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Old 06-27-10, 12:07 PM   #1
Venturarace
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frame-steel lugged vs steel welded?

Hi,
As I am researching and soon to test ride several new 2010 touring bikes, I think back to my
beloved 1991 Schwinn Traveler, with the steel lugged frame. This bike was a JOY to ride, supper butter smooth and truely comfortable on long rides. Since, than I have yet to find a
bike that rides as nice as my old Traveler.

Im wondering if todays 2010 welded steel frames, like the Trek 520, Jamis Aurora, LHT, can
really come close to the road smoothness and build quality of the older lugged steel frames?

Its seems ALL the mainstream 2010 steel touring bike are now ALL made in Tiawan, which is
sad to me.
Are these Tiawan made frames up to the same standards of the 20 year old USA build
steel lugged frames, or are those days long gone and now we have to deal with lesser
quality?

By the way, let me introduce myself, as I am Michael from Mercer County NJ, looking to
buy my first steel touring bike!

Thanks!
Michael
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Old 06-27-10, 12:42 PM   #2
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Modern steel doesn't need lugs.

The guy building my bike feels you can do a little better with lugs.
The best touring bike I know of is the Waterford Adventure Cycle, and
if I remember right, it doesn't have lugs.

But to get to the heart of the matter, my current ride is a Gunnar Sport,
and it has the nicest ride.

It just isn't a big deal either way these days.

Oh, and if I was getting a touring bike, my pick would be the Gunnar grand Tour.
http://gunnarbikes.com/site/bikes/grand-tour/
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Old 06-27-10, 12:50 PM   #3
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In terms of performance, (assuming a great builder either case) looks are the only difference. Period.
lugs look nice to some.

anything else claimed is BS.

from a non-performance standpoint, lugs lock you into certain angles for the tube joints (unless the builder fillets his own lugs). So if you want weird geometry or some crazy design, it will be easier to get that with TIG or Fillet brazing.

the taiwanese frames are quite good quality. However, if it matters to you, you certainly can buy American (or english or german etc) made, but it will cost more. See Bruce Gordon's B.L.T. bike versus his taiwanese-made B.L.T. bike for an example of the cost difference based on manufacturing location.
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Old 06-27-10, 01:19 PM   #4
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Of course the new frames built in taiwan can be just as good. Building them in America won't add magical properties to them.

You could read all of this http://yarchive.net/bike/index.html

What you call 'road smoothness' is almost uniquely determined by your tyre pressure, position and suspension (saddle or fork), not your wheels, not your frame.
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Old 06-27-10, 01:21 PM   #5
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I don't think there's any performance difference between lugged or welded. The builder who I use, Jack Franklin of Franklin Frames, builds both. You can have him build a no frills lugged touring frame for $1100 +/- $100. He's in Ohio. If you think this is too much to pay for a custom made lugged frame made in the USA ..... you're very wrong.
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Old 06-27-10, 02:18 PM   #6
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In modern frames there are no longer any difference between lugged and non-lugged frames. It only boils down to quality control; who and how. After that it's merely an aesthetics preference issue.
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Old 06-27-10, 02:44 PM   #7
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Other than the fact that lugs look nicer there's no differance,as allready said.
Also there's nothing wrong with Taiwan made bikes.
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Old 06-27-10, 03:00 PM   #8
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I concur that lugs have little or no effect on build and ride quality.

Some of the finest frames in the world are made in Taiwan, as are pretty much all the components; this has been the case for years. Manufacturing has also gotten significantly more efficient, and better quality, while lowering cost, than it did 20 or 30 years ago. The real issues nowadays is if the bike is well-designed and if the QC is good.

And Schwinn was not necessarily high-end, especially those from 1991; the bike could have been made in the US, in Hungary, by Giant or by China Bicycles. By 1992 they were declaring bankruptcy.

