Last Updated on June 11, 2023 by FAB Jim The Cyclist
Steel road bikes are no longer the norm in the world, aluminum and carbon have taken over. It’s sort of a shame because steel bikes provide a really comfortable ride, steel is real! I found my love of steel riding vintage bikes and realized I love the feel. Aluminum tends to be a much harsher ride, and carbon is still very expensive. Steel is a great option for many riders, strong and provides a comfortable ride. Its only weakness is that it is a little heavier, but steel road bike can be quite light. Most of the options out there now in steel are actually pretty expensive. Below I’m going to share some more affordable options. I have found some reasonably affordable bikes and also some framesets for a more affordable build.
Favorite Budget Modern Steel Road bike
Motobecane Gran Premio Elite $999.95
This bike has a Reynolds 520 chromoly frame with a carbon fork and 28mm wide Continental Gatorskin tires, it should be a very comfortable ride. This is combined with Shimano 105 R7000 shifters and derailleurs for a modern drivetrain. This bike should also be reasonably lightweight. And for the price I don’t see any other true steel road bikes that can compete with this one. The only downside is that it’s an online purchase, so the shop won’t be delivering it all tuned and ready. You will have to tune it up or be prepared to bring it in to the bike shop. But I think the price makes up for that. Check it out:
Favorite Budget Modern Steel Adventure bike
State Bicycle 4130 All-Road $899.99
This isn’t a typical road bike, it’s a more versatile adventure bike. It’s modern and should be a really comfortable ride. Frame is 4130 chromoly steel with 38mm wide tubeless compatible wheels and tires. Fork is also 4130 chromoly for excellent vibration absorption. Drivetrain is a modern 1×11 which should work great for most riders. Nice, flared drop bars will also add to the comfort. Disc brakes will help keep you safe with strong braking. Bike will not only be good on the road, but great on gravel too and light offroad. They even offer 650b wheels and tires if gravel is more of your thing. Offered in black or copper brown. Check it out:
Here are some other modern steel road bikes to check out:
All City Space Horse Tiagra $1999 – an adventure/touring bike.
Fuji Touring $1499.99 – a touring style bike with a steel frame.
Jamis Renegade S4 $1399.95 – steel gravel/adventure style bike.
Kona Rove $1599 – steel adventure bike.
Marin Nicasio $989 – adventure style steel bike. Another top budget pick!
Salsa Marrakesh Alivio $1999 – steel touring bike.
State 4130 Road bike $589.99 – neat road bike at a great price. Has downtube mounted shift levers, so old school cool.
Surly Straggler $1849 – a steel do-anything bike with drop bars.
Trek 520 $1829.99 – steel touring bike
As you can see above, steel is mostly used for adventure/touring bikes now. Adventure bikes are still great for the road, just a bit more versatile. Touring bikes are generally a little heavier and made for long distance rides carrying lots of gear.
Super cheap road bike
Kent GZR700 $314.99
If you are on a super tight budget but want to try a steel road bike this might be an option for you. Not so modern as it has stem mounted shifters, but it is steel and cheap. It has some Shimano components so it should be pretty reliable if tuned correctly. Likely pretty heavy.
Cheap Gravel Bike
Giordano Trieste Gravel Bike $549.99
Here is a steel gravel bike option that you can get on Amazon. Chromoly frame with Shimano Claris shifters and derailleurs. It also has mechanical disc brakes with double wall rims with 32 spokes. Tuned up well this could be a fun bike.
All of the above bikes have been made for a while so if new doesn’t match you budget you could look used. The above brands have also had a few other models that were steel in the past that might work well for you. The one thing I would say is that bikes that fit wider tires tend to be newer. So, if you go older you might only be able to fit 25mm tires which provides a bit harsher ride than wider tires. But I have heard that a steel bike with thin tires still rides better than an aluminum bike.
Steel Frames and Framesets
If none of the above bike’s workout for you, or you just want to do your own build, there are framesets available.
Gunnar – really high-quality steel frames, these are made by Waterford Precision Cycles as their stock brand. Not so budget as I believe framesets start at about $1250. Made in USA.
Milwaukee Bicycle Company – another brand made by Waterford Precision Cycles. I think for the quality you get the road frameset is a great deal starting at $865. Made in USA.
New Albion – the Privateer frame is one of the more budget frameset options at about $450. Matching fork is $160. Nice option for a classic road bike style.
Soma – nice steel road, touring, and cyclocross/adventure framesets. Start at around $700.
Surly – lots of options for steel road, touring, and gravel/adventure bikes. I built my own road style bike from a Cross Check frame. Midnight special would be a nice road option also. Framesets start at about $700.
Waterford Precision Cycles – custom frames made in Waterford, WI. This is the old factory that made Schwinn Paramount’s. Really high-quality steel frames. I think their framesets start at around $2,000. Gunnar is their more budget friendly option.