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Framebuilders Thinking about a custom frame? Lugged vs Fillet Brazed. Different Frame materials? Newvex or Pacenti Lugs? why get a custom Road, Mountain, or Track Frame? Got a question about framebuilding? Lets discuss framebuilding at it's finest.

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Old 05-13-10, 08:23 PM   #1
seanile
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Appropriate Tubing

Hey there,

I've got a custom bike being built for me of Columbus SLX tubing, and it's a road/touring geometry. I originally and kinda still really want to make it my full blown touring bike, but i've been informed today that the slx tubing is a bit thinner and more appropriate for a race bike's stability and use.

So, being that you guys are who you are, framebuilders, i figured i'd ask you all if this is true, should i build it up as a road bike rather than tourer?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 05-13-10, 09:22 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by sreilly845 View Post
Hey there,

I've got a custom bike being built for me of Columbus SLX tubing, and it's a road/touring geometry. I originally and kinda still really want to make it my full blown touring bike, but i've been informed today that the slx tubing is a bit thinner and more appropriate for a race bike's stability and use.

So, being that you guys are who you are, framebuilders, i figured i'd ask you all if this is true, should i build it up as a road bike rather than tourer?

Thanks in advance!
SLX would likely be a bit flexible for loaded touring (unsupported, full camping gear, food, etc.) but ought to be ok for less rigorous touring.
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Old 05-14-10, 05:23 AM   #3
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Yeah, SPX would be better, at the very least in the chainstays and downtube.
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Old 05-14-10, 03:06 PM   #4
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why use tubing that has not been made for 20 years?
There is better metalurgy made by Columbus.
Nivacrom and Niobium doped tubes, much better grain post braze/welding etc
and SPX is only .10mm wall increase over SLX, which will give a little bit more toughness, but the increase in rigidity is very tiny and correct rigidity for size and load is what a touring bikes needs in the right amounts.
A much better plan would be 31.7 DT and 28.6 DT which roughly gives 20% more rigidity in bending and torsion {depending on butt length and wall**
If it is a big frame and big loads then XL tubes may be needed and lugs with level and sloping TT exist if using lugs.
maybe .8 wall tubes and .9 CS and the diameter of the seat stays makes a big difference.
Also the CS length in the SLX and SPX set will not be long enough for a touring bike. {they are 410mm length**
Some SP and SPX sets came with 1.05 mm fork blades at 390mm length but many came with .9mm blades. These could be too short for big tyres and mudguards, cantis and some crown shapes. Also 1.1 -1.2 wall is better for loaded touring, so your builder may be sourcing some tubes such as TrueTemper for some tubes.
If your frame builder knows their stuff
they will not be farting around with a nostalgic tube set such as SLX set for a touring bike.
How ever
You need to define your touring bike, is it for a trip to the shops or riding around South America's unpaved roads, over the Himalayas, like into fully blown trekking?
Of course a SLX will be sort of ridable but not the best effort for a touring bike in the year 2010.
Listen to your frame builder. If he/she know their stuff they will be doing what is needed.



I may sound harsh, but jibbering with out facts and the parts and living in the land of frame building materials that is 30 years sold is silly.
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Old 05-14-10, 05:08 PM   #5
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nostalgia is in style right now. I wouldn't build a bike with traditional sized tubes for loaded touring. I think traditional sized tubing should probably be limited to sports bikes. I'll gladly let other builders take the retro loaded touring frame business. Some people can't accept that position, but I always figured that builders tend to do their best work if it's a design that they like.
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Old 05-16-10, 10:45 AM   #6
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There's no denying that Silverbraze knows what he's talking about, but I disagree with most of what he's written above. Anyone who spends time at the Vintage forum knows how people rave about the ride of "vintage" tubing. IMO, a great deal of the "benefit" of the latest tubing doesn't make the transition from paper to reality. Yeah, it's great tubing - but so is the 40 year old 531 I used in my last frame.

He does ask a key question, IMO, when he brings up how a particular individual is defining "touring".

