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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

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Old 07-01-14, 11:47 PM   #1
coastalrider
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Trek Domane vs. Ti custom for someone turning 50

Greetings,

As I approach the half-century mark later this year I am looking for a new bike. When I turned 40 I purchased a Trek 5500 DA bike (2 year old model closeout) and have been riding it since. No complaints about the 5500- have really loved it. At that time I promised myself if I was still into riding I would get a custom bike for my 50 and beyond days. I am looking at Ti and also the new Domane.

Anyone happen to ride both? The Domane definitely has good road shock absorption but I have been told a good Ti frame will do the same as long as I am not riding cobblestones (that's probably not going to happen). I am now leaning towards Ti because I have a CF bike that works and thinking the Ti might be more durable in the long run. I also can get rack and fender mounts for future "credit card" touring I am hoping to do.

Any thoughts?

Cheers,
Marc
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Old 07-02-14, 05:19 AM   #2
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hmmm. I have owned Ti bikes and one of my best riding buddies...in this case a girl has a seven. It doesn't matter on the amateur level and you will find friends of each. Me personally? Carbon can't be beat for weight and stiffness in the right places but again how much does that matter? Especially if you want to do some light touring and want eyelets for mounts, go steel or custom Ti...hard to find those on a carbon fiber bike. As important as frame material is, fit and riding position matter the most...
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Old 07-02-14, 05:40 AM   #3
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I agree that you can't beat carbon for road riding, but I love my Ti bike too. So what to do? I would forego the custom aspect (that would just be pissing away money), get a stock Ti bike to go with your current carbon. Maybe something from the more cost-effective end of the product range like a Motobecane from Bikes Direct, or Habanero, etc. or even up a little around the price of an Everti or bottom-of-the-line Lynskey. Adrenaline Bikes has Ti choices in all price ranges. Unless you are very weirdly proportioned, custom won't do a thing for you except empty your wallet. Then with the money saved you will have a head start on a carbon bike upgrade to replace your current Trek. Done and done!

I wouldn't buy now for something you plan 10(?) years down the road. Lot's of asphalt between now and then. If you ever do want to do the credit card touring, that is how you get that third bike in steel.
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Old 07-02-14, 07:27 AM   #4
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I had a custom Ti bike. While the fit and build process is amazing, it's overkill and most people don't need custom. Unless you have unusual body dimensions, custom isn't needed. You can get most everything dialed in through adjustments and components like stems, bars and seat posts.
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Old 07-02-14, 08:11 AM   #5
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I just turned 50 myself. I would go custom Ti, more for the ability to get exactly what I wanted. I fit fine on of the shelf 56cm top tube bikes but would love a custom bike. The ability to choose wheelbase, angles, head tube length plus any braze on's for fenders, bottles or other items you might want. Want disc brakes- no problem. Ability to carry 4 bottles- no problem. S&S couplers- no problem. Sliding dropouts- no problem. It's endless as to the choices available. Some of the Ti bikes I have seen are just gorgeous. Beautiful dropouts, logos, welds and even paint. If you can afford it get what you really want. Good luck!

I've only ridden one carbon bike for an extend period. A Trek 5900. I rode it for 4 or 5 years but after the initial love period it never really did anything for me. I like my CAAD9 much better than the Trek.
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Old 07-02-14, 09:04 AM   #6
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I am half your age at 25, and its all Ti for me from this point on. I'd just snag a Lynskey R230 or Sportive. The R230 is the best riding bike I have ever owned.
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Old 07-02-14, 09:48 AM   #7
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A custom titanium frame vs a............... Trek? Yeah I'll take the custom ti.
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Old 07-02-14, 09:59 AM   #8
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hmmm. I have owned Ti bikes and one of my best riding buddies...in this case a girl has a seven. It doesn't matter on the amateur level and you will find friends of each. Me personally? Carbon can't be beat for weight and stiffness in the right places but again how much does that matter? Especially if you want to do some light touring and want eyelets for mounts, go steel or custom Ti...hard to find those on a carbon fiber bike. As important as frame material is, fit and riding position matter the most...
If you are gonna do some credit card touring and need racks, then Ti or steel definitely better. As always, I always ask people what the purpose/intention regarding use, then recommend material. I would say though that I was once enamored with Ti bikes, but a test-ride on bikes by two famous manufacturers cured me of that lust real quick. I use my bikes for two purposes; fast exercise rides (will always be carbon frames) and somewhat leisurely beach rides, which aluminum mountain bikes with non-suspension forks are good for, since I hate beach cruisers.

