Love at first sight: steel vs carbon frames

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I need a new bike. But not just any bike — I need a bike I can love. You know what I mean; it’s your baby. Your bike takes care of you and you take care of your bike. It’s a relationship thing. A love thing.

For me the best time to get a new bicycle is every three years and always at the end of the season. Yes, I’m looking for deals or a sale, but I’m also looking for something special I can afford. I’ll also sell my current Trek Madone online once I’ve purchased the new bike. This way the cost is offset and I just keep paying it forward. I’ve done this five times now and it works great. Someone gets a well-maintained used upgrade, and I get cash toward the new ride.

I’m not a good mechanic, so I can’t build my own bike (I wouldn’t know where to start). So I need to find a machine that fits the way I ride and also fits my aesthetic, I’m very picky with colors and shapes, as you might have guessed. My new bike has to perform well, but it really has to look great.

pinarello classic

This need for great looks far outweighs the need for speed, mostly because I’ve never been fast and won’t ever be fast, but I have to look fast. Know anyone like that? My struggle between classic steel vs carbon fiber bicycle frames is an ongoing battle. I question anyone that will listen and may have an opinion on steel vs carbon bike frames. And there is never a simple answer.



Steel can look amazing. I love a custom paint job and drool over chrome lugs. I lust for the classic lines of an old-school racing machine and can see myself rolling to the start of a ride on a bike like this. I dream of spending countless hours washing and waxing my new steel bike so it sparkles in the sunshine. Sigh…steel is what I love the most.

red lugs


Then I wake up from my daydream and think about performance, weight and aerodynamics. I’m not fast or strong, so I sure could use every advantage I can find when it comes to keeping up with the Veloist Cycling Club rides.

That’s when carbon fiber bicycle frames move up to the front of the decision-making process. They can also be gorgeous. With smooth, streamlined contours that cheat the wind. Oversized bottom brackets that help my meager power transfer into something close to a few watts. Amazing colors, graphics, brands and models to choose from — what’s not to like?



A this point you’re probably thinking there’s no question here — maybe that’s because you like steel, or you like carbon and you don’t have an issue. I know my dilemma is a personal one and only I can come to a final decision about which to purchase next. I’ve owned both types of frames and I’ve loved them equally for different reasons. I can’t have both, it’s not practical for me so for now I’ll just keep looking for the answer and driving others insane with my constant questions on the issue. I do know this — I’m sure one day soon my new bike will show up at the door and it will be love at first sight.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress. Until then, ride safe and enjoy your ride.


colnago lugs


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Michael Valenti is "The Veloist" - He is an avid cyclist and artist known for his Cycling Art work. Each year Michael chases the Pro Peloton at the Tour de France and other major cycling events. He is available for event and corporate cycling related projects as well as personal commissions for art.

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