Bikes vs. The World: Round #4 – Steel 531 vs. Steel Reserve 211

Nov 28 2005

I really don’t know how these two combatants got tangled up. I mean, can you think of two things less related than a well-regarded vintage bike tubing and a smooth finishing, oddly glowing malt beverage? I guess it might be a make-up call for last week’s pathetically obvious battle. Rounds 1 and 2 can be found here and here, respectively. Now let’s get down to seeing which steel is more real.

Category Bike Culture:
Steel 531
Pop Culture:
Steel Reserve 211
Winner
Claim to Fame: For over half a century, the standard for high-end bicycle tubing Premium “high gravity” malt liquor 531; based entirely on longevity
Named For: Allegedly, the percentages of manganese, molybdenum and carbon in the tubing Alchemical symbol for steel, which looks kind of like “211” Draw; the factual soundess of each name is debatable
Craved By: People who think technology peaked in 1935 Hobos, frat boys tired of drinking “Mickey’s Draw; it’s just too close to call
Known For: “A very lively frame without any harshness in the ride quality” “Nice basic flavor, balanced hop bite, adequate aromatics” and 8.1% alcohol by volume 211; 8.1% is at least quantifable
Dirty Little Secret: Replaced by 753 and 853 tubesets some two decades ago Insists that it is a “beer,” despite consensus opinion that it’s a malt liquor 531; most people who buy it seek an outdated product, anyway
Immortalized By: More TdF wins than any other tubeset The Ramones song “Gimme My Steel Reserve” 531; as much as I like the Ramones…
Evil Nemesis: Humidity and salt Alcohol content laws 211; no one is trying to sell malt liquor to Utahns
Environmental Friendliness: Easily recycled, but you might have to pay a few dollars due to the unweildly shape of a bike frame Easily recycled, but generally the bottles are just smashed and/or left in back alleys 531; I guess saving the Earth is worth a buck or two
Manufacturing Process: I’m told it has to be lugged and brazed Slow brewed for at least 28 days Draw; given the effectivness of faster methods, each seems unnecessary
Lasting Contribution to Society: Allowed people to judge the ride quality of a bike without ever riding it None, really 211; encouraging people to buy bikes based on a sticker on the downtube is a net loss to humanity

Wow! Look at all those draws! Seems like these two had more in common than I thought. Really, this one could have gone either way (and after a bottle or two of Steel Reserve, probably would have) but in the end it’s good old Reynolds 531 squeaking out the 4-3 victory over Steel Reserve malt liqour. Who knows what sort of madness will show up here for next week’s installment

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