For a while it looked like titanium would be to the cycling world like the mini-disc was to music, a fleeting presence superseded by a new technology.
However, for many a titanium bike is the new n + 1 bike of choice, the bike to complete the stable.
As a material titanium has many attributes: it does not rust and is not prone to fatigue which means the frame does not need to be painted to protect it from the elements. It is also a very strong material that is relatively light.
Titanium race bikes
From a purely race performance perspective titanium frames were largely superseded by carbon. Carbon is lighter, stiffer and in theory gives better power transfer.
You do see race focused titanium bikes, although many riders opt for a titanium frame with a more relaxed geometry. Normally titanium frames are paired with a carbon fork to provide a compliant ride.
How is a titanium bike made?
The first step is a consultation with the rider during which measurements are taken to ensure the frame is bespoke for the rider.
The design is passed to the factory where the titanium tubes are selected. They are then mitred and cut to the correct dimensions.
The frame is built in a jig before the titanium tubes are tacked together before welding. At this stage you can start to visualise the frame.
The most technical part of the process is the welding of the frame. This requires lots of skill and attention – it takes around four to five hours and people are always quick to check the welds of a frame.
The welding causes the insides of the frame to warp slightly due to the heat. To solve this and ensure the headset and bottom bracket fit correctly the tubes are reamed and tapped to give a good finish.
No one wants a wonky frame. The penultimate task is to ensure the frame is tracking correctly – to check that it is straight.
This now leaves blasting the frame and applying the finishing touches to the frame.
For more information go to Enigma Bikes.