Be your own brand.

Interview: Eric Zhang from Titan Titanium

I think George (see here) put it best when he said it was amazing that he can “…sit here on my computer in Arizona, using a website in Canada to design a bike researched in the UK and elsewhere, send the specs to China and a box with this frame in it shows up at my door!”.

But how much do we really know about the companies that we’re dealing with? Are they a man in a shed or a huge multinational? How many frames do they make a year and who buys them?

Titan are probably the smallest of the three companies that I’ve featured frames from, so it was great to hear from Eric Zhang who wanted to know if we would like to find out more about the company that he started. (I said ‘yes’, as you might have guessed).

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Eric’s the founder of Titan and still in charge of the day to day business. I asked him to introduce himself and tell us a bit about Titan Product:
I was involved in the titanium bicycle business from 2007 when I was a salesman in a trading company. After 3 years work experience, I started my own business in 2010. We started out as a trading company too. We received customer orders, turned their requirements into frame drawings and then selected frame builders to make the frames.
Because I often went to factories I met many engineers and welders. In 2012 I met Tang who’s the most talented titanium frame builder I’ve ever seen. Together we put together a team and started to make our own frames.
We now employ eighteen people, many of whom have five to ten years experience of working in the titanium bicycle industry.
How did Titan become involved with making bicycle frames and what proportion of your total work is now dedicated to bicycles?
Since I started the company we’re 100% dedicated to creating titanium bicycle frames and accessories such as forks, seatposts and handlebars. We’re also interested in other cycle related products like recumbents and hand cycles.
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Getting a neat weld is a tricky business, judging from the end results though it looks like Titan choose their staff carefully.

How many frames do you make a year?
Last year we made about 250 frames and this year, 2014, we’ve made 400 frames so far.
And who buys them?
We not only make frames for some famous brands in Europe and USA, but also custom frames for individuals. I think it’s half and half for OEM and individuals. 
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Lots of familiar stuff here; using a surface plate to check frame alignment.

Are the people that work in the factory keen cyclists too?
Although I love sports I find that running the business takes up all of my time! There are a few of my colleagues who love riding very much though.
I’ve seen examples of Waltly and Titan working together, how are the two companies linked?
Waltly were one of our suppliers when we were a trading company, but that was two years ago. We make all of our own frames in house now.
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Finishing stage; this looks like the recumbent frame we’ll see later on…

Have you got a favorite bike that someone asked you to make, or one that you’re particularly proud of because it was so challenging to produce?
I’m proud of every frame we’ve made. But I do have some favorites. This one was made for a VIP Chinese customer, it’s a 100% full titanium suspension frame:
Titanium_Full_Suspension_Frame (1)
Every piece is made of titanium except the shock.
Titanium_Full_Suspension_Frame

Super neat looking links in cast (?) titanium there!

This is a titanium recumbent hand trike frame. I’m very proud of it as I don’t know of any other manufacturer that can make one in titanium.
A titanium hand cycle trike - now there's something you don't see every day!

A titanium hand cycle trike – now there’s something you don’t see every day!

 And finally…

Not many straight tubes on that one eh? :-)

Not many straight tubes on that one eh? 🙂

All interesting stuff! Having been in a few workshops and factories I was impressed with how ‘normal’ everything looks. Although considering that China’s not exactly another planet perhaps that isn’t really that surprising.

It’s good to see small companies doing well and it sounds like Eric is taking Titan from strength to strength. They certainly don’t shy away from a challenge as the hand cycle above shows!

There were a few things that Eric didn’t want to share with us as they were commercially sensitive, but I think that’s only fair. It’s not stopped us getting a flavour for how Titan goes about it’s business. When working with someone it always helps to be able to put a face to the name, hopefully what we’ve done here will make your order more straightforward if you do decide to use them.

If you’d like to get in touch with Titan then feel free to drop them a line via their Aliexpress site.

Have you had a frame made that you’d like to share with the rest of the world? Do feel free to drop me a line via the Contacts page, thanks!