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Old 05-24-08, 08:14 AM   #1
Smooooth
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Beyond Owners-weld quality question

The titanium welds are very large (like aluminum). Further more the beading on the welds is globby and inconsistent. This is noticeable at < 3 foot inspection of the frame.

I will post some pix next week.

Questions:
- Does your frame have these weld characteristics?
- Am I being too picky to assume that the welds on a bike in this price range should be very clean looking. Like Moots, Seven, etc.?

The bike looks really nice other than close inspection of the welds.

Thanks for your input.
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Old 05-24-08, 09:19 AM   #2
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Ugly is only skin deep, so they say! Hand filing/labor adds more expen$e.
That's why we prefer an all-carbon frame compared to half and half.
Photo attached of our stoker BB joint . . .
Pedl on TWOgether!
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Old 05-24-08, 12:21 PM   #3
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The titanium welds are very large (like aluminum). Further more the beading on the welds is globby and inconsistent. This is noticeable at < 3 foot inspection of the frame.
Sorry, I'm not a Beyond owner either but....

IMHO, you're suffering from Co-Motion steel frame TIG weld withdrawl.... noting their TIG welds are perhaps the nicest TIG welds you'll see on any frame.



What you're seeing on your Beyond sounds par for the course for the big S on all of it's frames / materials. I'm not sure why Santana has never focused more attention on raising the bar on the attention to detail that most other frame builders do, e.g., tighter and more uniform weld pools. As an example, here are two photos that compare catalog shots of Santana's Beyond to a Co-Motion Robusta which, because it's aluminum, will almost always have a fat weld. However, note the difference in the uniformity of the pools and overall shape of the weld.





Finally, and more specific to your frame's titanium material, I'm at a loss as to why they have always used the same size and type of TIG welds on their exotics and, in particular, the titanium. Ti can definitely be welded with nice tight pools just like steel and that's exactly what you'll see if you look at the ti frames produced by Seven and Lynskey. Here's a shot of a bottom bracket on a ti Lynskey:

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Old 05-24-08, 02:46 PM   #4
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The weld appearance pictured does look sub par. Ti welders don't come
out of CC programs, and it looks like the manufacturer of the tandem
frame depicted didn't have his first or second choice welder available
any more. The welds on my Lightspeed and my Ti Pursuit are noticeably
better but neither is as smooth as the welds on my Teledyne which may (?)
have had some smoothing. I will try to post some pix Sunday.
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Old 05-24-08, 09:02 PM   #5
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- Am I being too picky to assume that the welds on a bike in this price range should be very clean looking. Like Moots, Seven, etc.?
Realistically, a $10,000 tandem is perhaps comparable to $3-4000 single bike. Given the limited market for a tandem, the cost of atandem is more than twice the cost of an equivalent single bike.

So comparing the detail quality to a custom single like a Seven, might be a bit much.
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Old 05-24-08, 10:00 PM   #6
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The appearance of welds is partly a matter of workmanship, but also partly a matter of the process used- some weld processes just naturally make prettier welds than others. There is not necessarily a correlation to strength.
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Old 05-24-08, 11:00 PM   #7
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Titanium is not an easy metal to weld. That said there are many different methods to do it. The GTAW method commonly referred to as TIG produces a much tighter and smaller weld bead surface such as pictured above on the Seven frame. It is also much more difficult in that contamination can be a big issue. Not having a picture of what you describe I can only surmise that your welds may be brazed or soldered or GMAW welded (MIG). These types of welding would produce a larger weld bead. In the welding business one must always remember that an ugly weld is not always a bad weld and pretty weld is not always a good weld. You might ask them what method they used to join your frame members.
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Old 05-24-08, 11:26 PM   #8
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Not having a picture of what you describe I can only surmise that your welds may be brazed or soldered or GMAW welded (MIG). These types of welding would produce a larger weld bead.
Just going from what Santana includes in its literature for the Beyond, "While each tube is being molded, VyaTek Sports’ second patented technology, Bi/Fusion™, fuses a thin titanium sleeve at each end of the IsoGridŽ tube. The resulting titanium tipped IsoGridŽ tubes can be welded directly to each other. Welded carbon construction not only prevents carbon’s most common form of failure, it simultaneously avoids the weight penalty of glue and lugs (typically 20%). And it’s the often overlooked efficiency of TIG welding that allows our carbon-and-titanium Beyond frame to be a pound or more lighter than a pure carbon frame**.