Re. OS tubing, I'm personally not at all convinced that it's as good as standard diameter tubing for most purposes. Perhaps it has its place in larger (58+ cm) fully loaded - ie. 50+ pounds - tourers, but for anything less than that the extreme stiffness of the stuff detracts from the ride of the bike. For general road use, light touring, randonneuring, etc., I greatly prefer standard diameter tubing.

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Old 05-16-10, 10:54 AM   #7
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As for the OP, IMO the SLX will make a great general purpose bike, with the caveat that is heavier than it needs to be for a <+/-53 cm frame and perhaps a bit too light for a >+/-60 cm. frame, assuming your weight is proportionate to your height. By general purpose, I mean spirited riding unloaded, centuries and other long rides with moderate loads, and "credit card" touring with a big seat or handlebar bag. (I am using what amounts to SLX on my 63 cm. randonneuring frame with 10 or so pounds in a handlebar bag, but I prefer a somewhat flexible frame.)

I would not use it for a fully loaded touring bike with front and rear panniers and 50+ pounds of gear, unless it is a very small frame.
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Old 05-16-10, 11:45 AM   #8
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I'm not a framebuilder, but sreilly, I think there may be an issue as to whether you will get a bike that is what you hope it will be. If you're not confident that your builder is on the right track with your money, you need to talk to him. At least I would. To take delivery of a custom frame and then think about how will you use it, seems backwards, and could lead to dissatisfaction.
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Old 05-16-10, 01:22 PM   #9
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There's no denying that Silverbraze knows what he's talking about, but I disagree with most of what he's written above. Anyone who spends time at the Vintage forum knows how people rave about the ride of "vintage" tubing.
The placebo effect is amazingly strong.

I'm a big dude - 6'-3", 280 - and I can flex SLX like a rubber band. Same thing with Gara, a tubeset supposedly designed for touring and amateur racing. I could stand and sprint and practically shift the front chainring. Sold off both my vintage bikes because of this.

My Gunnar with modern Platinum OX, however, was solid. The ride had all the steel smoothness I'd been told about, but none of the rubbery flex. It flexed, of course, and I could stand next to the frame and push down on one pedal and see the BB moving. The amount it flexed, however, was just the right amount so I got the benefits without it throwing off my sense of stability or balance.

I'll bet most vintage riders raving about the feel are trim and small build, or super casual riders, and therefore never stress a frame much. That's why they can rave. Get a big strong dude like me on, (or a decently big man with a 50+lb. touring load), however, and classic tubing will show it's weakness.

Edit: when I was taking Yamaguchi's course, he upsized every single major tube on the bike to beefier, OS tubes, and drafted it with compact geometry. This was on a bike that would see credit card touring, maybe 25lbs. on the back. If you're not a gorilla like me, YMMV.

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Old 05-16-10, 04:34 PM   #10
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There's no denying that Silverbraze knows what he's talking about, but I disagree with most of what he's written above. Anyone who spends time at the Vintage forum knows how people rave about the ride of "vintage" tubing. IMO, a great deal of the "benefit" of the latest tubing doesn't make the transition from paper to reality. Yeah, it's great tubing - but so is the 40 year old 531 I used in my last frame.
the vintage forum is a very very small group of enthusiastic people inside the greater cycling world, and seem to be the only ones who I know of in 30 years that make the claims of std is better than the now 20 year old standard "Over Size" tubes, and how many of them have really ridden a loaded std touring frame and then an OS frame with a DT and TT up 1/8" on an inch over the old standard
He does ask a key question, IMO, when he brings up how a particular individual is defining "touring".

