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Ti Bike: "The Last Bike You'll Ever Buy" What About Carbon Bikes?

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Ti Bike: "The Last Bike You'll Ever Buy" What About Carbon Bikes?

Old 06-06-21, 07:00 PM
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Bassmanbob
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Ti Bike: "The Last Bike You'll Ever Buy" What About Carbon Bikes?

I've been saving for a titanium bike for a while, and I have over half saved up for it. One of the big reasons I'm saving for a titanium bike is that I've heard that it's the last bike you'll ever buy, meaning it should feel good, ride well and last longer than I will (I'm 56). I don't mind spending extra money on my interests if there is value to the purchase. So I asked a buddy of mine about how long should a well maintained carbon fiber bike last. He said that as long as it's taken well care of, longer than I'll be alive. I currently ride a 2014 Cannondale SuperSix Evo 3, and I like the ride of this bike. It gets done what I want it to do, even on the occasional long, century ride.

So are titanium bikes the only bikes that last forever, or is that just a marketing tool for their promotion? Do carbon fiber frames last 20- 30 years? Is there something I'm also missing?
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Old 06-06-21, 07:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Bassmanbob View Post
So are titanium bikes the only bikes that last forever, or is that just a marketing tool for their promotion?
I've never heard a marketing claim that wasn't 100% true, so you're probably good to go.
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Old 06-06-21, 07:17 PM
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This is 100% true. You'll absolutely fall in love with that titanium bike. You're friends and family, and strangers on the street will grow tired of your constant blathering about ride quality. You'll frequent all the titanium threads here, and soon get banned from all the steel is real and carbon is [insert whatever carbon is here] threads.

But the hook is "lasting forever" is not the same as "the last bike you'll ever buy".

When your frame cracks for no apparent reason and you're demi god frame builder washes their hands of you you'll be so embarrassed that you'll walk away from cycling forever. No more bikes for you.
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Old 06-06-21, 07:57 PM
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Any frame material can fail.

Ti has a reputation for durability as it won’t rust and should not break even from a crash the way carbon might. But as a recent thread showed, even a Ti frame can crack or break.
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Old 06-06-21, 08:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Bassmanbob View Post
I've heard that it's the last bike you'll ever buy
Well why the **** would I want to buy one of those, then?
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Old 06-06-21, 08:08 PM
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe View Post
I've never heard a marketing claim that wasn't 100% true, so you're probably good to go.
Originally Posted by znomit View Post
This is 100% true. You'll absolutely fall in love with that titanium bike. You're friends and family, and strangers on the street will grow tired of your constant blathering about ride quality. You'll frequent all the titanium threads here, and soon get banned from all the steel is real and carbon is [insert whatever carbon is here] threads.

But the hook is "lasting forever" is not the same as "the last bike you'll ever buy".

When your frame cracks for no apparent reason and you're demi god frame builder washes their hands of you you'll be so embarrassed that you'll walk away from cycling forever. No more bikes for you.
When I first came to Bike Forums in May 2014, I was told to have thick skin in the Road Cycling forums. Now I see why. OK. I'll take what I have coming.
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Old 06-06-21, 08:11 PM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
Well why the **** would I want to buy one of those, then?
LOL. I was trying to change the n + 1 equation to mean that other types of bicycles would eventually be added, like a tandem, MTN bike, gravel bike, etc... So the titanium bike would be my last road bike.
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Old 06-06-21, 08:29 PM
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I'm pretty sure that any bike will last forever...especially if you don't really use it. By extension, then, every bike has a lifetime depending on how it's used.

I rode the same carbon fiber forks for 20 years. I'd ride a carbon fiber frame for 20 years. Would 20 years get you to the end of your cycling life? I hope not, but it might.

I have a Ti bike. I also have carbon fiber, steel, and aluminum bikes. My oldest steel bike is 44 years old, including its leather bits like the saddle and aluminum bits like the cranks, rims, stem, seatpost, and hubs. I hope the Ti bike lasts as long as I want it to, but I also hope it is not my last bike.
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Old 06-06-21, 11:38 PM
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The thing about titanium frames I'm divided upon is that they are frozen in time in geometry and standards. They seem to be bikes for life though.

I have 3 titanium bike frames from the 1990's .
​​​​​​ Two are mountain bikes and the other is a cx bike.


Modern standards are better, but these frames of mine are out of date.

As far as it goes, I think titanium is beautiful. The ride is responsive. My 3 are bikes for life.
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Old 06-07-21, 02:48 AM
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I bought my first carbon bike three years ago and if I was to keep it for 30 years I wouldn't be worried about riding it.

But I'm probably going to sell it. It's honestly the best bike I ever had, smoother than any steel bike and stupid light. But something about the overall feel of carbon just doesn't sit right. Can't even explain what it is. I just prefer bikes made from metal.
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Old 06-07-21, 02:55 AM
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The only bad thing about most titanium bikes is the carbon fiber fork.

