Titanium Goes On A Budget

Titanium frames for the masses? Yes. The metal once thought to be reserved only for the finest frames and the well heeled mountain bikers amongst us are now being offered at prices that are less stratospheric and a bit closer to earth than before.

To be sure, titanium at budget prices has always been around. Almost as long as the modern mountain bike actually. Companies like Titan and later on, Airbourne offered reasonably priced titanium frames in 26 inch wheeled sizes with Airbourne offering some 29″er frames later on.

It seems that now titanium is enjoying a resurgence with stalwart companies like Moots, Lynskey, and Merlin leading the way for the likes of Blacksheep, Dean, Voo Doo, and Niner. The budget titanium frame offerings seem to be multiplying now as well. Recently news of three companies offering less expensive alternatives has hit the 29″er scene.

The first was Carver Bikes who offer a custom titanium frame for a grand. Not bad for a frame you can define your own geometry for. Then Vassago introduced their Optimus Ti, a hardtail frame for about $430.00 more than the Carver. Now there is word that Motobecane, a company that has made a splash with ultra, inexpensive 29″ers, is planning on introducing their own version of a titanium 29″er.

Titanium seems to be getting a push to lower price points and in more manufacturers line ups than ever before. Will the market bear all the choices? More importantly, will the frames prove to be worthy off road 29″ers? Only time will tell. One thing is for sure, there are more choices than ever before for titanium 29″ers and the prices are not too bad for many of them as well.


No Responses to “Titanium Goes On A Budget”

  1. Rider Dude Says:

    Good Lookin Frame!

  2. MMcG Says:

    Might also want to look into what Grendel Bikes will be offering.


  3. Dirt McGirt Says:

    Mailorder titanium, huh? It’ll be interesting to see how long those frames hold up…


  4. Dirt McGirt Says:

    WOAH! That Vassago is SEXXXY!


  5. anonymous Says:

    “Then Vassago introduced their Optimus Ti, a hardtail frame for about $430.00 more than the Carver. ”

    With a $350 fork (additive by retail accounts or not, that is a big factor). However, it would be nice if they would just say how much the frame only is.

  6. Gonzo Says:

    Come on, the Carver is welded in China, with average welds and poor finish. At least the Vassago is welded in Tiawan. Not to mention the Jen Green Hand made head badge. Yes there is a difference between the Carver and the Vassago.

    Also, the site said that the frame and fork option was for a limited time. I am sure the price will drop after that.

    It is steel a good deal period!

  7. professed Says:

    GT, I hope this is all good news, but I am a believer that there is no such thing as a free lunch.

    The lower costs through expanded supply volumes and lower production costs of chinese titanium allows for these cost reductions but still leaves me a little nervous.

    To get the properties of such a complicated metal alloy right, the whole process needs a lot of quality control. I have my reservations about the ability of the Chinese to achieve such quality so early in their titanium experience.

    The drawing and shaping of the tubes in another thing – have a look at what Litespeed and its competitors can do and the fine, almost sublime results that they get. droooll…..

    A lifetime of savings for an American, Swedish or German titanium tube for me thanks.
    It will be money better (not well, as it is silly expensive!) spent.

  8. anonymous Says:

    Yo Gonzo…

    The first line is a quote from GT (see quotes and read post). I was making the point that it is a difficult comparison by price as it isn’t a straight frame to frame comparison. And, although the frame/fork price is tentative, until the price changes there isn’t much to converse about in that regard.

    Overall, I think that the Optimus Ti seems like a great price point for what is included… fork, CS, JG head badge, IMBA support, yadda yadda.

  9. Gonzo Says:

    Anonymous, Sorry Brother, I missed the quotation marks.

    Forgive me!

  10. Rider Dude Says:

    Anyone know how Ti rides compared to Steel, Aluminum, or Carbon? Comparing my Kona Unit. Been wanting to go Ti for durability, this is definatly more doable than other Ti frames cost wise.

  11. Thad Says:

    I have a ’94 titanium hardtail Litespeed (26″) with a kona p2 rigid fork and an ’07 steel Surly 1×1 w vicious rigid fork. Both have the same hta and sta. Both have the same length chainstays (center of BB to center of wheel axel) at the moment (WI ecc Eno on Litespeed/ horz ends on 1×1) Both bikes are identical in rider position. Same components except rear hubs & front forks differ and the Surly has a bash guard..

    Both ride extremely similar. As built up, the Litespeed (23lbs) is 2lbs lighter than the Surly (25lbs).

    The Litespeed “feels” a bit more snappy when you stand and punch it, but the Surly is no slouch. It’s just a perception that might be related to the feedback in the metal or the 2lbs difference in weight.

    The Surly outshines the litespeed on rocky rugged downhills. The steel is a much smoother ride when rough. Titanium doesn’t beat you up, it just lets you know you’re hitting stuff. It’s a very fast alert vibration metal whereas the steel is a mellower alert vibration. The surly steel feels nice and smooth in the rough. The litespeed ti isn’t abusive, it’s just very talkative or lively.

    Now, all that can change with geometry and tubing shapes. This comparison is double butted front triangles and whatever butted stays. 4130 vs 3/2.5 Ti.

  12. Dirt McGirt Says:

    Rider: My experience with TI is that it has all the viration dampening effects of steel , but is way snappier coming back from the flexed position. It also has a longer fatigue life so it will retain the snappy showroom floor feel longer than a steel frame will.

    It kinda goes without saying, but it’s way livelier than the snappiest carbon as it doesn’t dampen by virtue of the tubes themselves, rather it flexes to dampen vibration.

  13. Rider Dude Says:

    Dirt, and Thad: thanks for the input! I had thought about going with a Titus Fcr 29 a couple years ago but an aquaintance got his and it was 5.5 lbs for a 21 inch frame. Very beefy and overbuilt, which he has never broken, but still a little heavy to my thinking, for custom Ti.

    I would like to try a Ti frame since Ive only had steel 29ers.

    Thad: Just curious how you like your custom rigid 69er? Thought about Frankenstiening a 97 Homegrown Ive got also.

    GT: Any plans to review the Trek 69er line up? I know im a heritic.

  14. Guitar Ted Says:

    Rider Dude: We thought about getting a 69er in for review from Trek, but we have not pursued that. As a matter of fact, we currently have a Carver 69er on test and their will be a post soon about it.

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