Custom titanium frame questions...

Discuss light weight issues concerning road bikes & parts.
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Berzin1
Posts: 18
Joined: Wed Jul 20, 2016 9:35 pm

by Berzin1

Hello everyone. I'm looking into a custom ti frame, and am thinking of something along the lines of the old Litespeeds with the oversized downtube and curved seat stays.

So a few questions-

What size and/or type of bottom bracket shell would be optimal for titanium? My main priority is strength and longevity.

Do I need to go with a chainstay bridge, or can I just ask the builder to make the stays more robust? I've ridden a Litesped Ultimate back in the day, and the frame did not have one, nor was flex an issue to the point where it needed it.

Should I go with a regular internal headset or will the headtube be stronger and less prone to issues with a traditional headset setup? I've noticed that on Litespeed/Lynskey models, the head tubes are not hourglass shaped and are quite frankly not aesthetically pleasing. Any reason for this?

In terms of the rear dropouts, I'm not looking for anything fancy, but I have seen them done in different ways and what I would like is something no-nonsense and strong.

Can I do internal cable routing on a ti frame, or will drilling holes in the frame compromise the tubing in any way?

Thanks in advance.

by Weenie


Marin
Posts: 3069
Joined: Wed Jan 22, 2014 11:48 am
Location: Vienna Austria

by Marin

It all depends on the builder, they will advise you. Everything you listed is possible.

Bottom bracket - my Ti frames all are BSA 68mm, no need for anything else.

You can make any type of head tube work, go with looks best to you.

pdlpsher1
Posts: 1717
Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2012 6:09 pm
Location: CO

by pdlpsher1

I recently had a custom Ti bike built and I had to make a decision on everything you listed. Depending on your builder he will give you different opinions. Below are my choices and the logic behind each decision.

According to my builder there are no advantages to a larger diameter BB. A BSA will give you plenty of strength and durability. It all comes down to the type of crank you’ll be using. If you prefer Shimano/GXP then go for a BSA BB. If you like a crank with a 30mm spindle then opt for a T47 BB. Avoid a FP30 BB. I went with a T47. Here’s a pic of the T47 BB - 2” OD x 69mm wide (1mm wider to allow refacing by the builder).

Image

My builder says there’s no strength diff. between having a chainstay bridge and no chainstay bridge. If your bike has short chainstays and you intend to run wide tires, having no bridge will help with wheel removal. My bike has long chainstays (425mm) and I opted to have a bridge. The bridge adds very little weight and I wanted it for a peace of mind.

Since I’m using a tapered fork I went with a 44mm headtube and a Chris King Inset7 headset. I don’t like the look of tapered head tubes so I never asked my builder if there’s any differences between the two head tubes other than aesthetics. If you are not using a tapered fork you can use a smaller diameter head tube for a more retro look. Some folks have commented that the smaller head tube is plenty stiff and a larger head tube is not necessary. In my case the smaller head tube was not an option since the fork I wanted is a tapered fork and it must be mated to a 44mm head tube. Here’s the type of head tube on my bike. Keep in mind that the head tube type will dictate the rise of the frame’s fit since the internal headset has a lower stack height.

Image

I did some research on dropouts and the best kind is the ‘Breezer’ style and the worse type is the CNC’ed ‘plate’ type. The Breezer dropout allows for a more robust weld connection to the chain and seat tubes. Most builders use frame parts made by Paragon Machine Works. They sell two ‘Breezer’ dropout sizes, 1-1/2” and 1-1/8” diameter. The small one is much lighter however they cannot be used if the chain and seatstay tube diameters are too big. So depending on the tubing diameter you may have to choose the larger sized dropout. I have the 1-1/8” version like this one from Paragon.

