Strengths: Titanium of course, immaculate welds, conservative and usable geometry.
Weaknesses: This is no weight weenie frame. Perhaps, back in the day, but if all you are looking for is light & stiff, this is not the bike for you.
Thought I'd post just to give an update since 2001. Now ten years later, I've bought a used Ibis Road Ti. What a beautiful bike. Craftmanship is built into this frame resulting in a piece of fabrication that can't be touched by today's plastic bikes and most Chinese factory builds.
Similar Products Used: The best thing about an Ibis Road Ti..... there is no such thing as a similar product.
Bike Setup: HED Ardennes wheel set, mostly dura ace group - 7703 cranks (polished) and duraliers, pd-7810, 7900 brakes, 7703 triple bb, 9sp 11-23 cassette - kool stop salmon pads, token acurra 9sp lite chain, ibis stem (polished), reaction cables, ultegra st-6510 sti, fizik arione w/ braided seat rails, Omni Racer ti QRs and seat clamp, ems pro fork, american classic headset, synchro ti post, eC90 equipe pro carbon bars, and finally dipell veloce red leather bar tape. This last item was pretty indulgent!
a Recreational Rider
from upstate ny
Date Reviewed: May 13, 2001
Strengths: I have used this bike under every adverse circumstance and especially in bad weather. In fact, I take it out primarily in early spring when the roads are most dangerous (grit, sand, glass, etc.) and on days that are wet or threatening. I do this not only because the plain satin ti finish means "no muss, no fuss, just hose me down when you are done" but also because this bike is invariably steady up front, compliant vertically, and always a pleasure even when the weather is at its worst. I have ridden Serotta Ti---too stiff and too much like steel, so why buy ti?---and Merlin/Spectrum which even I (145lbs and middle-aged) could flex in the bb. This stands as the most comfortable, best built ti frame I could have wanted---and despite the crazy original cost (though I got mine on "special") it is, to my mind, a far superior product to the current offering of straight-gauge ti offered by Ibis. This bike has the asymmetrical internal 2:1 double butted tubes and tapered oversized seatstays. Some, including Ibis, suggest that it was too flexy for bigger riders but methinks this is hookum: I think Ibis couldn't sell enough at the over 3K retail frame only price. Mine sports a Time Equipe fork which has served me equally well. This bike handles like a dream and rides as nicely as any of the others I own and list below. If you find one for a great price then safe your money and buy this truly excellent frame.
Weaknesses: For all the talk, I am not enamoured of the so-called KGB dropouts since they require you to place the skewer in but one place. Wheels drop in and out just fine but there is a circular rim that forces you to place the skewer in a "proper place." Is this a weakness? I would consider it an idiosyncracy.
Ibis dropped the ball on the seattube diameter but it's not really any big deal, just limited options. The setback and geometries of this bike make it fit for all day rides and racing. This is one of those road bikes that truly suits whatever task to which you put it. Now, if it had eyelets for fenders and racks it would be just as sweet as a tourer but it's really a "ten speed" and the fork clearances (silly how stupidly narrow they are) on carbon forks wouldn't quite suit you---but perhaps a custom Serotta or Steelman or IF with eyelets? There are so many things you can do with this bike. Last, you have to like plain satin ti finishes. I find this appealing in that no-nonsense industrial kinda way: and the welds on the Ibis are genuinely cleaner and nicer than on the Serotta or Merlin. These are as clean as Moots and I would love to compare them to a new IF ti, anyone? If this were your own bike you would never need another one. I rather like Serotta's half-paint schemes but that would add a factor of maintenance that this bike is designed to eliminate. Also, I often pile tons of soft luggage on top of the frame inside the car: you couldn't hurt, damage, or break this frame without seriously trying. Top shelf stuff here...so it gets a 4 for value because it was expensive but is now no longer available and so gets the 5 for being rare and WORTH IT especially in comparison to other titanium bikes (better tubes than Moots or current Ibis; better welds than any Litespeed; handles better than the Merlin/Spectrum; not as steel-stiff as the Serotta Legend; still worthy of comparison to the Seven and IF, though both are unknown to me). 5 overall because this is one great titanium bike and even beyond its genre/material, it is still as nice as my Carrera Giove or Colnago C40. Stellar in all respects! Buy this bike as a keeper; don't buy it if you want paint or the aesthetics of lugs.
Similar Products Used: Serotta Ti Legend, Spectrum/Merlin Road Ti, C40, Richard Sachs custom steel
Bike Setup: Record 8 speed with Ergo, wheels are GP4 rims with Record hubs or Heliums, Rolls saddle for comfort, that quirky 28.6 (NOT 26.8 seatpost, in this case a fine working but rather inelegant Control Tech)
a Road Racer
from Central Jersey
Date Reviewed: January 10, 2001
Strengths: Beautiful craftmanship, cool headbadge, very cool tappered chainstays, simple graphics, worry-free ride, excellent handling, good ride comfort, cool rear dropouts. My Ti road frame has a sloping toptube, it was considered weird at the time when I first got the frame.
Weaknesses: 28.6mm seat tube size, hard to find cool seatpost for the frame, unless using a shim. Welding holes can seep water into the bottom bracket shell.
I wore out a carbon fork and two component groups with this frame, the Campy Record from 95 through 97 logged 12,000 miles; and Ultegra 9 speed group from 97 though 99 after 9,000 miles or so. The frame still rides the same as the first day I got it. The frame never felt flexy, under my 140lb. weight. 40+mph high speed descents can be done no-handed, very stable ride. It is unassuming-look but do-everything frame, not the lightest of titanium, but certainly the nicest in workmanship. Ibis should offer a polished rear stays finish, or a polished finish for the price of the satin frame. It is rare to see another Ibis on the road, actually, I have yet to do a ride or race with another Ibis in the pack, maybe it's good that it cost so much, makes the frame less popular, keep it a rare breed.
Similar Products Used: Litespeed Ultimate, Merlin Ultralight, DBR Axis TT.
Bike Setup: Campy Record, Ultegra 9spd, Mavic Mektronic.
a Road Racer
Date Reviewed: April 18, 2000
Strengths: light weight, sweet Ti feel, beautiful welds, corners like a slot car, not too flexy, not as popular as a Litespeed
Weaknesses: price is high, but frame should last forever
Even though this frame cost a lot of money, I would recommend it to anyone who can scrape together the cash and is a serious cyclist who will spend a lot of hours in the saddle. You will enjoy every one of them.
Similar Products Used: other brands of steel and aluminum road frames
Bike Setup: Ultegra 8 speed group, TTT bar and stem, Flite Ti saddle, Mavic Reflex rims
from Chester, NY
Date Reviewed: April 7, 1999
Strengths: Best road frame I have ever ridden (that includes MANY). Perfect balance of stiffness and reiliancy, great for high mileage riding, but responsive enough for crits .
Weaknesses: The rear dropouts make installing a rear wheel a pain in the butt.
Arguably the best road bike available today. Bulletproof. Unlike my Merlin BROKE in two places after 7 years, leading to its retirement (left out with the trash after Merlin refused to fix the bike because I had purchased it slightly used and was not the 'original' owner). Brilliant customer relations, eh?