The bike plague
Can you recognize a good steel frame by its joints?
Is it possible to value a steel frame by its joints or something else (weight, paintjob etc). Same with fork. Is there a way? If yes how?
I use the rear dropouts as an indicator of quality. Invstment cast dropouts are only used on mid-high end frames. Stamped steel is used on cheaper frames. Fancier dropouts=higher-end frame. It is very rare for a high end frame to use plain dropouts.
Straight-cut lugs are low end. If the top of the seapost has a stress-distributing curved end, that is a good quality mark.
Lugged steel bikes are usually higher end bikes. The fancier and more detailed the lug, the more quality put into the bike. Hence, the more valuable the bike.
You don't find highly detailed stainless steel lugs on mediocre bikes...
Last edited by SlimRider; 05-17-12 at 12:00 PM.
I think that it comes down to materials and craftsmanship.
Better quality frames will usually have a decal that describes the tubeing that was used. You'll have to look it up to see where the tubeing fits on the food chain.
While fancy lug cut outs are an indication of craftsmanship, I don't think that's a perfect indicator of frame quality. Many of the better steel tube sets today are designed to be optimized with tig welding. The most exotic frame that I've ever owned was fillet brazed Nivecrom with very thin wall thickness.
If there is a lot of hand finishing, done before the paint goes on.
some individual took time building the frame.
With a TIG weld you look at how smoothly one puddle of filler follows the next,
in laying down the bead..
Last edited by fietsbob; 05-17-12 at 10:15 AM.
Must... ride... more...
Quality of the paint job or tubing decals are an initial tip-off, but they may become marred over time.
I also look at the finishing work done before the painting, filing and cleaning around the brazed junctions. Obviously more fancy, cut-out lugs are an indicator. As are the finished ends of the seat stays and their junction at the seatpost.
Just tapping the tubing with your fingernail and listening to the "ring" can tell you something, too.
As for forks, look at the dropouts. How well finished is the dropout to fork end interface? Is there a sloping crown or flat crown. Details on the crown and cutouts? If it's a unicrown, are there any indicators of tubing. Sometimes the steerer tube has stamped markings of the tubing type, but you have to disassemble to see those.