Image

I debated over internal brake cable routing and ultimately I chose against having one. Firstly they add a lot of weight. A small diameter Ti tube has to be fitted inside the top tube which adds weight. The entry and exit points are welded and reinforced which adds more weight. And since an internal brake routing means the brake cable housing is intact from the brake lever to the rear brake, the brake housing itself will add even more weight. Secondly, because my frame size is quite small (54cm TT), the part of the cable that is hidden inside the TT will be quite short. Internal routing looks nicer on a larger sized frame, one where the brake entry and exit points are more separated. Lastly the internal brake option is very labor intensive and hence costly. If you choose to have one I should point out that the two holes on the TT will not compromise the strength of the frame.

There are a ton more decisions you will have to make Image Take your time and do your homework. Most builders have a backlog and you can make changes to your build up until the time your builder has to order the raw materials. He will likely order the raw materials 2-3 weeks prior to the delivery date.

Last but not least feel free to ask more questions. Attached is a pic of my bike. It’s my first custom bike and I’m super happy with the result. Good luck with your build.

Image


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Last edited by pdlpsher1 on Mon Jun 04, 2018 8:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

eric01
Posts: 547
Joined: Mon Feb 06, 2006 1:06 am

by eric01

@ pdlpsher1 - that's a nice build. Did you do a post on the build?

@ op - find yourself a reputable custom builder and they will advise you through all of the details. That's one of the beauties of going custom.
AX Lightness Vial Evo, Carl Strong Titanium

pdlpsher1
Posts: 1717
Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2012 6:09 pm
Location: CO

by pdlpsher1

Thanks Eric. No, I didn’t do a build post.

To the OP- There are several ways to conduct a custom build. Some people don’t really care about the details and they let the builder choose what he/she thinks it’s best for their client. Some people are more engaged and inquisitive, and ask a lot of questions like you did. I did a lot of research on my own and I also asked a lot of questions to the builder on the pros/cons of each build decision. A good builder will be patient and answer each question with honesty. In my case I had a lot of input on the build decisions, because I care about all the little details. To me this is the fun part of a custom build. After all it’s a dream bike and I love to dream My builder told me he will let me have anything I want done except in cases where my decision will affect the performance and durability of the bike in a negative way. In other words he was never pushy and he lets me choose what I like on the bike. As an example, he gave me two choices on the Ti tube supplier. I did some research on my own and I told him I wanted one of the two suppliers he offered, one that is American based and manufactured merely an hour from my home. He accommodated my request without fuss. All in all it was a very pleasant experience.


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Ivan
Posts: 368
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by Ivan

@ op - find yourself a reputable custom builder and they will advise you through all of the details. That's one of the beauties of going custom.
+1
no sorry +1000

I got myself a Kent Eriksen 2 almost 2 years back and I called them and mailed them almost every day. We went for:
- BSA 68 mm: has proven itself trough the years, BB will be available for many moons to come
- chainstay bridge: it was for a commuter with fenders so the chainstay bridge added a spot to attach the fender
- 44 mm headset and also using CK inset7, not the lightest headset but Kent assured me it will almost outlast me. So far, no problems.
- Breezer styke dropouts: stronger
- All external cables: easier to work on, internal is possible on Titanium
He ride a bike instead of a car I wanna be his friend
Golden Earring - Going to the run

