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  1. #1
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    Knolly Bikes with Titanium Frames

    Did you hear that Knolly is going to forego carbon fiber and start making titanium frames? Neither did I. In fact, Iíve never even hear it mentioned or dreamed about. Every wish for a change in Knolly bike material that Iíve read has been for carbon fiber. Why is this?

    Titanium has become cheaper and easier to work with; plus it is more durable and failures are not catastrophic. If I had my wish for a frame material change, it would be for a change to titanium.

    Examples of titanium full-suspension mountain bike frames:

    Lynskey
    Moots
    Van Nicholas

    Good article about titanium and bikes: Titanium: The History And Future Of The Popular Bike Frame Material - BikeRadar

    Article about cost effective titanium hydroforming
    Youtube vids showing 3d printing of titanium (I used to want a MakerBot, but now my desires have grown. )
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  2. #2
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    interesting thing, indeed. but i have a feeling as if titanium won't make it out of it's niche. the trend is clearly towards composite materials and it won't be stopped anymore. but for individualists ti will become an even more realistic option to go for.

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    Definitely think there should be more use of titanium, especially in situations where it doesn't have to be extensively machined. I think even cooler than that video is metallic glass where it can 3d printed or injection molded.

    To what degree is it becoming cheaper?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by thedeathstar View Post
    Definitely think there should be more use of titanium, especially in situations where it doesn't have to be extensively machined. I think even cooler than that video is metallic glass where it can 3d printed or injection molded.

    To what degree is it becoming cheaper?
    Since the 1960s titanium pricing (adjusted for inflation) hasn't changed much (before then, the price was up to 900% higher). The biggest problem with TI is working with the metal. It's the manufacturing advances that are bringing the prices down. TI manufacturing is still leading edge and small so it more costly; but as economies of scale increase then the price will drop.

    As Knolly is a "design house", you won't see them adopt TI until their are mainstream manufactures that can fabricate the bikes for them. As far as I can tell, those are far and few between. One interesting option seams to have been explored by Yeti; and that is licensing their design to a TI bike builder. Mountain Bikes | Kent Eriksen Cycles

    It would be interesting to see how much a V-tach-TI would weigh; and if there would be a market.

    FWIW: I choose to speculate about the V-tach because it is known as a heavier bike and it looks like it would be the easiest/cheapest to build in TI by a custom bike builder.
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  5. #5
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    these guys make some pretty nice looking ti fs bikes


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    sweet jesus.
    Nice KOM, sorry about your penis.

  7. #7
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    The Ti Chabardo frame is like around 4 big ones plus shipping if you're feelin some TI love is in order.

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    For full suspension mountain bikes I just don't see the the weight savings being worth double the money. A lot of the magic of Ti isn't going to be noticed on a full squish bike (aside from the weight).

    Don't get me wrong, I want a Ti frame hardtail and road bike someday from Moots, Eriksen, or Mosaic... but for full suspension trail or AM bike. Aluminum is just fine by me.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by CalvinHobbs View Post
    For full suspension mountain bikes I just don't see the the weight savings being worth double the money. A lot of the magic of Ti isn't going to be noticed on a full squish bike (aside from the weight).

    Don't get me wrong, I want a Ti frame hardtail and road bike someday from Moots, Eriksen, or Mosaic... but for full suspension trail or AM bike. Aluminum is just fine by me.

    i agree. but if money was no object a custom fs bike would be cool

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by qbert2000 View Post
    i agree. but if money was no object a custom fs bike would be cool
    Cool perhaps, but far from ideal.

    Since no one else has chimed in, I guess I will.