There, I said it.
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Old 06-07-21, 04:34 AM
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My 1999 Merlin Road standard Ti frame is as good as the day I picked it up at the Merlin factory in MA in '99, as is the Time Equipe carbon fork. I've ridden the bike daily for near 22 years. The frame/fork is great but finding parts for my Campy 9 speed is harder and harder.
Most bikes last 'forever' if stored properly and cared for with some regularity. I repair bikes as my local LBS and am always working on old Schwinn's, Ross', etc. from the '70's and earlier. Most are in awful condition but are made rideable and work very well even after sitting in a shed for perhaps decades. New tires/tubes, chain, cables/housings, brake pads and a good tuneup restores then to good working condition. Can't do much for rusted rims but you'd be surprised what some steel wool will do.
It depends on what the expectations are for the bike. As a neighborhood cruiser they work just fine.
Old 5 speed friction stuff lasts forever or at least they seem to.
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Old 06-07-21, 06:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Sorcerer View Post
The thing about titanium frames I'm divided upon is that they are frozen in time in geometry and standards.
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Huh? I don’t think that is true. Ti is built to the same geo and standards as any other bike material. Want slacker HTA and greater tire clearance for gravel? No problem. T47 bottom bracket shell or BB386? No problems. Needless to say, tapered HTs and steerer tubes, thru-axles, flat mount discs, Di2 ports, and bits like that are all pretty standard spec on Ti frames.

Even design and aesthetic standards are up-to-date, with oversized and heavily shaped tubes being commonly used.

But maybe you have something else in mind?
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Old 06-07-21, 07:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Bassmanbob View Post
So are titanium bikes the only bikes that last forever, or is that just a marketing tool for their promotion? Do carbon fiber frames last 20- 30 years? Is there something I'm also missing?
Just google 'titanium bike frame broken' and you will see that they dont necessarily last forever. Same with carbon, same with steel, same with aluminum.

Any frame material can last 30 years, it just depends on how frequently its used, how much its used, how it is used, and luck of the draw.
Any frame material can break in 2 years, it just depends on how frequently its used, how much its used, how it is used, and luck of the draw.

Glad thats settled.
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Old 06-07-21, 08:07 AM
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Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
Huh? I don’t think that is true. Ti is built to the same geo and standards as any other bike material. Want slacker HTA and greater tire clearance for gravel? No problem. T47 bottom bracket shell or BB386? No problems. Needless to say, tapered HTs and steerer tubes, thru-axles, flat mount discs, Di2 ports, and bits like that are all pretty standard spec on Ti frames.

Even design and aesthetic standards are up-to-date, with oversized and heavily shaped tubes being commonly used.

But maybe you have something else in mind?
What I meant is that in my situation, I bought a new titanium frame in 1996 and while it is a great frame for life, it obviously doesn't have the modern standards such as through axle, disc brake, tapered head tube, slacker geo, fit wider tires, etc.

​​​​​​I've got 1994, and 2002 titanium frames as well. I really love these bikes, but they really cannot be reasonably modified. I've considered getting a disc brake mount welded on, it can be done, but it is so expensive that it makes more sense to me to buy a new frame.

So what I am trying to say is that while a titanium frame (or any other material bike frame for that matter) maybe for life, the frame itself doesn't stay young. The bicycle industry will inevitably move on to different standards and render some aspects of a frame obsolete.

That said, it's not a disappointment to own and ride an old titanium bicycle for me. I keep them running smooth and quiet. They are well equipped and so far I haven't had a problem finding parts when I need them.

Just wanted to point out that a frame will dictate tire and wheel size.

My all-arounder Dean titanium custom Torres cross bike has 33mm tubeless tires and fits fenders. That's the biggest tire set-up I can properly fit in the rear. It has cantilever brakes in the rear, and an Avid BB7 mechanical disc brake in the front on the end of a carbon aluminum lugged fork.

That CX bike is very fine, comfortable, and capable but compared to something contemporary like a carbon Salsa Warbird, my bike is old and full of personality.
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Old 06-07-21, 08:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Sorcerer View Post
What I meant is that in my situation, I bought a new titanium frame in 1996 and while it is a great frame for life, it obviously doesn't have the modern standards such as through axle, disc brake, tapered head tube, slacker geo, fit wider tires, etc.
How is that different from any other bike? Bike standards and geometry are products of the time the frame is designed and built. It's not like I can take a carbon frame built in 2005 and snap my fingers and *poof* it conforms to the standards of today. What is the norm and standard for today will become outdated and retro at some point, regardless of the material used in construction.
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Old 06-07-21, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by datlas View Post
Any frame material can fail.

