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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Reynolds 653 tubing. I got interested because I have seen a frame.

There appear to be two stories out there. No direct confirmation is available on the Reynolds site.

One is that 653 was a compromise/combination tube set, most recently cited by Scooper in this thread on RBR. Thus a 653 frame was essentially a combination of "753 stays with 531 main tubes and forks. The 531 used was a thinner gauge than usual produced specifically for use in the 653 set."

The second is that 653 is in essence 753 tubing, but not hardened to the same degree, & thus was able to be brazed rather than silver soldered. [And tigg'ed as apparently some early Surly Crosschecks were...]

For the first, Scooper provides a link to a posting on Jim Langley's cycling blog about the genesis of 653, which cites a letter from Reynolds that the tubing was manufactured at the instigation of Merckx, to provide more comfort than an all-753 frame. This story appears all over the web, including the Wikipedia entry, for which it says "citation needed."

Oddly, another claim of a letter from Reynolds appears on this all-Gazelle site, again claiming that "653 was very different, as it was NOT a material, but a tube concept set. The main triangle was 531 tubes, and the rear stays were 753..."

Skeptics have questioned the likelihood of the "Cannibal" setting a technical direction for a tubing company, but stranger things have happened in cycling...

For the second version, that 653 and 753 are different only in their hardening, in the same RBR thread,
Mark Kelly said:
I've heard that story many times but I've never seen evidence for it and there is evidence for it being wrong: there is a CHART on Equus which shows that the tube and stay dimensions for 653 were identical to 753 and different from any of the grades of 531.

When I ordered a 653 frame in 1990 I was told that the alloy was the same as 753 but heat treated to a lower level (more like 531) so the tubing was less fussy and cheaper. BTW that 653 frame never arrived, the maker substituted 700 because he felt that the 653 would be too whippy for me.
Another discussion of the question of the difference between the tube sets on BikeRadar a contributor named Peanut weighs in on the question, rightly pointing to the way in which the Merckx genesis story/combi tube story has been copied and pasted without verification over a whole host of sites, and flatly states:

"The key thing to remember here is that the 653 and 753 tube-set is the same tube-set. They have exactly the same gauges. If you order a 753 and a 653 tube-sets you get identical tubing. The only difference between them is the final heat treatment.
653 is heat treated which makes it much stronger than 531C it is also much lighter because the tubes are thinner. 753 is simply the process of a special heat treatment that gives it a little more strength than 653."

[And to answer the engineer's objection, he goes on to qualify--Young's modulus remains the same so the heat treating affects strength.]

In favor of the second version, I'm including the tubing chart cited by Mark Kelly (you can see it on his original link or on the Gazelle site).

Indeed the 653 and 753 tubing sizes are identical.

In one sense, both 653 and 753 have a common ancestor--531. But if the tubes of 653 are heat-treated, then they are more like 753, especially if their dimensions are the same.

Anyone out there who built with these sets, or has an actual Reynolds MDS with technical specs?

I'd love to correct the Wikipedia article if it needs to be corrected.

Mostly I'd just like to know the answer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
OK, I'm digging in now. Found an email on the BOB list (searchable on the CR archives) comparing 653 Record with 653 regular:

"653 Record tubing is essentially the same a normal 653 (138,000 psi rating)
with one very important difference. The top tube, seat tube and the down
tube are drawn to a .1 mm thinner wall thickness than normal 653. The
balance of the tubeset remains essentially identical to normal 653. This
configuration provides a light responsive frame for either a light or small
rider. This is one of the premier tubesets available for a woman cyclist who
is looking for performance with out sacrificing comfort or spending a great
deal on a frame. Our opinion is that 150 pounds would be a realistic top
weight for this tube set. One great feature of a 653 Record tubeset is its
753 rear triangle supplied standard from Reynolds"

So one part of the combi tube story is confirmed--the set does come with the 753 rear triangle. But no mention of 531 for the other tubes....

