Why are steel bikes so good? For the “steel is real” crowd, the ride quality, durability, and looks simply can’t be beaten. It damps vibration and increases comfort. It can survive the worst abuse and be repaired when damaged. And aesthetically, the classic skinny steel tubes just look right. You have to ride steel to understand.
If you’re feeling steel-curious, you don’t need to drop big bucks and wait months for a bespoke, handmade frame to experience the joy of a steel bike. There are plenty of great, affordable options available now. I’ve picked out some of my favorite steel road, gravel, and mountain bikes from our inventory that will ride well and last a lifetime.
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Best Steel Road Bikes
Ritchey Road Logic - $2,749.99
The nimble, stiff, and comfortable Road Logic epitomizes how a steel road bike should ride. The timeless design comes from Tom Ritchey, a framebuilding legend who designed and built some of the first mountain bike frames and components. The Road Logic features a heat-treated, triple-butted Ritchey Logic steel with a straight headtube and aggressively short-butted sections optimized for TIG welding to save weight and improve ride quality.
Casati Espresso XCR - $3,849.99
Do you dream of owning a classic steel Italian bike, but don’t want a clapped-out vintage frame? Casati has been building bikes for as long as many of its compatriots, but it’s remained loyal to steel. This Casati Espresso XCR is not only beautiful, but it’s also shockingly affordable. For the price, you get a frame handbuilt in Italy using Columbus Spirit tubing that looks absolutely stunning with simple light blue paint and clear coated stays.
Pegoretti Round - $6,999.99
I’ve always loved Dario Pegoretti’s work, and even though this 2022 Round wasn’t built by the master himself (he passed in 2018), it carries on his spirit. The Round is Pegoretti’s latest frame, made from stainless steel Columbus XCR tubing with 3D printed stainless steel dropouts. It’s named in honor of Dario Pegoretti’s “sign-off handle” and has a “Texas Flood” paint-job inspired by Dario’s love for Stevie Ray Vaughan and the city of Austin, Texas.
Fairdale Weekender Nomad - $2,499.99
Fairdale lives by the motto, “Keepin’ it simple keeps it fun,” and its comfortable and sturdy Weekender Nomad touring bike exemplifies this. It uses a simple and reliable 1x drivetrain and mechanical disc brakes, and it has clearance for higher-volume tires so you can play on and off-road. With fender and rack mounts, it won't bat an eye at being loaded up with racks and bags for daily commuting or long-distance adventures.
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Best Steel Gravel Bikes
Ritchey Swiss Cross - $3,349.99
Ritchey again! Of course, I had to include Ritchey’s most iconic bike, the Swiss Cross. It gets its name from Swiss cyclocross and mountain bike legend Thomas Frischknecht. It’s a no-holds-barred race machine that has won numerous cyclocross races under Frischi. But it can do so much more. The modern version features 12mm thru-axles, flat-mount brakes, and higher-volume tire clearance, so it’s ready to rip it up in gravel races too.
Niner RLT 9 Steel - $2,899.99
Niner offers the carbon RLT 9 for racers but decided to design a steel version for “purists” who are after classic aesthetics and a more supple ride feel. It’s made for all-day adventures with stable geometry, lots of mounts for gear, and clearance for massive 700c x 50mm tires. The RLT 9 Steel is built using air-hardened Reynolds 853 steel, which is thinner and lighter than most steel without sacrificing strength.
Bombtrack Hook - $3,475.27
Bombtrack comes from the rough and tumble world of BMX, so they understand how to make tough frames that last. Bombtrack actually has a massive selection of steel bikes, and the Hook is its “classic” gravel option using 700C tires. It’s comfortable and easily adaptable, with direct mounts for a top tube bag, three bottle cage mounts, and rack and fender mounts. Load it up or leave it stripped down for faster group rides and races.
Specialized Sequoia Expert - $2,849.99
The original Sequoia was actually the first bike Specialized ever produced, debuting in 1974 as a touring bike. It disappeared but made a surprise comeback in 2016 as a steel gravel bike. The frame uses Specialized’s premium cro-moly tubing and ultra-thin seat stays to maximize compliance. Compared to Specialized’s flagship Diverge gravel bike, it offers more durability, comfort, and cargo capacity to satisfy adventurers taking on massive gravel epics.
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Steel Hardtail Mountain Bikes
Kona Honzo ST - $2,799.99
I wrote the Kona Honzo a love letter on Valentine’s Day because it’s one of the bikes I regret selling the most. It’s a basic steel trail hardtail, and though it’s not exceptional at any one thing, riders like me love it because it’s pretty good at almost everything. Run it with a lightweight 120mm fork for XC races or a burly 150mm fork for enduro. If you want to go singlespeed, the sliding dropouts let you do that too!
Canfield Nimble 9 - $3,399.99
Canfield’s Nimble 9 is the original all-mountain hardtail. When it debuted over ten years ago, few bike builders were making steel hardtails with big forks designed to shred. It’s now in its fifth generation and still handcrafted in small batches with burly 4130 steel and sliding dropouts. It’s super versatile, compatible with 140-160mm forks, singlespeed or geared set-ups, and 29”, 29-plus, or 27.5-plus wheels with up to 2.8-inch tires.
RSD Middlechild V2 - $2,999.99
Born and bred in Toronto, RSD Bikes has been all about hardtail mountain bikes from day one. Models like the Middlechild are designed and built to survive the gnarly rock-strewn trails found in Ontario and British Columbia, so you know it’s ready to take a serious beating. With a slack 64.1-degree head angle, long reach, and a 140mm fork, the Middlechild is the epitome of the downhill-friendly “hardcore hardtail.”
Marin El Roy - $2,599.99
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Marin bikes come from Marin County, California, the birthplace of mountain biking, and it’s experienced a bit of a revival with the release of several new and innovative mountain bike models. If the RSD Middlechild is hardcore, then the Marin El Roy is death metal. It pushes the envelope with a wild 63-degree head angle and 78-degree seat angle. Paired with its 140mm fork, it will give you the confidence to send it down the steepest downhill tracks.
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