Ti can be pretty, but the only way I'll ever consider a Ti frame is if the tubes were to be custom-designed!
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Old 07-02-14, 10:55 AM   #9
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The ability to choose wheelbase, angles, head tube length plus any braze on's for fenders, bottles or other items you might want.
+1

Custom is about more than just fit. With the right builder, it's about getting the right fit PLUS the right ride, handling, and features.

Also note that while Ti is a wonderful frame material, with steel there are a greater number of experienced builders with access to a greater selection of tubes. That might increase the chances of being able to dial in everything you want with no compromises. Often people think too hard about material and not hard enough about how they actually want the bike to perform.
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Old 07-02-14, 11:34 AM   #10
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+1

Custom is about more than just fit. With the right builder, it's about getting the right fit PLUS the right ride, handling, and features.

Also note that while Ti is a wonderful frame material, with steel there are a greater number of experienced builders with access to a greater selection of tubes. That might increase the chances of being able to dial in everything you want with no compromises. Often people think too hard about material and not hard enough about how they actually want the bike to perform.
I presume your bike is custom steel. Do you have a picture?
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Old 07-02-14, 11:43 AM   #11
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I presume your bike is custom steel. Do you have a picture?
My CX bike is:

Show us your cross bike...

Note the hybrid travel couplers - Ritchey on the top tube, S&S on the down tube. That's a good example of the kind of freedom you get on a custom build.
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Old 07-02-14, 11:46 AM   #12
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Tough call. You have to weigh benefits and drawbacks of each.

If there is a top Ti framebuilder close to you, I would lean that way. Ditto if you have a body that does not quite fit "stock" frames.

If you have a normal proportioned body and don't live close to a top framebuilder, I would lean towards the Domane. Ditto if you are a weight weenie.

One other issue is longevity. Sooner or later a carbon fiber frame is going to crash/crack or have other issues. If you plan to keep and ride this as your main bike for the next 20 years, go Ti. If you think you will be itching for something even newer in 5-7 years, get the Domane.

I would not obsess too much about it, I highly suspect you will be happy with whatever you choose.
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Old 07-02-14, 04:04 PM   #13
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from someone that rides new carbon and an older custom TI, i don't think there will be much difference except expense.

at 50, they say you are in your golden years as far as income is concerned, so if you want a custom ti, now is probably the time. but when down the road and retired and looking at a dwindling portfolio and it dawns on you that you are in a race between poverty and death, it may occur to you that a less expensive "off the shelf" bike might have been the better choice.

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Old 07-02-14, 04:08 PM   #14
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I can't speak to a custom titanium, but I do have a Domane 5.9. Awesome bike! and very comfortable on long distant rides.
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Old 07-02-14, 04:50 PM   #15
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The thing about custom ti is that you can't ride it until it's done. As others have said, it's possible to tailor tubes and shapes to exactly suit the rider . . . if the end product in fact does that. Otherwise you have several thousand dollars worth of difficult to sell merchandise. Seen that. A CF bike you can test ride. I've seen ti frames fail. In fact, while I can't recall hearing about a failed CF frame among my riding groups, I've seen failed ti welds. There is the nicety of being able to specify fender and rack mounts on custom ti, though you can do that with custom CF also.
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Old 07-02-14, 06:50 PM   #16
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Thanks everyone for the advice. The reason I am looking at Titanium instead of steel is I live on the coast and sweat a lot. My last steel bike developed rust pretty quickly. That leaves aluminum and Ti. Believe it or not the salt air also reeks havoc on aluminum. My first house had aluminum windows that all sorts of corrosion.

