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true functional advantages of lugs vs. tig welds vs. brazing(15 posts)

true functional advantages of lugs vs. tig welds vs. brazingfmbp
Jul 30, 2003 4:53 PM
Hi all

I am in the process of researching my next bike purchase (well, aren't we all?). I am thinking about a custom steel frame (possibly a Strong, Waterford, or a Serotta) and I am wondering if there are any real functional advantages to the different methods of joining steel tubes (i.e., lugs vs. tig welding vs. brazing). I realize there are probably as many opinions on the aesthetics of one's choice here as there are posters on this board, but I am at this time more interested in the function of each joining method.

Thank you in advance for your help

fmbp
(longtime lurker, and infrequent poster)
None, unless the frame is made out of obsolete steel.MR_GRUMPY
Jul 30, 2003 5:35 PM
If the frame is to be made from Reynolds 853, True Temper OX Platinum, or TT S-3, or a few other high Tech steels, The tubes get stronger when they are Tig welded.
Old steel, like Columbus SL, or Reynolds 531, had to use lugs to connect them because the heat of tig welding would weaken them. Some of them couldn't even be brazed. They had to be silver soldered at a lower temperature.
Waterford makes a great tig welded frame (model R-14) for $1300. They also make frames under the name Gunnar , for a lot less. All are made with a mix of Reynolds 853 and True Temper OX Platinum. I'm not sure what steels the others use.
Some info...Nessism
Jul 31, 2003 6:55 AM
While there are technical differences between the various joining techniques listed, for all PRATICAL purposes, none are better than the others.

And with the exception of Reynolds 753, all of the various tubesets ARE TIG weldable (even SL and 531).

Ed
Some info...Welshboy
Jul 31, 2003 11:54 AM
Actually 531 can't be tig welded. However, in the UK there was a tubeset called 531m (Millenium) which could but it really was a totally different alloy to the long standing 531 and more akin to 631. This was more of a marketing ploy and is now scarcely seen advertised. I've got a tig-welded 531m Cougar which is going to become my next fixed wheel at some point.
re: true functional advantages of lugs vs. tig welds vs. brazingukiahb
Jul 30, 2003 6:01 PM
One advantage of lugged frames is that they are are much easier to repair.
Some repair experience here ...IFRider
Jul 31, 2003 4:00 AM
First, I have both lugged (Waterford RS-22, Waterford Paramount) and tigged (IF Club Racer, IF Deluxe) bikes. So I am fan of both.

I crashed my IF Deluxe hard a couple of years ago and dented/bent a chainstay. IF cut both stays out and put in new ones. Repainted, the bike is like new. I am guessing any other tube could be replaced also. Make sure you are buying from a builder that would do that.

Lugged bikes are very repairable also. Particularly Waterford, as a friend had S&S couplers retro-fitted and they needed to replace the top tube and down tube.

One advantage to tig, is infinite geometry. THe builder is not locked into the lug geometry range. A minor consideration for a road bike in my opinion.
Some repair experience here ...IFRider
Jul 31, 2003 4:11 PM
First, I have both lugged (Waterford RS-22, Waterford Paramount) and tigged (IF Club Racer, IF Deluxe) bikes. So I am fan of both.

I crashed my IF Deluxe hard a couple of years ago and dented/bent a chainstay. IF cut both stays out and put in new ones. Repainted, the bike is like new. I am guessing any other tube could be replaced also. Make sure you are buying from a builder that would do that.

Lugged bikes are very repairable also. Particularly Waterford, as a friend had S&S couplers retro-fitted and they needed to replace the top tube and down tube.

One advantage to tig, is infinite geometry. THe builder is not locked into the lug geometry range. A minor consideration for a road bike in my opinion.
It's hard to chrome a Tig weld ...Humma Hah
Jul 30, 2003 6:06 PM
Lugs are potentially quite decorative, and they allow relatively small shops to custom-build frames. No welded frame can contest the beauty of a cobalt-blue Moon with gold-plated lugs.

I would be willing to bet most folks here like the looks of lugs, but own welded bikes.

