The latest offering from relatively new frame builder, we take a look at the No. 22 Bicycle Company Great Divide titanium frameset
Titanium remains a popular material from which to build plush road bikes, and it’s the metal of choice for the Great Divide, from relatively new US-based brand No. 22 Bicycle Company. For anyone who isn’t a chemistry geek, 22 is titanium’s number in the periodic table. The firm began making bikes in 2012, and this is its latest.
Bryce Gracey and Mike Smith founded the No. 22 Bicycle Company with the goal of designing a frameset that brought out the best from titanium, but incorporated modern bike frame developments to ensure all-day-long comfort.
The small New York-based team’s bikes are built by veteran craftsmen and the frames are distributed in the UK via VAM Performance. London’s No. 22 dealer, Cycle Lab, will happily arrange for test rides and discuss build options before purchase — ensuring you get your ideal bike — with either mechanical or electronic groupset.
No. 22 currently builds two models of titanium bike, both available in the UK. Firstly, there’s our test machine, a road frame called Great Divide; then there is the track alternative, named the Little Wing. The company says a new cyclo-cross bike is in the pipeline too.
Costing £2,399.99 — fairly typical for a titanium road frame — the Great Divide is, on first look, a stunning frame. It is crafted from 3AI-2.5V titanium tubing with swaged chainstays and oversized ‘bi-ovalised’ down tubes to boost stiffness and responsiveness. A PressFit 30 bottom bracket and an oversized head tube follow current trends and allow the use of oversized bearings.
Our test set-up included the Shimano 6800 Ultegra 11-speed groupset, rolling on Reynolds 32 carbon clinchers, finished with lightweight Pro Vibe bars, stem, and seatpost. The overall package tipped the scales at 7.6kg, making it a pleasant climbing companion.
Despite being made from titanium, the Great Divide has a chunky exterior and geometry that really does create a solid platform. Initial speed pick-up out of the saddle was a little slow, but that’s expected from a titanium frame. It worked better at speed, feeling a little more agile and frisky when it needed to.
The geometry could never be described as aggressive, though; the head tube height is relatively normal, a concession to its intended ‘all-day’ steed credentials. It rewards positive rider inputs, which made it an engaging ride. We felt compelled to press on, especially on the descents, with good feedback keeping us informed as to the limits of grip and the frame’s capabilities. However, the short wheelbase does make for irritating toe-overlap.
The Great Divide comes into its own when in the saddle churning out a steady pace, either zipping along the flat or climbing while seated, getting into a good rhythm. In these situations, comfort was excellent, and the frame gave a sense of effortless riding, maybe helped by the Rotor 3d+ chainset with Q rings. Power transfer felt efficient, with minimum energy loss through flex and drag.
Road buzz is pretty much non-existent, but the shorter wheelbase and stiff carbon wheelset did mean that bumpy sections of road made the bike bang about a little.
All in all, we were happy with the comfort, and topped off with the lightweight properties, you’re getting a great all-round road frame with plush titanium styling.
No. 22 Bicycle Company has done well. In a relatively short time, it has nailed frame design and set-up. Our build, fitted with quality, lightweight components, is the preferable way to go for this frameset. Given that you’re making a sizeable investment in the frame, it pays to equip it with quality finishing kit. In the long run, you get a robust and plush frameset that should last a lifetime. We doubt this frame would work nearly as well with heavier components. Keeping weight low means faster acceleration and helps the frame’s weaker points in terms of outright stiffness.
With the right components, the Great Divide could offer a lifetime of plush riding thanks to its comfortable and durable titanium construction.
With the right components, the Great Divide could offer a lifetime of plush riding thanks to its comfortable and durable titanium construction