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Hans’ Waltly Titanium disk brake road bike

Hans is a fan of titanium frames and has previously gone via Habanero for his fix. This time he wanted to deal direct and approached the big three with his own plans for a disk braked road frame. He dropped me a line early on in the design process to see if I had any advice to offer.

He had a very clear idea of what he wanted, an interesting blend of classical lines with modern features, and with one big exception I was with him all the way…

Having gone for a skinny steel look before with his Habanero frame Hans wanted to use a 32mm down tube again on his new frame. That sounded rather small to me as I’d expect to see at least a 38 – 40mm tube there to make sure it’s strong enough. Funnily enough Hans did say he’d had a problem with that bike:

Why trying to make a titanium bike look like a steel bike might not turn out so well!

Why trying to make a titanium bike look like a steel bike might not turn out so well!

He’d put that down to manufacturing issues but I think that’s a straight case of the tube failing because it wasn’t strong enough. Waltly thought so too and so eventually Hans went for a 40mm diameter which had the added advantage of looking more balanced with the straight 44mm head tube.

Don’t forget that titanium is in between steel and aluminium for strength and weight, which means that your tube sizes will be somewhere in between as well.

Lot's of nice details here, particularly the cable routing.

Lot’s of nice details here, particularly the cable routing.

There were no issues with the build (everything seems to be correct spec, no problems with headset, alignment of the caliper flat-mount holes with the rotor, etc.). I’m very happy with the result!

Weighed a little more than I was expecting, but not overly concerned with weight as I knew this would be a heavier setup than the carbon frame it was replacing. This frame weighed in at 1850g. I suspect that the internal tubes, the brake flat mount, and rear thru-axle dropouts contribute to that. I love the ride, though; very stiff and very indifferent to the texture of the pavement.

Hans' bling build certainly hits the spot...

Han’s bling build certainly hits the spot…

I’m surprised about the weight too, although Hans’ frame is quite large. I suspect the headtube might have added a little weight as you often see them with with the centre section relieved to give some external butting.

Nice details here showing the flat mount brake posts and through axle dropouts.

Nice details here showing the flat mount brake posts and through axle dropouts.

Buyer’s remorse? Hans thinks he pretty much nailed it first time!

Yeah, I don’t have anything at this stage that I would have done differently. My goal was to make a clean and “classic-looking” road frame (round tubes, horizontal top tube, straight chain & seat stays, some internal routing) but fitted with a more modern spec (flat-mount disc brakes, accommodate tapered fork w/ 44mm head tube).

The geometry was also designed for aggressive road riding (73.5/73.5 angles and relatively short chainstays, although I increased them to 415mm to improve rear shifting and to allow me to make them straight).

I had intended for the derailleur stops under the chainstay to just be zip tie mounts, and while I had communicated this, the drawings only ever had the traditional cable stops. Unfortunately I didn’t notice until it was too late! It wasn’t a big deal though, and I’m not sure that I’d really go back and do it differently since it’s a little cleaner looking this way.

I definitely paid a weight penalty for the big classic-style frame. Switching to a compact geometry probably would have saved weight, as you pointed out. So I’m sure a little part of me will wonder whether it might have been worth saving a bit to have a slightly less traditional geometry, but I love the juxtaposition of the modern gear (deep wheels, etc.) with classic shape, so I’m happy.

I was nervous about speccing the flat-mount brakes, but they seem to have done that perfectly. Granted, at this stage I’m still using a flat-to-post-mount adapter, since I don’t yet have the flat-mount-caliper groupset. But I’m glad I went that way as it should prove to be very tidy when I am able to upgrade to those.

Subtle graphics added the Waltly name and logo to the frame.

Subtle graphics added the Waltly name and logo to the frame.

And finally, any thoughts about working with Waltly in particular?

It was surprised that Waltly included a thread-in 142×12 rear axle and a ti seatpost clamp; it was a nice touch as I wasn’t expecting either of those.

Language was not really a barrier in this build, although there were a few back-and-forth emails that might have been avoided with more fluency on their part. There was confusion about a “forward-facing seat tube slot”, although I ended up choosing a rear-facing slot to avoid any frame strength issues with it being close to the top-tube weld.

There was lots of back and forth even after the details were hammered out: over 100 emails and three drawings! Some of which were misunderstandings or omissions on their part, but much of it was driven by me tweaking things at my end.

Cable routing went back and forth, but I’m happy with where it ended (internal derailleur routing in down tube, external zip-tie rear brake routing on exterior of down tube). Time will tell if those holes significantly compromised frame strength, but they are not especially close to the welds and seem to be similar to other examples of companies doing internal routing in titanium.

Excellent stuff, another happy customer indeed! I’m pleased I managed to talk Hans out of having the 32mm down tube, but other than that I think he’s been able to nail everything he set out to do.

His bling build helps but I think his bike looks very smart, a modern classic (or classically modern depending on your point of view)! I’m surprised about the weight too, I guess that’s the penalty you pay for some of the additional features, although some of it will be down to the frame size anyway.

But… cable routing holes in the downtube right at the most stressed part of the frame? I’m still not sure. Other manufacturers are running them but they might not be the best for long term reliability. The 32mm downtube on Hans’ Habanero lasted for a good few years before failing so I guess time will tell as always.

If you’d like more info on how Hans’ frame building project went he’s written his own blog post about the experience over here: http://snakesthatbite.blogspot.co.uk/2016/10/waltly-titanium-disc-brake-road-race.html

Have you had a frame made in the Far East? Like to share your experience, good or bad? Do drop me a line via the contacts page.

And finally – have you ever wondered how long it takes to swap over the parts to a new frame? About two and a half minutes!