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.


Anonymous said...

Don't be so modest. I have seen the detail in your work and your passion and eye for detail is evident.
I expect we will be hearing more about your work in the future.

Mitch Pryor said...


It means a lot to hear that - I appreciate it and certainly hope you are right.

scott said...

It's great to hear you discuss your attention to detail. I dig your point about lug shape as signature style. Kinda reminds me when I was kid in the 80's, every good BMX frame-set had some special design element to make it stand out.