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Reynolds Tubing- Educate me!

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Reynolds Tubing- Educate me!

Old 01-19-22, 07:29 PM
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Tandem Tom
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Reynolds Tubing- Educate me!

As I work on frame #2 I have occasion to look at different supplier websites. Yesterday I was looking at Torch & File. I see they sell Reynolds tubing. I have been using Columbus and as a rank novice I would like to have a better understanding of the differences. Is there a ride quality difference? Is one harder to work with?
Thanks!
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Old 01-19-22, 09:37 PM
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I'll let others split the pin heads of differences between the two product lines WRT our building, although I do have both opinions and some heart strings...

Instead I'll tell you the story of why Rey uses Manganese and Col has Chromium. In the early 20th century each country's industry found it cheaper to use the materials that were provided by their lands be they home or colonized. England held South African colonies where Magnanese was mined. Italy had access to chromium mines. I have also been told that Magnanese favors mechanical hardening during its processing. Chromium supposedly likes/enhances heat treating. Hence why Rey used more mechanical processes and Col relied more on heat treating to achieve final specs.

Is this an old framebuilder's tale? It was an old builder who told this to me, so I guess so

I've considered all the steel tube brands to be pretty much the same WRT the raw steel's characteristics. Most all my choices are made with diameter, wall, butt profile and availability as the primary drivers. Andy
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Old 01-20-22, 03:08 AM
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525: Regular 4130 CrMo
725: Heat treated version of same (stronger, less ductile)

631: Special CrMnMo. Similar to CrMo except supposed to get stronger after you weld (or braze) it. This property is called "air-hardening".
853: Heat treated version of 631

9**: Fancy stainless

They're all double-butted. All seamless except 525 which is sometimes DOM. All available in lots of sizes. You can actually get 525 in as thin walls as most of the 853 (except the 853 "Pro Team" range which just means thinner walls). I usually use 631 and it's just the same to work with as CrMo. You can also weld it directly to CrMo as in this segmented fork I just made, which uses a Columbus 1" steerer as the crown. The legs are 631.

As for ride-quality difference that only comes down to the dimensions of the tubing-- CrMnMo has exactly the same stiffness as CrMo. The sizing is mostly similar to Columbus but the Reynolds 525 road seatstays are thinner-wall, just 0.6mm, as opposed to 0.8mm for Cromor. Maybe some higher end Columbus ones are thinner. I suspect Cromor is only available in thicker walls as product differentiation (yes I know it's a bit less strong, but all these tubes are strong enough).

The tubes are all beautifully made, perfectly straight and a pleasure to work with, just as with Columbus. I usually use 631 main tubes and 525 rear triangle (where more tubes are available) but 525 for the whole frame would also be perfectly fine. 853 might make sense for some kind of round-the-world ultimate touring bike, or perhaps a large diameter thin-wall stiff road bike, to prevent dents. There are also some triple-butted 853 MTB tubes available for maximum gnarr.


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Old 01-20-22, 06:01 AM
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In my opinion, given the same butting and diameter, they all ride the same. The only real difference is in dent resistance, so one could potentially build a lighter frame by using the heat treated steels, since you could use a thinner walled tube and retain the dent resistance of a thicker tube.
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Old 01-20-22, 06:49 AM
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I was on a long ride and we stopped for lunch. Someone found out I built my frame (back in the '70s), and asked what tube thickness it was. I have no idea. I think it's probably around 9/6/9 or 8/5/8 (except in gauge thicknesses because '70s).
He told me it was irresponsible for a framebuilder to not know what the tube thicknesses are. I told him after he builds as many frames as I have to get back to me.

I wouldn't mind building a pile of frames changing one little thing on each of them to see what the differences are, but, in the absence of that much money and time, I find that confirmation bias works pretty well. Tell me how you want it to ride and the tubes you want to use and I'll convince you that your tube set gives that to you. Yes, I'm a horrible marketer
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Old 01-20-22, 11:11 AM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
I find that confirmation bias works pretty well.
Thanks for the best laugh I've had in a while! =)
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Old 01-20-22, 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
I was on a long ride and we stopped for lunch. Someone found out I built my frame (back in the '70s), and asked what tube thickness it was. I have no idea. I think it's probably around 9/6/9 or 8/5/8 (except in gauge thicknesses because '70s).
He told me it was irresponsible for a framebuilder to not know what the tube thicknesses are. I told him after he builds as many frames as I have to get back to me.

