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Is seamed tubing tubing all that bad?

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Is seamed tubing tubing all that bad?

Old 11-21-18, 06:27 PM
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Velo Mule
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Is seamed tubing tubing all that bad?

I just cut up my old Windsor frame. I cannot remember which model it was. Not the base International, but not too far up the line either. It had straight gauage tubing with a seam in it. I believe, but have no way of confirming that it was high tensile steel.


I was looking at a cross section of the down tube and wondering how bad is seamed tubing? Or how much better is seamless tubing?


Looking at the cross section, the seamed weld is clean and even. The whole point of welded tube is melt the steel on either side of the joint to turn it into one piece. I do acknowledge that there some subtle differences in the weld area, but how much. Would you really notice this difference if you were able to ride two bikes that were the same with the exception that one had seamless tubing and one did not?


You might notice that this cross section sample was taken from the damaged part of the tube. I filed it to clean up the burr, however, in doing so, I also filed a little bit of the seam.

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Old 11-21-18, 06:33 PM
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Definitely not. In this article the person was unable to tell the difference between the lowest quality tubing and the highest. N of 1, but still.

https://bulgier.net/pics/bike/Articles/SteelShootOut.pdf
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Old 11-21-18, 06:57 PM
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Thanks for the link to the article. Really interesting that they made seven bikes exactly the same with only the tubing being different.
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Old 11-21-18, 07:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Piff View Post
Definitely not. In this article the person was unable to tell the difference between the lowest quality tubing and the highest. N of 1, but still.

https://bulgier.net/pics/bike/Articles/SteelShootOut.pdf
That was a fun read. Thanks for posting the links.
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Old 11-21-18, 07:38 PM
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Peugeot's Carbolite 103 is seamed and it is very strong and reliable..... Never heard of any of it failing at the seams.
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Old 11-21-18, 08:27 PM
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I was so let down for a time when my "Full 531 DB" bike had a seamed head tube and Nervor steerer...
I got over it.

My final thinking- the French often, go in fast, flow the brass to overfilling, get out. They don't overcook the tubes and that is all to the better.
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Old 11-21-18, 08:33 PM
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The Columbus Zeta seamed tubes on my daughters stepthrough Gardin were a light delight. Great ride.
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Old 11-21-18, 10:07 PM
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Columbus Tenax is seamed, and the Schwinns from the mid 1980's ride well.
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Old 11-21-18, 10:25 PM
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Once welded, (It's done in a machine) seamed tubing is just tubing..
It can next be Butted..

paying more, for seamless is a choice you make..
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Old 11-21-18, 10:42 PM
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My understanding, (and Iím always learning I was wrong about SOMEthing!) Is that a seamed tube has the possibility of an inclusion (an impurity) being introduced into the weld. Itís one more mechanical step where a misstep could take place. In theory.

Also the seam /may/ be weaker than the surrounding steel, but even if it is, the weld is still going to be stronger than the brazed lugs.

My Trek 520, in Reynolds 501 seamed and butted steel with manganese molybdenum fork and stays rides real nice to me! Shoot, I even think 501 was used in many of the early all terrain bikes, BECAUSE it was so sturdy.
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Old 11-21-18, 10:47 PM
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https://eagletube.com/about-us/news/...manufacturing/

Here ya go! This is a pretty good explanation of the different types of tubing, including seamed and cold worked. Pretty good read and makes me think that after cold working, itís near enough to seamless.
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Old 11-21-18, 10:52 PM
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I'm riding a Tange Infinity (seamed, double butted) frame that's 30 years old and has seen lots of miles. Still feels nice and sturdy. No signs of fatigue.
When I first got it my pride thought I should sell it off for something more "legit" or "accepted". My impression as a novice was that seams were looked down on. Now I want to ride this bike forever .
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Old 11-22-18, 12:27 AM
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Ugh. Seamed tubing is the worst! Life is too short to ride a bike made from seamed tubing. All my tubing is seamless. If you want to make me ride seamed tubing, I'd just rather walk, thank you.

(OK, I think probably at least half my bikes are seamed tubing, but I'm not going to cut them up to find out. Not going to keep score.)
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Old 11-22-18, 12:54 AM
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Seamed and seamless tubings are different processes (and there are a variety of both). Very good tubes can be made either way. Years ago, good tubing was only made seamless. No longer true. There are tubes made from materials which don't draw well but that can be rolled and welded to very high standards. (There are seamed tubes in places where high quality is far more important than anywhere on a bicycle. I'm willing to wager that seamed tubing has found its way into space flights and military aircraft.)

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Old 11-22-18, 04:59 AM
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Seamed tubing in a frame I was using wouldn't bother me at all, as long as it's high quality tubing I'd be fine with it.
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Old 11-22-18, 07:11 AM
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I suspect there is a subtle thought-process thing going on, something which could happen in any field. In general price is an indicator of the difficulty of making something and the relative demand for it. Since no one would make difficult items that weren't worth the quality and thus worth paying for, you could figure that quality scales up with price. Not always, but typically, for example with watches, cars, electronics, household goods, musical instruments, etc. Consumers usually have little insight into the details so price is their only guide, and it's a fair one most of the time. But a glitch occurs when someone invents a good way to make something easily and more cheaply than before but with essentially the same quality (by any significant definition). The price falls and consumers are left wondering. The technology of seamed tubing would seem to fall into that trap. Lower cost = lower quality? In this case it really means easier manufacturing.

