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Old October 14th, 2009, 3:46 PM   #1
smittylube
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Default Ti frames question

Since the ti fats are pretty expensive, I have been peeking around at other makes.

Has anyone ridden the merlin, or litespeed or obed ti bikes? If so how do they compare in quality and ride?



Thanks, Steve
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Old October 14th, 2009, 4:09 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by smittylube View Post
Since the ti fats are pretty expensive, I have been peeking around at other makes.

Has anyone ridden the merlin, or litespeed or obed ti bikes? If so how do they compare in quality and ride?



Thanks, Steve
I have limited time on Ti Fats, so it's hard for me to compare, but I do currently have a McMahon Ti which I like a lot. Frames were made for McMahon by two companies, Litespeed and TST or Sandvik. Mine is a Litespeed and is basically a 93/94 Litespeed Obed. It is light and I like how it handles, but I do not like the 'quick change' dropouts that Litespeed liked to use. They are vertical dropouts with a bit of a flared opening so you can get a wheel in and out quicker, but the section were the axle sits is so short that I can yank a wheel out of alignment if I stand up and hammer. I've solved that issue to a degree by using a King Classic Full Heavy Duty which forgoes QR for big 10mm bolts.

Quality is very good. Ride is very nice and flickable I guess. I know Colker says he thought his Litespeed felt dull, but I can't figure out where he came up with that when I ride mine. If I were to sell off all of my 26" wheel bikes but one, this is the one I would probably keep.

As it sits right now it weighs at or just under 23lbs, which is about 3lbs lighter than my Yo.

Oh, and not to knock Ti Fats, but it's not like Fat cranked out very many of them, and I know they were all kind of a exercise in continuing education for whoever welded them up. Companies like Litespeed, Merlin and TST, well, that's all they did and they did it a lot, so consistancy was high. Yes I have seen frames from those companies crack, but there are also plenty of examples of early sleeved Ti Fats failing too.
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Old October 15th, 2009, 2:42 AM   #3
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I've heard of the sleeve construction failures, but was it that many? I mean plenty?

-bns


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Oh, and not to knock Ti Fats, but it's not like Fat cranked out very many of them, and I know they were all kind of a exercise in continuing education for whoever welded them up. Companies like Litespeed, Merlin and TST, well, that's all they did and they did it a lot, so consistancy was high. Yes I have seen frames from those companies crack, but there are also plenty of examples of early sleeved Ti Fats failing too.
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Old October 15th, 2009, 7:45 AM   #4
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I have a Somerville Merlin and can't personally imagine any hardtail better. I got it for $1000 CAD with a full XTR group and suspension fork. Then I made some changes...
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Old October 15th, 2009, 9:03 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by bonsaii View Post
I've heard of the sleeve construction failures, but was it that many? I mean plenty?

-bns
How many were built? How many failures? What is the ratio. I would say based on what I've seen and heard 'plenty' fits the bill.
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Old October 15th, 2009, 10:34 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by IF52 View Post
I have limited time on Ti Fats, so it's hard for me to compare, but I do currently have a McMahon Ti which I like a lot. Frames were made for McMahon by two companies, Litespeed and TST or Sandvik. Mine is a Litespeed and is basically a 93/94 Litespeed Obed. It is light and I like how it handles, but I do not like the 'quick change' dropouts that Litespeed liked to use. They are vertical dropouts with a bit of a flared opening so you can get a wheel in and out quicker, but the section were the axle sits is so short that I can yank a wheel out of alignment if I stand up and hammer. I've solved that issue to a degree by using a King Classic Full Heavy Duty which forgoes QR for big 10mm bolts.

Quality is very good. Ride is very nice and flickable I guess. I know Colker says he thought his Litespeed felt dull, but I can't figure out where he came up with that when I ride mine. If I were to sell off all of my 26" wheel bikes but one, this is the one I would probably keep.

As it sits right now it weighs at or just under 23lbs, which is about 3lbs lighter than my Yo.

Oh, and not to knock Ti Fats, but it's not like Fat cranked out very many of them, and I know they were all kind of a exercise in continuing education for whoever welded them up. Companies like Litespeed, Merlin and TST, well, that's all they did and they did it a lot, so consistancy was high. Yes I have seen frames from those companies crack, but there are also plenty of examples of early sleeved Ti Fats failing too.
i bought the obed sight unseen, new, after exchanging a couple of emails w/ litespeed where based on my height, they recommended an 18in (i am 5 9).
catalog numbers said the bike would have a 41in wheelbase. mine ( w/ judy fork from factory) measured 42in. that's a full inch of difference and maybe that's what made for th uninspiring handling.
i could twist the front while cornering. it felt really weird. i would enter the corner w/one feeling from bike and out of it w/ another.
the seat tube would creak constantly. there was an aluminum sleeve glued there and i suspect it was the source. then i swapped the seat collar, put a generous amount of ti prep (constantly) and it would stop.
all in all i couldn't be happier when i built an ibis mojo and sold the obed.
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Old October 15th, 2009, 12:25 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colker View Post
i bought the obed sight unseen, new, after exchanging a couple of emails w/ litespeed where based on my height, they recommended an 18in (i am 5 9).
catalog numbers said the bike would have a 41in wheelbase. mine ( w/ judy fork from factory) measured 42in. that's a full inch of difference and maybe that's what made for th uninspiring handling.
i could twist the front while cornering. it felt really weird. i would enter the corner w/one feeling from bike and out of it w/ another.
the seat tube would creak constantly. there was an aluminum sleeve glued there and i suspect it was the source. then i swapped the seat collar, put a generous amount of ti prep (constantly) and it would stop.
all in all i couldn't be happier when i built an ibis mojo and sold the obed.
I'll have to measure my wheelbase later. Mine should be right around 41.5 or so based on the 94 catalog.

