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Frame too whippy?

Old 02-13-20, 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by T-Mar View Post
It is true that steel has a stress limit that, if not exceeded, will not result in fatigue. However, this fatigue limit can be lowered substantially by heat. Overheating a frame during brazing can result in the fatigue limit be lowered to the point where normally experienced stress will exceed the limit and cause fatigue failures. This is why high grade frames are often manufactured with silver solder. It has a lower melting point, reducing the probability of overheating. It is also why lightweight frames should be built by experienced craftsman. The thinner the tubing, the easier it is to overheat, so you want somebody with a lot of experience in controlling the heating. You can't tell if a frame has been overheated until it starts to fail, so you're putting your faith in the reputation of the frame builder.
Good analysis all around.
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Old 02-13-20, 11:51 AM
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there is some question if there really is a fatigue limit for steel, but it's so far out in number of cycles that none of us are ever going to see it. There probably is some work softening in most high-grade steels, also unlikely to cause any macro deflection changes over time. It's more of a strength issue.

As the former owner of two cracked Teledyne titans, I think I have pretty good evidence that even with large crack at the bb shell, it takes a large macro crack before you can detect much loss of stiffness. On both frames, I didn't notice until the seat tube was cracked more than half way around. The front derailleur started rubbing more than expected.
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Old 02-13-20, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by T-Mar View Post
It is true that steel has a stress limit that, if not exceeded, will not result in fatigue. However, this fatigue limit can be lowered substantially by heat. Overheating a frame during brazing can result in the fatigue limit be lowered to the point where normally experienced stress will exceed the limit and cause fatigue failures. This is why high grade frames are often manufactured with silver solder. It has a lower melting point, reducing the probability of overheating. It is also why lightweight frames should be built by experienced craftsman. The thinner the tubing, the easier it is to overheat, so you want somebody with a lot of experience in controlling the heating. You can't tell if a frame has been overheated until it starts to fail, so you're putting your faith in the reputation of the frame builder.
Bicycle frames inevitably end up with stress risers, which is almost always where fatigue failures occur. It's not the entire frame that's fatiguing, it's spots with high localized stresses. It doesn't really matter if there's a fatigue limit that most of the frame is under if it's being exceeded at stress risers. Riding a a lightweight bike hard only makes the problem worse.

Silver is not a real solution to fatigue. Yes, it's risk management because it means that you don't get the temperatures anywhere high enough to shoot past critical and get grain growth. However silver brazing temperatures soften steel, with a corresponding drop in strength and fatigue strength, directly at whatever stress riser is being brazed on there. With brass, the steel reaches hardening temperatures, and experiences a slight hardening response due to the rest of the frame acting like a heat sink, resulting in slightly increased strength. The tempered weak spots are pushed to the transition area between the heated steel and the unheated steel.

Lighter frames are also going to be inherently more prone to fatigue, heat or not. There's simply less steel there. Not C&V, but some of the thinnest tubes, Reynolds 853, prefer to be brass brazed instead of silver. Weld HAZ also seems to be particularly prone to suffering from fatigue failures.

Just like aluminum components that everyone uses and do fatigue. a steel frame can still last more than a lifetime even if it does suffer from some fatigue.

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Old 02-13-20, 02:32 PM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by T-Mar View Post
It is true that steel has a stress limit that, if not exceeded, will not result in fatigue. However, this fatigue limit can be lowered substantially by heat.
This reminds me of a question I've had in my mind. Is the heat used to cure powder-coating sufficient to have an impact on stress/fatigue limit of lightweight steel?
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Old 02-13-20, 05:45 PM
  #30  
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Fatigue is a different thing than increased flexibility (called whippiness in the vernacular). As a few have pointed out, frames don't develop flexibility. The fact that they can fatigue means they can BREAK but they don't get flexible over time unless there is a crack which is another matter. Stiffness and strength are different things. philbob57 (the original poster) is asking about flexibility, not about breakage, so the topic of fatigue here is irrelevant.

