The history and future of the Titanium bike frame
In the 1990s, titanium had its heyday as a viable high-end frame material.
It was lighter than steel, stronger than aluminum and easier to work with than carbon fiber.Numerous manufacturers jumped on the bandwagon,but perhaps none of it would have happened had it not been for the Cold War.
Titanium in the bicycle frame format has a long history,Started making bikes made of titanium in the 1960s.
By the year 2000, titanium was a reliable alternative to steel in sporting goods, notably golf clubs and bicycle frames.But that other super-material, carbon fiber, also came into its own, taking the cycling world by storm.
Carbon has without question become the mainstream material for cycling,It’s very workable, able to be mass produced at relatively efficient costs, and has very good strength to weight properties. Titanium’s Achilles’ heel is that it is very expensive.
As a raw material it’s very costly – you can buy a mass-produced carbon bike frame for about the same cost as the raw materials in a bike frame. It’s also very costly to work with in that much specialized equipment and uniquely skilled labor are needed.
Even with its cost constraints, titanium will always remain popular for cycling enthusiasts as it possesses the best balance of light weight, strength, durability and damping,Aluminum and carbon fiber both are lightweight materials but fall short in durability and damping compared to titanium. The best benefit to a rider is – when properly designed – titanium can offer a very solid and stiff frame that is also very forgiving and comfortable.
Carbon fiber is a really beautiful material. It is only going to get better, but when you’re looking at real world situations where you aren’t handed a new bike when you crash, you see the value in titanium,A bad crash on a mountain bike can just destroy the carbon fiber frame, and while it can be warrantied, you have to deal with stripping the parts and sending it back. Titanium can endure those spills that carbon cannot.
But because titanium begins life as a dust-like material – which is often found in sand, making Australia one of the largest suppliers of the metal – it likely has more of a future in 3D printing. It could mean that bikes designed on computers could have frames as aerodynamic as carbon fiber and as strong as steel but printed out and ready to ride.