Any comments regarding the use of lugs must take in to account the primary task at hand—to join two steel tubes to each other. Deciding which method to employ involves either economics or emotion. Sometimes both. But rarely.
There are those who embrace the process of melting steel together with a bead, TIG welded. This group may also accept an environment in which everyone wears matching outfits. Maybe similar caps, too. Perhaps color bars on some shirt pockets to denote and differentiate status.
TIG welding is a uniform, androgynous, style-less look. In fact this is the current aesthetic of the bicycle. Welding works. It does the job. It is the fastest technique available to industry, and tech schools routinely graduate welders, thus supplying a steady stream of workers for the assembly of your next bike!
But, grab a lug and use it and you pay homage to a process chosen and perfected when the streets of time and money were less likely to intersect. And when you wouldn’t find a time-clock to punch at the local framebuilders.
Lugs are often brazed by the hands of a person who thinks less and feels more. A concern with quality and integrity will overide thoughts of trends or market share. When you coast down the road on your frame brazed with lugs, its maker is riding with you. And will for decades. Maybe more.
Simply stated, my decision to use lugs is not made to bring along the past or to venerate it. Lug assemblies are the most rational way to make a frame superbly well, to ensure the optimum ride characteristics, to maintain the quality of the steel, and to maximize its service life too. Add to this mix some clean brazing, artsy design elements, unique embellishments, cool cutouts … and your cake has icing ready to taste!
The above article (including prices) originally appeared in a recent edition of the Rivendell Reader, reprinted courtesy of Grant Petersen, Rivendell Bicycle Works.