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First road bike: is titanium worth it?

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First road bike: is titanium worth it?

Old 05-06-11, 06:34 PM
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jayz28
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First road bike: is titanium worth it?

Looking to drastically change my lifestyle and commit to commuting via bike and riding centuries. Started biking only 3 years ago with mountain biking, but now I'm thinking of starting road biking as well. It seems the trend now is carbon fiber, but I'm thinking of going titanium for the crash worthiness and longevity. Any first hand accounts of either or both?

TIA.
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Old 05-06-11, 06:56 PM
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It depends on how much you want to spend. A high end Ti like a Lynsky will last a long time. An inexpensive Ti is no different than a decent steel frame (except steel will rust after ten years).

I've got both (high end Seven Ti and high end Waterford steel) and can't really tell much difference while riding. I've alos got a high end CF (Cervelo) and after three years of riding on it, there's no comparison - took me a long time to notice how CF grows on the rider.
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Old 05-06-11, 07:07 PM
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All the right-thinking ti riders I know have now moved up to cf. The ones who cling to their ti bikes are just stubbornly refusing to admit they made expensive mistakes.
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Old 05-06-11, 07:10 PM
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I have owned in excess of 15 bikes, including a variety of Al, Ti, & Carbon Fiber bikes. You will likely receive the usual suspects of mostly ambiguous answers here (e.g., "depends") but, to be fair, it is a somewhat arbitrary question. You will also receive myriad response relative to durability, quality, etc., including myriad reliability in such claims.

For me, the first few years of biking I fell victim to the proverbial "bike lust". It was completely irrelevant that each bike I owned was not pushed to the maximal load given my modest abilities, I simply wanted another one. For me, this would be the only deterrent in getting a Ti bike, as I see them as lifetime bikes. In other words, I think that the main utility of Ti, as differentiated from other road bikes, is that when it is done well, it is just capable enough, just attractive enough, and just durable enough to last a lifetime. The caveat being, a lifetime delimited by the attention span of a roadie. Generally speaking, after you have been riding for a while the bike lust changes (note, it doesn't diminish, it just evolves) from wanting-and-buying to wanting-and-appreciating-from-afar. In such cases, I think that a well made Ti bike is perfectly qualified.

As a newbie, unless you are of the disposition that you are more interested in wanderlust than bike lust, I would think that such quality might not be appreciable or desirous. In such case, consider all types of materials (as you will inevitably). Conversely, if you are the newbie who wants your first-last-road-bike, get a Ti.
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Old 05-06-11, 07:18 PM
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I don't own a Ti bike but I have ridden a few and will get a Ti bike for a second bike. A well made carbon bike will last longer than its owner. Carbon bikes are light and do a nice job of eliminating road buzz. Also, carbon bikes can be repaired easier than a Ti bike. However, not all carbon bikes are created the same and some are more crash tollerant than others.

If you have the budget, both are good options but if I could only have one bike it wold be carbon fiber.

Last edited by Carbon Unit; 05-06-11 at 07:30 PM.
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Old 05-06-11, 07:22 PM
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"worth it" is a dumb question, because the answer depends on your disposable income, riding style and projected use, and you have not included any of that information.

BTW, my Ti frame broke after less than three years. So much for the myth of a Ti frame being your "last" road bike. Or even lasting longer than CF- both my CF frames made at least four years.

But there's nothing wrong with Ti, other than usually being heavier than CF and not riding quite as nicely. If you find one that fits you (and your disposable income, riding style and projected use), you could have a nice bike.
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Old 05-06-11, 07:31 PM
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I thoroughly enjoy my Ti (Litespeed Ultimate). It compares more than favorably to my quality steel (853 Reynolds). I'm ot anti-CF t all but when push came to shove (time to actually spend my money) I decided that I preferred a metallic frame and that Ti suited my needs perfectly.
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Old 05-06-11, 07:53 PM
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Originally Posted by ericm979 View Post
BTW, my Ti frame broke after less than three years. So much for the myth of a Ti frame being your "last" road bike. Or even lasting longer than CF- both my CF frames made at least four years.
Not to get into forum-banter, but your supposition presumes that "last" bike has to do with durability alone. For me, the main reason I sold each of my (very well made and effective) CF bikes and decided that I would be resolute with Ti is the mere fact that I like knowing that someone welded it and it is from a material that was not necessarily developed in lab or the sort.

