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Titanium “super bikes”

Old 01-01-24, 08:10 AM
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Titanium “super bikes”

While dreaming idly about all the bike-related stuff I wished Santa might bring me (I got socks and a hug), I got to wondering about some of the Rolls Royce titanium bikes I’ve read about, but never ridden. While I have ridden some snazzy higher-end carbon bikes, I’m just an average cyclist who appreciated the ride but couldn’t really discern any crucial difference between various brands’ offerings. I got to wondering if that same thing might be true of the ti “legends”: would an average cyclist be likely to feel they were generally great but be unable to distinguish one brand’s ride from another, regardless of how exalted it might be. So, my question: Has anybody on the forum had 1st hand experience with a Moots bike, for example, or any of the other much-admired, very expensive titanium bikes? If so, was the ride “worth it/better” or was it more the subtle pleasure of riding something so grand?
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Old 01-01-24, 08:58 AM
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My earliest test ride on Ti in the 90's, Litespeed's tourer, left me unimpressed = bit whippy for me. I test rode a Merlin years later and was blown away by the ride. It had some new Reynolds carbon wheels that may have made the difference. The Merlin price was high for a family man.

In 2006, I got the bug again for Ti. Rode a Dean, a LeMond and a Moots with the (minimal) rear suspension. And 'thought' I could discern an improved ride quality over steel. I found an off-brand Macalu from Excel Sports (Boulder) - NOS frame and fork - welded in Colorado.

My Macalu may not be a Moots or a Strong or a DeSalvo - but it delivers every ride. The oversize tubing (top, down & chainstays) keeps it stiff enough for my 190lb body on a (large) 59cm frame and triple rings. Absolutely a 'go to' bike for tough rides. In the picture below riding a FS paved(?) road near Rainier, St Helens (east side), Adams. Also, the bike chosen to ride across (west to east) Washington State.

I usually recommend buying the best bike you can afford, but for an older recreational cyclist the top of th line road bikes offer diminishing benefits as the price goes up. If you buy from a well established manufacturer and put quality wheels and supple tires you won't be disappointed.

Here's mine. I would love a custom Ti from Mike DeSalvo. Buy whatever bike blows your socks off.



Instead of Moots, I'll take a full custom builder. Why custom? = perfect fit beats all, and in my perfect colorway.
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Old 01-01-24, 10:26 AM
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I've ridden carbon bikes for about 15 years but have fallen in love with the look of Ti and steel frames over the last few years. They're beautiful, unique, and simply something different from what you see everybody riding. I'm in the market for a new road bike and decided a few months ago to order a handmade steel frame from a local builder (won't have the frame until May). There are a few reasons I went with steel over Ti. The main reason is cost - most Ti frames are at least twice the cost of steel, if not more. I also have a weird feeling that I need to "earn" a Ti frame. I want to experience steel before I make the jump to the premium Ti material, kind of like I did riding aluminum frames before carbon. Not necessarily because I can't afford it, but because I think it will allow me to appreciate it more, as unnecessary as that may seem to some people.

I realize I didn't add anything to this post, but thought I'd share my current journey
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Old 01-01-24, 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Jno
While dreaming idly about all the bike-related stuff I wished Santa might bring me (I got socks and a hug), I got to wondering about some of the Rolls Royce titanium bikes I’ve read about, but never ridden. While I have ridden some snazzy higher-end carbon bikes, I’m just an average cyclist who appreciated the ride but couldn’t really discern any crucial difference between various brands’ offerings. I got to wondering if that same thing might be true of the ti “legends”: would an average cyclist be likely to feel they were generally great but be unable to distinguish one brand’s ride from another, regardless of how exalted it might be. So, my question: Has anybody on the forum had 1st hand experience with a Moots bike, for example, or any of the other much-admired, very expensive titanium bikes? If so, was the ride “worth it/better” or was it more the subtle pleasure of riding something so grand?
my main ride is a 2000 Litespeed Vortex - at the time the only production frame built entirely from 6/4 titanium, giving it an alleged stiffness and real (albeit not huge) weight advantage over more commonly used 3/2.5 Ti and a price tag at the time ($3500 for the frame set, IIRC) that put it into the “super bike” category. Enough with the sales blather - it’s a great bike because it fits me well and rides pretty much like the steel bikes I used to ride, albeit lighter. Do I experience a “magic carpet” Ti ride? Not really, but it rides beautifully, so no complaints. Apart from that, what I love about Ti is the low-maintenance finish, the general robustness and, in this instance, the traditional geometry. It was my dream bike when I bought it, and coming up on 100,000 miles later, I still admire it. Which is a relief to my bank balance, because when I see modern top-end bikes going for $10k and up, I’m pretty happy that I’m not yearning for a modern superbike - mine’s already plenty super 👍


