jockstick
Hi,

Have any of you guys bought any Chinese Titanium framesets? Any brand recommendations? Came across this post while researching the Bearclaw Thunderhawk that made me wonder: https://forums.mtbr.com/gravel-bikes/bearclaw-thunderhawk-gravel-bike-1093077.html

Thanks!
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tim.bikeparty
weird.  i was just looking at the thunderhawk and came across the same thread.  i am dubious of the alibaba sale post as the photos clearly show at least 2 different frames in the same listing.
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jockstick
weird.  i was just looking at the thunderhawk and came across the same thread.  i am dubious of the alibaba sale post as the photos clearly show at least 2 different frames in the same listing.


It's definitely a different bike. Mainly it just opened my eyes to Ti frames available in China. There's a handful of more viable ones on AliExpress, but nothing as complete as the Thunderhawk.
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Afolpe
I have a Taiwanese fat bike (Ora) and a Salsa Warbird Ti which I very strongly suspect is also Taiwanese. They’re very nice bikes. I think there is a lot less “fly by night” in Chinese/Taiwanese Ti than in carbon.
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jockstick
Afolpe wrote:
I have a Taiwanese fat bike (Ora) and a Salsa Warbird Ti which I very strongly suspect is also Taiwanese. They’re very nice bikes. I think there is a lot less “fly by night” in Chinese/Taiwanese Ti than in carbon.


What do you mean by "fly by night"?
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Afolpe
Just that my sense is that the overall quality of Chinese/ Taiwanese Ti frames is more consistently good than carbon. Obviously there is excellent carbon too. It’s just a little bit spotty.
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panhndl
I would just get Lynskey.  They’re solid, can be purchased on a payment plan and made here with decent support.  
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pushstart
Yes, yes, and yes.  I just put together a travel (coupler) frame from Waltly for a friend last night.  I've got 3 Waltly frames; they've all been excellent.

Here's an excellent resource: http://www.spanner.org.uk/
Here are a couple writeups I did: http://snakesthatbite.blogspot.com/2016/10/waltly-titanium-disc-brake-road-race.html and http://snakesthatbite.blogspot.com/2017/05/waltly-titanium-coupler-travel-bike.html

And here are a couple pics:
IMG_20180418_064935852_HDR.jpg  IMG_20180703_155300325.jpg 
I haven't read the MTBR forum link above, but I do remember recently seeing a Bearclaw in person and thinking that the disc-brake mounts looked a lot like Waltly's.  (But I haven't seen enough of the XACD or Titan frames to know what their telltale signs are or to compare nuanced differences in dropouts, disc post mouunts, etc.)
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pushstart
I think it's worth pointing out that the operative decision here isn't whether you should buy an stock Lynskey [or Moots or Brand X] bike frame vs. a Chinese Titanium frame, but whether you want to go the process of designing a bike frame or whether you just want to buy a bike frame.  Yes, the prices of the Chinese frames (around $1k in my experience; I realize Alibaba has some for less, but I'd probably approach with more caution there) lend themselves to comparison with Lynskey, but these are custom frames so that comparison isn't really valid.

While the amount of time you put into a custom frame is certainly wildly variable, I think it's worth emphasizing [as has been noted elsewhere] that these companies are titanium fabricators, not designers.  They'll make some default decisions for you about placement of bottle cage bosses, etc. but in general it's up to you to spec a frame that isn't going to be terrible -- or simply fail.

So, if you want to embark on the process of designing a frame, playing with bike geometry / CAD tools, etc., then I can heartily recommend talking to one of the mainland China factories.  -- Personally, I'd recommend Waltly as the customer service and the build quality is excellent.  But I know others have been happy with XACD too (and probably Titan, though I don't know anyone with firsthand experience there).

I love geeking out on the bike builds, so I'm sure I'll keep building Waltly frames.  My next bike might be playing around with a road+ bike build around one of the newly-emerged 380-390mm axle-to-crown forks.  Road geo with big tires sounds super fun. The travel bike I just helped a friend get built up is a T47 bottom bracket, for example, which is definitely going to be a feature of my next build.  (I hadn't thought to ask whether that was an option when I had my gravel frame built.)

