's Forum Archives - General

Archive Home >> General(1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 )

Lugs vs Welds. What's the deal??(22 posts)

Lugs vs Welds. What's the deal??Jervis
Nov 12, 2003 10:07 AM
Over the six or so months I've been road cycling, I've noticed that many people seem to have an affinity for steel bikes with lugged joints. Lugs seemed to be the standard construction method prior to the 90s (correct me if I'm wrong, I'm sure they welded some) Also, many high end custom fabricators such as Vanilla and Waterford (plus countless I've not named/heard of) still use lugs, and people eat them up. Is there some advantage to this method over welding the tubes directly together?? I assume it would be easier becasue you could use strait guage tubing and simply braze the two pieces together, but what kind of ride qualities does it exibit over welds. Is it simply a case of aesthetics?? I've always prefered super smooth joints (Cannondale, most carbon bikes) but I notice many people on this forum seem to love a good lugged steel frame. Please enlighten, I'm curious.
re: Lugs vs Welds. What's the deal??gtx
Nov 12, 2003 10:19 AM
Some people think they look better, and they are easier to repair. That's about it. But they tend to cost more (these days anyway) and are going to be a tad heavier. If you use the same tubing, geometry, etc., there should be no difference in ride quality. To me lugs look a bit weird with threadless stems and modern components. I've noticed that I've been getting a lot of comments on my bikes in the last few years and it makes me feel kind of weird and old. Time to get a nice tig steel bike I guess. ;)
No difference, except for "looks"MR_GRUMPY
Nov 12, 2003 11:01 AM
Tig welded frames are just as light, just as strong, just as stiff, and are more flexible in design possibilities. Some people want a "Tool." Others want "Art."
re: Lugs vs Welds. What's the deal??MShaw
Nov 12, 2003 10:19 AM
From what I can tell, its mostly a looks thing with most of the guys. Its what they grew up with, so that's "what a bike is supposed to look like."

My $.02.

Nov 12, 2003 10:37 AM

Search for older posts on lugs. Lugs offer a way for a builder to make something unique. How do you make brazed frames unique besides paint jobs (like what Land Shark is doing)? You basically need some welding skills and a tube mitering jig to start your own shop :-)

Lugs also make a stronger joint if it ever needs to be repaired, but that happens so rarely even w/ welded frames, it's probably not an issue...
Lugs make a place to show craftsmanship.dzrider
Nov 12, 2003 10:37 AM
I don't believe there are handling or performance issues. My personal preference is for fillet brazing which can make tubes look like they melted together. Don't claim it's better for any other reason than being what I like to look at.
Agreepeter in NVA
Nov 12, 2003 1:16 PM
Have an older fillet brazed Ritchey Road Classic which I bought because the fillets give the bike a one piece look. I think the smooth welds on aluminum frames are just the result of filling, and not welding skill. FWIW, my tig welded Ritchey Swisscross is lighter and absorbs shock better because it has newer type tubing (WCS).
re: fillet brazingcyclopathic
Nov 13, 2003 8:32 AM
There're some builders who still fillet braze frames. On PBP I met Steve Rex of Rex cycles (, and saw a couple people riding his frames. Frames were things of absolute beauty.

Steve rode tandem /he builds tandems too/ with his wife Janet (who btw co-workers also call Steve as she works with several Janets :) and was lucky catch them on leg from Carhaix to Loudeac

here's what Sheldon writes on brazing:
What goes around comes aroundbimini
Nov 12, 2003 10:50 AM
In the early 70's I had a heavy Schwinn with welded joints and longed to have a nice european bike with lugged joints. I Saved my paper route money and bought one. Steel frames with lugged joints were the norm for high end bikes until the early 90's. Then they started using tapered and butted tubing and dropping the lugs in an effort to have the lightest frame on the market.

I still liked the looks of my lugged steel European Libertas with chromed lower forks and stays that were chromed near the hub. Set off with a nice paint job with a lot of detailing and pin striping around the lugs and at the chrome / paint transissions. It's probably because I am an old fart and it's the only bike I really had to work hard to get and the only bike I took real pride of ownership in.

