Friday, December 23, 2011

Titanium for Transportation?

Test Riding Van Nicholas Amazon
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.

Seven Cafe Racer Belt Drive
I've been thinking about this more and more after test riding several Seven transportation bicycles over the past few months, including this 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.

Seven Axiom S
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. 

Brompton P6L-X
Another encounter with titanium took place when I 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.

Van Nicholas Amazon
And now there is the Van Nicholas. This is a touring/commuter model that rides not unlike a titanium version of a Rivendell. At the same time, it has the "echo-like" quality I've noticed in the other titanium bicycles I've tried, and in combination with the 32mm Schwalbe Marathon Supremes I just do not feel the road. It's as if the bike rides on balloon tires, but without the heavy sensation these tires sometimes have.

Test Riding Van Nicholas Amazon
Having tried about half a dozen titanium or partially titanium bicycles at this point, I can say that I do feel a common aspect in their ride quality independent of manufacturer and geometry - namely the manner in which they dampen road vibration. This alone would make titanium a good candidate for a transportation bicycle, simply because it makes for a comfortable ride without the need for super-wide tires. In addition, titanium does not rust and does not require paint. The frame should be absolutely fine in the winter and in the rain with virtually no need for maintenance. Any scratches can simply be buffed off the surface. Combined with an internally geared hub, which would further reduce the need for maintenance, this type of bike could, in theory, be indestructible - lasting for decades with minimal maintenance. And of course the light weight of titanium does not hurt. The downside? Well-made titanium bikes tend to be painfully expensive - if only because they are typically handmade by small builders.

Brompton P6L-X, Ti Fork
One framebuilder in the Netherlands has been making 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?

57 comments:

  1. Titanium is in so many ways the ideal material for bike frames. Bring down the price by a few orders of magnitude and definitely yes for transportation bikes as well as every other kind of bike. I can't think of a downside apart from cost

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  2. Maybe a framebuilder who works with both materials can answer this question, but I am wondering what the typical price increase is for using ti, all else remaining equal?

    Also, assuming that you have the tool for this (forgot the name of it!), is it trickier to make a loop frame our of ti than steel?

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  3. I absolutely considered it for all the reasons you mentioned. A local bike shop makes their own and the owner could not stop talking about all the virtues of titanium for every kind of cycling and, like a good LBS owner, he walks the walk. Ultimately I decided on a custom steel frame with Rolhoff hub for my one and only bike, but it had nothing to do with steel vs. titanium.

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  4. The cost keeps me away too but the Ti bike manufacturers will remind you that their rigs will last a lifetime and are worth it. A steel bike, of course, can get very close to that type of guarantee, too and if you are not obsessed with frame weight, it's very difficult to make the pricey jump from steel to Ti. Ti seems to remain a boutique bike material in the domain of craft builders.

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  5. Tube bender.

    Delicious, 3 good posts in a row.

    Ti tubing is hard to source, harder to mill and is expensive. Plus the tooling is different and Ti is harder on equipment than steel, so you see shops like Seven concentrate on one. So that's a mfging negative.

    From a practical standpoint naked Ti on a city street locked up screams steal me. I like my Ti painted, but still looks bling.

    You say echo, I say liquid, but whatever descriptors used I've been riding my road bike off road a lot lately. For mild conditions it's more supple than my dual suspension mountain bike run at higher pressures. Really.

    As far as quick, comfy efficient transport, with that liquid quality it's near perfect. Of course a large part of the comfort is the carbon fork.

    Which brings me to...carbon frames. The right one provides amazing isolation and speed. Yeah they have a lot of baggage attached to them.

    Something like a Calfee Adventure can give off that liquid braze look with the right wet paint, plus all the advantages of Ti.

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  6. Forgot - ticycles, formerly of Seattle now of PDX, makes proletariat bikes.

    As for maintenance the Bike Friday I rode had a Gates belt and Rohloff, theoretically ideal for transpo but definitely asserted it's own personality into the ride. Friend also has a racy Ti IF w/Rohloff that isn't my cup of tea - kinds of takes away from the Ti quietness.

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  7. "3 good posts in a row"

    Jeez!

    "from a practical standpoint naked Ti on a city street locked up screams steal me."

    Seriously? To most people I think it screams "Walmart bike, keep walking!"

