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Polishing off – frame finishes

Someone at Lynskey draws the short straw and has to Fully Polish a frame - you end up with a mirrored 'chrome' look.

Someone at Lynskey draws the short straw and has to Fully Polish a frame - you end up with a mirrored 'chrome' look.

The options for finishing off a titanium frame can be a little confusing – particularly as different people can call them different things. Let’s have a go at sorting out what you can have done.

One of the main benefits of a titanium bike is that you can leave the raw frame open to the elements without any harm coming to it – unlike aluminium or steel it doesn’t break down due to corrosion. An oxide layer will form on the metal exposed to air, dulling the finish slightly if it’s been polished, but other than that it’ll be quite happy.

If you’re feeling inclined you can have a titanium frame painted like any other bike but most people prefer to show it off, and not painting a frame can save a few grams in weight too!

XACD’s default finish is Sand Blasted (or Bead Blasted) – this is a fairly flat battleship grey, although there’s a hint of a sheen in certain light. It’s a stealth titanium option that doesn’t draw attention to itself – and more importantly doesn’t cost any more either! The only problem here is that any scratches can show up ‘shiny’, although you can scuff the frame up a bit to disguise it with some polishing abrasives.

Default Sand Blasted finish from XACD. You can tell it's Sand Blasted as there's half a pound of it still inside the tubes! Best hosed out in the garden...

Default Sand Blasted finish from XACD. You can tell it's Sand Blasted as there's half a pound of it still inside the tubes! Best hosed out in the garden...

The next stage up is a Brushed Finish where the polishing mop comes out and the frame is given a bit of a going over by hand. This is the default finish used by most popular brands, it gives the frame a nice sheen and starts looking a bit more sexy. XACD charge an extra $50 for this one. This finish is slightly more robust as it’s easy to ‘polish’ out any blemishes or marks.

 

Brushed finish starts to bring out a bit of pimp - easy to polish out marks and scratches too.

Brushed finish starts to bring out a bit of pimp - easy to polish out marks and scratches too.

Finally we have the Fully Polished Finish where some poor sod has to spend half his life buffing the frame like crazy with ever finer and finer polishing, err, stuff. Very labour intensive and really in need of lacquering to make sure the finish doesn’t oxidise back to a duller grey again. Not sure of XACD prices but it’s probably going to be upwards of $250. Lynskey charge an eye-watering $1999 for a full polished finish – compared to $300 for brushed – so you can see the extra labour involved!

In addition to the frame finish options XACD also offer engraving and masked polishing of logos or names etc. to pimp things up a little.

How about having a custom design CNC’d into the head tube? Yours for $65. They also offer the same option on the down tube for $135 but I’m not sure the tube thickness is there to support it! Let’s hope they mean a chemical etch rather than the CNC milling technique used on the headtube.

CNC a logo into the head tube? Cool.

CNC a logo into the head tube? Cool.

They can also polish a logo onto both sides of the downtube while leaving the rest of the bike a standard sand blast finish for $80 – Olivier had this option on his bike. And finally you can also polish a design into one chainstay for $40, or have a chainstay engraved for $65.

Logo polished into Sand Blasted frame - it's Olivier's Raw Label...

Logo polished into Sand Blasted frame - it's Olivier's Raw Label...

This sort of masking and polishing can be used to rather interesting effect – here’s a good example from Condor. Now I don’t know if XACD make their frames but it’s certainly a possibility…

Rather funky 'curly lugs' Sand Blasted or Etched back into a polished frame; very retro!

Rather funky 'curly lugs' Sand Blasted or Etched back into a Brushed frame; very retro!