Monday, March 8, 2010

Fit to be Ti'd

I may have mentioned that I have never owned a Titanium frame.  And, until 29er singlespeeds singlehandedly resurrected the hardtail to something even old guys want to own, I figured I never would have a steed made from the uber-metal.  Why?  Well, road frames are carbon fiber, are they not?  Yeah, steel is nice for the Hand Made Bike Show and it keeps the guys who cast lugs in business, but I cannot see any good reason not to buy carbon for a road bike.

Of course, first I have to actually BUY a road bike since the one I have (hand made steel, by the way) was brazed up in the mid 90s and the parts on it match the era...unfortunately.  I used to look at Ti road frames and think, "someday".  Nah.  Not anymore.  Carbon is cheap, can be tuned to the nth degree, and IMO is the ultimate road bike material, the 'soul factor' not included.

I think Ti is a silly material to use for a full suspension MTB frame.

So, there I was.

But now, I am fully into the camp of the SS hardtail 29er folks and Ti is once again a possibility for me.  I know that aluminum may be the king of stiff and light and cheap.  Steel is still real and the value leader here.  Carbon is looming large as it struggles to overcome high $$ and the specter of fragility.

But Ti is lighter than steel, has a fatigue life that laughs at aluminum, and is way tougher than carbon.  It is not cheap either, but it is still often cheaper than carbon and even some high end custom steel stuff.  It is quite possibly the bike that you could ride for a lifetime and never need to replace, so there is value to it in that sense.  Ti is usually not a one-season throw away.

And, there is  Carbon can be swoopy and all, but Ti manages to do it with a graceful, smaller diameter tube style that I find classically attractive.  For example, the new Ti El Mariachi from Salsa Cycles (even if it does have gears).

El Mariachi Ti

I came pretty close to pulling the trigger on a custom steel frame the other day.  But I find myself thinking of waiting for the right time, saving pennies, dimes and dollars, and finally pulling the big trigger for a Ti SS 29er.

Vassago Optimus Ti

I doubt I will ever want to swing for the fences and go Moots or Eriksen or Black Sheep, but ya never know.  The Vassago appeals to me as I like the Jabber I have now.  If Salsa ever pops a SS version out of the EZ Bake Oven of frames they have going, that would be cool too.  I dunno.

But, I think it will be worth waiting for.

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