I wouldn't mind building a pile of frames changing one little thing on each of them to see what the differences are, but, in the absence of that much money and time, I find that confirmation bias works pretty well. Tell me how you want it to ride and the tubes you want to use and I'll convince you that your tube set gives that to you. Yes, I'm a horrible marketer
Wall thickness doesn't make any real difference, especially over the range of quality tubes which is a few 1/10 of a mm. But I believe diameter does.
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Old 01-20-22, 01:33 PM
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Originally Posted by guy153 View Post
Wall thickness doesn't make any real difference, especially over the range of quality tubes which is a few 1/10 of a mm. But I believe diameter does.
I, and many others, would beg to differ in discounting wall thickness. IIRC a tube's torsional stiffness is linear to the wall thickness changes (and geometrical to the diameter).

With a .7 wall (a "heavy" central section of a butted tube, 1/.7/1) just 2 tenths of a mm less (to a .5mm wall as in medium light .8/.5/.8) is a near 29% decrease of wall. In my world this is a factor of note.

I do agree that wall thickness takes a back seat to diameters and other factors (like tire pressures or spoke tensions). Still it's not inconsequential. Andy
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Old 01-22-22, 07:53 AM
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One thing worth noting is that heat treated tubes are more difficult to cut and file (for miters.) Also, with some tubing manufacturers, in the higher end, high strength tube sets, sometimes the stays are made from a softer, more ductile material. I know Dedacciai does this with their high-end Zero product line. The devils in the details.
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Old 01-28-22, 10:03 PM
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I am fortunate to have had THE MOST interesting discussions with a REAL frame-builder. He was telling me a story of how his Columbus Tubing Supplier visited his booth of a trade show when he was displaying his frames. The Columbus 'Brass' asked him why he didn't put Columbus decal's on the finished frames ? ( He had piles of stickers back at his shop, which they constantly sent him). He couldn't really answer the guy, fact is: he couldn't honestly put the stickers on since he used Reynolds tube's on the seat-stays ( chain-stays?.. both ? - I don't remember exactly ) - but it stands to reason: Reynolds would work well back there.
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Old 01-29-22, 06:34 AM
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Originally Posted by kraftwerk View Post
I am fortunate to have had THE MOST interesting discussions with a REAL frame-builder. He was telling me a story of how his Columbus Tubing Supplier visited his booth of a trade show when he was displaying his frames. The Columbus 'Brass' asked him why he didn't put Columbus decal's on the finished frames ? ( He had piles of stickers back at his shop, which they constantly sent him). He couldn't really answer the guy, fact is: he couldn't honestly put the stickers on since he used Reynolds tube's on the seat-stays ( chain-stays?.. both ? - I don't remember exactly ) - but it stands to reason: Reynolds would work well back there.
Those of us that were pro builders back before heat treated tubing became available would sometimes mix Reynolds 531 and Columbus tubing to get the effect we wanted. For example I made a frame for myself in 1980 and in the front triangle I used a 20/23 gauge down tube with a 21/24 gauge top tube. Commonly available Columbus SL at the time made their DT and TT with slightly heavier .9/.6./9 wall thicknesses. In the rear triangle in the seat and chain stays I used Columbus SL because they were quite a bit lighter than their Reynolds cousins. I can't think of any circumstances where I would have wanted to reverse the combination. I liked that I could use a slightly lighter Reynolds top tube while with Columbus all the 3 main tubes in the front triangle had the same wall thickness.

After Reynolds came out with their heat treated 753 tubing, a bit later they created a 653 set. This was the same tubing with the same alloys but the main tubes were not heat treated but with 753 seat and chain stays. I loved that set and it was the favorite tubing of a couple of my colleagues back then too. The main 653 tubes were available in different wall thicknesses. The chain and seat stays out of this group were a lot lighter than what was commonly available in a 531 set. Keep in mind that 531 main tubes came in a variety of wall thicknesses too.
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Old 02-03-22, 04:26 PM
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For my first frame I used Reynolds 631 for subsequent frames I have used Columbus tubes. I wont bore you with the details why I switched.

What I can say is that as a beginner, the air hardening properties of the 631 made cleaning up my less than perfect joints much easier.

