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Tubing and lug choice

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Tubing and lug choice

Old 11-05-16, 11:43 PM
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scoho
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Tubing and lug choice

Hey All,

Basic question:

Assuming basic good quality tubing (say, Reynolds 520 or equivalent) and lugs as the default option on a custom track frame, would there be any reason for a non-racer to upgrade tubing and/or lugs aside from vanity?

More detailed version:

Iím trying to understand more about how tubing/lug quality affects the final quality of the bike and ride.

I want to build up a keirin-style frame for road/commuting use (~100 miles/week), and I have the following materials options from a custom builder:

$700 Ė Tange tubing + standard lugs
$1300 Ė Tange tubing + Nagasawa lugs
$1500 Ė Columbus tubing + Nagasawa lugs

(Iím still waiting to receive the full spec sheet on the frame options [so far Iíve only spoken with the middleman shop thatís connecting me with the builder], but I think the Columbus tubing might be Spirit based on other frames Iíve seen from this builder. Donít worry about the particulars too much, though. Iím more interested in general principles at this point.)

My personal guideline: Iím more than happy to pay a premium for a genuinely higher quality bike/ride, but I donít want to pay more just for street cred or dropping a few grams or shaving a few milliseconds off a race time.

So: Assuming basic good quality tubing/lugs to start with, and given that the frame builder is the same and that Iíll build the bike up with the same (high end) components in all cases, do you think it would noticeably improve the quality of the bike/ride to upgrade the tubing/lugs? What are the relevant considerations here? Iím 5í10"/175lbs for reference, if it matters.

Of course the builder will share his own ideas on this, but I want to go in armed with some solid foundational knowledge of my own.
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Old 11-06-16, 09:00 AM
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Live Wire 
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Better tubes = lighter weight. Too subjective to say if you would actually feel a difference in the ride.
But $700 is crazy cheap for a custom lugged frame....crazy as in the builder isn't making anything on it and won't be around long if that's mostly what he's making.
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Old 11-06-16, 09:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Live Wire View Post
Better tubes = lighter weight. Too subjective to say if you would actually feel a difference in the ride.
But $700 is crazy cheap for a custom lugged frame....crazy as in the builder isn't making anything on it and won't be around long if that's mostly what he's making.
My thoughts exactly, $700 is essentially the framebuilder building for free on his behalf. Stock tubesets do a fine enough job that many people wouldn't know the difference in ride characteristics vs something that had specifically chosen tubes to meet the riders requirements. It sounds as though your not looking to have much more than a commuter style bike, so selecting tubes to stiffen the flex at the bottom bracket or chainstays may not concern you as much. Also, in no way do lugs effect performance, purely aesthetic. You will probably notice a difference between standard and over sized tubing, and if the columbus tubing is Spirit it will be OS. I think I would recommend the $700 frame in your case.
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Old 11-06-16, 05:54 PM
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Yeah, I was a little worried about the price at the low end and wondered if something concerning (e.g. quality of materials, or builder's care) is going on there. I'm not doing this in the US though, so maybe tubing and labor costs just don't match our expectations. Does the $1500 option sound more in line with what you'd expect for a custom frame built with Columbus (maybe Spirit) tubing and Nagasawa lugs, or is it also concerningly low?

While I'm not racing or the like, I do ride pretty hard and spend a good number of miles on my bike per week, so I'm willing to pay for quality (including aesthetics). One problem I'm having is that I don't know the extent to which the ride-quality limitations of my current bike are based on the mid-range frame versus the mid-range components. Based on feedback here and what I'm reading elsewhere, it seems like drivetrain, wheels, and overall build quality will have a bigger effect on ride quality than the specific frame material will.

Last edited by scoho; 11-06-16 at 05:57 PM.
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Old 11-06-16, 09:07 PM
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First thing I would question is the use of such a specific racing design for commuting use.


Second is the ability to QC what you will actually get. Not just the build quality but also the material list being what you really get. Andy.
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Old 11-06-16, 10:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Andrew R Stewart View Post
First thing I would question is the use of such a specific racing design for commuting use.
Admittedly, this is partly based on aesthetics. But, also, in my (somewhat limited) experience, I feel much more comfortable on frames with tight track geometry compared to those with more relaxed road geometry. I'm still a relative novice at this stuff though, so it's possible I'm getting something totally wrong here.

I should also note that 95% of my riding is along paved river pathways, so although I'm technically commuting I'm not dealing with usual commuter stuff. I ride pretty hard the whole way, and enjoy the sport of it.

