Steel Frames
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Thread: Steel Frames

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    Steel Frames

    Any input as to whether lugged vs non lugged weld joined frames have any differences in performance, feel, comfort or other? Lugged frames seem a little heavier. Thanks for any feedback!
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    Lugs, filet brazed or welded, as long as the geometry is the same, so should the ride be the same. Three construction methods, welding being the cheapest and lightest. Filet brazed or lugged are more aesthetic choices of which a builder may excel in one over the other. There is also bi-laminate construction, which is a combination of filet and lugged, where a tube is filet welded to a lug as it would be to another tube and then a tube is brazed into the lug.

    A picture of an unpainted downtube/headtube of bi-laminate construction.

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    Now defunct Bicycle Guide magazine once performed a blind test of three steel frames; lugged, welded, and fillet brazed. Test riders could not discern any differences in ride qualities.

    Lugs were merely an early method of frame assembly when only lower temperatures were able to be produced to attach the tubes to each other. And, lugs conveniently offered an opportunity for some artistic license. Any weight penalty is meaningless in the overall scheme of things.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PBL450 View Post
    Any input as to whether lugged vs non lugged weld joined frames have any differences in performance, feel, comfort or other? Lugged frames seem a little heavier. Thanks for any feedback!
    I have had 3 TIGed steel frames, 2 lugged frames and a fillet brazed frame. While there were differences between the rides, I doubt any of that had to do with the joining method. I like lugs, only for the reason that they look good

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    If you are looking at off-the-shelf frames all else will not be equal and lugged vs weld is probably the last thing you should be looking at to try and predict ride quality. Geometry and tubing choice.

    If you are looking at custom where all else could theoretically be equal. I don't know. I've heard the spin supporting advantages of lugs (though not for ride quality) and it hold up to logic, somewhat. But I've also heard the opinion of a very respected frame builder who I trust that says there is no advantage and something to the effect of any advantage/reason for lugs died when tubing advanced to better handle the heat from welding.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PBL450 View Post
    . . . Lugged frames seem a little heavier. Thanks for any feedback!
    I long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away I read in "Bicycle Guide" (Remember that magazine?) did a comparison between all three construction methods on bicycles that were made by a custom builder sporting the same geometry and asked some experts to give their opinion. I believe some said they could feel a slight difference.

    Of the 12 bikes I own 8 are made of steel. Of the 8 steel bikes 2 are TIG welded. My 1999 LeMond Zurich (TIG welded) is my best all round bike. She's comfortable on all day rides and short, fast club rides. I love the feeling of "heft" a steel frame has. The heft is substantial enough so I know I am riding a machine that is powered by me! I also like the way a steel frame yields a little bit to let me know that I'm putting in a maximum effort. For example, when I'm sprinting or hammering out of the saddle and I can't feel my frame flexing a little bit I know I'm not giving my all (probably I'm tired or lazy). My carbon fiber bike has none of these sensations when I ride her. Just sayin'.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JaeP View Post
    I also like the way a steel frame yields a little bit to let me know that I'm putting in a maximum effort. For example, when I'm sprinting or hammering out of the saddle and I can't feel my frame flexing a little bit I know I'm not giving my all (probably I'm tired or lazy). My carbon fiber bike has none of these sensations when I ride her. Just sayin'.
    Sounds like carrying a 20 pound weight and getting some cheap low spoke wheels would 'help' with your carbon frame.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    Sounds like carrying a 20 pound weight and getting some cheap low spoke wheels would 'help' with your carbon frame.
    Plastic bikes are lighter because they lack a soul

