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Introducing Titan Product: Dave’s Custom Titanium Audax Frame

Oranges are not the only fruit – it turns out there’s more than just one enterprising Chinese company that will deal with you directly if you’re after a custom titanium frame; introducing Titan Product.

 

Titanium audax frame found roaming in the wild, carefully trapped and tamed by Titan.

 

Dave got in touch with me recently; he was looking for a new titanium Audax frame, but being a tall chap he finds it tricky buying ‘off the peg’. He was keen on going custom but having heard about XACD’s unique approach to customer service he decided to look around to see if there were any other options.

He discovered Titan Product and contacted me to see if I’d heard of anyone else who had used them. I hadn’t but Dave was keen to try them out and decided to go for it anyway!

Titan Product work in a slightly different way to XACD and will only start work on drawings when you’ve confirmed your order with them. But you can use Escrow at no extra charge so your cash isn’t released until you’re happy everything has arrived safely. You can also pay with Paypal rather than requiring a bank transfer, but Titan ask you to pay the 3.9% Paypal fees.

As David says:

They are a lot more friendly than Porter and seem quite willing to help.  They’re also a bit cheaper.  730USD for a custom build plus 103USD shipping.  Then the 3.9% if you use paypal.

I asked Dave what he was looking for in his new frame:

My current frame is a Tifosi Classic Audax.  The headtube is 229mm and I still need a 34 degree stem to raise the bars up to a sensible height – the problems of having very long legs and a short body! I’ll be copying the Tifosi as close as I can.

Their standard price seems to be $730 regardless of what you specify (integrated head tube, mudguard clearance, rack mounts etc), as long as it is pretty standard stuff.

As you can see from the quote I had from XACD they wanted to charge extra for the integrated head tube:

Our price is following:
Ti custom road/Audax frame
FOB XI’AN: USD555.00/set
Extra costs of 1-1/8″ integrated head tube:USD185.00
Shipping costs(EMS express):USD165.00
Bank fee:USD40.00
Total:USD945.00

 

Titan also included a brushed finish in the price which would have been an extra $50 or so at XACD – good value indeed!

 

My original idea was to get a comfortable frame (regardless of the frame material) that is something between a Sportive and an Audax.

Most Sportive’s seem to be a standard road bike with a longer head tube and maybe a bit of mudguard clearance.  The Audax geometries I’ve looked at so far, because they like to have mudguards and 28mm tyres for comfort, are basically tourers.

 

The end result of Dave's careful calculations - his custom titanium audax frame from Titan

 

One area that Dave was concerned about was getting enough clearance to run mudguards without having to use long drop brake calipers. I wasn’t much help on that front but he did turn up a useful article over on the CTC website which offered some very handy advice (opens up a PDF):

www.ctc.org.uk/resources/Magazine/200505044.pdf

I have pondered extensively as to what I should do about the rear brake bridge position.  Going with their original spec of 355mm limits the room available for a bigger tyre and would I actually be able to get a mudguard under there anyway?  Going with my idea of 365 means that I would have room for tyres and guards, but I’d be stuck with long reach brakes (no Campag or SRAM).  I have therefore split the difference and gone for 360mm.  This should allow max room but give me the option for any standard road brakes.  I’ve also asked if they can widen the seat stays by 5mm.

Turned out nice again - some tidy looking welds and a nice brushed finish from the Titan folks...

The other area David was concerned about was the chainstay length and how to balance comfort, mudguard clearance and power delivery.  Titan started off by putting on a 406mm chainstay but this would have meant no mudguards – something that’s essential for keeping your friends during a wet Audax! Bikes that are more touring based go up to around 450mm so Dave decided to go for the middle ground with 430mm.

I might ask them to increase the distance between the chainstays from 40mm to 50 or 55mm (also similar to my current frame).  I’ve not actually measured the width of a set of mudguards, but given the thickness of the plastic, you would only be looking at a 4 to 5mm gapto the wheel/tyre so I’ve asked them to take that into account.

Although this did stay at 40mm so Titan must have been happy there was enough room, we’ll have to wait for Dave to build the bike up to find out for sure.

Every the weight watcher I asked about double butted tubes…

I had thought about getting the tubes butted, but I think that would be out of a desire to say I had a “double butted Ti frame” rather than weight.  As I really need to loose about 10kg, saving 100g from the frame tubes is a minor consideration! I asked how much extra butted tubing would be. They have OD31.8, OD34.9, OD38.1, OD40 and OD21.  They confirm the butting thickness would be 0.9-0.7mm.

The price for the frame with the main triangle made out of butted tubing would be $780.

And finally; we have touchdown!

Well, it arrived and it looks fantastic.  Or it did till I put my greasy fingers all over it!

I’ve checked all the measurements I can and everything looks fine. I’ve not been able  to check the angles, but everything else seems
great.

Unfortunately David’s still working on getting the parts together so we’ll have to wait with baited breath to see how things turn out but it’s been interesting to see that other choices exist. I’ll be back with part two as soon as I hear more…

I'm not a fan of the extra welding needed for 'bullet ended' dropouts, but this still looks like a neat job.

David did everything right – he had a good idea of what he wanted before getting in touch with Titan and the results show the thought that’s gone into it. The craftsmanship and finish are on a par with XACD but the real proof will be be when David’s able to build it up and take it for a spin.

It would be good to find out how many ‘extras’ you could get included in the base price before they have to start charging more – step forward some more brave guinea pigs and we’ll find out 😉

To get further info you can check out Titan’s online store:

http://www.aliexpress.com/store/705853

or their main website at:

http://www.titanproduct.com/

Have you had a titanium frame made overseas? 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.