Independent ti

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Anonymous's picture

Later today I and others from the Club leave for a week of cycling in Mallorca, Spain (Stephen Roche cycling camp). I am considering ordering a custom-made Independent ti cycle when I return. Anyone out there have any thoughts or recommendations re Independents for me to read, probably upon my return?

Anonymous's picture
Robin (not verified)
IF ti

"There's nothing ""unreal"" about a ti bike. It's low maintenance, won't rust, is light and strong.

I had one, which I ordered through Sid's on 34th Street. It fit well, rode well and I got many compliments on it. No complaints whatsoever. I put a lot of mileage into it, racing and training. Very comfortable.

It's not flashy, like some other bikes in the same price range, but it is unique. It's not a bike you see coming and going, especially beyond the East Coast, which is important to some people. I'd say read the IF website to get some info about the company. If their boutique-y, slightly ""alternative"" nature appeals to you, it may very well be the bike for you.


Anonymous's picture
Diane Goodwin (not verified)
TI Bikes

My Litespeed Tuscany (titanium) is my favorite bike. I also have a Trek 5200 (carbon) and previously, an aluminum. The TI handles well, is lightweight and STRONG! It was the bike I was riding in my November crash and has been blown around on my roof rack! There is no damage on my frame and I've had it since 4/2000. I believe it will last me a lifetime. I commute to work over potholes and cobblestone ... have ridden it through three Bike New Yorks at the front line.

I feel safe on the bike. I don't know if the Trek would hold up as well. Having been fit properly helped in the comfort of the bike as well. There is no vibration when I ride it and I ride many miles at a time.

It reigns supreme!

Also, if you travel alot, a titanium bike doesn't need to be painted. You won't have to worry about a new paint job. Cleaning is also easier.

Besides Robin, I know others who ride IF and they love them. In choosing a bike manufacturer, I believe geometry differs. Tom Kellog is a great frame builder who has a special deal with Merlin ... Tom measures you and Merlin builds the frame (I was told this last weekend actually). Tom's shop is in PA. A friend is having a bike built by Tom and bringing it back to the UK.

diane goodwin

Anonymous's picture
"Chainwheel" (not verified)
Frame material

"""The TI handles well""

Do you mean that your Tuscany handles well, or that some inherent property of Ti makes it handle well? Please elaborate.


Anonymous's picture
seth (not verified)

"I would say that IF does nothing more (or less) than any other custom frame manufacturer at similar price range. Last I knew the ti welder and business manager came from the original Merlin family, others came from Chris Chance. I think their design philosophy favors a slightly more slack seat tube angle, but since they do full custom it's basically up to your fitter to get it right.

Reasons I went with IF: Full custom. A little more esoteric than some other selections. the shot-peened finish is indescribable and (mind you, this is only my personal opinion) the best damn looking welds I've ever seen on a ti frame. Employee owned operation. I really liked the logo design.

Only thing I would do differently is get a slightly sloping top tube (just for aesthetic reasons)

Recently VeloNews visited both the Seven and IF factories. Their distinguishing difference: ""When we were given the factory tours, at seven we were handed a pair of safety gogles, at IF we were handed a tall, frosty pint of beer."" Based on that alone, I would go IF"

Anonymous's picture
seth (not verified)

sorry, double-post

Anonymous's picture
Törless (not verified)
IF bikes

Well, I don't know about shite; however, I would say that IF bikes have an unusual geometry that makes me wary of them. They handle a bit strangely. If you have a geometry that works for you, you could request it. This makes little sense to me, though, when there are builders like Serotta and Tom Kellog out there who have been at this a long time and will not disappoint. Heck, you can head out to Tom's barn, get sized, and talk for hours about your bike. In the interest of full disclosure, I have a Serotta Ti bike (Legend) that has been an absolute dream. I would say you can't go wrong with either builder.

Anonymous's picture
David Regen (not verified)
weird handling/geometry

"In regards to a custom bike, the framebulder's job is to create something with the best possible fit, suited to the rider's type of riding and personal preferences. If the framebuilder does the job right, the person it was made for should love it.

The two things to condsider are:
1) Fit. The best reason to go custom is that you can't find a stock bike or frame on which you feel comfortable. I had this problem because I have long legs; every bike shop pointed me towards a bike with a long seat tube, which meant it would also have top tube too long for me. The smaller frame would be fine for the top tube but would feel too small under me. A custom fit solved this.

2) Ride characteristics. Assuming you can find a bunch of bikes/frames that actually fit you in terms of seat tube and top tube, how do you want it to ride? Do you feel beaten up after a century? Do you want lightning-quick handling? If you only fit a handful of stock bikes, your choices are limited.

So a custom bike can help you work these things out. If you've never owned a bike that had ""perfect"" fit with ride and handling characteristics that you really wanted, a custom frame is probably the answer. I'm convinced that matching these needs is far more important that what material your bike is made from. There's no point in a $7000 carbon/Ti/Al2 dream machine that weighs 15 lbs. if you're not comfortable--you'll just ride better on a bike that fits you properly (would you buy a pair of shoes that were too big/small but looked great?)

