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Welded versus lugged frames(9 posts)

Welded versus lugged framesMXL02
Jun 13, 2002 12:38 PM
What if any difference is there between these two types of frames in terms of strength, riding comfort, etc. If no difference is one preferred over the other simply for style? with the lugged being more classical?
No functional differenceNessism
Jun 13, 2002 12:48 PM
Lugless frames allow the builder to use any angles and tube sizes they want. Lugged builders are confined to a great extent buy the lugs themselves.

As far as the actual strength of the frame is concern, there is no difference. Brazing is a lower temperature process which is good since it takes less temper out of tubes, but the heat affected zone is larger than TIG. Overall, the difference is a wash.

Oh really?speedisgood
Jun 13, 2002 5:20 PM
So you don't consider weight to be a functional difference?
Oh really?Nessism
Jun 13, 2002 7:05 PM
From the Henry James web site:

"The ads for welded bikes always talk about how they save weight by not using lugs. What the big welded bike makers never tell you is that in order to make the welding easier in production, they use a very thick walled head tube. This thicker tube matches the weight of a pair of lugs and a standard gauge head tube!

The seat lug is replaced with an externally butted seat tube which is needed to compensate for welding distortion. Seat tube distortion is a big problem for welded steel frames, because the seat tube must be reamed out to accept the standard diameter seat post. If too much metal has to be removed, the frame's strength is compromised. The additional weight of the external butt almost matches the seat lug weight, and the welded on seat bolt boss or a separate clamp adds some more weight. The net saving is from zero to negligible.

That leaves the bottom bracket shell. Where the 4 tubes intersect with the shell, you would think that they would remove the area of the shell that the tubes cover. They don't remove the metal because of welding distortion and strength problems. Our Henry James investment cast BB shells weigh within an ounce of the simple sawed off tube sections used on welded frames. The socket walls on our shells reinforce the joint so our sockets can go right through the shell to save weight, at no loss of strength, and with excellent rigidity."

Mind you, I don't believe everything said in the above statement, but it's close. It depends on the manufacturer and the components used. Waterford for example uses some heavy components for their Gunnar frames and they are about the same weight, or maybe heavier, than the lugged frames they make. Also, I can tell you that based on actually weighing lugs with my own two hands, it's possible to build a frame within 2-3 oz. of a TIG'ed frame. In my book, three oz. is NOT significant in the grand scheme of things. In fact, this is about the same weight savings as between a set of heavy bottle cages and that of a lighter set. Don't forget, it's not the bike weight that's important, it's the weight of bike + rider that determines total mass.

I am assuming that you are talking about steel....sprockets2
Jun 13, 2002 1:08 PM
and in that regard I must say that while it is largely a matter of style and preference, well made lugs are sometimes regarded as providing slightly better ride and response in some conditions. I have not had the pleasure of riding identical bikes differing only in the tube joining, but my experience tends to lead me to believe that line of thought.

OTOH, if you are selecting fine tubes made of some of the hottest new alloys and drawn into thin walled large diameter tubes, welding is sometimes the only way to go because the lugs probably don't exist for the newest and coolest tubing. There are exceptions of course, but generally lugs are designed for the smaller diameter tubes that recall yesteryear.
Jun 13, 2002 1:55 PM
I doubt there is any tangible difference. With current steels that do not significantly weaken with welding I don't see a performance advantage with lugs. That said, I think lugs are cool. There is a small weight penalty but we are already talking steel so I assume you're not a weight weenie. Can't beat the classic look of lugs. Getting harder to find though. Unfortunately all 3 of my steel bikes are TIGed.
slightly biased opinionlaffeaux
Jun 13, 2002 4:41 PM
The main difference is cost. Building bikes with lugs cost more. However, you can argue that the workmanship needed to handbuild lugged frames makes the extra cost worth it.

Here's the opinion of one Grant Peterson, who has been know to prefer lugs to TIG welding:
re: Welded versus lugged framestarwheel
Jun 14, 2002 4:26 AM
To me, the difference between a lugged and tig frame is like the difference between furniture glued together with biscuit joints (if you know what they are) and traditional dovetails or mortise and tenons. It's primarily aesthetic, but that's one of things I look for in a bike. Lugged frames are not necessarily more expensive because there isn't the demand for them these days as most cyclists look for the lightest frame they can afford.

Check out the Tommasini Sintesis sold by colorado cyclist for $1000 or the Gios Compact Pro sold by excelsports for $700. I am admittedly biased (since I own a Gios), but I think these are some of the prettiest frames around, particularly for the price. The Colnago Master X-Lite is more expensive, but somewhat flashier if you like their paint jobs. also has a nice selection of quality lugged steel frames for reasonable prices. You can also pick up used lugged steel frames on eBay for very reasonable prices because not many people want them anymore -- all the better for connoisseurs like me.
Thanks for the repliesMXL02
Jun 14, 2002 9:06 AM
I have a steel lugged frame and love it, and I thought that most high end steel frame makers still used lugs, but have recently seen some other high end frame makers, Pegoretti for example, that weld their frames...just curious if there were differences I did not know about.