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Why is lugged better than tig-welded?(25 posts)

Why is lugged better than tig-welded?CRM
Jul 5, 2001 8:16 AM
What makes a lugged steel bike better than a tig-welded steel bike? I understand that it's a more expensive process but I haven't heard or read anything about it producing a better ride quality or a stronger frame or anything.

I have a Reynolds 853 frame that is tig-welded and I think the ride is excellent, although I have never ridden a lugged frame. Can anyone tell me why I would want a lugged frame when it's time to replace mine?
re: Why is lugged better than tig-welded?MrCelloBoy
Jul 5, 2001 8:47 AM
My understanding is that it's not "better", just considered more of a "classic" and attractive style by many.
re: Why is lugged better than tig-welded?mike mcmahon
Jul 2, 2001 4:39 PM
Some people will also swear up-and-down that lugged frames have a nicer ride than TIG-welded frames. Maybe they do, but I find it hard to believe. I own a lugged EL-OS frame and a TIG-welded Foco frame. I like the ride of the Foco frame better, but I would never attribute the ride difference to the joining method. I think lugged frames look nice, but I see no reason to pay the extra money for lugs.
It's notCliff Oates
Jul 5, 2001 9:44 AM
One of my bikes is a Waterford, and I like the crisp look of lugged frames, but that's a personal preference.

In terms of joining methods, I read somwhere that TIG welding and lugs are roughly equivalent both in terms of strength and weight, while filet brazing is stronger than both. Filet brazing and TIG welding allow the frame builder more tubing and geometry options than lugs do, since lugs are only going to be available for round tubes of specific diameters and for specific frame angles. Lugged and filet brazed frames can be repaired if a tube is damaged, while I don't believe this is true for TIG welded frames.

The technique used to join the tubes is not going to effect the ride.
It's notmackgoo
Jul 6, 2001 12:31 AM
Isn't fillet brazing used in the lugged frame? And origonally why maybe considered better way back when, because of the temperatures needed for the different process and affects on metalurgy?
It's notCliff Oates
Jul 6, 2001 8:35 AM
No, filet brazing is a different technique. Here are some good close-up pictures of a filet brazed bike:

I am no materials engineer, so I have no particularly valid opinion on welding versus brazing on air hardened steels like Foco or 853. That said, there are a lot of frame builders (Strong, Landshark, Waterford, among others) who construct above average frames with these steels using joining techniques other than TIG welding. Since they are successful with these techniques, I will give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they know exactly what they're doing.
simple: its notgeezer
Jul 5, 2001 9:47 AM
The difference between lugged and welded frames is really just style. Lugged is the classic construction method for steel frames and a lot of people like the way they look. TIG-welding is the relative newcomer on the block. Welding just violates some folks sense of classic style on how a bike should look. Much of this comes from back the in the days when nearly every bike was lugged, cycling enthusiasts would pick over the smallest details of construction and style trying to determine the differences between bikes. Your 853 tubing, like Columbus Genius, Foco and a few other tubesets was actually made specifically for TIG-welded construction. Don't worry about which is better. Welding and brazing are both fine and the differences come down to who does the construction rather than the joining method used.
should ask- Anybody ever break a lugged frame?WadeOmatic
Jul 5, 2001 9:50 AM
stronger is the word at:

I have no empirical data to back this up, but it makes sense to me. There is more metal at the junction and the lugs distribute stresses away from the joint itself (just like butting). And the tubing is exposed to much less heat.

I have my first steel frame on order- Columbus EL-OS - welded.

I'll get a lugged frame, $omeday.
Actually, yes...Lucky
Jul 5, 2001 11:06 AM
Sometimes the welds do fail, even in the lug. In the early '80's, I bought a beautiful used silver-soldered lugged steel bike (early 70's vintage) from a friend. It had been custom built for him by a friend who was a builder (forgot the name, sorry). It had fastback seatstays and a really short rear triangle. Very zippy to ride. Anyway, I failed to tighten the rear quick release properly before a training race, and yanked the rear wheel out in a sprint. A couple of weeks later, a crack surfaced at the joint where one of the seatstays met the seat cluster.