Anonymous's picture
Rick Braun (not verified)

Thanks to all who responded! I am back from Mallorca (great place to cycle, and fun time). Still open for any further thoughts.

Anonymous's picture
Jordan (not verified)
Dispelling the myths.

As the person who has sold more custom Ti IF’s than anyone on the planet, let me share some of my insight.

I agree that the primary reason for purchasing a custom bike should be to assure that the fit is as close to perfect as possible. Finding a builder (and shop) that understand the principles of geometry, as it relates to fitting, it of the utmost importance.

Equally important is to make sure that the builder has the accurate information concerning your riding style, preferred handling characteristics, and comfort requirements. Let me explain.

Questions that effect the final design can be some of the following:
Your weight and physical dimensions? (tube diameter, wall thickness, geometry)
Do you prefer to climb seated or standing? (do you need a stiffer frame for out of the saddle climbing and sprinting?)
Do you peddle through corners or coast? (toe to front wheel overlap/head tube angle, fork angle)
Do you prefer a more stable bike, or faster handling? (wheelbase, head tube angle, fork angle)
Performance vs. comfort? (lower handlebar height for decrease in wind resistance, Wider bar for more leverage)

These are just a few of the things that need to be considered. Other considerations by the builder might be:

Wheel size (650, 700)
Bottom bracket drop (the location of the bottom bracket from the ground)
Top tube slope (sloping top tubes decrease the amount of material and increase stiffness, but are a poor choice for a heavier rider who climbs in the saddle, due to seat post flex)
Seat stay shape and size (effects vibration damping)
Fork material (carbon fiber or steel, steel has excellent damping characteristics)

Ti VS. Steel

Firstly, steel and ti actually weigh about the same. Ti is stronger, therefore it can be machined thinner. That is where the weight savings comes from.

Ti is also extremely resistant to denting, scratching or rusting. Good custom steel frames are very thin, and will rust unless you are very careful to treat them often with an internal rust inhibiter. They are also very likely to get dinged up in a crash.

Ride quality: You would be hard pressed to notice the difference between a good custom ti or steel bike. Although the ti bike might be lighter and have slightly better vibration dampening.

What about Seven, Merlin, Serotta? All great bikes. I think the most important thing is to choose the builder that will build you YOUR bike, not THEIR bike.

Do you need an IF ti? NO! no one does. But as the owner of one I will tell you, you do not buy a bike like this because you need it. You buy it because you love to ride, and want something that matches your personality. I would recommend one to anyone with money to burn, and a desire to have something made just for you. Call it what it is, self indulgence. But boy does it feel good!

Anonymous's picture
Peter Storey (not verified)

"""Firstly, steel and ti actually weigh about the same. Ti is stronger, therefore it can be machined thinner. That is where the weight savings comes from.""

Other way 'round, I think. All other things being equal, Ti is half the weight of steel, half as stiff and half as strong. With a little alloying magic and thicker tube walls, Ti tubes perform as well as steel and still wind up weighing less. But it took years of trial-and-error to figure it out.

If anything, the reason that steel ultimately ""loses"" the ongoing arms race for the world's lightest frames is that -- at the extreme end of the spectrum -- the tube walls get so thin that (i) it becomes very difficult to join them and (ii) the center portions are prone to buckle if, for example, you pull a water bottle out at a too sharp an angle. The latter is also why they are prone to dings.

Of course my body weight fluctuates more in the course of a day than several multiples of the difference between the lightest steel and lightest Ti frames, so I don't get terribly excited about this sort of thing. As Jordan points out, the real issues are fit (to you!) and suitability for (your!) purposes.

Peter Storey

Anonymous's picture
"Chainwheel" (not verified)
Re: Dispelling the myths

"Jordan wrote:

""Firstly, steel and ti actually weigh about the same.""

Steel has a specific gravity of 490, while Ti's specific gravity is 280. However, steel is roughly twice as stiff as Ti (Modulus 30 vs. ~16). Therefore, a Ti frame has to use larger diameter tubes with thicker walls in order to avoid excessive flex. That offsets a good part of the weight savings of Ti.

The fat chainstays limit tire clearance. That's also the reason you rarely (if ever) see Ti forks.

""Good custom steel frames are very thin, and will rust unless you are very careful to treat them often with an internal rust inhibiter.""

Another myth. My steel (Columbus SL) frame will be 20 years old in April. I've never treated it with rust inhibitor, and it's been through many rain rides. There's not a spot of rust on it. I know lots of people who have had steel frames for many years without rust problems. Sure, if you leave a steel frame out in the rain for six months, it will rust. But who does that? If you treat it with ordinary care, it's not likely to rust.

""I would recommend one [IF Ti] to anyone with money to burn,...""

I'll let that remark speak for itself!

""You buy it because you love to ride, and want something that matches your personality.""

What is that supposed to mean? People who love to ride can be seen on all kinds of bikes. Is proper fitting not enough? Do we now have to have a psychological analysis to match our personalities to the frame material we ride?


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