When it comes to bikes it all in what you like. Real performance differences are miniscule.
re: Lugs vs Welds. What's the deal??CT1 Guy
Nov 12, 2003 11:35 AM
Also consider that many of the top end steel tubes at the time e.g. Reynolds 753 were only designed to be joined using silver solder as any heat severely affected the strength properties of the tube. It wasn't until the advent of shorter, thicker butted tubes suitable for welding, did it really catch on. Also, there were always a few builders prepared to build a fillet brazed frame i.e. lugless for a premium, even though they were inherently weaker than lugged construction.
This is the best I have read on the subject.PaulMC
Nov 12, 2003 11:49 AM
A bit of history . .micha
Nov 12, 2003 11:57 AM
Before there were modern steels like Reynolds 835 and better joining procedures like tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding, the heat of a welding torch would weaken steel tubing considerably. Cheap bike frames were welded anyway, because no one cared if and when they broke. The only way to build a quality frame in those days was to insert a frame tube into a lug, then carefully flow solder at non-destructive low temperatures into the narrow gap between the frame tube and the lug. Most frame builders bought their lugs, which limited them to a relatively small number of frame angle variations.

I think modern welded frames are just as strong as lugged frames. Custom frame angles can be built easily when welding up a frame. I don't think anyone could tell a difference in the ride between a lugged and a welded frame of similar size, weight and geometry.

To this geezer, lugs just look better. A good thing too - I have something classy to look at after I get dropped on the Saturday morning shop ride . .. ;-)
The deal is lugs allow you to do this,pedalAZ
Nov 12, 2003 12:42 PM
which is make the bike beautiful to look at.
Nov 12, 2003 1:28 PM
Nov 12, 2003 12:46 PM
To me, lugs show craftsmanship more than anything, and that's why I like them. It's like dovetail and mortise/tenon joints in furniture. Biscuit joints and glue work just as well, but fine joinery shows that the guy who made the furniture was a real craftsman. Supposedly it's easier to repair a lugged frame, but if you have ever gotten a price estimate for repairing and repainting a frame -- even a lugged one -- it's usually cheaper to buy a new frame.

Some of the new welded frames are beautifully constructed as well. I would have no qualms owning a tig-welded Steelman frame, for example.

In the old days, the best frames were lugged, and cheaper frames were welded. Nowadays, some very high quality frames are welded -- particularly since the advent of steels like Reynolds 853 that don't lose strength at the welds. Filet brazed frames are another nice option, and look every bit as nice as a lugged frame. Landsharks are good examples of nice brazed frames. One big advantage to welded frames is there are more tubing options available since the builder doesn't have to worry about fitting lugs over the tubes.
chromed lugs are yummy; that's all I know nmDougSloan
Nov 12, 2003 3:29 PM
Lugs add at least 5 mph to your averageElefantino
Nov 12, 2003 5:30 PM
At least that's what I heard.

I wouldn't know. I have two lugged bikes.

Hard to do this with welds ...Humma Hah
Nov 12, 2003 6:44 PM
Chrome is heavy, but with this kind of workmanship it makes you FEEL so good, who cares? And I've never seen a decorative chrome weld.

Its a nice-riding bike, fits me beautifully, and will last a lifetime. I won't race it. I adore it.

Other than that, the only real advantage is a one-man shop can build custom bikes with lugs and minimal equipment, and the result will be strong and durable. Its still a great technique for custom bikes.
mmmm....Wisconsin Lugs....Grahamalicious
Nov 12, 2003 10:39 PM
My Kirk, a good example of 'why lugs?'davet
Nov 13, 2003 3:41 AM
One nice steel lugged frameingLatour
Nov 13, 2003 5:22 AM
I have a nice Columbus SLX Marinoni that I would let go... If you know someone or if someone wants more pictures

It's true that lugged frame has something beautiful...
One nice steel lugged frame: pictureingLatour
Nov 13, 2003 5:24 AM