Hype, Fact or Fiction?
A lot of hype surrounds the selection of a tubeset for a bicycle frame. Each tubeset has characteristics that make it suitable for the intended use but often the reasons behind the choices are overstated, with a hefty dose of techno-babble thrown in for good measure.
Read the press, blogs and forums and you’d be forgiven for thinking there’s a heirachy among tubesets. This is somewhat justified but somehow or other, Titanium has crept in there and is touting itself as a contender for the top spot. Consider this, among metals even ‘humble’ 4130 CrMo tubing can be as much as 20% stronger than branded Ti 3Al/2.5V in some cases.
However, strength is not everything and it’s the inherent flex of these two materials which have attracted frame builders. To further clear things up (or perhaps confuse you even more) here are some links to some great articles on the subject.
We use a selection of tubes for our steel frames, a selection which include both branded tubesets and custom drawn tubing to our own specifications.
Our own ‘PYPE’ is a custom drawn 4130 CrMo double butted (DB) and heat treated (HT) tubeset. This builds into a lightweight frame that is both supple and strong. Reynolds 631 or Columbus Zona would be comparable in strength, weight and elongation (flexibility). Our ‘BLX’ tubeset is also custom drawn 4130DB CrMo but without the heat treatment. Both of these tubesets would fall into the category of Aerospace Grade tubing. 4130 CrMo would be our normal choice for the rear stays of our bikes.
We also build with Reynolds 631, 725 and 853 and periodically we’ll select tubes from the other specialist manufacturers like Columbus and Tange.
Our Ti frames use plain gauge (PG) 100% seamless cold drawn Certified Aerospace Grade Ti 3Al/2.5V tubing. Our dropouts are cut from Ti 6Al/4V plate. It’s not so much about what the frame is made from but more about how one uses the material.
By selecting from a number of different tube gauges and diametres, we are able to balance strength, weight and ‘feel’ to give you a frame that captures that ‘feel’ that only Ti and Steel can offer.
Bottom line, whatever our material choice, you can be assured that the tubing meets the design criteria of the frame and will ride like a dream.