The tube was much harder around the joints and more resistant to over filing. My first attempt with Columbus never got beyond completion of the front triangle because I was worried that I had over filed the softer material.
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Old 02-03-22, 07:30 PM
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I've been kicking around the internet looking for tubing recently, and Reynolds tubing seems really expensive.
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Old 02-04-22, 06:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Nessism View Post
I've been kicking around the internet looking for tubing recently, and Reynolds tubing seems really expensive.
Here in UK it's a bit cheaper than Columbus, and those two choices are pretty much the only butted frame tubes easily available.
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Old 02-04-22, 07:54 AM
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There are more choices here in the U.S. Reynolds is still the only choice for non-unicrown disc specific fork blades though. Except they are out of stock

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Old 02-11-22, 03:43 PM
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I am considering having a frame made by a custom builder and agonized over tubing choices.
The choices are 631, 725, 853, 853 Pro Team.
853 Pro Team seems to be what most say is the "best" because it is lighter and thinner.
But the price is much higher. So I am thinking of going with 725 assuming they can use thinner tubes similar to 853 Pro Team.
725 is only slightly more expensive than 631.
725 UTS is: 1080-1280 MPa, 853 Pro Team UTS is: 1250-1400 MPa, so not a huge difference.
I am light so I do not need a very stiff frame.
It seems there is a consensus that a frame with thinner tubes rides better although nobody can explain why but has to do with flex.
However bike frames flex very little so I am not sure if this is valid.
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Old 02-11-22, 04:38 PM
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Some (many actually) people enjoy the agonizing part, so I don't want to take that away from you. However, this really should be something your builder decides based on all of your parameters - size, weight, riding style, intended use, budget etc. Mixing and matching the tubes across ranges will result in the best bang for your buck.
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Old 02-11-22, 04:49 PM
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https://www.torchandfile.com/assets/...IST%202018.pdf

This PDF shows the various tube options.

Thin will be lighter and ride better. It will also dent easier.
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Old 02-11-22, 05:00 PM
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Originally Posted by duanedr View Post
Some (many actually) people enjoy the agonizing part, so I don't want to take that away from you. However, this really should be something your builder decides based on all of your parameters - size, weight, riding style, intended use, budget etc. Mixing and matching the tubes across ranges will result in the best bang for your buck.
I agree frame builder should select the actual tubes, but they do give you the choice of tube families I listed and at different price points.
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Old 02-11-22, 07:50 PM
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Originally Posted by jnbrown View Post
I am considering having a frame made by a custom builder and agonized over tubing choices.
The choices are 631, 725, 853, 853 Pro Team.
The pro team has thinner walls than the 725, which make sense because it's at least a little stronger which leads to better dent resistance at a given thickness.
I don't know what regular 853 costs, but I think I would go for that if it were my bike unless the upcharge is a lot. I really think the idea that thinner tubes ride better is somewhat overblown. But if you really want a more flexible frame, you probably will be happier on an 8/6/8 standard tube diameter frame. I agree that flexibility isn't too important, but lots of people don't like extremely stiff frames. Could be cognitive bias though.



Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
I wouldn't mind building a pile of frames changing one little thing on each of them to see what the differences are, but, in the absence of that much money and time, I find that confirmation bias works pretty well. Tell me how you want it to ride and the tubes you want to use and I'll convince you that your tube set gives that to you. Yes, I'm a horrible marketer
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Old 02-11-22, 09:23 PM
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Include me as one of the pro builders that believe frames with thin walled tubing rides better. There are a lot more people with opinions about this than have actually ridden one with 7/4/7 wall thickness in the main triangle. Very few production frames were ever made with tubing that light because of the chance of failure in case some fatty rode one. Raleigh had their Reynolds 753 SBDU made in the late 70's until I don't know when they stopped. I actually watched them being made in the 70's. The workers were building them just like custom frames accept on a bigger scale. Reynolds required builders take a test to be 753 certified. Terry Bill at Reynolds told me when I visited him that up to that time every American builder had failed the test. Anyway my point is that the most likely way someone can even try out a frame that light is if it is custom made. That means it is a pretty small sample size of people that have ever ridden one to compare.

