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JOHN J 06-20-12 01:49 PM

1991 Renyolds 531 frame
Hi everyone , I hope all is well. Its been a long time since i've posted.

Ive been riding quite a bit but most of my riding is on My custom steel (Columbus Zona) Marinoni touring frame that I built up myself , its bulletproof thus its heavy 35+Lb depending on what bags im using ..., it has fenders , racks F&R , gen hub /lights , 40 spoke rear 36 front... I built this for commuting , longer distance moderate speed rides and all weather around town.

that said Im doing more group rides now and this bike is too heavy to keep up easily with Lighter riders on lighter bikes plus My gen hub adds some resistance!

I have My 1991 Falcon road bike frame which fits me very nicely (was a fit kit when I bought it) the frame is lugged Renyolds 531 frame and fork ,Id have to invest aprox 400.00 to replace/upgrade components that I stole for other projects IE cranks , headset, shifters and cables.

My question is at 252lb is 531 too light??? id be using 36 spoke campy wheels with 28 C tires . I cant seem to find any info on the 531 with heavier riders and Im not sure if the frame is 531 or 531CS the sticker just indicate 531.

anyone else here in the Clyde club riding a 531 frame. one bike shop wrench I know thinks its too light.

many thanks "John"

chasm54 06-20-12 02:04 PM

I'm not as heavy as you, I'm about 200lbs. But I've ridden 531 frames when I was 30 lbs heavier, and currently own a full 531 Raleigh Tourer built in 1984. I'd have no hesitation putting thirty pounds of baggage on that bike and going on tour.

So, no direct experience at 252lbs, but complete confidence at not much below that weight. And Reynolds 531 ruled the roost for a very long time as the top-of-the-line tubing for loaded touring bikes. If I were you, I'd go for it. You'll have a beautiful bike, and if it rides anything like my Raleigh Royal you'll be glad you did. Don't go hopping too many curbs, but otherwise I'm betting you'll be fine.

EDIT: I think Tony Merlino rides a 531 frame, too. Don't know how heavy he is, but I'm sure he'll chip in if he sees the thread.

JOHN J 06-20-12 02:29 PM

thanks for the reply,

actually the bike was one of the Nicest riding bikes I ever had (that's why I never could part with the frame) it rides way better than My cross check single speed. My custom Marinoni is like riding in a plush motor home.

I stole parts from the falcon and hung the frame up not needing a road frame for a good 8 years or so.

your probably right it should work fine, id like a few more opinions, But Im headed at re using the frame for road rides.

many thanks some more opinions please!


irwin7638 06-21-12 06:31 AM

1 Attachment(s)
I've been riding this Trek 560 made of Reynolds 531
for everything including loaded touring since I bought it in '87. No problems, except that it flexes more than I would like when I really mash the pedals, my personal weight has ranged between 210-260 during those years.


chasm54 06-21-12 11:29 AM

I was out on my Reynolds 531 Raleigh today, and thought of this thread. As a result I paid much more attention than normal to how the bike behaves.

There's no doubt that it is a slightly "whippy" frame. By that I do not mean that it feels noodly or fragile, but that there is a springiness one can feel, especially when going hard out of the saddle on the climbs. But at no time do I feel I am in any way compromising, or compromised by, the frame. In fact the main effect is one of liveliness and an ability to soak up the buzz from the road. A very, very pleasing ride.

I'm confirmed in my opinion that I'd be happy to ride this frame at 250lbs. And it's a 64cm frame, which will inevitably be more yielding than a smaller bike made of similar tubing.

gyozadude 06-21-12 12:27 PM

I was in college back in the early 90's, weighed 255, and road a number of 531 framesets, including a vintage Raleigh with R531 tubing, lugged, and full campy record. The regular 531 frames had a wonderful ride on flats and the climbing wasn't noodly at all on the rear triangle. , with exception of the 531 SL - a competition tubeset. A bit noodly for me on the uphill and my concern was about breaking right chainstays. But regular 531 or 531ST (touring) would have thicker walls.

The ride can vary a lot depending on two factors, IMO. The first is the fork crown design and butting on the front fork. A whimpy crown and too thin butting on the forks will make the front end noodly and somewhat unstable at speed. I admit I love great lug-work, but I can't deny that riding a unicrown road fork with 531 was far more stable than most lugged forks, and for just 2 oz more steel. This was true whether you were riding Columbus SL/SP or Ishiwata or Tange forks. The newer fork crowns, like the ones by Tom Ritchey used on later Bridgestone MBs had better stability I think. And mind you, anyone under 180 lbs wouldn't really notice the fork issue. But get a bit over 200 or 220, and the bike splays out on each honking stroke out of the saddle. It can be a little disconcerting. But I never suffered fork failure.

The second factor, IMO, is the BB design and the brazing of the chainstay bridge just aft of the BB shell. A truly lugged bridge with rounded diamond base lug without too long tips on the diamonds provides better stress distribution and stiffness on climbs. Otherwise, at 255 lbs in college, I found honking and sprinting up sustained climbs to cause undue flex. I broke two frames at the right chainstay, just behind the chainstay bridge. Both had a welded bridge that was non-lugged. The crack was radially around the inside of the stay after of the welded bridge (a stress concentration point). One was Ishiwata tubing, the other Columbus SL. I didn't own Reynolds tubing long enough to really test it. Some of the lugged bikes have no bridge on the BB. Steep seat tube angles don't provide that much room for long chainstays and so the frames had a single BB shell had extenders that reached out about 1 inch back and a flat plate of metal integrated into the BB shell acted as the bridge. For me, these frames had quite a bit of rear sway on climbs as well, but I never owned such a frame long enough to see what repeated long climbs on these frames would do in terms of metal fatigue. I simply never bought a bike after borrowing such a bike for a few rides to test the frame out due to rear triangle sway.

Generally, I've ridden lots of thin tubing being a Clyde and with exception of being a bit noodly on the fork and at the BB, all were wonderful rides and never failed at major lugs, except for the two frames with cheaply joined, non-lugged chainstay bridges. This isn't to say that non-lugged chainstay bridges will always fail. I've owned maybe 20 steel bikes over the last 20 years and only two failed at the chainstay bridge and those were in the days where I hung out with the racer dudes in spandex and climbed long, steep hills daily.

Last note on trustworthiness of steel: There is one concern I have about thin-walled steel that's been exposed to the elements for years. I don't worry so much for bikes in California. But if you're from the east coast and the bike has been a commuter or left outdoors, I check for corrosion of the tube near the front derailleur clamp. This isn't an issue for braze on FD mounts; only for clamp ons. If you can remove the crankset, BB and seatpost and get some light into the seat tube and a mirror to peer up the seat tube (and sometimes there is the lug work that gets in the way so this doesn't all work), you need to look for rust flowing down. Compression stress at the FD band clamp can accelerate corrosion and cause micro-fractures (i.e. stress corrosion cracking).

Otherwise, I think your 531 frame will make a sweet ride, especially for a Clyde.

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