Last edited by 13ollocks; 01-01-24 at 10:59 AM.
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Old 01-01-24, 10:48 AM
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I have an Independent Fabrication Crown Jewel ti and a Serotta Legend Ti. I don't know if that counts in your league of super bikes.

The thing I find most tantalizing about titanium is ride quality. When I was living in California and dealing with poor road quality - especially exposed aggregate - the Crown Jewel just seemed to gloss over the bumps. On better roads, smooth as glass.

I also have a couple steel bikes for reference (both IF Crown Jewels).

If I take out one of my steel bikes for a ride, it's as if the steel bike produces a "rumble" on exposed aggregate.

On my IF ti, that rumble gets shifted up into a different (higher?) frequency that's less harsh and less noticeable. More of a buzz than a rumble.

Hope that helps!
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Old 01-01-24, 10:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Jno
While dreaming idly about all the bike-related stuff I wished Santa might bring me (I got socks and a hug), I got to wondering about some of the Rolls Royce titanium bikes I’ve read about, but never ridden. While I have ridden some snazzy higher-end carbon bikes, I’m just an average cyclist who appreciated the ride but couldn’t really discern any crucial difference between various brands’ offerings. I got to wondering if that same thing might be true of the ti “legends”: would an average cyclist be likely to feel they were generally great but be unable to distinguish one brand’s ride from another, regardless of how exalted it might be. So, my question: Has anybody on the forum had 1st hand experience with a Moots bike, for example, or any of the other much-admired, very expensive titanium bikes? If so, was the ride “worth it/better” or was it more the subtle pleasure of riding something so grand?
I have 3 of them…2 Deans and one Moots. I got the Dean and Moots as used frames for a fraction of the cost of a new frame. The Dean road bike (an El Diente) I got for $1500 instead of $3000 back in 2006 from Dean directly. I suspect that someone ordered a custom version given the really tall head tube and decided that they didn’t want it. Dean gets a 50% deposit for custom work so the other person’s loss was my gain.

As for ride quality, I really like the ride of each one. I don’t ride the El Diente much because I just don’t go riding to go ride much. My riding tends to be more utilitarian and the El Diente just doesn’t fit that style. However, when I do ride it, I remember that it is a joy to ride. Even with narrow tires…it won’t take anything wider than 25mm…it’s a great ride.



The YBBeat is my winter studded tire equipped bike and my summer remote bikepacking bike. The small rear “shock” takes a little bit of the edge off hits without being too active. It’s a great adventure bike.



The Dean mountain bike is one of my favorites. It seems plush compared to my aluminum bikes which is probably all in my mind but it is fun to ride.



I would certainly suggest looking for a used one. I don’t know that I would pay the price for a new Moots…north of $5000…but I’d certainly by another used one.
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Old 01-01-24, 11:12 AM
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The first day of the new year and we already have our first “Is it worth it?” thread. What’s the over/under on how many posts it will take before the first usual suspect shows up to opine that an $8K+ bike is a waste of money?

FTR…I have a custom Engin. Love the way it rides, fits and looks. It was within by budget. Have never regretted the purchase for a nanosecond.

