Wednesday, August 12, 2009

TitanFlex Tri/TT Bike

The TCSD 25th Anniversary party is next month, and one of the largest gifts from a Club Sponsor is Tom Piszkin's HUGE donation of a pair of $2000 gift certificates, applicable toward the purchase of a TitanFlex bicycle. For more about Tom, see: http://www.ttinet.com/tf/about.htm

I only recently added aero bars to my road bike, and I'm still not comfortable with them. So I haven't even been thinking about getting a triathlon / time-trial (T/TT) bicycle. But Tom's generous gift to the club changed all that. There is a chance, however small, that I could win a new T/TT bicycle at the TCSD 25th Anniversary party!

I had to learn more. First stop, the TitanFlex web site: http://www.ttinet.com/tf/index.htm

My road bike is a light-weight carbon princess ('06 Trek Madone SL 5.2 triple, where "SL" stands for Super Lightweight). It was never intended to be put on a bike rack for a long road trip (I have a hybrid bike for that), nor to be shipped cross-country very often. It's my "home" bike.

However, if I ever get really serious about this triathlon stuff, I will want to participate in competitions all over the country (time and funds permitting). And to do that, I will want a bike that is as light as possible, while also being rugged enough to take lots of abuse while traveling. To me, that means a metal frame, since carbon can easily suffer hidden damage from even a minor ding or accident, causing invisible internal damage that can eventually result in catastrophic failure.

My younger brother, a bike fanatic, owns a pair of titanium bikes, a road bike and a mountain bike. They've taken tons of abuse, and don't even show a ding, dent or major scratch. And the frames alone each cost around $3000 new. As a 52 year-old age-grouper, that's just slightly beyond my budget.

Which leaves aluminum. I've been a fan of aluminum bikes since I bought my first "fat downtube" Cannondale road bike in 1986. At that time, no bike that weighed less had a better ride combined with better stiffness than my Cannondale. I loved that bike so much that I never got rid of it: I'm in the process of turning it into my indoor perma-trainer bike.

My hybrid bike is a cheap aluminum Trek, and it has taken huge amounts of abuse without a wimper. It has never needed anything more than chain lube, tires, and an occasional tune-up.

So, unless some other miracle frame material comes along that is as rugged, as light, and as inexpensive as aluminum, that's the material I want the frame of my T/TT bike to be made from.

The TitanFlex frame is aluminum, except for one key part, the boom, which is titanium. Read more about the TitanFlex frame concept and implementation here: http://www.ttinet.com/tf/technology.htm and here: http://www.ttinet.com/tf/reviews.htm

The TitanFlex frame is very light. Why? Because the design uses less material than "regular" bikes. Less material means less weight, no matter what material is used. The TitanFlex frame weighs less than many carbon frames!

There are several TitanFlex frame styles (http://www.ttinet.com/tf/products.htm), and the one I'd want on my gift list (or raffle list) is the "Veteran 700c medium" frame with the "Rocky Road" boom (see http://www.ttinet.com/tf/build.htm for details).

So, I contacted Tom, to see if I could get a demo ride on a TitanFlex. More about our conversation in my next post.

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