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. @Teocalli

    @PT

    Carbon fibre does fatigue or specifically the resin that holds it all together will eventually start to break down, then it becomes a real noodle as it starts to delaminate. This will happen earlier with cheaper resins.

    Like in 500 years or so vs 900 ?  I suspect that the new mnfg tech/materials are pretty sound. Still the issue w/C looks to be the impacts.

  2. @sthilzy

    @bovary1031

    Have you a full drive side shot of that Gios?! Teasing with the close ups!

    The light outside is fairly low, so the blue/purple color doesn’t show too well

    Here’s another steel bike…

  3. @wilburrox

    @Teocalli

    @PT

    Carbon fibre does fatigue or specifically the resin that holds it all together will eventually start to break down, then it becomes a real noodle as it starts to delaminate. This will happen earlier with cheaper resins.

    Like in 500 years or so vs 900 ? I suspect that the new mnfg tech/materials are pretty sound. Still the issue w/C looks to be the impacts.

    Suspect it will be way before that judging by how quickly boats go soft.  Of course there is a difference between going soft and falling apart completely but I suspect the stiffness/efficiency of carbon bikes will not be permanent.  Of course as a rider you would not notice as the progression will be so gradual.

  4. the horizontal top tube thing in 2016 is a bizzare design; it’s is a hold over from the days of threaded headsets and quill stems. with modern threadless and integrated headtubes the front end generally  ends up too low for a given frame size unless one of those bizarre, ugly looking extended headtubes is employed or the stem is flipped, plus if you are short in the leg its difficult to get stand over clearance on the frame size that would have your correct stack and reach geometry. horizontal tt’s worked back in the day because the low headtube was offset by a taller headset stack and the long shaft of a quill stem.unless you race and can stand getting super low on frame that’s a size to small with a 140mm stem then what’s the point? sloping tt’s are miles more practical, that’s why everybody uses them.

     

     

     

  5. @PT

    I’ve seen enough cracked and broken cf frames to know it’s not the material it’s made of that counts, it’s how well it’s made. Carbon fibre is only as strong and fatigue proof as how it’s put together, same as steel, aluminium or titanium.

  6. @Buck Rogers

    Fuckin Spot on, Bevan … I mean Brett.

    And that is why I am having Steven Hampsten create my next bike in straight Titanium tubes put together by Kent Eriksen. It is going to be fucking brilliant!

    I was just reading a back page article in a back issue of Rouleur the other day by Robert Millar (all of his articles are amazing) and it was fantastic. It was about his dislike of everyone owning black bikes. Wish I could find a link as it would fit in perfectly with this article.

    Yup, consider me also tired of fully black bikes. They’re about as boring as most of the jerseys in the Pro ranks these days. It’s like everyone quit their bands, gave up Pabst, and pawned their fixed gear bike to put a down payment on an all black road bikes. It’s weird.

  7. Brett – I’m part of a cycling club that rides Sunday mornings. Two members, one simple rule/name: No Sloping Top Tubes CC.

    I only ride traditional geometry steel bikes on Sundays. I own a compact carbon bike, but the aesthetic do very little for me. As for my steel bikes, I often ride them to work just so I can place them within eyesight for the duration of the work day.

  8. @Oli

    @PT

    I’ve seen enough cracked and broken cf frames to know it’s not the material it’s made of that counts, it’s how well it’s made. Carbon fibre is only as strong and fatigue proof as how it’s put together, same as steel, aluminium or titanium.

    That is a completely valid point.  Construction and design count for a lot.

  9. Custom built by Marinoni.  I must say that I like the worked shape of the Columbus Spirit tubing though.

  10. My Rourke visiting the Jaegher factory last summer. We even had a couple of beers with the guys in the bar round the corner!

    My Rourke visiting the Jeagher

    My Rourke visiting the

  11. Without meaning to disrespect any of the owners of the many beautiful bikes posted above but I think that there is something odd about a classic  steel bike with STI shifters . Just saying

  12. All you haters suck my balls, as they say…

    Matte black – check

    Carbon fibre – check

    Sloping TT – check

    Oversized stem – check

    And if you haven’t already lit your pitchforks I’ll confess I have a custom-built steel bike but I like this one better.