Re. OS tubing, I'm personally not at all convinced that it's as good as standard diameter tubing for most purposes. Perhaps it has its place in larger (58+ cm) fully loaded - ie. 50+ pounds - tourers, but for anything less than that the extreme stiffness of the stuff detracts from the ride of the bike. hold on, 20% increase of rigidity in the bending and twisting of the DT and TT can not be called "Extreme stiffness, but it can help the handling the frame and if the rider is a fit solid tall person they can load the pedals up with lots of torque in the 34 inner and 28-32 rear sprocket when grinding a steep pinch, avoids derailluer rubbing and the bike tracks straighter, and the plane of wheels stays straighter rather than swapping as the frame twists on each pedal thrust/load.For general road use, light touring, randonneuring, etc., I greatly prefer standard diameter tubing.
I have a 17 year old fixie I ride three times a week for 50 kms, on 43 x 17. It is made of SP what was lying around. Yeah it works fine. But there is no way I would dig around for an old tube set laying under a bench to make my new bike, as the new materials have a better grain structure post braze and welding which improves fatigue life of the tubes. {all dimensions the same the tube rides the same**
The new 531 tubes available now are not to the old recipe, they are just rebadged tubes in the current material to appeal to the nostalgic market, they want to sell tubes to punters and Columbus Cyclex tubes {SL, SPX etc** has not been made for many years.
Some people claim they have a bike made of 531 etc in circa1950 and it has lasted and is still ridden, but it is not daily for 50 years under some who leans on the pedals hard, on their commute or training.
Many of the old builders like the lower yield strengths of old tubes because they can cold set the death out of the tube easily. Yet to nail straight main triangles with out cold setting and 99% of them will not tell you their tolerances they work to............. If they would be honest about this fact!
oh and bikes do not plane.
The rider planes!
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Last edited by Silverbraze; 05-16-10 at 04:38 PM. Reason: I did 50 kms in the dark this morning on my scraper
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Old 05-16-10, 04:46 PM   #11
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If you just have to use
1" top tubes and 11/8" down tubes are still made by Columbus and Reynold and True Temper and ......................................
with better metal than the 30 -60 plus year old stuff
so why would any one use the old stuff but for the nostalgic vintage aesthetic of the old tube decals. {ignoring the possible case of a reproduction era frame set**
I say
give the customers the best frame material for their hard earned $ you can.
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Old 05-16-10, 09:20 PM   #12
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The placebo effect is amazingly strong.

I'm a big dude - 6'-3", 280 - and I can flex SLX like a rubber band. Same thing with Gara, a tubeset supposedly designed for touring and amateur racing. I could stand and sprint and practically shift the front chainring. Sold off both my vintage bikes because of this.

My Gunnar with modern Platinum OX, however, was solid. The ride had all the steel smoothness I'd been told about, but none of the rubbery flex. It flexed, of course, and I could stand next to the frame and push down on one pedal and see the BB moving. The amount it flexed, however, was just the right amount so I got the benefits without it throwing off my sense of stability or balance.

I'll bet most vintage riders raving about the feel are trim and small build, or super casual riders, and therefore never stress a frame much. That's why they can rave. Get a big strong dude like me on, (or a decently big man with a 50+lb. touring load), however, and classic tubing will show it's weakness.

Edit: when I was taking Yamaguchi's course, he upsized every single major tube on the bike to beefier, OS tubes, and drafted it with compact geometry. This was on a bike that would see credit card touring, maybe 25lbs. on the back. If you're not a gorilla like me, YMMV.
As I noted in my previous post, especially big or tall riders may find SLX - or any standard diameter .9/.6./.9 - too flexible. I'm 6'1", 190 pounds, and had a "1" on my track racing license a whole long time ago. I like .9/.6/.9 frames and rode them almost exclusively in my racing days. Were I 100 pounds heavier, I would doubtless want much more stiffness!
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Old 05-16-10, 09:30 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Silverbraze View Post
the vintage forum is a very very small group of enthusiastic people inside the greater cycling world, and seem to be the only ones who I know of in 30 years that make the claims of std is better than the now 20 year old standard "Over Size" tubes, and how many of them have really ridden a loaded std touring frame and then an OS frame with a DT and TT up 1/8" on an inch over the old standard
I was talking about modern metal vs. vintage metal, not OS vs. standard diameter.

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hold on, 20% increase of rigidity in the bending and twisting of the DT and TT can not be called "Extreme stiffness, but it can help the handling the frame and if the rider is a fit solid tall person they can load the pedals up with lots of torque in the 34 inner and 28-32 rear sprocket when grinding a steep pinch, avoids derailluer rubbing and the bike tracks straighter, and the plane of wheels stays straighter rather than swapping as the frame twists on each pedal thrust/load.
Well, I'm not as big as Schnee, and I have a hard time keeping up with cat. 2s these days, but I personally find .9/.6/.9 standard diameter a little too heavy. I like the flexibility of .8/.5/.8, even in my >60 cm rando frames. I've ridden one built with OS tubing and found it extremely stiff, relatively speaking. I strongly disliked it and found that it made my legs build up with lactic acid -- before Jan ever used the word "planing".

