At Carytown bikes, we pride ourselves in having a bike for just about everyone.
That entails having bikes made of just about every material possible. Most people accept aluminum as the norm. Even the most casual shopper has some understanding of what makes carbon special. But the material I get the most questions on is the one I assumed everyone would know about: steel.
Coming from fixed gear bikes, where steel bikes like the reliable Surly Steamroller and covetable Japanese track machines, are the norm, I just fell into liking steel.
The first time a customer asked me if steel was actually special or just marketing, I didn’t know what to say. Even now, the best I can really say is “it depends.”
Steel is great because it’s a simple material. It’s inexpensive to purchase, easy to work on, and super durable. What this translates into is creating frames that are just about infinitely repairable, something good for those who are hard on their bikes. What it also means is the barrier of entry for frame building is low, allowing the steel market to be filled with cottage builders.
Low cost for research and development means manufacturers don’t have to make bikes that will sell to everyone, they are free to get freaky, putting out designs in wild colors, with wild features, to fill niches you didn’t know existed. Bring on the wild colors, the fixer-uppers, and the do-it-all customs!
Long before I cared about bikes, I was into fashion, still am. And coming from fashion I admittedly put looks before anything. Firstly, steel bikes look like the bikes you imagined and wanted as a kid. Second, who doesn’t love being able to have something unique? Steel bikes may not be for everybody, but they sure as hell are for me.