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Back-to-work poll--what's the ultimate Ti frame?(38 posts)

Back-to-work poll--what's the ultimate Ti frame?velocity
Jan 5, 2004 2:03 PM
A friend of mine recently told me he bought a Seven Axiom Ti. I've been dreaming of top-flight steel frame but now am reconsidering Ti. What ti bike do you lust after or proudly own? How do you categorize the differences between steel and ti?
this is an unwinnable argument (nm)ColnagoFE
Jan 5, 2004 2:06 PM
It's a poll, not an argument - no winners or losers (nm)TJeanloz
Jan 5, 2004 2:10 PM
Except that we all know the Litespeed Vortex is the epitome of perfection.
Merlin Cyrene is my favorite. nmdzrider
Jan 5, 2004 2:18 PM
Hmm... LOOK KG 292, yes... they made a ti frame...Dave Hickey
Jan 5, 2004 2:30 PM
Even though I heard it was made by Lightspeed..

Seriously, I've never owned Ti so I cannot comment but if an old 51cm LOOK KG 292 ever shows up on Ebay, I'll post pics of my new ti frame....
re: Back-to-work poll--what's the ultimate Ti frame?djg
Jan 5, 2004 2:33 PM
Beats me.

I don't really suffer from any intense bike lust these days. To the extent that this is attributable to my Colnago CT1, then that's "my ultimate." OTOH, maybe it doesn't count, given that (a) the rear triangle is CF and (b) it's discontinued in any case.

Short of lust, at the top of my "hey that might be nice" category would be a custom Spectrum ti frame built after a personal fitting done by Tom Kellog.

To me, the central difference between steel and ti is that there's a whole lot of iron in steel, whereas ti is mostly ti. Honestly, I've tried a handful of ti bikes and have owned exactly two. I'm not really sure that, with respect to ride qualities, the design characteristics of individual bikes don't just trump the materials differences that may be apparent between steel and ti. Personally, if comparing frames in the 3-3.3 lb or so range, I feel more confident in the durability (especially viz. crash-worthiness) of a good ti offering relative to steel but they can both be plenty sound choices IMO. Also, of course, rust isn't really an issue with ti--but then, I never really thought it was all that much of an issue with steel either. And ti frames of a certain quality (whatever that means) may be more expensive.
No contest..................Len J
Jan 5, 2004 2:42 PM
for me, it's the Serotta legend Ti. I have about 4,000 miles on mine & never looked back.

I looked at every high end Ti with the exception of Holland in San Diego.

Too bad you missed the Bill Holland.DMoore
Jan 5, 2004 3:07 PM
I've seen all the top Ti bikes - and still have an LS Ultimate that's now 10 years old. The best I've seen is in fact from Bill Holland. His construction is exquisite, and then it's topped off with a JB paint job. I just ordered a new carbon race frame for the season (an Orbea Orca, my team's sponsor) and have a long-term order in place for a lugged steel Brian Baylis, so I'm not in the market for any more bikes at present. But if I was shopping for Ti, I'd go straight to Bill Holland, with a Spectrum as a rather distant second choice.
I tried.........but being an east coaster.........Len J
Jan 5, 2004 4:20 PM
I just couldn't get out there for a fitting.

I looked long and hard at a Spectrum, a fitting and design by Tom Kellogg was very appealing, but ultimatly, I had seen and heard too many issues with the Merlin/LS merger (which occurred shortly before I was buying). It made me very nervous. Spending this kind of money, doubts are not good. In addition, the lead time for the bike was almost twice as long at the time.

What does that have to do with Spectrum?Fez
Jan 6, 2004 7:02 AM
Unless I am mistaken, Tom Kellogg is a longtime consultant or frame designer for Merlin. Therefore, if you get a custom Merlin, Tom won't really have any hand in it.

But if you want a full custom Spectrum by Tom Kellogg, you would visit Tom and get it done. What would the "issues with the Merlin/LS merger" have to do with the quality of Tom's work at Spectrum?

Was he too busy and temporarily suspending Spectrum production? Or did you think he was going to be hired to work full time at the newly merged company?