I remember in the 80s when the urban myth spread widely that frames got "whipped" or even "whooped." Even a couple of bike shop owners told me this.
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Old 02-14-20, 12:00 PM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by madpogue View Post
This reminds me of a question I've had in my mind. Is the heat used to cure powder-coating sufficient to have an impact on stress/fatigue limit of lightweight steel?
Not even close. Powder coating temperatures are around 200C, silver filler melts around 650C, brass (bronze) even higher.

Phase diagrams of most steels (maybe all) start significantly above that. In layman's terms, there is no change to the metal at powder coating temps.
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Old 02-14-20, 03:12 PM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
I remember in the 80s when the urban myth spread widely that frames got "whipped" or even "whooped." Even a couple of bike shop owners told me this.
Me too. It was a very common if not prevailing belief. This particular cycling myth actually is a myth.

I know the discussion was getting slightly OT, but I for one enjoy 'hearing' the engineers on this board hashing it out over fatigue limits. I always tend to learn something...
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Old 02-14-20, 06:56 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by gugie View Post
Phase diagrams of most steels (maybe all) start significantly above that. In layman's terms, there is no change to the metal at powder coating temps.
Phase diagrams don't show the effects of tempering. Silver brazing occurs right in the range of subcritical annealing (extreme tempering), which drops strength right at the joint compared to strength as delivered. The concern with too high of a temperature or "cooking" tubes is grain growth, which is also not show in phase diagrams, except that is happens more the higher the the temperature above A3. Brass brazing brings steel into the hardening/normalization zone, which depending on the rate of cooling which itself depends on several other factors, can end up stronger than the steel in the as-delivered state. The secondary concerns about heat are accidentally over-tempering the newly hardened steel by heating adjacent steel and ending up with weak steel at the joints like the silver brazed joint, as well as how adding heat in adjacent areas affects the rate of cooling, which is only somewhat related to the phase diagram, as a slow enough rate of cooling will allow the steel to transition through the states on the phase diagram and fully anneal or harden less than normalization.

The exceptions are precipitation hardening steels, like Columbus likes to use for their special alloy high end tube sets, and I guess Reynolds 931, which show a much more muted response, not showing as much of a hardening response, and also not softening as much when tempered, as the heat promotes the precipitation hardening which partially negates the softening from tempering.

The reason why temperatures of 200C for power coating don't affect cycle tubing isn't because of phase diagrams, but because the tubes have already been stress relieved by tempering at even higher temperatures from the factory. Temperatures of 200C actually do have an effect on the properties of alloy steels used in cycle tubing, but a beneficial one, a trend that continues to higher temperatures that are in excess of powder coating temperatures. Once already tempered at those higher temperatures, heating the tubes again at lower temperatures will not harm them.

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Old 02-14-20, 07:13 PM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by Kuromori View Post
Phase diagrams don't show the effects of tempering. Silver brazing occurs right in the range of subcritical annealing (extreme tempering), which will drop typical alloy cycle tubing to ~700 MPa right at the joint compared to ~800-900 MPa as delivered. The concern with too high of a temperature or "cooking" tubes is grain growth, which is also not show in phase diagrams, except that is happens more the higher the the temperature above A3. Brass brazing brings steel into the hardening/normalization zone, which depending on the rate of cooling which itself depends on several other factors, can end up stronger than the steel in the as-delivered state. The secondary concerns about heat are accidentally over-tempering the newly hardened steel by heating adjacent steel and ending up with weak steel at the joints like the silver brazed joint, as well as how adding heat in adjacent areas affects the rate of cooling, which is only somewhat related to the phase diagram, as a slow enough rate of cooling will allow the steel to transition through the states on the phase diagram and fully anneal or harden less than normalization.

The exceptions are precipitation hardening steels, like Columbus likes to use for their special alloy high end tube sets, and I guess Reynolds 931, which show a much more muted response, not showing as much of a hardening response, and also not softening as much when tempered, as the heat promotes the precipitation hardening which partially negates the softening from tempering.

