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lugged vs. welded steel(40 posts)

lugged vs. welded steelDougSloan
Dec 12, 2002 4:57 PM
Do lugged and welded steel frames have any different ride qualities, assuming the same geometry and tubing (if you can use the same tubing for each??)? Do lugs stiffen the joints? I think lugged looks much cooler, particularly chromed lugs, but I'm more interested in any performance difference. Thanks.

re: lugged vs. welded steelsn69
Dec 12, 2002 5:19 PM

If you link to Mandaric Cycles' site via Ves', he has a link to an older article he published about TIG welding, fillet brazing and lugging. Also, Rivendell has a good article about lugging.

That thread below about Bob Jackson Cycles has me thinking much the same, but mostly from an aesthetic point of view for a training bike. Their prices seem quite reasonable. We'll have to see if Eager Beagle or any of our other subjects of the Queen can enlighten us some.

re: lugged vs. welded steelSpunout
Dec 12, 2002 5:46 PM
True, the lugs are beautiful on Bob Jackson's site. TIG welding is ugly, but is cheap and works. Anybody ever hear of a Lemond 853 frame breaking at the weld?

Then there is Landshark. Fillet-brazed steel looks like a Klein from the old days. Plus, the BB is lugged, so you get the best of both worlds. So, it looks like it is stiff where needed (BB) and lighter where stiffness is not required (seat cluster).
The problem is multi-facittedsn69
Dec 12, 2002 6:08 PM
It's a shame that steel is becoming more and more of a boutique material that affords boutique prices.

I own a TIG welded steel bike that has welds about as clean as they come short of filing like 'Cale, Klien or CYFAC. It's a great bike, and with proper care I don't forsee it cracking in half on me.

Still, I've got a craving for lugs. So far, Bob Jackson seems to offer the best prices. I sure would like to talk to someone who owns one, though. Personally, my lug goal is something very comfortable with a quill stem. Weight isn't that much of a factor--this bike will be for training and century riding with the Missus. And, when I finally take the plunge (this Spring, I'm guessing), I'm also going to make my first foray into Campy.

Yup--those Landsharks are nice. I've been admiring them for a few years now, and I frequently check Gary Hobbs' site for new paint schemes.
Apples and orangesKerry
Dec 12, 2002 5:49 PM
These days, you would not use the same tubing for a lugged frame as for a TIG welded frame, as the manufacturers have come up with "TIG specific" tubing designs and alloys. So you wouldn't use a tubing designed to be TIG'd in a lugged frame, and with special TIG alloys available, you shouldn't be using "conventional" tubes in a TIG's frame. You CAN swap the tubes, but then it wouldn't be a fair comparison, would it? Lugs were necessary when frames were brazed, and no longer are. However, a good builder could make frames that you couldn't tell apart if you couldn't see the joints. Execution is more important than joining method.
Pass the Apples53T
Dec 12, 2002 5:55 PM
Actually there are many jabonies making lugged frames from 853 tubesets (the leading TIGable tubes). Not all Wankers either, Waterford offers several.
agree nmgtx
Dec 12, 2002 5:59 PM
Apples and orangesRusty Coggs
Dec 12, 2002 9:31 PM
Whether you should or shouldn't,there are a number of lugged frames made with air hardening 853(Waterford for one) and alot of nonair hardening tubesets that are tig welded by reputaable's still the executon.
..about execution: Silver Brazed 753 with lugs...Spunout
Dec 13, 2002 4:29 AM
I coveted in the 80s. Now, 753 is discontinued, probably because Reynolds didn't sell it to just any joe with a torch. I've seen some amazing lugged bikes (mostly custom British frames) from 753.
you should own at least one lugged frame bike.desmo
Dec 12, 2002 6:39 PM
If the modern lugged bike conundrum is too much for you Just add an affordable 70's vintage racer to the stable. Great fun, and great to look at. And if you get the right one a nice reality check as to what has really improved and what has not in the few decades.
who matters more than howj-son
Dec 12, 2002 7:09 PM
It doesn't matter how the tubes are joined. It does matter who joins them. Extraordinary frames are built using both methods. Witness Richard Sachs (lugged) and Steelman (tig).
aesthetics mainlybianchi boy
Dec 12, 2002 7:35 PM
It's my understanding that any of the frame joining methods -- lugs, tig welds or filet brazing -- are essentially equal in strength and ride qualities. To me, it's mainly a matter of aesthetics. I grew up in a time when a finely lugged frame was the epitome of bike construction. I like lugs on frames for the same reason I like dovetails and other fine joinery in furniture -- it just looks better to me and shows that someone finely crafted the product with their hands.