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  8. Bike thieves are not most people :)

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  9. The ti + belt drive + Rohloff combination is definitely weird. Not sure yet what I think. The hub is ridiculously heavy, but it does get the bike up hills.

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  10. I could comment on boring blogs, but that would be...boring.

    What anon said. See, there are rings. Run by Al Pacino. Crafty.

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  11. One day,I MUST own a ti SS rigid 29"er mtn bike (drooling over those,and the one you're currently testing :D )...

    Disabled Cyclist

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  12. I love that Ti Oma bike [but it needs a curved fork in a bad way...just for looks that is].

    Ti would be a great choice for any bike and especially a town bike.

    I do not like to use Ti, because:

    1. The material cost with the the tubes and more so the frame parts [BB shell, dropouts and any mounts].
    2. Lots more Argon is used, so more cost.
    3. In order to make the bike not too flexy, you have to over size the tubes. I like the look of the small diameter tubes that I can use with steel. You could use small thick Ti tubes, but then it starts to get closer to steel in overall weight.
    4. Finishing a Ti frame is no fun. Bead blasting would be a little better.
    5. The welds have to look perfect. While I am pretty good welder, using Ti would be more stressful day welding...something I could get over.
    6. Bending Ti is pretty difficult, but not out of limits.

    All of these issues would be no problem for a big manufacturer like Lightspeed, Sandvick or any place in Taiwan/ China or Russia.

    Cutting the tubes is a breeze and uses all of the same tooling and process as a TIG welded steel bike [but you have to use separate cutters and files if you are making both steel and Ti].

    If cost was no concern then have them made ;)

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  13. There's this bike: http://www.flickr.com/photos/17518949@N08/sets/72157602859002987/with/1832096330/

    I don't get the lack of love for fat tires. They've got lower rolling resistance (though at racing speeds wind resistance is more important), and they do plenty to protect your rims from our lovely roads. They also are less easily caught by cracks in the road and sewer grates.

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  14. Can you define 'ridiculously heavy' ? Do you mean it was heavier than you expected? Too heavy for a titanium frame? Unequal weight distribution?

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  15. Anon 7:38 - Yes, all of those. I will provide detail in the review in a week or so.

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  16. I liked this post a lot. Your descriptions of how the frames feel are really good. I can't help but wonder,though, if a lot of your attributions to the frame's material most likely has more to do with geometry and a sunny outlook. You can experience a harsh, smooth, fast, etc ride all out of the same material. A high quality frame can, indeed, make all the difference and the folks choosing to work with titanium are likely at the top of the heap in their craft. Great frames make for really nice rides!

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  17. Rohloff: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMnjF1O4eH0&feature=endscreen&NR=1

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  18. I would looooove to have a Ti bike. The newest Lynskey/Salsa frames are calling my name... Seems as though it would make an excellent commuter, although aluminum has the same weather-resistant properties.

    FYI Bridgestone had a great primer on ecological toll of producing various raw materials (steel, Alum, Ti). The Ti section begins here, with the other two before it: sheldonbrown.com
    Surprise, steel comes out on top in this regard.

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  19. Tube Roller [for the large radius bends like an Opa bike].

    The cost for a small builder is quite bit different than for a large manufacturer.

    For me to build an average Cromo steel frame and fork cost about $200.00 [no paint] and a Ti frame [without fork] is about $750.00 [steel fork materials $60.00]

    I could have a steel TIG frame, brazed fork made in Taiwan, built,painted, shipped to the USA and in a box ready for resale for about $200.00 or less. This is made out of the same tubes that I can buy here...? I am sure that the Asia built factories could do this with Ti too.

    I would imagine that a HiTen steel Dutch frame material cost would be about half of a Cromo steel frame?

    The main cost for small USA shops [from 1 to 25 people] is the combination of low volume and high overheads, with the added cost of high quality. This is in addition to the high cost of materials, lack of government subsidies and transportation cost.

    These issues are not insurmountable for USA builders or potential small bike factories and I am not complaining at all, just pointing out some of the differences with defining the word cost.

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  20. Titanium is a great material for a lot of bikes, but yeah, the cost can be prohibitive for a lot of folks, and the idea of leaving a nice ti bike locked outside work all day can be a bit daunting (or any "too nice" bike).