2old4this
Posts: 360
Joined: Mon Jan 13, 2014 7:26 am

by 2old4this

pdlpsher1 wrote:
Mon Jun 04, 2018 8:36 am
According to my builder there are no advantages to a larger diameter BB. A BSA will give you plenty of strength and durability. It all comes down to the type of crank you’ll be using. If you prefer Shimano/GXP then go for a BSA BB. If you like a crank with a 30mm spindle then opt for a T47 BB. Avoid a FP30 BB. I went with a T47. Here’s a pic of the T47 BB - 2” OD x 69mm wide (1mm wider to allow refacing by the builder).
+1 on this. BSA or T47. No pressfitting please. One word of caution though, BSA will be around, no matter what. T47 is a logical upgrade to BB30, but it's future is still questionable (I have a bike with it, and find it quite acceptable. But still, who knows if it'll be around in a few years...)
pdlpsher1 wrote:
Mon Jun 04, 2018 8:36 am
I debated over internal brake cable routing and ultimately I chose against having one. Firstly they add a lot of weight. A small diameter Ti tube has to be fitted inside the top tube which adds weight. The entry and exit points are welded and reinforced which adds more weight. And since an internal brake routing means the brake cable housing is intact from the brake lever to the rear brake, the brake housing itself will add even more weight. Secondly, because my frame size is quite small (54cm TT), the part of the cable that is hidden inside the TT will be quite short. Internal routing looks nicer on a larger sized frame, one where the brake entry and exit points are more separated. Lastly the internal brake option is very labor intensive and hence costly. If you choose to have one I should point out that the two holes on the TT will not compromise the strength of the frame.
When I had my TI frame built, I had similar thoughts, and opted out for external routing. Now, there is not a day, I don't regret it. Internal routing is simply cleaner.

And one final word, if you are into "I have to have a new shiny thing every other year", do not get a TI frame. After years of use, they do not get weathered/scratched/dinged (so it is harder to say "this is old now, I need to get a new one" :D)

Berzin1
Posts: 18
Joined: Wed Jul 20, 2016 9:35 pm

by Berzin1

Thanks all for the responses, especially pdlpsher1. They have been extremely helpful and I've learned a lot that will assist me through this process.

Another question-seat tube diameter. What difference would it make if I choose either 27.2mm or 31.6mm?

Berzin1
Posts: 18
Joined: Wed Jul 20, 2016 9:35 pm

by Berzin1

2old4this wrote:
Mon Jun 04, 2018 4:13 pm
And one final word, if you are into "I have to have a new shiny thing every other year", do not get a TI frame. After years of use, they do not get weathered/scratched/dinged (so it is harder to say "this is old now, I need to get a new one". :D)
This is one of the reasons why I want to go the titanium route. Aside from the fact that I love the ride of ti, I don't want to get caught up in all that nonsense.

Also, I want to choose my own geometry.

LionelB
Posts: 1541
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Location: Aix en Provence

by LionelB

+1 on choosing a great builder first. This is the most important part. I absolutely love my Spectrum and if I had to go it again I would make the exact same choices (BSA, normal HT, 31.6 ST ID and no breezer drop out). Call Tom Kellog, very few people know more about Ti.

Image

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Calnago
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by Calnago

While the breezer style dropouts provide a lot of surface area for the builder to work with, I really don’t like them for a couple of reasons:
1. They make it next to impossible to close a nice skewer in between the chainstay and seatstay, so you’re left with the lever either sticking out the back or pointing down to the ground. And it’s also something to consider it you ever want to use the bike in a trainer.
2. Make sure your builder fully understands where the newer style rear derailleur needs to be in space for it to function as intended. There is a lot of leeway for the rotation of the dropouts during the build (one of the reasons they are so popular with builders) but this also makes it easy to have the hanger incorrectly situated when coupled with a newer style Shimano derailleur (with the B-link) or a direct mount hanger (omitting the b-link). A little bit off on the rotation translates to quite a bit off for the final derailleur placement. And that placement is quite important if you want to be able to adjust it for optimal performance.
3. I guess a third reason is I just think they’re kinda ugly, which is personal prefernce of course. I’ve had them on a custom steel bike before and never again. They’re awkward at best in actual use.
Colnago C64 - The Naked Build; Colnago C60 - PR99; Trek Koppenberg - Where Emonda and Domane Meet;
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jeanjacques
Posts: 127
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2016 11:01 am
Location: France

by jeanjacques

pdlpsher1 wrote:
Mon Jun 04, 2018 8:36 am
If you prefer Shimano/GXP then go for a BSA BB. If you like a crank with a 30mm spindle then opt for a T47 BB.
BSA works very weel with 30mm spindle, juste use BSA30 cups (start at 75g and another gain, it use standard 6806 2rs bearing available everywere).
T47 is useful for internal routing, more space on the BB.