Otherwise, I agree with your post, short of the "not riding quite as nicely" assertion. Qualities are subjective, and quantitative measures are rarely pertinent in the recreational cycling world.
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Old 05-06-11, 08:05 PM
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Originally Posted by jayz28 View Post
Looking to drastically change my lifestyle and commit to commuting via bike and riding centuries. Started biking only 3 years ago with mountain biking, but now I'm thinking of starting road biking as well. It seems the trend now is carbon fiber, but I'm thinking of going titanium for the crash worthiness and longevity. Any first hand accounts of either or both?

TIA.
Sure. Titanium is great. My titanium frame with no paint looks better after 15 years than my previous steel frame did 7 and didn't cost appreciably more than the steel frame.

Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 05-06-11 at 08:10 PM.
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Old 05-07-11, 02:45 AM
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Originally Posted by jayz28 View Post
titanium for the crash worthiness and longevity.....
TIA.
That part of the sentence made it easy. Carbon bikes come and go(esp after a scratch or two) Ti is forever. Upgrade components, switch decals, buff out scratches are just a few of the Ti benifits. Paint jobs date carbon bikes, and yes, I get a new carbon bike as a second rider every couple of years, cause I like new bikes. That said, if I had to keep one, it's my Ti bike.. Plus they are so pretty!

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Old 05-07-11, 03:09 AM
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If the choice is between steel and ti, to my uses I'd go with steel. To each his own but I know I'll never even enter a race, so cost and comfort and utility are my main considerations.
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Old 05-07-11, 05:29 AM
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Yes, ti is worth it.
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Old 05-07-11, 08:04 AM
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Originally Posted by ericm979 View Post
"worth it" is a dumb question, because the answer depends on your disposable income, riding style and projected use, and you have not included any of that information.

BTW, my Ti frame broke after less than three years. So much for the myth of a Ti frame being your "last" road bike. Or even lasting longer than CF- both my CF frames made at least four years.

But there's nothing wrong with Ti, other than usually being heavier than CF and not riding quite as nicely. If you find one that fits you (and your disposable income, riding style and projected use), you could have a nice bike.
How did that happen? Was it a crash? And if so, do you believe that your carbon bike would have suffered the same fate?
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Old 05-07-11, 08:10 AM
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Originally Posted by jayz28 View Post
Looking to drastically change my lifestyle and commit to commuting via bike and riding centuries. Started biking only 3 years ago with mountain biking, but now I'm thinking of starting road biking as well. It seems the trend now is carbon fiber, but I'm thinking of going titanium for the crash worthiness and longevity. Any first hand accounts of either or both?

TIA.
both

i like both. they are different. both are good. neither is better than the other.

this is based on leisure riding and not racing. for racing, i'll let a racer speak.
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Old 05-07-11, 08:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Nachoman View Post
How did that happen? Was it a crash? And if so, do you believe that your carbon bike would have suffered the same fate?
The chainstay cracked. Manufacturing defect, I never crashed that bike. OTOH I crashed my Cervelo R3 at 30 mph and the frame and carbon bars were undamaged (unfortunately I landed on my face, and even with insurance my crash damage cost as much as a couple good bikes). Crash survival is more about luck than frame material. Hit any frame light enough to be sporty "wrong" and you'll damage it. At least CF is cheaper to repair than any other frame material.

I can only go on my personal experience, but both of my CF frames ride better than the Ti frame I had, and it was one known for a smooth ride. The CF seems to absorb some of the high frequency vibration that Ti passed through to the rider. Perhaps I am more sensitive to these than other people. I suggest taking test rides and seeing for yourself.

If you like hand-made stuff there are plenty of custom CF builders. But that's not in the OP's price range. I have to admit that really well done welds on Ti look nice. But I buy bikes to ride, not to look at.
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Old 05-07-11, 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by ericm979 View Post
The chainstay cracked. Manufacturing defect
So it isn't really the material's fault?

The Ti legend lives.
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Old 05-07-11, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by jayz28 View Post
Looking to drastically change my lifestyle and commit to commuting via bike and riding centuries. Started biking only 3 years ago with mountain biking, but now I'm thinking of starting road biking as well. It seems the trend now is carbon fiber, but I'm thinking of going titanium for the crash worthiness and longevity. Any first hand accounts of either or both?

TIA.
I like ti due to it's almost indestructible nature and corrosion resistance. Will it last as long as steel? Some people say they will last longer some same they won't (Rivendell only likes steel and rates TI as the second best bike material, not sure if I agree with them). But Bikes Direct.com has the best price on TI bikes from Motebecane for a mere $2,000 which includes a fully ready to ride bike and free shipping, and their not Chinese made frames! see: http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...mp_slti_xi.htm

Obviously if you can afford it there are nicer and more expensive bikes like the Lynsky, but it will cost you 3 times more by the time you add on components similar to whats on the Motebecane, but you would get a nicer frame.
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Old 05-07-11, 10:15 AM
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every...stinkin'...cent.
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Old 05-07-11, 11:13 AM
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Getting a Ti frame for your first bike is a bad idea. You can get the same quality bike in carbon for much, much cheaper. Plus, there are alot more options in carbon, so you can try more bikes with diffrent geomtry to see what works for you. If the geometry doesn't work for you after you buy a Ti frame, you're not going to be out as much money.