    For us clydesdale types, the durability of a good titanium frame can be appealing... BUT that same springiness that makes them suck up bumps and jolts can make them too flexy if they're not put together just right. I've been on otherwise well-made ti bikes that flexed so much under me that I had the rear tire rubbing on the chainstays when I stood up to climb. On the other hand, one of our customers who's about my height (6'3" or so) has a Litespeed Vortex that's just a wonderful "big guy" bike, it's fast, tough and rides smooth.

    Personally, if cost weren't an issue, I'd say a titanium mountain bike with some modifications (racks, fenders, slick tires, etc) would make an ideal go-anywhere commuter bike. I'd paint it red, though, I've never been a big fan of the bare ti look.

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  21. I own two Titanium Bromptons and 1 Steel Brompton, I selected primarily for weight, secondary for anti-rust. Post purchase I noticed though that I were heavily loaded, the front Pannier system on Bromptons takes load well, it led to a squishiness which I didn't like at all. I'm just now assembling two almost-identical Bromptons one with steel fork one with Ti fork, and the same tyres/wheels/handlebars and so should be able to form a judgement if Ti is more comfortable.

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  22. The bike looks really interesting, but it's set up different than the website shows it....does it belong to someone who choose those bars and saddle?

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  23. Anon 8:40 - The bikes are customisable. I suggested the distributor fit the demo model with those components. Will elaborate in the review.

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  24. Wish some of the writers here had been around when I was trying to sell the Merlin Extralight.

    I had it in the first place because UPS 'misplaced' my good bike for 8 months and a friend simultaneously had multiple reasons to sell his nearly new Extralight. Nearly new as in 300 miles. And he sold it to me for about the wholesale cost of the frame. And it was a complete bike with new Campy Record group. A deal too good to pass by at an opportune moment.

    It was the only bike I've ever owned I just actively disliked. The "echo" effect Velouria describes so well translated as 'dead'. Is this a bike? Where's the bike in this bike?

    Probably two dozen riders test rode the Merlin before it sold. All but the last one said 'dead'. I had sweetened the pot with a set of Shamal wheels and was still offering the bike at a price so low it would've made more sense to sell the parts and dumpster the frame. Everyone approached the bike all eager for the great deal. No one wanted it.

    The lady who finally took it was tall and very light. Wonder if maybe the frames feel better for riders 125-135#? I've tried a few more ti bikes briefly and it's the same feeling each time. Dead. I'd rather feel the road and know I'm riding. Experience "as if it were happening to someone else" is an odd goal. I'll live my life, thank you.

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  25. Anon 10:10 - very interesting.

    I agree that "dead" can be another word to describe what I am trying to describe, if you dislike the sensation. "Dead" is an emotionally negative word that essentially means the same thing as "echo."

    Bottom line is, we can take the same sensation and one person will love it while another will hate it. There is no way to write about the experiences of riding bikes without this subjective element. This is why we should never assume we will like a bike just because a reviewer likes it or our friend likes it.

    I do fall into the 125-135lb weight category. However I know heavier riders who love ti, so it can't be all about weight. To me it is a good thing if it feels like the potholes and road buzz are happening to someone else, because that means the pain that goes along with that is happening to somebody else as well. YMMV.

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  26. Yes this is all quite subjective. I am often puzzled when I hear riders discussing pain.

    I don't experience bike riding as painful. If I did I wouldn't ride so much. Anything I'd call pain starts way outside 100 miles or well above 30mph and I seldom do those anymore.

    There's a little discomfort/pain associated with riding in the cold. It was below freezing this a.m. and so just a little pain in riding. One thing I learned long ago was that if all your extremities are fully protected and fully warm - fingers toes head - your body can't figure out it's cold and respond appropriately. If the extremities are all fully warm the body stops protecting the core. Then the core can chill very suddenly. Then you decide to stop the bike and take a nap in the soft luminous inviting snowbank. I've done that. I've kept other riders moving when they wanted to do that.

    A little pain is not bad. I do like to feel the road.

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  27. I am sure a manufacturer like Van Nicholas can make a ti Oma model quite easily. Not only can they afford to invest in the tools, but they are Dutch after all. You should talk to them about it.

