Titanium - Is it really all that it has been made out to be?

Folks all these sky rocketing prices and integrated nonsense with prop parts is making me think of going different for the new bike. I am tempted Titanium and its mainly how simple it would be and how beautiful it looks. I like the tube shapes and I like the classical road bike look.

However, and this is where I am confused… how is the ride feel compared to carbon? I like bikes that have an instantaneous zing when you stomp on the pedals (such as carbon modern road bikes) and I would very much like to retain that quality in my next bike. Secondly, is titanium really as comfortable as it is made out to be? I don’t like overly plush frames either since one of my fav rides is a CAAD10 which is comfortable but def lively feel.

Would be great to get some feedback from anyone who has ridden titanium and other frame materials.

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regardless of the material, I think it’s more about how it’s used than the material itself. if you want a stiff Ti frame, that can obviously be made, not sure how that would affect ride quality.
I’ve heard of ‘plush’ Ti frames, and I’ve heard of ones that ride almost like stiff carbon.
but raw Ti frames are definitely pretty.

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IMO there is an essential difference in the materials, which is to do with the way they transmit vibration. Ti (like most other metals) provides very little damping, unlike carbon composites which have a much higher loss tangent at all frequencies.

The end result is that I think Ti frames give better “road feel” than carbon, which is one way of interpreting liveliness.

I really like the responsiveness of a Ti frame, it’s probably my second favourite frame material, while I find most carbon frames to be dull and lifeless and thus boring to ride. This is a personal thing, you may not agree.

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I started out all steel, many years ago, but found them heavy and unforgiving. Went to aluminum, which were much lighter, quicker, but a bit stiff. Moved on to carbon, where I have owned and ridden more than 30 different carbon framed bikes (Pinarello, Cervelo, Storck, Ridley, RIbble, Litespeed, Basso, etc.), and have never, ever, experienced a “dull” or “lifeless” ride on even one of them–just the opposite–the best of the ones mentioned all seemed somewhat organic, compliant, responsive and robust–a muscle to be flexed, when necessary, or a cushion to settle onto, when the going gets rough.

I’ve only ridden three titanium bikes (Iris, Litespeed and Moots)–all very nice, all VERY different–no real generalizations are possible as such, other than the fact that what some might call “road feel” or “liveliness”, I call stiff and twitchiness–quite unforgiving–to me. Titanium actually reminded me of a combination of steel and aluminum, not really something I liked all that much.

Ultimately, though, as discussed in CT and elsewhere, for many, the secret to a good ride is less in the frame, and more in the wheelset–so, for dull and lifeless bikes, that’s what I would look into first. For the OP, I know I wouldn’t consider moving on to a titanium bike a step up, but more a lateral move, at most. Personally, I would simply get a different spec’d carbon frame.

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Thanks amongst the carbon frames you rode, which ones would you recommend?

My absolute favorite is the Storck (mine is a CD 1.0) very smooth, very lively, lots of thrust for attacking the climbs–it has the rear facing dropouts, but unfortunately that particular model is pretty hard to find, though their newer models are great as well (though expensive). For overall great rides, next would be a Ridley, anything from Fenix/Liz (circa 2014) to the present–light, quick, responsive. After that, I’ve found Orbea Orcas a really great ride–like the Ridley, but a bit lighter on the feet–more an out and out racer (which I am not). I also like Pinarello, but have only experience with the older models, before, up to, and including the first iteration of the Dogma. I have one of these which I use as my long rider/tourer, as its actually the heaviest of the lot–if I had to own just one bike, it would be the Storck first, and the Dogma second.

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I think the appeal of titanium (and to a similar extent, stainless steel) can be boiled down into a) perceived durability and reliability and b) aesthetics.

On the former, well-made ti frames can and do last a very long time. But ti is very hard to work with, and there are many examples of titanium frames cracking. This is (obviously generalising hugely) largely down to poor welding technique. If I were buying ti, I’d go to a manufacturer with a good rep and look for a (minimum) 10 year guarantee. While there are now some very reasonably priced frames coming out of the far east - and I’m sure there are lots of good ones - I’d want hand-built and from well-regarded, proven manufacturer in Europe or the US. If they’re local enough that you can go and pay them a visit, even better.

As for aesthetics, that’s hugely personal. Raw ti doesn’t do a lot for me, but some of the anodising on some frames I’ve seen lately is gorgeous.

There may well be those people who can identify marked ride characteristic differences between steel and ti. In my admittedly limited experience with the latter, I’m not one of them, and agree with the poster above that wheels (well, largely tyres) affect ride far more than material choice.

