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"feel" of titanium(21 posts)

"feel" of titaniumeflayer
Dec 18, 2002 6:59 PM
Do you know if titanium, when used in a bike frame, soaks up more road buzz and feels "smoother" than other frame materials? Or is this imaginary and really due more to tire inflation and/or chain stay length? If you had a great steel frame and a great ti frame, both with the same geometry, forks, equipment, and tire pressure; would the ti bike feel smoother?
ti feelcogmaster
Dec 18, 2002 7:04 PM
I have had aluminum and lightweight Foco steel frames and now ride ti. The ti frame in my opinion does the best job of reducing high frequency vibration. It does have a slightly less lively feel than steel, but not by much. A key take away is that not all ti frames perform the same, geometry, materials, and tube shape-diameter greatly affect how rigid and efficient a ti frame is.
re: feel of titaniumChiggy
Dec 18, 2002 7:22 PM
Can't speak to you about the feel of steel but I distinctly remember the feel when I switched from an aluminum frame to titanium. It was as if the roads I usually ride had been suddenly paved. Smooth. All of the components were exactly the same, having been taken off of the aluminum frame bike and put onto the titanium frame.
see carbon seat stays thread belowgtx
Dec 18, 2002 7:33 PM
Same deal in my opinion. Hype.

Check out this article...
What do you ride now?Fez
Dec 18, 2002 8:46 PM
I have previously ridden reynolds steel, so i was used to a compliant yet stiff ride.

I have since had 2 Ti bikes since giving up steel. they were both much lighter (at least a pound) and i figure the weight savings was all from the frame, since the components and wheelsets on all my bikes have been the same.

The first Ti rode very soft - a little too soft for my taste. I didn't mind because it was very comfortable and it probably was not flexy, because I couldn't detect any flex going up hills or doing sprints. I'm also not producing a huge amount of power anyway.

The second Ti rode a lot stiffer - very much like a steel bike but with the lightness and durability of Ti. It probably wasn't any faster than the first Ti - but it had a different ride characteristic.

The soft-riding Ti bike probably would be preferable on really long (70+mile) rides.

Seven says they can supposedly tune a Ti bike to be soft or stiff as part of the customization process.
re: Feel of titaniumjoekm
Dec 19, 2002 5:43 AM
From your post:

If you had a great steel frame and a great ti frame, both with the same geometry, forks, equipment, and tire pressure; would the ti bike feel smoother?

Given the lower modulus to density ratio of ti as compared to steel, an identical geometry frame would be softer, probably too soft. However, since ti is less dense, wall thicknesses and tubing diameters can be increased to put the stiffness back.

Bottom line is, it will depend on the bike and how it is designed. Personally, I went with steel (Reynolds 853) because it was considerably cheaper than an equivalnet ti frame and I was hard pressed to see any clear performance gain from ti (at least the more common 2.5/3 variety anyway).
re: Feel of titaniumeflayer
Dec 19, 2002 6:10 AM
I know ti frames must use bigger tubes so they are not noodles. That said, if a great builder builds both frames to be as "equal" as possible, will the frame built with ti always be smoother in terms of damping road buzz, because ti has better natural absorption properties compared to steel?
re: Feel of titaniumjoekm
Dec 19, 2002 6:58 AM
That would be difficult to determine outright based on the information I have. Remember also that a big part of noise absorbtion is from the tires, seatpost, seat, etc. I would imagine that a carbon fibre fork and a well designed seat would contribute more to a smooth ride than subtle differences in ti vs. steel vibration absorbsion.

Bottom line is, you probably should just do some test riding and see what feels right.

Hope this helps...
Metal does not "absorb" vibrationNessism
Dec 19, 2002 7:42 AM
The frame material does not dissipate vibration energy, it's strictly a spring. Carbon on the other hand does have a small measure of damping ability but not overly much. The main difference that people feel between different frames is the different spring rate, or stiffness, of the frame itself. Most Ti frames are built to be fairly flexible and thus they give in response to loads. This flexing is more a characteristic of the design than the material. For example, consider the Litespeed Ultimate and a Merlin Road frame. These two frames are made from the same material but ride completely differently. The design is everything.

Metal does not "absorb" vibrationjoekm
Dec 19, 2002 9:29 AM
True enough, unless you want to get into the hysteresis properties of the materials. On the other hand, a carbon fiber layup will tend to reject high frequency noise due to destructive interference within the layup. This effect will be more noticeable for cantilever supported components (such as the fork).

In any event, I attempted to answer his question without expecting him to be an expert in material science.

You are correct in that much of this is driven by the frame design, which is why I recommended that he actually take a couple of test rides.
Actually, it doesAnvil
Dec 19, 2002 10:06 AM
All materials can absorb vibration through converting that vibration to heat. It's called damping capacity. Aluminum, not surprisingly, has a very low damping capacity, carbon fiber's capacity is very high (relative) and steel and ti are somewhere in the middle. If you consider how a spring or a tuning fork work, you'll better understand it.

Whether a material's damping capacity is significant in frame construction is another matter but each material has its own unique properties and I do believe those properties can be communicated through a frame and to a rider.
Actually, it doesDougSloan
Dec 19, 2002 1:24 PM
That's what I remember reading in one of my bike books; can't recall which one.

I also recall that tube shapes matter, too, not just in stiffness, but in trasmitting vibration (resonance?). I'll now pass off to the people who know what they are talking about...

