My word, the sun is out and the bees are buzzin’! The trails (and roads) are dry and you certainly shouldn’t be sitting around reading stuff on the Internets…
But just in case you are, how about finding out how Paul got on when he decided to treat himself to a new bike to both celebrate a big birthday and to prepare himself for a special event?
It all started in April 2017 after finishing the Dirty Reiver – it’s a 120 mile gravel event in Kielder Forest. I’d ridden my Chinese carbon cyclocross bike and had received a serious pounding! I decided I would treat myself to a new bike for my up and coming 50th Birthday and thought that titanium was my best shot at beating the vibration.
Sounds like a fair plan, chap! What did you have in mind?
A custom built frame didn’t even enter my head at this stage but but I did have some clear ideas:
- Bolt through axles
- 45mm tyre clearance
- Slack head angle
- Built for long distance on gravel
- Campagnolo gears and hydraulic discs – although this was a bit of a gamble as they hadn’t released the hydraulic disks at the time!
- Ability to take a Lauf Grit suspension fork
With a trip to Colorado planned for June I nearly pushed the ‘buy now’ button on a frame in the ‘States. But then the Campagnolo H11 system was released and I found it only came with flat mount callipers. This seriously reduced the available frames I could buy. At the same time I stumbled across the Spanner Blog which planted the seed in my mind of going back to China, but this time for a titanium frame.
Shucks, always happy to help! But how did you pick who to work with?
For some reason Walty just stood out as the people to go to – so I did!
I spent the rest of the Summer playing on AutoCAD designing the frame. Which was a balance between what I liked the look of, what I knew worked for my size and my existing frame geometry.
I placed the initial enquiry with Walty in late August when I knew I had a few months to get it sorted. Amy was great, within the week the order was placed with just one revision to the original drawing. Walty made a few changes to my design, at first I thought these were mistakes but when looking closer they all made perfect sense: Cable stop on the bottom bracket shell, tubes on the head tube rather than the guides, no internal routing on the chainstay etc. These were all things that just made sense so most were left. I had to clarify the chainset clearance but after that the order was placed!
About 7 weeks later (it took over a week in customs) the frame turned up and it is 99% perfect, only 2 minor niggles. The first one is the seat tube internal is about 0.2mm oversized, this is no problem to me as I’m using a shim on the seat post so just got one a little bigger than I was going to use (31.8mm vs. 31.6mm).
The second issue is one of the bottle cage bosses was not welded 100% round, its missing about 30% of its weld. I don’t think this will be a problem but a little annoying that it wasn’t picked up by quality control.
Apart from these little niggles I love it, everything was as per the drawing, the logos I designed look fantastic in the light!
That does sound a little off! I think Waltly have been caught out with oversized seat tubes before which is a bit of a shame, at least Paul was able to work around it easily.
The lack of weld on the water bottle boss is strange too although, as Paul says, no harm done as it’s not in a vital position.
Nice work, time to get riding…
So after getting a box of bits unwrapped I started building on Christmas day and it was finished soon after. As it was a Birthday present though I had to wait until my Birthday on the 29th before I could do a proper test ride!
So… how was it?
Up: Not quite brilliant, but close! On technical loose, rocky, trails it excels. On smooth gravel and tarmac it’s a bit more sluggish than my carbon crosser but I think that’s a combination of the tyre weight and a slightly more compliant frame. It’s not sloppy though, it still feels stiff!
Down: Wow, it flies! It’s scarily fast on any terrain, it soaks up the bumps far far better than any bike I’ve owned with rigid forks, and maybe as good as some that have suspension.
These are probably due to some marginal gains rather than just the Titanium…
- Every tube directly connecting the wheels to the rider is curved (seat stay, seat tube, main tube), so has some vertical give
- Skinny seatpost and carbon bars will add compliance
- 28 spoke wheels and 40mm tyres running at around 30 PSI
- A carbon gravel fork designed for comfort rather than a stiff cyclocross fork
It all adds up really well to a bike that loves to go down the rough stuff!
Control: The short stem, low bottom bracket and really short chainstays just make it feel right. It’s a bike that goes where you point it and feels so planted when you do, rather than the skittering about that you get from a stiff carbon bike.
Quality and longevity: I live in the Lakes and so it’s done 500 miles in mud, snow and ice, except a week in Scotland where there was added grit and salt! The frame is showing no signs of fatigue except the obvious wear that it gets from the punishment I give it. I’ve even managed to buff out some scratches the frame bag straps caused with a bit of wet and dry.
All in it weighs 19.75 lbs which is pretty much the same weight as my carbon Cyclocross bike and for some reason it feels lighter.
‘So what about that Lauf fork?’ I hear you say. Well the new Grit fork is still not available and to be honest why would I add another pound (450 grams) to a bike that deals with the rough stuff as well as it does? Never say never, but right now I think the Lauf fork is officially on the back burner.
Awesome stuff, it sounds like Paul’s got it right first time. It shows how much planning he did beforehand that he only needed to do a single drawing revision with Waltly!
I like the personal touches he was able to add including the custom made headbadge and the sand blasted graphics. He also added cunning guides on the headtube to stop cable rub and allow for adjuster barrels. I’m a big fan of anything that means you don’t have to cover your frame in those little sticky pads!
Ti2GEr? Where does that come from then? 🙂
Like all the best bike names Ti2GEr has multiple meanings!
Ti – double G – er. This is how Tigger spells his name.
Ti = Titanium
2G = Double chainset
Er = Every road
The symbol is Chinese for Tiger, and like Tigger, one of a kind!
All together now!
“They’re bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy
Fun, fun, fun, fun, fun!
But the most wonderful thing about tiggers is
I’m the only one…”
Paul finished this years Dirty Reiver in just over 9 hours and 10 minutes, forty minutes faster than the year before – clearly the new bike is giving him extra speed!
Have you had a bike made that you’d like to feature? Do drop me a line via the contacts page.
Not quite confident to go it alone just yet? Let me help you out with a custom frame from only £1045! www.spanner.bike