Stock Steel Tubing Options

Stock steel tube evaluationOh so limited.

In the Collaborative meeting yesterday we reviewed the high quality brazing recommended steel frame tubing options.  That’s a mouthful.  Because it’s a long set of limiting parameters, it also limits the legitimate tubing options that we can apply for this project.

Let’s start with sources:  In the bike industry, four serious sources exist for high-end steel bicycle tubing:  Columbus, Dedacciai, Reynolds, and True Temper.  I would think that, with four sources, there’d be plenty of options to mix and match.  Well, not true—at least from Seven Cycles’ perspective.

Now, which of the four companies offer tubesets that they specifically recommend for brazing—as opposed to TIG welding?  Only two of the four.*  That’s okay, in reality, I’d bet that a lot of lugged frame builders use tubing not specifically designed for lugs.

Okay, even if we include all four suppliers’ lug specific, or closest high-end equivalent, the options are still slim and disappointing.

For research purposes we decided to focus on the frame’s down tube—probably the single most important tube in the frame.  We don’t have all day to mess with each tube at the moment.  You might expect that suppliers would provide more options for the most important tube, than offered with any other tube in a tubeset.  And you’d be correct.  Well, the results are still quite uninspiring.

Now I’ll cut to the chase.  Two of the four suppliers offer only one option in a 1.25” tube diameter.  The other two suppliers offer two tube wall options in 1.25” diameter.  Doing that math, a frame builder might think that we’d have six tubes from which to choose.  The bad news is that there are actually only three tube wall options from which to choose:  0.04 mm, 0.45 mm, and 0.5 mm.  The other three tubes are simply overlaps to these first three options.  In the end, these three options are not what we’re used to at Seven.  And the difference between 0.4 and 0.5 is only 20% different; that’s not a lot in our book.

By the way, for the tech geeks, yes, each supplier offers slightly different tube butt lengths but this has very little real world impact on the ride off the completed bike.

All this led us to the conclusion that we’re going to butt all the tubes in-house.  More on that soon.

*I’m working from memory at the moment so the number might by three.  Maybe.

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