Mine also doesn't feel inordinantly flexy, even under my 205lbs bulk. Could be McMahon spec'ed larger dia tubes. Who knows.

Also never had issues with creaking either, but obvious YMMV. Both the seat tube and head tube are sleeve, and the only creaking I've ever experienced was from the King headset I used to have installed. The sleeves are glued in, but also the fit is very tight regardless of a glue interface.
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Old October 15th, 2009, 1:32 PM   #8
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I'll have to measure my wheelbase later. Mine should be right around 41.5 or so based on the 94 catalog.

Mine also doesn't feel inordinantly flexy, even under my 205lbs bulk. Could be McMahon spec'ed larger dia tubes. Who knows.

Also never had issues with creaking either, but obvious YMMV. Both the seat tube and head tube are sleeve, and the only creaking I've ever experienced was from the King headset I used to have installed. The sleeves are glued in, but also the fit is very tight regardless of a glue interface.
mine was a 97. could have been a bad year. or worse; a bad out of spec frame. it was the most expensive frame i bought and not even close in ride quality to others i payed a fifth of the price.
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Old October 15th, 2009, 3:38 PM   #9
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mine was a 97. could have been a bad year. or worse; a bad out of spec frame. it was the most expensive frame i bought and not even close in ride quality to others i payed a fifth of the price.
Oh, wait, you bought the American version instead of the Brazilian didn't you. The American version was a hairier ride back then
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Old October 16th, 2009, 3:48 AM   #10
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Two or more is plenty...

Quote:
Originally Posted by IF52 View Post
How many were built? How many failures? What is the ratio. I would say based on what I've seen and heard 'plenty' fits the bill.
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Old October 16th, 2009, 9:56 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by smittylube View Post
Since the ti fats are pretty expensive, I have been peeking around at other makes.

Has anyone ridden the merlin, or litespeed or obed ti bikes? If so how do they compare in quality and ride?

Thanks, Steve
I've ridden them all. The lightspeed is good but not particularly interesting. The merlins are gorgeous and really nice if you like their geometry, I don't and thats why I never owned one. Ti Fats are nice too but imho a buck shaver rides nicer, is only a little heavier and costs a heck of a lot less.
The problem with ti fats in my not so humble opinion is that they tried too hard to make them stiff like a yo and in so doing missed out on a lot of what makes titanium interesting.

The best ride quality in vintage ti is an ibis ti mojo. I almost bought one back when I was shopping for my ti nuke proof. But ultimately I liked the geometry better on the nuke proof. I think my nuke proof ti rides nicer than a ti fat. Then again I am pretty light weight and I prefer a little more compliance in my frames. If it fit me better I'd be keeping it. I just am not interested in racing (or a racing position) on my mountain bikes anymore.
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Old October 16th, 2009, 10:30 AM   #12
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I agree that the Ti Mojo is very well done, but not cheap at all either. I have a early 90's Merlin and it rides nice, but it's not what I currently ride. I'd say for the price a mid to late 90's Merlin would be something to consider. Good Ti bikes are just not going to be inexpensive - as Chris Chance pointed out back then there are two grades of titanium aerospace spec and garbage.

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Old October 16th, 2009, 10:59 AM   #13
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Wow everyone has brought up alot of good points..

I am sort of inFATuated with the idea.. I guess I will just keep my eyes open for a good one when it comes available. My wicked rides killer, my carbon fiber blur xc rides amazing, so I guess I have time to lurk around for one.. I really like that nuke proof.. I wish you were closer so I could check the fit.


The other thing I was thinking was it would be nice to have disc brakes. I know canti and v work , but disc gives me more confidence overall when riding.

Steve
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Old October 17th, 2009, 10:55 AM   #14
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Default Mai Tai

There is a nice Ibis Mai Tai currently on ebay right now that would be suitable I think. The Mai Tai was a less expensive Ti bike from Ibis. However if you want disc brakes older bikes are not going to work and you'll be looking at Moots price range.
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Old October 19th, 2009, 5:05 PM   #15
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I currently ride a Ti Fat, '90 Merlin, and an '06 IF Ti Deluxe.
The IF is modern geometry and is custom made, so of course it rides like a dream and isn't a fair comparison.

The Ti Fat is very quick and meant for racing, but I wouldn't call it plush, smooth, or even light handling. My Wicked rides better than the Ti Fat. I'm thinking about swapping for a suspension fork (period correct, of course) and seeing if it helps.

The Merlin actually feels better on the trails than the Ti Fat, but it has roller cams and I'm just not sold on them. When stopping becomes an issue, I tend to ride a lot slower and consequently feel every little trail bump.
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Old October 28th, 2009, 12:43 PM   #16
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Upchuck, I'm glad to hear your opinion on this. I've always thought my Wicked rode better than my Ti...but thought I was just weird...

By the way, I just got rid of the front fork (period correct) on my Ti Fat and swapped it for an Iglehart TNESF, and plan to get a WTB 2.55 fatty tire on the front (not exactly period correct) to see if that works better. The problem with the old forks (mine is a Judy with carbon legs) is that they were kinda flexy. I never liked it, but it took me nearly 15 years to get rid of it!

-Raj
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