Ti has a reputation for durability as it won’t rust and should not break even from a crash the way carbon might. But as a recent thread showed, even a Ti frame can crack or break.
Originally Posted by UCantTouchThis View Post
I know a rider who rode a ti bike bike that broke at the downtube. Everything and anything can break.
Of course it's true that any frame material can fail. But it is simply not possible for all materials to fail at the same rate or in the same manner. One material or another absolutely must fail more often and/or more catastrophically than others. This fact is often ignored or side stepped in these frame material threads.

Maybe it doesn't matter. If the most failure prone material* still fails at an extremely low rate, why care? Then again, if that failure is more likely than other material failures to lead to a serious injury inducing crash, some might care.

*CF
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Old 06-07-21, 09:38 AM
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If you're going to buy a new bike, get the one you like the most. The one with the features you want, that rides the way you want, and you like the way it looks. Don't buy a bike just because you think it may "last longer" than some other bike. If that's your criteria than you can buy a 75 pound industrial bike.
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Old 06-07-21, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
Well why the **** would I want to buy one of those, then?
+1. New bike days are always nice. Except for our girlfriends, they don't like those.
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Old 06-07-21, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by datlas View Post
Any frame material can fail.

Ti has a reputation for durability as it won’t rust and should not break even from a crash the way carbon might. But as a recent thread showed, even a Ti frame can crack or break.
CF has no fatigue limit. Steel, AL and TI all do.
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Old 06-07-21, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by nomadmax View Post
The only bad thing about most titanium bikes is the carbon fiber fork.

There, I said it.
Then why is it many TI bikes have replaced everything possible with CF?
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Old 06-07-21, 10:49 AM
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If you're afraid of CF breaking, good job on choosing a Ti bike with the most safety critical part being made out of CF. 😂

Meh. In the end, in ten years all the compounded improvements will make getting a new bike attractive and the bikes wear over time. Plus, scratches from falls accumulate, jumping over potholes and speed bumps can cause material fatigue or similar issues, and it will be a perfect time to sell it and ride on something fresh.

​​​​​​On the other hand I know plenty of people riding 15 year old CF bikes without issue
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Old 06-07-21, 11:13 AM
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I'm riding a 2005 CF frame that will probably outlast me. It was pretty high-end back then, maybe that's a factor in longevity.
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Old 06-07-21, 11:36 AM
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Originally Posted by datlas View Post
Any frame material can fail.

Ti has a reputation for durability as it won’t rust and should not break even from a crash the way carbon might. But as a recent thread showed, even a Ti frame can crack or break.
Originally Posted by UCantTouchThis View Post
I know a rider who rode a ti bike bike that broke at the downtube. Everything and anything can break.
Quality control and workmanship count for more with titanium than any other common bike frame material. Impurities in the welds are a very big issue. So is welding skill. Done right, a ti frame will last a long time and go many miles. Very small acts of carelessness show up as yet another broken ti frame. (Also, like all materials, some are simply built too light. But adequately spec'd and ridden within the builder's intent of use, a ti frame will last a very long time. Like steel, most of us will not live long enough for fatigue to into play.

Originally Posted by nomadmax View Post
The only bad thing about most titanium bikes is the carbon fiber fork.

There, I said it.
I agree, My two ti frames have steel forks. (And a good steel fork is a sweet stiffness match for the ti frame. All frame members are supported at both ends. Going for a material twice as stiff for the fork works out really well. 37,000 miles later, I don't regret that choice one bit.)

Originally Posted by popeye View Post
CF has no fatigue limit. Steel, AL and TI all do.
Steel and titanium have a fatigue threshold. Keep stresses under that number and the stress cycles to cause it to break is ridiculously high. We don't live that long. My conservatively spec'd and built Mooney has 50,000 miles on it and is probably not yet at half its lifespan. (Aluminum does not have such a threshold. All stresses add up the eventual failure. Sophomore engineering materials and metallurgy.)

The other aspect that affects bicycle frame lifespan is damage from unintended events like clumsy tool use, fall-overs while parked, car rack accidents, etc. Also crashes though it cam be argued either way as to whether the near given of enough riding miles as intended or not. Ti is rather good at surviving those incidents.

Bare ti also lends itself to welded repairs and easy refinishing. (One of my customs had a detail that didn't quite pan out after riding. You'd never guess the cut and welded change wasn't planned.) And on that note - as a "forever" bike, one gets to make significant changes down the road. Add this, subtract this. (I stop by TiCycles fairly regularly. I see high end ti frames from other builders in to have changes made; often bikes with real miles on them.)
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Old 06-07-21, 11:39 AM
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There's nothing special about Ti in terms of frame longevity. These days it's more of an aesthetic/classic/exclusive/sentimental thing. Some people just like the look and simplicity of a fine hand-crafted Ti frame.
But if none of that emotional stuff appeals, or you simply want the best in modern frame technology, then CF is the way to go. No reason why a CF bike can't last a lifetime too.
With my engineering hat on I would say that a well designed CF frame would more than likely outlast a welded Ti frame. But both should last for decades if well maintained.
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