Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ti, Die

There's isn't much that I don't understand about KHE's prototype titanium flatland frame. Honestly, I only have one question:

Why?

Here's KHE's explanation (which can be found by following the link above): "We'll build up a bike with all the lightweight parts we can find in our warehouse to see how far we can push the limits. How light can a serious bike become? You can check out the bike at the next Eurobike for sure."

Interesting. Stupid, but interesting. Look, titanium is a great material to make bike frames from. According to roadies and hardtail MTB types, it has a ride quality that can't be duplicated with steel or aluminum or carbon fiber. It's lightweight, corrosion-resistant, and super resilient. Of course it's also difficult to work with (just ask Eastern) and expensive as hell, which is how you wind up with things like a $3,200 road frame and a $9,000 commuter bike. Companies offer cheaper titanium, but you run the risk of getting a frame made from melted-down MIGs and old Chernobyl core rods.

BMX bikes, though? Not so much. Taj had someone fabricate a titanium Barcode and he hated it because it was so flexy (scroll about 2/3 of the way down). And you don't see those ti Grim Reapers advertised in Dan's anymore.

And I love that KHE asks "how far we can push the limits," like they may find some magical parts in their warehouse that will allow them to build a six-pound complete bike. If the ti frame weighs 2.16 pounds, and their top-of-the-line complete flat bike weighs in at 17.2 pounds (and costs $1,900), a complete built with the ti frame should weigh roughly two pounds less than that. That is, unless they decide to drill a bunch of holes in everything just to show off and make it even less rideable than it is already.

Which leads one to ponder, what exactly constitutes a serious bike? Flatland bikes may not have to stand up to 20-stair drops to flat, but they take a lot of abuse that a "regular" BMX bike never will, being pulled and spun and tweaked in multiple directions at once. Don't believe me? Check out this bike I shot at a jam this summer:


So even if you could build a 15-pound flatland bike (that would retail for roughly $3,000, of course), what's the point if it would just twist up like a pretzel the second a serious rider put it through its paces? Why not try and make a lightweight frame out of aluminum (already been done, I know) or some sort of carbon composite? Titanium? We've been down that road before. It's going to be light. It's going to be expensive. And it's going to suck.

•••••••••••••

And now for something completely different.


27 comments:

Anonymous said...

didn't eastern only make 50 of the Ti frames?

peglessEBCo said...

every time i see taj's titanium bike i think its one of the best looking bikes ever. i love the color of titanium.

steve said...

i remember reading about the twisted frame. um sure centrifugal force doesn't have enough power to twist a frame. that is because he did SSOO many hopwhips

i agree that ti sucks. and there should not be a bmx frame made of it. maybe a race frame? maybe they just need to thicken parts of it. they do have 10 months to test what they willl test. all i know is sean burns won't be riding it.

Anonymous said...

http://bmxmuseum.com/forums/viewtopic.php?id=75026

Russ said...

Whoppers are a part of flatland though, are they not? Wouldn't it be silly to actually limit yourself and spend upwards of $1,200 for the privilege?

Ti race frames have been done. Doesn't really make sense in BMX racing where all that matters is power transfer. Carbon or aluminum makes a lot more sense.

bill said...

with the exception of the really short top tube, this Ti frame will be appealing to these new-school-whipper street kids.

Lettusdude said...

God damnit I want a 21" cs 990 barcode!

robbosstache said...

next week should be an all ozzy and sabbath week of youtubage at the end of posts...

Anonymous said...

Ti race frames have been done. Doesn't really make sense in BMX racing where all that matters is power transfer.

If I remember right, the one I had when I was really little, a Titan, had a couple extra tubes running from the TT to the BB shell (and maybe one between the DT and seat tube) to counteract the flex, and it was fine. I was tiny, though.

If a company made a full-size ti frame as heavy as its chromoly counterparts, taking advantage of the material instead of just showing it off on a scale, using thicker tubing and some extra bracing, it would probably be awesome.

And it would cost $9000.

Ben said...

I would definitly buy some glow in the dark titanium Chernobyl core rods pedals!
It is a damn good idea...