A second email chain from 2002 points to the hardening story:

"653 was the same heat treated stays (and blades?) as 753
with a work hardened version of the 531 main triangle...
or something like that. It ended up being a lighter set than
531C but heavier than 753R."

Another correspondent chimed in:
"I thought 653 was just 531P heat treated. Both are 1700gram tubesets."

The first guy responds:
"Not the story I got. The 653 had the 753 material in the stays and maybe
the blades, so we're talking about a different alloy there. The main
triangle may have been the P-spec 531 (which is like 532SL, right?) that
was heat treated. I recall hearing work hardened, rather than heat
treated, but I may well be mistaken. If the 531P tubes and the 653 tubes
were all the same dimensions they would naturally weight the same."

Another respondent in the same exchange says:

"Reynolds 653 was introduced some time in the late 1980's. Dimensionally
the same as Reynolds 531 Pro.
Seatstays & chainstays were 753. Forkblades were 531C. Main triangle
tubes were of a higher tensile strength than 531, but I forget whether
work hardened or heat treated."

[had to look up "work hardened"--from Wikipedia "Work hardening, also known as strain hardening, is the strengthening of a metal by plastic deformation." So perhaps the tubing was drawn differently than the 531 products?]

Another email quotes frame-builder John Holland as saying in the 653 tube set

"rear triangle was 753, the front triangle was the non heat treated 753 tubes, and the fork was 531."

To this, someone replies: "Non heat-treated 753 should be just 531." [Except that 531 AFAIK was not made in the 753 wall thicknesses...] He also adds that he thought all the Reynolds Tube sets used 531 for the forks.(?)

A fourth email exchange again quotes from yet another letter from Reynolds:

""653 was a set of tubes made up of 531 main triangle and 753 rear stays.
It was in production from the mid 80's to the mid 90's, but we do know
some small builders still have a few sets about.
I would suggest that the Masi would be an early 90's frame.
It was considered number two set in our range, 753 being the first at the
time."
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Yeah, I just found a list of standard weights on one of the BOB emails:

REYNOLDS 501 2025
REYNOLDS 531C 1800
REYNOLDS 531P 1700
REYNOLDS 531ST 1935
REYNOLDS 653 1700
REYNOLDS 753 1650

COLUMBUS AELLE 2345
COLUMBUS GARA 2305
COLUMBUS CROMOR 2190
COLUMBUS THRON 2250
COLUMBUS SP 2300
COLUMBUS SL 1930
COLUMBUS SLX 1960
COLUMBUS TSX 1950
COLUMBUS NEURON 1885
COLUMBUS PRX 2310
COLUMBUS EL 1935
TANGE INFINITY 2405
TANGE 2 2290
TANGE 1 2220
TANGE PRESTIGE 1950
ISHIWATA 022 2200
ORIA ML 25 2100
TRUE TEMPER, by order of weight, higher to lower: RCR, RC, RCX
 

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I've already weighed in on this, but suggest that if you want the real story you e-mail Reynolds and hope you get an authoritative answer now that Terry Bill has retired.

EDIT - I just re-read this, and it sounds like I was saying you wouldn't have received an authoritative answer from Terry. I meant it the other way around; Terry would have provided an authoritative answer, but now that he's retired I don't know what kind of answer you'll get.

[email protected]
 

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Did you actually get a conclusive answer to this question? I've done lots of research and cant seem to find anything except speculation. Considering that 653 was the top of the range off the shelf tubing(753 was not widely available to the general public),you would think that more info would be available.
 

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Did you actually get a conclusive answer to this question? I've done lots of research and cant seem to find anything except speculation. Considering that 653 was the top of the range off the shelf tubing(753 was not widely available to the general public),you would think that more info would be available.
I'm not sure how specific you want to get, but from the Reynolds web site describing the meaning of their decals,

1989-1994

653- 531 Main tubes drawn thinner than 531C; 725 rear stays, replaced 531P.

