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Thread: Modern Ti vs Ti bikes of the 90's

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    Default Modern Ti vs Ti bikes of the 90's

    So for the first time in my life I have begun exploring the idea of getting a Ti custom frame. I am exploring the idea. I am not ordering one.

    The thread on the 953 got me thinking about how much steel has advanced in the past 20 years. And now with the 953 (fatigue tests-notwithstanding), aparently, you have steel that is almost as light, hard, and corrosion resistant to titanium in addition to having the ride qualities that material is known for. (and that I am actually familiar with.)

    In steel, it seems like there are all sorts of brands for tubing that have all been spec'ed just for bikes. Meanwhile, with Ti you just hear it called "areospace grade."

    Those of you who have been around tons of frames since the 90's, or build with Ti; have you seen the same type of advancements in regards to titanium. Is a Ti frame built in 2008 much different than a Ti frame built in the 90's heyday. Has the material changed? have builders gotten better?

    Is it fair to say that steel frames have gone a long way towards catching up with Ti in regards to being "the last frames you'll ever need". (Sorry for bustin out the cliche, but it does hit on the point I am trying horribly to make.)

    I am certainly very interested in Ti as the material of choice for "the build." But I am having trouble seeing the added value as compared to modern steels.

    I really, really, dont want to turn this into another trite steel vs ti vs carbon thread. I am not looking for that. So I will reiterate my question.

    Is a Ti frame built in 2008 much different than a Ti frame built in the 90's heyday? How so?

    Using a concrete example, How would a IF Crown Jewel from 95 compare with an IF Crown Jewel from 2009? or a 1990 vamoots to a 2009 vamoots? Or a 1990 vs 2009 legend Ti?
    Last edited by acotts; 11-13-2008 at 01:15 PM.
    we are about to break the surly bonds of gravity and punch the face of God!

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    huh?

    just worry about the geo.

    they can make a pretty light ti bike and it will be 'stiff' (gibby hatton rides ti.. that's good enough for me). some folks triple butt the ends, some fold it into oragami, some feel it lends itself to a sloping frame, some will build you a seat mast, some mix it with carbon tubes.

    the make-up of the tubing is the same as it ever was... pretty much most folks use seamless 3/2.5 tubing.
    you can get some pretty oversized tubes these days. i'd say that's the main diff from the past.

    its still a favorite feeling material and makes for a sensational bike when fabricated by loving hands.
    shrink, terrorist, poet, president of concerned cyclists for the abolishment of bovine source bicycle parts and head of the disaffected commie dishwashers union.

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    Litespeed is claiming that they're doing some entirely new things with Ti.

    At the very least, they'll build you a 6/4 frame.
     

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    the early 90s stuff was very primitive.
    there wasnt much in the way of butting and the diameters were on the small side. mid- late 90s merlin came up w/ the extralite- which was built w/ butted tubes in larger diameters. these bikes were a mile better than the early stuff.

    kellogg may be able to fill in better here but the earliest stuff- although the material was 3.2 ti alloy ( same mostly as today ) the butting was nowhere and the diameters were undersize.
    6.4 alloy has been on the fringes for years... ive been out of it for awhile but for a long time no one could draw seamless butted tubing out of it...which was a drawback. maybe not true now. dont know.

    bottom line. some 18 yr old ti bike isnt that good a bike... compared to anything later.
     

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    Quote Originally Posted by acotts View Post

    Is a Ti frame built in 2008 much different than a Ti frame built in the 90's heyday? How so?
    The tubes will be more optimized - a little more stiff, a little lighter weight.

    Even if weight is pretty important to you, a solid feeling Ti frame is not significantly
    lighter than a modern steel frame. Seven posts weights of most of the models
    on their site. Most are about 3lbs. My issue with Ti is squishy riding bikes that
    try to save weight, and toss out ride quality with the bath water. Good riding
    alu, steel, and Ti frames are all in the same weight range, give or take 100-200grams.



    -g
     

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    good question, acotts. I am in the daydreaming stage on the continuum of daydreaming > exploring > rationalizing > begging > justifying > ordering > riding.
    Dan Fuller, local bicycle enthusiast

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    Torchwork is still key though
     

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    Quote Originally Posted by GrantM View Post
    The tubes will be more optimized - a little more stiff, a little lighter weight.

    Even if weight is pretty important to you, a solid feeling Ti frame is not significantly
    lighter than a modern steel frame. Seven posts weights of most of the models
    on their site. Most are about 3lbs. My issue with Ti is squishy riding bikes that
    try to save weight, and toss out ride quality with the bath water. Good riding
    alu, steel, and Ti frames are all in the same weight range, give or take 100-200grams.-g
    Its amazing how close all the alloys are in terms of weight and strenght now. I feel like, even 5 years ago, this was not the case.
    Last edited by acotts; 11-13-2008 at 02:57 PM.
    we are about to break the surly bonds of gravity and punch the face of God!

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    Quote Originally Posted by 72gmc View Post
    good question, acotts. I am in the daydreaming stage on the continuum of daydreaming > exploring > rationalizing > begging > justifying > ordering > riding.
    Kent Erikson has been giving me a woody at work lately.

    Now with operation Elope cuz Weddings are for $uckers is comming to fruition. I might just be able to pull off a nice custom job while I am still young and hammering.
    we are about to break the surly bonds of gravity and punch the face of God!

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    Some of things that have changed are the tooling technologies and the process for butting the material. The first bikes to hit the market were butted using the same/similar manufacturing processes that folks were using for steel. I am not using all the right words---but the general idea is that methods for working with Ti is different. So different tooling has been developed that allow builders to work with the material in a more effective away.