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I have to second that I’ve never heard carbon referred to as “dull and lifeless” before. :man_shrugging:

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I had a Litespeed Ultimate Titanium road bike that. Got n the early ‘90s. I finally sold it in 2011 when my son gave me a s-works Tarmac. Rode super smoothly, handled great, and, after 20 years, was in perfect condition without even a scratch despite me not taking particular care of it. It probably would have lasted forever. The only downside was the constantly changing industry standards. That bike had a 1” steerer, 135mm quick release rear end, qr fork, down tube shifter bosses, etc… It became harder to find parts that fit.

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Favourite frame material is…?

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1" TI chainstays and you will experience all the ‘zing’ you can dream of, and you wont sacrifice comfort.

biased happy owner of a 1100g size ML 2006 merlin metalworls with 1" chainstays and a no-name CX/gravel disc Ti frame with 3/4" chain stays.

Get TI if you want a frame that you will ride for the next 10-20y without even having to worry about chipping the paint, if it gets a scratch just polish it. If you get the geometry and main triangle tubing right for your size you wont regret it.

What sets TI apart in my opinion (remember im biased) is the way it handles vibrations - its difficult to describe. You can feel every micro bump on the roads surface but in a dampend way - you feel just as connected as on a stiff aluminum frame but the vibrations are dampened and not muted like a on carbon frame.

Steel frames can do the same, but at a weight penalty - and at a significantly weight penalty if you want the same stiffness as on a aluminum bike.

And then of course there is the durability aspect, TI is tough and wont ding like thin walled steel or fattique like aluminum.

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I thought that bit was fairly obvious.

Check the CT “Meet the Maker” article from June 3.

FWIW I was going to post the link but it comes up with a full preview which threatens to derail the thread which is about Ti.

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That’s much what I meant with my comment in post #3 but better expressed.

The instantaneous zing that you want is best accomplished with carbon wheels, fully inflated wheels and perhaps even instant engagement hubs. A short chainstay bike would help too. Any material, Titanium, Steel, Carbon, Aluminum, Bamboo can be made as stiff or as compliant as you want. The builder decides this with the choice of tube diameters.
Titanium gets you corrosion resistance and durability.

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I was literally finalizing the details on a custom USA made Ti gravel frame when I shook myself out of the madness of paying 5k for a frame that did zero things better than my current mass produced carbon frame…and was heavier.

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Over the past few years I’ve owned both an S-Works Tarmac SL5, and a Wittson Suppresio titanium.

I recently sold the Wittson as it was just a bit small and I couldn’t quite ever get it to fit me as well as the Tarmac - but I LOVED riding that bike. Just super smooth, great handling. It was slightly less responsive than the Tarmac - if I was racing a crit I’d use the Tarmac every time - but it wasn’t sluggish either, some of my best times on both short and long climbs were on the Wittson. I was running similar wheels on each bike too (Enve 3.4’s and 4.5’s, interchanging depending on mood), same handlebars, same saddles.

I think the comment below sums it up well for me:

I will 100% buy another Ti frame again in the next few years, probably a custom one this time so I get the sizing exactly right.

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It’s interesting to hear carbon lambasted as dull or whatever, out of all the frame materials I have found it to be the most variable. You can have two carbon frames with the same geo - but different layups - and one be a magic carpet ride and the other a bone rattler.

Titanium is a nice material, it isn’t as plush as carbon can be but I wouldn’t call it harsh. It kind of rides like steel but is light like an aluminium frame.

That said, in a blind test I think most people would be hard pressed to tell the difference between a titanium frame with tyres at 80psi and aluminium frame at 70psi.

As others have noted, I think the best thing about titanium is you can buy a bike that’ll service you for the rest of your riding life.

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If you can regularly feel road vibration, you are wasting energy and speed with tires pumped too hard.

On a rough patch or over speed bumps, cracks and do on, sure, but on a regular road surface, no.

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I’ll start by saying I rode a few titanium bikes in the mid to late 90s from the likes of Litespeed, Dean, and TI Cycles. All pretty good bikes with the Dean being my favorite. Then carbon seemed to be the way to go. I spent the next 15-18 years riding a variety of carbon frames from Trek, Alchemy, Colnago, and Allied Cycle Works. The C-60 was the best carbon bike I’ve ever owned. Two years ago I decided go get a custom titanium gravel frame from Firefly. I followed that up with a custom titanium road frame from Holland. I have nothing but great things to say about how both those frames ride. Lively but stiff where they need to be. A good frame builder can build you the perfect titanium frame based on your wants and desires. Today you can specify anodized logos or something like Cerakote for accents or logos. Talk to a few builders and see who you gel with. Get ready to experience the magic metal called titanium.

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So in the end we’re any of the titanium bikes comparable to your C60 or that’s in a league of its own?