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Will’s n+0 Titanium Do-It-All-Bike from Waltly

You all know the joke about how many bikes you need? The answer: n+1, just one more than you’ve got now! Will wanted to slay this equation with one bike to rule them all, for road, commuting and even gravel/CX riding.

Like all the best builds Will based his frame on a bike he already owns, in this case a Boardman CX’er. He tweaked the design to his liking with bolt through drop outs, internal cable routing and mudguard and rack mounts. He also wanted to add a tapered head tube to match a carbon fork.

He’d become virtual pen friends with his contact Sumi from Waltly after spending quite a bit of time sorting through the various options he wanted. He dropped me a line fairly late on in that process to see if I had any ideas that might help.

Waltly's final drawing showing all the neat details that Will thrashed out with them.

Waltly’s final drawing showing all the neat details that Will thrashed out with them.

Keeping it all inside!

Will wanted a ‘super clean’ look and was figuring out the best way to route cables internally. Like Rich (and his super commuter) he’d thought about concealing them in the bottom bracket shell, although ultimately this didn’t prove to be very practical.

I was as helpful as usual and pointed out he could always spring for a set of the new SRAM wireless shifters, or even go for a twin top tube design (like a newsboy frame) and run cables through those! Running a single chainring on the front with a wide range cassette on the back would be another option to reduce the clutter of a front shifter and cable.

As far as cable routing goes I’m a big fan of running the rear gear cable along the left hand side of the frame, crossing it back to the right hand side near the seat tube. And similarly with the rear brake, putting that down the right hand side of the frame before crossing it over later on. It means you get less cable rub and you don’t have to run the cables/hoses doubled back on itself to go into the frame.

Luckily Will ignored my dafter ideas and decided to go for Waltly’s option of internal cable routing through some very neatly welded ferrules and tubes.

The internal routing looks neat but will it weaken the frame in the long term?

The internal routing looks neat but will it weaken the frame in the long term?

Those gave me other little alarm bells though – you’re putting a hole in a pretty stressed part of the frame and then extending the ‘heat affected area’ by welding the tubing in place. The heat of welding weakens titanium slightly, the more heat you put in the more weak points you create in the frame. Will could be creating a point of future failure – or it might last for years, you never know! Rich gave himself the same potential issues with his frame which has been going fine so far. Waltly do make a very neat job of the welding though, which you have to admire!

Losing your head…

We threw around some ideas about tubing sizes and I even suggested dropping the top tube more for a ‘compact’ style frame – don’t forget folks, you don’t have to do things the same as everyone else! That gets me on to tapered headtubes. I think they were designed for carbon frames where that area looks pretty bulky to start with. On metal frames? I’m not sure they look right…

If you’re thinking of a fat bladed carbon fork though they do blend in better with a tapered headtube. Personally I’d go for a straight 44mm internal diameter headtube and then fit a mixer headset (top internal, bottom external cups) to run a tapered fork, but that’s just me 😉


The finished vehicle, ready for anything!

The finished vehicle, ready for anything!

Standards – gotta love ’em!

Will did come across some issues with standards that I wasn’t aware of before. When CX frames use a bolt through fork it’s got a 12mm axle, not the more common 15mm axle that mountain bikes use. Surprisingly Chinese carbon fork manufactures haven’t caught up with this one yet, pretty much all of their CX forks are still quick release. 12mm through axle carbon forks are available but only high end ones from the likes of TRP and Whisky. 29’er forks will have the 15mm standard and be too long to fit a CX frame, they’re designed to replicate the additional length of a suspension fork.

In the end Will paid the price of being an early adopter and went with the TRP fork, although he did balk at the extra expense. I guess we’ll just have to wait for the ‘OEM’ copies which surly should come out soon.

Will also did a bit of head scratching when it came to placing the rear brake calliper. He wanted to keep it out of the way of the mud guard and rack mounts but also be able to run the hose internally in the frame. Mounting it on the chainstay is a perfect way of doing this and a post mount was welded in place.

All went well until he offered up his brake disk calliper – it was a completely different design! Road bike disks, especially those for carbon frames, can come in a new compact fitting called ‘flat mount’. Will dug around for an adapter but eventually had to replace them with some post mount callipers instead. It’s worth bearing in mind if you’re thinking about doing something similar. The angle of the hose coming out of the rear caliper also means you’ll only be running it through the chainstay, not the seatstay.


Will’s final thoughts:

I chose Waltly as they seemed to have the best reviews from other ti builders and someone had also built something similar recently to my ideal frame. They were very good indeed to work with and catered for my every whim and change of mind right up to the last minute. I think I counted well over 40 emails! I’m very impressed with the build quality and special details I requested.

The bike truly is special and I love every minute riding it; it’s very smooth! My only cause for concern is the hole on the underside of the chain stay for the internal hose to the rear caliper. I put a thicker walled tube on the chain stay and reinforced the hole, but I’m still paranoid about it! I’m sure it’d be fine and others frames with holes in the chain stay have held up well so far. Only time will tell I guess.

Sounds Will won’t be buying another bike anytime soon – or will he? We all know when the bike building bug bites you can never be sure 😉

Have you had a bike made in the Far East? Perhaps you’d like to share your experience too, do drop me a line via the contacts page and say ‘Hi’!