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I am continually drawn towards things with a strong tactile quality. The feel of a worn canvas jacket or a wooden handle on a tool that has been held in the hand for decades. A swooping Brooks saddle on a bicycle that has been ridden daily for decades rain or shine. There is a natural and organic beauty to these sorts of things that speak to the relationship between humans and our environment. 

I love steel for this same reason. It can be shaped by bare hands in some cases and is also strong enough to withstand a lifetime of hard work. It is timeless and classic and also contemporary. Other materials have their place and being able to use the best material and technology for each aspect of a bicycle is key. Titanium seat rails and seatposts? Love it! Carbon wheels on a steel frame? Sign me up!

Steel changes with the season. Cold in the winter and warm in the summer. It shifts its surface from shiny and raw to orange rust when it meets with water and air. When you hold it in your hand it feels alive and it bears the mark of the human hand after a frame has been made only to be erased by sanding and paint. It is a material you can have a relationship with. It is a material that dates back to our earliest years as humans and has helped us adapt to our world. In a way, steel is a large part of our story as humans. Steel is easier to use for many things including bicycle frames and it’s also easier to recycle and reuse once its life cycle has been completed. No other bicycle material has seen the range of shapes, dimensions, versatility as steel. It is a material that sings back to you as you push your pedal down and lean into a corner. Pushing  harder and aware of the voice coming back to you through the fork and frame telling you to either keep pushing or to ease up. This is not something that can be done with carbon or aluminum or Ti. Not without overdesign and weighing the elegance down with features and technology. This is why my love for steel IS real.


Author ira

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