That article on The Magnificent 7 gets posted in C&V every so often. It is a fascinating read. It is also a flawed study, as the author sort of hinted but couldn't bring himself to admit in print. The builder, as would any good builder, makes choices based on the properties of the tubing. He would not use identical butted lengths and wall thicknesses and frame dimensions for tubing known to have different properties. So a bike made with one tube type and dimensions might be similar to another with different tube type and dimensions. Or it might be different. Ultimately a good builder would consider the bike's intended use, then choose appropriate tubing. Otherwise it would be like doing a test of different types of car tires but all on the same car. How well a tire works depends on what it is designed for. And of course, the oversize tubing gave itself away so that part of the "double-blind" study wasn't blind at all.

Anyway, after all that riding they thought they had found differences between the bikes but the differences weren't consistent. It is a testament to the builder's skill that he made them all really good! The one solid conclusion you can draw is that with a well-made bike the tubing doesn't make as much difference as you might think.
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Old 11-22-18, 07:51 AM
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Ive read that Mondonico article before and I was surprised that SL tubing was not included. I'm a fan of Columbus SL tubing and I can definitely feel a difference between my SL bikes and my Aelle tubed bikes and SLX tubing. I've never ridden the other Columbus tubing.

SL is very light and they really pop when you jump out of the saddle to sprint and are good on the climbs. They are slightly flexy though and don't inspire confidence on rough pavement. The Aelle is noticeably heavier and doesn't pop like my SL bikes, but it is stiffer and more stable and good for a long ride. The Aelle is definitely cheaper tubing, but its probably the better all-around choice for every day riding.

I think most riders would feel the difference.
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Old 11-22-18, 08:00 AM
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In the case of Treks (Ďcause thatís where my heads at right now) from the early 80ís the levels of bike frame appear to be more about cost than quality.
You can add in different markets and exchange rates, with a strong US dollar and take reputations into account and you get interesting market pressures.
Ishiwata 022 is seamless (isnít it?) Chromo tubing in .9 .6 .9 but since it was inexpensive to import it made lower priced bikes than the seamed Reynolds 501, which is also butted at .9 .6 .9.
Materials wise you would think it would come on higher end bikes being seamless, but itís less expensive and may have had a stigma not being, I donít know, ďcontinentalĒ so itís seen as lower tier.


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Old 11-22-18, 08:08 AM
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Seamless tubesets are theoretically superior and there were issues with early seamed tubesets, which were typically low level. This caused a reputation that was hard to dispel. However, by the 1980s, seamed tubing technology had developed to the point where reliability was no longer a concern . In fact, many highly regarded 1980s mid-range tubeset were seamed, such as Columbus Cromor, Reynolds 501, Ishiwata's various Exactus tubesets and Tange Infinity. By the late 1980s there were even some high end, seamed tubesets, such as those True Temper, who offered only seamed tubesets. I have yet to see a failure on any of these tubesets that could be attributed to seamed technology and have no reservations about riding these tubesets.

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Old 11-22-18, 08:16 AM
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Originally Posted by repechage View Post
I was so let down for a time when my "Full 531 DB" bike had a seamed head tube and Nervor steerer...
I got over it.

My final thinking- the French often, go in fast, flow the brass to overfilling, get out. They don't overcook the tubes and that is all to the better.
I have seen that sort of construction on various mid-level frames. Case in point:

1959 Capo Modell Campagnolo: plain gauge 531 main tubes, but (almost invisibly, nicely done) seamed head tube
1960 Capo Sieger (the company's flagship racing model): db 531, seamless head tube
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Old 11-22-18, 08:18 AM
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Originally Posted by repechage View Post
I was so let down for a time when my "Full 531 DB" bike had a seamed head tube and Nervor steerer...
I got over it.

My final thinking- the French often, go in fast, flow the brass to overfilling, get out. They don't overcook the tubes and that is all to the better.
... but the French did leave brazing voids in the rear dropouts and brazing splatter around the BB shell of my 1980 Peugeot PKN-10. Great-riding bike, and one of my favorites (if it had fit me properly), but my Bianchi of the same vintage has much better-looking craftsmanship. I just hope they didn't overcook the Columbus tubing.
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Old 11-22-18, 09:49 AM
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Why no 531 in that test?

When I went from Raleigh's 1020 Hi Ten steel (Grand Prix) to a similarly sized 531 frame (Bob Jackson), I had an epiphany! The 531 was sooo much better. The 531 was stiffer, lighter, more responsive,... all around 'mo betta'.

Fit is important and "the archer is more important than the arrow", no doubt, but if the article says there's no difference, it is a flawed article.
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Old 11-22-18, 10:16 AM
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Tenex

Originally Posted by oddjob2 View Post
Columbus Tenax is seamed, and the Schwinns from the mid 1980's ride well.
Ride very well indeed!!
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Old 11-22-18, 10:34 AM
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I have no concerns with my bikes that have seamed tubing. In fact the Cromor ones are some of my favorite and best riding bikes.
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Old 11-22-18, 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Chr0m0ly View Post
https://eagletube.com/about-us/news/...manufacturing/

Here ya go! This is a pretty good explanation of the different types of tubing, including seamed and cold worked. Pretty good read and makes me think that after cold working, itís near enough to seamless.
Yes, cold-working the tubes after welding obliterates the seam and makes it essentially indistinguishable from seamless tubing. Most modern seamed bicycle tubes are cold worked in this manner.

That said, the OP's Windsor appears to use seamed tubing that has not been cold worked after welding. But it's unlikely to be a problem.
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