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Wilco’s ‘Julin’ Titanium 29’er from Waltly

It’s about time we had a peek at another 29’er and, handily enough, here’s Wilco’s. He emailed me from the Netherlands to say this website was his inspiration to have his dream titanium frame made by Waltly, and very nicely it turned out too!

Wilco's 'Julin' rigid titanium hardtail - nice and light at around 19lbs!

Wilco’s ‘Julin’ rigid titanium hardtail – nice and light at around 19lbs!

As always, let’s start at the beginning – I asked Wilco how the project got started?

After a few years on a carbon full suspension I found my first MTB again, a 1995 Concorde American Eagle, and took it for a spin. It was so much fun riding this bike after my FS that I decided to go for a new, rigid, steel bike.

I ordered a Pipedream Skookum with the idea of riding it fully rigid but with the option of running it as a single speed too. Sadly, because of production problems and delays, I decided to cancel this order!

The idea of a titanium frame always attracted me but the prices stopped me from going ahead. After reading your site my worries about the Chinese factories got smaller and I took my chance.

Did you base the frame on anything in particular, a bike you already ride?

I wanted the frame to be ‘classic’ with straight frame tubes and sliding dropouts so I could run it as a single speed if I wanted to.

The geometry is a mix of the Skookum and Cotic Solaris with some small changes to make it look like the bike in my head 😉 I described this to Jenny at Waltly and got a first drawing. Of course it wasn’t quite what I had in mind so we did some emailing. Step by step, email by email, the design ended up as I wanted.

After asking a few times I even got a copy of the CAD file so I could try out some changes myself. This took about a month. After this I made my first 20% payment to start production.

Unfortunately Chinese New Year held up production so it took a little longer than normal, but shipping was only 4 days!

Wilco's CAD drawing

Wilco’s CAD drawing, nice sensible tubing and angles there with some very smart sliding dropouts and tapered headtube.

I asked him about his experience, first off why did he chose Waltly?

I had contact with XACD and Waltly, and eventually chose Waltly to make my frame because they could give me the best price for the design I wanted. Porter at XACD was too quick to charge extra for additional features over the standard frame. Tapered headtube, sliding dropouts etc. were all $150 more and the price went up quickly. Waltly were happy to include the extra features for the initial price they quoted.

Regarding quality, I knew both companies made frames for various OEM customers so I trusted them equally. In the end it’s pricing that made me choose Waltly.

The ordering process went well and the contacts with Jenny were good and quick.

Nice sandblasted logo on the headtube there!

Nice sandblasted logo on the headtube – the bike is named after Wilco’s daughters Julie & Linn, the logo a JL 🙂

How do you feel about the finished bike? Is there anything about your design that you’d do differently if you had it made again?

It’s difficult for me to say at the moment as I need to ride it more. When you’re coming from a 12Kg, 26″ full suspension bike to an 8.6kg, fully rigid, 29’er there’s not a lot of common ground to compare!

Maybe I would not do the sliding dropouts now I know that I can buy an eccentric bottom bracket for the BB30 standard. There’s not so much space for a bigger chainring, I ride a 34 now and think 36 will be max.

I don’t have much experience with different bikes so it’s hard to compare, the only way to know for sure would be to build lots of bikes and then ride them all!

That’s a nice light build there too, which forks are you using? And have you had any problems with the chain coming off the single ring?

That’s a Grammo Bici fork. I wanted a slim fork for the frame, fat bladed forks like the Niners are nice but don’t really suit my bike.

I haven’t had any problems with the with the chain staying on yet, but I’ve only ridden 50km so far! I bought a Helium chain guide in case I need one though:

The brushed finish with sandblasted logos look very smart, especially the one on the headtube…

Thank you! The name JULIN comes from a combination of my two daughters names, Julie and Linn. The logo a JL  🙂

Aww, nice way to finish there! Overall you can’t really fault Wilco’s frame, it’s a finely executed 29’er with some cool details like the tapered headtube, sliding dropouts and BB30 bottom bracket.

Checking the drawing over very carefully it looks like 1.2mm wall thickness tubing has been specced for the chain stays. This is often done to resist chainsuck damage and help keep things stiff. Personally, I think you can stick with 0.9mm thickness all over without presenting too much of a risk. It’s something that Wilco could consider if he wanted to go for a lighter frame next time.

Double butting the main tubes (taking the wall thickness down to 0.7mm in the center) would be another option to save some weight, although it would add a little to the price of course.

Have you had a frame made in the Far East? If so I’d love to hear about it and maybe feature it in the Gallery so drop me a line via the contacts page.