I can never convince myself that straight forks look good. My current road bike has a straight fork and it just looks wrong to me. Everyone has different tastes. Funny thing is, when I look at other people's bikes with straight forks they look ok. The bike in the OP is a good example, looks great.
I'm sure it will fall apart because Firefly hasn't been making rando bikes for fifty years. That was a joke. This looks like a preview to the bike Justin is doing with Seven. Nice.
The chainstays are nice and round, it can be tough to fit everything in that space without squashing things and losing stiffness+strength. The tube profiles on the front triangle look small enough for some 'planing' action in Ti, but it's hard to tell without riding it. One of the reasons I'm not building my next 650bmobile in Ti like my 29er is that it'd take some real calculation to be able to spec the ride qualities I want and there'd still be some guesswork involved.
I've really disliked the Supernova lights: they're heavy, the color temperature is weird, and the stvzo beam pattern is pretty splotchy / the round beams are for assholes. Their only saving grace is that you can get them from QBP instead of having to deal with Peter White.
That Velo-Orange rack is an awful flexy piece of shit, they really should have built a custom one with the decaleur integrated with the Paragon stem hardware. Changing the fit combination to use a longer TT / shorter stem / reachier bars would make things fit together easier and handle a little bit better with the low-trail situation ATMO.
They didn't drill the fender to bolt to the boss on the underside of the rack, that's actually pretty necessary to keep the whole business from self-destructing. Berthoud or Honjo fenders would have been a lot better than those shoddy and heavy VO stainless ones
The VO cranks are also really out of place, aluminum Ultra Torque Athena or the last-gen Record square taper would have been great.
ATMO a properly done balls-to-the-wall rando bike is skirting the line of being too flexy, if you go too far it's very easy to get a shimmy monster amplified by the low trail, don't go far enough and you end up with a damn Surly.
The elasticity of Ti could be really great for that if you can source tubing in the right profiles and if the builder has the frame of reference to pick the right ones for the rider the way Mike Kone does in steel.
Berthoud saddles are almost entirely CNCed in-house: the leather, custom bolts+washers holding it down, molds for the plastic cantle and nose, etc. The narrow version with Ti rails is ~320g. The leather has modern treatments and is actually waterproof for real, no saddle cover needed ever.
Totally fits in with "pushing the boundaries" using modern materials
I like this bike a lot. A lot a lot.
Now with some of the bigger manufacturers getting on the 650b/27.5 wagon, I bet they will sell more MTB in the first 6 months of 2013 than there have been road 650B in the past decade.
The times of 650B meaning fringe rando guys is quickly coming to an end.
Andrew (been riding 650b road for 5 - 6 years, 27.5 MTB ~ 2 years)