I'm thinking about an entry level road bike too... I'd be interested in a steel frame if I could find one with Tiagra set, but odds are I won't find anything like that so I'll end up going AL with carbon fork if I get something new. Models I was looking at included Trek 1000, Lemond Etape, Lemond Reno (pricey), Specialized Allez, Giant OCR 3, along with a few Decathlon options.
Any steel roadie fans got good leads for us?
Edit: didn't mention what I'd be using it for: all sorts, from commuting to triathlon to short training spins to longer (100mile+) spins. Maybe even touring if it was suitable to conversion.
May not be exacty what you are after, but you might consider a Lemond Poprad.
Steel frame, 105 groupset. Nice ride.
Technically a cyclocross bike, so comes with cantilever brakes if you want to be truly cross-ready (blame the UCI). You can get a disc version if you prefer. (Actually, lookng at the Lemond website it looks like they only offer a disc version in 2007 - maybe the UCI are changing their regulations!)
Can be fitted with racks and mudguards successfully.
I had a set of 105 road chainrings (53/39) and skinny tires on it during the summer and raced it on the road. Have just fitted the stock CX-specific 46/38 chainrings and the knobbly tires back on and heading into the CX season (first race last weekend!)
Very hard to find another steel bike with that groupset in the same pricerange.
Saying that, you could consider Surly bikes as well - they make a nice steel bike called a Crosscheck that is about the same price as a Poprad, and very cool. May be hard to find in Ireland.
You might even get lucky trawling the buy and sell. A guy I knew picked up a reynolds 753 frame for a few quid there a while back(it wasn't listed as such of course). It would be one of the pinnacles of steel tech. Sweet, strong and a very light bike. The only thing you may have to do with an older frame is to coldset(bend basically) the rear triangles to take the newer wider hub/gears at the back, usually by about 5 mm. Not a problem, unlike the other frame materials you can do that with steel without weakening it unduly. When you do get steel frame the only thing I would advise is to spray some anti rust goo into the main tubes.
Cerebus, the Lemond Poprad sounds fantastic. I found this review though, and the bike sounds very sweet, almost exactly what I'm looking for. Unfortunately out of my current price range - I think I'd be looking in the Sora-Tiagra range. My budget is for an entry level bike, around 800e max (pref Tiagra for upgradability). You mentioned it's suitable for touring/commuting - I didn't see any eyelets to fit racks etc, is that model year specific?
Mercier I saw on ebay... is this bike really worth the 2k he's talking? Not interested in the bike (budget++), just wondering how much of a good deal and what kind of margins these guys have. I had a quick look for Reynolds frames on ebay, I'd prefer the pre-made bike, but I would consider building one up. I'll start picking up the Buy and Sell, see what's on the market.
Funny, that review you linked to mentioned that the bike didn't have the braze-ons and eyelets required - I can confirm that my 2006 Poprad does indeed have these. I have successfully fitted a set of Planetbike Freddy Fenders to it (one small workaround needed) and plan to put these back on for the winter.
Evans Cycles' website show a 2006 disc Poprad for 999 Stg - non-disc version should be cheaper. End of the year too - 2007 models will be coming in soon. Might be closer than you think to your budget?
Haha - hopefully so! LeMond Poprad Cyclocross Frame + Carbon Fork Cross 56/57cm
Regards fitting, is it better to err on the side of the smaller frame with road bikes same as MTB? I'd be looking at either a 52 or a 55 for the Poprad, as I'm 5'7. Don't mind the seatpost showing a bit more and messing with fore/aft adjustment to dial it in properly, but too large a frame would be a shame
Hmmm... how much can I get for my 4300... I wonder
(yeah, I just put on the new wheels today, and got both skewers wrong!)
How about a Planet X Kaffenback? Its a 700c steel cyclocross/do it all frame, it takes tyres up to 38mm without a problem, V-brakes, all for about STG599.
It got a great review in cycling Plus magazine, 9/10.
see www.planet-x-bikes.com under complete bikes. You can pick and choose your wheels and components. Delivery would be about E50.
Got mine locally in Vancouver, BC - currently live (and bike) here.
No idea about Lemond dealers in Ireland. They are a branch/division of Trek as far as I know so it might be worth checking to see if your local Trek dealer can source one?
Lots of UK stockists according to Google.
I can't stop now with my steel road bike fetish. Here's another one that's got great reviews. The Cotic Roadrat.
More of a flat-bar bike, and frame only but you can re-use old bits you might have lying around. Its has v-brake/cantilever mounts plus mounts for disc brakes. Can be run as a geared, singlespeed or fixed. Comes with mudguard and rack eyes. How's that for versatility?
i'll stop now, sorry
Here's what I got back regarding Kaffenback.
That's 1037 euros in new money... bit out of my budget.
Also, and I don't know a lot about this, but I think I might prefer a 9 speed over 10 due to reliability concerns. Comments on that?
I haven't found 10-speed to be any less reliable than 9.
You could just get the Kaffenback frame and fork and put whatever you like onto it - that's a really good price for 105 though.
Yeah, buying a frame and fork and getting the bits yourself (cheaper online) would be fun and a bit of an education. 9 speed may well be a bit cheaper than 10speed, for instance so some retailers may be selling 2005 9-speed kit at a discount.
With a kaffenback you could get a set of decent set of factory built road wheels from Chainreactioncycles.com (say €200), who do a bit of road stuff as well as MTB, including road groupsets.
Elsewhere, a Tiagra groupset would cost about €250 without hubs, then there's the bars, stem, and saddle and you could be up and running for about €750-800.