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  28. "I don't experience bike riding as painful. If I did I wouldn't ride so much."

    Exactly. This is why I seek out bikes that don't feel painful (to me), I am not a masochist. Different people experience diff degrees of pain sensitivity and from different sources. I am very sensitive to road vibration, but fairly insensitive to muscle pain from riding too long or too hard. Seems like we all just need to be aware of what works for us and stick with that.

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  29. I'm surprised nobody has mentioned Baum Cycles in Australia. They do road, touring, cyclocross and MTB in both titanium and steel. These are some of the finest handmade bicycles in the world.

    Pure bike porn!!

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  30. British touring cycle specialist shop Spa Cycles have recently introduced a Ti tourer (and also an Audax version) shown here http://www.spacycles.co.uk/products.php?plid=m1b17s0p0 and reviewed here http://www.ctc.org.uk/resources/Magazine/201107062.pdf. These are British designed frames, but made in Taiwan.
    I haven't tried either of these (yet!)

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  31. My parents ride coordinating titanium bikes- one white detail on red, one red detail on white. They never leave them out of their sight! My mum will be celebrating her 70th birthday cycling in Majorca in 2 weeks. Happy Christmas to you all and happy birthday to my mum!

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  32. How are you test riding all these Sevens? My friend has a steel Honey and I am super jealous!

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  33. "My parents ride coordinating titanium bikes"

    So cute, especially the colour scheme for the holidays!

    green bike girl - the Ride Studio Cafe in Lexington MA is a dealer and also owned by the same person who owns Seven. They have maybe a dozen demo models at any given time and anyone can test ride them. I saw a Honey (all-steel sister brand to Seven) for the first time a couple of weeks ago, very pretty bikes!

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  34. Tom Kellogg of Spectrum Cycles has some interesting posts on Ti frame construction on his site if anyone is interested.

    While Tom is enthusiastic about Ti construction properly done, he will tell you the most important feature of the well made bike is its design.

    I concur. My road bike is a Spectrum 30th Anniversary made with Columbus SL tubing. Tom designed the bike to have a neutral compliant ride. As he says, he wants the bike to disappear underneath its rider. He succeeded. The bike with 28cm Cerf tires is nearly as smooth riding as my City bike with Hetres.

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  35. "While Tom [Kellogg of Spectrum Cycles] is enthusiastic about Ti construction properly done, he will tell you the most important feature of the well made bike is its design. "

    Rob Vandermark of Seven stresses this point as well. It was over my head and I don't want to misquote him, but he has stated that with ti there is basically more room for error than with steel, because a lot more depends on the nuances of the process. This is why I am not sure whether it is even possible for a manufacturing giant to mass-produce ti frames. They might be made of ti, but apparently it's easy to lose "that feel" if it is not done just so.

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  36. I enjoy your descriptive writing. I think it's interesting that in the last three posts we've gone from jack of all trades to utility to performance. Being a recreational rider, I've found it most fun! Season's Greetings!

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  37. TI is an interesting material, but there is no perfect material, there are always compromises. I believe TI will be ever more expensive in the future. There was a brief low-cost era, when the former USSR was decommissioning it's military equipment, but that is done.

    If a TI bike cost lots, so what? You buy what you want, if you can.

    Steel looks good, after looking at TI. Steel rusts? It does if you let it.

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  38. "There was a brief low-cost era, when the former USSR was decommissioning it's military equipment"

    Didn't know that, interesting!

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  39. Not surprised to read Rob and Tom are on the same page. I should have mentioned that Tom and Rob worked together at Merlin and Seven does Tom's Ti welding.

    It really does seem what you like about the Seven will be hard to duplicate on a mass market scale. High end Ti builders like Tom and Rob take careful consideration of the rider and the proposed use. They select among the different available Ti tubings to come to just the right match for the bike the riders wants.

    By the way, Spectrum Ti frames use what Tom calls a non-push weld that is virtually invisible. I think the Seven uses a variation of this as at least on the high end models I have seen the Ti welds are nearly as invisible as on the Spectrums.

    Now that Reynolds is making stainless fork blade tubing (do not like the look of carbon forks) I have given thought to having Spectrum build me a Ti commuter. Hold up is my steel commuter is so nice, going Ti seems self-indulgent.