    Overall Titanium is a terrible material for a FS frame. About the only thing that can be said about it, is that in about 80-90% of 'bike related' parts, it is superior to steel. It's main advantages are in abrasion resistance and corrosion resistance. Even that is gone with the advent of the new steels, namely 953: Reynolds Technology

    The problems with Titanium are many, even apart from the difficulty working with the material. It is far too dense to make a good rigid structure. As we all know from basic high school physics, cross-sectional area is proportional to the rigity that can be achieved given constant material statistics. Aluminum, particularly 7075 ( http://www.alcoa.com/mill_products/c...5techsheet.pdf ), achieves much higher stiffness at a lower weight than many other metals. The only other similar, and slightly superior metal to aluminum to my (quite limited) knowledge is AE44 Magnesium ( http://sem-proceedings.com/06s/sem.o...ium-Alloys.pdf). As you can see from the SEM article introduction, AE44 magnesium has the benefits of both low density and high specific strength needed for making stiff and strong parts (which incidentally are highly fatigue resistant).

    Of course, all of these materials pale in comparison to composites. There is a reason why titanium has never been used much in multi-million dollar racing (formula 1 etc). Magnesium frames date back to the 1970's. Few remaining uses remain, such as wheels. The main components on modern race vehicles are carbon fiber. Now, even aerospace is going carbon (not titanium).

    For durability, flexibility of design (Noel is gonna go crazy with Endorphin-Carbon, I can't wait to see what he dreams up), stiffness, strength, fatigue resistance...there simply is no better material. I think the biggest issue with carbon is that people are used to metal, and not used to making small repairs when there is a rock gouge in the material. With aluminum, it is so soft that you can see the damage and freak out. With steel and titanium, they are so resiliant you can just keep riding until the cracks start to creak so bad you give up and buy a new frame. Carbon takes a new way of thinking to maximize its durability.

    Having said that, I hope there is a tread towards using carbon laminated with Kevlar, or Spectra, or some other high abrasion resistant composite. I would place a single layer of kevlar at the penultimate layer in the layup, then a final layer of fancy looking carbon with a purdy top coat (i.e. gel coat). That way, you achieve high abrasion resistance (Kevlar) and high stiffness and strength (carbon) with an easily repairable material that a novice can do in the backyard. As a bonus, the yellow Kevlar layer under the black carbon fiber layer, will make it obvious when a repair needs to be made.

    Of course, on a hardtail the story is very much different. Which is why my only hardtail is a titanium frame

    Hope this helps with your quest. If you must have titanium, go for the components where it is the best material: seatposts, headset cups, bottom brackets, axles etc. (possibly add pedals to the list, those would be cool if someone would just make one)
    Regional Race Manager, Knolly Bikes
    Washington State, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa

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    Composite and carbon fibre + granite rocks (think North Shore staple) is bad news. Catastrophic crashes on fibre around here are NOT going to be good. I have personally witnessed a Y frame of carbon manufacture shatter on a side impact that would of, at best, dented a metal frame. There is always a tradeoff.....

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by rdhfreethought View Post
    Cool perhaps, but far from ideal.

    Since no one else has chimed in, I guess I will.

    Overall Titanium is a terrible material for a FS frame. About the only thing that can be said about it, is that in about 80-90% of 'bike related' parts, it is superior to steel. It's main advantages are in abrasion resistance and corrosion resistance. Even that is gone with the advent of the new steels, namely 953: Reynolds Technology
    ...
    Lots of info in your reply you seem pretty knowledgable on the subject. Know anything about flash bainitesteel. Read about it once and it did sound interesting as far as possibly using it for bike frames and other components.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by rdhfreethought View Post
    Cool perhaps, but far from ideal.

    Since no one else has chimed in, I guess I will.

    Overall Titanium is a terrible material for a FS frame. About the only thing that can be said about it, is that in about 80-90% of 'bike related' parts, it is superior to steel. It's main advantages are in abrasion resistance and corrosion resistance. Even that is gone with the advent of the new steels, namely 953: Reynolds Technology

    The problems with Titanium are many, even apart from the difficulty working with the material. It is far too dense to make a good rigid structure. As we all know from basic high school physics, cross-sectional area is proportional to the rigity that can be achieved given constant material statistics. Aluminum, particularly 7075 ( http://www.alcoa.com/mill_products/c...5techsheet.pdf ), achieves much higher stiffness at a lower weight than many other metals. The only other similar, and slightly superior metal to aluminum to my (quite limited) knowledge is AE44 Magnesium ( http://sem-proceedings.com/06s/sem.o...ium-Alloys.pdf). As you can see from the SEM article introduction, AE44 magnesium has the benefits of both low density and high specific strength needed for making stiff and strong parts (which incidentally are highly fatigue resistant).

