The Sirius 4G and A.L.I.C.E. frames use custom drawn, triple butted, heat treated, CrMo 4130.
It’s material properties are virtually identical to the high-end branded tubesets and externally it would be hard to tell the difference. Internally, it’s a different matter.
Tubing manufacturers are able to achieve economies of scale by offering standardised tubesets to frame builders. These tubesets, for the most part, offer builders the characteristics and qualities that will ‘do the job’ (in much the same way that an off-the-peg suit will ‘do the job’) but take a closer look at some frames and it’s not uncommon to see gussets or plates which may be an indicator that the tube selected was not wholly adequate on it’s own.
Sure, builders will sometimes take a ‘belt and braces’ approach to frame design which from an engineering point of view is understandable. But as we’ve said before, the extra strength a gusset offers can be negated by the additional welding required to fit it. This reheating of a critical area of the frame is potentially damaging to the tubing and should be avoided if at all possible. Strangely, these extra features are almost expected nowadays.
Custom built frames typically dispense with these superfluous details. The artisan builders will often select tubes from multiple brands, for example, Columbus, Dedacciai, Reynolds, Tange or True Temper and mix-and-match them as necessary to achieve the perfection they strive for. Consequently, you’ll seldom see the branded stickers* on their frames which are of little consequence when you know you’ve got the best tubing available for your specific frame.
* most brands will not allow you to put their sticker on a frame unless all three of it’s main tubes are from one sub-set.
A Very Special Opportunity
Our current frames use custom drawn, triple butted, CrMo 4130 that’s heat treated to increase it’s strength further. This tubeset is made in small batches in the same facility that fabricates our frames. The company is not only one of the best frame-builders in the industry, it’s also a leader in tubing technology.
Having the capability to draw and butt tubing in-house means that we’re able to achieve the exact specifications we require for our frames. This super-alloy is triple butted along it’s length but also has variable thickness in it’s cross-section. All this ‘magic’ is on the inside, out of sight. Long butts and curved tubes also transfer loads from otherwise vulnerable areas.
This would not have been possible had we used an alternative tubing supplier and the ‘extra features’ one commonly sees, would likely have been on our frames too (as we’ve done in the past).
Does Branding Matter?
You may still be able to recall the early days of aluminium frames when, if it wasn’t Easton tubing, you’d run a mile…..maybe because there was doubt you’d be able to ride a mile, such was the lack of confidence in unbranded tubing!
Times have changed and the reality is that the properties of branded and unbranded tubing are mechanically and materially almost identical and the quality of tubing being manufactured in Taiwan (for example) is as good as any anywhere else in the world.
Certainly, Columbus and Reynolds have pedigree and their history reaches back to the days of steel road bikes dueling for glory in the mountains of France and the other great tours of old. Today they remain at the forefront of steel tubing technology and they’re still pushing the boundaries of what’s possible from this humble material.
But other brands like Dedacciai, founded in 1992, have since come on the scene. They are one of the most notable for their use among artisan custom frame builders and to the trained eye, you’ll spot their distinctive ‘cricket bat’ chainstays – very likely without ever having a sticker to identify them as such.
For some, the tubing sticker will always be a mark of honour and a thing to earn the respect of the cognoscenti. However, when it’s used to demand respect from another, there’s something amiss. It seems odd that such a thing – a sticker – should be used to define the quality and characteristics of a frame when there’s so much more to it than that.
After more than a decade of designing frames, we’re not prepared to ‘compromise’ a design for the sake of a sticker: it may be a controversial choice but we’re committed to building you the best.
Our hope is that you’ll have the confidence that we are.