Lugs are work

01/08 for Ian S.
Originally uploaded by mapcycles
Ask any of the old masters what's missing from the new wave of young framebuilders and many will say: patience for hand-carving lugs. Investment cast lugs are so common now and the quality of those castings so high, that many very beautiful shapes and finishes are possible without the slightest alteration to some of these lugs.

It makes sense: lug carving is hard work, and very time consuming. I'm learning this. Plus, it's not really necessary considering the quality and selection of the investment cast lugs that are available. That being said, I think it's fine that many builders don't spend much time handcarving lugs. For someone new at it like me it can almost double the time it takes to build a frame, and from a business perspective this doesn't make much sense unless you can charge appropriately. There are plenty of other fish to fry. Construction method, good brazing, fit, alignment are all no doubt more important to the overall function of your bike. Plus, when someone is clearly more impressed with your shiny laser-cut headbage than your handcarved lug, we need to ask ourselves - can we blame them? These are the times we live in.

Still, I feel like the old guys have a point. Putting the thought and time in to handcarve your lugs shows how much you love it. It's that simple. It's the kind of thing that can tickle your fancy after 25 years of building. These different shapes have become the signatures for a whole generation of builders that came before me, and many of them have built their careers on these amazing shapes.

I guess my point is, if it's not lugs it needs to be something else. Something the BUILDER does. A construction method, an aesthetic, a utility, a level of finish, something that shows where your affinity to the bicycle lies. A signature is required.


Here's my latest project, a straight-up no-nonsense track bike built for velodrome use. I've got my fingers crossed that the owner will be taking the podium more than once this coming track season.

It's very traditional with the only exception being the integrated binder bolt in the fastback seatstays:

Makes for a very svelte seatcluster

Should look nice in pearl white with blue and burnt-orange decals and a stainless headbadge:

Newvex touring

I'm pacing myself on this one...

This bike is going to be a touring rig outfitted with a full accompaniment of front and rear racks, dynamo lighting, internal cable routing, braze-on slap guard, and maybe even a handmade quill stem - we'll see. I'm hoping to have a Eli of Lemolo Bags http://lemolobags.wordpress.com/
design a sort-of-handlebar bag but without the need for a decalleur. I'm gonna roll with 650B wheels and Campagnolo 10 speeds drivetrain.

But, for now here's the front triangle post-braze and before too serious polishing.