Spend a little time trying out a modern touring bike, and you'll probably see that they ride very well.
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Old 06-27-10, 03:02 PM   #9
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for price comparisons, I recently took delivery of a TIG-welded columbus zona frame with an integrated stainless-steel rear rack and other very nice details (all stainless braze-ons, stainless dropouts, disk specific design, eccentric bottom bracket) for about $900 US. It is not custom, but it fits great. No lugs, but with asymetric oversized tubing, it is stiff like i wanted it, and the welds are amazingly nice. It looks fillet brazed. There are no lugs that would fit these tubing sizes or shapes anyway, so for my wishes (stiff and strong, yet light) Tig was the best option.
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Old 06-27-10, 03:39 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Venturarace View Post
Its seems ALL the mainstream 2010 steel touring bike are now ALL made in Tiawan, which is
sad to me.
This isn't quite true, but some of the others don't have significant distribution in the US: Bob Jackson (UK), Koga-Miyata (Netherlands), Steelwool (Canada), and Signature (UK) offer lugged-steel touring frames. They won't be cheap or easy to get. For myself, I have been trying to figure out how to get a Koga-Miyata configured in a way that I'll be happy with and also afford, and whether I want to take a chance ordering a bike I can't ride before I buy. Seems not likely to happen unless the Euro crashes badly (which is not impossible at this point). Bob Jackson will make you a real nice, pretty bike.
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Old 06-27-10, 04:10 PM   #11
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Many factors combine to give you the feel of how it rides the manner in which the ends of the tube are joined, can be only a slight one,

The wall thickness and diameter of the tubes used , are a lot more significant..

Bruce Gordon has Touring Frames, and racks he Makes in California,
and this year a lower priced series made for him to his specs. in ROC ..

Co-Motion builds very nice single bike frames in Eugene Oregon touring models amongst them..

Robert Beckman in Bend Oregon also has a bike and his Bags made domestically
and there are literally a Dozen framebuilders in Portland OR, as well as around the country to build a very nice bike frame .. www.Bikeschool.com has links to dozens of them, many of them learned the basics, taking a frame-building course there, to DIY the first one..
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Old 06-27-10, 06:58 PM   #12
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a '91 Traveler was made in Taiwan anyway if my google powers are up to snuff. It's not as if the U.S. has a long history of making high quality production bikes. When I started riding in the mid '70s, the only U.S. made production bike worth touring on was the Schwinn Paramount.
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Old 06-28-10, 12:38 AM   #13
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There are differences between lugged an tigged frames, but they aren't likely to be in the road feel department. Both methods have some advantages, but most of the hype started back when some builders where looking for a reason, desperately, to dis welded frames. I don't think you will find two identical bikes to test in any case. So it will be difficult to determine what difference is attributable to build method, and what difference is attributable to other factors.
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Old 06-28-10, 01:08 AM   #14
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One would be hard pressed to find a nicer riding touring bike than this... and the builder (Arvon Stacey) only uses fillet brazing and lugged construction for his frames.



His lugged frames are equally amazing and usually come with some nice frills like custom integrated racks.

I plan to build a good number of lugged frame bicycles this summer, under the expert tutelage of Arvon Stacey, and feel that there is still nothing quite as beautiful and functional as a quality made lugged frame.

This is not to say there is not a place for TIG welded frames as some designs cannot be made with standard lugs and modern tubes take well to this construction method.

Since most touring bikes are made in the classic mold, there is a place for lugged frames and since lugged frames are now to realm of custom builders, they cost more, and a high quality frame and fork will set you back a little more than many complete bicycles.
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Old 06-28-10, 01:54 PM   #15
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Compared to welded steel, lugged frames are better looking, as are fillet brazed frames in my opinion. But there isn't enough difference in joint strength to let that make your decision.
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Old 06-28-10, 03:36 PM   #16
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Not a difference between lugs and welding per se, but I'd say that with pretty much any modern frame, you can at least rest assured that if it's got lugs, it's really nice.

But really the differences boil down more to philosophy than practicality. Builders like Grant Petersen like lugs. It goes with his retro-simplicity philosophy. Surly makes welded frames. It goes with their no-frills, practical and versatile philosophy. Some builders like lugs because they build super flashy chromed-out bikes. Other builders think that bikes should be as cheap as possible while meeting quality thresholds.

In other words, yes, there are tremendous differences, but no, they don't really matter to the end-user.
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Old 06-28-10, 03:58 PM   #17
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Surly makes welded frames. It goes with their no-frills, practical and versatile philosophy...
...and their "bikes for everyone" philosophy too
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Old 06-28-10, 04:58 PM   #18
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Robert Beckman in Bend Oregon also has a bike and his Bags made domestically .
Sorry for the thread drift, but -- does Robert Beckman still make and ship bikes?

Last edited by BengeBoy; 06-28-10 at 05:02 PM.
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