Years later, my husband was riding his 6-year-old Scwinn Super LeTour (about a $400 bike in 1985), when he started complaining that the front derailleur was rubbing. "on the high side or low side?" I asked. "Both." Got it home, tried to flex the crank arms, thinking they might be loose, and spotted a thin, dark line around the lugged joint where the seattube meets the BB shell. Yup, it was cracked, 300 degrees around the weld and then down through the BB shell itself. The bike had never been crashed, and had about 8000 miles on it. A couple years after that, we ran into someone else in another state who'd had the same bike and had it fail in the same way. Probably a bad run of production at the factory. Welder out of fill material, or not at the right temp.

Being lugged alone does not make a frame strong. It still needs a good weld. I've seen Bohm's work, and it's gorgeous.

Kathy :-)
Actually, yes...WadeOmatic
Jul 5, 2001 11:32 AM
I don't doubt what you've said Kathy, but a lugged frame has no weld. A weld is where metal is joined by melting both parts (and some filler to replace burned away metal) to be joined. A lug is simply soldiered into place. The soldier is melted, but not the steel or the lug (casting).

Bohm may explain it better. I just don't know what you're referring to as a weld on a lugged frame.
When I said weld, I was referring to the solder joint...Lucky
Jul 6, 2001 8:30 AM
Perhaps not the correct technical term. By focusing on the terminology, you may have missed my point, which was that lugs alone do not make a joint indestructable. They can still break, especially if they're not soldered properly. In 20+ years of riding, the lugged frame is the only one I've broken, road, mountain, steel, aluminum or Ti. I weigh a "whopping" 125 lbs.
One may argue that a well-made lugged joint is stronger than a well-made welded joint, but the mere presence of lugs is not guarantee of superior strength.

I'll agree with that fully...WadeOmatic
Jul 6, 2001 9:55 AM
and FTR I've never broken a frame and I weigh 170 and have been riding welded Aluminum (7) and Ti (1) since 1986. I have a welded steel (Columbus EL-OS) on order for the road. I ride mostly off-road.
Just aestheticsRay Sachs
Jul 5, 2001 9:53 AM
A frame made out of the same tubing, same dimensions, etc., built by an equally skilled builder should ride the same whether it's tigged or lugged. IMO, the lugged frame will be far nicer to look at, but the ride shouldn't be different at all. I've heard that silver brazed lugged frames may be easier to repair (lower brazing temp, etc.) than a tigged frame and the lugs do create a bit of external butting which may make it marginally stronger, but I've heard contradicting claims also. Bottom line, if you love the character of a lugged bike, go for it (I have a few and love them), but don't do it because of supposed ride characteristics.

I notice that many lugged frames join the seat stays to...AlexR
Jul 5, 2001 10:08 AM
the seatpost collar pin. The CSI does this, and I see lots of old Raleighs and Cinellis at the trick with this little feature. Is there a reason for this? It seems intuitive that the collar would not be as solid as the seat tube itself.

Just curious,

re: Why is lugged better than tig-welded?badabill
Jul 5, 2001 10:53 AM
Its probably my imagination but a lugged frames seem to be a little stiffer in the bottom bracket area. I admit I love the classic lines of a lugged frame, but it does add a little wieght. My current ride is brazed with a lugged BB. Tig welding is just as strong I believe, but not as pleasing to look at. Lugged and brazed frames now are custom built because they take longer to build, It is easier and faster to tig weld a frame.
lugs just look betterDaveG
Jul 5, 2001 11:25 AM
I doubt there is any discernable difference in ride quality as others have already stated. With tubesets specifically designed for TIG welding the issue of the heat-affected zone with welding is moot. Although strangely, Waterford builds silver-brazed 853 frames even though 853 is designed to overcome the weakening caused by welding. While both of my steel bikes are TIGed, I love the classic look of lugs especially those builders who put pride into their ornateness. Lugged frames can be slightly heavier than TIG ones, although if you're a weight weenie you probably wouldn't be looking at steel anyway. With the radically shaped tubing used now, its not practical to work with lugs
My LBS told me lug/filet brazing adds more weight than TIG...vram
Jul 5, 2001 12:30 PM
I don't know how accurate this is, but I aksed my LBS about the difference and he said that although lugs/filet brazing made a bike look nice, it also adds weight compared to TIG welding. Can anyone confirm??
I would say noDean
Jul 5, 2001 1:16 PM
I have a Landshark which is all Dedacciai Zero Uno. The bottom bracket is lugged and the rest of the bike is fillet brazed. The entire bike built w/Chorus is a bit under 20 pounds. This bike might be lighter if welded, but probably not much. Besides, I like the way the brazing looks.
I don't think that's the caseCliff Oates
Jul 5, 2001 2:26 PM
I believe I read somewhere that frame builders choose tube sets with thinner butts when they construct a lugged frame, since the lugs themselves are an external butt. Fillet brazing probably uses a similar amount of material to fill the joint when compared with TIG welds (cleaner looking and more labor intensive, to be sure), and both require a more substantial butt than a lugged frame. My understanding is that the 3 methods are pretty much a wash in terms of weight. Strength and design options are the areas where real variability can be found.

