Tange Prestige Quality
In the latest (Vol 12 #3 ) issue of "Bicycle Quarterly" the Soma Grand Randonneur is tested w/ these statements:
"Those who were around the in 1980s remember Tange Prestige as one of the best tubesets ever made......However the Japanese Tange operation closed in the late 1990s and the Soma's Taiwanese tubing appears to share only the name and sticker with the revered Tange Prestige of old."
"If you don't know this, you may expect the ride quality of a superlight, thin wall tubeset, and you may be disappointed."
My question to the frame makers then: Is the Tange Prestige tubing available to you now of an inferior quality, lower specification and thicker walled than in the past?
Not sure about the modern production, but just as Reynolds 753 was heat-treated 531, Tange Prestige was heat-treated Champion Chrome-Moly. I will say that Tange's tooling seemed to be in better shape than Reynolds' though.
Here's the 1988 Tange Prestige catalog section and the 2013 tubing page. The 1988 catalog shows Prestige as having 0.7/0.4/0.7 walls, and the 2013 catalog shows Prestige as having 0.8/0.5/0.8 walls (2013 Prestige JPN has 0.7/0.4/0.7). They're all double-butted Cr-Mo.
In 2013 Prestige JPN is heat treated, but Prestige is not.
I don't think anyone in the U.S. is importing Tange, are they? People really seemed to like the old Presige, I never used it. Not sure I believe that difference in wall thickness is noticeable, even to a delicate flower like Jan Heine.
I just read Jan Heine's review in the new Bicycle Quarterly and believe he was comparing the 1980s heat treated 0.7/0.4/.07 Prestige to the 2013 0.8/0.5/0.8 Prestige that's not heat treated. While they're clearly different, I think it would be very difficult for even the most experienced riders to tell the difference in ride quality between the two tubesets. The difference in tensile strength from heat treating and the tenth of a millimeter in wall thickness would make in the ride quality would be insignificant.
I'm guessing the reason SOMA used the non heat treated Prestige rather than the heat treated Prestige JPN is because the Grand Randonneur is TIG welded, and the heat from welding (as opposed to the heat from low temperature silver brazing with lugs) would weaken the heat treated thinner walled Prestige JPN.
One more thought on this; when Jan Heine says, "If you don't know this, you may expect the ride quality of a superlight, thin wall tubeset, and you may be disappointed", I can't help but wonder if he's thinking of the eighties Prestige Super Lite which had 0.3mm walls. With standard diameters, I'd think for anybody weighing over 175 pounds and/or riding a larger frame Prestige Super Lite would be pretty flexy.
That pretty well answers my question.
BQ should have noted the Grand Randonneur is not a "Full Prestige" frameset as the fork is Tange Infinity (stays too?).
"The Soma's fork blades are quite stiff, but at least the bumps didn't unsettle the bike."
-BQ Vol.12 #3
They are a tough audience, damning w/ faint praise the "budget" $500 Rando frameset and gushing over the $3K frameset MAP S&P in the same issue. Magazines need something to write about & I find BQ's quirky frame of reference & hands-on testing interesting. I must agree that the Soma is one ugly puppy w/ the "dropped top tube".
Think I'll pump up the tires on the fixed gear & go for a ride, all this multi-gear, mudguards fitted front loaded stuff is too complicated today.
I grabbed this screenshot off of the SOMA website FAQ section today. They say they're using heat treated Prestige, which I think means Prestige JPN with 0.7/0.4/0.7 walls just like the eighties Prestige.
Originally Posted by Scooper
Ask the right people and they point out what should have been obvious all along if one had bothered to read the mgf.'s spec.....
Not a dog in the fight but my "Prestige" lugged frame Soma Stanyan built as a project for a "modern" substitute for my 70's Internat'l is a clean, straight lugged frame for those like me who want the virtues of a Neo-British clubrider's kit w/130 stays & such.
The 650B low trail/decalleur/handlebar-bag thing is interesting but I've put >40 years on Brit-style designs and am unlikely to turn aside. That which for worked me for decades works well enough but it's nice to see modern interpretations of other classic designs at a reasonable price.
Not all of us want a Team Sky Pinarello for the type of riding we do or a MAP S&P.