I rode with a guy who had 3 Spectrums made for him. He couldn't say enough good things about Tom.
What does that have to do with Spectrum?djg
Jan 6, 2004 8:12 AM
Maybe he was concerned that, because the Spectrum ti frames are actually welded at/by Merlin, there might have been some sort of issue. I'm not saying that there would be any sort of issue--if I had to spend a few grand on another ti frame I'd probably get the Spectrum. But it's not as if Merlin wouldn't have any hand in it.
All of Spectrum's Ti Frames.............Len J
Jan 6, 2004 10:51 AM
ar manufactured by Merlin/Lightspeed. Tom's role is to:

1.) Design the frame based on his fitting
2.) Q/C the frame received from LS/Merlin
3.) Paint as desired.

Concerns about LS/Merlin Quality at the time of purchase. If Merlin had a problem, Tom would (hopefully) reject it and frame would be delayed. at best. Why risk it for this kind of money?

All of Spectrum's Ti Frames.............koala
Jan 6, 2004 12:08 PM
Tom uses only one welder from Litespeed, the one who does customs, and Tom has final say on whether he keeps it or sends it back. Tom says this guy is phenominal. Take a look at the bikes that come through his gallery.
At the time.............Len J
Jan 6, 2004 12:40 PM
Spectrum's frames were not limited to one welder, and Tom had to send back more than he wanted to.

Again, I was balancing price against risk and how long it might take to get a bike. Even with these concerns, Spectrum made the final two, I just couldn't get over the perceived risk.

Jan 6, 2004 1:09 PM
I did not know that the manufacture & welding of the bare frame was done by the folks at Merlin.

So if I understand correctly, Spectrum is located in the northeast and the "older" Spectrum frames were manufactured in the old Merlin facility, also in the northeast?

Now Spectrum has the Ti frames manufactured & welded by someone at the Merlin facility in Tennessee?
Jan 6, 2004 1:19 PM
Jan 5, 2004 2:55 PM
I'd love a ti Mojo, though I'm quite pleased with my steel one. After that, Serotta, Moots, IF...
oh yeah, got my mojo workin' babycolker1
Jan 5, 2004 5:04 PM
what about the spankys? mojos are so fluid. are their road sisters like that?
Italian for some reasonboneman
Jan 5, 2004 3:09 PM
I own a Vortex and a Merckx EX but there are two Ti bikes that I find highly desireable.

To ride- DeRosa Titanio. Rarely seen but great bikes from all those who have ridden or owned one. Mike Perry, owner of Maestro has a Titanio MTB in his shop which was made by DeRosa for his wife. The only one I've ever seen.

To own and maybe ride- Very late version of Colnago's Bititan in AD-10 or AD-3 paint scheme. Supposedly past the issues with weld failures and just an innovative concept which Ernesto executed.
Italian for some reasondavet
Jan 5, 2004 3:50 PM
I had a late model 'Nago Titanio with the twin down tubes. Nice bike, got lotsa looks and it was VERY noodly. I could make the chain rub front derailluer very easily. Didn't keep it long.
Seven Axiom (may be biased)CritLover
Jan 5, 2004 3:57 PM
I've never ridden any other custom ti bikes, just a Litespeed Tuscany, so my knowledge is quite limited. My Axiom is my pride and joy, and never ever lust after other ti bikes (carbon and aluminum is another story). Steel always seemed too old school for me, I wanted something cutting edge (this is before the carbon fiber explosion), but those are just mental games that we play with ourselves. When I saw the frame I thought it was a work of art, it's that simple. And like love, what you fall for is not generally based in rational reasoning.
Litespeed Vortex (also biased) -nm.Ti22
Jan 5, 2004 4:05 PM
Moots SLEric_H
Jan 5, 2004 4:01 PM
I have a Merlin XL in the stable, but if I went Ti shopping again I would seriously consider the Moots SL. The finish and attention to detail seems pretty impressive on the few frames I have seen.

I would avoid any of the Merlin or Litespeed frames with the integrated head tubes. My Merlin XL has one and I have to say it is the weakest point of an otherwise excellent frame. Unlike most integrated designs, the cups can be changed, but it is still a lousy design.
Another for the MootsDropped
Jan 5, 2004 4:37 PM
It's all a matter of lust at this point, and something about the Moots just creates lust in my heart.

Still, I've heard so much about the Holland frames that I think I'd need to check those out as well.