That’s all I (and you) need to know.
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Old 01-01-24, 11:17 AM
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I also have 3 Lynskeys. I bought the first one for a winter commuter. It is a nice bike, but not a "Super Bike".
The others are also nice bikes, but I don't believe it is the Titanium frames. Lynskey just makes nice bikes.

My Time Scylon is a much better bike in every measurable way.




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Old 01-01-24, 12:36 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
The first day of the new year and we already have our first “Is it worth it?” thread. What’s the over/under on how many posts it will take before the first usual suspect shows up to opine that an $8K+ bike is a waste of money?

FTR…I have a custom Engin. Love the way it rides, fits and looks. It was within by budget. Have never regretted the purchase for a nanosecond.

That’s all I (and you) need to know.
Yep, is it worth it?
Is there an element of coveting in such purchases that goes beyond simple rational reasoning?
Do people feel compelled to praise their pricey bikes in an effort to justify to themselves that their expenditure was a sound decision?

Who knows!

I had a friend in college who was convinced that when he washed and waxed his car, it ran better. Human subjectivity is an important aspect of what we do.

Happy New Year everyone!
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Old 01-01-24, 01:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Alan K
Yep, is it worth it?
Is there an element of coveting in such purchases that goes beyond simple rational reasoning?
Do people feel compelled to praise their pricey bikes in an effort to justify to themselves that their expenditure was a sound decision?

Who knows!

I had a friend in college who was convinced that when he washed and waxed his car, it ran better. Human subjectivity is an important aspect of what we do.

Happy New Year everyone!
Don’t know. Don’t care.

My IF SCJ never really fit the best and was developing corrosion at the bottom of the head tube after 12 years and many, many hard miles.

I had the money, especially after paying off my mortgage way early. So I went with a local, small business run by a nice guy who had done me right several times in the past. He had also won best MTB at the NAHBS—twice. The bike’s maiden voyage was 12 miles from the shop to my front door.
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Old 01-01-24, 01:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Wildwood
Instead of Moots, I'll take a full custom builder. Why custom? = perfect fit beats all, and in my perfect colorway.
I am quite sure Moots will do a full custom build for you. For a price, of course.
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Old 01-01-24, 01:46 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
The first day of the new year and we already have our first “Is it worth it?” thread. What’s the over/under on how many posts it will take before the first usual suspect shows up to opine state as fact that an $8K+ bike is a waste of money?
ftfy
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Old 01-01-24, 02:04 PM
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If you can decide on the perfect geometry---and leave enough adjustment room to change with you as you age---then Any custom bike, Ti,, steel, CF, whatever ... will likely by a great bike.

Will a Ti frame magically be better than a frame of any other material? I doubt it .... as many have said on this site, it is what the builder does with the material more than the material itself.

However ... you could make an effort to try a bunch of test rides .... might be hard to line up, but not impossible.

I will not say "placebo" but I think some portion of the "Wunderbike" description is the affection people have for their rides ... and as Indyfabz notes, who cares? If they get what they want, even if they create it in their own heads, they still have it.

However ... if you have doubts, likely you will always wonder if your high-dollar Ti bike was worth it .... so you might not get what you paid for,
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Old 01-01-24, 02:36 PM
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People enjoy frames of Ti, carbon, steel, aluminum, whatever. Personal preference, tool for the job, you won't know until you try, etc etc. If budget permits, make your own choice.
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Old 01-01-24, 03:43 PM
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I have really come to appreciate titanium as a frame material. Beyond matching the metal in my joints, it hits the sweet spot in comfort, feel, performance and price. Far from "super bikes" my 3 Lynsky and 1 Litespeed.