    Of course, all of these materials pale in comparison to composites. There is a reason why titanium has never been used much in multi-million dollar racing (formula 1 etc). Magnesium frames date back to the 1970's. Few remaining uses remain, such as wheels. The main components on modern race vehicles are carbon fiber. Now, even aerospace is going carbon (not titanium).

    For durability, flexibility of design (Noel is gonna go crazy with Endorphin-Carbon, I can't wait to see what he dreams up), stiffness, strength, fatigue resistance...there simply is no better material. I think the biggest issue with carbon is that people are used to metal, and not used to making small repairs when there is a rock gouge in the material. With aluminum, it is so soft that you can see the damage and freak out. With steel and titanium, they are so resiliant you can just keep riding until the cracks start to creak so bad you give up and buy a new frame. Carbon takes a new way of thinking to maximize its durability.

    Having said that, I hope there is a tread towards using carbon laminated with Kevlar, or Spectra, or some other high abrasion resistant composite. I would place a single layer of kevlar at the penultimate layer in the layup, then a final layer of fancy looking carbon with a purdy top coat (i.e. gel coat). That way, you achieve high abrasion resistance (Kevlar) and high stiffness and strength (carbon) with an easily repairable material that a novice can do in the backyard. As a bonus, the yellow Kevlar layer under the black carbon fiber layer, will make it obvious when a repair needs to be made.

    Of course, on a hardtail the story is very much different. Which is why my only hardtail is a titanium frame

    Hope this helps with your quest. If you must have titanium, go for the components where it is the best material: seatposts, headset cups, bottom brackets, axles etc. (possibly add pedals to the list, those would be cool if someone would just make one)
    Nah this argument is psuedo science.

    Youve ignored how Lynskey works their Ti tubes. Their helix tubing is there to give all the strength and stiffness you need.

    Carbon is still in its infancy and isnt as strong as you would like to think it is, Carbon has the potential to be a super structure but isnt there quite yet and wont be for some years to come.

    I would much prefer a Ti 650b Endorphin to any 'soft' carbon version.

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    In terms of strength to weight ratio, and taking in consideration aspects of yield/fatigue/fracture toughness, Ti alloys are superior to everything out there.

    It doesn't really matter what 'strength' you are talking about: elastic modulus, yield strength, fatigue strength, fracture toughness... titanium/Ti-alloys are at the top or near the top in every category, strength to weight wise.

    Carbon fiber laminate structures (and that is really what layup structures are) cannot be engineered to have the unique combo of Ti's (or even steel alloy) properties. The good thing is for FS bikes you don't really care about some of those properties much at all, or for rigid frames, you can design the structure quite elegantly to compensate for short comings in the laminate's properties (or use different laminate structures for different parts of the mechanical structure).

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    Now, owning a ti hardtail though being no expert (and not having read every detail of every link here provided) what i know of ti is this:

    - ti is supple
    - ie. ti has a little flex and dampening feel to its soul
    - hence ti made for a great hardtail ride back in the day

    - enter full suspension
    - supple ride now attributed for via addition of rear shock
    - and more rigid - ie STIFFER and cheaper - aluminum steps up
    - and i believe pound-for-fabricated-pound aluminum is actually lighter than ti !?!