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I have a 17 year old fixie I ride three times a week for 50 kms, on 43 x 17. It is made of SP what was lying around. Yeah it works fine. But there is no way I would dig around for an old tube set laying under a bench to make my new bike, as the new materials have a better grain structure post braze and welding which improves fatigue life of the tubes. {all dimensions the same the tube rides the same**
I bolded the key part, which is really my whole point. The guy apparently already has the SLX and is already having the frame built. As for fatigue life and grain structure, that's really what I mean when I talk about benefits that don't transition well from paper to reality. I mean, you're riding a 17 year old frame. I have a 30 year old SL frame. People ride frames even older than that on a daily basis. How much more fatigue life do we need?

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The new 531 tubes available now are not to the old recipe, they are just rebadged tubes in the current material to appeal to the nostalgic market, they want to sell tubes to punters and Columbus Cyclex tubes {SL, SPX etc** has not been made for many years.
I didn't even know Reynolds had reintroduced 531. The 531 I have been using has been between 30 and 40 years old.

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Some people claim they have a bike made of 531 etc in circa1950 and it has lasted and is still ridden, but it is not daily for 50 years under some who leans on the pedals hard, on their commute or training.
We obviously don't know the same people.

FWIW, I'm not really trying to start a fight or anything. I just think the argument that OS and/or modern steel is automatically better for everything and everyone is too broad, and I think the OP will find SLX as good today as we all did decades ago - as long as he's not 280 pounds, or intending to have a 63 cm loaded touring frame built with it.

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Old 05-17-10, 04:38 PM   #14
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I was talking about modern metal vs. vintage metal, not OS vs. standard diameter.



Well, I'm not as big as Schnee, and I have a hard time keeping up with cat. 2s these days, but I personally find .9/.6/.9 standard diameter a little too heavy. I like the flexibility of .8/.5/.8, even in my >60 cm rando frames. I've ridden one built with OS tubing and found it extremely stiff, relatively speaking. I strongly disliked it and found that it made my legs build up with lactic acid -- before Jan ever used the word "planing".



I bolded the key part, which is really my whole point. The guy apparently already has the SLX and is already having the frame built. As for fatigue life and grain structure, that's really what I mean when I talk about benefits that don't transition well from paper to reality. I mean, you're riding a 17 year old frame. I have a 30 year old SL frame. People ride frames even older than that on a daily basis. How much more fatigue life do we need?



I didn't even know Reynolds had reintroduced 531. The 531 I have been using has been between 30 and 40 years old.



We obviously don't know the same people.

FWIW, I'm not really trying to start a fight or anything. I just think the argument that OS and/or modern steel is automatically better for everything and everyone is too broad, and I think the OP will find SLX as good today as we all did decades ago - as long as he's not 280 pounds, or intending to have a 63 cm loaded touring frame built with it.
No fight here from me
I win all my fights by 100metres
I just cannot for goodness's sakes can see the reason to use materails that only lurk forgotton in dusty corners and lost under benches.
The current time we live in
is the best is has ever been for choice of good materials and parts for bespoke frame building.
back to old frames
yes I ride a 17 year old frame, but not daily, not every day for 17 years , the days are gone of leaning hard on the pedals up the steep hills with the fitness I once had.
Lots of old frames that get a rollout the door a couple of times a week and the rider putters along. {Like me!** Cool, but not daily hard use. Some think they are riding hard, well their engine is riding hard, gasping hard, but they have the horse power of a daddy long legs spider.
It is better to say, 'I have had that frame for a long time and it has given much enjoyment, thus I cherish it"
but to say it is as tough........................
The fact is, frame failures dropped from all manufacturers around the world when they switched to Nivacrom steels.
So Columbus dropped the old stuff quickly.
It was common knowledge at the time.
and many other tube makers switched to the newer steels.


