, steel refused to fade into the background and it remains the most popular frame material for riders that prioritize durability and craftsmanship over race-winning performance. Ask any Fan of Steel about the experience of riding a bike crafted from this ancient material and you’ll be treated to a passionate lecture about what makes this material so magical.
With a history of being the choice of professional racing teams and cult bicycle manufacturers, it’s no wonder that steel remains such a beloved material. Fans of steel talk about the “spring-y,” “lively,” and “elastic” sensations that are evoked when riding these bikes. But these cyclists aren’t just looking to achieve better race results; they’re also seeking a more profound connection with their bikes.
For those of you who love to ride and enjoy the craft of building a bicycle, you’re in luck because there are still plenty of excellent builders that specialize in steel bikes. Many of these buildsters are dedicated to using this durable and sturdy material and they’re willing to put their reputations on the line to prove that they can build a high-performance steel bicycle that is comparable to bikes made from modern materials.
Based just outside Santa Cruz, CA, Rick Hunter crafts each of his customer’s frames by hand. His TIG welded construction is known in cycling circles for its durability and stunning aesthetics. His chromoly and lugged steel bikes are often recognizable by their colorful finishes and seatstay wishbone design.