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Titanium bikes

benws1benws1 Posts: 413
edited September 2018 in Road general
Are these popular? I've never actually seen one in the flesh.

When I was last into road cycling (circa 2003), these were being touted as a good buy. I guess carbon was in its infancy then, so didn't take all of the limelight.

I have noticed that Litespeed are still selling them. Are they actually any good?
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  • zaneladzanelad Posts: 269
    I love the look of them, especially if the rest of the bike is equipped with black fittings and maybe a small splash of colour here and there.

    I do worry about buying one though. Timeless looks and elegance (IMO) but I'd worry about it cracking, perhaps needlessly, but they're a lot of money to buy.

    One day maybe I'll put my hand in my pocket and build my ideal bike from a titanium frame.
  • fenixfenix Posts: 5,437
    I see quite a few of them. The good ones are expensive though. CF is cheaper to make a frame from so I'd go for that if you're not sure you'll stay in the cycling world.

    Would you REALLY want your bike to last forever anyway ? You'd never need to upgrade it ! Think carefully....
  • dodgydodgy Posts: 2,890
    I don't think they're particularly rare, my local cyclist's cafe always has at least one outside (and not just mine).
    They make a great choice as a bad weather bike if they have clearance for mudguards especially. That's what I use mine for, I have a Kinesis Tripster and it's superb.
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 6,806
    I used to race on a Litespeed Ultimate - at the time I thought it was a really nice bike - it did smooth out road buzz - maybe slightly flexy I could get chain rub sprinting up a steep incline. External cabling of course and the rear brake cable could ping on the top tube and it sounded like a bell.

    It'd be interesting to go back now and compare it to a modern hi end carbon race bike.
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  • shortfallshortfall Posts: 3,240
    I have one and I love it. Mine's custom built by Colina Bikes just outside Sheffield. In terms of longevity I can't give you a definitive answer but if you look up the properties of titanium it's clearly a very light and durable metal that lends itself well to being a bike frame. There are stories online about cracking (aren't there about every type of frame?) but it would seem that the majority of these are due to poor welding. In terms of cost, I got mine built up with Record mechanical and Zonda wheels for a smidge over 3k but you can get something off the peg from Planet X or Ribble for under 2k with Ultegra. Weight wise mine is a fraction under 8kg but it's about a 63cm or XXL and I weighed it with the pedals. Most quoted frame weights you read on specs are for a size medium without pedals so I'd say that mine was competitive but if you're a total weight weenie then no question, carbon is lighter. So far as the ride is concerned, sometimes the owners of ti bikes overstate the supposed magical characteristics, but each frame builder will "tune" the way his bikes feel by the use of different diameters and guages of tubing etc and it's possible to make a ti bike give either a rock hard or noodly ride. All things being equal though I would say they tend to give more feedback from the road surface than carbon bikes and yet still remain forgiving. Having owned titanium for 3 years now I'm in no rush to go back to carbon anytime soon.
  • 964cup964cup Posts: 1,359
    I have two - Enigma Excel and Etape. Love them. Lighter than steel, more absorbent than carbon and last forever. What's not to like?
  • rower63rower63 Posts: 1,991
    edited January 2017
    I have one, with Campag Record stuff on it. I use it for my daily 60km round trip commute to central London and back. It's a warranty replacement after the BB shell on the original one exploded one day whilst standing on the pedals after about 18,000 miles. It had about 10 cracks radiating from the various welds where the chain-stays, down-tube and seat-tube were all attached to it. One of the cracks had circled back on itself and had pinged out a 1-inch curled tongue of titanium.
    I'm a keen photographer and when I went back to the photographs I took as I was building it up from brand new, sure enough some of the cracks were already there hiding amongst the weld-folds!
    My current one is at 5,400 miles, so I've still got 12,600 to go, about 18 months of my commuting.
    And yes, it does ring like a bell when riding over bumps, the rear brake-cable.
    But I still love it.
    Dolan Titanium ADX 2016
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  • Current MAMIL trend bike, hence the exorbitant price tags.
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  • shortfallshortfall Posts: 3,240
    edited January 2017
    Current MAMIL trend bike, hence the exorbitant price tags.

