Words and photos by Andy Jones
Montura bikes is an emerging bike company operating from a small showroom and workshop near Hathersage in the Hope Valley, out in the Derbyshire Peak District. It offers a range of four frames to it’s bike builds which can be specced to your personal requirements with the option of having a totally custom build. The range consists of the carbon RS frame, with the Apex, Four and Vortex all being made of titanium.
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I was offered the ‘Four’ model for this ‘First Ride’ test, a compact titanium framed bike designated as the ultimate all-season machine. The thinking behind it’s design was to produce a bike that offered that all year round versatility, so essentially a one stop solution if you are perhaps on a one bike budget. It’s a bike that can be used to race on, do some light touring with, ride sportives and train on throughout the year.
Titanium had always held an almost mystical attraction for me but was completely out of my price range when I think back to the early Litespeeds and the like that I used to pore over in the brochures many moons ago. However with the increased availability of titanium alloys and the reduced costs, it seems to be making a comeback as a viable material in frame building and is comparable in cost to many carbon frames on the market today. Titanium alloy’s high strength to density makes it attractive to use. It’s long lasting, highly resistant to fatigue and corrosion and was why it was originally developed for the aero industry back in the Fifties.
I’ve always hankered after riding a titanium framed bike, having heard good things about the ride quality; a lively, responsive edge coupled with the shock absorbing comfort you’d want for touring or riding longer sportive distances. The particular titanium tubing type used in the Four, allied to the frame design certainly meant I wasn’t disappointed.
There is a classic look to the beautifully brush finished titanium Four frame which has been designed by Peter Collins the man behind Montura Bikes. The aero grade 3AL/2.5V titanium tubing is meticulously welded and finished to Collin’s exacting specifications. The Four has some nice points of detail too with separate eyelets for pannier rake and mudguard mounting to the rear dropout. There’s also a mudguard eyelet under the rear brake bridge and in the back of the chain stay brace allowing for the direct, rattle free attachment of full mudguards.
Mudguards are a real essential for the winter months on our British roads and the Four’s frame geometry allows their easy fitting and removal with full clearance for 23c tyres, even 24c or 25c with some brands of tyre. It means too that the Montura Four can still use standard drop brakes, allowing you to use top end groupsets without the worries of having to buy separate longer calipered brakes. The Hope anodised seat clamp, wheel quick releases and frame decals can be specced in a choice of colours too to personalise your bike.
Looking at the geometry of the Four it has a relatively traditional set up, with head and seat tube angles allied to fork geometry, giving a nice balance to offer a rewarding lively ride quality with good feed back; yet it is not jarring or nervous as some stiffer, overly engineered bikes can be. Descending and cornering at speed on the Four felt stable and positive, instilling confidence to press on. The quality of the tubing and set up along with the excellent Hope Hoops RS-SP wheels, mean that road shock is absorbed particularly well. What ever bike you ride you will feel shocks that come up from poorly surfaced roads but the Four definitely dampened out the surfaces far better than most bikes I’ve ridden. It ‘patters’ over bumps rather than jarring overly.
The compact nature of the frame design means a longer head tube which offers more scope to have a higher, less aggressive bar set up – and so reduces neck and back ache. Initially the higher front end felt strange but I soon found I’d got a very comfortable riding position on the tops, ideal for those longer rides. Even in the drops, I was comfortable, yet there was scope to drop the bars lower for more of a race-orientated set up.
In conclusion, the Montura Four is a very capable machine and has been a pleasure to ride. The slight extra weight penalty of the titanium frame and the components used, against that of say, a similarly priced carbon framed bike is outweighed by the ride quality you get. It’s an ideal choice if you want a bike that you can use everyday and even worth considering just for something that bit different to make you stand out from the crowd.
Montura Four: Specification
Weight 9kg (20lbs)
Frame Sizes 50, 52, 54, 56, 58 & 59
Colour Brushed Titanium
Frame Titanium 3AL/2.5V
Fork CSN Blackstorm or Kinesis DC07
Gears Shimano Ultegra
Wheels Hope Hoops RS-SP
Brakes Shimano Ultegra
Saddle Fizik Arione
Tyres 700x23c Continental Ultra
Price £2595 built up with Shimano Ultegra and Hope RS-SP wheels(£1350 frame, fork & seat post only)
Kinesis Racelight GF-Ti £1399.99 (frames, fork & seat post only)
Kinesis UK have been designing bikes in the UK for the last decade. The Kinesis name is probably more associated within the cyclo cross world but it does produce good road frames in it’s product range too. It’s new titanium road offering, the Granfondo Ti, is of a similar design to the Montura Four, offering the option to fit full mudguards and a pannier rack. For further details see www.kinesisbikes.co.uk