Anonymous said...

Ti itself doesn't suck, performance-wise. The problem is getting tubesets made to specs that will work for heavy abuse. Using road bike-thin tubes obviously won't work. Just like with 853/supertherm and the other high-end steels. Until a year and a half ago, you could not purchase those steels in bmx-worthy thicknesses. Thanks to S&M and others for breaking that barrier.
If bmx/mtb ever generates enough demand to make thicker-walled ti tubing, then we could end up with ti frames that are up to snuff.

Anonymous said...

PS - the cost may always be an issue with Ti, but some e-BMXers have proven themselves willing to drop $2K on a bike... why would the escalation stop?

Russ said...

A thick-walled ti frame. I assume bigger diameter tubuing would reduce flex, too. So, basically a frame that looked exactly like an AOD but weighed five pounds. Intriguing.

But no.

Loop said...

I don't really see the point in talking this kind of thing down.

"We'll build up a bike... You can check out the bike at the next Eurobike for sure."

So it's like the very best we can do even if we don't really intend to sell anything like this blah blah... just like the whole concept car thing? What's wrong with that?

Interesting. Stupid, but interesting.

BMX is stupid. That's why it's so much fun isn't it?

like they may find some magical parts in their warehouse

How do you know what they've got in the back of their lab?

It's going to be expensive. And it's going to suck.

There are few sports where the average amateur participant rides the same equipment as the top professionals. No one is saying this frame is for general consumption.

Yes this frame/bike will be extraordinarily expensive, probably prohibitively so but if anyone genuinely prepared to spend that kind of cash will either know that this setup will suit them or they just have more money than sense.

This frame is a completely unnecessary development and is all the better for it. If we pared life down to the bare necessities life would suck (the bear necessities would be a different matter entirely...).

Also, I would love a frame made from ex-Soviet hardware!

Darren H said...

Didn't Dragonfly make a Mike S. signature ti frame for him a few years ago?

Rob D said...

Chernobyl core rods. hahaha All I could think of was Call of Duty 4. Don't act like everyone doesn't play that game.

.michael.philip.okiver.mcneill. said...

yes darren, they did

Russ said...

The thing is, KHE already makes that 17-pound complete flat bike. Is there really a need to make something lighter?

Look, I've said it a billion times, and I'm sure I'll say it a few billion more. I'M NOT AGAINST INNOVATION. But a titanium bike frame ISN'T innovation. Litespeed and Merlin were doing those 25 years ago. When I read "how far we can push the limits," I'm thinking carbon fiber rims (although those have been done too) or a freecoaster carved from a papaya. Building a ti frame is just jerking off in public—people will look, but they probably won't be impressed.

Anonymous said...

They sure were impressed when I did it.

Anonymous said...

"...Just like with 853/supertherm and the other high-end steels. Until a year and a half ago, you could not purchase those steels in bmx-worthy thicknesses. Thanks to S&M and others for breaking that barrier."

S&M has been using supertherm for well over a year and a half, and Standard has been using OX Platinum even longer. Your time frame is way, way off.

Reggi Jackson's jerry curl said...

"Building a ti frame is just jerking off in public—people will look, but they probably won't be impressed." You must not have a big Wang Chung Tonight! They should make odi lock on grips with titanium. that would be "innovative" I want, no i NEED ti cable crimps! that would be SIIIICK. Ti brake levers!?yes, take notes Colony. Ti, Die? OHH, I just now got that. How about ti dyed titanium?!! AWESOME!!!!!!!!!

Russ said...

Yeah, I bought my first OX STA in, I don't know, 2004?

steve said...

loop and russ both equally hit the nail on the head

Ty said...

Anyone remember the GT Alum with pinned carbon tubes that fell apart in a bmxplus test? Maybe KHE should try that.

noel said...

Engage the caterpillar drive!

JOSHW said...

How the fuck are we not talking about Yngwie Malmsteen being completely fat and washed out???? That is what is important. Fuck BMX.

Anonymous said...

Ty, wasn't that a Supercross frame that did that?