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  • Ever during its heyday in the 90s, titanium has always been considered a luxurious material. Titanium bikes were deemed as being something that only cyclists with deep pockets could afford. Fast-forward twenty years, and todays [Titanium bikes](https://www.ribblecycles.co.uk/bikes/titanium-bikes/ are far more affordable. But what is it about this material that makes it the ultimate frame material in cycling? Why is it held in such esteem, and what makes titanium bikes worth the extra money? Let's investigate...

  • A brief history of titanium

  • Above image: Raw titanium

    We'll start the titanium story with a brief tale of discovery, which led to a seemingly insignificant material becoming one of the most important elements on the planet. Titanium was a chance discovery by one William Gregor of Cornwall way back in 1791. However, the actual naming of this new wonder material can be attributed to a German chemist by the name of Martin Heinrich Klaproth. The titanium moniker he chose comes from the titans of Greek mythology.

    Now as many of you may or may not know, the chemical symbol for Titanium is Ti. Which is why you will often hear the name foreshortened to 'Ti' in many industries; this is especially true in cycling circles where titanium bikes are regarded with a certain reverence.

    Titanium first saw mass use during the Cold war, when the former USSR pioneered its use in maritime and aeronautical construction. The US quickly followed suit, leading to a worldwide shortage as the entire available supply was allocated to constructing weapons of war! It was only the thawing of the cold war that allowed the industrial sector to get their hands on this revolutionary material and explore its uses for commercial purposes.

    Given its inherent properties, titanium looked to be an attractive proposition for the manufacture of bicycle frames. Sure enough, three enterprising companies began to experiment with the material as early as the swinging sixties. It wasn't until the 70s, however, that the first prototypes started to hit the market. Though unfortunately these early framesets all exhibited the exact same flaw - they were too soft!

    Now this could be construed as being a little problematical, particularly when it comes to riding a bike. After all, who wants to ride around on something that has all the riding characteristics of a sponge? Once again, it was those clever military boffins who came riding to the rescue. They discovered that by combining titanium with certain alloys, it was possible to achieve the inherent strength and resiliency required to produce a multitude of products, including bicycle frames and componentry. And so, a new generation of frames was born!

  • The properties of titanium

  • Above Image: The Endurance Ti is the endurance road bike in our multi-discipline titanium range.

  • So, what is it about Titanium that makes it such a fine fit for the cycling industry? And what are its most sought after properties?

    • Durability – An exceptionally high fatigue-to-strength ratio means that a properly engineered Titanium frame can last a lifetime - literally.
    • Weight – The only material that comes close to matching the ride characteristics of titanium is steel. Yet to do so, the steel tubing needs to be thicker, adding unwanted weight. Therefore, a titanium frame will be comparably lighter than an equivalent steel model.
    • Strength – The strength- to-weight density of titanium is higher than any other metallic element. Yes, you read this correctly, ANY other element!!
    • Compliance – Similarly to steel, Titanium has great vibration damping properties, making for a smoother ride over uneven surfaces.
    • Corrosion-resistance – It's not subject to the same oxidisation that can afflict steel bikes (rust).
    • Stiffness - A well-built Ti frame is extremely stiff. Thus, improving power transfer and resulting in better pedalling efficiency.

    Now there is one fact that cannot be ignored. Titanium frames are more expensive than comparable frames manufactured from all other materials. The main reason for this is that it is incredibly difficult to work with. Since it can only be welded in a vacuum, it requires specialist equipment which is very expensive to procure. Then, of course, you have to factor in the cost of a highly skilled workforce capable of working in such a unique environment. Thankfully the continued evolution of the frame building process has led to titanium bikes becoming a more affordable option when it comes to choosing your dream bike.

  • Above Image: We think you'll agree that the Gravel Ti is a bit of a looker!

  • Why you should buy Titanium

  • In short, it is the combination of durability, strength and the exceptionally smooth ride quality that entices people into investing in a Ti frame. Not only is it extremely robust but it also has the ability to shrug off impacts that could potentially result in frames constructed from other materials being written off.

    Ti frames are stunning! A guaranteed head-turner and compliment receiver. There's simply something magical about those classical lines and brushed finish that makes a ti bike very easy on the eye. They also allow frame builders to exercise their creativity, adding subtle finishing touches for that extra bling factor. (See image below).

  • Above Image: Titanium allows our frame builders to exhibit their creative flair, adding intricate details such as this Ribble Valley logo on the HT Ti hardtail.

  • Finally, and possibly most importantly of all is that supple titanium ride quality. Any fans of steel frames will tell you that the comfort they offer is second to none. Titanium is more than a match for steel when it comes to compliance yet because its lighter, titanium bikes are more agile and responsive to every rider input. Their inherent ability to dampen vibrations from uneven surfaces ensures that the rider is isolated from the fatigue-inducing effects of 'road buzz'. Don't think of a Ti bike as a luxury purchase, think of it as more of a long-term investment. If you buy Ti, it can truly be your lifetime riding companion.

  • Above Image: The all-road capable CGR Ti is the most versatile bike in our titanium lineup.

  • Almost as strong as titanium and more compliant than aluminium or carbon, discover why steel is enjoying a renaissance in our homage to steel bikes.

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