Jerry Moos' observations on Hellenic stays cannot be really sustained
certainly in the case of the original design that was launched in the early
1920s. Lugs were exceptionally plain then Fred Hellens built what he thought
would be a better frame. The age and the funny frame design and ornate lug
was still far off.
However before we dismiss all the funny frames we should take a serious look at the advantages of some. The Bates Cantiflex tubes do work exceptionally well at stiffening the main triangle to provide a frame that is comparable in steering accuracy to most modern top notch frames. The funny fork blades were added after as Jerry says to attract attention. Bates in fact showed another version of the Diadrant fork design before settling on the one used and because it infringed another maker's registered design changed to the one we now all know.
In the 1930s there was a preoccupation with frame stiffness which still today many riders are obssesed with. One simple solution which did stiffen the bottom bracket was to decrease the length of the chainstays. Now I would argue that increased bottom bracket stiffness is not necessarily particularly important and that power losses at the bracket due to the frame deflecting are quite small but it doesn't take away the validity of chasing after a particular frame quality by a design solution that works. Shorter tubes are stiffer than long ones! Saxon (twin seat tube) and Baines (Flying Gate rear triangle) both went this way. And the reasonably wide spread use of tapered main triangle tubes mainly popularised by Granby and Selbach was also aimed at increasing bottom bracket stiffness. In fact virtually identical to Serotta's Corrado tubes and now St John St Cycles (Thorn) here in England are doing it with some of their top touring frames. Tapered tubes need to be looked for and are quite subtle so arguing that they are used to make the bike visually striking does not stand up.
Furthermore whilst many of the French makers adopted internal cable routing (both electrical and derailleur) these are far from practical despite looking neat. Replacing internal gear cables is not a side-of-the-road job. Some makers in England were adding braze-ons for racks and derailleurs pretty much as early as the French. Hilary Stone
> Harvey, despite Dale's valid points regarding structural advantages of Hellenic
> stays, it is clear to me that this and many other features of some classic British
> marques were primarily for visual effect rather than for whatever structural
> advantage they offered. The Hetchins curly stays claimed to absorb shock, as did
> the Bates diadrant fork perhaps, and the the Baines "flying gate" most definitely
> shortened the wheelbase, though God knows what advantage one could attribute to
> the bizzare geometry of the Paris Galibier. At the end of the day, though, I
> think these designs mostly served to make the bikes visually striking and to allow
> the builder to experience the sheer joy of implementing an innovative design. I
> cannot believe there is any structural advantage in the most elaborate Hetchins
> lugsets that could not have been served as well with a much less complex design.
> This "over the top" ornateness constrasts sharply with Herse and Singer, where the
> many unusual details (internal wiring for lights, cables routed through stem
> cutouts, brazeons for brake pivots, lights, racks, etc., even early frame
> couplings) almost all served some very practical purpose. Despite the "excess" of
> the British designs I cannot help but find them "cool". I really must one day
> acquire at least one example of this wretched excess.
> Jerry "Sometimes more is more" Moos
> Harvey M Sachs wrote:
>> Ladies and gentlemen -
>> I guess my note got several people's goats, including Fearless Leader's
>> (below) so I should try to calm the waters a bit.
>> 1) Contrary to what a couple of folks inferred, I did not criticize or
>> even comment on the lugwork. An argument can be made that elaborate lugs,
>> particularly long points, make a difference in distributing stress, and
>> they are handsome. I'm not a curmudgeon (usually) but didn't comment on
>> the lugs.
>> 2) Below I comment on Dale's notes about the "Hellenic" (I like that term,
>> coming from Fred Hellen, as Dale pointed out).
>> Starting the "gentlemanly disagreement," I wrote,:
>> >Personally, I call them an affectation. For your trouble, here's what you
>> >--> 2 extra joints to make and finish.
>> >--> The joints on the top tube are likely on the thin part of the tube,
>> >where most folks would prefer to use silver, but silver doesn't have
>> >significant strength except in shear (as in a properly done lug), so it
>> >isn't a really bright idea.
>> >--> A much more awkward brake cable run. >>
>> Dale responded <snip>
>> >extra work and care that these kinds of details require is actually how we
>> >place higher values on small production, hand built bikes!"
>> Gee, I thought it was for impeccable design and craftsmanship, a la Richard
>> (no relation) Sachs and others. I'll include Hurlows and Clementines in
>> that, and allow as some of my best friends love Hetchins (which I find a
>> bit extreme, but that is taste and opinion, not facts).
>> >Dale: Actually you are technically correct in your points but I think the
>> >description "elaboration" is better than "affectation.". Given that
>> >description, it makes the feature ("Hellenic" stays?) a more appropriate
>> >aspect of a bike like this.
>> >No question that the span of seat stay tubing that runs from the seat tube
>> >contact point to the top tube juncture does relatively little in a structural
>> >sense.. It just mildly anchors the points of triangulation.
>> >BUT that Equilateral stay arrangement, by lowering the angle of the seat
>> >stays, actually does have a few arguing points thus far left out... ;
>> >- it allows more vertical compliance and therefore a more shock absorbing
>> >ride than similar stays in a more vertical arrangement.
>> Harvey: Offsetting that, the shorter stays are stiffer, so they might be
>> less compliant.
>> >Dale: - The overlapping of the stays at seat tube and top tube
>> >limit/stiffen the
>> >side to side compliance (albeit to a small degree) making the bike frame
>> >climb and sprint with less side to side movement.
>> Harvey: I bet you can't show that with conventional frame deflection
>> gear... Not within margin of error. This is an unadulterated opinion. :-)
>> >Dale: I personally have built using this "Hellenic"pattern on a few really
>> >frames with shallow seat angles or frames for heavy riders on the theory that
>> >they would best benefit from these subtle attributes.
>> Harvey: I'm not a builder, but I'd be tempted, too, for really big
>> frames. Esthetically, breaks up the big space in the "diamond."
>> Makes the seat stays not look so much too loooong. Makes it look braced.
>> Heck, Dale, I talk and you build. You're putting your money behind your
>> bets. I'm just doing mind experiments...
>> >Dale Brown