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  1. #1
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    Help me ID vintage Ti (Sandvik) frame please!

    After my litespped cracked on me, I just had to have another Ti bike. I bought this hardtail off eBay, advertised as a Diamondback (DBR) Axis TT. Once I got the bike though, I started looking up the mid-90's axis Ti bikes, and it doesn't seem quite right.

    The serial number is B MB 18040. The "B" is light at the bottom, so there's a slight chance it's actually an "R".
    -The bike has the sandvik "bullet" ends
    -The disc tabs appear original to a yokel like me.
    -The downtube is ovalized, but not butted
    -The cables are all routed on top
    -the seatstay/chainstay has a sort of "flare"--ie, they're bent, not straight.

    The Kona Hei Hei looked like a contender for a while, but I don't believe the Hei Hei had the ovalized tubing, and the King Kahuna had it but was also butted. I posted pics of the cable routing and seat tube riser (is that what it is?) just in case those might help.

    I love the bike, and actually thought it was a 17" when I got it because it feels so nimble, but I think the s/n means it's the 40th 18" frame of XX model year. Is that right?

    Any insight is appreciated, unless I actually bought a Russian or Chinese bike, unless I'd rather just bury my head in the sand.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Help me ID vintage Ti (Sandvik) frame please!-tihardtail.jpg  

    Help me ID vintage Ti (Sandvik) frame please!-dsc_0976.jpg  

    Help me ID vintage Ti (Sandvik) frame please!-dsc_0977.jpg  

    Help me ID vintage Ti (Sandvik) frame please!-dsc_0975.jpg  

    Help me ID vintage Ti (Sandvik) frame please!-dsc_0973.jpg  

    Help me ID vintage Ti (Sandvik) frame please!-dsc_0974.jpg  


  2. #2
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    Sandvik is still around but under a different name. Try emailing them.

    TiSport

  3. #3
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    Email with pics sent...thanks a lot! I'm not sure why, but now that I've put the bike together (my first ever!), I'm really excited to actually learn what it is...unless it's some cheap import no-name, then I'll just strip everything and put it on my old Cannondale! Anyway, I appreciate the help!

  4. #4
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    No worries, looks like a fun one and a TST to my eyes. I've got one of the ones they made for Bontrager and like it a lot. Make sure you let us know what it was branded as.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boy named SSue View Post
    Make sure you let us know what it was branded as.
    Well, thanks to your tip, I started snooping around for TST bikes, and found a retrobike post that seems to fit; looks like the Kona was a decent guess, but it's a Ti Sports frame. Seems like they sort of blended the Hei Hei and King Kahuna with the ovalized tubing, no gussets, and "wavy" stays. The OP on that forum didn't list his specific serial number, but the format doesn't seem to match mine. Unless I misunderstood, his s/n is two letters, 3-digit number (LL-NNN), while mine is "B MB 18040". I'll have to join retrobike and PM him to clarify. Again, MB would seem to be "mountain bike", 18 the frame size, and then s/n. Maybe "B" is 2001, although that seems a bit too new I think.

    Still hoping to get a year, see if it came with any decals (I like mine bare, but interesting to see anyway), and maybe even a catalog scan if possible.

    I'm also anxious to hear back from my emails to Kona and Ti Sports.

  6. #6
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    I don't think it's an Axis TT, for a couple of reasons...

    -- Top Tube cable guides routed on side of TT rather than on the top.

    -- No Cantilever cable stop on Seatstays. Also, Seatstays were straight, not wishbone.

    -- No Disc Brake Mounts for Rear (frame pre-dates ISO disc caliper mount). Any disc caliper mount would have been an aftermarket mod, and the frame doesn't look as it's been modified that way.

    I would venture to bet that this frame was built in the early 00's; quite possibly of Russian origin.

  7. #7
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    drop outs look tst... anyway, they look better than my litespeed obed. ovalized downtube is good stuff.
    want: Ibis ti handlebar. suntour 31.8 front derr. bottom pull

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldskoolwrench View Post
    I would venture to bet that this frame was built in the early 00's; quite possibly of Russian origin.
    Right, I bought it as an Axis, but pretty quickly realized it wasn't. You're killing me saying it's probably Russian? I'm curious what made you think that?

