Reynolds 953 Bicycle Tubing

From the first stainless Metax frame built in 1993 to the many mountain bike frames and then the Travelight, I was the only frame builder in the world to successfully silver fillet braze the Italian’s stainless tube set. Now with the exciting news of the 953, once again I will show the world what can be done. For a view of just a few of the previous stainless frames built, please visit our profile page.

Prices start around $2200 without fork. Tube sets take about 3 months to get from Reynolds.

This information is provided by USA distributor:

Reynolds Stainless 953

Thank you for enquiring about Reynolds 953 butted tube sets.

Because it is a new metal for use in the bike industry, we are working to ensure 953 allows for frame-builder processes but will expect there will be detailed questions that may require an periodic update. A separate file can be sent to you, indicating possible methods of frame-building with 953.

To cover questions that have been raised so far

  • Material – maraging stainless steel, specially manufactured for Reynolds by Carpenter SpecialtyAlloys, USA. This material undergoes a double vacuum remelt process to get achieve the necessary properties and purity. It has a very low carbon content, which has an advantage that machinability compared to e.g. AerMet 100 which is improved due to low carbide content.
  • Made from welded, cold-drawn tube with a highly homogenous welds to avoid a potential weak point (specialist aerospace weld mill). Although a departure from Reynolds’ preference of using seamless materials for high-end tubing, the cost factor would make seamless material very expensive for a steel frame although this remains a future option. 953 passes 3 tests after ageing at 950F a) 50% flatten from e.g. 28.6mm OD to 14mm width without any cracking along the weld seam b) drilling into the weld seam area does not cause any seam cracking c) no visible seam line on the finished tube after polishing.
  • Ultimate tensile strength – 1750 to 2050MPa depending on process used (853 air-hardening steel are 1200-1400 MPa). Density is 7.79 gm/cc. Poissons ratio is 0.30.
  • Yield strength 1500-1900 MPa depending on the combination of cold-working, butting, and ageing temperature. (1500 MPa is approx. twice the yield strength of Cold-worked, Stress relieved 3-2.5 titanium). At 950 F ageing temperature, yield strength should be in the 1650-1730 MPa range based on internal tests. Elongation can be increased by changing the ageing temperature.
  • Stiffness Modulus (E) is 200 GPa, similar to other steel alloys. Although Reynolds do not have frame design expertise, we assume that if higher stiffness is required when lighter tubes are used, advantage can be taken of the higher strength by using slightly oversize but thin wall tubes with a lower overall weight.
  • Can be TIG welded or silver brazed using recommended filler wire. NB Silver brazing trials indicate this is workable, but an outstanding question is corrosion resistance on the braze area. There may be brazing materials with similar melting points but with the corrosion resistance of a stainless steel.
  • High tensile / impact strength and fracture toughness. Workability before ageing.
  • Corrosion resistance superior to type 410 stainless steels. Note that under some conditions e.g. sulphuric acid, prolonged submersion in sea water 953 will show signs of pitting and corrosion. We assume these are not normal conditions for a bike frame.
  • Cold worked butted wall profiles from 0.65mm down to 0.3mm (e.g. .65/0.4/0.65, 0.5/0.30/0.50mm) depending on diameter
  • Full range of stainless steel fittings / BB shell / head tube will be available in compatible alloys including 953 BB shell, 953 lightweight rear drop-outs.
  • Tube diameters 28.6, 31.75, 34.9 & 36.4 mm.
  • Variety of butt profiles to suit frame sizing and lugged construction if needed.
  • Supplies of tube and fittings will be available to frame builders world wide early February 2006
  • Full specification and pricing will be available end October 2005 after we finalize the initial tube specs and special fittings list. Reynolds will start taking orders from frame builders for 2006 delivery from end October.
  • Tubes can be supplied ready aged, so frame builders can just fabricate the frames, but assume miter and cutting could be slow. Or we can supply without age, so frame building will be similar to standard CrMo steels, for the builder to age the whole frame. Full heat treatment details will be provided. Ageing will leave a superficial tint, which can be removed by light polishing, shot blasting or pickling. Frame alignment should be carried out before ageing but do not expect jigs to be needed when ageing as this is a relatively low temperature for steel heat-treatment.

Contact end October for specification and prices:
For world wide sales, except North America,
Reynolds Cycle Technology (2000) Ltd
Tel +44 (0) 121 706 5151 Fax +44 (0) 121 707 0081, e.mail

For North America please contact our distributor:

Fairing Industries Inc, 12340 East End Avenue, Chino CA91710
Tel + 1 909 902 5400, Fax +1 909 902 5410, e.mail

This is an update:

Provided by Reynolds:

Reynolds latest innovation takes steel alloys into a new league. Based on a specially developed “martensitic-aging” stainless steel alloy that can achieve tensile strength in excess of 2000MPa, this has a strength-to weight ratio that can take on the best in the world. Bike tubing with the resilient ride of steel, very high impact strength (similar to armour plating) and corrosion resistance from a high-performance material.

We developed this alloy in conjunction with Carpenter Specialty Alloys, USA to achieve high levels of strength and fatigue life by optimizing the cold-working process and heat-treatment parameters. Reynolds will work with frame builders to provide recommended production techniques, so that the challenges inherent in using an extremely hard metal can be overcome. Benefits: Ultra strong steel, with the advantage of a stainless finish for maximum weight reduction from very thin walls. And the legendary ride of steel.

As frame properties will depend on the production facilities available to each builder, we summarize the two main alternatives proposed:

  1. Optimum Strength Process
    Cold Worked, Butted tubing sent by Reynolds, Welded & Aged by frame manufacturer:
    • Carpenter produces input material at the optimized specification
    • Reynolds cold-works, butts tubes and shapes tube sets
    • Frame Manufacturer welds tube sets including fittings in 953 or compatible stainless alloys
    • Uses AWS ER630 weld rod (Custom 630 )
    • No preheat necessary, but aligning recommended prior to Age
    • Frame Aged at 950F (510 C) for 4 hours at temperature, air cooled.

    Final Properties of Frame:

    • Welds will have aged properties (over 1350 MPA Tensile Strength with AWS ER630 wire)
    • Cold worked tube areas will have cold worked plus age properties – 1750-2050 MPA Tensile Strength depending on cold work/age/thickness.
  2. Aged Tubing Process
    Cold Worked, Butted and Aged Tubing by Reynolds, then Welded by frame manufacturer:
    • Carpenter produces input material at the optimized specification
    • Reynolds cold-works, butts tubes and shapes tube sets, then ages tubing to delivered specification
    • Frame manufacturer welds tube sets
    • Uses AWS ER630 weld rod
    • No preheat necessary, and no ageing process is carried out on the finished frame
    • Process should allow for cutting/mitering of high-strength steel

    Final Properties of Frame:

    • Welds and Heat Affected Zones will have as-welded properties (over 1100 MPA Tensile Strength with AWS ER630 wire)
    • Cold worked tubes will have cold worked plus age properties (around 1800-1950 MPA Tensile).

Final properties of each frame will depend on the tubes used, the wall thickness chosen and the welding method employed. Where lower strength/fatigue is acceptable for the frame design/fittings, 953 can bewelded to lower strength 304 or 316L type stainless steel parts using suitable weld rods.

this information brought to you by: Desperado Cycles