  13. Horizontal tt’s make no sense on a modern bike with a threadless headset. either the front end is too low for most people in their proper size or you go a size up to get the correct stack measurement and have no standover clearance. It worked back in the day as a threaded headset cup and quill stem adds an extra few cm to the front end without looking weird, nowadays you have to employ ugly spacer stacks, extended headtubes or a flipped stem to make it work, which looks a lot worse than any sloping top tube.

    Straight tubed square geometry frames in 2016 are for racers running 140mm stems wanting to get as low and aero as possible everyone else should be on sloping with proportional stack and reach measurements, your lower back will thank you for it later.

  14. @ChrisO

    That’s my kinda bike !  A beauty. One of my buds is racing a TCR this season. It is a smokin’ hot bike. And looks like they modified the seat tube this season (?) Giant’s making some cool bikes. There is truly some artistry and craftsmanship that goes in to engineering, laying up and prep’ing the C frames for sure. Just not something someone could do in a shop or garage outside the house. I’d note, looks like the only thing missing is a battery and little push buttons for shifting. Joking…  Cheers

  15. BTW: I can’t exactly read the Giant on @ChrisO ‘s bike but we can tell what kinda bike that is by looking at the frame. Same would be true if it were a Dogma for sure. A Venge, Madone, whatev… That’s the contemporary beauty of these C (and even some alloy) frames being built today. They’re unique.

    Will they stand the test of time? Of course not like a Jaegher will still have the classic look twenty, thirty or fifty years from now. But they’re hot now that’s for sure. And if they look different in a couple of years it’s in part because the materials and engineering design technology is being further advanced.

    It’s the golden age of frame building right now. Steel, Ti, C and alloy… all of ’em. Cheers

  16. @wilburrox

    I’d say the TCR has its own place as a classic bike and shape. The first alloy versions marked such a paradigm shift it makes it just as deserving of a pedestal in the pantheon as any bike of another era IMHO.

    And even though it now has flattened tubes and an oversize BB it’s still unmistakable, as well as being a fantastic all-round ride. Add cost into the equation and I honestly don’t think you can do any better.

    The 2016 model is a bigger update. I know someone who’s ridden the previous and current versions and says the new one is noticeably better. The only ‘downside’ is that the top model only comes with an integrated seatpost, which is great for stiffness but a pain if you want to travel with the bike.

    I could have got a good deal on one before I left Dubai but with discs around the corner I’m thinking it’s not a good time, not for high-end stuff anyway.

  17. Love my carbon babies but very excited about my first custom Don Walker steel – this one is my Hour track bike. Can’t wait to get her on the rollers and then the track!

    I’m not sure why we can’t love all kinds of bikes? I do. But I agree the curvy tubes are not my taste.

    I also love compact geometry; any custom steel road bike I get will be a compact – I love the look and I love the lower perch for waiting Casually Deliberate or getting into a tuck.

    Also, every carbon bike is technically handmade; the carbon is always hand-laid into the mold, whether its happening in the US, China, or Taiwan.

  18. @Philonius

    They are. Cerchio Ghisallo is the manufacturer. They’re built up on campy record hubs. They were put together by my father before he passed away.

  19. Heart-breaking moment last summer when a French teenager went into the side of my Holdsworth – which I’d had since mid-80s. LBS pointed me in the direction of Argos Racing Cycles in Bristol who sorted the tracking out and resprayed while they were at it – including sourcing transfers to match the originals. Results attached. First ride on it this afternoon was great…

     

  20. @bovary1031

    Love the simple clean lines of the Cinelli 1R stem

    Not to mention the Benotto bar wrap! So sexy. The only thing that could make that better if is you wrapped the bars in that old sewn leather wrap.

  21. @ChrisO

    All you haters suck my balls, as they say…

    Matte black – check

    Carbon fibre – check

    Sloping TT – check

    Oversized stem – check

    And if you haven’t already lit your pitchforks I’ll confess I have a custom-built steel bike but I like this one better.

    So classic. Way to own it.

  22. @fignons barber

    @EBruner

    1. @EBruner is the Jaegher geometry custom, or is that their stock geometry? What are the dimensions?

    It is a stock 55cm. The integrated headset makes them look a bit smaller. This is an Interceptor, I currently have an Ascender in Stainless Steel being made that I should have in a few weeks. I can’t say enough about how much I love Jaegher.

