I'm looking to build up a titanium road bike, for training/racing.
It would be great if the frame is light, but it must be stiff, strong, a good climber/descender. (I'm 6'1", 185#, so please bear that in mind.)
Could be new or used. I'm interested in Spectrum or Holland (anyone worked with them/have one?), but don't know that I can afford those.
All suggestions welcome, but Ti only on responses please.
Also, some general questions:
1) Is it true that Merlin and Litespeed have suffered in quality since ABG acquisition? If so, are older models better (I'm open to a used frame)? What's the cut-off year?
2) Are integrated headsets goodor not a great idea?
3) Are carbon stays really useful, or just marketing, on a Ti frame?
4) What fork do you like?
Thanks in advance.
I believe the lightest Ti bike is the Ghisallo .. in fact perhaps the lightest frame in the world if you believe their website. Not a bad idea to buy a used Ti frame as they are very resilient and you're not likely to be "surprised" later and worth the savings over buying a new frame. I think the main reason to get a custom frame (i.e., litespeed, merlin, serotta, seven, etc.) is for the custom fit.. but if you already know your exact size then you can save your money (for other WW stuff!). The other upside of getting a custom is the better companies ask very thorough questions about the type of rider you are, if you spin or stand on pedals, do crits, sprinter, climber, long distance, etc.. and will cater the tube thickness, seat stays, etc. accordingly. Have heard real good feedback on it so maybe it's worth the extra bucks.
The first bike I built I used an older Lemond Ti (circa 93) and was real pleased with it. Springy ride, fairly light. I'm now riding a Giant TCR composite and tell you it has a better ride. The carbon soaks up vibrations better then Ti. Climbs better then my Ti bike because it's stiffer and lighter. I think if I were doing long distance stuff and in bad weather lots then Ti would make more sense.
I don't think the headset should be a deal breaker or deal maker .. but if you put one in I'd say only use Chris King, (although AC is ligher) and make sure it's installed by a reputable shop as it's probably the most commonly F'd up install that some shops do. For carbon forks, outside of weight, consider what steering tube to use .. in conjunction with the type of riding you will do. All carbon is not always the best choice. Anyways.. good luck!