Titanium is half the weight of steel, so titanium tubing can be made with slightly larger diameters without a weight penalty. Larger diameter tubing provides greater stiffness to efficiently transfer power to the rear wheel without undue flex, all without beating you up over the course of a long ride. It’s a magical combination of efficiency and compliance, with geometry, add-ons and options tailored to the wishes of the rider, something that can only be done with metal frames.
Because aluminum is much weaker and less stiff, aluminum tubing for bicycle frames needs to be large diameter to provide acceptable fatigue life. That usually creates a ride that can be harsh and tiring. Titanium has enough strength and fatigue resistance to avoid very oversized tubes, providing a compliant, resilient ride on rough surfaces that smooths out and absorbs small bumps alike. Steel frames, with their smaller tubes, can be almost as compliant, but aren’t quite as comfortable. Steel may be real, but titanium is magical.
Titanium is even more corrosion resistant than stainless steel. It can be painted or – unlike steel or aluminum – can be left without paint, powdercoat or plating, so you never need to worry about scratches. Internal cable routing is simple because the insides of the tubes are naturally impervious to rust and corrosion. Unlike aluminum, titanium has a fatigue limit, so as long as the tubing is not stressed beyond this limit or damaged, it will never fatigue. Titanium can also flex three times further than aluminum and twice as far as steel without permanent damage. Carbon fiber is very vulnerable to crash and notch damage, after which it may fail catastrophically. The epoxy matrix also degrades over the years with exposure to the UV in sunlight. A titanium frame can literally last the rest of your life, and longer.
It’s hard to explain in words, it’s not like you straddle a Titanium bike and your life suddenly changes. It’s more about the journey and the experiences on route that bonds you to Ti, ask anyone that owns a Ti bike and they’ll tell you the same thing ‘nothing else feels the same’, and as far as I can tell that feeling is emotional.
Stiffness or rigidity is a important term when we evaluate frame’s quality. High stiffness is another word of high pedaling efficiency. Titanium’s stiffness is 28.4% higher than Cr-Mo steel. Titanium frame would make most useful of your pedaling power.
Titanium is a wonder metal. The Russians pioneered the development of Titanium during the cold war as a material for hi tech weapons like the Mig fighter, with the US following close behind and classifying Titanium as a ‘Strategic Material’.
The most common type of tubing used in bikes is Ti-3Al-2.5V, this is a mix of Titanium, 3% Aluminium and 2.5% Vanadium. This blend of Titanium has a high strength and low density that allows for the building of frames that are lightweight, extremely strong and durable.
Titanium does not break down, rust or corrode in any type of atmospheric environment and has a high fracture toughness and fatigue resistance resulting in a frame that can take a pounding and will not fail.
The other unique property of titanium is it’s low elastic modulus. Titanium’s low elastic modulus translates into a natural dampening effect on vibrations and bumps which allow titanium frames to have a smoother ride even on a hard tail MTB.
The combination of titanium’s high strength and low modulus give Ti frames a spring effect, and it’s because of this spring like effect, that Titanium bikes have such a good energy transfer that does not sap energy from the rider like alloy, carbon or steel.