The reason why temperatures of 200C for power coating don't affect cycle tubing isn't because of phase diagrams, but because the tubes have already been stress relieved by tempering at even higher temperatures from the factory. Temperatures of 200C actually do have an effect on the properties of alloy steels used in cycle tubing, but a beneficial one, a trend that continues to higher temperatures that are in excess of powder coating temperatures. Once already tempered at those higher temperatures, heating the tubes again at lower temperatures will not harm them.
I'd like to see some literature on a steel that heating to 200C has any effect on material properties. I'm not arguing here, I just haven't found anything online to suggest this.
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Old 02-14-20, 07:49 PM
  #35  
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Just look up tempering graphs that start from "as quenched" as 0 for any hardenable steel. Some graphs will skip the lower temperatures because these temperatures are basically useless in practice as they have a small effect. You will almost certainly temper at higher temperatures if bothering with tempering or stress relief at all. Basically, after the tubes have been stress relieved after hardening/normalizing at the factory at 500C (random number, don't quote me), heating it up to any temperature below 500C won't do anything to the steel. In regards to the steel itself 200C had a small effect on the steel when it was as-quenched, but it was determined by some engineer to not be enough, so it only saw 200C on the way to being heated to 500C, so in regards to the tubes as delivered, it has no effect.

Phase diagrams aren't that useful for the frame builder. All they basically tell the frame builder is that with a typical 0.3-0.4% C cycle tubing steel, brass brazing takes place above critical and A3, so rate of cooling matters, and silver brazing takes place below critical, so rate of cooling doesn't matter.
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Old 02-14-20, 08:23 PM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by Salamandrine View Post
Me too. It was a very common if not prevailing belief. This particular cycling myth actually is a myth.

I know the discussion was getting slightly OT, but I for one enjoy 'hearing' the engineers on this board hashing it out over fatigue limits. I always tend to learn something...
My main engineering point in this (and I'm an electrical engineer, not a materials or mechanical specialist) is that steel can undergo completely reversible bending of small amplitude in a number of cycles that is not easy to predict. This is elastic behavior, and I don't know if this term is completely correct. I don't know of any curves of number of cycles and amplitude of cycles against some kind of measure of degradation. Flexing a steel object (or iron) beyond these small amplitudes leads to a shape change that is not fully reversible, inelastic deformation (again, I'm not so clear about the terms). When this is repeated on a small object like a paper clip the object weakens where the bending is focused and ultimately it will break.

For a bicycle, how do you tell if the normal flexing due to wheels following road irregularities and responding to pedaling forces are completely elastic? If you can't determine this I don't see how you can tell if a steel frame will fail, beyond faith in engineering science and theory that are very well-supported by practice. But in science and engineering we depend upon such physical theory.
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Old 02-15-20, 08:13 AM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by philbob57 View Post
Thanks for the comforting information. As you can imagine, given my style of riding, I'm not worried about metal fatigue. I've never crashed it, and it hasn't been ridden in the rain much. I was a lot stronger and faster in '82 than I am now, when I was half my current age, and I always felt like it was more than stiff enough for me.

I was planning to ask RRB to remove the fixed parts of the headset and BB, and I was also planning to ask Mr. Boi if the frame looked OK.

I've ridden this bike since 1982; it has always been my only bike. If one can love an inanimate object, I've loved the bike since my first ride on it. It almost definitely is an MKM Dominator - https://www.mkm-cycles.co.uk/catalog...5vnf3ss22m95t7.

