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Can we talk titanium?

Old 09-28-14, 12:37 PM
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Can we talk titanium?

I'm interested in buying a titanium road bike for faster rides. I've got about $1200 as my budget. Any recommendations or words of wisdom as to preferred brands or things to keep an eye out for? Thanks in advance!
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Old 09-28-14, 12:51 PM
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Get one that fits, set it up with really nice components and you'll like it as well as your best steel bike.

Only it will be Titanium!

(But seriously, I hope to have one someday, too. So it will be interesting to hear on this subject from people who own them.)
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Old 09-28-14, 12:55 PM
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Simple - and it should be in budget - Cambridge Merlin. I'm not sure exactly what it is about these bikes, but they're my favorite production rides, hands down. My advice with ti is to stick with builders who work with ti almost exclusively, and to avoid subcontracted frames. Another option, though likely slightly higher than budget, is a Serotta legend. At your budget - it's Merlin.
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Old 09-28-14, 01:07 PM
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Originally Posted by KonAaron Snake
Simple - and it should be in budget - Cambridge Merlin. I'm not sure exactly what it is about these bikes, but they're my favorite production rides, hands down. My advice with ti is to stick with builders who work with ti almost exclusively, and to avoid subcontracted frames. Another option, though likely slightly higher than budget, is a Serotta legend. At your budget - it's Merlin.
Agreed.

A Legend ti is a great bike, but will come in at a higher price point.

The Merlin is your best choice. Beautiful in person.

Maybe Aaron will post a pic of his, it's a beauty.
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Old 09-28-14, 01:24 PM
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I didn't like my first Ti bike. It was a 99 Bianchi "Mega Pro XL Titanium" A very nice bike with a good design, the Bianchi SuperSet with Mega Pro tubing profiles. There was just something about the overall ride I never cared for, being a {blushing** larger rider (5'11") it was a bit flexy or something and I just never fell in love it.




Perhaps my lack of love for the Mega Pro was because what I really wanted was a Ti Mega Tube. As luck would have it when I could afford a Ti bike what I wanted was not available. A few years ago I found one on the bay and very likely over paid for it but it is a fabulous ride.



The coffin shaped down tube is actually two pieces of sheet titanium formed and welded together.




I am not sure how easy it would be to do but be sure and try and ride as many as you can before buying one.

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Old 09-28-14, 01:28 PM
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+1 Merlin Ti. My '94 is the lightest and fastest of my fleet, but not a harsh rider either, despite relatively narrow tires.

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Old 09-28-14, 01:37 PM
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Wow I wasn't even looking at Merlin before asking you guys. This is why this forum is so valuable! Thanks! I'm going to start poking around, please let me know if you see any around a 55cm in or near my budget.
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Old 09-28-14, 02:34 PM
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What's funny is that I recently passed up a Merlin at your budget because I have one. They really are exceptional bikes...it's nice to see someone as knowledgeable as nlerner...and GMG...concur. I have been disappointed with the other ti roadies I've ridden - but my Merlin sings. The Merlin isn't the lightest ti I've had (the main difference being build, not frame), but it's the most comfortable and the best handling.

Mine is nothing much to look at, but its beauty comes when it's being ridden.



I am planning on converting it over to campy 10 soon - with a cook bros. crank. Honestly - I am shocked that these aren't more desirable given how desired they were at the time and how well they hold up.

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Old 09-28-14, 02:52 PM
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@Bianchigirll's coffin shaped DT frame is the spitting image of my Colnago Titanio (which for the benefit of the OP is y far the best all-rounder frame I've owned). Anyone know if they were made by the same people? Mine is a 1998 and the only thing I can spot is that mine has an external collar on the seat tube.
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Old 09-28-14, 02:54 PM
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The trick isn't finding a Merlin.

The trick is finding one in my size. I almost had one a year ago, but the bike fund was at zero.

Maybe someday.

