Reverence: Straight Round Tubes

Tradition and innovation sit mostly comfortably alongside each other in Cycling. The bicycle itself is inherently a very simple machine, the basic design of which has remained the same for centuries; frame, two wheels, cranks, saddle, handlebars. It’s what has been done to these elements along the way that has shaped what the modern road bike (because mountain bikes are way out there and another realm altogether) now looks like.

To me, they look like crap.

The ‘advancements’ made through the use of carbon fibre have without doubt benefitted those who really need to benefit in incremental steps, and that is Pro riders. These guys and gals are paid to ride a bicycle as fast as they can and to get it across a line hundreds of kilometres away from where they started before hundreds of others, sometimes by the barest of margins. That’s not us. We ride because we love the freedom, the health benefits, all that bullshit that Bicycling magazine will give you 7 tips on how to do it. We don’t need aero-tubed frames and deep dish carbon wheels, but we want them. Sure, all this stuff makes our experience better, and I’m not suggesting we all ride around on K-Mart bikes, even though we’d still probably have some form of fun if we did. Even if you race, even A grade at club level, or have a crack at Nationals, the bike isn’t going to make you win. I’ll repeat; you’re not a Pro.

This whole ‘aero’ frame fad that has taken over the peloton is all well and good when the sport’s top prizes are at stake. When rolling around with your mates and having a coffee before and a beer after is the modus operandi, then why not do it with a modicum of style? Aero bikes are not stylish. Those oversized, flattened, sharp edged carbon members (I refuse to call them tubes) are just downright ugly. The curvy swooping lines and bent-six-ways stays are an abomination. And some of the stems popping up now look like tumours growing from Frankenstein’s neck. I don’t like them, in case you’re not picking up on that.

The more I look at the new crop of ’boutique’ builders working with steel, the more I realise how much of a blight these carbon race frames are. My eyes are attuned to the simplicity of round, straight tubes, with a sensible diameter, and if they’re held together with lugs, well that’s not a bad thing either. But even these simple things of beauty can be sullied by another modern invention, the sloping top tube. A lot of the bikes that appeared in my feeds from the recent NAHMBS featured quite radically sloping tt’s, and whenever a flat tt’ed bike popped up it was even more apparent that flat is where it’s at. And I’m not saying this because I own such a bike; in fact, there was a period after purchasing my Jaegher where I questioned whether I should have had some slope built in. But the more I witness the glut of ugly that is is the Pro peloton, I’m glad I listened to the denizens who lovingly handcrafted my beauty, and kept the tubes like they are meant to be: flat, round and straight.

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180 Replies to “Reverence: Straight Round Tubes”

  1. @Oli

    Ah, yes I think that’s correct. Well, that is a pain. Wheels Manufacturing make a good one then, although I haven’t had as long-term experience with them as I have with the Praxis.

    I have a Wheels Mfg BB30 outboard bearing bottom bracket. Only have a few hundred miles on it, but very happy (not that I was really experiencing issues with the FSA adapters). I know a few other people with Wheels Mfg bottom brackets and they are very happy with them. Don’t think you can go wrong. I think the angular contact bearings are the best value (unless you really feel like spending $$$ for ceramic bearings).

    http://wheelsmfg.com/bottom-brackets/bb386evo/386evo-bottom-brackets.html?_=1458652667047

    Plus (at least mine) add a little bling. :-)

  2. @chuckp

    @Oli

    Ah, yes I think that’s correct. Well, that is a pain. Wheels Manufacturing make a good one then, although I haven’t had as long-term experience with them as I have with the Praxis.

    I have a Wheels Mfg BB30 outboard bearing bottom bracket. Only have a few hundred miles on it, but very happy (not that I was really experiencing issues with the FSA adapters). I know a few other people with Wheels Mfg bottom brackets and they are very happy with them. Don’t think you can go wrong. I think the angular contact bearings are the best value (unless you really feel like spending $$$ for ceramic bearings).

    http://wheelsmfg.com/bottom-brackets/bb386evo/386evo-bottom-brackets.html?_=1458652667047

    Plus (at least mine) add a little bling. :-)

    Good to hear. I just got some Wheels bearings (BB30 admittedly) put in my #1. Not ridden it yet to see how they are. My biggest gripe with BB30 is getting the torque right. I do have a torque wrench, but they’re hardly precision implements.