as for flex increasing biomechanical efficiency
Stored energy is the same in a stiff spring as in a flexy spring, may have
less strain for the same stress, but the same stored energy is there.
Only losses in the tube are heat in the flexing tube and moving air
molecules out of the way as the tube flexes {and even that is just heating
the air up around the tube**
Jan says
"Jan's altered pedal stroke" refering to OS frames
So does the flexy frame make the rider more cardiovascular efficient, or do
some riders just change their pedal technique to their personal feelings of
the frame is the question. {I reckon it is the answer**


I am off now downs stairs to finish off a frame

using some nice cast lugs {Richissimo**
some nice Columbus Spirit for Lugs tubes
and cast socket stainless dropouts {often refered to cop out dropouts by some ignorant fossilised frame builders who have no idea of the time involved in using them and polishing them**

No fight, but if I sound harsh, it is because my cup of tea has not kicked in after 50 kms in the cold and dark this morning, over the hills. Dinotte lights rock!

I am out of here , no more from me.
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Old 05-18-10, 05:33 AM   #15
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Stored energy is the same in a stiff spring as in a flexy spring, may have
less strain for the same stress, but the same stored energy is there.
I'm a bit confused. For the same rider impulse/force, isn't there more energy stored & released in the flexy frame, because the amplitude of the displacement is larger?
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Old 05-18-10, 07:35 AM   #16
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hey guys, thanks for all the input.
my initial intentions were that it was going to be used for loaded touring, i wanted to go across the country at some point. i did want a classic bike, and he tried to accomodate that idea with classic tubing. i don't think, though, that i was clear enough that i wanted it for a legit touring bike.

now, the builder trained with yamaguchi and is new to the framebuilding business, he knows that, i know that and i don't mind because he's building me the whole frame/fork w. paint at $850. he does know his stuff though, i think he's owned over a hundred bikes or something in his time and they were top end or close to it.

so, i guess i was a bit ambitious in asking for a touring bike from a new builder, but that's why i came to you guys for some extra info, and thank you for the help.
i gave him a call and told him to scrap the touring idea and just go full on road/racing bike. he said at the end of it all, if i don't like it he'll just start over for me and keep that one for himself because we're pretty much the same size.
and if it matters: i'm 6'1 & 195, ride a 58cm square. and i saw some comments about lugging, and it's going to be fully lugged (Vitus).

this was his first build btw \/
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Old 05-18-10, 11:59 AM   #17
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hey guys, thanks for all the input.
my initial intentions were that it was going to be used for loaded touring, i wanted to go across the country at some point. i did want a classic bike, and he tried to accomodate that idea with classic tubing. i don't think, though, that i was clear enough that i wanted it for a legit touring bike.

now, the builder trained with yamaguchi and is new to the framebuilding business, he knows that, i know that and i don't mind because he's building me the whole frame/fork w. paint at $850. he does know his stuff though, i think he's owned over a hundred bikes or something in his time and they were top end or close to it.

so, i guess i was a bit ambitious in asking for a touring bike from a new builder, but that's why i came to you guys for some extra info, and thank you for the help.
i gave him a call and told him to scrap the touring idea and just go full on road/racing bike. he said at the end of it all, if i don't like it he'll just start over for me and keep that one for himself because we're pretty much the same size.
and if it matters: i'm 6'1 & 195, ride a 58cm square. and i saw some comments about lugging, and it's going to be fully lugged (Vitus).

this was his first build btw \/
I would hope you would correct me if I'm wrong, but perhaps a more accurate wording would be that he took Yamaguchi's frame building class, rather than "trained with Yamaguchi ...."

"trained with Yamaguchi" to me at least implies an apprenticeship/internship of some sort, not that he took a class and is now in the process of hanging out his shingle.
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Old 05-18-10, 12:31 PM   #18
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this was his first build btw \/
Man, my back hurts just looking at that.
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Old 05-18-10, 03:08 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by erik c View Post
I would hope you would correct me if I'm wrong, but perhaps a more accurate wording would be that he took Yamaguchi's frame building class, rather than "trained with Yamaguchi ...."

