Re: [CR] Determining Frame tubing?

(Example: Events:Cirque du Cyclisme)

From: <>
Date: Sun, 19 Aug 2001 11:17:44 EDT
Subject: Re: [CR] Determining Frame tubing?

In a message dated 8/19/01 9:11:03 AM Eastern Daylight Time, writes:

<< How do you determine or (educated guess) frame tubing on older bikes w/out Reynolds/Columbus stickers? >>

I can give that (somewhat difficult!) question a try...

I think there is little means to differentiate a basic tubing from a nice set outside gross clues like weight and peering down the interior to look for seams ("good" sets have none!)

One help is that earlier Reynolds and Columbus sets had stamped manufacturers marks on the tubes themselves, with Reynolds actually giving their gauges as well in those markings! That has given way to less tenacious etched marks on more modern sets and in any case, would require paint off anyway except on the steerer tube... Columbus steerer tubes became rifled by the 1960s (internal spiral ridges) but others copied that later (not Reynolds though!)

The fork blade amount of ovalness in section can also be a indicator for Reynolds, as they were slow to mimic the Columbus "continental oval" which was fatter/less flat in section. Of course, round blades could be supplied by any manufacturer!

Of course knowing the country of manufacture, make & model is a more easy route. We know, for instance that most vintage British bikes would be Reynolds or Accles & Pollack if they are nicer models. Frequently the choice of lugs and fitments gives a clue as to the quality and selling price of the particular bike, so therefore higher in the pecking order of tubing sets. Obviously fine file work, detailing, top level drop outs and finish treatment is rarely found on stove pipe frames. (But then....!)

Other Euro bikes are more problematic as Reynolds was used by the French and Italians at times with the expected nationalism frequently taking a back seat. After the early 1970s however the Italians got in step and you would be hard pressed to find a none Italian-made tubing from an Italian builder.

The French seemed more doggedly taken with Reynolds and most frequently used it seemingly in preference to French Vitus & Excel. The metric measure French tubing is ever so slightly smaller in diameter but that tubing was only used by some makers and most builders eventually came round to the more common ("Imperial?") size by the late 1970s...Top models from some French makers also frequently used Columbus. I always thought that odd, as the French have seemed to have a strong proclivity to that aforementioned nationalism.

As we moved into the 1980s, it seems that there is no pattern as to who uses what... all makers shifted to the fashion of the day.

USA made frames are almost impossible to discern any patterns in tube set use as we are the melting pot and builders have had no loyalty by nationality so use whatever is perceived as good and sellable! Saying that, given the heritage of certain marques, I imagine that their were relatively few Witcomb USA frames made of Columbus and Vitus, as there were likely few Masi USA bikes of Reynolds and Ishiwata?

Dale Brown
Greensboro, North Carolina