27 August 2009

We Like Lugs

I scream, you scream, we all scream for pretty lugs. Maybe if we make enough noise the manufacturers will start making bikes with pretty lugs again.

So to start, I thought I'd show you all up close and personal the lugs on my 1977 Dawes. No doubt some would prefer them repainted, with no rust. Maybe someday I'll do that. For now I'm enjoying the vintage patina and the handmade charm.

Love the openwork on the headtube lugs and the lugged fork crown:

lugged headtube and fork crown Dawes

The seat tube is lugged and features the Dawes fan pattern on the seat stay:

lugged seat tube Dawes

Even the bottom bracket is lugged:

lugged bottom bracket Dawes bike

Of course, I like pretty lugs so much I made sure to buy a road bike with them too! Here's my bike in Dijon, ready to be loaded up for a day of cyclotouring:

Raleigh International chrome lugs
On this bike I also love the chrome tips to the fork and stays, I've mentioned before that I come to cycling from equestrian pursuits and I realize they remind me of traditional dressage wraps...

Here are the lugs which sold me on the "original Rambouillet":

Raleigh International lugs

16 comments:

Trisha said...

Beautiful lugs and beautiful bicycles! Hopefully manufacturers will be inspired. Someone along the line tried to highlight the lugs on my Peugeot with a Sharpie. I understand the impulse to make them stand out but prefer the patina on your Dawes. ;) I think I'm going to repaint the entire frame over the Christmas holidays.

Anonymous said...

I suspect that lugs aren't just for show, or at least they weren't in the past. How do they actually work? Do they eliminate the need to weld the joints? Are (were) they a better quality connector than a weld? So many questions...

PS Agree that they look grrrrreat!
Martin

Marsha said...

Oh my! That is gorgeous!!

Charlotte said...

Trisha,
I haven't seen your bike in person, but the French eBay seller who sent me this photo made a point of telling me that these Peugeots had their lugs pinstriped by hand. That may be the way you want them.

Anonymous,
I'm not a bike builder, but it is my understanding that before we could do the beautiful welds of today the lugs actually were superior for joining the tubes. Modern lugged bikes are probably still functional lugs, but there are plenty of beautiful high quality non-lugged bikes too.

Filigree said...

Thank you for this post : )
The lugwork on your bicycles is stunning. (Your Dawes, BTW, is way more fancy than the Warwick model at Old Roads.)

I did not realise that your "other bike" was a copper Raleigh International. On the photos it looks like a museum piece - just beautiful!

My favourite lug treatment is pinstriping - in a cream or silvery colour. Peter Mooney and Royal H seem to have a real eye for that.

Jon said...

Fuji has a lugged road bike in their line, this year.

Trisha, I think that may be the original pinstriping on your bike. it was there when I got it, anyway.

Charlotte said...

Filigree, I also have a mountain bike with no lugs at all, but I think that's the way it should be.

It was the detail on these lugs that sold me on the Dawes. They do seem to have been pinstriped a long time ago, most of it is gone. I have another Dawes with much less intricate lug work (it's an older one, ladies' frame, so that might account for the simplicity).

Filigree said...

Could this change your mind about lugged mountain bikes? : )

Is your lady's Dawes a step-through Galaxy? As far as I can tell, it seems they never made proper mixtes, which is too bad.

Charlotte said...

Filigree,
Beautiful bike, but no, it doesn't change my mind. Maybe I'm just thinking of cleaning it - mountain bikes should get dirty and cleaning that bike would be 1) necessary, it's too pretty to stay dirty and 2) a royal pain. I have a really nice bike but it doesn't have lugs and I'm ok with that.

As for the Dawes, somehow I am fundamentally unable to get a stock Dawes with a recognizable model name. My main ride is not standard, the man who sold it to me is pretty sure it's custom - the geometry is racier than a Galaxy, and the family friend who gave me her Ladies' Dawes had it custom made in 1954. She was going abroad and was too tall for the Ladies' Raleighs so they arranged for her to pick up a custom Dawes when she got off the ship. It originally had drop bars and she changed them to upright for some customs issue. Anyway, I'm pretty sure it's not a Galaxy. But I could be wrong!

Trisha said...

Charlotte-those bikes are stunning. I like the white pinstriping but will have to look for a closer-up photo before I try it myself.

Jon-maybe -- it just seems a bit heavy in spots? Anyway, while not strictly necessary, repainting will hopefully be a fun dad/daughter project...

kfg said...

Back in the day I built my own frames, with lugs. If I were to start building again I would again use lugs, and my most recent purchase was highly influenced by its lugged construction (a Rivendell Quickbeam).

Certainly lugs were/are functional. Yes, they eliminate the need to weld the joint, which is much the point. Steel changes its structure, becomes weaker, when heated. A lug allows strong joints to made by low temperature (well below the melting point of steel) brazing (with brass), or even soldering (with silver). Well made lugged joints are strong enough that a tube will fail before the joint does, as they also serve as an external butt, adding metal at the joint where the stresses are concentrated.

All of this also allows a frame to be taken apart again for repairs. Damage a tube and it can simply be replaced by a new one (although this is only financially viable for the more expensive custom frames).

Welding has its place (especially on inexpensive, mass produced frames which are going to be disposed of if damaged anyway, by which I do NOT mean to imply that they are of lower quality) and today's inert gas, electric welders minimize the area of heated tube when building and tube makers have formulated new alloys to stand up to such welding.

But for a fine frame I'll take lugs, thank you. Nor or they all that hard to clean. The filigrees are "show off piece" features on higher end, non-racing bikes. Work bikes used lugs that were simply square cut (look at an old Raleigh 3 speed) and my own preference is for the simple elegance of the pointed lug as used on most racing machines.

These don't trap dirt in all the little nooks and crannies and can be cleaned with a simple wipe with a Q-tip (or just a fingernail inside a paper towel).

Maria Boustead said...

Thank you for sharing! This is my design snack for today.

rb said...

beautiful copper colored Raleigh, even their low end models- my early 70s Grand Prix, for example, had some OK lugwork. Mine is a white frame, chrome fork and gold pinstriping along the lugwork. My Sports are primitive in comparison.
RB
townandcountrybiker.wordpress.com

Charlotte said...

Wow, check out the lugs on this bike!

Anonymous said...

Nice lugwork! I believe the Dawes is a "Double-Five" A USA spec version of a 1970's Galaxy, going by the colour. I bought one new here in the UK in 1978. Not a bad machine, in fact did a 27 minute 10 mile time trial on it. The lining was done by hand at the Dawes factory. I currently have a 1953 Claud Butler New Allrounder, which is bi-laminated construction, that is to say, a welded frame, with false fancy lugs fitted over the welds. In fact making a very strong frame. Conventional lugged frames were pinned in place on a jig, then the lugs were filled with phosphor-bronze weld to form the join. As moe exotic steel alloys came into being around the early '80s, so framebuilding techniques had to become more sophisticated. I believe Reynolds 753, had to be brazed using an inert Argon shield to make an effective join. Hope this information is of help, Mark.

Charlotte said...

Mark - thank you for that! I'm off to learn all I can about the "Double-Five".