    Not really. Titanium bike tubing has always been a relatively expensive product because it's difficult to machine and turn the raw material into the end product. It's also trickier to weld than steel and I read an interview once with Dario Pegoretti who cited that as one of the main reasons he didn't switch to making titanium frames when they first came into use in pro cycling. Mamils if that's what you insist on calling them are also into high end carbon and steel frames and as I said earlier, a quick scan on Ribble and Planet X shows that a ti framed bike with full Ultegra can be had for under 2k.

    As for the Mamil debate, perhaps it deserves it's own thread but as you brought it up, why is there so much inverted snobbery in cycling? If it annoys some people so much that fat rich blokes can afford better kit than they have, can't they just content themselves in the smug glow of sailing past them on something costing a fraction of the price? Why all the hate?
  • milemuncher1milemuncher1 Posts: 1,472
    I love Ti bikes. They are light, and stiff.
  • MoonbikerMoonbiker Posts: 1,706
    Seem prone to cracking, well the 2 people I know both had theirs crack 2 is not a big sample size i suppose though..... :roll:
  • banditvicbanditvic Posts: 525
    If you buy a secondhand one you will probably get most of your money back when you come to sell, have had a fair few titanium bikes in the past, at the moment have a Pickenflick which I will be keeping.
  • dodgydodgy Posts: 2,890
    I love Ti bikes. They are light, and stiff.

    Not particularly stiff in my experience, they're nice, easy to keep looking great for a very very long time, but stiff wouldn't be something I would use to describe them.
  • shortfallshortfall Posts: 3,240
    dodgy wrote:
    I love Ti bikes. They are light, and stiff.

    Not particularly stiff in my experience, they're nice, easy to keep looking great for a very very long time, but stiff wouldn't be something I would use to describe them.

    I think there's a lot of misconceptions about the "stiffness" of different frame materials. I don't know who said "There are no wrong materials for building bicycle frames, just wrong applications" but they had a point. My own titanium bike is every bit as "stiff" as any carbon of aluminium bike I've ever owned or ridden in the sense that it doesn't flex around the bottom bracket or wobble around corners at the merest sight of a bump, but that lateral stiffness doesn't come at the expense of a harsh ride. Titanium got it's reputation for whippyness when the early bikes were built with similar diameter tubes to the steel bikes of the day. However, due to it's lightness relative to steel, frame builders soon realised that it is possible to use larger diameter tubes which don't give that whippy feel whilst still retaining a weight advantage. Maybe some of the more modern carbon frames with massively over engineered bottom brackets can boast that they are stiffer and have better power transfer than steel or titanium bikes, but we're not all putting out the same power as the pros so it's horses for courses. I think it's great that there's so much choice so we can all get a bike that fits our needs.
  • Garry HGarry H Posts: 6,639
    I so wanted to like titanium bikes, I was so dissappointed every time I had a shot. Just a bit meh in the end
  • webboowebboo Posts: 3,450
    I have a Raleigh Special products hard tail Titanium mountain bike. It's a replacement frame as the first one cracked on the bottom bracket weld. It sits in the top of the garage as a home for spiders but when I used ride it there were times when I would stop because I thought I had a puncture but it was just the flex in the frame.
  • webboowebboo Posts: 3,450
    Double post.
  • 964cup964cup Posts: 1,359
    Modern Ti frames with large tubes (the downtube on my Étape is truly massive) are easily as stiff as most carbon frames, laterally, but still have better vertical compliance. Certainly they're much stiffer than a classic steel frame.
  • zaneladzanelad Posts: 269
    Shortfall wrote:
    Current MAMIL trend bike, hence the exorbitant price tags.

    As for the Mamil debate, perhaps it deserves it's own thread but as you brought it up, why is there so much inverted snobbery in cycling? If it annoys some people so much that fat rich blokes can afford better kit than they have, can't they just content themselves in the smug glow of sailing past them on something costing a fraction of the price? Why all the hate?

