Bicycle frame-welding is a labor-intensive and time-consuming process that requires skill and expertise to produce frames that are both safe and aesthetically appealing. The bicycle frame is one of the most important components of the bicycle, with function being second only to aesthetics. This overview examines how frame-welding is used in the manufacturing of both steel and aluminum bicycle frames, as well as how frame-welding techniques can affect the performance of the bicycles for which they are made.
Frame-welding is a craft that dates back centuries.
Bicycle Frame-Welding: A Hands-On overview of the frame-welding process, with a selection of links to more detailed information.
The process of joining two pieces of metal into one is referred to as welding. It is a popular method of joining that offers many advantages over other methods, such as brazing and soldering. Welding is used in many industries including bicycle frame building when TIG or MIG welding processes are utilized. The welding process involves melting the material at the joint (or seam), which are then joined together by cooling, forming a bond which is stronger than the surrounding parent material. This could be done manually or by an automated procedure, such as robots or lasers.
The advantage of welded joints over mechanical fasteners (like nuts and bolts) is that they do not interrupt the flow around an object if used correctly. The use of welding in bicycle frame building eliminates bulky connections and reduces weight while increasing strength and rigidity.
The process has evolved greatly over the past century.
Frame-welding is a welding process that joins metal parts together. The earliest examples of frame-welding date back to the early 20th century. Commercial frame-welding is a fairly labor-intensive process, and is usually done by hand in a small shop. A welder needs to be skilled in both weld and metal working, as well as an expert in physics and metals.
While there are many types of frame-welding, the process we'll focus on here is butt welding (also known as butt joint). This method of frame-welding involves welding two pieces of metal to make a continuous connection between them. The relatively simple process often leaves behind visible seams, but it's a good choice for applications that require welding in smaller spaces or where appearance isn't critical.
Butt welding can be used to join metal tubing, steel tubing and steel pipe. It's also used on steel plates, shear connectors (used in the construction industry) and structural shapes (like ovals). In short, it's one of the oldest and simplest ways to weld metal together.
Frame-building is a highly specialized skill.
Frame-building is a highly specialized skill. Only a handful of builders anywhere in the world can build a frame this light and stiff from steel.
The most important part of making bikes is making the tubes. The tubes are what makes it go fast or slow, stiff or flimsy, durable or fragile. It’s super important to get them right. There’s lots of ways to make tubes. But the best way is with steel, because it’s durable, strong and easy to work with.
We use steel because it has the best properties for building bicycles:
Steel is cheap and easy to work with, so you can make frames quickly and easily;
It’s super strong and durable, so your bike will last forever;
It has great ride feel—smooth and comfortable, but also stiff and responsive;
TIG welding is the most common welding process.
TIG welding is the most common welding process. It is more precise than MIG welding and performs better than oxy-acetylene. TIG welding uses a tungsten electrode that is not consumed during the weld, but can be replaced after it becomes too worn for use. The tungsten electrode extends past the collet and into the weld zone. The non-consumable tungsten electrode provides greater control over the arc and molten weld pool. A filler metal rod or wire can be added manually, or an automatic filler wire feeder can be used to provide the rod or wire to the weld zone.
MIG welding is another option.
MIG welding is another option. You can use a MIG welder for small projects, and it’s a good machine for learning to weld. The MIG welder does not have the power of a TIG or stick welder, so it will not be your go-to machine for all projects. However, it’s great for general home repairs and other small jobs.
When you’re selecting a welder, remember that there are a variety of models available. It’s important to choose the best welder for your project as well as your budget. A stick welder will be better at maintaining a good arc length than an AC/DC TIG welder, which may be better suited to thinner gauge metal.
Brazing and soldering are other options that require less heat.
Brazing and soldering are other options that require less heat. But because they don't melt the base metal, they're not as strong as welding. Brazing uses a filler metal that has a higher melting point than the base metal. It's heated to its melting point and then cooled to fuse it to the base metal.
Soldering joins metals at temperatures lower than brazing. As with brazing, the filler metal used for soldering has a lower melting point than the base metal. Soldering is not as strong or durable as brazing and is typically used to join electrical components or pipes containing water.
Arc welding, also called shielded metal arc welding (SMAW), uses an electric current flowing from a gap between an electrode and the work piece. This electric current creates an intense heat that melts the work piece and filler metal (if used) to form a weld pool between them.
Fillet brazing, argon gas heating and tungsten carbide rods can make welding easier and more effective.
Brazing is a technique that uses filler metal to join two or more base alloys. Heat is applied to bring the base metals, or alloys, up to the brazing temperature. The filler metal is then melted and flows into the joint between the two base metals by capillary action.
Brazing is often used when a base alloy does not offer sufficient strength for an application, but also it is commonly used for joining dissimilar alloys, such as steel to aluminum. When different alloys are joined, heat from welding can damage one of the alloys and prevent a good bond from forming. Brazing forms a strong bond without the risks associated with welding different materials.
Brazing uses temperatures lower than welding; however, it requires more precise temperature control than welding does because too much heat can damage the base alloys. Argon gas heating provides a consistent heat source for brazing applications that require temperatures of up to 1,100 degrees C (2,000 degrees F). The use of argon gas also helps prevent oxidation of the base metals and filler material during brazing.
A well-designed frame can not only increase your strength, but also improve your range of motion, mobility and stability.
That's according to a new study from the School of Kinesiology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.
The study compared the effects of back squatting with an Olympic barbell to doing so with a Smith machine.
According to the researchers, they found that "the Smith machine imposed limitations and increased coordination demands on the lifter."
The lifters also had less forward trunk lean when using the Smith machine.
This means that their lower backs were in a better position for spinal health than when squatting with a free barbell.