531C (Competition)- All tubes 531; tubes suitable for road frames

531-P (Professional)- Replaced 531SL (Super Light); rear stays from 725

531SL- All tubes 531. Frame tubes thinner than 531C
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
I'm not sure how specific you want to get, but from the Reynolds web site describing the meaning of their decals,
Link?-- I can't find this

Never mind- it's here on the decal pdf--which is a pretty sketchy history.

I'm skeptical (although everyone seems to agree that it was a tube set of several elements), since 653 appeared c. 1986 and was discontinued by 1995.

The 525 tube set appeared in 1998 (a CrMo tubing that could be tigged), and the 725 tube set did not appear until after that date, so in fact after the 653 set had been discontinued.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Did you actually get a conclusive answer to this question? I've done lots of research and cant seem to find anything except speculation. Considering that 653 was the top of the range off the shelf tubing(753 was not widely available to the general public),you would think that more info would be available.
In a word, no. I've been up to my ears in an epic house reno, and have not had the time.

I've commented below as well.
 

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Link?-- I can't find this

Never mind- it's here on the decal pdf--which is a pretty sketchy history.

I'm skeptical (although everyone seems to agree that it was a tube set of several elements), since 653 appeared c. 1986 and was discontinued by 1995.

The 525 tube set appeared in 1998 (a CrMo tubing that could be tigged), and the 725 tube set did not appear until after that date, so in fact after the 653 set had been discontinued.
I know this is an old thread, but I have been in contact with Terry Bill reagrding my 531 Pro frame to understand just what its made out of. He is retired now, but still working part time.

Essentially, the 531 and 653 frames are a "concept" frame, there is no 653 tubing as such, it is a mix of other tubing. The decals sheet referred to above is correct :thumbsup:

531SL - Lightweight 531 main frames and rear stays. The rear stays are "stiff" and hence I assume are larger diameter than standard 531

531Pro - superseded 531SL, consists of 531 lightweight main tubes, initially 753T rear stays, then moved to 753R rear stays which are more robust (road vs track).

653 - superseded 531 pro, consists of 531 lightweight main tubes, 725 rear stays (725 is CrMo and similar in characteristics to 753)

The lightweight 531 main tubes are double butted, with 0.1mm thinner gauge all round than standard
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I know this is an old thread, but I have been in contact with Terry Bill reagrding my 531 Pro frame to understand just what its made out of. He is retired now, but still working part time.

Essentially, the 531 and 653 frames are a "concept" frame, there is no 653 tubing as such, it is a mix of other tubing. The decals sheet referred to above is correct :thumbsup:

531SL - Lightweight 531 main frames and rear stays. The rear stays are "stiff" and hence I assume are larger diameter than standard 531

531Pro - superseded 531SL, consists of 531 lightweight main tubes, initially 753T rear stays, then moved to 753R rear stays which are more robust (road vs track).

653 - superseded 531 pro, consists of 531 lightweight main tubes, 725 rear stays (725 is CrMo and similar in characteristics to 753)

The lightweight 531 main tubes are double butted, with 0.1mm thinner gauge all round than standard
So they are sticking to their story that the 725 stays used to make the 653 set appeared before there was a full set of 725 in the market--the same 725 set that appeared after 653 was already discontinued????:confused:
 

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So they are sticking to their story that the 725 stays used to make the 653 set appeared before there was a full set of 725 in the market--the same 725 set that appeared after 653 was already discontinued????:confused:
I'm confused, too. The Reynolds timeline shows 725, 631, and 525 tubing were introduced for OEM use in 1997, while 753 was introduced nearly 20 years earlier in 1976.

The decals history pdf shows the 653 decal as having been available in 1986.

'Tis a mystery.
 

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I remember 1976...the 753 set and the 531SL sets both came out at the same time.
They were the same except that 753 was heat treated.
Later there were more variants of 753, and 531SL was dropped and came back in a slightly different form a couple of times. Both these sets have changed many times over the years. There were also tubesets with different dimensions made for individual builders.
Maybe the Classic Rendezvous group could help.
 
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