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HomeCyclingClassic Titanium Street Bike Shootout! – Bike Snob NYC

Classic Titanium Street Bike Shootout! – Bike Snob NYC


It’s my nice pleasure and privilege to proceed providing you this weblog in 2022, lengthy after the very thought of running a blog went out of trend and most practitioners of the craft both moved on to creating different types of content material or just acquired actual jobs. In order we ceremonially unwrap the brand-new pair of bib shorts that’s the new yr, I humbly submit that you just think about my phrases the chamois cream that helps ameliorate the irritation of your day. There comes a degree in all our lives after we should look again upon our deeds and asses their worth, and if my very own endeavors have served to distract and amuse you for even a second or two over time then I’ll think about mine worthwhile and my function upon this earth to have been fulfilled.

Although in fact I understand I’m principally this man, and I’m completely high quality with it:

Anyway, as a semi-professional bike blogger, I don’t have the form of entry to the latest and newest crabon surprise sleds that permits me to regale you with tales of their lateral stiffness and vertical compliance. I do, nonetheless, have the flexibility to dip freely into the bikes of yesteryear because of Traditional Cycle, and after placing in some respectable miles on the Colnago Bititan I lastly really feel able to current you with a…

Classic Titanium Shootout!

*[Editorial note: for those of you who are troubled that I’m not concerned enough about climate change, which I know is a thing because every so often somebody announces they won’t be reading anymore because of it, please note that all these photos have been recycled from other posts.]

Half I: The Bikes

2001 Litespeed Tuscany

Again in 2019 I grew to become the proprietor of this 2001 Litespeed Tuscany. Although it’s over 20 years previous, it doesn’t appear to be a classic bike to me, because it looks like solely yesterday I used to be an enthusiastic 20-something Fred coveting bikes similar to it. Since receiving it from Traditional Cycle and realizing my decades-old dream of changing into a self-important titanium bike proprietor (although arguably whenever you’re speaking about titanium bike house owners the “self-important” is implied), the one actual change I’ve made to it’s the wheels, although the Mavic Scaryums it initially got here with are nonetheless in service–at the moment on the Milwaukee, which I’ve principally given to my son:

1995 Colnago Bititan

In early November, after a reader bought the Davidson Impulse I’d been driving, Traditional Cycle despatched this Colnago Bititan instead. Whereas separated by a number of years, the Litespeed and the Colnago are nonetheless comparable bicycles, in that they’re each pure street bikes with titanium frames and conventional wheels. So how do they evaluate? Let’s toss them in a hoop like a few gamecocks and allow them to battle it out in some key classes.

Craftsmanship

I’m fairly neglectful with regards to cleansing and don’t actually thoughts wanting down between my legs and seeing one thing dirty. (Should you’re questioning whether or not that final sentence was about bikes or private hygiene, the reply is “sure.”) Nevertheless, I’m additionally paradoxically illiberal of imperfections; for instance, the myriad discolorations and blemishes on my Ritte Rust Bucket secretly drove me loopy, regardless of how a lot I attempted to persuade myself it was simply patina. I’d additionally argue that street bikes must be held to a better commonplace, since rolling alongside on pavement mile after mile affords you ample alternative to note (and obsess over) imperfections.

The Litespeed affords me no alternative in anyway to fuss over such issues. The body is fastidiously assembled and virtually antiseptic in its perfection. The tubing can also be gracefully formed and swoopy, and whereas I do not know to what diploma this contributes to the bike’s experience high quality, it’s definitely good to take a look at and enhances your sense you’re driving one thing particular.

I don’t know something about metalworking so can’t say whether or not or not the welds on the Colnago are “higher” or “worse” than these on the LItespeed. Additionally, they’re below paint. Nevertheless, I’ll say the Colnago foregoes the swoopy tubing and the pump peg for the trademark “Grasp”-profile high tube and naturally the break up downtube, each of which purportedly stiffen the bike:

Should you consider what individuals say on the Web, Bititans had been liable to breakage, although apparently later examples corresponding to this one had been extra dependable. Both manner, the angular nature of the Colnago’s building makes it appear extra weaponlike than the Litespeed, and whereas the break up downtube mayor might or might not make the body stiffer, it does imply that you just’ll discover a gritty skunk stripe in your water bottle when the street is moist.

Winner: Litespeed

Compatibility

Titanium, we inform ourselves, is the perfect materials for a “eternally bike.” Positive, you’ll fall for the following gimmick lengthy earlier than you put on out your tires, not to mention your body, however let’s simply faux for a second that your titanium bike is in actual fact the final one you’ll ever purchase. Is it on the street to obsolescence? Whereas the Litespeed sports activities rim brakes and “tight” clearances by trendy requirements, I’ll exit on a limb and counsel you’ll be capable to simply supply substitute pads and 25mm tires for at the very least the following 30 years. The identical factor goes for inch-and-an-eighth threadless forks, stems, and headsets. Even quick-relase hubs with 130mm spacing should not in imminent hazard of going extinct, thru-axles however. And naturally the normal threaded backside bracket shell has confirmed so boringly practical that firms like Specialised are returning to it, even for his or her most “superior” crabon bikes.