  23. Not all the tubes are round. still sexy as fuck! even with all the rule violations.

  24. I’ve become quite partial to black on a frame these days…especially when accented with the orange. Like a nice tuxedo.

  25. All this steel frame talk has me wanting to get the Mulholland Cyclops out on the road once it stops raining here.

    Really nice for solo rides but need the Ridley Noah when riding with my foes.

  26. @balty

     sloping tt’s are miles more practical, that’s why everybody uses them.

    Practical they may be, but they are still ugly as fuck.

  27. @Beers

    @balty

    sloping tt’s are miles more practical, that’s why everybody uses them.

    Practical they may be, but they are still ugly as fuck.

    “everbody” does not use them. Many do, but not “everybody”.

  28. @David Maver

    Beautiful touch, and even better hearing your late father built them. I’ve built a couple of pairs of them and would love some myself – beautiful ride.

  29. So many beautiful bikes in this thread, and I include some of the non-ferrous sloping top tube examples also. Being avowedly retro though I’m particularly enamoured of the Holdsworth and the pink DeRosa. Lovely.

  30. @RedRanger

    great snapshot of a gorgeous bike. Very cool.

    @Teocalli

    Pinarellos can be all black with no markings and a person just knows it a Pinarello. Awesome lines. My daughters first race bike was a Pinarello btw. Was the straight tubed alloy frame set. She’d go, “I’m gonna take a spinarello on my Pinarello”. She raced with toe clips! This bike is still in the garage. Hard to believe Sky’s racing ’em w/group-san. What’s up with that?

     

  31. @ChrisO

    All you haters suck my balls, as they say…

    Matte black – check

    Carbon fibre – check

    Sloping TT – check

    Oversized stem – check

    And if you haven’t already lit your pitchforks I’ll confess I have a custom-built steel bike but I like this one better.

    Hey, I’ll back you up. I have a Giant (#3) and like the look. I’ll take a Giant over a Spesh Tarmac any day in terms of aesthetics.

    #1 and #2 are all-black steeds. #2 has an orange spacer atop the stem ans a wee bit of orange on the seatpost clamp. #1 has the orange spacer.

  32. A man in Italy is building a Scapin Eleanor for me. And it will Look Fantastic!

    Like this, but more gears.

     

  33. @frank

    Love my carbon babies but very excited about my first custom Don Walker steel – this one is my Hour track bike. Can’t wait to get her on the rollers and then the track!

    I’m not sure why we can’t love all kinds of bikes? I do. But I agree the curvy tubes are not my taste.

    I also love compact geometry; any custom steel road bike I get will be a compact – I love the look and I love the lower perch for waiting Casually Deliberate or getting into a tuck.

    Also, every carbon bike is technically handmade; the carbon is always hand-laid into the mold, whether its happening in the US, China, or Taiwan.

    HOLY FUCK!!!  This bike is AMAZING!!!  You are going to do a full write-up with more photos and spec’s, etc, right?????

  34. @Buck Rogers

    @frank

    Love my carbon babies but very excited about my first custom Don Walker steel – this one is my Hour track bike. Can’t wait to get her on the rollers and then the track!

    I’m not sure why we can’t love all kinds of bikes? I do. But I agree the curvy tubes are not my taste.

    I also love compact geometry; any custom steel road bike I get will be a compact – I love the look and I love the lower perch for waiting Casually Deliberate or getting into a tuck.

    Also, every carbon bike is technically handmade; the carbon is always hand-laid into the mold, whether its happening in the US, China, or Taiwan.

    HOLY FUCK!!! This bike is AMAZING!!! You are going to do a full write-up with more photos and spec’s, etc, right?????

    Yes..it is an AMAZING steed. Having 5 Don Walkers myself I can attest to the beauty and ride! I would like to take this small opportunity to apologize to @frank in public for letting my mechanic’s mischievous side coming out. His bike is obviously( I know you have all already spotted that) not rule compliant as I left the stem sitting high…on pink and blue spacers that are my team colors.

