I have been a sucker for Steel Bikes. The vintage looks, plush ride feel, or just a subterfuge for the lower speeds all play a part in my choice, not sure of the order though. This preference was however based on my exposure to years of riding Steel, Aluminum & Carbon frames alone. Titanium was a missing link in this analysis. Our recent build of a bike around the Van Nicholas Skeiron Titanium frame gave me an opportunity to fill up this void.
I rode the bike on two different routes: a 50km hill rep ride with a 950m elevation gain and a 117km road ride with about 600m elevation gain.
In theory, Titanium frames are responsive, stiff & resistant to corrosion (the reason why most Ti frames are polished/brushed and not painted). Unfortunately, I knew this before riding the bike, which influenced my analysis. But here are some things that are undeniable:
- The frame is lighter than steel.
- It is incredibly responsive and I felt all the power was delivered in the forward propulsion. Even better than some of the entry-level carbon bikes.
- The ride feel was extremely plush – comparable to steel and probably better than some carbon frames.
- The bike is well-planted and gives immense confidence in cornering and descending.
- The looks – the brushed frame with black carbon forks & rims is elegant without having to apply a B&W filter.
“Other than the handling, most others were on the expected lines of a Titanium frame. I was riding an M frame which is the right size on paper. However, I could have gone lower at the front end to get more aerodynamic. I believe an S frame may also work for me.”
During the hill reps I was searching for a term to describe the smoothness of the crank rotation and just as I hit the right term – “makhan”, Sampath killed the joy and mentioned that it was probably more attributable to the ceramic BB. This was also my longest ride on a tubeless wheel setup & hydraulic disc brakes.
The final ride experience is influenced by many factors, not just the frame. I will have to add a few of them that contributed.
Other Factors influencing comfort are:
i) The carbon fork
ii) Combination of wider inner diameter rim & tubeless tyre setup with 60PSI
iii) Geometry of frame
Other Factors influencing responsiveness are:
i) Ceramic PF BB
I listed these out above as it was difficult for me to attribute which aspect was contributing more or less to the comfort and responsiveness. It is also a great takeaway to upgrade your existing gig to improve these aspects.
Lot of information out there and if you are still trying to answer the question – “is this one I should look for?”. The bike is perfect if:
- You enjoy long miles with no power loss yet super smooth ride quality
- You plan to do fast and adventurous bike-packing trips
- You want to upgrade your aluminium roadie for an enhanced ride quality but don’t want to worry much about the fragility of carbon bike
A bit about the brand Van Nicholas – it’s a Dutch company specializing in making Ti frames & components. They make – Road, Touring, MTB & Adventure frames. They claim boldly that
- “Nothing Looks Lasts Rides like a Van Nicholas”
Bike Build Setup:
|Frame||Van Nichloas Skeiron M Size|
|Fork||Van Nicholas SLR (Super Lite Race) Carbon|
|Wheels||Mavic Kysrium S D CL|
|Tyres||Pirelli Cinturato Velo 700*28c Tubeless|
|Groupset||Shimano 105 Hydraulic Disc Brakes|
|Bottom Bracket||Tripeak BB86 PF Ceramic|
|Handlebar||Shimano Pro LT Compact L|
|Bartape||Burgh Stealth Silk|
|Seatpost||Controltech SL Al Alloy|
|Saddle||Selle Italia Novus Boost Evo Superflow|
The Van Nicholas Skeiron frame presently retails for ₹2,47,500.