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  40. If there were ever to be lower priced titanium it would come from Russia. Russia has ore an order of magnitude richer than any other known deposits. The ore is conveniently near a large hydroelectric plant. The hydro is too far from civilization to be fully utilized. Lots of electricity is what you need to make ti ore into metal.

    TI/Raleigh spent a lot of money on a Russian joint venture in the early 90s. They were planning volume production of frames and components for midrange & up bikes. The project was nixed late in the day by US military/national security concerns that Russia should never have a shadow of Soviet aerospace capabilities.

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  41. I suspect that the fact that Brompton has never rushed to make the main frame Ti has a little to do with the behaviour of the material under load, and probably a similar evaluation of the slim tubes and crank sections available with traditional steel compared to aluminium alloy woul offers similar reading.

    I have a considered regime of fitting steel handlebars and cranks for their resistance to deformation and infinitley more robust fatigue performance (several near things in thecrtch department WRT cranks - and a couple of broken ribs when a crank snapped going uphill and I rolled taking the bike in my chest)

    The sheer dimensions of the sections required in Al alloy produce a leaden looking and probably (I don't ride enough Al bikes)leaden riding machine.

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  42. The best property of a titanium frame IMO is the rather inert properties of the material. No need for a paint coating and no rust. The worst part is that titanium forks are rare, and very pricy for what they offer so it is hard/not worth it, to get a matching fork.

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  43. Most definately I would consider titanium - affordable titanium. I am intrigued with your findings.

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  44. I'm with neighbourtease, very intrigued by the titanium Oma! Imagine it with a curved fork and cream tires... maybe Fat Franks!

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  45. I've been racing and riding Ti bikes for a number of years. My wife and I currently own three Van Nicholas Ti bikes (a men's Amazon, a woman's Rohloff/Belt Amazon, and a men's Rohloff/Belt Pioneer), plus a Ti Santana tandem.

    Just to add a few thoughts to this discussion.....

    Black Sheep in Fort Collins has a whole range of tube bends in its Ti bike designs, so there would obviously be no limits re duplicating traditional urban/upright frame designs in Ti.

    Likewise, although Ti forks tend to be rare since most builders try to duplicate the weight of carbon forks, and in Ti, that doesn't work (i.e., the forks crack), Black Sheep makes custom Ti forks that appear to hold up well. I have a Black Sheep Ti fork on my Amazon, which is set up as a rando bike, and it is arguably the best long distance road fork I've ever owned--it absorbs shock but isn't noodley. Handling remains quite precise.

    Velouria, I agree with you that there is a distinct aspect to how Ti frames ride and seem to absorb shock--but that is probably limited to PROPERLY DESIGNED Ti frames. In my experience, Litespeed, Moots, Seven, Merlin and Van Nicholas all make properly designed Ti frames. I know of at least one manufacturer which produces third rate bikes in Ti.

    What I find interesting about Van Nicholas is that they seem to have the best understanding of urban bike design among the major Ti builders, probably because they're solidly within the extremely mature Dutch cycling tradition, being based in the Netherlands. They also seem to have solved the excessive cost issue--a Rohloff Amazon is about half the cost of a Moots Comooter, which is a comparable design. Something else I like: the design, material and build quality are all an order of magnitude better than the top of the line Gazelles that my wife and I used to ride--the Van Nicholas bikes are virtually maintenance free, ride better than the Gazelles and weigh about half as much.

    I have no affiliation with Van Nicholas, by the way, other than that I appreciate their designs and am a customer.

    Best regards,

    Mark

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  46. Mark - What handlebars do you guys have installed on your Van Nicholas commuters?

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  47. Oh and which Black Sheep fork did you get? Would love to see pictures of the bike.

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  48. V, I'll respond here rather than by email, in case anyone else is interested in this info.

    HANDLEBARS:
    My wife is using a Nitto butterfly/trekking bar on her Rohloff Amazon. It's a good alternative to drop bars for long distance and urban riding, and works better with the Rohloff twist shifter than would drop bars. In my experience, the Nitto version is vastly superior to any other similar handlebar--the hand positions are simply much better conceived, the weight is less etc. Aesthetically.....well, that's another story, but if form follows function, it's hard not to love this bar.

