Building steel frames - Are the frame materials we have available optimised?

In your link article, you wrote this:

However, here lies the dilemma: the majority of steel tubing available today is optimized for welding, not silver brazing.

I began noticing this trend in the late nineties and it further manifested itself by affecting the working diameters of the tubing. This, from all suppliers.

When I had my personal JRA in Matera (the one in Italy) my anxiety peaked. It was the catalyst needed for me to design a set of tubing that was optimized for the kind of frames I make, and the way I made them.

Until that point in time, many of us were living on crumbs. By then, welding as well as nonferrous materials were the norm. I didn’t care. From all of this, a set was conceived that was targeted at framebuilders who made frames by hand, holding a torch, and closing their miters with lugs. Note: I’m never / I’ve never been one to suggest this way is better than that way, or that the industry lost its plot after mirroring Giant Bicycle’s four sizes fits most mentality. But I was concerned for my own business and those who made frames “this way.”

We (me, along with Dario RIP) took our drawings to Columbus and expressed a desire to produce a new tube set. They sent over an engineer who spent two days with me, and who took notes and samples of my castings, and completely grasped the project. Within a year we had our first samples. Spirit For Lugs was born. For us, by us.

Since that time (circa 2004) the original versions have been updated several times, and both light versions as well as ÜOS sizes were added. And for the sake of transparency, by 2006 we renamed the project as well as the sets PegoRichie. It had a nice ring to it.

Sorry for the longwinded copy. The salient message is that we all have needs, and a voice, and a network. If you fear for your survival because of the supply chain, become your own.


I’d love to see you state exactly what you’re looking for in your article. What wall thickness, butt lengths, diameters would you like? I think if you publish what you believe is ideal it’ll create the opportunity to gain traction and interest.

According to this article discussing wall thickness, 753 came in 7/5/7 top tubes and 8/5/8 down tubes which is widely available from Columbus, Reynolds, Tange, Velospec and KVA. It would be great to understand what tubing spec you feel is missing from these catalogs.

Metal Guru recently released the modern lug and tubesets below that might be exactly what you’ve been looking for. It includes some custom drawn tubes and lugs and utilizes some of the best tubes Columbus has to offer. If these don’t suite your needs then @Carl_Snarl would be the one to talk to about producing custom tubes and/or lugs.

Metal Guru Modern Gravel Geometry Lug Set & Tubeset

  • Head Tube - 36 x 1.1
  • Top Tube - 31.7>28.6 x 0.65/0.45/0.65
  • Down Tube - 35.0 x 0.65/0.45/0.65
  • Seat Tube - 31.7>28.6 0.8/0.5 (custom)

Metal Guru Modern Road Plus Geometry Lug Set & Tubeset

  • Head Tube - 36 x 1.1
  • Top Tube - 28.6 x 0.65/0.45/0.65
  • Down Tube - 35.0>31.7 x 670 x 0.65/0.45/0.65 (custom)
  • Seat Tube - 31.7>28.6 x 0.8/0.5 (custom)

Fork Options
Hats off to Alex Meade for making a 34/44 Lug but I think 1 1/8" Carbon forks are a better option for lugged frames and frankly all steel frames. It’s also about the same cost to develop a new carbon fork as it is to develop a lug set so you’d be better off going that route if one of the 1 1/8" forks below doesn’t meet your needs.


Thanks @PineCycles for that information.

I must preface this by saying I am a framebuilder not a metallurgist or engineer.

I was trying to find our earlier data sheets for 753 but we have only kept back to the early 90s. I seemed to remeber hearing the 753T came in 636 tt and 747 dt. However I may be mistaken. Also I in terms of butt lengths, shorter transitions and wider waist section of the tube. Reneherse have had some Kaisei tubes done in this kind of spec.

In the UK I would say that lugged framebuilding is definitely in decline somewhat and my thoughts were that Reynolds may be listing tubes on the conservative side based on what tig builders and those using Asian contract builders (the bigger customers) have been asking for. But their needs may be different from mine.

The article was meant as a talking point around the issue. Mainly from a UK perspective.

We’ve been building frames for nearly 90 years but the last 5 years or so have become harder due to industry designing parts to suit carbon frames which obviously don’t always suit a bike built from steel. Oversized headtubes and bottom brackets are a prime example of something which just adds weight on a steel frame. But also the switch to disc brakes and thru axles has caused its own challenges. While all these can be overcome, its added to production time. So again I’m looking to how I can invest in new parts to increase my productivity while giving something back to other framebuilders that still want to build traditional lugged frames.


Thanks @Daniel_Y for that info. Really is very useful! Great pictures too!

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