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My hybridized titanium bike

Old 04-22-11, 11:27 PM
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My hybridized titanium bike

Since 2006 I've ridden a Specialized Sirrus LTD, which is a flat-bar road bike type of hybrid. The frame, fork, seatpost, handlebar and cranks are all carbon fiber. It came with a Shimano Ultegra drivetrain, 105 brakes, and Shimano R600 wheels. I got rid of the stock Shimano R600 wheels when the rims cracked after 2000 miles. They were replaced with Mavic Ksyrium SLs.



5 years later, my faithful Sirrus LTD is getting worn after 8000 miles. Lots of scuffs on the carbon frame and it needs a lot more tweaking and adjustments than it used to. It got me thinking about getting a new bike to replace it.

I wanted a bike with a wider range of gears than the Sirrus to have a bailout gear when climbing steep hills, and I'd like something less worrisome than carbon fiber when it comes to scuffs and rough handling, which means titanium. Problem is, I couldn't find any bike brands that offers a titanium hybrid.

So I decided to take matters into my own hands and buy a titanium road bike and convert it myself. The victim I selected is the Motobecane Le Champ Ti Heat, which is only $1600, compared to $2200 I paid for the Sirrus LTD back in 2006.

Here it is when it arrived last week, in its packing box:



Assembled:



Started to tear it down for conversion to flat bar:



The parts I ordered:
- Titec Pluto 118 titanium handlebar (25.4 clamp diameter, 555mm length)
- SRAM Apex trigger shifters
- SRAM Rival medium-cage rear derailleur (for use with the wider-range cassette)
- SRAM PG-1070 wide-range road cassette (11T-32T)
- Tektro Carbon Eclipse brake levers (can be used with road caliper brakes)
- Specialized Body Geometry grips
- brake cables and cable housing



Final result, after I swapped the stock Mavic Aksium wheels for the set of Ksyrium SLs from my Sirrus:



Closeup of my handlebar setup with the Titec titanium handlebar, carbon brake levers, the Specialized grips and the SRAM shift levers:



So there it is, my new hybridized Titanium bike. Can't wait for the weather here in New York to get better so I can start putting miles on it.

I'll follow up with a ride report when that happens!

Last edited by LongIslandTom; 04-22-11 at 11:32 PM.
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Old 04-23-11, 01:47 AM
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I personally like the look of the old sirrus more but that's probably because I'm not into blinky frames.
Nice conversion
Carbon brake levers? Never heard of those but it sounds dodgy.
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Old 04-23-11, 02:05 AM
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Those Tektro Carbon Eclipse brake levers were original equipment on my 2006 Sirrus LTD.

Back then, Specialized really went overboard carbonizing the Sirrus! Frame, fork, seatpost, cranks, handlebar were all carbon, plus those Tektro carbon levers. I look at the current 2011 Sirrus Pro and the only carbon items were the frame and fork (the seatpost is "carbon-wrapped alloy" ). I guess they don't build'em like they used to!

Anyway, those Tektro Carbon Eclipse levers worked well on my Sirrus over the years, so I thought why the heck not and bought another set for use on my Titanium conversion. I couldn't find any titanium brake levers, LOL..
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Old 04-23-11, 04:54 AM
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"OOO Lovely" Thats a seriously killer astonishingly lovely fantastic bike you've got there. I cant tell if it looked better straight out of the box or after the mods I guess with all the parts you've got now you really have two bikes in one.
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Old 04-23-11, 01:43 PM
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Ti sounds like a better choice for a bike that gets knocked around. Although I know a guy who did messenger work on a Trek OCLV for probably a decade without a problem. Are you going to sell the Trek?

Kudos for the hardcore flat bar bias. I hang out on the hybrid forum largely due to the fact that I prefer flat/riser bars over drop bars but if I already had a carbon Sirrus, I'd be tempted to leave the Ti road bike with it's stock drop bar configuration. Don't get me wrong, I own two hybrids and a hybridized (26x1.5" tires) MTB, and no road bike, you can't have too many hybrids in my opinion.
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Old 04-23-11, 01:45 PM
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Now give us a peak at the drive side.
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Old 04-23-11, 01:49 PM
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Well done ...
What is the before and after weight?
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Old 04-23-11, 03:42 PM
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qdmsc: Yeah I'll have to sell the Sirrus since I only got room for 1 bike at my place. That bike and me had been through some good times, and I'm a little sad to have to let it go. Ah well!

Drive side shot as requested:



FlatSix911: Thanks!

The bike is a 56cm-frame, and the original weight (no pedals or reflectors) was 18 pounds with the Mavic Aksium wheels, Vittorio Rubino Pro 700x23C tires, and the aluminum Ritchie drop bars, SRAM Rival brifters, and the huge dork disc on the rear wheel.

I weighed the bike with my bathroom scale (which is accurate-- I checked with a 10-pound scientific lead weight I got from a lab) and it's still about the same weight after I did the conversion, though I did put some pretty heavy tires on it.

