Are there any strong reasons for building with titanium?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Are there any strong reasons for building with titanium?

    I am going to get a new bike soon (road actually, not mountain), and remember lusting after titanium bikes in the 90s and 2000s when I had no money. I remember that back then, titanium frames were lighter than the really light aluminum ones, but were more durable (fatigue and impact) and rode far smoother.
    Fast forward to the present day, and I see that a lot of ti road frames weigh about what they did back then, that is, around three pounds- the same as a modern carbon frame with fork and headset. (Correct me if my numbers are off.) A carbon frame is also likely to cost a fair bit less than a titanium one.
    It looks like the remaining reasons to build/ buy a road bike with titanium instead of a carbon one are that it:
    1. is more likely to last forever
    2. is easier to repair
    3. has better impact resistance
    4. can be made by someone locally (support local producers)
    5. looks cool
    6. makes you feel cool (prestige)
    7. makes you feel nostalgic
    -
    1. and 2. are good reasons, but I don't know if they're true, 3. is important but I don't crash much (knock on wood). The remaining reasons are non-technical ones. So overall, it makes me wonder why titanium road bikes are still made. Do they have any absolute advantage over all other materials anymore?
    Thanks for any thoughts you can add, I really do want to get my purchase right!
    _

  2. #2
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    Number one isn't true always, I own both . I've broken Ti but not carbon. As to repairable ,that depends on where you are and how quick you want it fixed. I'd try to ride both , in different brands to see what you like. Not all carbon rides the same ,same goes for Ti.

    Sent from my LM-X220 using Tapatalk

  3. #3
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    One thing I'd add as a benefit of titanium is that it is recyclable. Carbon goes to a landfill most of the time, but metals can be recycled.

    Not that the bike would probably ever get recycled if it was titanium (unless it breaks). Ti bikes get handed down or sold practically as heirloom pieces, carbon frames just get thrown out.

    Especially for something like a road bike, where the geometry won't be obsolete in a few years, titanium makes more sense than carbon.

    But I think any metal makes more sense than carbon. Just my option.
    Myth Cycles handbuilt bike frames
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    http://www.mythcycles.com

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Erichimedes View Post
    But I think any metal makes more sense than carbon. Just my option.
    While I may have agreed fully in the past, I live too close to Drew Wilson to keep that thought. The efficacy of his carbon frame repairs is potent. He's not the only show in town at this point, and if that list keeps growing, it'll end up the responsibility of the frame owner as to where the material ends up going in the end. Either way I think it's a drop in the bucket compared to the legions of Kmart bikes that get dumped on my street by teenagers every summer. I think the high end bike folks (sellers and buyers) wring their hands about this too often compared to the massive wastes produced by people who just can't be bothered to sort their trash right. I'm past due to take a large cache of old computers in for gold reclamation, but I'm not the norm. Not meant as a lecture, just what I've seen.
    Disclaimer: I run Regular Cycles (officialy in 2016, functionally in 2020).

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Diller View Post
    While I may have agreed fully in the past, I live too close to Drew Wilson to keep that thought. The efficacy of his carbon frame repairs is potent. He's not the only show in town at this point, and if that list keeps growing, it'll end up the responsibility of the frame owner as to where the material ends up going in the end. Either way I think it's a drop in the bucket compared to the legions of Kmart bikes that get dumped on my street by teenagers every summer. I think the high end bike folks (sellers and buyers) wring their hands about this too often compared to the massive wastes produced by people who just can't be bothered to sort their trash right. I'm past due to take a large cache of old computers in for gold reclamation, but I'm not the norm. Not meant as a lecture, just what I've seen.
    That's fair. But what you're making an argument for is whether or not the user recycles the frame. I was only bringing up that metal IS recyclable, as opposed to carbon. It doesn't matter if it's made from the most recyclable material in the world if the end user just chucks it in the green bin. C'est la vie.

    I think the reason I bring it up to my customers (only if they ask) has more to do with the concept of paying attention to the long term ramifications of the purchase than just the present. It never hurts to think forward when making any purchase, not just bikes.

    And of course like most people, I start with my opinions, then I find facts to back them up I'm just a fan of metal.
    Myth Cycles handbuilt bike frames
    Durango, CO
    http://www.mythcycles.com

  6. #6
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    depends on how big you are versus how robust the bike. i broke a TI frame at the downtube. a case of too much weight versus too little tube. a bike can be built to take anything though. just saying TI is not by definition indestructible. make sure it's built to your spec.

    i didnt feel like the TI bike had any advantage over steel bikes i had ridden, but you might.
    You just can't beat the person who never gives up. - B.Ruth

  7. #7
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    Realistically, a similar price carbon frame will be significantly lighter and stiffer than Ti. I think you and I would agree, carbon just isn't that cool and you are basically stuck with an off the shelf design.

    But, here are some of the bad experiences I've had with Titanium, and as a result, I'd recommend you consider a good custom steel frame or a cheaper heavier straight gauge Ti frame.

    1. I had an off the shelf Ti frame built with straight gauge ti. It worked well and had an excellent ride quality. I was surprised to find, the weight and price were similar to a custom-butted steel frame.

    2. I spent a fortune building a custom-butted 29er; I told the builder I wanted something lightweight, and that steered quickly. Unfortunately, the 73-degree HTA made the mountain bike horrible to ride, and the thin tubing made it so flexy that the chain would fall off (it was a single-speed). I wish I had spent less money working with a steel builder to build my bad idea bike.

    3. I had a Ti frame crack near a weld on the first ride that I had purchased off of eBay. By the time I paid shipping both ways, the repair was over $500.00.

    4. I had a ti-fork built with a custom offset painted to match a frame. It turns out the frame fork steerer was bent, and the paint would not stick to the Ti.

    If you want an off the shelf straight gauge Ti frame for the cool looks, go for it. If you want a custom-butted Ti frame with the wight and ride quality of a carbon frame, it's going to be expensive and may not be achievable.

  8. #8
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