    Sadly it seems to be the way of the world these days. I do a few motorcycle track days each year. I use a 1997 Laverda 750. It's old and slow (much like me) but I've never seen another on a track day I've attended. I am almost pitied in the garages or paddock when they see such an old bike. I guess among the nearly new BMWs and Ducati Paginales it is, but I'm of an age where IDGAF what others opinions of me are. I do get more people coming to chat about the bike than I ever did with the R6 or other more modern bikes I took on track.

    Same with cycling. I'd like a Ti bike cos I like the look of them. My days of being trendy have long gone, if they ever existed. :D
  • svettysvetty Posts: 1,904
    Have to say that my titanium winter frame is a bit of a noodle. No cracks after 2 yrs though....
    FFS! Harden up and grow a pair :D
  • keezxkeezx Posts: 1,314
    I love Ti bikes. They are light, and stiff.

    Mine isn't particulary light nor is it stiff and I still like it. :)
    China made and still perfect after 4 years.
  • ben-----ben----- Posts: 573
    benws1 wrote:
    Are they actually any good?

    They're not as light as carbon, but more durable it seems. They can take a bit of rough and tumble. You don't have to be so precious with it. At least that's what I've found with mine (Van Nicholas Yukon). They last apparently. They don't rust. So: excellent winter bikes I reckon. Presumably good for mountain bikes as well I'd have thought but don't know about that.
  • timothywtimothyw Posts: 2,482
    ben----- wrote:
    benws1 wrote:
    Are they actually any good?

    They're not as light as carbon, but more durable it seems. They can take a bit of rough and tumble. You don't have to be so precious with it. At least that's what I've found with mine (Van Nicholas Yukon). They last apparently. They don't rust. So: excellent winter bikes I reckon. Presumably good for mountain bikes as well I'd have thought but don't know about that.
    What makes you think that Carbon Fibre can't take a bit of rough and tumble? Have you ever broken a Carbon frame?
    https://youtu.be/xreZdUBqpJs?t=300

    People are often a bit precious with their carbon bikes (certainly I know I am) but I've broken frames made of every common material except for titanium - I'd speculate the only reason I've never broken a titanium bike is because I've never owned one.
  • ben-----ben----- Posts: 573
    > What makes you think that Carbon Fibre can't take a bit of rough and tumble?

    Eg the way you have to be careful about any kind of clamping. Seems to me they're strong in some ways but not so strong in others.
  • The RookieThe Rookie Posts: 27,748
    With respect to stiffness, Ti is significantly less stiff than a steel frame of the same dimensions......the lower Youngs Modulus can't be ignored!
  • philwintphilwint Posts: 763
    My favorite thing about my Ti CX bike is how stunning it looks after I've stripped it down and spent several happy hours polishing it with Brasso..... :D
  • Monty DogMonty Dog Posts: 20,614
    I have four titanium bikes at present - a roadbike, CX, MTB and fatbike. I've been designing and commissioning my own custom frames from China for about 12 years - done a few for friends and all are still working fine. Ironically, some of the 'branded' ti frames have also broken in that time - mainly down to poor design / fabrication leading to accelerated failure. If you want a stiff bike, then titanium isn't really the best choice, otherwise it'll be heavy and dead-feeling. Taking this for a 5-day race in the arctic next month (old photo - now have bigger rims and tyres):
    VWKmrPYh.jpg
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • napoleondnapoleond Posts: 5,983
    Ha! I love that Monty.

    I had a litespeed. Pretty meh.
    I'd rather have a good steel bike.
    However as a cruising winter bike Ti makes an awful lot of sense.
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  • bmxboy10bmxboy10 Posts: 1,896
    I love Ti bikes. They are light, and stiff.

    Not true mine was mediocre and flexy - I don't think you buy Ti for stiffness
  • socratessocrates Posts: 453
    I understand what The Rookie is saying. However some time ago I read an article by Tom Kellogg where he explained that this would happen when building a frame from titanium as it is not possible to use the same dimensions as a steel bike due to the different properties of each metal. Way above my head but I have a Merlin Works CR which is 12 tears old and has been relegated to winter bike for the past 2 years and I must say no complaints when used as either good bike or winter steed. A number of years ago these were used by the Sean Kelly development squad so while not in the stiffness class as carbon they must have been considered pretty good.
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