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Digital Subscriptions > Singletrack > 108 > LIVING THE TI-LIFE



Titanium bicycles. ‘The last bike you’ll ever need’ or ‘the bike for life’ or something. In reality there’s no need to build a bike frame out of titanium tubing – nice steel tubes match it for ride quality, it’s often not as stiff, light and responsive as carbon or highend aluminium, it costs a small fortune to buy one and it’s really tricky to work with.

But who cares about all that? It’s a bike made out of titanium!

In the olden days, a Ti bike was considered by many to be the material for posh pushbikes. All of the fastest bikes were made of it and the fastest riders were seemingly on bikes made from this amazing and shiny material. Ti had been used for years by the Russian military, while developments in the cold war aerospace industry brought titanium tubing (which isn’t ‘pure’ titanium, it’s got vanadium and aluminium in it too) into mainstream production.

In some respects, a Ti frame seems quite sensible. The corrosion resistance is handy in our perpetually damp climate, if you scratch it you can buff it out easily enough and the fatigue resistance of the material means that the frame should last a long, long time.

The ride quality can be quite something too – it would be easy to slip into the usual clichés about mythical ride properties, springiness and vibration absorbing magic, but a well made Ti frame can be incredibly comfortable and can feel like you’re riding something high-quality and worth the extra outlay. The expense can sometimes only make sense to those who have ridden one, in other words.

Is all that enough to drive someone to pay three or four times the price of a similar (sometimes almost identical) frame in a cheaper material though? Probably not. It doesn’t seem sensible at all, which means people probably buy titanium bicycles just because they want one. It sounds irrational, but then, many people buy really expensive televisions the size of Texas so that they can see a colossal Simon Cowell in their living room. Or a gigantic fridge that can stockpile three month’s shopping. After all, it is only money and you can’t take it with you…

What we’ve got here are three modern titanium hardtails. They’re all quite different from each other, but they’ve all got 29 inch wheels and two of them are available as cheaper, less exotic versions for those of us with different priorities, less money and/or less understanding partners. But these are titanium, which is always better, OK?

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About Singletrack

UK Adventure: A Dead Good Day Out Pete Scullion follows one of the Lake District’s coffin trails, from graveyard to pub. UK Adventure: Down The Sandstone Way Oli Townsend checks out England’s newest long distance trail. International Adventure: Rumble in the Jungle Jason Miles races across Sri Lanka, fuelled by tea, coffee, and a fear of elephants. Trail Hunter: Through the Bogs of Time Tom Fenton revisits the remote, and rather wet, Doethie Valley. Is it as good as he remembers? Singletrack Room 101 Resident Grumpy Mark presides over your submissions to Room 101. Classic Ride: Avebury, Wiltshire Tom Hutton explores the rolling hills and standing stones, while testing Murphy’s First Law of Mountain Biking. Grouptest: Waterproof Shorts We’ve ground our gussets, soaked our seams, and wet our waistbands in search of shorts to keep our derrières dry. Bike Test: Living the Ti-Life Jason Miles stops stroking and staring at three polished 29er lovelies from J Guillem, Kona and Stanton and takes them out to see whether they ride as well as the look. Through the Grinder An array of goods sprinkled with summer rain, ground in summer mud, and very occasionally exposed to actual direct sunlight. Grinder Bike: Scott Scale 710+ Scott’s plus size hardtail put through mile after mile of testing. International Adventure: Murky Morzine Our Rob heads off on his summer holidays, which prove somewhat damp, but nonetheless fun. International Adventure: Blackburn Rangers Chipps goes riding in the wilderness with the varied characters who will be promoting the Blackburn brand this year.