Titanium bikes have featured more prominently in bikepacking races in recent years. It's not just racing, more and more riders are choosing titanium for bikepacking and cycle touring adventures. So, why do titanium bikes work so well for this application? Jesse Carlsson, one of Curve's owners, has ridden tens of thousands of kilometers on Curve's titanium frames - from the Trans Am Bike Race and Race to the Rock to touring remote outback Australia. Here Jesse explains the four reasons why titanium bikes are best for bikepacking. Read on to learn more.
Titanium bikes are extremely durable. The mechanical properties of titanium are well suited to adventure bikes. Unlike aluminium, titanium has a fatigue limit. This means that there is a stress level below which titanium will survive an infinite number of load cycles (steel works in the same way). Aluminium is just not like that, it has a memory - it remembers every load cycle and will eventually fail.
Compared to carbon frames, titanium is far more resistant to unexpected impacts. When bombing an off-road descent, rock impact on a downtube can damage a carbon frame but titanium will easily handle similar impacts.
If you've got an adventure planned on the other side of the planet, long-haul air travel with a bike can be a huge source of anxiety. Titanium bikes are great to travel with. When unpacking your bike after hours of flying you won't have to worry about whether you still have a bike or just disappointing shards of carbon. Titanium will survive rough treatment from baggage handlers.
Titanium is roughly half the density of steel. If you have two identically shaped tubes, one made from steel and the other from titanium, the titanium tube will be about half the weight.
You might be surprised to hear that titanium is not as strong as steel. When raw strength is what you're after, steel is the way to go. However, if your application needs strength but weight is also critical, that's when titanium comes into its own. While titanium has a strength comparable to steel, it achieves that strength at half the weight. This is why titanium has been an important material for advanced aerospace applications.
So why isn't a titanium bike half the weight of a steel bike? Well, strength per unit mass is not the only consideration. Titanium is more flexible than steel, so additional material and careful tube design is needed to make sure a titanium bike will have stiffness where it matters.
3. Weather Resistance
While the mechanical properties of titanium make it an excellent choice for a bikepacking bike, weather resistance is also an important benefit. Titanium is highly resistant to corrosion - this property is often more important than strength for industrial applications. This corrosion resistance is due to a favourable oxidation mode. When exposed to the elements, a thin oxide film, only several molecules thick, forms on a raw titanium surface. This titanium oxide film is extremely stable and is only successfully attacked by a few substances. This means that a titanium frame will survive the elements without needing protective coatings, which can get damaged and add to a frame's weight.
Put simply, with titanium you don't have to worry about rust. You can ride on the beach and not worry about salt water damaging your frame - you will run the risk of corrosion on plenty of other parts on your bike though! For adventure cycling applications the weather resistance of titanium will give you peace of mind. You can ride your bike for decades in all conditions knowing that rain, snow, river crossings, sitting in the back of your car on a hot summer day, and the occasional ride on the beach will not damage your frame.
4. Ride Quality
Titanium's modulus of elasticity is quite low compared to steel. The modulus of elasticity is a measure of how easily a material bends or warps without permanent deformation. It's a good indication of a material’s overall elastic response - how much it can flex and still return to its original state.
So why does this matter for frame construction? Surely flex is a bad thing, right? With careful design, this negative can be turned into a positive.
A supremely stiff frame is great for power transfer but terrible for comfort. So there is a compromise to be made. Titanium allows a nice level of compliance to be built into a frame resulting in a comfortable ride on rough surfaces. Think of it like built in micro suspension. Clever tube design allows a titanium frame to be stiff where it counts, allowing ample power transfer. This results in an impressive ride quality, perfect for ultra endurance cycling and long bikepacking adventures. The longer the ride, the more important comfort becomes.
Curve Titanium Adventure Cycling Options
Whatever your discipline, riding style or experience level, a titanium bike will undoubtedly see you through any bikepacking trip or intrepid adventure you choose to undertake. We know titanium can handle any adventure and Curve has a range of bikes to suit any and all types of terrain. From pristine sealed roads to champagne gravel tracks to the Outback red sand, there is a bike in our range that has a proven record on each of these surfaces. Choose your terrain below so you can find the Curve titanium bike to suit you!