My weight (yes, I have ugly feet and I still need to lose some weight):



My weight plus the bike:



So it works out to a bit under 18 pounds, with the titanium flat bar, SRAM trigger levers, Tektro carbon brake levers, Specialized grips, and Mavic Ksyrium SL wheels and (heavy!) Armadillo All-condition 700x23C tires. Necessary due to all the broken glass on the roads here in NYC.

I do have a set of new Continental Gatorskin Ultras which weigh half that of the Armadilloes. Putting those on will save me almost a pound. I'm saving those new Conti's for the Montauk Century three weeks from now.

Figure after I add on my saddle bag, pedals and bottle cages it'll probably be around 19 pounds.

Hopefully the motor will drop some weight when the weather gets better here in New York. (my goal is to drop 20 more lbs.)
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Old 04-24-11, 05:01 PM
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Today New York finally got a break from the bad weather, so I took my new hybridized Ti bike out for a 30-mile spin.

What I liked:

There were quite a few large hills in northern Long Island, so I was able to put the wide-range cassette to good use. The setup on the Le Champ Ti's SRAM Rival drivetrain is 50/34 chainrings, and a 11-32 cassette that I put in along with a medium-cage Rival rear derailleur. In comparison, my old Sirrus has a narrower range with 50/36 chainrings and 12-27 cassette, and I would I struggle to maintain cadence going up hills, and had to resort to mashing the pedals on the lowest gear. This new bike allowed me to claw up some hills at lower gearing while maintaining cadence without having to mash!

The Ti frame does transmit more bumps and vibrations than my all-carbon Sirrus LTD though, and the titanium frame is louder-- Chain rattle when switching gears and the snap of the derailleurs all make the frame "ring".

What I don't like:

I hate the SRAM dual-lever trigger shifters (no, I didn't get the Double-tap single-lever shifters). For the life of me I can't understand why they want you to use your thumb to move both the upshift and downshift levers, and the second shift lever is tucked all the way forward where it's hard to reach with my thumb. I think I prefer Shimano's Rapid Fire setup much better-- The Shimano index-finger trigger is MUCH easier to reach. I'm tempted to blow another $300 to convert the shifters and derailleurs to Shimano (SL-R770 shifters, R770 front derailleur, and Ultegra 6700 rear derailleur), but that means dropping the rear cassette back to 11-28 (I lose the 32T bailout gear).

I also didn't like the Ritchey seatpost and saddle combo. The amount of set-back on that seatpost is RIDICULOUS. Even with the Ritchey Pro saddle mounted as far forward as it will go, it still puts my butt well over the rear axle, and my knees are nowhere near over the pedals. I couldn't get any power pedaling from that saddle position, and it screws up my weight distribution as well, seems like 90% of my weight is over the back wheel (normal weight distribution is supposed to be something like 70% back 30% front). I'll definitely have to spend another $35 to get the zero-setback seatpost from Nashbar to fix this problem.

In conclusion..

Aside from the two things I didn't like (the SRAM shifters and the Ritchey seatpost) which can be fixed, I'm pretty pleased with this titanium conversion. Total cost so far is $1900 ($1600 for the bike, $300 for the flat-bar components), with another $35 for the zero-setback seatpost that's coming. Potentially another $300 to convert to Shimano if I choose to do so in the future.

The big test will be the Montauk Century on May 15. I'll be riding this bike with the new zero-setback seatpost, but I'm going to leave the SRAM shifters and derailleurs on the bike for now and see if I can get used to it. I'll decide whether or not to switch to Shimano after the Montauk Century.

So if anyone is looking for a Titanium flat-bar ride, I highly recommend trying a conversion like this. It was a great learning experience for me and a great confidence builder-- I never thought I'd work up the nerve to do that much wrenching on my own.
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Old 04-25-11, 08:28 AM
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LITom: re. the 'Apex' shifters ... fwiw, I've just finished Phase I of my 'Project 2010 Sirrus Comp.' I did go nuts and order the DoubleTap flatbar (10spd) shifters (full project report later).
Early days, but ... they are fantastic! Very, very fast and very light action; the 'double tap' sequence took me all of about 30 seconds to get used to. The light action is important to me; I have pretty severe degenerative osteoarthritis in my thumb joints. 'Trigger' shifting has bothered me in the past, but the very light action coupled with the leverage of the long single lever minimizes the problem.
Seriously, I'd give 'em a try if you otherwise like the Rival components.

P.S. If you do want to go Shimano 770, I don't believe you need to lose the 11-32, but you would need to use an XT or XTR rear der. AFAIK, should work fine. I prefer SRAM, but that's just me.