**No one was ever able to figure out which pure carbon frame that was. Small size Beyond frame weight is around 5.7lbs, which is about the same as a small Dragonfly... and looking 'beyond' carbon that's in the ballpark for the smaller sizes of the magnesium Paketa and Co-Motion aluminum Macchiatto frames. These are weights without forks, seatpost clamps, headsets or eccentrics. Looked at another way, the difference in weight at these margins is on par with the amount of weight you loose by taking a leak.

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Old 05-25-08, 09:24 AM   #9
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"And it’s the often overlooked efficiency of TIG welding that allows our carbon-and-titanium Beyond frame to be a pound or more lighter than a pure carbon frame**."

Well that settles that. Although it may be a bit disingenuous to credit "the overall efficiency of TIG welding" to a weight savings other than by using titanium you can shave some weight. Welding is welding and there are many considerations for all welding process. Efficiency comes with automation. Not the process.

Those in the aerospace industry would probably have far more knowledge about titanium welding than I do. My experience is in the ASME pressure vessel business where we use titanium for very specific, highly corrosive, high temperature services.

There are other factors not discussed here. Perhaps someone has more information than I. The GTAW process can be used to make butt joints without filler metal in titanium base materials of up to about .125" thickness. This may account for the smaller more uniform weld beads photographed above. Not knowing the thickness of the tubing I would guess they are less than .125" thick thus allowing a homogenous weld technique. The welds you describe may have been made with the use of a filler wire. GTAW utilizes a typically thoriated tungsten electrode enclosed by a ceramic cup with a shielding gas supplied from the cup. This shielding gas is very critical for titanium welding not only in the quality of the gas but the amount. To much causes turbulence that will facilitate contamination and to little causes contamination. The weld area must cooled to under 800 degrees F under a gas blanket of trailing gas to prevent detrimental weld conditions. This would make a good argument for using the homogeneous welding technique. The use of a filler wire entails the following: filler wire should be fed into the weld zone at the junction of the weld joint and arc cone. Wire should be fed smoothly and continuously into the puddle. An intermittent dipping technique causes turbulence and may result in contamination of the hot end of the wire on removal from the shield. The contaminants are then transferred to the weld puddle on the next dip. All this means is that your finished weld will be larger in profile and more irregular in shape. If you were to ask Santana about this inquiring minds would ask them what process they use; do they use filler material or not; what is their inspection and test plan for their welding; how do they control prevention of contamination?

Or just accept that your welds are bigger than others.
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Old 05-25-08, 07:30 PM   #10
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**No one was ever able to figure out which pure carbon frame that was. Small size Beyond frame weight is around 5.7lbs, which is about the same as a small Dragonfly... and looking 'beyond' carbon that's in the ballpark for the smaller sizes of the magnesium Paketa and Co-Motion aluminum Macchiatto frames. These are weights without forks, seatpost clamps, headsets or eccentrics. Looked at another way, the difference in weight at these margins is on par with the amount of weight you loose by taking a leak.
You're not suggesting that Santana's marketing literature might contain some hyperbole?
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Old 05-25-08, 08:44 PM   #11
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I was looking at a beyond today in the LBS and the welds looked fine to me. Perhaps not as pretty as some high end road bikes but nothing that would worry me at all. Nice looking frame.
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Old 05-25-08, 08:47 PM   #12
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'. . . weight penalty of glue and lugs (typically 20%)'; '. . . Beyond frame to be a pound or more lighter than a pure carbon frame.' Hype/marketing? Yup!
Hate to point out, we've owned an a-typical full carbon fiber tandem for the past 4 years (as do many other c/f tandem owners).
Pedal on!
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Old 05-26-08, 05:39 AM   #13
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I will be at the Tennessee Tandem Rally in a couple of weeks and since the OP has made me curious to look at different welds, I'll be taking various weld photos. For general info: I took a photo in February on the Santana Hawaii trip of Bill and Jan McCready's personal Beyond and I've cropped some "close-ups" from that photo. The photo was taken with a flash near sundown so the lighting could be better plus it would have been better had I taken separate photos of the head tube, seat tube, bb - but I didn't know I would be wanting to look at weld joint details later! - I just wanted a photo of the tandem that he rode.

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Old 05-26-08, 07:45 PM   #14
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Bill's frame has much nicer looking welds than the bikes he sells.
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Old 05-26-08, 08:01 PM   #15
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Bill's frame has much nicer looking welds than the bikes he sells.
I think we will need some photos of other Beyonds and some of his Team Titaniums - (please post yours when you have the opportunity). Bill sold this bike out from under himself and Jan during the tour. According to Jan this happened every now and then. I believe she said that she had been riding that bike for about a year. The purchasers were riding a rented Santana on the tour but were able to ride their "new" bike on the last day of the tour. I'm riding a steel (Team Niobium) tandem purchased in Jan 2006 with similar welds to what they look like in the ones I posted of Bill's previous Beyond.