My neighbor swears by his Seven, but something about those just doesn't do it for me.
Independent Fabrication Ti Crown JewelMajor Kong
Jan 5, 2004 6:06 PM
It would look nice next to my steel one.
Spectrum (nm)bsdc
Jan 5, 2004 6:35 PM
Merlin Extralight is the best and here are 10 reasons whyChainstay
Jan 5, 2004 6:40 PM
1. Conventional round tubes but oversized and double butted results in a stiff ride in a very light frame 2. Tom Kellogg geometry so its got perfect road manners and a very light feel that compensates for the firmer ride than other Ti frames. 3. Beautiful lugwork 4. Traditional looks, not compact geometry or oval tubes 5. Does not have a flimsy carbon rear triangle and these do break. 6. Lifetime warranty 7. Huge range of frame size options so you don't need to design something custom and you always get the Tom Kellog geometry 8. The frame is all one material that can be repaired if required 9. Great service 10. Reynolds fork is #1 fork 11. Best resale value of any Ti bike. This is partly because Lightspeed are positioning Merlin as their premium brand
Jan 5, 2004 7:37 PM
Best of the best. Caring company not driven by marketing or bottom line.

IF sold out when they put carbon in the rear end of their bikes. Seven is overrated/overpriced/overblown. Merlin ain't the same with Litespeed as their owners. Serotta does goofy things like hoseclamping rubber strips to the seatstays which blows their credibility. Colnago ti is farmed out to eastern Europe. Merckx is made by Litespeed, c'mon now, make your own damn bikes. Litespeed is about as exciting as a physical.

Holland or Spectrum would be good close seconds.
What are the weld marks around the seat tube?...TFerguson
Jan 6, 2004 10:44 AM
Below the junction, there are marks going around the seat tube. Is that whole top part of the seat tube a lug?

Missed. Question is about "The Keeper". Sorry nmTFerguson
Jan 6, 2004 10:46 AM
weld marks...hackmechanic
Jan 6, 2004 6:31 PM
Instead of some cheesy insert to reduce the i.d. of the seat tube MOOTS will weld two pieces of seat tube together so that they can use a larger o.d. seat tube with thin walls for stiffness and weight considerations while allowing the use of a fairly standard 27.2 seatpost.
Seat Tube CapBixe
Jan 6, 2004 6:58 PM
The VaMoots tubeset is all straight gauge tubing. The cap on the seat tube is a heavier gauge section welded on to accommodate the welded on seat post clamp and seat post.

Full disclosure: I hadn't noticed this seam until looking closer at the image once it was on the monitor....
The Keeper....Bixe
Jan 6, 2004 5:04 AM
There's a Vortex in the stable and the Merlin departed a little while back, but the VaMoots is the keeper. I've ridden a handful of others along the way and I would suggest that personal preferences regarding particular framesets will guide your decisions; i.e., custom geometry, integrated headsets...

Titanium Sports Technoligies....asphalt assault
Jan 6, 2004 5:41 AM
Okay, so this is a cheap a$$ Ti frame and I'm certainly not going to sit here and tell you that I think it's just as good as the various high end Ti offerings. I'v never had another Ti bike (or road bike for that matter) to compare to so I have no way of knowing.

The bottom line is, I love this bike. I have it nicely ascessorized with full Ultegra, carbon fork, bars and post, Velocity deep V rims...MTB clipless pedals (sorry).

I honestly can't imagine how it could get any better then this....but hey, what do I know...I'm just an MTBer riding the road when the trails are sloppy!
Another vote for Moots hereLactateIntolerant
Jan 6, 2004 6:06 AM
Any discussion of 'ultimate' has got to include craftsmanship and nobody does it better than Moots, IMHO. The Sevens, Merlins, Serottas and Litespeeds are all fine bikes I'm sure, but anyone claiming they are on par with Moots regarding craftsmanship (welds, in particular), is in denial. I've never seen an IF Ti, Holland or Spectrum, but the best they can hope for is 'as good as a Moots'(see Bixe's pic). They won't be better.
Work sucks (nm)Crankist
Jan 6, 2004 6:19 AM
Why the Litespeed Ultimate, of course.pmf1
Jan 6, 2004 6:21 AM
Especially the older models before carbon stays.

I must admit that I have been lusting for a Vortex lately.

Any of you guys see the Douglas 6/4 frame in Colorado Cyclist. Looks just like the Vortex for $2000 less. I wonder who makes it. Not TST. I bet its a rebadged Vortex.
Spectrum ti super...koala
Jan 6, 2004 12:00 PM
For 3 grand you get frame, the carbon fork of your choice, headset, pump painted to match and get a fitting by one of the most renowned fitters there is, the man who formulated Merlins geometry. Go to and look at this months bike of the month. Beautiful baby...