I actually made myself a frame with .6/.3/.6 (Ishiwata 015) and a 1" top tube in 1977. What surprised me was that it was not all that flexible. In fact I didn't particularly notice frame flex at all. I think it was around a 56 + cm frame. I'm 5'8" and fairly light and can pedal smoothly. Over the years I've built many frames for customers with 1" top tubes with 7/4/7 walls. Most of these customers where under 6' with normal (not skinny) weight. Almost always they were complete bicycles so I had a chance to test ride them 1st. I know what this kind of frame rides like. Of course when a customer was taller or heavier I used thicker or larger diameter tubes.

Over the years I've made several frames in the 57 cm range for myself with 1" top tubes and 7/4/7 walls. I don't know how to describe the difference except to say they feel more "lively". I don't have any trouble distinguishing them from frames with 9/6/9 tubing. I can tell immediately by the feel of the ride. Just lately I made a frame for upright riding as an example/demonstration in my framebuilding class. It has a 1" tup tube with 9/6/9 walls. It rides nicely as I expected. My wife rode it and immediately wanted one too. I made hers with an almost identical geometry except with lighter 7/4/7 main tubes. The rear triangle was lighter as well. I was surprised at how much difference the ride qualities of each bicycle is. Again I don't know to describe the difference except to say it was more lively. I don't think the ride quality difference has anything to do with the actually weight difference. I have done other side-by-side frames/bicycles comparisons in the past but I'm not ambitious enough to describe them. And besides that will make this post longer so nobody will want to read about them.

This subject often gets referenced to Jan Heine's preferences and test rides in his Bicycle Quarterly magazine. He came up with the word "planning" (a boating term) to try and describe the difference in ride quality he experienced when riding a light tubed bike. Unfortunately his hypothesis to try and explain the difference always brings up mockery - including some that haven't ridden such a frame. I don't know that I agree with his explanation but what I know from my own experience that - for me - I clearly prefer and can tell the difference in ride quality of a thin walled 1" top tube compared to heavier versions. I have ridden bikes with various tubing sections and know what I like. YMMV.
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Old 02-12-22, 04:54 AM
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Originally Posted by jnbrown View Post
I am considering having a frame made by a custom builder and agonized over tubing choices.
The choices are 631, 725, 853, 853 Pro Team.
853 Pro Team seems to be what most say is the "best" because it is lighter and thinner.
But the price is much higher. So I am thinking of going with 725 assuming they can use thinner tubes similar to 853 Pro Team.
725 is only slightly more expensive than 631.
725 UTS is: 1080-1280 MPa, 853 Pro Team UTS is: 1250-1400 MPa, so not a huge difference.
I am light so I do not need a very stiff frame.
It seems there is a consensus that a frame with thinner tubes rides better although nobody can explain why but has to do with flex.
However bike frames flex very little so I am not sure if this is valid.
725 isn't available in as thin walls as 853 Pro Team. So if you want the thinner walls that's the only option. Otherwise, the others are all fine choices.
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Old 02-12-22, 10:06 AM
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Originally Posted by guy153 View Post
725 isn't available in as thin walls as 853 Pro Team. So if you want the thinner walls that's the only option. Otherwise, the others are all fine choices.
The chart that Nessism posted above is showing 725 available in 7/4/7 and 853 PT in 6/4/6
I don't know if those gauges are actually available and if the builder would choose to use them.
Touch and File referenced above does have 725 7/4/7
I also don't know if the $500 difference in the price of the frame is worth it.

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Old 02-12-22, 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by jnbrown View Post
The chart that Nessism posted above is showing 725 available in 7/4/7 and 853 PT in 6/4/6
I don't know if those gauges are actually available and if the builder would choose to use them.
Touch and File referenced above does have 725 7/4/7
I also don't know if the $500 difference in the price of the frame is worth it.
I have the same chart only with prices on it (probably because I'm in the UK). The actual difference in the price of the three main tubes between 725 and 853PT is only about 30 (about $40) so idk why the builder wants to charge an extra $500.
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Old 02-12-22, 11:51 AM
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Originally Posted by guy153 View Post
I have the same chart only with prices on it (probably because I'm in the UK). The actual difference in the price of the three main tubes between 725 and 853PT is only about 30 (about $40) so idk why the builder wants to charge an extra $500.
I wondered the same thing.
They charge it because they can? It is harder to work with and harder on their tools?
I don't think it is unique to this builder either. They are in the UK.
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