"trained with Yamaguchi" to me at least implies an apprenticeship/internship of some sort, not that he took a class and is now in the process of hanging out his shingle.
It's a two week course from 9-6 with only two other students. He covers everything from calculating fit to the business side of setting up shop. One of his students got hired at Independent Fab only a few months after taking the class and showing a few of his bikes at NAHBS. So, not necessarily an apprenticeship, but more thorough and complete than most of the frame building courses I've looked in to.

Disclaimer: I took his course. I was one of his 'slow' students, so I just tell people 'I took his course'.
One of the dudes in the class was such a natural that I'd say he 'trained with Koichi'.
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Old 05-18-10, 07:39 PM   #20
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i'm 6'1 & 195, ride a 58cm square.
Good to know. FWIW, I think you did well to tell your builder to make a more sporting bike out of your tubing. Fully loaded touring - that 50+ pound load thingy - would likely be too much for a bike in your size made with standard diameter .9/.6/.9.
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Old 05-18-10, 08:52 PM   #21
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I'm a bit confused. For the same rider impulse/force, isn't there more energy stored & released in the flexy frame, because the amplitude of the displacement is larger?
No

unless you are saying that the loads going into the flexy tube are greater than the stiff tube
because the pulse of the pedal load due to rider enertia loads the flexy tube more than the stiff tubes

http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/pespr.html

Elastic potential energy is Potential energy stored as a result of deformation of an elastic object, such as the stretching of a spring. It is equal to the work done to stretch the spring

"a" Mount one end of a stiff tube to the bench
"b" Mount one end of a flexy tube to the bench

Load, stress both tubes same amount at the free end.

"a" tube deflects a certain amount {amount of strain**
"b" Tube deflects a certain amount, and yes it more than "a" tube {amount of strain**

Both have the same amount of stored energy.
Both will release this energy in same amounts if harnessed in some way. {bike frame and chain etc**
Stiff tube did not lose potential energy when under stress

How the flexy tubes increases a bike rider's biomechanical efficiency is yet to be demonstrated by those with the planing theory belief.
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Old 05-18-10, 08:57 PM   #22
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And may never be.

In my experience, pushing against the unyielding stiffness of OS tubing makes my legs hurt. Pushing against a more compliant resistance hurts less. I don't have any scientific way of explaining it - but I experienced it long before Jan and BQ. So did Sean Kelly....
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Old 05-19-10, 07:06 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Six jours View Post
Good to know. FWIW, I think you did well to tell your builder to make a more sporting bike out of your tubing. Fully loaded touring - that 50+ pound load thingy - would likely be too much for a bike in your size made with standard diameter .9/.6/.9.
cool, thanks for the help. same to everybody else who let me know what's good.


btw, here's the completed bike w.o fork, he finished it yesterday.



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Old 05-19-10, 02:30 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Silverbraze View Post

Elastic potential energy is Potential energy stored as a result of deformation of an elastic object, such as the stretching of a spring. It is equal to the work done to stretch the spring

/snip

How the flexy tubes increases a bike rider's biomechanical efficiency is yet to be demonstrated by those with the planing theory belief.
right gotcha!

To play devil's advocate here, if nobody demonstrated that stiffer is better either, std and OS are the same then ?
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Old 05-19-10, 08:39 PM   #25
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right gotcha!

To play devil's advocate here, if nobody demonstrated that stiffer is better either, std and OS are the same then ?
it comes down to handling for the rider
considering every thing.

and some times rolling resistance under high pedal loads as the wheel alignment goes in and out and one counter steers more to compensate.
Lots of work was done on the Aussie track bikes with this {Kilo riding is the extreme of this**
It is all about the balance of every thing, well sort of, because there is compromise in all designs and selections

I grew up racing and building with 531 and SL etc.
When Columbus's EL OS tubes arrived circa 1991
we were skeptics
but after riding them
every one I knew was converted.
The bikes felt better heeled over in pot holed corners
off the seat clobbering 53 x 14 for all your worth to go across gaps
Road shock felt just the same
the bikes felt nicer in all applications
The stays and forks were the same, it was just the TT and DT up by 1/8" diameter.


and when MAX arrived, on the track no big fellas complained
and the big lads loved the road bikes made from it {but the MAX fork is harsh unless you are 80 plus KG!**
Total pain to work with.

I have not made a frame with std tubes since 1994
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