    I have a Nitto Noodle on my Amazon rando bike.

    I used to use FSA Metropolis bars on the Pioneer, but the forward lean was a bit too much on a bike set up for upright urban use, so I switched to Dimension Cruiser bars. Here's a URL:

    http://www.amazon.com/Dimension-Cruiser-bar/dp/B001F2USFO

    The Pioneer is dramatically more stiff than the Amazon, so these cheap bars are working remarkably well. I expect to stay with them. The issue with the Rohloff twist shifter is that very few north road type handlebars have sufficient grip area length to accomodate the twist shifter, a brake lever and a grip.

    Ti FORK:
    On the Amazon Rando bike, I have a custom Black Sheep Ti Road Fork (i.e., NOT the unicrown version) WITH CURVED FORK LEGS, canti bosses, cable guides for the dynohub cable, fender mounts, etc.

    I've had this fork for about 18 months, and it is working exceptionally well--super comfortable, outstanding precision in handling, seems to be totally reliable etc. There is no toe overlap, I've had it up to about 60 mph on mountain descents and the stability and controllability is superb.

    What is also interesting: Black Sheep makes CUSTOM Ti forks to spec for about the cost of a typical carbon fork.

    Todd or James at www.blacksheepbikes.com are also great guys.

    OTHER:
    There are a handful of other items that we've changed on the Van Nicholas bikes that have significantly improved the overall gestalt of the machines. I'll be happy to forward a few photos (which I'll need to take).

    I believe you have my email if there's anything else that I can do to assist with this project.

    Thanks, M

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  49. Thanks for sharing here M, I will email you!

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  50. I"ve been riding a Seven Ti for several years now.....I am so comfortable! Also have a carbon Lemond, very comfy ride, but not fit like the TI. It's getting so that I cant ride any of my other bikes at all, just because of the pleasure of the Seven. BTW, I ride year round, do my errands on the Seven (groc in a backpack) live in the rainy NW, and am 69 yo.

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  51. And I must have good timing -

    "There was a brief low-cost era, when the former USSR was decommissioning it's military equipment"

    Bought a TI cyclocross bike from Bike Direct about two years ago. It only cost about $300 more than the steel version. Made in Taiwan by an anonymous factory. Great welds, good design. Carbon forks. Added a rear rack and fenders.

    I use it for commuting in Los Angles where you need a comfortable, tough bike for the vast distances. sometimes I have to carry more weight in locks than the weight of the bike.

    If you can get one, Titanium bikes should last for quite awhile. Very comfortable.

    Eric W

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  52. I own a Ti Van Nicholas RR, and i am very fond of it, best RR i ever owned, now i will get a Van Nicholas MTB hard tail 29" with horizontal drop-outs, so i can ride a SS or i can mount a Rohloff hub.
    It realy lasts a lifetime, even in winterconditions with salt on the streets (i live in Holland and ride over 5000 miles a year under every condition).
    For me no more discussions, i am convinced.

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  53. As the contributor of carfreememphis.org. I wanted to tell you I am impressed with your blog posts. Easy to read and personable. I will take a few lessons from your experience too. I am more about MY COMMUTE SUCKS, and my blogs are far more aggressive and radical. A like a light bike, but its not good if you got to get a load over 30 pounds down the road. Not only that you did say that it still takes about 45 minutes to get around town no matter what type of bike you ride due to traffic conditions alone.

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  54. What's with that weird singulator thing that doesn't seem to be in use hanging from the rear der hanger?

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  55. Copied this from the Gates Belt Manual. It explains where the "snubber" is for:

    f the Gates Carbon Drive is used with the Rohloff SPEEDHUB 500/14, a so-called “Snubber” has to be installed. The Snubber guides the belt at the rear sprocket and prevents the belt from ratcheting over the teeth. Ratcheting teeth can damage the inner carbon structure of the belt. This can cause the belt to break when the bike is being used.

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  56. Going to build a titanium lady bike here at Triton Bikes. Was searching the Internet for some experience and found this article. Thanks for a link to Van Nicholas!
    Well, hopefully there will be another bike to be added to this list soon :)
    Planning on using Alfine (possibly with Di2, disc brakes, carbon CX fork with disc brake mount. Still deciding on the top tube shape/solution.

    Dmitry

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