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Old 01-01-24, 03:45 PM
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Thanks

Thanks for the considered replies. I am not in the market for a high end ti bike - I just wondered if folks valued them
for ride quality over lesser priced ti bikes, or if the cache of certain brands was the main driver of their value. It looks like folks value them for the range of reasons they value any bike: ride quality, looks, durability etc. Thanks for replies. I’ll still dream but maybe I can train myself to dream of a whole class of bike, rather than a single model.
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Old 01-01-24, 04:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Jno
It looks like folks value them for the range of reasons they value any bike: ride quality, looks, durability etc.
Did you expect something different?
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Old 01-01-24, 04:36 PM
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...Spectrum was well regarded at the time this was made.
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Old 01-01-24, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe
ftfy
That was the kinder 2.024 version talking.
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Old 01-01-24, 04:43 PM
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Originally Posted by 3alarmer


...Spectrum was well regarded at the time this was made.
Having lived in SE PA all my life, I’ve seen a number of Spectrum bikes. Only one was good looking.
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Old 01-01-24, 04:45 PM
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Patience is a virtue. In 2015 my wife told me if we could find a Volvo 240 sedan or wagon in good condition she would drive it instead of a new car. Took me 3 years to find it, but found one in Michigan with 37k miles on the clock. Near perfect car and it was only 150 miles away.
A little over a year ago I had to replace my old friend guitar I have had for 40 years. I replaced it with a parlor sized instrument and started looking for a Seagull at a price I wanted to pay. It took a year, but I found one that is exactly what I wanted.
Several years ago I wanted another titanium frame and it took me about a year and a half to find exactly what I was looking for. This is my third ti frame so I knew what tubing size I wanted. Frame angles were secondary to me as I am able to compensate for steep seat tubes with the correct seat post. Top tube length the same as I am able to adjust with stem length within reason.

Don't give up your dream of acquiring a titanium frame, stay persistent on the look out for one that fits you and fits your budget. Keep in mind every month or year that goes by in the search, you will be able to save that much more money to put towards the purchase.
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Old 01-01-24, 05:08 PM
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In her college days my wife used to like Karmann Ghia. We looked and tried at least ten of them, everyone of them was a piece of crap… at least in case of VW, patience was not a virtue.

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Old 01-01-24, 05:26 PM
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Forget about steel, Ti, and carbon frames.
I built this bike up from a frameset made of Unobtainium, a material that has zero weight, yet is incredibly strong. The bike weighed only the total of the wheels and other components used for the build. I even filled the tires with helium.
Unobtainium is extremely expensive, so I chose not to have a custom paint job done, opting instead for the "naked" look, which, as you can see, is transparent.
It was the best riding bike I had ever owned. Stiff enough for hard efforts out of the saddle, yet supple enough to absorb 99.9% of any road shock or vibration.
Unfortunately, I had decided that, after many miles, it was due for a complete teardown, inspection, and thorough cleaning. I was working in my garage with the garage door open (it was a nice day, although a bit windy.) With everything stripped off the bike, the phone rang, and I had to run inside to answer it. Just then, a large gust of wind came up and, weighing nothing, the frameset evidently disappeared somewhere on the breeze. I searched for hours, but it was really pretty futile trying to find an invisible object.
I miss that bike.

p.s.: yes, I know the left crank arm is missing. I had removed it and had yet to install the Stages power meter arm.


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Old 01-01-24, 06:08 PM
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I’ve had experience with 3 titanium bikes, an old Teledyne, a Panasonic MTB, and a Litespeed Tuscany. I am not a particularly aggressive rider, but all three bike developed cracks. I wouldn’t buy another titanium bike.
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Old 01-01-24, 07:01 PM
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Originally Posted by 50PlusCycling
I’ve had experience with 3 titanium bikes, an old Teledyne, a Panasonic MTB, and a Litespeed Tuscany. I am not a particularly aggressive rider, but all three bike developed cracks. I wouldn’t buy another titanium bike.
I have personal experience with 40 bicycles…16 steel, 20 aluminum, and 3 titanium. I’ve broken 2 steel and 2 aluminum but no titanium. Percentage wise, that a 12% failure rate for steel, 10% failure rate for aluminum, and a 0% failure rate for titanium. I am an aggressive rider and I don’t baby my bikes. One of my titaniums even uses the chainstays for suspension. No cracks.

It ain’t the material that breaks, it’s the way it is used in the frame
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