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    For those that own or have owned higher-end steel frames, are any of them stiff in the bottom bracket area? An issue I've had with steel frames is that I experienced a lot of chain rub as the frame was too flexy (is that a word?) in the BB area when under load. I'm wondering if that was just an issue 'cause I only owned mid-grade steel frames vs the high end. My current carbon bikes don't have this issue.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveG View Post
    I have had 3 TIGed steel frames, 2 lugged frames and a fillet brazed frame. While there were differences between the rides, I doubt any of that had to do with the joining method. I like lugs, only for the reason that they look good
    Completely agree
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    Quote Originally Posted by PoorInRichfield View Post
    For those that own or have owned higher-end steel frames, are any of them stiff in the bottom bracket area? An issue I've had with steel frames is that I experienced a lot of chain rub as the frame was too flexy (is that a word?) in the BB area when under load. I'm wondering if that was just an issue 'cause I only owned mid-grade steel frames vs the high end. My current carbon bikes don't have this issue.
    Steel bikes can be made plenty stiff, but you might not like the ride. Your chain rub might have been an issue specific to your frame design, or maybe you are just fantastically strong.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveG View Post
    Plastic bikes are lighter because they lack a soul
    You must spread some Reputation around before giving it to DaveG again.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PoorInRichfield View Post
    For those that own ... My current carbon bikes don't have this issue.
    Your carbon bikes don't have that issue because of the large diameter tubes. Small increases in diameter result in large increases in bending stiffness. Much more so than increasing tubing wall thickness. I don't know what the tube diameters of your steel frames are, but larger diameter tubes would give you a stiffer frame if that's what you desire.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter P. View Post
    I don't know what the tube diameters of your steel frames are, but larger diameter tubes would give you a stiffer frame if that's what you desire.
    I see. I've been dreaming about buying a retro steel frame, like an Eddy Merckx or a Colnago, that I would still be willing to ride. I didn't have the money to buy such a high end frame when I was a kid, so I have no idea if they were significantly stiffer than the Columbus-tubed frames I could afford. If the expensive steel frames of old are flexible as well in the bottom bracket, then I don't think I'll buy one as I'm not looking for any more wall art.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PoorInRichfield View Post
    For those that own or have owned higher-end steel frames, are any of them stiff in the bottom bracket area? An issue I've had with steel frames is that I experienced a lot of chain rub as the frame was too flexy (is that a word?) in the BB area when under load. I'm wondering if that was just an issue 'cause I only owned mid-grade steel frames vs the high end. My current carbon bikes don't have this issue.
    That has virtually nothing to do with being high end or not. A steel frame made with a 120 pound climber in mind probably isn't going to be that stiff even if it's high end.
    Whereas a piece of junk but designed with heavy riders in mind likely will be.

    I do have a somewhat high end steel frame and flex in the bottom bracket is not an issue for me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    I do have a somewhat high end steel frame and flex in the bottom bracket is not an issue for me.
    Same here, do my steel bikes flex more than the carbon one? Yes, but when I'm on the bike I can't feel it and I do like the feel of the steel bikes. My next bike (next month) is a custom steel with steel fork, the BMC Teammachine is getting replaced. I'm no longer a sprinting racer so I'll take feel over BB stiffness. Ride what makes you smile when you look at it. I doubt you are going to regret getting steel but I never really enjoyed my Colnago with the straight fork, (front end felt dead), the Concorde -->(Ciocc) and the Koga Miyata were much more lively and I'd happily ride them again.

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    Steel = Lively.

    Lively = A joy to ride.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    That has virtually nothing to do with being high end or not. A steel frame made with a 120 pound climber in mind probably isn't going to be that stiff even if it's high end.
    Whereas a piece of junk but designed with heavy riders in mind likely will be.
    Steel just seems really complicated... too complicated for the average rider. I have an architectural engineering background and find the different steels used in frames interesting, but quite frankly I have no idea which kind of tubing would work best for me despite having a reasonable understanding of steel (at least from a building perspective).

    For example, look at all the types of Columbus tubing that have been available over the years:

    https://www.steel-vintage.com/blog/2...s-steel-tubes/

    I remember being confused by all the choices ~30 years ago when I started riding as a teenager and I still find the choices confusing.