The ca. 1984 Turbotrainer I use is the first wind trainer on the market. It supports the bike at the bottom bracket and the front dropouts, so the rear triangle is free to swing any which way it can. It's a horrible-looking piece of equipment, but it has always done its job.
RRB Cycles closed January 1. Ron is still available at the barn in Lake Geneva. He would love to hear from you. Contact info on Facebook.
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Old 02-18-20, 02:35 AM
  #38  
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My cousin Chris had a beautiful Red MKM in 1980. It was just like the one on their "Magnficent 7" catalogue cover. I watched it get destroyed when a car blew off a red light I think at Comm Ave & Babcock St in Boston. He hit it in the door and flew over its roof. The frame fared worse than he did. The top and down tubes bent just behind the head tube. It was heart breaking. I was lucky that I was behind him rather than next to him or my almost new Klein would have been history too.
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Old 02-18-20, 02:23 PM
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Originally Posted by cp256 View Post
My cousin Chris had a beautiful Red MKM in 1980. It was just like the one on their "Magnficent 7" catalogue cover. I watched it get destroyed when a car blew off a red light I think at Comm Ave & Babcock St in Boston. He hit it in the door and flew over its roof. The frame fared worse than he did. The top and down tubes bent just behind the head tube. It was heart breaking. I was lucky that I was behind him rather than next to him or my almost new Klein would have been history too.
I have no idea how this story relates to whippy frames. My first year at BU was spent at the dorms at Commonwealth and Babcock, and that is also nothing to do with whippy frames.
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Old 02-18-20, 03:39 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
I have no idea how this story relates to whippy frames. My first year at BU was spent at the dorms at Commonwealth and Babcock, and that is also nothing to do with whippy frames.
My takeaway is that the corner of Commonwealth and Babcock is a dangerous place to ride a bike.
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Old 02-18-20, 04:15 PM
  #41  
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Great discussion: I learned quite a bit from this thread if nothing else-
I am not a structural engineer, but a physicist, and my contribution is that if we consider the bicycle as series of 2 dimensional spheres......
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Old 02-20-20, 10:37 AM
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@philbob57 Attached is the promised Racer-Mate advertisement from 1983.
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Old 02-21-20, 10:00 AM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by Chuckk View Post
Soft frames, I've bought several worn out, whippy frames that had rubber band tension spokes.
Tuning wheels seems to be beyond many shops, but they are capable of recommending the new bike they have in stock.
Spoke tension make the bike what it could be.
Whippy, THAT'S a funny word.
What do you mean worn out frames?
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Old 02-21-20, 11:30 AM
  #44  
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I think he means this.. Customer brings an old bike into the bike shop complaining about the "whippy frame" because the spokes are all loose. The bike shop tells the customer, "Oh your frame is worn out." and sells them a new bike. A myth is born.
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Old 02-21-20, 11:44 AM
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IME I can't really buy even the idea of spokes loosening up. It pretty much doesn't happen. They stay at the tension they were built with.* IF the builder didn't build them tight enough to begin with, or got overenthusiastic with teflon lube on the threads, they will sometimes loosen up. This happens pretty much right away though.

Also IME, it seems to me that vintage 36h wheels flexed less than modern wheels laterally, despite generally lower spoke tension.

*I mean in general. Old wheels that have been retrued many times will get progressively more uneven in tension.
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Old 02-21-20, 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Salamandrine View Post
IME I can't really buy even the idea of spokes loosening up. It pretty much doesn't happen. They stay at the tension they were built with.* IF the builder didn't build them tight enough to begin with, or got overenthusiastic with teflon lube on the threads, they will sometimes loosen up. This happens pretty much right away though.

Also IME, it seems to me that vintage 36h wheels flexed less than modern wheels laterally, despite generally lower spoke tension.

