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real longevity of Titanium frames/parts???(9 posts)

real longevity of Titanium frames/parts???mekkon
Jul 26, 2003 8:10 AM
I've been telling myself for years that ultimately I'll build myself an end-all be-all titanium bike. A deal just appeared on a nice Ti frame, so I want to know what the real story is with titanium. Here's my main questions:

1) Is Titanium (e.g. 3/2.5) in fact 100% corrosion proof? I live in and around salt-water and salt-on-the-road environments, my bikes see sun and rain, so obviously rust and oxidation are big concerns for me on Steel and Aluminum frames. Is a polished Ti frame simply impervious to the elements?

2) Longevity. I've always heard that Ti frames can last forever - that the material is essentially perfect for a bicycle (aside from cost) so that a frame will last years... Stress issues over time are nonexistant. However recently I've read a few articles saying that race-stock Ti components (stems, seatposts, etc.) are particularly short-lived - that they are only safe to use for a season or so. Is this true and does it translate to frames? (Generally I seem to think that an aluminum frame basically gets weaker over time, steel much less so, and Ti doesn't at all, in fact, I've heard that Ti bonds together better over time - any truth to this?

3) Siezing issues: I know that you have to use anti-sieze goo when using Ti bolts with aluminum, is this true with Ti to Ti as well? (Can Ti bolts sieze into a Ti frame, or is the problem only with Ti to Aluminum?) Any problems with Ti to steel?

Lastly - obviously I know that any bike that is punished can die - and that any poorly made bike can fail. But does a well made Ti frame last forever, if it isn't killed. Or is it simply mortal like the rest of frame materials?

Thanks very much for any and all imput. I'm eyeballing a great deal on a Ti frame, and it's a hair out of my price range, so I'm trying to feel out all the issues involved.
re: real longevity of Titanium frames/parts???Akirasho
Jul 26, 2003 10:03 AM
http://www.sjsu.edu/orgs/asmtms/artcle/articl.htm
http://www.sjsu.edu/orgs/asmtms/artcle/titan.htm

1) Is Titanium (e.g. 3/2.5) in fact 100% corrosion proof? I live in and around salt-water and salt-on-the-road environments, my bikes see sun and rain, so obviously rust and oxidation are big concerns for me on Steel and Aluminum frames. Is a polished Ti frame simply impervious to the elements?

... for all practical purposes, 3/2.5 is corrosion resistant within your, and several of your progeny's lifetimes... kinda like the cockroach of current framebuild materials.

2) Longevity. I've always heard that Ti frames can last forever - that the material is essentially perfect for a bicycle (aside from cost) so that a frame will last years... Stress issues over time are nonexistant. However recently I've read a few articles saying that race-stock Ti components (stems, seatposts, etc.) are particularly short-lived - that they are only safe to use for a season or so. Is this true and does it translate to frames? (Generally I seem to think that an aluminum frame basically gets weaker over time, steel much less so, and Ti doesn't at all, in fact, I've heard that Ti bonds together better over time - any truth to this?

... as noted in the above links... titanium fabrication and welding require a bit more tech than other alloys... and can be the source of futuer failures... although they're rare. Also, titanium does have limits... and in certain applications can be "inferior" to other alloys (lightweight pedal spindles with heavier riders for example). This is a matter of balance (stoopid light with a Ti sticker... or longterm durable goods). Most of the larger Ti framebuilders come by their build techniques via other fabrication avenues (Litespeed and Airborne are both outgrowths of an already established titanium aerospace products fabrication industry)... and are not likely to suffer from defects (so say yea lawyers... so say yea all).

Indeed, there are several Ti components that will have as much a life as any that fall outside that lightweight envelope... but overall... depending on your application and weight... it'll probably last quite some time.

Dunno if Ti actually "ages"... anyone else know?

3) Siezing issues: I know that you have to use anti-sieze goo when using Ti bolts with aluminum, is this true with Ti to Ti as well? (Can Ti bolts sieze into a Ti frame, or is the problem only with Ti to Aluminum?) Any problems with Ti to steel?

