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Cross Bike Collector.....
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Being a fan of Ti and Steel, mostly because Ti is close to steel in ride quality and doesn't suffer the weight penalty, or in the case of the new steel alloys: dent as easily.
Why are there no Ti bikes in the PRO Teams? All are carbon, except for Bianchi which I still beleive uses a foam filled kind of scandium, the last team that raced on Ti was buy Litespeed if I remember right?
Why no Ti? is carbon that much stiffer? Does it ride that much nicer? Is it economics? Is Ti not competitive?
Someone shed some light on this for me?
I'd like to see a american Ti company sponser a pro team?
 

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Multiple factors

The "net, net" on Ti is that it is relatively expensive to really get it right in balancing performance and weight when compared to CF and Al. Steel is challenged to do both due to inherent density differences. The marked, as attested by discussions on this forum, is myopic relative to advertised weight, and worse yet, on "how much weight 'saved' per dollar added." These factors favor Al and CF, even though the weight differences are not real large. I have an 8 year old, 59 cm Ti frame that weighs less than 1350 grams, but many people today would not even look at this bike because "That's way heavy, man!" This despite fantastic durability and a great ride. Building a good Ti frame takes a lot of expertise, and at the top of the market no one is supplying the tubing needed - companies have to fabricate their own. Barring some breakthrough, these costs will keep Ti where it has always been - in a performance/durability niche.
 

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A few thoughts come to mind:

Weight: Other than the new Litespeed Ghisallo, I am not aware of any other sub 1kg ti frame while there are probably close to a dozen sub 1kg carbon frames. Weight has always been a major element (at least in marketing) so carbon wins on this front.

Design: Designers can use carbon to create more shapes and fancier designs. Imagine building the HP seatstays, Madone seattube fairing, or better yet De Rosa Tango using ti. Forgettaboutit.

Mystery: Except maybe in earlier years, ti is much less mysterious than carbon these days. It comes down to welding metal tubes. But carbon, we are talking about fiber, resin, molding, Optimum Compaction Low Void, high modulous, HC, ... Maybe it's all BS, maybe not.
 

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A self-fulfilling prophecy?

As in... races (and racers) are becoming much more specialized. Grand Tour stages are shorter than they used to be. Targeting a time trial or a mountaintop finish seems to have a greater impact on one's success than it used to, when you had to be an animal on all terrain to have a chance. Outside of the most hallowed classics, the parcours is not that rough, tough, or all-day long anymore.

I may be all wet, but I propose that this has a lot to do with the preoccupation with weight and the drift away from more durable materials that build well into "cruise control" frames. The riders could change it and demand something different, but they don't need to because the events are so closely in line with the machines. Some evolution is inevitable, but the race (and the race marketing) has changed to the extent that the durability/comfort/aesthetic value of steel or ti is a distant second to light/zoot/high msrp.
 

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Defender of Freedom...
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I'm not sure if sub-1000gm frames...

are really an issue, if you look at many (not all) bikes in the pro peleton they are riding fairly stout frames. Take Phonak for instance, sevral posters here and at BF have complained about the heavier than advertised weights that their BMC's have come in on.

As for ti pro bikes, didn't I see a link somewhere that Bianchi/Liquigas has a Ti bike in their arsenal now?

EDIT: Here is the link to LIquigas' Ti bikes:

http://www.bicirace.com/product/2006/BianchiVisit.html
 

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Cross Bike Collector.....
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
ON the contrary

cdmc said:
Ugh, Oh, I see another bike in Phat & Slow's Future. :D
I have downsized, gone are my S-Works, Titus, and TCR composite. I only have 5 bikes.
1 mtn 9.8 elite
2 cross Strong/IF
2 Rd Moots/Dean
no more bikes for me, at least not in the forseable future.
 

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eminence grease
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Marketing and Profit Margin.

Pro bikes serve two purposes - providing performance capable of putting riders on the podium and advertising.