    My Ti bike is awfully light---rides lively...and positive all at the same time. It is peanut sized---but what I like about it is that it is not over-engineered for me. Is it the last bike ever? No. I want a Sachs. That said, I am as happy today with my Ti bike as I was when I first bought it.

    If you are on this forum, there is no such thing as the "last bike...". BUT, has Ti undergone some changes since it was first introduced to cycling...it has.

    The best thing about Ti is you can ride it in really crappy weather and just take out some pledge and polish it and it looks brand new!
     

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    Quote Originally Posted by taylorj View Post

    If you are on this forum, there is no such thing as the "last bike...". BUT, has Ti undergone some changes since it was first introduced to cycling...it has.

    !

    ssshhhh. dont tell the Fiance that. This bike will be a metaphor for my un-ending love and monogamous commitment. (TT bike, Singlespeed, and Club bike notwithstanding.)

    Thanks for the input, folks.

    p.s. for the record, I do not consider this progress.
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    Last edited by acotts; 11-13-2008 at 04:18 PM.
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    Ive been having some fun on 90s Ti -



    I dont think this bike gives up anything compared to the Legend I had

    Jason
    x

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    Careful with those 90's vintage Clark Kents. In the spring of '98, I was chatting with a friend at the start of a ride. Something caught my eye as I looked at the down tube on his Ti CK. It was cracked 3/4 of the way around at the shifter boss -- and my friend hadn't noticed it yet. It was a major ouch waiting for a place to happen. I've since read on other sites that the Ti CK frames were known for their high failure rates, likely due to execution rather than materials.

    Regards,
    Greg
     

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    Quote Originally Posted by gregl View Post
    Careful with those 90's vintage Clark Kents. In the spring of '98, I was chatting with a friend at the start of a ride. Something caught my eye as I looked at the down tube on his Ti CK. It was cracked 3/4 of the way around at the shifter boss -- and my friend hadn't noticed it yet. It was a major ouch waiting for a place to happen. I've since read on other sites that the Ti CK frames were known for their high failure rates, likely due to execution rather than materials.

    Regards,
    Greg

    thanks - Ive read up on such failures- this is a winter play bike/ trainer bike- its all about the varity

    Jason
    x

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    Default Just a few thoughts

    * The chemistry of titanium has not changed at all over the least twenty years. Heat treatment, stress relieving and work hardening have not changed either. The modulus and strength numbers have not changed at all either. Over those same years steel bicycle tubing had remained the same with respect to modulus, but it has changed (developed?) in most other respects. Lighter steel frames can be made that don't crumple or fail as easily as light frames did fifteen years ago. Of course, steel has the same specific gravity it has always had and the same modulus as well.

    * Now, because of the changes in steel bicycle tubing, the weight difference between a Ti frame and a steel frame that are of comparable toughness (both crash resistance and durability) has gone from almost a pound and a half to about 12 ounces or so for a 56cm. Can a builder make a steel frame as tough as a Ti frame at the same weight? Nope. BUT, and this is important; That same builder CAN make frames of the two materials which work almost exactly the same. That is all that matters. Look, I am a weight weenie and I love the light stiff, but would I ride just as well on a good modern steel frame? You bet.

    *Have Titanium frames changed over the years? Absolutely. A lot. Even though the raw material is the same stuff, there are a few very important differences now. 1) The range of tubing and strip that is available now is amazing. Granted you need to order a mill run for some of this stuff, but it is available. It has allowed us to make Ti frames that make a C-dale feel pretty loose. (not that that is a good thing necessarily) 2) All of us who have been making Ti frames for a couple of decades are just better at it now. We have figured out how to accommodate the differences in the properties of the material. I remember when alignment was always such a struggle. That issue has been long gone for many years now. 3) Back in the early days, we had to send a lot of work out. We got our Ti fittings and dropouts from sub-contractors and we sent our Extralight tubing out to be butted. What a waste. Now that everything can be done in house, just like Ben does it, we can not only save time and money, but we can vary what we do very easily. Butting is not done to a few specs, but each tube can be custom butted in the same amount of time.

    * These changes do make for better bikes, at least potentially. But they result mostly from the the Ti bike industry simply trying to solve problems. When something takes too long, costs too much, doesn't work or looks ugly, folks address the problem and come up with solutions.

    Back to the start: This is what happened in the steel bicycle tubing business. They had (have) a problem. Steel bikes were perceived to be "too heavy." So they stayed up late nights, thinking. You have seen the results over the years. Some of them are good, others, not. But that is the way it works.
    Last edited by Tom Kellogg; 11-13-2008 at 05:47 PM. Reason: Typo
    Tom Kellogg
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    having tom here is like having the clouds tell you about rain. its awesome.
    shrink, terrorist, poet, president of concerned cyclists for the abolishment of bovine source bicycle parts and head of the disaffected commie dishwashers union.

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    you tell me.

    jerk
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    Now that TK has laid down the full picture, we can go on with personal not-nearly-so-well-informed opining. Thanks Tom.

    I had a 98 (atb) and loved it and shouldn't have sold it. It was 3/2.5 and had only slightly ovalized tubing. The same folks (sold out, started over) now make some really funky looking stuff. Probably rides great, but I just have no interested in the whacked out tubing. If I was buying another Ti bike--it'd be from Steve Potts or someone else building with sane shapes...prolly the same reason I like Nick's carpetfibre.






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    This is one of my bikes which I believe is from 1992 if I am not mistaken. Yes with titanium handlebar/stem combo and titanium fork and titanium seatpost
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    How was the ride/handling with the ti fork?
     

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