Originally Posted by Andrew R Stewart View Post
Second is the ability to QC what you will actually get. Not just the build quality but also the material list being what you really get.
Yeah, I'm worried about that too. Based on my experience with other stuff here, to some extent it's just taking a shot in the dark and hoping things work out.

When it comes to materials, any recommendations regarding the best way to ensure that everything is as claimed? For example, would a builder typically provide certifications with the tubing?
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Old 11-07-16, 09:35 AM
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NO to the certifications. The closest that happens is a tubing decal on the frame, seriously. As most tubes don't have a unique mark or "aspect" that remains after building, being able to confirm what tube was actually used is a tough one. The usual way is to trust the builder. There are indirect ways to get an idea, like weight. There are direct ways to measure wall thickness with fancy scanning devices that structural and metallurgical engineers have access to. But, really, if the tube set used is a very high priority then you need to use a builder who you trust (and who will accept a customer driven spec, not all do. At the Phily Bike Expo there was a seminar panel which covered this and most all said they would suggest that the customer who wanted a certain spec find a different builder). Andy.

Last edited by Andrew R Stewart; 11-07-16 at 09:36 AM. Reason: fat fingers
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Old 11-07-16, 07:32 PM
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Thanks for the info Andy. I'm not too worried about that, just didn't want to overlook something basic that I should be looking out for.

Overall, I'm still fairly in the dark about geometry (I think I like steep seat and head tube angles, etc.), but, based on the feedback I've received here plus supplemental reading, I've got a much better sense now of the role that tubing choice plays as well as of the builder's role in making the final decision. I feel much more confident now about going into the consultation. Many thanks!
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Old 11-09-16, 05:10 PM
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I built with a More Torch skill error tolerant tube set Columbus Aelle , in 1975, it still works,

a couple Buddies were jumping right in with DB 531, they Burned holes in the steel..


Cautionary Principle .. rather than a trendy .." keirin-style frame for road/commuting use " I recommend building a road frame
with track dropouts

so you have front and rear Brakes .. There is the classic British Winter Training Bike frame design

It's still a fixed Gear , but there is clearance For mounting and fittings on the dropouts for Mudguards..


save the brakeless stuff for the closed course Velodrome ..




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Old 11-19-16, 05:12 PM
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I finally got the tubing info:

The options are Tange Infinity and Columbus Cromor.

Infinity isn't the very lightest tubing in the world, but it seems like a great value and great basic tubing for a non-racing bike. Especially since Cromor is nothing special and the consensus seems to be unanimous that lug quality doesn't matter, it looks like I'll be saving a lot of money and not giving up anything important by going with the cheapest option.

By the way, some folks were concerned about the low cost, and I have at least part of the answer. For one thing, the builder typically makes pro racing frames, and just does this work on the side (maybe as a way of training apprentices?). Also, the frame turns out to be only semi-custom. There's no meeting with the builder or going over the finer points of the build. The shop acting as agent just sends my measurements to the builder, and a few weeks later I get the frame back in my chosen color. Given the price I can't complain, but at least that might clear up why the price was so low in the first place. Maybe once I've got more experience under my belt, and have a better sense of precisely what I want, I'll go for a more fully customized build in the future.

Anyway, thanks to all for your help! I think I'm making a better decision, and feel more confident about that decision, than I would have otherwise.
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Old 11-19-16, 05:22 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Cautionary Principle .. rather than a trendy .." keirin-style frame for road/commuting use " I recommend building a road frame
with track dropouts

so you have front and rear Brakes .. There is the classic British Winter Training Bike frame design

It's still a fixed Gear , but there is clearance For mounting and fittings on the dropouts for Mudguards..


save the brakeless stuff for the closed course Velodrome ..


Based on my experience with several bikes now, I'm pretty sure that I strongly prefer a tight frame, not just aesthetically but ride-wise. I do love occasionally puttering around on my wife's step-through frame though

And, don't worry: I'm getting the fork drilled. No brakeless riding for me in situations that would put others at risk.

Last edited by scoho; 11-19-16 at 05:53 PM.
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Old 11-20-16, 03:28 PM
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Like short-tight? S bend seat tube rather than straight, lets the rear chainstays Be super short

Jack Taylor did that .. way back..

Then There is the RiGi _ 2 tubes on either side of the wheel; joined to a short tube at the top for the seatpost .

The company in Italy was a Wheel Chair Maker doing bikes on the side, so there was A Stainless steel RiGi.




...
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