Yours is super nice Aaron and will only get better with a Campy 10 speed build.
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Old 09-28-14, 03:00 PM
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@bianchigirl. Tell me that was mis-typed and you're not really 6'11". Otherwise I'll be forced to believe it.
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Old 09-28-14, 03:06 PM
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Those Merlins are quite pretty.

You probably already found it, but there's a 54cm Litespeed on the bay right now.
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Old 09-28-14, 03:11 PM
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Look for a nice used Merlin or Litespeed. The sweet spot is probably 1995-2000ish - you'll get a more refined ride.

I owned a 57cm Litespeed Tuscany (1998?). It was one of the best fitting, most comfortable bikes I've owned. Unfortunately, it was way too flexy and felt really sluggish. At the time, I was 165 lbs/6'2" so I don't think rider weight was a problem. The frame, which was bought new, had an issue with the rear drops being out of alignment. The shop offer to "bend" it, but I got a refund instead.

I would like to try a Merlin for comparison.
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Old 09-28-14, 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Sir_Name
Those Merlins are quite pretty.

You probably already found it, but there's a 54cm Litespeed on the bay right now.
Not to ruffle feathers, but I've not found a Litespeed that rides as well as a Merlin.

In fact, I can't recommend them.

I've owned a Tuscany and a Classic. Both were too flexy in the bb and stays.

Sold both of them.
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Old 09-28-14, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by gomango
Not to ruffle feathers, but I've not found a Litespeed that rides as well as a Merlin.

In fact, I can't recommend them.

I've owned a Tuscany and a Classic. Both were too flexy in the bb and stays.

Sold both of them.
Good data point. I should have mentioned that I have no personal experience to draw from here.
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Old 09-28-14, 03:34 PM
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Originally Posted by gomango
Not to ruffle feathers, but I've not found a Litespeed that rides as well as a Merlin.

In fact, I can't recommend them.

I've owned a Tuscany and a Classic. Both were too flexy in the bb and stays.

Sold both of them.
The Litespeeds built for Litespeed are decent, but I also haven't found that they have the magic a Merlin has. They're nicely made and you rarely hear about them falling apart. The bikes they built for others are not especially impressive in my experience. As stated earlier - I'd avoided sub'd out ti.

I don't know about the large DT ti Colnagos like Milo's, but most Colnago ti has a pretty lousy rep to be honest - sub'd from Eastern Europe, but with a price premium. The bi-tubes have a history of cracking. My de rosa Titanio is ok...it's light...but it lacks the magic of my Merlin.

I have no scientific evidence, but the ti frames you really see people rave about have a few common factors:

They're built by ti specialists, not a builder that dabbles in ti. I'd only buy ti from someone with a lot of experience with ti.

The frame was designed by a ti experienced builder. They aren't designed by company a and built by company b. Spectrum is different because of Kellogg's history with ti.
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Old 09-28-14, 03:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Sir_Name
Good data point. I should have mentioned that I have no personal experience to draw from here.
No worries.

I'm picky about ti.

I've ridden a Firefly and a Moots Vamoots. Both were amazing, but well out of my price range until the kids are out of school.

I see a Merlin or Legend ti as attainable though.
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Old 09-28-14, 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Sir_Name
Those Merlins are quite pretty.

You probably already found it, but there's a 54cm Litespeed on the bay right now.
It is a real shame the brand went bust and got sold.
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Old 09-28-14, 04:28 PM
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Originally Posted by seedsbelize
@bianchigirl. Tell me that was mis-typed and you're not really 6'11". Otherwise I'll be forced to believe it.
Yep typo. I can do 6' 5" but it takes some really tall heels.
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Old 09-28-14, 04:52 PM
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Originally Posted by gomango
No worries.

I'm picky about ti.

I've ridden a Firefly and a Moots Vamoots. Both were amazing, but well out of my price range until the kids are out of school.

I see a Merlin or Legend ti as attainable though.
Wow. Firefly and Moots are on my short list. Was the Moots road/cross/MTB?



...just saw Vamoots...

