Lugs have been used to build steel bicycle frames for a long, long time. Most of the earliest ones were real plain, much like the copper pipe fittings that you can find all over your home. Eventually, builders learned to add personality to their bikes by shaping the lugs.

Today, the “plain” ones, including the “Richie-Issimo” lugs (pictured above), come pre-sculpted with graceful curves and crisp points. Also, there is a now decent selection of fancier lugs available (see below).

The only real drawback to building with lugs is that many frame designs use angles or tubing sizes that cannot be serviced by readily available lugs. For that, you either need to use a lugless construction method, or make custom lugs.

If you want your bike built with lugs, unless you specify otherwise, the “Richie-Issimo” lugs, designed by master framebuilder Richard Sachs, are my default lugs. I like their simple, yet graceful, design as well as their crisp edges and “constant thickness” walls.

The “Newvex” lugs are also designed by Richard Sachs. Their curves and points are Richard’s spin on the classic “Nervex” lugs. These lugs are available in both steel and stainless steel.

The “Artisan” lugs are designed by former framebuilder Kirk Pacenti so that they can either be used as is, or reshaped to fit your own style. Reshaping is considered an up charge. The extra cost would be varied, and be based on how much time is involved in the reshaping. These lugs are available in both steel and stainless steel.

The “Slant 6” lugs are also from Kirk Pacenti. They are designed for oversize tubes.