Over the weekend I am test riding a titanium bicycle from the Dutch manufacturer Van Nicholas that was enthusiastically recommended by a reader. I will be posting a review in the future, but for now I have some general thoughts on titanium bicycles as transportation.
belt drive cafe racer. While their idea of how a transportation bicycle should be set up is not quite the same as mine, I have to say the ride quality was divine. I could go over all the roots and bumps I wanted and feel nothing.
This is the same sensation (or lack thereof) I had reported after many miles on the Seven racing bike I had on loan over the summer: Riding it with 23mm tires over bumps and potholes, I would feel only an "echo" of going over them, as if it were happening to someone else. At the time I was careful not to attribute this sensation to titanium per se, because I had no experience with other titanium bicycles. But it did make me curious to go out and try some others. This wasn't easy, because titanium bicycles are not exactly common. Still, I managed to briefly ride an older Merlin with 28mm tires. While the ride was completely different from the titanium Sevens, I did experience the same "otherwordly" sensation over bumpy surfaces. Around the same time I also briefly tried a steel and a carbon fiber Seven, and they did not feel like the titanium Sevens.
test rode a Brompton over the course of several days. I had heard that bicycles with small wheels tend to have a harsh ride quality, but the Brompton felt just fine. The Co-Habitant pointed out that this could be because the model I'd borrowed was fitted with a titanium fork and rear triangle. "Nonsense," I said, "It can't possibly make a big difference!" But when I returned the Brompton I made it a point to try the all-steel version immediately afterward. Darn, I could feel a difference. The model with the titanium fork and rear tringle had a softer ride quality over bumps. I say "darn," because I was biased toward not wanting to feel a difference: that was one factor that prevented me from actually buying a Brompton, as the titanium model is considerably more expensive.
titanium Oma-fietsen(!), which I find completely intriguing and would love to try some day. In the meantime, the only other woman-secific titanium frame I have seen is the ladies' version of the Van Nicholas Amazon, but I don't find the design appealing. I wonder whether there would be demand for elegant titanium loop frames in the US, where weight and hill climbing ability tend to be particularly important. While I am generally not attracted to welded frames, the ride quality and other features of titanium have drawn me into becoming increasingly interested in this material and its applications. What do you think? Does titanium appeal to you and would you consider it for a transportation bicycle if it were more readily available?