It would certainly be nice if Anvil were monitoring this thread...
speaking of AnvilBrentley
Jul 7, 2001 7:34 PM
there is a whole thread on one of the frames he built at and I posted the pictures of it. someone has one of his frames for sale in the classifieds here. Great price but a 64 is 10cm too big for me. I think he has been busy and I read that he is full for the year on frames.
I read somewhere...Jim Burton
Jul 5, 2001 3:51 PM
and I don't know if there is any validity in this: that lugged tubes are heat damaged less than welded tubes. Now I don't know anything much about welding, technically, but from what I understand, the soldering process in lugging a frame is cooler than the welding process. This theoretically will stress the tubes less. On the Reynolds website, there is a list of the steel tubes that can be welded and which can't. The more expensive ones (853, 535) can be welded safely and without structural weakening. Maybe lugging USED to be the stronger method before the advent of better steel. Maybe not; thus the residual reasoning that lugs are superior. Thoughts?

Lugs do look cool and (dare I say) retro. That is, I believe, the largest factor. And, it takes quite a craftsman to make a nice looking lug, especially hand cut, the way Serotta does.
It was on this site:Jim Burton
Jul 5, 2001 5:15 PM

it aslo mentions the ease of replacing a tube with lugs compared to Tig welding.
Hi CRM,non-sprinter
Jul 5, 2001 10:35 PM
Here it is. There was a time, when you could not trust a welded bike. These were the days, before Tig welding. The only safe bike was lugged or brazed. Now, with the technique of Tig, welded is just as safe as lugs and brazed joints. So, today according to my bro, who is a framebuilder, Tig is a little lighter, but a little ugly. Lugs and braised joints are pretty, but weigh a little more. As far a ride, it's not really the joints. It's in the geometry and tube selection. I hope this helps. Tig, lugs, braised, they're all good!!!!
re: Why is lugged better than tig-welded?mackgoo
Jul 6, 2001 12:26 AM
I don't think that is necessarilly true today. It used to be the only way to reliably put a frame together was with lugs, frame building was as much art as science. When they first started Tig it definately was a cost saver implying cheaper and it usually was, no lugs no artisain.Technology has changed the lugs are not required any more, and sadly it appears there has been a general move away from lugs. Although it is still the artisians that use them. I personally feel that a lugged frame is beautiful. I have a Bianchi Ti mega tube and would love to some how lug it, I guess it certainly gives the bike a more finished look. Today a lugged frame may imply a more carefully put together frame VS a better frame.
re: Why is lugged better than tig-welded?Mike Prince
Jul 6, 2001 2:57 AM
I've read on several custom frame sites that the performance differences between TIG and lugs are fairly small with all other factors (tubing grade, builder quality) being equal. A lugged frame in theory is easier to repair as the frame can be essentially disassembled. If properly done, there is little difference in strength between the two. I have heard that it is easier to construct a lugged frame as there is less chance of damaging the tubes through overheating and the joints are somewhat more flexible than those of a TIG welded bike, making final alignment easier.

I think lugged vs. welded is a matter of aesthetics in this day and age. TIG became mainstream with the advent of oversized aluminum tubing. I just bought a new frame and after much research went with a Steelman SR (TIG welded 853). The dropouts and the fork crown are brazed. I think it's a cool mix of the traditional and modern design elements.