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Olivier’s Raw Label 2 – custom titanium hardtail from Titan

Now, you remember I was promising you a part two of the ‘new skool’ hardtail item? It was all down to Olivier…

Olivier, from Switzerland, is a friend of the blog from way back, his Alpine ‘Raw Label’ hardtail was one of the first bikes I featured. He got in touch recently to let me know he’d had another frame made, and that he was getting into the wheel building business.

Even though Olivier rides in proper mountains he’s still a fan of the hardcore hardtail and keeps it real with his titanium frames. This is the third Chinese frame he’s had made, choosing this time to use Titan instead of XACD. Titan didn’t charge more for additional features and were happy to offer the ‘raw’ finish he was looking for.

There’s a Buddhist principle of an object being both ‘never completed’ and ‘always in decay’ which the Japanese often refer to as wabi-sabi. This has lead to a whole school of design, producing items that would normally be seen as scruffy or incomplete.

As a result we’re able to see the welding heat rainbows that would normally be sandblasted out, I think it’s a great look!

Nice work, an update of the 'Raw Label' hardtail from back in the day...

Nice work, an update of the ‘Raw Label’ hardtail from back in the day…

As well as that raw finish Olivier’s gone for some signature ‘new skool’ hardtail features:

  • All mountain geometry with a 66 degree head angle and 74 degree seat angle.
  • 427mm chainstays, a long top tube and a short head tube designed to be ridden with wide handlebars and a short stem.
  • 27.5″ wheels with clearance for fat tires.
  • Seatstays welded to the toptube like a bmx frame, it’s designed to spread the load from the back wheel better and also looks cool!
  • Rear bolt thru 142 x 12 axle with replaceable mech hanger.
  • ISCG tabs for a chain device.
  • Seatstay brace that also doubles as the post mount for a 180mm rotor.
  • Bent seatstays for clearance around the rear brake caliper.
  • Internal cable routing for stealth dropper.

Rainbow patterns come from the heat stress when the metal is welded. They’re normally sandblasted over which is a shame!

Excellent stuff there, it’s certainly ticking all of my boxes and making me think that it’s perhaps time to get the plans laid out for ‘mark III’. I think the raw look gives a unique finish that really suits a titanium mountain bike frame.

In addition to getting a new frame made Olivier has directed his passion for cycling into a spot of wheel building. Using quality hubs and Chinese carbon rims he’s offering his own line of Speed Demon wheels based on 26mm and 32mm width rims. The 26mm rims are available in both 27.5″ and 29″ size while the tougher 32mm rims are 27.5″ only.

The thinking behind the wider rim is to give more shape and volume to the tyre so it offers more grip. It also let’s you experiment with semi-fat 27.5+ tyres up to around 3″ in width depending on your frame clearance.

If he builds his wheels with the same dedication as he designs his frames you should be in safe hands.

More info on Speed Demon over here: although you might need to hit up on his Facebook link for the latest info as it looks like he’s doing a little maintenance at the moment.

Have you been inspired to have your own frame made in the Far East? Do drop me a line via the Contacts page if you’d like to share your story.