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Birth of the 75th Lugset

Birth of the 75th Lugset

The lugset created for the 75th Anniversary Paramount reflects the latest thinking in lug engineering. Yet the design pays homage to Paramount lugs from the 60′s and beyond. In order to provide context for our design, let’s walk through the history of lug engineering and design.

Early on in the history of bicycle design, engineers figured out that frame joints or lugs were the most structurally vulnerable part of the frame. Initial lug designs like what you see here, served primarily as reinforcements for the joints. sampleearlybikelug
samplekeyholelug While lug brazing represented a major advance over the other joining methods of the time, limitations were encountered early because of a phenomenon called a “stress riser.” This is a situation caused by very heavy lugs restricting the flex of very light tubes. Builders found that by trimming off the sides of the lugs, they could reduce the likelihood of frame failure. The result was the “keyhole” design. The hole prevented frame flex from tearing the lug in two. This is an example of a keyhole lugged pre-WWII Paramount restored by Waterford.
After WWII, lug design flourished. The French came to dominate the bicycle parts business, especially the products of Nervex, whose “Professional” lugset became the iconic design of lugged bikes throughout the 1960′s and 1970′s. You can still see the keyhole of pre-war lugs, but with the rest of the lug trimmed back into an ornate but highly efficient, lightweight design. This is an example of a classic 1960′s chrome plated Schwinn Paramount with Nervex lugs. sampleNervex
Sample 1980's lug on 50th anniv Paramount By the end of the 1970′s the Nervex design was overtaken by a movement toward clean, simple lug profiles. Cinelli lead the way in clean design in the mid-1970′s. When Marc Muller took over the Paramount Design Group in the 1980s, he brought this styling with him. At left is a mid-80′s Paramount Standard.
The 1988 50th Anniversary Paramount was built with these lugs. You can see the OS Lugset of 1989 added small points on the side of the lugs as well as larger tube diameters. Then lugs got even tinier with the low profile Waterford lugs of the 1990′s. sampleOSlug
Lugs remained pretty simple until after the turn of the millennium, starting with the Newvex Lugset by builder Richard Sachs. But this was the tip of the iceberg in a movement that made lugs more and more ornate. At left is an example of Waterford’s Nuevo Coco lugs.
In the Paramount 70th design we considered bling but felt that less is often more. This is a prototype frame after the raw brazing showing the Paramount points. It was the first time we attempted to incorporate the Paramount compass points in a lugset. Sample70th
75thAnnivLugPaperMockup With the 75th design, we went to a trimmer design with the compass points cut into the lug. There are echoes of several earlier lug sets. The side points come from the OS lugs, the compass points from the 70th and the Nervex flourish at the top and bottom front of the head tube. We’re just days away from building frame number 1.

Whence the 75th Anniversary Project?

Hat in the Ring Insignia for the 75th Welcome to the  Schwinn Paramount 75th Anniversary Website.  This project is the result of a collaboration of Waterford Precision Cycles and Pacific Cycles, producer of Schwinn Bicycles.  Waterford and Pacific put together the 70th Anniversary Paramount 5 years ago.  It set a new standard for custom lug design while providing our clients a memorable ride. Afterwards, Waterford and Schwinn went our separate ways – not a breakup, more like drifting apart.

As the 75th approached, we wondered what might happen.  Then we received a call from Terry Elsen, then Sales Manager for Schwinn.  He asked if we had time to meet the newly named Global Brand Manager for Schwinn, Joe Werwie.  We expected a motorcade to arrive at the appointed time with a crew in dark suits and sunglasses.  Instead, a rather unassuming young man arrived, dressed like bike people, not money people.  Turns out Joe owns a Waterford from many years ago, and he comes from a family that raced Paramounts at the Kenosha track.  In short , he gets Paramount, and Schwinn, at a really deep level.

Ever since, Joe and Waterford founders Marc Muller and Richard Schwinn have been bouncing around ideas for how we might approach the 75th. Marc has been a part of the Paramount scene since the late 1960′s, when he joined the racing scene in the Western Suburbs of Chicago (whose favorite son Chris Van de Velde is concluding an impressive international career just this year).  Marc joined Schwinn’s engineering department in the late 70′s and took over Paramount production in 1980.  He organized the Paramount Design Group factory the following year; not only building world-class road bikes but introducing a startling number of innovations over the subsequent dozen years.

Twenty years ago this year, Richard and Marc dedicated themselves to continuing the tradition of building the World’s Finest Bicycles by forming Waterford Precision Cycles. Waterford has earned its own well deserved reputation (including its own World Champ stripes) while pioneering a number of  innovations including compact designs, the use of stainless steel, as well as a number of groundbreaking bicycle platforms.

The 75th Anniversary Paramount is yet another statement in this long tradition, and working with Joe has made it all the more special.

Our goal is to create compelling and enduring designs without ostentation.   The bikes will unfold over the next few weeks with the production of frameset number 1 of the 25 we plan to build.

Join us on this dream journey to bring the past into the future!