building my new titanium bike

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by darthFrog

My old specialized Tarmac 2005 E5 finally died a month ago. It developed a hairline crack in the driveside (aluminium) chainstay, after 115,000 kms of trusty service. Seems this is very difficult to repair. If you weld it, the joint is extremely weak, and needs a complicated series of heat treatments. Since I had already repaired a crack in the carbon-fibre seat stay, and the join between the head tube and top tube had developed some play, I decided to get a new frame.

After a lot of deliberation, I decided to go with titanium. Partly because I'm drifting away from the culture of 'latest and greatest'. I guess I'm just not buying the hype anymore. And besides, I don't race - I'm just a social rider.

So why titanium?

a. I'm over 50. :-)
b. It lasts forever - no metal fatigue, no rust
c. It's very low maintenance
d. The ride quality
e. Eddy Merckx broke the hour record on a titanium bike

I must admit, I also really like the simple, retro look of unpainted, brushed titanium.

I did a lot of looking around, and finally decided on the 57 cm Falco Eleonora model. I liked the tapered head tube and large down tube and BB of this model. I'm just over 6 foot tall and was worried that a thinner frame may flex too much.

It's always a bit scary buying something that you can't actually try out from overseas, but Falco bikes have a good reputation with lots of good feedback. So I took the plunge. Binny was really knowledgeable and unbelievably helpful. He alway emailed back the same day, usually within a few hours. After I ordered the bike, it got from Hong Kong to Australia within 6 days, for only $90 postage.

I was totally impressed with the frame. The finish and welds were beautiful, and it felt wonderfully light. More like a work of art. I had ordered it without the spike fork, since I want to get an Enve fork at some point in the future.

Then came the most frustrating part - having the frame sit on the sofa upstairs for the next few weeks while I waited for some bits and pieces to arrive. The first issue was my old s-works carbon fork. This fork has a straight 1 1/8 inch steerer, while the new frame expected a 1 1/8- 1 1/4 inch tapered steerer. I initially ordered some Wheels Manufacturing headtube reducers from Amazon to fix this. But when these arrived, it was clear they were not suitable for integrated headsets. What you really need is a crown race with a 1 1/4 inch outer dia and a 1 1/8 inner dia. Such a crown race reducer proved incredibly difficult to find. Chris King make a 'devolution baseplate', but when I emailed them about it they said it only worked on Chris King headsets. Don't know if this is strictly true - it certainly looks like it would work. Anyway I decided not to gamble on this.

Luckily, I have a friend that does machining work, and he was able to craft a custom aluminium crown race, identical to the included token crown race, but with the 1 1/8 inch internal dia. While I was waiting for this, I also ordered the SRAM truvativ adapter for converting PF46/30 BB to standard BSA. That way I could use my old Dura-ace 7800 cranks on the new frame while I decided to get either Rotor 3D+ or Cannondale Hollowgram cranks. In the long run, I want to go with 30 mm spindle PF30 cranks.

When everything was finally ready, I spent a few days transplanting my old bike onto the new frame. Getting the old crown race of my s-works fork was difficult, but the new crown race fitted perfectly. Unfortunately, the token headset didn't come with sufficient spacers. Everytime I attempted to fasten the top allen key bolt, the bottom of the headset would rub against the top of the headtube. I managed to fix this by making a plastic 1 mm washer and inserting it on top of the compression ring (actually, on top of the thin metal washer that sits on the compression ring). That fixed things beautifully. The headset bearings could now move freely. Should probably mention that I used anti-seize paste on all metal-metal contact areas.

So that was the difficult bit out of the way - I could now use my old forks on the new frame. I had the PF46/30 - BSA adapters put in by the bike shop, so that I simply had to screw in the the dura ace bottom bracket bearings. Installing the cranks was relatively uneventful, and everything seemed to fit well. My initial plan was to use a titanium seat post, but I ended up deciding that a black carbon fibre seat post looked nicer. I like having the titanium frame balanced by black forks, cranks, seatpost, wheels and headstem.

The rest of the build was relatively straightforward. I literally used every component off my old tarmac. There are still some hacky bits that I will get around to fixing. Sticky tape to prevent cable rub (yuck) and the cheap plastic bottle cage (at least the colour is titanium). Not to mention the ugly green rear tire. But for now, it works!