    With great amusement I watched a twitch develop in his right temple as the bike sat in his booth at the show. Finally…I relented and loaned him the tools he needed to properly slam the stem. Sadly…I did not have any black spacers to loan him… ;-)

     

  35. I was astounded and delighted when my long-suffering wife (who in her own words “doesn’t understand Cycling”—she runs marathons FFS!) bought me a Saronni red 1977 Colnago Super frame and fork on the Electronic Bay. It arrived this morning, and bar some minor aesthetic damage (which I will be fixing up with T-Cut, unless anyone has any better suggestions), she is stunning. I have specced up a vintage (L’Eroica-compliant) Campy Nuovo Record build, and I’m very excited to put it together!

    For the record (small R, hurr durr), I’m 25, so the beauty of straight, round, lugged tubes (with horizontal top) is definitely not something only the more mature Velominatus can appreciate. Not that this was insinuated in @brett‘s article—just worth noting.

  36. @mulebeatsdrums

    I was astounded and delighted when my long-suffering wife (who in her own words “doesn’t understand Cycling”—she runs marathons FFS!) bought me a Saronni red 1977 Colnago Super frame and fork on the Electronic Bay. It arrived this morning, and bar some minor aesthetic damage (which I will be fixing up with T-Cut, unless anyone has any better suggestions), she is stunning. I have specced up a vintage (L’Eroica-compliant) Campy Nuovo Record build, and I’m very excited to put it together!

    For the record (small R, hurr durr), I’m 25, so the beauty of straight, round, lugged tubes (with horizontal top) is definitely not something only the more mature Velominatus can appreciate. Not that this was insinuated in @brett‘s article—just worth noting.

    The V is strong in this one!

  37. Oli, didn’t realize you have a Casati! I’ve recently made a few chances to mine. Ready to roll into spring…

     

  38. @EBruner

    @fignons barber

    @EBruner

    1. @EBruner is the Jaegher geometry custom, or is that their stock geometry? What are the dimensions?

    It is a stock 55cm. The integrated headset makes them look a bit smaller. This is an Interceptor, I currently have an Ascender in Stainless Steel being made that I should have in a few weeks. I can’t say enough about how much I love Jaegher.

    I was thinking that was a 55. May I ask what your bb-saddle height is? The Jaegher size 54 and 55 have the same reach (even thought the tt is longer in the 55, the 54 has 74 degree st vs. a 73.5 for the size 55).

    I’ve narrowed my list down to a Jaegher or one of these:

     

  39. @EBruner

    @fignons barber

    The Zullio Tour ’91 is the business. Do you know what that frame sells for?

    -Eddie

    @EBruner

    @fignons barber

    The Zullio Tour ’91 is the business. Do you know what that frame sells for?

    -Eddie

    The Tour ’91 goes for $2300 USD. That one pictured is the Panerei, which is Zullo’s Spirit frame, very similar to the Jaegher. I t also sells for $2300USD.

    Your saddle height is just about same as me. Jaegher has so many stock sizes, normal sized folks probably won’t require customization.

  40. @Haldy

    @Buck Rogers

    @frank

    Love my carbon babies but very excited about my first custom Don Walker steel – this one is my Hour track bike. Can’t wait to get her on the rollers and then the track!

    I’m not sure why we can’t love all kinds of bikes? I do. But I agree the curvy tubes are not my taste.

    I also love compact geometry; any custom steel road bike I get will be a compact – I love the look and I love the lower perch for waiting Casually Deliberate or getting into a tuck.

    Also, every carbon bike is technically handmade; the carbon is always hand-laid into the mold, whether its happening in the US, China, or Taiwan.

    HOLY FUCK!!! This bike is AMAZING!!! You are going to do a full write-up with more photos and spec’s, etc, right?????

    Yes..it is an AMAZING steed. Having 5 Don Walkers myself I can attest to the beauty and ride! I would like to take this small opportunity to apologize to @frank in public for letting my mechanic’s mischievous side coming out. His bike is obviously( I know you have all already spotted that) not rule compliant as I left the stem sitting high…on pink and blue spacers that are my team colors.

    With great amusement I watched a twitch develop in his right temple as the bike sat in his booth at the show. Finally…I relented and loaned him the tools he needed to properly slam the stem. Sadly…I did not have any black spacers to loan him… ;-)

    Some will also notice the valve stems top-side in one photo, and in their proper place in the other.  Some more hijinks from @Haldy.  The stem spacer placement was pretty funny, but that was once-and-done.  The repeated discovery of the wheels upside down on the other hand… that led to some serious consternation.

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