Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

18 April 2014

Brazed-On Amnesia

When I first became serious about cycling--around the time that the early '70's Bike Boom was gathering steam--almost no bikes available in the US had brazed-on bosses for water bottle cages or shift levers/cable guides, let alone for racks. Most bikes didn't even have fitments for brake cables:  Most high--performance bikes of the time, like my Peugeot PX-10, had their rear brake cables clamped to the top tube.

Even the custom bike builders of the time didn't braze such fittings onto their frames.  All of the guidebooks of the time told us that brazing weakened the metal at the point at which it was brazed and therefore risked cracking or breakage.

A few years later, when I was working in a bike shop, I did see a couple of brazed-on shift lever bosses that broke off their frames.  But those were on cheaper bikes built from thin-walled tubing.   

Of course, at that time, I --like most novitiate American cyclists--did not know about the French constructeurs or British custom builders, who had been brazing bits onto their frames at least since the 1920's.  Actually, some of those builders--most notably Rene Herse--actually made racks, water bottle cages and such an integral part of the frames they built.

And, apparently, some not-so-elite pre-Bike Boom bikes had brazed-on bits, like this circa 1964 Schwinn Varsity I saw parked around the corner from my apartment:





Those levers, like the derailleurs on the bike, were made by Huret for Schwinn.  Those levers--like so many other French parts of the time--had style, if not engineering.  (Installing or removing cables--which you did often if you had a Huret Allvit derailleur like the one on the bike in the photo--was a project unto itself.)  As for the brazed-on bosses:  I think Schwinn was able to do them because the tubing on the frame was thicker than that of most other ten-speeds.

A couple of years later, the Varsity--as well as the Continental and Super Sport--would come equipped with massive stem-mounted shift levers.  And their top-of the line bike, the hand-made Paramount, would offer nary a brazed-on fitting.

2 comments:

  1. Oddly, at the same time, almost all the same makers were brazing on fender eyelets.

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  2. Hi Steve--That is odd, isn't it? Sometimes you had to wonder how some bike-makers were making their decisions.

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