In the meantime, all the above can also be true for the Colnago, although ought to it’s good to change the one-inch threaded fork or convert it to threadless you might need fewer aftermarket choices. Then once more, barring a serious incident corresponding to a collision, you’ll in all probability by no means want to switch the metal fork on the Colnago. Plus, the threaded setup arguably makes the bike extra future-compliant, because it’s that a lot simpler to lift the bars as you age.

Winner: Draw

Aesthetics

I’d characterize the appears of the Litespeed as clear and swish, if possibly somewhat dated because of the decals and fade job on the fork.

The Colnago is flashy bordering on garish. On the similar time, I get a praise just about each time I head out on the Colnago, whereas I nearly by no means get one on the Litespeed. And whereas I’ve all the time been somewhat ambivalent about Colnago’s paint jobs, I admit this modified as soon as I truly began driving one. I significantly like the combo of metallic blue and naked titanium, and the straight-blade metal fork appeals to me rather more than the plastic one on the Litespeed.

Winner: Colnago

Heritage

[Photo: Graham Watson]

Being a more moderen American firm, Litespeeds had been largely the area of monied masters racers and uber-competitive Freds typically–although they did briefly present bikes for crew Lotto earlier than starting their aluminum bike loss of life spiral:

Keep in mind when each aluminum bike needed to have crabon stays although it did nothing besides make the bike heavier? That was hilarious.

Colnago alternatively has heritage oozing out of its bib shorts. The place do you even start? Right here’s Abraham Olano successful the 1995 World Championship street race on a Bititan…although even they weren’t resistant to the aluminum-with-crabon-stays craze:

Winner: Colnago

Founder’s Charisma

David Lynskey assembles bikes himself and appears like he drives a Chevy Suburban to Dwelling Depot.

Ernesto Colnago is a cardinal, claims to have invented every little thing in biking (together with the titanium bicycle), and appears likes he drives round in a Ferrari with a 22 year-old mistress.

Winner: Colnago*

*[Disclaimer: these are superficial observations based on wardrobe and regional stereotypes, I know nothing of the lifestyles of either one of these men. For all I know David Lysnkey is ripping around Chatanooga in a Ferrari chasing tail while Ernesto Colnago does the crossword in his bathrobe all day. Actually, looking closer at them both, they may be the same person.]

“Fred Issue”

“With the eye to element on the rear triangle, the body is extremely stiff whenever you’re laying down the ability, however pleasingly (for us in London at the very least) additionally it is vertically compliant.” — RoadcyclingUK

“…the BiTitan is a good all-around bike. It’s gentle and nimble, excellent for jockeying in place for the sector dash.” — Bicycle Information

Winner: Draw

Conclusion:

Like a silly pet or a nightclubber on Ecstacy, I are likely to fall in love with no matter bike I occur to be driving on the time. The Bititan has been no exception, and as I stomped up a climb or splayed myself out over the cockpit in these Spinacis, some passing Fred’s “Good bike!” remark nonetheless ringing in my ears (I get handed loads, which makes it simple for individuals to gaze upon my bikes), I’d catch myself pondering, “Perhaps I ought to promote the comparatively staid Litespeed and change into a classic Colnago man.” However changing into a Colnago man is form of like changing into an orgy man, and when it comes right down to it I’m not prepared for the Assos and unguents and white footwear it might take for me to completely embrace the approach to life.

Extra importantly, as I discovered once I flirted with the thought of pivoting to the Davidson, each time I get again on the Litespeed I instantly understand, “Nope, that is the street bike for me.” Moreover, so constantly happy am I with it that since divesting myself of my crabon Fred sled I haven’t appeared again for a second. “Perpetually bike?” Who is aware of. However I think my ageing physique will reject clipless pedals and drop bars lengthy earlier than I’m compelled to switch it. (That’s not a very daring prediction, both, because it’s already beginning to occur.)

Should you’ll pardon the banal and phallocentric simile, I’ve all the time felt {that a} street bike is sort of a go well with, in that you must all the time have at the very least one, even if you happen to solely use it sometimes. Moreover, it might stand to motive that this go well with must be each traditional and cozy, and as suited to a festive perform as it’s to a funeral. For me, the Litespeed is that timeless go well with, whereas the Colnago is possibly somewhat dated–the lapels somewhat too huge and glossy, the crotch a bit too tight–although I ought to level out this distinction speaks not simply to the Colnago’s attributes, but in addition to my lowering potential to tug it off.

So whereas the general winner stands out as the Litespeed, the actual winner is time. You’ll be able to’t hold reaching into these drops eternally; in the end the bars want to come back as much as you as a substitute.

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