Like others said, though, there are also some beautiful tig and filet brazed frames out there -- such as Steelman and Landshark. Ironically, you can buy a nice lugged frame for as much or less than either of those two examples. One of the advantages of lugged frames, you often hear, is that they are more easily repaired if damaged. But I don't think that is much of an advantage. If you've ever had repairs estimated on a lugged frame, it costs almost as much as to fix and repaint as it does to buy a whole new frame.
aesthetics mainlywasabekid
Dec 12, 2002 9:14 PM
I would like to add that lugged frame fabrication technique had now evolved to symbolize "quality craftsmanship" as opposed to a "required" component (lugs), to facilitate joining thin walled tubing to achieve sufficient strength to withstand stresses the frame wil be subjected.
Lugs were rendered unnecessary due to technological advancement in welding, ie: TIG- Tungsten Inert Gas welding method, a technique used to join a carbon steel alloy (parent metal) with stainless steel alloy rod as the filler metal with heli-arc method and Inert Gas. Not to mention the steady hands of the fine craftsmen(on high end bikes) making the welds (you could see this on the size and symetry of the weld loops in the joint). However, not to be outdone, the lugs on steel frame bikes were made to a certain degree of artistic complexity to indicate "fine craftsmanship", to include "that retro look".

In summary, we now have to accept the fact that together with the rest of the world, bike manufacturing technique and materials have evolved.
Carbon steel--> Aluminun--> Titanium--> Carbon Fiber--> ???

say its not true!DaveG
Dec 12, 2002 7:39 PM
Doug, I thought you were a died-in-the wool, card carrying weight weenie?? And now you talking about - gasp - steel? Next thing you know you'll be quoting Grant Peterson. Welcome back from the dark side. To answer the question (with my limited knowledge), I think it is purely a matter of esthetics. Lugs look cool/retro/classy but I doubt one could argue a performance benefit. Perhaps lugs could stiffen the joint slightly, but tubes used for TIG welding likely will have more substantial butting at the weld points, adding stiffness.
correct me if I'm wrong, but ...bianchi boy
Dec 12, 2002 8:00 PM
If I remember correctly, Doug has never totally abandoned the land of lugdom. He has shown photos of his beautiful old steel Bianchi with chrome lugs, fork and stays. A real classic, but I bet the poor thing is neglected ...
Performance difference? No.DMoore
Dec 12, 2002 10:45 PM
I've had a TIG'ed steel Ritchey as well several several lugged bikes including a Sachs, Baylis, Ciocc and Holland at present. I don't think there's any significant performance difference between the different methods of joining. Tig'ing results in a lighter frame, and makes a greater variety of tube sizes and shapes possible. Geometry, quality of construction and materials make far more difference that the method of joining the tubes. Each of my bikes rides just a little bit differently, but I don't attribute it to the lugged/welded distinction. I don't believe any bike frame flexes at the joints, whether lugged, tig'ed, filet brazed, or whatever. Flex lives along the length of the tube, not at the joints.

I have a "weight weenie" lightweight Specialized E-5 for a race bike, that's just over 15 lbs. in a 58 cm size. But I put 90%+ of my miles on the lugged steel frames. I like the ride of steel better, and a beautifully made lugged bike just rings my bell. Look at bikes like Sachs, Moon, Bohemian -- they just motivate me to want to go out and ride!

Check with WaterfordLLSmith
Dec 13, 2002 2:26 AM
They just added a tig welded model. "The worlds lightest steel racing bicycle".I would have thought lugs would stiffen the joints, but after reading about the new tig welded model I'm not so sure.Santa just delivered my lugged 2200 yesterday afternoon.Wow...I don't have much to compare it against,but I don't see how it could get much better.
I love the lugs on my Superissimo. Any other Superissimo owners?StevieP
Dec 13, 2002 4:32 AM
They look so much better, especially when they are chromed like on my 1997 Colnago Superissimo (which incidentally I am having resprayed with new decals to look like the 1982 bike on the attached links).

Cant wait! New Chorus gruppo too. Yum yum!

Any other riders out there with Superissimos?
It may be marketing but.........Len J
Dec 13, 2002 4:34 AM
Serotta claims that their CSI (lugged) is made with the same tube set as there Colorado III (Tig welded). There is always lively discussion about this issue on the Serotta Forum
The consensus seems to be (from the people who have ridden the two extensively) that they ride exactly the same. The main distinction is the look.

