Lots of sweeping generalisations in this thread. A carbon/steel/Alu/Ti bike can be made stiff/harsh/comfortable/flexible/horrible all depending on the layup of the specific designer.
Just go with the reputable designer and appearance that you like most. IMO Ti bikes are as dull AF, they literally all look the same. Traditionalist design, brushed silver, black parts. Boring!
BlockquoteJust go with the reputable designer and appearance that you like most. IMO Ti bikes are as dull AF, they literally all look the same. Traditionalist design, brushed silver, black parts. Boring!
I know. Isn’t it awesome that titanium bikes are dull as Brandon? They all look the same, traditionalist design, brushed silver, black parts. Boring.
Bike thieves should go steal that shiny carbon fiber bike with awesome paint job instead. Leave the boring bikes alone.
I don’t think bike thieves are particularly discerning regarding what they steal, nor is “so boring a bike thief wouldn’t bother” exactly a glowing recommendation for a bike.
Personally, most modern off the peg titanium bikes with a black CF fork just don’t do it for me visually, but I’ve seen custom Ti with a Ti fork and integrated cables and nice anodizing which looks good - I think Tom Sturdy makes those.
That said, can’t justify it to myself because that’d be a lot of cash for a bike which at the end of the day performs slightly worse than a not very expensive CF frame. I do have a nice steel CX frame which I rather like, but it wasn’t too expensive and I really liked the looks and the geometry - but I can’t say anything about the supposed magic ride of steel over carbon or anything of the sort.
Totally agreed on the aesthetics front.
That said - and I say this as someone who has just ordered a steel frame- a steel or ti frame isn’t wholly a ‘performance’ thing. For me, at least, it’s about aesthetics, durability, and customisation: you’re quite right that (picking frames at random) a TCR or Emonda would almost certainly be faster A-B.
However, ti frames can be pretty light (1300g should be realistic for a medium size) so that would get you within 600g of the lightest carbon frames. For steel, maybe 800g. And the aero contribution of the frame is fairly minor, so with the right rider position and wheels I wouldn’t expect there to be much of a difference. At the sharp end of racing, that matters, but for most of us, it’s noise. Add in the aesthetics/durability/custom elements, and you see the rationale.
Late to the party here and anyone that knows my bikes know that I have a garage full of old steel bikes. I barely ride them all and often when I do its a 45 km quarterly ride and usually on down tube shifters so hardly comparable to modern frames and setup. I’ve been on that ride over 15 times and never on the same bike but the two stand outs were a NOS Benotto 3000 (Mexican) 1980 and a 1983 Carlton Professional Mk IV.
Where am I heading with this and the topic, I recently picked up a 2006 Litespeed Ti (Teramo Model) with 10 speed Centaur and average wheels. Other than the brakes being a bit dodgy this is as good or better to ride (for me anyway) than any of the steel or my Pinarello Dogma (with record/super record) or Colnago CLX (Ultegra 11 speed). I use it when I ride to work which has a tiny bit of dirt, gutters, paths and road. If I put better wheels and newer group I could throw away my other riders (except the Colnago is at a beach house and I bought very cheaply).
I’m sold on the material, the looks and the fact that the seat post is round, bars and stem (I hate cockpit) can be changed and general ease of changing things means I would look to a custom TI bike when I retire but I will still be riding the Litespeed for sure.
If you had run a #tubeinside you would have much probably pinched it with a sudden explosion and totally flat front tyre… and a subsequent dangerous crash.
It happened to me 2 times.
Now only tubeless for me.
I agree with what Morten Reippuert says. If you want a titanium frame that immediately reacts to power input go and buy one with 1" chain stays. Seven Cycles offer those. Those make a big difference with regards to the “zing”.
If you don’t want all the comfort a frame can provide go for their regular 3/4" seat stays. I’ve yet to meet someone though who didn’t like the ride fell of the combination of the 1" chain stays with their 5/8" Moto 3D curved seat stays. (Don’t use them on a rim brake frame though.)
In general there’s certainly no reason to fear that a titanium frame will lack stiffness and be overly comfortable. Anyone who generalizes titanium as a frame material with a certain ride feel doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
It’s titanium’s combination of high tensile strength with a comparably low modulus of elasticity which enables frame designers to go for whatever ride characteristic they want to achieve without compromising the longevity of the frame. The full spectrum from light and very plush frames on one end to criterium-ready jump out of every corner rockets on the other end can be made from titanium.
As you will probably ride a titanium frame for a very, very long time it might make sense to go for a custom frame if you’re not someone who can usually hop on any production road frame in the appropriate size and will find his perfect bike-fit without resorting to longer / shorter than ideal stem lengths, a lot of headset spacers or a awkward saddle / seat post combination.
Thanks. I have also noticed several ti bikes come with carbon seat tubes. A person looking for a ti frame is mostly looking at durable long lasting frame so I have found it strange that why would someone compromise this by having a mix of ti and carbon in a single frame.
Yep. Seven makes bikes with carbon tubes and titanium lugs. That is a carbon bike. Saying a bike frame with carbon tubes and titanium lugs is a titanium bike is like saying a Specialized Aethos with the Silca titanium bottle cage is a titanium bike.