I can't say for sure, but cold welding/gauling generally occurs 'tween like materials and certain dissimilar metals... FWIW, to be on the safe and easy side... just apply grease/anti seize wherever metal meets metal.

It's good to do your homework... and learn as much as you can before a purchase... but eventually, you'll have to roll the dice just like the rest of us (I queried similar questions years ago before buying my first aluminium bike... which is still going strong). Despite assurances from forums and manufacturers... sh!t sometimes happens.

What's your deal?

Be the bike.
All pretty good, and I'll add, with respect to gauling:djg
Jul 26, 2003 11:00 AM
you bet ti/ti contact can be a problem. If you want to use, for example, a ti post in a ti frame you can do so, but make sure you use some sort of anti-seize prep and go ahead and re-do it every once in a while (I had a bear of a time extracting one seatpost where I'd skimped--or forgotten--that last point).
re: real longevity of Titanium frames/parts???Juanmoretime
Jul 26, 2003 10:10 AM
I'n currently riding a 7 year old Litespeed Vortex frame that is still going strong. I like it still as much as the day I bought it. I don't think polished is the best finish. I prefer the brushed finish so when you get a scratch, you just scuff it up with a scotchbrite pad and it's good as new. With the polished finish, scratch it and the scratch is there for life.
re: Question #1 -- a cautionThe Walrus
Jul 26, 2003 11:47 AM
Just FYI--check out this thread below. (plowhorse "Polishing ti (my first post!)" 7/25/03 2:09pm) Specifically mentioned in a couple places are substances that do corrode/attack titanium (cadmium and chlorinated hydrocarbons, as I recall). I was completed unaware of this before, being under the impression that titanium had some sort of universal imperviousness.
just don't crashgtx
Jul 26, 2003 12:51 PM
A well-built steel or ti frame will outlast most people's interest in it.
Workmanship and warrantyPaulCL
Jul 26, 2003 1:27 PM
Whatever frame you have a 'deal' on, make sure that the workmanship is high quality and it comes with a lifetime warranty. I believe Litespeed, Merlin, Airborne come with long warranties.

I bring this up do to my experience. I recently had a Colnago Ti frame crack along the weld. No warranty. Luckily, I have found someone to weld it. My point is: the tubes will stand up to you riding into a bus (I tried it), but if the workmanship on the joining the tubes sucks, it will fail. My $.02

paul
Yep Ti is not perfectLC
Jul 26, 2003 2:37 PM
Ti and steel frames usually don't brake in the middle, they brake at the joints. I don't think Ti welds are any better than steel welds, they both can fail if not done just right. If anything Ti is easier to screw up with oxygen contamination, while 853 steel gets stronger from the heat of the torch.
The problem's not with Ti: it's with the welderBergMann
Jul 26, 2003 7:14 PM
Just like there are those who can't spell the word "break," but still torture a keyboard, there are those who wield a torch when they should be frying burgers instead.

With the exception of the post above, you've received some good feedback: do your homework, read the RBR reviews on the manufacturer / model, and enjoy your new ti ride for the next decade or two.

As for galling (gaulling would be doing something obnoxious with Frenchmen), Ti-Ti interfaces are where people first discovered the galling problem (Ti _loves_ to bond with Ti), so use Ti prep on these.

I've put in over half a decade on a Litespeed mountainbike, a couple ti posts, ti MTB bars, ti BB spindles, skewers, and never had a single problem with the material in any of these applications.

The comments above about some applications being less than ideal for ti are correct: in the case of axles, the molecular structure of Ti does not withstand sheer forces as well as steel. I've never actually snapped a Ti axle, but I have bent a ti hub axle (White Industries) and worn several pedal axles to the point I didn't feel safe riding on them any more (Ritchey - more a fault of the outward-bushing design than anything else).

IMO, $$ spent on a Ti seatpost is money well spent: it doesn't gouge or creep like carbon, & absorbs shock better than alu, and lasts forever if you keep it lubed.

Ti skewers are also a good investment (Airborne ti for $15 are as light as Salsa!), but elsewhere I'd go for aluminum (stem), carbon (bars) or steel (axles) for better cost/performance/weight ratios.

Good luck!