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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
what are your thoughts on lugless steel frames, either from the bike boom or more recent steel, as compared to more traditional lugged?

is there a ride quality difference? are we talking only structure, strength or aesthics? is it merely a perception issue, since high-end vintage frames were always lugged?

background: i bought my first lugless frame, an '84 peugeot ph10l. it's lower-mid and not anything to write home about. it's just a project that i thought would be fun. i'm about half-way done. it's a lot like this one, but not quite as cool:

 

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Lugless-depends whether you're talking about fillet brazed or TIG welded.

Lugged frames allow the framebuilder a "canvas" where they can show off any artistic bent by embellishing the lugs with extra curves or cutouts.

Fillet brazed frames have less of a canvas but enable the builder to customize tube choices such as shape and diameter as they join to each other. Some say the most talented fillet braze framebuilders don't even need to finish file their joints. I have a fillet brazed Bilenky that, while it looks nice for unfinished fillet brazed joints, can't compare to a Kirk frame with his finish sanded junctions.

TIG welding, done by the best such as Carl Strong or Sean Walling at Soulcraft, offer the flexible construction advantages of fillet brazing mentioned above, with a less expensive construction method and very good looking joints.

When I see a lugged frame, I respect it for the extra labor involved in finish filing the lugs, and the artistic side. Fillet brazing doesn't attract my eyes much and seems like extra labor with nothing to show for it (ironically, framebuilders that offer fillet brazing vs. lugged construction charge MORE for the fillet brazed joints).

TIG welding makes me think the builder is making more profit because TIG welded frames take less time to construct vs. lugged or fillet brazed and my first thought is they're cheap. But I get over it once I know of the other qualities the TIG framebuilder offers such as customization, care in construction or alignment, finish, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
here are a couple pages from a vintage peugeot catalogue on their technique:



 

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I think the ad is misleading.

A good TIG weld (sufficient electrical current and other factors) penetrates the tube completely. The heat affected zone (HAZ) is very small compared to brazing because TIG welding is much faster so there is less heat build up. In a properly done TIG weld, the joint is so strong that the tube will fail before the weld. Too much or too little penetration and yes; the weld will fail.

As for the internal brazing, I've never seen fillet brazed frames cut apart for inspection but I HAVE seen lugged frames dissected. Properly executed, there are no voids, and nor worries.

Those ads are more marketing hype than accurate descriptions. I'm sure the Peugeot is still a fine frame, regardless.
 

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IMO the choice between lugged or luggless is that of pure aesthetics. Mine happens to be lugged.
 

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It's more a case of perception today. Back 'in the day', a lugged frame was inevitably lighter; welded frames weighed more, and were weaker due to site hardening from the weld process. A very light tubing could not be 'butt-welded' and have any strength, so those that were (Schwinns, et.al.) made up for this with heavier tubing.

With more modern metallurgy, there are fewer site-hardening issues with welding, and it got to the point that now, there is no real physical advantage to lugged construction, aside from those frames made with more classic tubing types. For most cases, it is more aesthetic than anything else.

FWIW, I love the ride on my Reynolds 531 lugged Trek. My welded aluminum Cannondale doesn't give nearly as nice a ride, but also looks fine to my eyes.
 

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I once had an internally brazed PH10LE

Grey Close-up Cylinder Bicycle tire Bicycle frame Tire Wheel Bicycle wheel rim It was not lugged, fileted, or tig'd - as your articles show.

The bike was lighter, even tho from Peugeot Carbolite 103 and mid-range components. Bicycle tire Wheel Bicycle wheel rim Spoke Bicycle part View attachment 317084
I loved it.
 

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Which manufacturer was tig welding in 1984?
I think the ad is misleading.

A good TIG weld (sufficient electrical current and other factors) penetrates the tube completely. The heat affected zone (HAZ) is very small compared to brazing because TIG welding is much faster so there is less heat build up. In a properly done TIG weld, the joint is so strong that the tube will fail before the weld. Too much or too little penetration and yes; the weld will fail.