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    When it comes to stiffness all steels are the same. By that I mean that given a tube of the exact same thickness and diameter, a high-end tube-set will be the same stiffness as basic CrMo. To make a bike stiffer you need to increase the tube diameters or the thickness of the tube (less effective). High-end tubes are stronger which allows you to make a larger diameter tube without having to increase the thickness as much as with a cheaper tube. The stiffest steel bike I have owned was a Torelli made with heavily shaped Columbus Zona which is in the low-mid end of the Columbus line. However, the tubes were quite large at the BB and that area was unyielding. I personally don't' think there is any advantage to a super-stiff frame, certainly not for a recreational rider like me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveG View Post
    I personally don't' think there is any advantage to a super-stiff frame, certainly not for a recreational rider like me.
    I actually think there are (or can be) disadvantages.

    I used to have a super stiff carbon bike. Per Tour magazine it was the second stiffest BB on the market back in 2010.
    I felt the lack of give didn't allow what my legs to follow the path they wanted to in an all out sprint. I did get used to that though and who knows if it had an impact on speed or not.

    Then I got a Ti road bike to replace it and that for sure has more flex in the bb area. Felt better sprinting but again who know about actual speed.
    BUT, there is not doubt in my mind that I am faster on the ti bike on rides over 50ish miles because the lack of stiffness results in a smoother ride. (same tires and wheels) Not that the frame is faster per se but my body is much more fresh which makes me faster.

    Not that that has anything to do with material because anything can be stiff or flex. But I'm convinced the whole BB stiffness things is a bunch a marketing BS.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    I actually think there are (or can be) disadvantages.

    I used to have a super stiff carbon bike. Per Tour magazine it was the second stiffest BB on the market back in 2010.
    I felt the lack of give didn't allow what my legs to follow the path they wanted to in an all out sprint. I did get used to that though and who knows if it had an impact on speed or not.

    Then I got a Ti road bike to replace it and that for sure has more flex in the bb area. Felt better sprinting but again who know about actual speed.
    BUT, there is not doubt in my mind that I am faster on the ti bike on rides over 50ish miles because the lack of stiffness results in a smoother ride. (same tires and wheels) Not that the frame is faster per se but my body is much more fresh which makes me faster.

    Not that that has anything to do with material because anything can be stiff or flex. But I'm convinced the whole BB stiffness things is a bunch a marketing BS.
    This sounds vaguely similar:

    I also like the way a steel frame yields a little bit to let me know that I'm putting in a maximum effort. For example, when I'm sprinting or hammering out of the saddle and I can't feel my frame flexing a little bit I know I'm not giving my all (probably I'm tired or lazy). My carbon fiber bike has none of these sensations when I ride her. Just sayin'.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PoorInRichfield View Post
    Steel just seems really complicated... too complicated for the average rider. I have an architectural engineering background and find the different steels used in frames interesting, but quite frankly I have no idea which kind of tubing would work best for me despite having a reasonable understanding of steel (at least from a building perspective).

    For example, look at all the types of Columbus tubing that have been available over the years:

    https://www.steel-vintage.com/blog/2...s-steel-tubes/

    I remember being confused by all the choices ~30 years ago when I started riding as a teenager and I still find the choices confusing.
    You're making too much out of this.

    You want a stiffer ride, oversize tubing of a gage. think butted 9-6-9 or 8-5-8 TT and 9-6-9 DT.

    You want a livelier ride than think standard size butted tubing, 7-4-7 or 8-5-8 TT and 8-5-8 DT.

    The SX and LX designations used the helicoidal re to add stiffness without adding too much more weight. Think rifling. Looking down the steerer of many Columbus tubed bikes will let you see an example of this.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JaeP View Post
    This sounds vaguely similar:

    I also like the way a steel frame yields a little bit to let me know that I'm putting in a maximum effort. For example, when I'm sprinting or hammering out of the saddle and I can't feel my frame flexing a little bit I know I'm not giving my all (probably I'm tired or lazy). My carbon fiber bike has none of these sensations when I ride her. Just sayin'.
    touche. You have a point.

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