I have no idea how many welders Santana uses or how often they have a new welder(s) - I would be curious to know that.

Perhaps some of the other Beyond owners on this forum can post some photos of their welds so we can see if yours are the norm or not.

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Old 05-26-08, 09:42 PM   #16
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I will go by the bike shop tomorrow and take some pics. Try and post them here.
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Old 05-27-08, 11:37 AM   #17
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I ride a Habanero Ti single and the welds are very neat and uniform. Here are some links for pictures

http://www.habcycles.com/pictures.html

They do a custom tandem for $1950 which will be my next tandem if my wife continues to ride.

http://www.habcycles.com/tandem.html
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Old 05-27-08, 05:11 PM   #18
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Here is a link to the pics. The first pic is of a Beyond at another bike shop. The rest are of the bike that was delivered to me.

There is a noticeable seat tube weld on the bike I received.

http://gallery.mac.com/gordonreese/100096

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Old 05-27-08, 05:51 PM   #19
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Took a picture of the welding on my Titanium Lemond for comparison

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Old 05-27-08, 06:44 PM   #20
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Took a picture of the welding on my Titanium Lemond for comparison

Nice photo. The juxtaposition of the quality weld and and the "made in USA" makes a nice composition.

That photo would sell in the stock market.
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Old 05-27-08, 07:21 PM   #21
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...There is a noticeable seat tube weld on the bike I received...
Thanks for posting the photos. It's no secret that I like Santanas but I do not understand the seat tube weld - why would anyone think that was an acceptable way to make a tube longer on a bike frame. I'm not a welder (but long ago I used to silver braze lugged frames) but I don't think the welds on your bike show evidence of consistency or mastery of the technique. I'm sorry you are facing this problem.

I'd still like to see photos of joints on more Santana Beyond frames and Titanium frames.

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Old 05-27-08, 07:43 PM   #22
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Here is a link to the pics. The first pic is of a Beyond at another bike shop.
Yikes.

I'd suggest sending a note with a link to those photos to Bill McCready ( info@santanatandems.com / bill@santanatandems.com) to get his take. Include your phone number as he'll want to call and speak with you... at length. If Bill is out of pocket Steve will usually follow-up with customers.

Hard to know if he'll explain why they look that way or agree that the workmanship was lacking. Either way, best to speak directly to Bill and express what it is you'd be looking for as a remedy.
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Old 05-27-08, 08:15 PM   #23
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On that Lemond, I can't tell if that is the weld surface or if that is a ground surface- it looks like a grind pattern. If it's been ground, it might have been equally ugly prior to the grinding (and that would also explain why it was ground).

While strolling through the REI store a couple of days ago, I noticed two bikes side by side. One had big ugly welds, the other's welds were barely noticeable. But upon comparing them a little closer, the major difference was that the big ugly welds were on a gold-colored bike, and the inconspicuous welds were on a black frame. The welds actually were about the same size and smoothness, but that final color really made a big difference in how they looked. (I assume these were aluminum frames). Given that both the titanium bikes shown are presumably the natural color, that would be part of the issue.
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Old 05-27-08, 08:31 PM   #24
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That's one heck of a good price on the 'custom' Habanero Ti frameset @ $1950 + shipping, with nice lookin' welds as a bonus!
. . . the 'handmade in America'/flag decal does not make the welds on the Beyond look smaller in the least!
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Old 05-27-08, 08:59 PM   #25
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...but I do not understand the seat tube weld - why would anyone think that was an acceptable way to make a tube longer on a bike frame.
I could be mistaken but, if I understand how the IsoGrid and Bi-Fusion technology work, Santana ends up with a hybrid tubeset that has an IsoGrid carbon center section bonded to a set of titanium end tubes. The Titanium end tubes are what get welded together to create the actual frame.

So, that I think we're seeing at the rear seat tube cluster is a joint where the IsoGrid/Ti stoker seat tube is joined to a seat tube 'lug' or mast piece. As to why they didn't make the titanium end tube on the stoker seat tube long enough to support the joining of the top tube and seat stays...?? Got me.

Of course, what's even more baffling is why the captain's seat tube has the same treatment. It almost makes me wonder if it wasn't done for aesthetics -- two bad welds are better than one? -- or if those seat tube clusters are more complex than they appear, e.g., internally lugged? Probably not... but is is curious that the all titanium captain's seat tube has the same treatment.

Well, congratulations on the new Santana Beyond!
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