Some reading for the technically minded...Nessism
Dec 19, 2002 3:29 PM
Ok, I guess I should have stated that the material damping properties of steel and Ti are not significant instead of saying their are none.

Key point: "Especially for metals, the material damping is very small and can be neglected in many applications".

Only a real Princess (as in the Princess and the pea) is likely to note the difference in material damping properties for the various metals used for bike frames. In my experience, most people confuse frame flex for damping which is not the same thing.

Interesting responses to my original queryeflayer2
Dec 19, 2002 3:52 PM
I am pondering the purchase of a ti frame. I also could build up a 10 year old steel Serotta with steel fork. If I go ti, wondering if I should go for something expensive or custom or get 90% of the experience with a $695 ti Habanero? I start to think that a carbon vs steel fork may have more to do with damping than any other factor.
For what it's worth...Nessism
Dec 19, 2002 8:51 PM vote goes out to the Habanero or some other value oriented Ti frame (TST, Dean, Airborn). Honestly, I don't have anything against the custom framebuilders out there trying to make a living. Lord knows, very few are enjoying the high life swimming in their profits. But something in me rebels against companies marketing $2500+ frames. Mind you I'm not talking about the small custom builders that only make a handfull of frames each year and charge accordingly. I'm talking about the high end production shops.

At the risk of repeating myself, ride quality depends on (in order of importance): 1) tires, 2) fork, and 3) frame. And the flex characteristics of the fork have everything to do with comfort - much more so than material damping. Case in point is to compare a stiff carbon fork like a Wound-Up or origional Kestral EMS vs. something like a Time Equipe or Look HSC 1 or 2. The stiff forks ride very rough for someone less than 170 lbs. whereas the softer forks are very compliant (and may not be suitable for a heavyweight racer). That's why I feel that the flex characteristics are so much more important that damping. Without deflection there is no movement to damp.

I appreciate your inputeflayer
Dec 19, 2002 9:13 PM
Unfortunately, I don't think there is a good way to evaluate all these variables at most local bikes shops. It's great to international input via the net. I am on my 3rd frame in 2 years and now think I have my size pretty dialed in. The bike that works best now is a 60 cm Rivendell Rambouillet. It fits, it feels pretty good, and rides sort of long and low and comfortable. Now I want bike number 2 to a be little sportier and lighter. I also am a sucker for lugged steel which is why I'm sitting on this beauty of a 10 year old steel Serotta. I have a build kit that needs to go onto either the Serotta or some sort of ti frame. Time will tell.
CAAD 5 vs Litespeed TuscanyPdxMark
Dec 19, 2002 10:43 AM
Generalizations are always subject to exceptions, so I'll base my comments on a comparison between my two road bikes, a Cannondale CAAD 5 and a Litespeed Tuscany.

Both bikes handle well, climb well, and fit. I don't notice that either is stiffer than the other. What I do notice is that when I go over cracks, breaks, or rough spots in the road, I feel a jarring, high frequency buzz on the CAAD 5 that I don't feel on the Litespeed. Both bikes have the same wheels (Open Pros). I attribute the difference to the frames.

It's not to say the CAAD 5 is harsh, it's just that I like the feel of the Litespeed more. I use the CAAD 5 as a commuter and the Litespeed as my "road bike" for distance rides, centuries, etc. I sometimes take the CAAD 5 on lunchtime rides. For the sub-30 mile rides I use it for, the CAAD 5 is good. I wouldn't think of trading it for the Litespeed for century rides.

Other Ti bikes are "harsher" than the Tuscany, like the Litespeed Ultimate, and other AL bikes might feel better than the CAAD 5. I don't know. But here are 2 data points in the universe.
re: "feel" of titaniumOneheart
Dec 19, 2002 12:39 PM
I put 7000 miles on my Litespeed Classic titanium frame over 2 years then moved over to a Look carbon frame this year and have ridden it 6000 miles. I find there is a clear difference between the two. My experience is that the carbon frame dampens the road feel more than the titanium... it is still very stiff for sprints and climbs and descends very well. One major difference is when I finish a 100 mile ride I'm clearly less tired when on the carbon frame.
Dec 19, 2002 8:20 PM
I think you make a good point about the "feel" of titanium. A lot of people like the feel of steel. I find that I can usually feel too much of the road on a steel bike. As you mention, carbon fiber tends to dampen more of the road than titanium. Some people think that carbon fiber dampens too much and gives it a wooden feel. I find titanium to be that nice middle ground between too much and too little road feel.
Depends on the TI bike...ColnagoFE
Dec 19, 2002 12:46 PM
tires and inflation matter more than any material. TI can be made to ride like a brick or really compliant. So can pretty much any other metal. The only advantage I can se with TI is that it is relatively light, doesn't need paint and doesn't corrode.
A note about accessories...niteschaos
Dec 19, 2002 9:31 PM
I just wore out my old saddle and got a new one, and switched out my cheap training tires for some higher grade stuff from Michelin. Feels like a smoother bike to me. The fit is the same, but there is a smoothness that I just didn't recieve on those 14 dollar Conti Sport 1000 trainer tires.

Also, when I go from my training wheels (Mavic CXP 21s with straigh 14 guage spokes on Conti Sport 1000 at 120 psi, cause I'm 195 pounds) and go to my race wheels (Mavic Reflex rims and Conti Sprinter Tubs with 14/15 spokes) the ride is quicker and smoother still.

Moral of story: The princes' claims out there my really be only the difference they feel in the accessories at the time of the test.