I've now done nearly 1000 km on the bike, and the overwhelming feeling is - 'I should have done this YEARS ago'. The feel of titanium is wonderful - solid but very gentle. The most noticeable thing is how it takes the edge off bumps in the road. It feels like you are riding with very tiny shock absorbers. I spent most of the first week deliberately riding over rough surfaces just to experience this. The bike also leans into corners beautifully, and is much more stable than the tarmac when riding with no hands. No sure why the tarmac was more twitchy, since the fork is the same, but maybe the Eleonora has a longer wheel base. I suspect the geometry of the two frames is very similar, since the fit feels perfect. Even though I am fairly tall, I prefer a frame on the smaller side, which will be both lighter and stiffer. Then I put the seat post up to fit.

I notice a lot of titanium bikes get 'pampered'. People refuse to take them out in the rain or get them dirty. This will not be one of those bikes. I intend to ride this bike a lot - it is my only bike. So I will be commuting and doing social and community rides, hopefully about 15,000 km/year. Good chance to test the durability of titanium. And yes, I'm even putting on clip-on mudguards for winter (shock, horror).

Here are some photos of the new Falco bike build, and my old bike. Remember, this is still a work in progress, and I hope to post some updated photos when I fit the new cranks and fork (hopefully I can work out how to upload images - otherwise I will add them later)

Darth Frog

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by Rush

darthFrog wrote:I notice a lot of titanium bikes get 'pampered'. People refuse to take them out in the rain or get them dirty.

Really? :lol:

One of the best things I've noticed about bare titanium is that it doesn't show dirt.

Look forward to pics.

by Weenie

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by Bogan

I am looking forward to seeing some pics as well.
MAMIL? Never. O.F.I.L. yeh! (Old F**ker in Lycra)

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by battler

i'm dreaming of a Ti build. going to wait until i can get a lynskey for as low as possible (sub $1kAUD would be ideal), but <$1300 is acceptable.

and the new 105 revision (5800?) to match ultegra 6800 current for half the price out june/july.

the rest will be all hand picked quality. ritchey or enve fork, chris king, thomson elite assorted parts. and of course my own custom build carbon wheels for which i am learning the trade now ;)

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by Juanmoretime

You can use a photo host such as Flickr or Photobucket to add your pictures.

Yes, pictures please.

I too ride and old guys bike, must be because I'm over 50 too. Over 50,000 miles on my Lynskey R320 and I like just as much as the day I first bought it. Its a lifer.

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by vinci

Looking forward to pics.

BTW, Merckx's hour record bike was a custom steel Colnago with a titanium stem by Pino Morroni.

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by michel2

I too thought merckx his hour record bike was a steel lugged construction, none the the titanium merckx by litespeed still has a big following !(;

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by jhamlin38

I'm gonna pull trigger on a Lynskey Helix or Litespeed very soon. I really like the flowing lines of completely integrated headsets. I'm glad we're starting to see metal frames lwith integrated ht's.
good luck to you. I look forward to seeing pictures. I'm also just a touch over 6 feet tall.

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by darthFrog

Trying to link to the pictures:

<iframe width="480" height="360" src=""></iframe>
[url]<iframe width="480" height="360" src=""></iframe>[/url]

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by darthFrog

Giving up - posting pictures is just a little bit too hard for me.
Perhaps the links will work for you ...

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by Juanmoretime

Like this?



Go to the little setting icon radio button on the top right and click on it. Choose get links and click in the bottom option. Paste in the body of your thread.


Nice bike!

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by istigatrice

First titanium Falco I've seen out in the woods... nice ride! Mind posting a ride report?
I write the weightweenies blog, hope you like it :)

Disclosure: I'm sponsored by Velocite, but I do give my honest opinion about them (I'm endorsed to race their bikes, not say nice things about them)

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by odin99

Whoa that's a lot of saddle to bar drop for someone over 50 year old! I hope my back can handle that at that age! <starts doing yoga>

wheels dont match...

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by NiFTY

Darthfrog - firstly very nice frame,but your saddle is not set up correctly, the tip is supposed to be level with the rear of the saddle creating a sort of valley. The bars - what can i say - you have tried to set up a anatomic bend like a trad bend, must be hell on your wrists if you ever ride in the drops.

Also Ti is a good choice for a frame, and i do like that Falco, but the no metal fatigue thing is a complete myth that needs to stop being spread, anything can fatigue. ... e_test.htm
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by Weenie

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