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Old 09-28-14, 05:17 PM
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My advice is go used, and don't just buy Ti because it's Ti; the framesets differ from each other just like any other frame material.
Difference in frame geometry could render that "gotta have that frame" an non-rider, so test-ride if you can.

Realize several things with Ti:
1- Tubing costs a pretty penny, so framebuilders don't mess around with it; they plan carefully and have to be very detail-oriented.
2- Almost always a veteran frame-builder. I heard that the apprenticeships, even in the Chinese shops, are for a minimum of 5 years.
3- High-end investment by the builder. The welding is often done in a cloud of argon gas, and in a technical, clean environment.
4- There are fewer reasons a nice one would be on the market. Most folks don't buy/sell Ti frames like they might do with steel. Find out why.
5- Everyone wants to pick it up.

I vote with the others on Merlins; never saw a bad one. I had a BF member, out of the blue, contact me from Australia, and he talked me into buying a Merlin frameset here and shipping it to Down Under, with another 64 lbs or so of items purchased and sent to me. He wanted it bad, for his son, who promptly won their Juniors on it the next season.

A few years ago, there was a no-name Ti frame on CL, my size on the ST, 7 o'clock cable routing, 1" threadless headset, hooded rear dropouts, and braze-on DT bosses. The seller was the son of a retired pro, and said his dad got it somewhere and gave it to him. I'd not ridden anything like it to that point, and probably haven't since, until very recently. The TT was 57cm, and I'll bet I went through 4 stems, finally giving up on trying to fit it. Reluctantly, I traded it for a new carbon frameset, even up, but I never stopped trying to figure out who made it. At NAHBS this past year, I found the builder, John Kisch, who moved from California to my area. I described the frame and his wife knew it right away.

The good ones ride like nothing else. Hard to describe, just "unlike any other bike." Merlins are aptly named, a little bit of magic in those.
I'd love to have a Lynskey, or get Mr. Kisch to build me another. Above my paygrade, and ability to ride, but hey, it's nice to think about.
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Old 09-28-14, 05:23 PM
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Love Merlin. There are some nice Davidson Ti's out there as well. Litespeed as well, David Lynskey does some nice work.
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Old 09-28-14, 10:14 PM
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I just remembered:

OP - you owe me one

https://forums.thepaceline.net/showth...=Merlin&page=2
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Old 09-29-14, 12:50 AM
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All the recommends for Merlin are really making me kick myself for passing on one that presented itself here in Vancouver a couple of years ago. Everything but the frame itself was pretty rough (including an AL fork I couldn't imagine riding), but I should have realized that the frame itself, was largely worth the price of admission...and that one might find a few bucks lying around more easily than another similarly-priced 60cm Merlin.

A couple of years later, I ended up putting up a larger sum for a Bill Holland modern Ti bike...frame only. Since my build has been thwarted temporarily by an oddball seatpost size (28.4mm) and two (!) not to spec seatpost shims delivered to me over the past few weeks (one 31.6 and one 28.2), I can't comment on how that's working out, but I did gain some confidence from more or less universally positive reviews, and from the already-mentioned advice that a builder devoted to Ti in a dedicated way is often to be preferred (Holland stopped building in steel 20 years ago to specialize exclusively on it...though you should see his steel stuff painted by Joe Bell). An early, 1990s, Holland Ti would be a pretty sweet find, but maybe not a lot on the market.

For more 'C&V'(ish) material, I wonder if anyone has any experience with Dean frames? I saw a couple of deals on Dean road frames during my recent Ti frame search (looking at lots of older and newer options)...like, really quite cheap. But I stayed away because I didn't have the confidence I would in some others (e.g. if I'd found another 60cm Merlin )
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Old 09-29-14, 03:49 AM
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I recommend a Serotta Legend Ti with the ST carbon stays. It should be pretty easy to find.

I have one and the ride is sublime. I picked up the whole bike in near mint condition with Campagnolo Centaur for a hair over $1000.
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