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jockstick
pushstart wrote:
Yes, yes, and yes.  I just put together a travel (coupler) frame from Waltly for a friend last night.  I've got 3 Waltly frames; they've all been excellent.

Here's an excellent resource: http://www.spanner.org.uk/
Here are a couple writeups I did: http://snakesthatbite.blogspot.com/2016/10/waltly-titanium-disc-brake-road-race.html and http://snakesthatbite.blogspot.com/2017/05/waltly-titanium-coupler-travel-bike.html

And here are a couple pics:
IMG_20180418_064935852_HDR.jpg  IMG_20180703_155300325.jpg 
I haven't read the MTBR forum link above, but I do remember recently seeing a Bearclaw in person and thinking that the disc-brake mounts looked a lot like Waltly's.  (But I haven't seen enough of the XACD or Titan frames to know what their telltale signs are or to compare nuanced differences in dropouts, disc post mouunts, etc.)


Great write ups, just what I was looking for! Thank you!

Though after giving this a bit more thought, I may just stick to chinese carbon. I don't want to go through the trouble of designing my own frame, and none of the readily available chinese TI frames have the tire clearance I want.

Also, I figure I'd want to upgrade anyway by the time a carbon frame shows any signs of needing replacement. 
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pushstart
jockstick wrote:


Great write ups, just what I was looking for! Thank you!

Though after giving this a bit more thought, I may just stick to chinese carbon. I don't want to go through the trouble of designing my own frame, and none of the readily available chinese TI frames have the tire clearance I want.

Also, I figure I'd want to upgrade anyway by the time a carbon frame shows any signs of needing replacement. 


Happy to help!  Yeah, it's a bit of a process, but I do enjoy that aspect of it and I've been super happy with the outcome.

Having also had a few Chinese carbon frames (all Flybike factory frames, from what I understand -- two from Hongfu, one from Yishun -- so well-regarded mainland manufacturer/distributors), I would agree with Afolpe's comment above that the ti stuff (at least the stuff I've seen) tends to be a little higher-quality product.  But obviously it also costs more.  And it certainly weighs more! 🙂    (I do use a Hongfu fork on my road bike and until recently acquiring a Niner fork for the gravel bike was using a Hongfu fork there too; those have been great.)
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bnystrom
Take a look at the offerings on Bikesdirect.com. Their Ti frames are built in Taiwan by Ora and are good quality, plus you're dealing with a US supplier with excellent customer service, in my experience.
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nalax
Lynskey has the GR270 with fork, headset and Ti seatpost for a decent price. Plenty of clearance and a MUSA Ti frame. With the value of the extras figured in, you're getting the frame for close to what you pay for a Waltly.
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pushstart
nalax wrote:
Lynskey has the GR270 with fork, headset and Ti seatpost for a decent price. Plenty of clearance and a MUSA Ti frame. With the value of the extras figured in, you're getting the frame for close to what you pay for a Waltly.


Yeah, the current $1450 sale for the frameset + seatpost is definitely a good deal.  I agree that's pretty price-competitive with a Waltly when you factor in needing to get a fork, so if you don't need custom geometry, that's an easy recommendation.
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chas
I've bought a variety of stuff direct from china. All things I didn't care about too much if it wasn't good.

Bottom line - a US based distributor will (should) have good quality control, and you know what you are getting. You should also be able to return it if something goes wrong.

Direct from China is hit or miss. Some manufacturers have great reputations (Bafang for bike motors), others - who knows. Its hit or miss.

I just heard a podcast about people who lost $3000 each on SpeedX bikes. I came close to spending hundred on a Sondors bike. Way, way too risky for my tastes, but it turned out well in the end that time. (both of those were kickstarters producing bikes in China).

A fair amount of people get frame cracks in Ti frames from Lynskey. Ti is hard to work with. If Lynskey struggles with it, I would hate to get something of unknown providence from China, unless I was very confident in the manufacturer. You need to buy the manufacturer more than the bike itself.
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