*I mean in general. Old wheels that have been retrued many times will get progressively more uneven in tension.
Pretty sure it happens, maybe not often, but I've seen it several times in my life. I've got a buddy that bought his MASI touring frame through Orinda Spoke and Pedal. I wrenched there for awhile, and the owner didn't allow a wheel out that either he built or checked before it left. He was known for his very tight wheel builds to the point that every once in awhile he'd potato chip a wheel from overtightening. I did a credit card tour with the MASI guy 5 years ago. He had a flat tire, I offered to change the tube out for him and noticed that spokes on both of his wheels were loose enough for me to wonder what was holding them up. They were the original wheels. That's just one that I remember specifically. 36 hole MA40's, 3X, 14/15ga DB. The guy was a big rider, about 225#.
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Old 02-21-20, 12:30 PM
  #47  
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I've seen plenty of wheels whose spokes were far too loose. I suspect it's more likely to happen with high spoke counts because you can get away with low tension to begin with, and that leads to lower and lower tension until the point where it's crazy.
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Old 02-21-20, 03:08 PM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by Chuckk View Post
Some frames have more whipp than others. In particular, I remember a Berto article where he built a frame jig to measure sideways flex of the rear triangle of a bunch of bikes.
The LOSER was a Sekai 4000 that he tested. I paid attention to that because I read the article after my Sekai 4000 dumped me on my head during a climb. It's rusting on a trainer in Florida as of a couple years ago.
I also remember talk of frames wearing out and getting flexy. Saw an article back in the olden days about a giant pile of returned used team frames behind the Merckx factory. They were returned because everybody knew old frames wore out and got flexy, and no pro wanted to keep beating an old, whippy frame, so Merckx replaced them.
Hey, not what I think, but what do I know.
I do know that spokes loosen. At least in the OLDEN DAYS, maybe not with modern rocket spokes that jump tall buildings in a single bound. Spokes stretch, the head wears into the hub, the nipple seats into the rim, maybe the build wasn't great and the original owner didn't take it in for the 90 day tune; and I've bought very few bikes that didn't respond amazingly to a spoke tune.
Yep there is a considerable variation in frame flex. What is lost is where does the energy go? The frame is a spring, so the energy is returned. Some argue that the returned energy is at a beneficial part of your stroke.

So much bogus mythology about cycling BITD, one of which was the myth that you could make a steel frame stiffer with some new super steel and make it lighter, completly ignoring what any mechanical engineer learned in a materials class. Much of "what everybody knew" about old frames was plain wrong.

A better reason to replace frames at the end of the season is much simpler. After a full pro racing season bikes get crashed, bent, dented, and straightened many times. When I was working at a bike shop in the Bay Area Bob Roll brought his 7-11 bike in to sell on consignment. The thing looked like death warmed over, lots of touch up paint here and there, dents, etc. I think we even saw some small cracks around the bottom lug that had been touched up with paint.
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Old 02-21-20, 05:50 PM
  #49  
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1) Thanks for the ad, T-Mar. Now I'm thinking I got my Racer-Mate-II for my birthday in 1983. I subscribed to Bicycling at the time, and I went to Turin the day after I saw the ad.

2) I built my wheels in late '81 when I got my bike. I checked them regularly through the early '90s, when the bike got put away. They were true and the spokes were tight up to that point. Fast forward to 2015 - half the spokes in the rear wheel were loose.

3) Between 2013 and 2018, I rode so slowly/with so little power that spaghetti wouldn't have been whippy. Now spaghetti would be whippy; steel - aluminum - CF - titanium all would seem pretty stiff to me....

4) I'm really sorry about your cousin's accident, cp256. I learned to drive in RI where a good driver is at a major disadvantage. I've driven in Malaysia (on the left), in NYC, in Dallas, in Denver, in Orange County, LA, and SF, and in Chicago. Boston drivers are the worst I've ever come across..In fact, riding in our car in RI and Boston so scared my 15 year old son that he put off getting his driver's license for a year. True story. We got him a bunch of nice bike stiff for his 16th birthday.

Umm...I apologize for rambling. I'm high from riding my Racer-Mate - really, thanks for for coming up with the name and ad, T-Mar.
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Old 02-21-20, 08:53 PM
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Originally Posted by jetboy View Post
Great discussion: I learned quite a bit from this thread if nothing else-
I am not a structural engineer, but a physicist, and my contribution is that if we consider the bicycle as series of 2 dimensional spheres......
I'm looking for you to finish this model ...... LOL!
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