I am leaning towards the Ti as I already have a nice CF bike that I like and fits me well. As I was riding today I realized that I don't need another similar bike. I have been using 25 mm tires on my 5500 for about 4 years now and love them- probably one of the best changes I ever made to my ride! I am 6' 1" and unfortunately around 195 lbs now so no lightweight. I am thinking a good Ti with 25mm tires will give me the same comfort level as the Domane considering what types of roads I ride on.

I guess it comes down to wanting a slightly different bike type that still performs well. Been looking at the Lynskey Sportive but it only takes 23 mm tires in front when using fenders- not good. Any other similar bike that will accommodate 25 mm in front with fenders?

Definitely want to be able to go on 2-3 day mini tours (no camping, hostels or hotels) so want the rack mounts.

Thinking custom for that reason, not that I have a weird body shape although my torso is longer than most for my size.

Cheers,
Marc
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Old 07-02-14, 07:21 PM   #17
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If you are on the west coast, this builder has a good reputation:

Davidson Handbuilt Bicycles | Bicycles Handbuilt in Seattle, Washington
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Old 07-02-14, 08:06 PM   #18
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Thanks everyone for the advice. The reason I am looking at Titanium instead of steel is I live on the coast and sweat a lot. My last steel bike developed rust pretty quickly. That leaves aluminum and Ti. Believe it or not the salt air also reeks havoc on aluminum. My first house had aluminum windows that all sorts of corrosion.
Stories like this about rust amaze me. I had a steel bike I just sold that was 22 years old and the only rust was a few dings I didn't touch up. After the first few years it became by beater which included many beach vacations and kept in a shed 8 months of the year in a shed ten feet from the Chesapeake Bay. I rode that bike weekends along the Bay for a dozen years. The only corrosion or rust was a couple little pieces on the derailleur.
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Old 07-02-14, 09:00 PM   #19
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when i was looking for a used motorcyles, i rode a few in the San Francisco area. they all showed marked signs of oxidation. i was surprised.
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Old 07-05-14, 04:09 PM   #20
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Believe it or not my top tube paint on my Lemond Zurich started bubbling up close to the head tube. Also noticed rust developing in other places. Not sure if it is the coastal fog or my sweating but it definitely was there after 3 years.
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Old 07-05-14, 05:10 PM   #21
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I rode a Lemond titanium for several years, and it was quite nice. The only reason I'd buy another (or any metal bike) would be as a travel bike with couplers.

BTW about your age, well....

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Old 07-06-14, 05:22 AM   #22
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10 years junior here and I have a Domane 4.5. It is a great bike, great comfort, but stiff enough to give confidence. If money was not a issue, I would get a Ti/Carb mix from Holland Cycle, the Exto Grid. Holland Cycles ? Holland ExoGrid® Bicycle
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Old 07-06-14, 07:51 AM   #23
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Don't think just because a frame is titanium it is going to ride plush. I have a Seven which I bought used and it is quite stiff and beats me up on rough roads. It rides a lot like the CAAD 5 I used to have.
I also identify with the sweat buckets and corrode stuff thing. I corroded the brake cable stop off my Cannondale, my sweat migrated under the paint on a steel frame and rusted a 1"x 1" area.

For credit card touring you don't really need eyelets, depending on how much stuff you are carrying. You can use a seatpost rack and handlebar bag.

As to the Lynsky not taking a 25 front tire, you can probably spec the bike with a different fork.
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Old 07-06-14, 08:34 AM   #24
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I have read many reviews about the Seven Axiom being a very comfortable Ti frame. That has me intrigued. I have also heard of many Ti frames that are very stiff and not compliants. I am sure they are usually designed that way. My next bike will be a Ti bike. I fit find on a 56 or 58 but prefer a taller headtube (Seven does this) so am keeping my eye out for different options.
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Old 07-06-14, 10:25 AM   #25
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Given the limitations of tire/rack/fender fit options on Domane, to say nothing of the damage resistance and ease of repair of carbon, I'd say custom Ti is the obvious answer, but that it's also not the only answer, as off the rack Ti, and custom and/or off the rack stainless steel would also address all the OP's concerns.
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