  3. @wiscot

    Good to hear. I just got some Wheels bearings (BB30 admittedly) put in my #1. Not ridden it yet to see how they are. My biggest gripe with BB30 is getting the torque right. I do have a torque wrench, but they’re hardly precision implements.

    I have a torque wrench but actually used a shop torque wrench when I installed my Wheels Mfg bottom bracket. A little unnerving cranking it until it clicked because I have a dreaded fear of over-torquing bolts. And I usually pick a setting somewhere in the middle of the manufacturer spec torque range.

  4. @Teocalli

    @Buck Rogers

    He sure does!

    Hey I’ve got some old blue Rudy Projects somewhere too.

    I’ve got a thing for classic Rudy shades. And shades in general. I should snap a photo of my collection. Was actually all set to buy some new sunnies for spring cycling…when I realized the money would be better spent on casual prescription shades for commuting and off-the-bike life. I really, really have grown to hate contact lenses and only use them when I must.

  5. @Ron

    @Teocalli

    @Buck Rogers

    He sure does!

    Hey I’ve got some old blue Rudy Projects somewhere too.

    I’ve got a thing for classic Rudy shades. And shades in general. I should snap a photo of my collection. Was actually all set to buy some new sunnies for spring cycling…when I realized the money would be better spent on casual prescription shades for commuting and off-the-bike life. I really, really have grown to hate contact lenses and only use them when I must.

    Old Rudy’s like this:

     

  6. Amen to this article!  Here I thought I was wandering in a desert alone when looking at all the crazy plastic frames and sloping top tubes. But I just found the oasis!

    I’m rockin a 22 year old Marinoni EL with Campy Chorus 8 gruppo and love the thing to death.

    But, staying true to the V and n+1 criteria, I have a Hampsten La Dolce Vita in proper steel ordered with Steve.  Soon to be riding around the Seattle area!

  7. @Kevin

    Amen to this article! Here I thought I was wandering in a desert alone when looking at all the crazy plastic frames and sloping top tubes. But I just found the oasis!

    I’m rockin a 22 year old Marinoni EL with Campy Chorus 8 gruppo and love the thing to death.

    But, staying true to the V and n+1 criteria, I have a Hampsten La Dolce Vita in proper steel ordered with Steve. Soon to be riding around the Seattle area!

    Super stuff!  I debated between Marinoni and Hampsten for my next road bike and ended up ordering with Steve.  Great stuff.

    I think that I might get a Marinoni Track bike in the future, though as there will be a velodrome within 30 minutes of where I am living in Germany.

    Why pick between the two when you can just get one of each, eh???

  8. @Kevin

    Amen to this article! Here I thought I was wandering in a desert alone when looking at all the crazy plastic frames and sloping top tubes. But I just found the oasis!

    I’m rockin a 22 year old Marinoni EL with Campy Chorus 8 gruppo and love the thing to death.

    But, staying true to the V and n+1 criteria, I have a Hampsten La Dolce Vita in proper steel ordered with Steve. Soon to be riding around the Seattle area!

    Fear not! You are not alone.

    As a lightweight rider myself, I would love to ride an EL. Been on the hunt for one (within budget) for years. I ride a 23-24 year old SLX though which is none too shabby.

  9. Steel – Check

    Straight tubes – Check

    Round tubes – Not so much

    Its a sweet, sweet riding frame.  Substantially stiffer than my Reynolds 853 Schwinn Peloton Pro at the cranks (even with BB386 cranks), minimally less so than my GTR Team.

  10. All set and good to go ahead of three-plus off-season hours last Sunday. Not so much nine bike as fine bike – fair weather only for those old brakes… Still needs deeper bars and a longer stem, but every bike of this vintage is a work in progress it seems.