For cable routing, only people who buy complete bike with LBS maintenance criticized external. People with skills just recognize the cleaner look of internal one but can't despise it.

For a steel/titanium frame, esthetic follow function. For a composite frame, it's different, form follow marketing.
Last edited by jeanjacques on Mon Jun 04, 2018 6:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

glepore
Posts: 1160
Joined: Thu Mar 28, 2013 4:42 pm
Location: Virginia USA

by glepore

Another comment on the breezer dropout-while I get the greater weld area, the hood on mine interferes with certain skewer nuts (cough, Mavic). Had to swap the nut out to get a clean wheel change. Not a deal breaker, but be aware. Particularly an issue with shortish chainstays and no wiggle room.

I have an inset7, and its beautiful, but I'd echo the comment above about the increased stack-can be an issue with smaller frames and bigish tubsets.

Internal cables? Some builders will do it, some won't. Its feasible but some guys don't like to do them.

As to bb's, same comments as above. Mine is pf30, and I don't have any issues with it at all, but if I did it again I'd go thereaded. t47 allows greater flexibility with cranksets.
Cysco Ti custom Campy SR mechanical (6.9);Cannondale SS Evo Di2 7970 (5.79); Willier Cento Uno Air Di2 9070 (7.0); C40 Mk2 DA 7800 ; Anvil Custom steel Etap;1996 Colnago Technos Record

RussellS
Posts: 792
Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2010 1:31 am

by RussellS

Berzin1 wrote:
Mon Jun 04, 2018 4:22 pm
Another question-seat tube diameter. What difference would it make if I choose either 27.2mm or 31.6mm?
None. Zip. Zilch. Zero. Both are commonely available in every seatpost made. The bigger 31.6 looks better on a frame with bigger tubes. The thinner 27.2 looks better on thinner tubed bikes such as older steel frames. Let aesthetics be the decider.
Last edited by RussellS on Tue Jun 05, 2018 7:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

Bigger Gear
Posts: 369
Joined: Fri Mar 27, 2009 6:58 pm
Location: Wet coast, Canada

by Bigger Gear

My thoughts:

Breezer dropout - I like the looks and the added surface area for welding, but the skewer aesthetic is a valid point as Calnago points out. I use a DA skewer and route it just under the chainstay pointing forward and I've learned to adjust to the look. I've even taken to the same routing on my other bikes now just to completely force myself to adapt to the look.

Internal cables - I'm sort of 50-50. If you know you will ALWAYS want a mechanical group on the frame then I think external shift cabling is so much simpler and easier. For the rear brake, I think in most cases I would always go with external, again I prefer the simplicity plus in my climate this is one less water entry point. But if you want the flexibility to possibly be mechanical or Di2 or eTap, popping grommets into internal routing is OK by me. When I see pics on IG of someone spec'ing a FireFly with eTap and no shift cable/Di2 routing at all, I am always impressed by the person's level of commitment!

Bottom bracket - there is absolutely nothing to be gained by doing anything other than threaded. If you are really set on a 30mm crank then you could have it built T47. If you will always be using a 24mm crank then English is perfectly fine. I guess T47 gives the most flexibility, and it looks like it will stay.

Seatpost - not as big of a concern on a Ti bike, but if there is a choice I would go with the 27.2. There will always be more flex for any given seatpost in a smaller diameter. But the builder's seat tube spec is largely going to determine the seatpost diameter.

Headtube - If you are planning on using a tapered fork, I really prefer the look of the straight headtube with the King i7 headset. I cannot see any reason why to use an internal/integrated headset design on a custom frame. Any way you slice the pie, a pressed-in headset is better from a longevity standpoint. Most people going custom Ti or steel are not worried too much about the extra weight.

Chainstay bridge - This is going to be builder dependent but I am someone who almost always prefers a bridge on a metal bike. Not from an engineering standpoint, but just an aesthetic standpoint. The points above about chainstay length and big tires are very valid however.

by Weenie


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