As for the internal brazing, I've never seen fillet brazed frames cut apart for inspection but I HAVE seen lugged frames dissected. Properly executed, there are no voids, and nor worries.

Those ads are more marketing hype than accurate descriptions. I'm sure the Peugeot is still a fine frame, regardless.
 

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Certainly the custom mountain bike manufacturers. I know Specialized was TIG welding their mountain bike frames then. I don't know much about TIG welded road frames from that era i.e., if anyone was TIG welding high end road frames in 1984.
Aahhhh yes. Custom mtb. Wonder when Tom Richey tigged his first frames???

Those guys don't get enough cred from roadies re the innovations that were started. Headtubes/sets, frame design, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
thanks all.

I once had an internally brazed PH10LE... loved it.
the one I picked up is the same paint scheme as your old one.

after i bought it and brought it home, i looked closer at the top tube holes for the internal cable routing and thought it was done by a previous owner. it's sorta poorly finished in my opinion. i'm putting non-aero levers on it too, which looks a bit odd with the combo of the internal routing.

and it has helicomatic hubs! that's a first for me. but i got the lock ring off the rear easily with a pair of channel lock pliers. (whew.)
 

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Those Puegeot frames are most highly machine brazed, once the frame is in the jig the joints are heated and the internally applied brass melts and flows. I doubt that the heat was applied by hand, probably on a carousel that rotated from one tourch\joint station to the next on a timed schedule. Probably had to aligned after being built in the jig. Also probably cheap to build.

But what about bi laminate construction? There are some pretty high end frames built in this way. Have a look at Mitch Pryors work at MAP bicycles.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mapcycles/albums/72157624937254911

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mapcycles/albums/72157625854083962
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
^ sweet cluster

 

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Like many folks here, I have lugged, fillet-brazed, and TIG-welded frames, and like dcgriz said, it all comes down to aesthetics. But to appreciate a fine weld, go to a Walmart or Toys R Us and take a look at the welds on their Mongooses or Schwinns. They are absolutely horrid and scary. Because of this perception of TIG welding = low quality, and what Peter P. said about profits, I now avoid TIG-welded frames. Yes, folks like Strong, Walling, and Steelman are masters of their craft, but I'll pass.

I've always loved lugs, but there is something to be said about a nice fillet-brazed frame, especially if you ride a small frame like I do. Skinny main tubes, pencil-thin seat and chain stays, and clean fillet-brazed welds--you've got my undivided attention! You're photo above illustrates this perfectly; it's a work of art.

Can we see the rest of the bike?
 

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40+ years ago, it was a mark of quality: only cheap, boat-anchor bikes had welded frames, any 'decent' frame was lugged.
 

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check out velodog's second link in post 12.

kinda nice the way it's built up, unpainted.
It's even nicer after they painted it white. The man is damned good with the torch, those fillets are pretty even before he puts the file on them.
 

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I have all types of frames - lugged, filet brazed, tig welded aluminum, tig welded titanium. My two favorite and best riding are a lugged Zullo and a filet brazed Tesch. Both were created by artisians at the top of their craft at the time they were created. You see it in the workmanship and how well they ride and handle. With respect to your question, I don't know if I can tell how the type of lug affects the ride quality since the geometry of the frames if so different as well as the type of tubing. You'd have to have two duplicate frames made - one with lugs and one without and see how they affect the ride characteristics. I have a tig welded aluminum Quattro Assi that rides almost as nice as my steel frames and that is saying something. It is not overly harsh as some would expect and it has everything to do with the geometry and tubing used.

My Tesch S-22

Green Red Bicycle Bicycle accessory Carmine
Bicycle accessory Green Bicycle part Red Bicycle
Bicycle frame Bicycle part Bicycle Bicycle accessory Red

My Zullo

Bicycle accessory Bicycle part Bicycle Bicycle frame Bicycles--Equipment and supplies
Bicycle frame Bicycle part Bicycle Bicycle accessory Orange
Bicycle frame Bicycle accessory Orange Bicycle Bicycle part
 
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