    Looks like it's a TiSport, aka TST, aka Sandvik's bike manufacturing wing frame called a "G-Man". Sort of of a blend between a Kona Hei Hei and King Kahuna, affectionately called a "Kona King Haoli" around the shop. I'm supposed to get a catalog sheet emailed to me, and I'll post it here when I do. I still don't know what year, but given the Ti Kona era, I think you're probably right that it's closer to late 90's than mid-90's.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by colker1 View Post
    drop outs look tst... anyway, they look better than my litespeed obed. ovalized downtube is good stuff.
    Thanks a lot for the input. Maybe I'm just fickle, but I've still got my Litespeed Cohutta frame, and I compared the two, and I like the workmanship on the TST a lot better. I did like having that Litespeed headbadge though!

  10. #10
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    OK, *still* not sure of the year, but here's the spec sheet from the website. In scouring the biking boards for info, it's interesting that "Sandvik Ti" seemed to really mean something when they built other peoples bikes, but when Ti Sports started to get out of the bike business, the brand really took a hit. They unloaded their inventory via Cambria Bikes Online and eBay (for $600 and change), and it seems like once the price dropped, the comments on boards like "I think they're Chinese/Russian/Taiwan" or "you get what you pay for" started showing up. For my part, I have to admit, even though I love, love, LOVE the bike, I was a little disappointed when I bought it as a DBR Axis TT then confirmed it wasn't. Then it seemed an awful lot like a Kona Hei Hei or King Kahuna and it wasn't, and I was a little disappointed again. I still love riding it, but there is that little piece of me that wishes it was a DBR or a Kona...Also, in my vigilant searches, it looks like the new Kona Ti's are in fact built in Russia. I'll have a titanium boat anchor on my hands if that's the case with this bike!

    I'll try to compare the specs to the Konas and see how similar they really are. To a newby like me it seems like a King Kahuna, without the gussets, and with the S-shaped chain/seat stays, and with factory-standard disc tabs, but I'll be curious to see if the geometry's the same.

    Anyway, thanks for the help, particularly A Boy Named SSue for pointing me in the right direction. If I hear from TST, Kona, Cambria, or anyone else, I'll post so at least the next guy can get the story straight!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Help me ID vintage Ti (Sandvik) frame please!-p4pb9730497.jpg  


  11. #11
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    vxc961,

    To be honest, the end of the Cold War brought on the influx of frames built with Russian Ti (or, as I used to call them, Tovarisch [Comrade] Titanium). Mother Russia had the material; all they were looking for was an outlet to use it, hence bike frames.

    Perfectly good stuff; Russia isn't exactly a slouch when it comes to their Aerospace industry, and the materials they use. With all things being even, it comes down to the more esoteric stuff; weld quality, size, slight blemishes, etc.

    Your rig is damned pretty; make it TOTALLY your own. Have some custom decals made, or a custom head badge. Give it a hot Russian female name, like Katya or Svetlana. Or, just leave it plain babushka and hammer!


  12. #12
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    The nice lady at Ti Lite (aka Ti Sports, aka TST) got back to me! Looks like my bike was made around 2001 (the frame design's older--don't ban me from VRC please). It was "very similar" to the Kona Hei Hei which they'd stopped making around that time. I didn't have the heart to ask if that meant it was a copy and they changed a few things to avoid a lawsuit. They were made in batches, so mine is batch "B", a mountain bike "MB" and then frame size and sequential number. Very nice of her to get back to me, especially since it didn't seem like she was a bike person. Thanks again for pointing me in the right direction!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vxc961 View Post
    Also, in my vigilant searches, it looks like the new Kona Ti's are in fact built in Russia.
    Quote me if I'm wrong but I'm pretty sure that the Kona Raijin and Rove titanium frames are manufactured by Lynskey in the USA.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by smac View Post
    Quote me if I'm wrong but I'm pretty sure that the Kona Raijin and Rove titanium frames are manufactured by Lynskey in the USA.
    Nope, you're probably right--I had seen some of the more recent Hei Hei bikes, and just assumed that was the only offering for Ti Konas--sorry about that. Mea Culpa!