The market has convinced the lion's share of consumers that CF is the way to go, so what better thing to do from a profit standpoint than to shift your production over to CF and put a bunch of riders on those frames. Especially easy for those MFGRs that simply contract the production out to a job shop.

As has been said above, Ti is expensive and tough to work with. If there is a less expensive, easier to MFGr material available, why bother? If you can steer the consumer in a direction that makes it easier for you to make more money, clearly that's the direction you want to go. All the advantages that Ti offers we the consumer don't add up for MFGrs. So better to steer the market in a more advantageous direction.
 
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And yet, there is at least one Ti bike in the Pro ranks. Bianchi make a Ti for MAgnus Backstedt. He complaines that he used to break every other they made for him.

So he gets a custom Ti.
 

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Just a little reality check...

Phat&SlowVelo said:
Why are there no Ti bikes in the PRO Teams? All are carbon, except for Bianchi which I still beleive uses a foam filled kind of scandium, the last team that raced on Ti was buy Litespeed if I remember right?
Maybe the teams feel that CF frames give them a better chance of winning? If you win, the money follows.
 

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Midwestern Biker Dude said:
Maybe the teams feel that CF frames give them a better chance of winning? If you win, the money follows.
Different sport, but if Jimmy Connors hadn't used that stupid Wilson T2000 that he was paid to use, I think he would have won a few more majors. I think Terry B is dead on.
 

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yup Ti too costly

less profit and another problem, like Steel they last too damn long meaning consumers replace less frequently. Al and CF bikes tend to have shorter lifespans thus get replaced more often.
Magnus gets custom Ti as the material does the bump absorbtion whereas in a CF,Al or AL-CF Bike the design (curves) do the work. Curves create weak or stress points which Magnus exploits to the point of breakage. So in Ti he gets a softer ride with straight tubes thus less prone to breaking. I want one.
 

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Contrary to myths, pros tend to get the best designs that will give them a chance at the podium. Considering they are so strong, and they ride some really rough pavement, they really are able to beat up a bike in a long stage as you would see in the major stage races. If you see more carbon fiber bikes, why can't it simply be because they can get the bike at the legal weight that is strongest? Because carbon fiber beats titanium and aluminum in being able to build a light bike that is strong enough.

Why not so much titanium? Not enough weight advantage, less stiff than steel so the tubes have to be thicker. The expense of taking ore and turning it into metal. Titanium is one of the most complicated processes in metal creation there is.

Why so much prejudice against carbon fiber? Because it's new and it beats the old stuff. What helps to have a bad reputation? The experiments in carbon fiber bikes in the 70's that failed.
 

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Phat&SlowVelo said:
Being a fan of Ti and Steel, mostly because Ti is close to steel in ride quality and doesn't suffer the weight penalty, or in the case of the new steel alloys: dent as easily.
Why are there no Ti bikes in the PRO Teams? All are carbon, except for Bianchi which I still beleive uses a foam filled kind of scandium, the last team that raced on Ti was buy Litespeed if I remember right?
Why no Ti? is carbon that much stiffer? Does it ride that much nicer? Is it economics? Is Ti not competitive?
Someone shed some light on this for me?
I'd like to see a american Ti company sponser a pro team?
Like this one?

Some Liquigas members ride Ti, so do other members of ProTour teams. They are scattered about, there is no team riding only Ti, but they do exist.
 

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My $.02...