Also, Ti, Steel and Aluminum =/= able to survive crashes better than carbon. Mountain bikers break Al frames all the time. How you wreck has more to do with what your frame is made of in terms of if the frame will be trashed or not. Look how many professional cyclists wreck hard, then get up and finish the race on "fragile" carbon bikes.

Last edited by clink83; 05-07-11 at 11:22 AM.
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Old 05-07-11, 01:25 PM
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I went with Ti for my first big investment into a road bike. I figured, rightly or wrongly, that Ti manufacturing is not likely to change much and so down the road this bike will turn into my commuter. Meanwhile, I'll wait for Carbon tech to move ahead and hopefully in five years I can buy a 1.5 lb carbon frame for $200 (j/k but you get what I mean). Of course, technology will keep plugging along so maybe it is a moot point.?
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Old 05-07-11, 04:17 PM
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Originally Posted by ericm979 View Post
The chainstay cracked. Manufacturing defect.
would love to know who the manufacturer was.
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Old 05-07-11, 08:04 PM
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IMO Ti is "worth it" if you don't overpay for it, otherwise it's hard to justify against steel cost-wise (and increasingly against carbon -- nice carbon is going at great prices lately). My definition of "worth it" would be the Bikes Direct Ti SRAM model or some of the lower-priced Lynskeys if you want that Tennessee Ti vibe.

I've been riding the same steel bike for over 30 years in all conditions. Even if you get chips & rust, steel is easy to sand, prime, and touch-up. Still, well-designed & built Ti should last forever, and definitely gives more peace of mind than other materials against foul weather and impact damage.
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Old 05-07-11, 09:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Farby View Post
would love to know who the manufacturer was.
I bet it was Litespeed.
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Old 05-07-11, 10:12 PM
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Originally Posted by rekmeyata View Post
I bet it was a post-Lynskey/ABG Litespeed.
fify

alternatively, could have been a Merlin made under the aegis of ABG

As for the OP. My first bike from five years ago was an entry level Giant OCR3. It's now my commuter/city bike.

My second bike was a Cannondale Six13. It's now getting shipped home so i can ride while away from school

For my third bike, i bought a Lynskey Cooper. Hopefully, it'll last me for the rest of my life. There's one additional benefit of Ti: it can be cut up so you can travel with it. The cutting process and the installation of couplers will set you back $800, and there's another $500 for a hard case. It's a one time fixed cost so that you can travel with your bike anywhere.

Last edited by echappist; 05-07-11 at 10:21 PM.
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Old 05-07-11, 10:21 PM
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I own both a Ti (Merlin) and carbon (Orbea Orca). I love them both and enjoy the different ride characteristics of both. That said, the Orca does dull out the road buzz but you do feel the bigger hits much more than with the Ti Merlin. Yes, wheels are also a factor and the Merlin typically has Rolf minimal spoke wheels and they are tubular. The Merlin floats over rough roads and for that I call it my magic carpet ride! The Orca on the other hand is an amazing climbing machine probably due to the very stiff rear triangle. My joke is that it climbs like a monkey on crack. The Orca is a few pounds lighter at 15.2 v 17.5. Both bikes are Campy, 10 speed Record on the Merlin and 11 speed Chorus on the Orca.

So, which bike would I buy for my first quality bike? Hell, I don't know. I have had the Merlin for 10 years and it still feels as nice as it did in 2001. It replaced a Cannondale and I really appreciated the improved ride characteristics at that time. The Orca is for sure a nice riding bike but I will not get rid of my Ti at all and I really like the more lively feeling that it has. Sure, it is not as light weight or stiff or does it look at sexy as the black carbon of the Orca and the tubes are pretty straight looking v the swagged and shaped carbon tubes (do you call them tubes on a carbon bike?).

For the OP, WHAT is your budget? You can certainly pay more for a CF bike that a Ti, but you probably are not looking at a Time or high end Look CF bike. I might suggest that you make your first bike a CF Specialized, Trek, Felt, Cannondale, or Scott or similar. Then, once the passion for bikes and all things good about really good bikes takes hold, look at a Lynsky, Serotta, Moots, Dean, Merlin, Independent Fab, etc. Keep both bikes and enjoy them both.
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