Last edited by badger1; 04-25-11 at 09:50 AM.
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Old 04-25-11, 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by LongIslandTom
It was a great learning experience for me and a great confidence builder-- I never thought I'd work up the nerve to do that much wrenching on my own.
Great write up. What was the trickiest part of the build for you?
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Old 04-25-11, 10:45 AM
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Badger1: Thanks, just swapping out the Apex shifters for the double-tap flat-bars would cost only half of swapping out for Shimanos so I'll definitely give it serious consideration. My 2006 Sirrus LTD came equipped with Shimano SL-R770s so I was thinking of going back to that for my Ti bike. At an upcoming 5-Boro Bicycle Club ride I'll see if anyone has double-tap flat-bars and see it (and feel it!) in person, and see if it's a viable option.

Kshep: The trickiest part was the drivetrain. To swap out the 11-28 cassette to the 11-32 required breaking the chain and adding more links to accomodate the bigger cassette, which required the medium-cage derailleur to take up more chain to keep it from going slack. Getting the shifters and derailleurs to work right was time-consuming since I never worked with SRAM before (I've used Shimano exclusively up to this point). It took me a whole day to dial it in.

Anyway, the only reason why I went to such lengths was because I wanted a 32T bailout gear. If you are happy with the stock gearing on a bike you are looking to convert, it would be much simpler than what I had to do.
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Old 04-21-12, 07:33 PM
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Hi Tom,
Do you still have your Specialized Sirrus LTD for sale or do you know someone else who may?
You can reach me at reinardmarco at gmail dot com
I am looking for an LTD as a backup bike for a 1000 km nonstop race against the clock.
Not concerned about scratches and components will be changed to suit our needs.
Thank you-Marco
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Old 04-21-12, 09:01 PM
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My 11-32 SRAM is the best shifting setup I've ever owned and it will pull like a freight train.
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Old 04-22-12, 04:02 PM
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sram dual thumb triggers are not my favorite, but you'll get used to them after a while. I actually wonder if the new 2x10 twisters might be compatible with Apex... hmm
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Old 04-22-12, 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by ColinL
sram dual thumb triggers are not my favorite, but you'll get used to them after a while. I actually wonder if the new 2x10 twisters might be compatible with Apex... hmm
Funny to see this year-old thread revived; as I noted last year, I'm using the double-tap (single lever) version with my Apex/Rival mix. They work well, but I've always preferred gripshift ... so, hmmm from here as well! I'm in the process of obtaining an answer; far as I know, rear pull ratio should be exactly the same (road/mtn) on 10spd. As far as front, also shouldn't be an issue: gripshift front shifting has always been essentially 'friction', so not too critical. I can't see why the new 2x10 wouldn't be compatible with the road groups, but want a definitive answer (from SRAM) before lashing out the money! If it will work, I'm in.
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Old 04-22-12, 06:40 PM
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I've just discovered those dual thumb shifters. I have them on my cheap Giant Escape but I absolutely love then. They are intuitive to be and shift dead nutz; but of coarse they are brand new. They don't look exceptionally sturdy. Oh well, should be easy to replace if need be.
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Old 04-22-12, 06:42 PM
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LOL, yeah, I guess it is another resurrection, hah?!

Originally Posted by badger1
Funny to see this year-old thread revived; as I noted last year, I'm using the double-tap (single lever) version with my Apex/Rival mix. They work well, but I've always preferred gripshift ... so, hmmm from here as well! I'm in the process of obtaining an answer; far as I know, rear pull ratio should be exactly the same (road/mtn) on 10spd. As far as front, also shouldn't be an issue: gripshift front shifting has always been essentially 'friction', so not too critical. I can't see why the new 2x10 wouldn't be compatible with the road groups, but want a definitive answer (from SRAM) before lashing out the money! If it will work, I'm in.
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Old 04-24-12, 06:47 AM
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Congratulations on the build. That is a really nice bike. Can I ask why you didn't use the Moto Ti Cross bike? Either bike would be great.
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Old 07-02-16, 09:05 AM
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Long Island Tom, I just joined this forum and saw your thread. It's amazing - I've been thinking of doing exactly the same thing! I've been deliberating buying the same model Motobecane and doing the same flat bar (and cassette) conversion you did!

It's been a few years since you last posted. Are you still riding the Motobecane? Are you still happy with it? Anything you'd do differently?

I'd also be interested in your thoughts on the quality of the titanium frame. How is it holding up? Of course, my local bike shops don't have too many positive things to say about BikesDirect, but, from your pics, it looks pretty nice to me!

Thank you!
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Old 04-28-17, 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by RiderNick
Long Island Tom, I just joined this forum and saw your thread. It's amazing - I've been thinking of doing exactly the same thing! I've been deliberating buying the same model Motobecane and doing the same flat bar (and cassette) conversion you did!

It's been a few years since you last posted. Are you still riding the Motobecane? Are you still happy with it? Anything you'd do differently?

I'd also be interested in your thoughts on the quality of the titanium frame. How is it holding up? Of course, my local bike shops don't have too many positive things to say about BikesDirect, but, from your pics, it looks pretty nice to me!

Thank you!
^^^ I'm thinking of doing the same Nick.
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