Since the start of mountain biking in the eighties until nowadays, the cycling market has made huge steps forward in terms of designs, materials and standards. Each of those has added an extra in order to get the bicycles adapted to their actual use. However, in that process it has fallen into the mistake of forgetting about some options that add value to the rider and that, for external reasons -such as convenience of big industry- have been swept away.
Today bicycle market is dominated by carbon fiber as it undoubtedly is a material that delivers excellent dynamic, mechanic and lightness features that offer as a result extremely light and high perfomance setups. On the other hand, we saw the evolution from rigid bikes to the first suspension forks, full suspension framesets and the constant evolution in standards, geometries, suspension travel...
In all the way down to this point in Elemento22, as riders, we feel we miss the option to keep finding hardtail bicycles built up from other materials with higher flexion and fatigue resistance capabilities. As a resume, titanium and steel give us the chance to enjoy hardtail frames that provide enough flexibility and smooth ride without having to switch to full suspension framesets.
The atomic number 22 chemical element. ¿What´s all about 3-2.5/6-4? Pure Titanium would be far too flexible for a bicycle frameset design and that is the reason to alloy it to Aluminium and Vanadium. The different percentage of those elements in the Titanium alloy provide different mechanical, manufacturing and riding characteristics, and that is the reason to use two different proportions for different parts of the frameset.
The most common Titanium tubing in the bicycle frameset industry is 3Al 2.5V to provide an excellent compromise between weight, smooth ride and durability. Those tubes are seamless and have an outstanding fatigue resistance.
When going to the 6Al 4V titanium alloy you loose some of the flexion capability and you win on the stiffness of those parts. That is the reason to use that alloy proportion on the critical parts of the frame and get the best handling. In those parts, designers seek a curious effect: Titanium no longer being Titanium -or not in the same way-. This is the case of headtube, bottom bracket and dropouts. For the rest of the frame tubes the 3-2.5 Titanium tubing gives us the desired controlled flexibility and absortion for a smooth and durable frame.
In the popular cycling culture, steel has gone through all possible stages. In the first times it was "the material", with capital letters. The most important alloy for steel was Chrome and Molibdenum, which offered an unbeatable resistance. Step by step designers and engineers worked on butting the tubes using each time new exotic (Niobium, Vanadium,...) and more resistant alloys to keep the fight with the newcomer materiales entering the bicycle manufacturing industry. Nowadays, big industry has left steel aside giving priority to other materials.
However, when investigating a bit, you can discover authentic top level engineering and R&D on steel tubing. Today steel does not target any fight with other lighter materials out there, but it is worth to take into account that customers don´t want frames to have durability issues when you put the bicycle into the mountain. Some of them may accept shorter durability ratio, some other no, simply.
And that strenghtness feature of steel, combined with its smoothness when riding, is what many users are looking for. Reynolds 853 tubing has an optimal position as steel manufacturer enhancing an optimal resistance and weight control thanks to its heat treatment.