‘Steel Bike Edition’ of Bicycle Quarterly?
Half-jokingly, we’ve been referring to the Autumn Bicycle Quarterly as the ‘Steel Bike Edition.’ We didn’t plan it that way; it just happened. This illustrates how vibrant the world of steel bikes is today – arguably, they are better than ever before. Of course, there are also great carbon bikes out there, and truly exceptional titanium bikes. And yet, by pure coincidence, all the riders and builders featured in the current Bicycle Quarterly chose steel bikes.
Anton Krupicka rode his Crust Evasion Lite, a relatively affordable production frame, in an incredible adventure: He ran and scrambled up the highest peaks of Utah’s Uinta Range, of the Grand Tetons and the Wind River Range – and he connected these ascents via a 21-day, 2,300-mile bike tour. His Sagebrush & Summits adventure is brought to life in Fred Marmsater’s stunning photos. (Fred met Anton for a day or two on the road to document the trip.) More than just a ride report, Anton talks about why he embarked on this adventure, what he felt and experienced on the road and trail, and how he stayed motivated throughout his challenging solo trip.
Rob van Driel took his rebuilt and modified 1970s Jo Routens on a wonderful tour of Portugal. Rob stopped counting kilometers many years ago, but he enjoys linking beautiful towns via challenging roads. (And his photos are truly exceptional.)
Our test bike was made by Max Pratt, an innovative framebuilder from Rhode Island. The Pratt shows that modern steel bikes can match the performance of the best carbon bikes – as we found out during a ride deep into the Cascades that turned into more of an adventure than we had planned.
And when the time came to build a bike specifically for speedy travel across the rough trails and gravel roads of the Oregon Outback, there was never really a question: Jan’s new bike was going to be built from superlight steel tubing.
All these bikes aren’t ‘retro.’ They simply showcase the potential of steel as a frame material – it’s incredibly versatile and can be turned into very special bikes. One big reason why steel has made such a resurgence is that bikes have evolved in recent years – for the better. Gone are the days when only road racing drove cycling technology, and other riding styles were the poor stepchildren of the bike world, often neglected and never taken seriously. Even though we didn’t intend this to be the ‘Steel Bike Edition,’ let’s celebrate the fact that all these bikes are wonderful machines that have created big smiles and incredible memories.
Photo credits: Fred Marmsater (Photos 1, 2), Rob van Driel (Photo 4), Rugile Kaladyte (Photo 5).