Friday, July 20, 2007


It's not true that the tubing makes the frame, contrary to what many people believe. Geometry is king, but geometry seems like something everyone (well most people) could learn to understand in time. Not to belittle it, because as I have said, it's the geometry that determines 99% of how your bike rides. But all of the different material makeup, metallurgy and different thicknesses, weights, and reinforcements manufacturers have devised for tubing over the years invoke a mystique that geometry just doesn't seem to have.

Different cycle manufacturers have slapped different labels on their tubesets over the years as a marketing tool and to an extent they were highly successful in promoting the tubing brands perhaps even over their own cycle brands. Many of the bike manufacturers who marketed these tubesets are gone, but some of the tube makers remain in good financial health. Reynolds, Tange, Columbus, Ishiwata, Vitus (Atèliers de la Rive), and Miyata are some of the best known steel tube makers. More recently there is also Dedacciai in Italy. Some of these makers have come and gone, but the mystery and magic attached to their products remain and live on in the thousands of their steel frames out on the road.

Interestingly most people think that the lightest tubeset you can buy is always the best. I've spent some time recently going over what the different aspects are and it turns out that for someone of my size (6'3" 225lbs) that there are many tubesets that are just off limits. At first that kind of irritated me, but then as I thought about it was a pretty simple formula: I weigh enough that I can easily lose 5 pounds--a whole bike frame worth of weight--so it's a moot point to an extent! This site has a great chart of all the different dimensions, weights, and aspects of many popular, historic tubesets: So it seems that fitness for a purpose, and weight of the tubeset and rider all go hand in hand to determine what you should be riding. The good news is that there are lots of tubing sets still available, and for the touring I intend to do the heavier but still top-shelf sets are the best choice.

I'm thinking of picking up something like an old Miyata touring frame in Tange Champion or Miyata proprietary tubing. Or if I'm very very lucky a Trek 620 in Reynolds 531. If I had the money I'd be calling Woodrup Cycles in the UK, or if I had more money, Chris Kulczycki at Vélo Orange and ordering myself a new touring frame. So maybe I'll start saving. In the meantime I just need to find a good deal in the right size (62cm).

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