  15. #15
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    I think I've already cracked this nut, but wanted to add that Kona got back to me too. "tech" said it sure looked like a Kona, but that the s/n wasn't theirs. Anyway, very nice of them to get back to me!

  16. #16
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    I don't see any cause for you to be disappointed in it being a TiSport (previously TST) built frame. They were a very well-respected builder and built frames for a lot of brands, not just Kona.

    Their main business is in wholesaling titanium tubes and they deal with other tube manufacturers, not just Sandvic. They also build specialist vehicles for disabled people, which I guess entails exactly the same skills as building bike frames. At some point they were taken over by Sandvic, then later became independent again. People often say a frame is a Sandvic-built frame, but it's better to say TST.

    Within the array of frames they built, a few were actually made of Sandvic tubes, but most weren't. e.g., the Kona Hei Hei and King Kahuna were but the Marins that they built from 1995 onwards (prior to that Marins were built by Litespeed) were not. Whether this makes any difference to the quality I couldn't say and rather doubt, but I guess it sounds better and costs more.

    The only thing I have against your G-man is that I don't like the name, but I guess you can call it whatever you like. There is no clue to date in a TST serial number, but they stopped building Hei Heis in 2000 and King Kahunas in 2001, so it makes sense to assume that this was built around 2001. HHs and KKs never had disc tabs as standard, so the tab also argues for a date around 2001 or 2002, when discs took over on xc frames.

    The only drawback if they copied the Hei Hei design is that the Konas were designed for 60-70mm forks, so if this is the same I wouldn't recommend going above 80mm and then only with a 9-10cm stem. A 100mm fork will work ok with a 7-8cm stem, but not as well as an 80 in my experience (of Konas).

  17. #17
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    Thanks for the reply, and I will say that my rational mind has always agreed with you; I loved the bike when I got, I loved putting it together, and now I love riding it (even with the long fork!). But... I bought it as a DBR TT. After I hit "watch" on eBay I started reviewing posts, old ads, and really getting excited about getting my hands on it. Back in high school, one of my good friends had an Ascent (or Ascent EX?) with the "smoke" paint job. I drooled over that bike, as I tried to wrap my head around where LX fell compared to XT, and why nobody thought of bio-pace before then. I saw the cable routing didn't match the DBR's I saw, and that they didn't have disc tabs, but I thought maybe it was the last year of the DBR TT's short run. Twenty years later, but I'd have a top of the line bike from that era...

    Once I finally got the bike, it started to look much more like a Kona. I've never been rich, but I imagined myself walking in my LBS (which has always, ALWAYS come off as snobby to me) and putting down a wad of cash to buy the top of the line Kona they had--that would sure show him! As I did my research, it seemed like even though the Kona's didn't come with disc tabs, they could be factory retrofitted at the time of purchase. When I put the bike together, even though I probably messed some things up, the bike was silky smooth, and I felt like I was part of the Kona club. I like the bare Ti look, but I thought of buying or making a set of decals to hang in my garage, just to have. I even started looking for a Kona Hula 24" bikes for my kids, thinking we might just become a "Kona family". Who knows, I've always wanted vacation property, maybe a modest bungalow on the big island was in my future? Oh, and Kona coffee? It never tasted so good!

    So...I still love the bike, it still rides great, but it's still a tad disappointing. I don't think the guy on eBay was lying to me, but rather than getting a screaming deal on a DBR or Kona, I got a fair deal on a Ti G-Man (I agree the name is lame). I asked about the cable routing and disc tabs before bidding, and he said he'd seen the exact frame at races, so he was pretty sure they were factory. Again, I understand it's buyer beware, but I let the seller know it wasn't a DBR and was hoping for an apology of any sort, especially since he was anal on some "seller protection stuff". Instead, after getting my eBay note he said "I'm glad there's no grievance then".

    It was fun hearing from TST and getting their story, but it's just not as "sexy" to own a bike called a "G-Man" from a company that now makes wheel-chairs and not bikes.

    I'm probably coming off as more neurotic or shallow than I really am, so there's my disclaimer. I apprecaite the info, as it's still fun learing about the bike and the sport I'm getting back into.

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