    Ti supple 'n flexxxy - Aluminum stiff 'n lighter - Carbon stiffer and slightly lighter still.

    i've got a set of old school EDGE/ENVE carbon rims on my Delirium and other than being a mere 50-150 grams lighter than an aluminum rim is the things rail and hold a line like no other...

    re: wheels anyhow... ie. stiff
    http://www.enve.com/cache/DOC65_BIKE...20101022092426

    counterpoint (though i don't think i want to don my Engineering cap and ingest this one)
    Debunking Wheel Stiffness - Slowtwitch.com

  16. #16
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    Thanks so much for all the input. I'm learning quite a bit from your posts, which is why I started this thread.

    From what I understood, there are different TI alloys that offer different properties--some offer stiffness and others are more flex. Is this correct?


    FWIW: I get my understanding from reading about high-end road bikes (like those made by Lynskey and Seven). Supposedly they use a combination of these TI alloys, along with varying thickness, to create more lateral stiffness with less horizontal stiffness. The result is supposedly bikes that are good climbers when your mashing on the pedals with a softer ride than composite bikes.
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    The bainite website reads so poorly, it sounds like --and probably is-- an infomercial. From what little I know about crystaline structures of metals (from a vague interest in japanese folded steel blades), the manipulations are quite tedius and prone to imperfections. I have seen a tubeset break in the middle of a seat tube, while the guy was coasting to a stop (a new Santa Cruz, so not some walmart bike). Clearly, this was a manufacturing defect from the tubeset supplier.

    With carbon strands, even if there was a defect and that strand was friable (and thus easily broken with minimal force, like dental floss or something) it would have negligible effect on the structure as a whole, as there would be hundreds or thousands of other fibers that did not have said defect.

    Regarding Ti alloys, sure there are many, but just like aluminum, there are just a couple used in 99% of structural components of high end bikes. TI6AL4V is the most common, although I've seen 3-2.5 used on a few (like SEVEN cycles). If I understand correctly the difference between 6-4 and 3-2.5 is much less than, say, the difference between 6061, 7075 aluminum, and much less still between 4130 cromoly steel and Reynolds 853/953.

    The wheel article was well written, with lots of pretty pictures. But I fail to see where he said anything that wasn't intuitively obvious. Wider flanges increase the angle, and therefore increase the stiffness. It was a whole lot of armchair quarterbacking. What is needed instead, is measuring the rigidity and failure threshold of actual wheels, or even same rims and hubs, but with different spokes, or spokes at different tensions. That would give real information, that would be useful. If this were true and I bought some flexy wheelset trying to shave grams, then I have no one to blame but myself. All those hidden numbers, none of which are released to the public. Only useless drivel like "8% increase in stiffness over last year" or 'shaves 30 grams WOW!'

    Regarding the comment about carbon being in its infancy. I am not so sure. Kelvar has been around since 1965, carbon too. That is longer than the newer alloys I mentioned above. I think you are probably right, though. However, Steel has been around for hundreds of years and only recently have newer improved alloys come to market. Both metallurgy and composites have grown rapidly in recent years, therefore incremental advances hundreds of years ago doesn't help the argument that composites are 'young' and therefore immature.

    Rather, I would say that EVEN THOUGH composites are a 'young' field, they are already better than metals. Improvements in epoxies, fiber stability, fiber microstructure (nanotubes), are all coming along very quickly. In the next 15 years, if metals improve by more than 5% I would be impressed, but composites are probably going to demonstrate strength/weight characteristics multiple times that.

    in my opinion, of course
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by rdhfreethought View Post
    in my opinion, of course
    And, I'm glad you are giving it. I found your previous comment about using Kevlar with Carbon to be very interesting. I had wondered if you could combine the two but had never heard of it being done. Also, I had never considered a magnesium mountain bike--the mountain bike for the person who has too much money.

    I'm not sure what is the reason (better tools, better understanding, or what) but materials science has advance more in the last 10 years than it has in the last 100. IMO, there will amazing advances in both composites and metallurgy over the next decade. With that in mind, I feel that speculating about what will happen with one material over another is even harder to guess correctly than my original speculation--that the cost of working with TI is dropping enough to make it more viable for main-stream mountain bikes.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TSC View Post
    And, I'm glad you are giving it. I found your previous comment about using Kevlar with Carbon to be very interesting. I had wondered if you could combine the two but had never heard of it being done. Also, I had never considered a magnesium mountain bike--the mountain bike for the person who has too much money.