  11. @osbk67

    Yeah, braking does require planning ahead on vintage brakes.  If I do a few vintage rides in a string I near go over the bars when I get back on the #1.

  12. @osbk67

    Reminds me of a couple of years ago.  Me on Vintage, buddy on Modern rig.  Half way down a longish, straight, quick hill.  Mate signals left, brakes and turns off.  All he heard as I went by was “Ohh SHIIIIIITTTTTT”.

  13. @osbk67

    All set and good to go ahead of three-plus off-season hours last Sunday. Not so much nine bike as fine bike – fair weather only for those old brakes… Still needs deeper bars and a longer stem, but every bike of this vintage is a work in progress it seems.

    Love the look of filet brazing with lugs like this.  Smooth and sharp.

  14. @fignons barber

    @Ron

    @Teocalli

    @Buck Rogers

    He sure does!

    Hey I’ve got some old blue Rudy Projects somewhere too.

    I’ve got a thing for classic Rudy shades. And shades in general. I should snap a photo of my collection. Was actually all set to buy some new sunnies for spring cycling…when I realized the money would be better spent on casual prescription shades for commuting and off-the-bike life. I really, really have grown to hate contact lenses and only use them when I must.

    Old Rudy’s like this:

    Where do you live? I’m coming over to steal those!

    Damn hot shades! Like I said, I gotta get a pick of my collection. I have a serious problem with collecting vintage Rudy shades.

  15. Gorilla – Is that a fucking non-white garage door? Oh man. Secondly, get the hell off the internet and go take more photos of that bike. Goddamnit, that looks good! Nothing is more pleasing than classic steel with box rims. Lovely!

  16. Buck – oh man. That is rough to have those but not know where they are! I actually have two pairs of those, one in red, one in white. I broke some serious Rules on Sunday. Rode in white socks, red bib shorts, white jersey, white helmet, red Rudys, white gloves.

    Maybe I looked so fucking dead sexy that truck driver just had to yell at me!

  17. @Ron

    Buck – oh man. That is rough to have those but not know where they are! I actually have two pairs of those, one in red, one in white. I broke some serious Rules on Sunday. Rode in white socks, red bib shorts, white jersey, white helmet, red Rudys, white gloves.

    Maybe I looked so fucking dead sexy that truck driver just had to yell at me!

    Geeez – he probably thought you WERE the Stop sign.

  18. @Teocalli

    @Ron

    Buck – oh man. That is rough to have those but not know where they are! I actually have two pairs of those, one in red, one in white. I broke some serious Rules on Sunday. Rode in white socks, red bib shorts, white jersey, white helmet, red Rudys, white gloves.

    Maybe I looked so fucking dead sexy that truck driver just had to yell at me!

    Geeez – he probably thought you WERE the Stop sign.

    Ha!

    Yes @Ron, kills me not being able to find them.  I found the little yellow rubbery bag that they came in but cannot find the actual shades anywhere!

  19. @Teocalli

    Found my old Rudy shades

    One of my college club friends rode in those in a yellow frame if I remember correctly.  Kinda looked weird and cool at the same time.

    Speaking of the Alma mater, I see that we just took a couple podiums at collegiate nationals.  Fine work orediggers!

  20. @David Maver

    1975 Hill Cycle (out of Philadelphia) with 1982 Nuovo Record. Smooth ride.

    Hi there, I understand that Hill Cycle often used Holdsworthy Pro frames and branded with the Hill Cycle name. I am trying to decipher the serial numbers used on these frames and whether they were a separate Holdsworthy system or whether Hill Cycle would have used their own number. Wonder if you might be able to let me know this bike’s number – usually under bottom bracket. Beautiful bike.Thanks, Doug, Halifax, NS, Canada

     

  21. as far as straight, round tubes go, i don’t think this one can be improved upon.  i’ve had Nitto Crystal posts on every bike i’ve owned.  Schwinn Paramount, Merckx Corsa, Serotta Atlanta, 3Rensho Cyclone, and now both my Masi Gran Criteriums.  Thomson posts are nice, too,  but i prefer the classic lines and easy simplicity of THIS.

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