Waterford has some of the best welders in the world (just ask 'em), for the new-fangled tubing they're using. Once upon a time, they built with lugs. 'Nuff said?
It's hard to chrome a Tig weld ...Ironbutt
Jul 31, 2003 3:46 AM
Waterford still builds heirloom quality lugged bikes, like the 2200. They have begun tig-welding frames under their own name (they had been constructing welded frames for other brands under contract for some time) because the air hardened steels will allow welded construction. It is much more time efficient than lugged construction, and does indeed save a few grams. Note that the air hardened steels don't get stronger when they are welded; they just don't loose strength as radically. And the newer steel alloys can be drawn to a thinner wall section on the tubing while maintaining the same stiffness, thus also saving a few grams. Destructive testing of like tubesets has shown that lugged construction is usually slightly stronger than welded. But welded construction is definitely cheaper.
I would post that question....High Gear
Jul 30, 2003 6:19 PM
On the sight below.

http://www.bikeschool.com/technical-board/tech_postings.html
I would post that question to a custom builder himself.Spoiler
Jul 31, 2003 6:13 AM
No offense to the people on this board, but why not go straight to the source?
I've got one of each.Spoke Wrench
Jul 31, 2003 8:07 AM
Well, I'm cheating a little bit because my tig welded Klein is aluminum and my fillet brazed bike is a tandem. Functionally the differences are too fine for my butt to detect.

Tig welded frames, if everything else is equal, generally turn out to be a little lighter in weight. The tubeing butts can be a little bit shorter and you don't have the extra weight of the lugs or brass fillets.

My exotic nivacrom tandem, even with the paper thin tubeing walls, turns out to be the heaviest frame that Santana makes because it's fillet brazed. Sure is pretty though.
I've got one of each.rollinrob
Jul 31, 2003 8:39 AM
Actually from what I have read (on the Waterford site)and heard the tubing butts are shorter on the lugged frames since the lugs can 'replace" some of the butted material. This actually makes the frames built with lugs comperable in weight with tig weilded bikes.
re: true functional advantages of lugs vs. tig welds vs. brazingrollinrob
Jul 31, 2003 8:08 AM
I have both a Waterford 2200 and a IF crown Jewel. The waterford has lugs and is by far more fun to ride in group rides since I have the only one... There is something to be said about exclusivity.
However I have spent the last month on the IF since the Waterford is in the factory getting repaired. I had a crack where the seat stay meets the lug. I got the frame off ebay from a former racer. While talking to Dave at Waterford he mentioned that the frame had seen some heavy usage and this is NOT a commen accurance. Dealing with waterford during this repair has been awesome, they have actually replaced both seatstays for a very fair price, and repainted the frame for free in the colors of my choice. I would definetly buy another Waterford. BTW the WATERFORD 2200 is a mix of 853 and True Temper OX.
re: true functional advantages of lugs vs. tig welds vs. brazingHeron Todd
Jul 31, 2003 8:35 AM
Who has better cuisine - France or Italy? A tough choice. You see a lot of TIG welding these days because it is far more economical. Still, on the finest steel frames you'll find lugs more often than not: Richard Sachs, Rivendell, Peter Weigle, etc.

Some folks find lugs to be cool. They give the frame a unique look, and you can usually identify the brand without a downtube decal. TIG frames wind up looking like each other. There isn't as much to differentiate them.

Brazing (whether with or without lugs) uses a lower temperature than TIG-welding. While not as big an issue for air-hardened steels, this is a far gentler treatment for all other steel alloys. The big advantage of air-hardened tubing is that it is strong. So, you can use a thinner-wall in some applications without sacrificing strength. However, you DO sacrifice stiffness. A thin-walled tube, air-hardened or not, isn't appropriate for heavy-duty applications. If you use a thicker-walled tube in these cases, it's far less expensive to use a non-air-hardened tube.

Air-hardened tubing is great for racing applications (relatively light rider and no gear) but not for all applications. A good builder will help you select the appropriate tubing for your needs. The choice of TIG-welding or brazing is still yours. Some folks are turned on by lugs and some aren't. You have to decide what inspires you. For me, it's lugs.

Todd Kuzma
Heron Bicycles
LaSalle, IL 815-223-1776
http://www.heronbicycles.com