BTW, If you are getting a Lugged frame for the look of it, you gotta get a steel fork, Now that is art.

what rivendell says ...tarwheel
Dec 13, 2002 5:07 AM
Even Rivendell, the retro king, claims no structural advantages for lugs:

We like lugs, and every frame we sell (Rivendell, Atlantis,
Rambouillet) or ever will sell has them. Lugs strengthen the frame
at the joints, they allow brazing--which we believe is the kindest,
gentlest way to join tubes, and certainly the one which allows the
easiest tube replacements. Lugs are artistic, and over the years
there have been hundreds of styles, some proprietary, some
generic, some plain, some intricate, many just plain beautiful. All
lugs are interesting. When you look at a frame joint formed with
lugs, there's something to look at.

There's a lot of good in lugs, and lugs used to be the preferred
way to build fine bicycle frames. Then---well, then the industry
discovered tig-welds, and almost overnight (considering the
long, 90-year reign of lugs, the 6-year period between about 1981
and 1987 constitutes overnight), tig-welding took over. It is a
strong way to join tubes. It is efficient. It's even excellent. It has
proven its merit thousands of times over. A body can appreciate
a good tig-weld, and should appreciate the skills that go into it.
But a lug is a lug! And a tig-weld ain't.
Rivendell frames are lovely and their bs is exquisite... nmdzrider
Dec 13, 2002 9:31 AM
thought I smelled something going on here...nmSpunout
Dec 13, 2002 11:19 AM
what richard sachs says ...tarwheel
Dec 13, 2002 5:20 AM
Here's a link to an article Richard Sachs wrote about lugs. He says lugs are mainly about craftsmanship and style, but seems to suggests advantages relating to ride ...
Feelings . . .djg
Dec 13, 2002 6:31 AM
From the Sachs article:

"Lugs are often brazed by the hands of a person who thinks less and feels more."

But sometimes I FEEL that THINKING feels right to me. What to do, what to do?

Feelings . . . (insert your favorite Iglesias here) . . .

Drivel anyone?
As the pictures in the above-mentioned link clearly show,the other Tim
Dec 13, 2002 6:04 PM
the advantage of using lugs is that the frame can be held together with nails.
here's what I'm thinkingDougSloan
Dec 13, 2002 7:10 AM
Thanks for the input, by the way.

First, I do have a 1980 Bianchi Rekord steel/lugged racing bike, almost top of the line at the time. It's Columbus SL tubing. I bought it from the same shop owner then that I largely buy from now, so it has sentimental value. It was mightily impressive at just under 20 pounds back then. Yet, I really don't care for the shifting all that much, and I'm going to leave it largely original.

Last summer I bought a 1998 Bianchi Alloro, which is Deda steel, but welded. It has tiny little welds, which look pretty good. I bought it solely to use on the Computrainer, and it's never seen pavement. The bike is perfect. I really like the looks of it, with the curved stays and painted (celeste, of course) steel fork, and no seatpost clamp (built in). It's a very elegant looking frame.

I'm finding, at least on the CT, that I'm very comfortable on this bike. I don't know what it is about it, maybe because it's a 56, compared to the 55's and 54's I usually ride. (Maybe there is something to this "fit" thing, after all, but that's another thread ;-)

I'm about resolved that my competition days are over for a while, plus now I'm doubting that the Colnago is really the bike for me. I'm about resigned to doing "fun" century-type riding for a few years.

So, I'm considering transferring one of my Campy Record groups, with Nucleon wheels (all Campy, in other words), to this bike. It would be around 18-19 pounds, still decent for what I'm thinking of using it for. I really, really, like the looks of the all celeste, simple paint job on this one, and think it would look even better with all Campy. I still like the elegant looks of a simple threaded stem, too.

I just wanted some input whether this is worth doing on this welded steel frame, or whether I might want to get something a bit more "worthy", whatever that means, that might be lugged.

So, the EV2, C40, and Cervelo will be on the block soon.


$0.02 more...Nessism
Dec 13, 2002 7:25 AM
The method of joining the tubes makes no functional difference. What does make a difference is the actual tubes used. TIG welded frames can use any shape of tube and any angle. With lugs, a builder is limited somewhat. For this reason, TIG is more versatile from a manufacturing standpoint. Want a frame built with the new super steels like Dedacciai EOM 16.5 or Columbus UltraFoco? If so, TIG is the only way since lugs are not available to fit the tubes. Want a more "classic" style of frameset using conventional tube sizes? Lugs are an option then.