If you don’t hate Specialized, you should try an Aethos. Definitely has that zing, but definitely isn’t “plush” either, has no proprietary bs, and looks very classic, at least relative to the current crop of aero all-around bikes. Also clears 35mm rubber. Non-Sworks frameset looks like a bargain against many Ti bikes as well.
For context, I have owned an entry-level Ti gravel bike and liked it. Ended up going back to carbon, but it was more of a geometry issue than a frame material issue. Ti’s comfort is on par with carbon, and that Ti gravel bike certainly took a pounding and never looked any worse for wear. So, I think it’s a great material when applied to gravel and mtb.
To paint with a huge brush, I think that the bigger the tire volume and the heavier the bike gets, the less frame material matters. Tires quickly start to play a huge role in how a bike feels when you get above 32c, like a hockey stick type curve, in my experience. So, for a pure road bike, I think carbon always will be Queen, but I know plenty would disagree with me.
Doesn’t the answer here depend a LOT on tire volume and wheel construction? I suspect that the a lot of the supposed “cushy” benefits of Ti are much more readily felt on a road bike with stiff carbon fiber wheels and 28mm tires. Move that over to a less stiff wheelset with 40mm+ tires, and the wheels/tires will be doing a lot more of the work that leads to a cushy feel.
I can concur with the “lifeless” ride of carbon frames with my tiny experience of renting a Tarmac SL6, a Willier Cento NDR and a Cube Agree for a few days each, up to 2 weeks for the Tarmac.
I should explain that I’ve only own one bike since I started road cycling, with a 25yo steel custom and insanely light frame at its heart. We’re talking 1395gr unpainted for a size 54. It traces back to this incredible era of steel’s swan song as a legit racing material, it really has an exhilarating character and a lively ride for sure, mostly because it flexes like crazy. Big sprints are terrible but standing up on a climb is something I’ve never found anywhere else, it feels like and elastic, a surging spring, I just love it.
Stomping on the Willier and the Tarmac was met with no reaction, a very muted flex. These bikes were telling me “you’re not powerful enough” and that felt unpleasant (because it’s true of course), than uninspiring, than boring. The Cube was just a dead horse from the get go. Like driving a Ford Mondeo.
My point would be at least with metal you can shoot for such traits if that’s your thing. At least you can tailor the stiffness to your abilities and tastes.
Regarding my bike, I found the most noticeable upgrade was the fork, followed by the wheels, the stem and the handlebar. Flex and stiffness starts from there too
I’ll plug my LBC Gloria Cycles that I ride with 2x a week in London. Carlos goal is to be the go to for Titanium bikes - so he has a few brands including J.Guillem - Enigma - Lynskey. I’ve ridden the J. Guillem and was impressed. I like the idea of a frame that is not coated in paint and is “just” the frame. Seems good enviro credentials. The ride was smooth and fast - so I liked that too! (maybe it was the weight saved by the paint! ahahahahah)
I used to ride a Ti seatpost and it was really comfortable for big miles…I ride a carbon frame + same seatpost frame now and a Ti stem…it’s comfortable material for me…
I’ll throw out my 2c.
I had a ti frame. Great bike. It rode smooth, and handled well. All the merits the posters above talk about. However…
I lost a fair amount of power to frame flex. I’m about 200lb with an FTP near 300, but I can churn out about 1500W as a max. Nothing world class, but I enjoy a bit more sprinting in my rides than someone who is just out touring.
Given that, the frame was built up to minimize flex. Stays/tubes were thick. No butting. Last year I got a new wheel on trainer. I thought the trainer was defective since it was consistently showing me about ~20W less than my pedal power meters were showing. Bigger differential as I applied more power, less differential as the power dropped.
I have since traded that bike in for a very stiff carbon frame. Numbers from the trainer match my pedal power meter pretty much exactly now. I was more than a bit shocked.
So there’s my anecdote. I doubt I’ll go back to ti until I’m tired of sprinting around. It’s a great ride, but for someone with my size/profile, it eats too much of the fun.
Its stiff, comfy and super durable. plastic(carbon) is great and light etc and loved them all but this is just doing everything I could ask. Yes, it weighs 7.3KG but its a small price to pay.
Well your forks are most likely carbon on a ti bike. Pretty sure no-one is riding ti forks.
As it happens, Bearclaw, a newer Michigan-based brand, offers a few titanium forks for sale, mostly for gravel/off-road use. Even though the price and more chunky aesthetics take a bit to get used to, I’ve pondered a ti fork from them as an interesting replacement to my Lynskey GR300’s carbon fork, if it ever has an issue.
See the forks here: Forks Archives - Bearclaw Bicycle Co.
Way back in the day, we did a mock-up CX bike w/ discs for Interbike….road forks for discs were pretty much unheard of….but we found a company that did ti forks and used that (was also a ti frame, so it fit the theme)
But ho-boy was that thing a noodle!! Braking on it was….pucker-inducing.
Then there’s the Jones truss fork.