    I'm not sure what is the reason (better tools, better understanding, or what) but materials science has advance more in the last 10 years than it has in the last 100. IMO, there will amazing advances in both composites and metallurgy over the next decade. With that in mind, I feel that speculating about what will happen with one material over another is even harder to guess correctly than my original speculation--that the cost of working with TI is dropping enough to make it more viable for main-stream mountain bikes.
    TSC see this:

    Metallurgy for Cyclists | Technical Articles | Support | Ibis Cycles US

    which covers the following:

    The Basics
    Steel is Real
    Aluminum's Future is Bright and Shiny
    The Titanium Advantage
    Carbon Fiber Boasts Tremendous Potential
    Try Something Exotic
    The Final Chapter

    When i said carbon is in its infancy, i 'obviously' meant within the realms of cycling technology.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by frenchcr View Post
    TSC see this:

    Metallurgy for Cyclists | Technical Articles | Support | Ibis Cycles US

    which covers the following:

    The Basics
    Steel is Real
    Aluminum's Future is Bright and Shiny
    The Titanium Advantage
    Carbon Fiber Boasts Tremendous Potential
    Try Something Exotic
    The Final Chapter

    When i said carbon is in its infancy, i 'obviously' meant within the realms of cycling technology.
    Thanks!!!
    "sounds like you need to find a better mechanic..." -- Calhoun

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    I studied much chemistry in university, and crystalline structure is well known to me, as is "complexing"; that is, non-chemical bonding of chemicals based on electronegativity attraction. Anyway, my thoughts: Since full suspension bikes are designed with the SUSPENSION to move; nothing else, the frame must be STIFF. Titanium is an excellent spring material due to inherent "springiness". Moreso than steel and lighter. It also does not rust. BUT any flex in a full suspension frame will put undo stress on pivots being made to pivot in a non-linear plane. The bike will flex, and not work as well, to say nothing of cost.

    Carbon fibre/composites and granite rocks do not mix. I have seen it first hand how the frame "spiders" on impact. Not good. Aluminum is cheaper, easier to weld and use. And of course, it is all about design anyway.

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    Quote Originally Posted by blackfly View Post
    I studied much chemistry in university, and crystalline structure is well known to me, as is "complexing"; that is, non-chemical bonding of chemicals based on electronegativity attraction. Anyway, my thoughts: Since full suspension bikes are designed with the SUSPENSION to move; nothing else, the frame must be STIFF. Titanium is an excellent spring material due to inherent "springiness". Moreso than steel and lighter. It also does not rust. BUT any flex in a full suspension frame will put undo stress on pivots being made to pivot in a non-linear plane. The bike will flex, and not work as well, to say nothing of cost.

    Carbon fibre/composites and granite rocks do not mix. I have seen it first hand how the frame "spiders" on impact. Not good. Aluminum is cheaper, easier to weld and use. And of course, it is all about design anyway.

    Good points, I agree that granite had CF don't mix well (reference my prior comments). However, I think for non-catastrophic failures it is less of a big deal than aluminum, which is just so soft.

    **if I were to make a CF frame, I would forego the top coat/gel coat (pretty does not equal good design) and instead use a Kevlar Veil type material. (see pic below) This would allow abrasion resistance, and I would surmise that with the many random interlocking junctions, the 'spidering' of 90-degree woven fiber would be much reduced.

    Easton has made claims about MRES 'armored ballistic' carbon fiber for their wheels. Not sure how true all that is. But I bet there are a lot of folks out there that know this stuff. There is a huge market in the PPE field for abrasion protection (Kevlar is also an excellent chemical protective, and electrical protective, since it doesn't conduct like carbon)

    Kevlar Veil, lightweight .25 oz, 35.5" wide in stock | Fibre Glast
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