You pays your money and....

do ittarwheel
Dec 13, 2002 7:49 AM
It sounds worthy to me. My bike shop has a Celeste Bianchi steel frame made of TIG welded Dedaciai 0.1 steel, and it is beautiful. The only thing stopping me from buying the frame was the geometry and size were a little off for me. Although I really like lugged frames, I wouldn't hesitate to buy some of the nicer tig ones.
What forks Doug? Worthy upgrade. Post photos and report! nmSpunout
Dec 13, 2002 7:54 AM
here's what I'M thinkingJS Haiku Shop
Dec 13, 2002 7:56 AM
selling the other bikes is not the answer. give it two weeks and then decide. even if you do layoff the ultra stuff for awhile, why sell everything now and build it all back up in a few years? you never know, you may not be able to do it then.

is the alloro "worthy"? you've already answered that question. why are you asking us?

peace out, do(u)g.

go for itDaveG
Dec 13, 2002 2:16 PM
Doug, sounds like you made up your mind and you just need a bit of support. I say go for it. The best bike is the one you like best regardless of materials, cost, other folk's opinions. I think the "worthy" part is more a concern of what others might think, but I doubt your going to be able to tell a performance difference between this bike and something more "worthy", assuming you like the fit, geometry, etc. Besides if the ride of this bike compares favorably to your stable of hi-end bikes and if you like this one, how much better can life get? Good luck to you.
Dec 13, 2002 7:26 AM
Doug- According to my extensive reading, research, and personal experience with two steel frames, one welded, one lugged, there is no difference in performance or ride quality. As others have pointed out, Lugged and fillet brazed frames require more craftsmanship than TIG welding, which is cheaper and faster...but the overall differences in terms ride quality and durability are negligible.

The differences are more a matter of style: Welded frames tend to use diffent tube styles, oversized and butted tubes, and have a more modern look, ie: Pegoretti, DeRosa Corum.
Lugged frames tend to lend themselves more to retro/baroque elegance, ie: rivendell and Moon frames. I, like you, find them to be very beautiful.

Hope this helps. Mark.
The biggest difference is...sprockets2
Dec 13, 2002 9:13 AM
Well, I'll get to that in a minute. I think any ride difference-and I have doubts that you would notice much difference-is not nearly as important to the *potential* performance differences that exist because you have more flexibility in tube selection in terms of diameter, cross-sectional shape, and taper when you weld. Of course, if you are not specifying any unique tubes, the point is not important, but if you are going to use highly engineered shapes, you are not going to find lugs to fit the tubes, unless you sign your checks "Bill Gates".
re: lugged vs. welded steelLeroy
Dec 13, 2002 9:57 AM
I've been wanting to go with a lugged steel bike myself. I have a tig-welded version of Gios' compact pro, which has chrome lugs, engraved bottom bracket shell, available chrome fork, etc. and thought I'd check out the compact pro. I e-mailed Gios in Italy and they say the performance is no different - somaybe I'll go with a Cinelli or something different.
ah ... giostarwheel
Dec 13, 2002 11:49 AM
The finest lugs you will find on a $550 frame.
Maybe I'll just go with the compact pro, too,Leroy
Dec 13, 2002 4:23 PM
and have a lugged one and a tig welded one. I like the way it rides. Why take a chance? I do like that look!
I'm really enjoying this thread. Great discussion guys!Ken of Fresno
Dec 13, 2002 10:54 AM
My main ride is a tig welded bike (Zurich). It's the closest I've come to finding a perfect fit for my body and riding style. Mine's a '99 so it has 853 main tubes and 725 stays. I only have one complaint about the bike. The welds are ugly. Filet bikes are pretty too, but if I had a choice I'd take a Zurich with lugs. I'm sure it probably doesn't affect ride quality, but cheesey welds just look bad. There's something about the beauty of lugged steel that makes me want to get out and enjoy the ride. Maybe someday I can have a lugged bike custom built with the same geometry as my current ride.

Tire Size Makes the Differencepeter in NVA
Dec 13, 2002 1:45 PM
I have:
Full filet brazed Ritchey Road Classic
Full filet brazed Ritchey P22 rigid mtb
Tig Ritchey SwissCross
Tig Ritchey Ultra rigid mtb

Same tires on road and cross - no difference
Same tires on mtbs - no difference

I bought the filet brazed models only because I like the way they look - even though they add weight.

The cross uses newer WCS logic tubing and is lighter than the others - thats all I notice, especially when shouldering the bike.
Get rid of them all after your Sachs comes!n.m.koala
Dec 13, 2002 2:40 PM
I have been thinking Sachs! But can't hide it in the garage..nmpeter in NVA
Dec 14, 2002 8:35 AM