As another fan of ti bikes (my Hampsten/Moots should show up today), I too would like to see a couple in the pro peloton. I think that ti is a great material, but the investments in time, and most importantly, highly skilled people required to manufacture a quality ti frame make it a tough nut for a company to mass produce. And that is what its about for a manufacturer who is going to supply 100+ bikes to a pro team, the ability to "race on Sunday, sell on Monday." While a carbon frame probably comes with more up-front costs (molds, etc), if it sells in serious numbers those investments can be amortized across the production run, much less so with a handbuilt ti frame.
There are a few ti producers out there bucking the trend, so let's give them their due. Ben Serotta supplied Kodak-Sierra Nevada last year with Ottrotts (ti/carbon mix) and Roark sponsored a small domestic team, Texas Roadhouse, with ti frames (I'm sure Lightspeed/Merlin, Seven, IF and others did too but I don't have specifics on them) . Both of these companies, at least in my understanding, enjoy working with teams from an R&D/real world testing standpoint as well gaining some marketing benefit from sponsoring a team. But in both cases I think the investment in putting a ti frame in the peloton came at a cost to the company that was not outweighed by the increase in sales from team sponsorship. I'm sure that Giant sold more pink T-Mobile frames than the entire production run for both companies last year. So hats off to Serotta and Roark for putting their money where their heart is.
Finally, although I think ti is an awesome material for bike frames, my experience with carbon fiber based composites in the aerospace world leads me to believe that when done right carbon composite has the most potential when trying to design/build an out and out racing bicycle. Carbon fiber is an engineered material that is almost infinitely manipulatable (is that a word?). When properly designed, it is amazing stuff that allows for a combination of phenominal stiffness in one plane and spectacular compiance in another all in an insanely light package that is tough (near impossible?) for a metal tube to compete with. As an example, I am very impressed with Vroom and White's designs for Cervelo. The new carbon Soloist and R3s appear too be great bikes designed to make use of CFs advantages for accomplishing specific purposes. That being said, in my opinion there are a lot of CF frames out there that are not designed for much more than maximizing the visual impact of carbon fiber weave, because that is what people want to pay for.

SPG
 

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Cross Bike Collector.....
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Moosedryvr

Moosedryvr said:
As another fan of ti bikes (my Hmpsten/Moots should show up today), I too would like to see a couple in the pro peloton. I think that ti is a great material, but the investments in time, and most importantly, highly skilled people required to manufacture a quality ti frame make it a tough nut for a company to mass produce. And that is what its about for a manufacturer who is going to supply 100+ bikes to a pro team, the ability to "race on Sunday, sell on Monday." While a carbon frame probably comes with more up-front costs (molds, etc), if it sells in serious numbers those investments can be amortized across the production run, much less so with a handbuilt ti frame.
There are a few ti producers out there bucking the trend, so let's give them there due. Ben Serotta supplied Kodak-Sierra Nevada last year with Ottrotts (ti/carbon mix) and Roark sponsored a small domestic team, Texas Roadhouse, with ti frames (I'm sure Lightspeed/Merlin, Seven, IF and others did too but I don't have specifics on them) . Both of these companies, at least in my understanding, enjoy working with teams from an R&D/real world testing standpoint as well gaining some marketing benefit from sponsoring a team. But in both cases I think the investment in putting a ti frame in the peloton came at a cost to the company that was not outweighed by the increase in sales from team sponsorship. I'm sure that Giant sold more pink T-Mobile frames than the entire production run for both companies last year. So hats off to Serotta and Roark for putting their money where their heart is.
Finally, although I think ti is an awesome material for bike frames, my experience with carbon fiber based composites in the aerospace world leads me to believe that when done right carbon composite has the most potential when trying to design/build an out and out racing bicycle. Carbon fiber is an engineered material that is almost infinitely manipulatable (is that a word?). When properly designed, it is amazing stuff that allows for a combination of phenominal stiffness in one plane and spectacular compiance in another all in an insanely light package that is tough (near impossible?) for a metal tube to compete with. As an example, I am very impressed with Vroom and White's designs for Cervelo. The new carbon Soloist and R3s appear too be great bikes designed to make use of CFs advantages for accomplishing specific purposes. That being said, in my opinion there are a lot of CF frames out there that are not designed for much more than maximizing the visual impact of carbon fiber weave, because that is what people want to pay for.

SPG
very well said, nice blog. I guess it's hard to accept for us old school steel and Ti lovers that we are outdated, (from a pure racing standpoint) The only Carbon bike that has ever appealed to me is the Colnago Cristallo. A custom Ti from Moots, Carl Strong, Jim Kish, Mike Desalvo, IF, and maybe a few others really is where the lust factor lives for me. ;)
 
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