So exactly why are Ti Frames so expensive?

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  • So exactly why are Ti Frames so expensive?
  • RealMan
    Member

    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/J-L-Titanium-road-bike-frame-Ti-50-60-1350g-/280647973239?pt=Road_Bikes&hash=item4157ec3977

    ~£500 for a ti road frame, and that was after about 5 seconds of searching, so you can probably get cheaper.

    Will I be able to afford a Brodie Holeshot?

    Probably not.

    mrmo
    Member

    how many uses of Ti outside of the bike industry can you think of, how many uses of aluminium outside of the bike industry can you think of? how often would it make sense to use a more expensive but stronger material than aluminium, how many uses does the weight saving of Ti offset the greater cost.

    Now build the plant necessary to refine Titanium Ore.

    It doesn’t really make much sense.

    Ti will always be a more expensive material for what you get when compared to Steel or Aluminium.

    jambon
    Member

    I thought that Titanium was being used in ever increasing amounts due to its ‘wonder’ properties.

    Gadgets, areoplanes, construction, hi end cars…

    Surely, in some cases, it will supercede aluminium and magnesium alloys due to its non-corision qualities.

    mrmo
    Member

    but look at the uses of steel and Aluminium, there is a huge amount of refining capacity, Ti will never be used for tin cans or cooking foil.

    jambon
    Member

    This has probably been looked into at great depth, but i’ve missed the thread if so.

    So, aluminium frames used to be fairly expensive compared with steel ones but, due to popularity and so on, aluminium became the cheaper of the two.

    Titanium is a very common element, like aluminium, but difficult to extract and work with. But not that difficuly, surely? And there is a potentially huge market for Ti frames.(?)

    Will we suddenly be inundated with affordable Ti frames manufactuered in the Far East soon?

    Will I be able to afford a Brodie Holeshot?

    GEDA
    Member

    Don’t titanium frame just break and crack all the time though? There ate always threads on here which people discuss their ti frames but they always seem to have quite a few posters who say their frame is in the states being mended.

    jambon
    Member

    I have a feeling, that due to their expense, a cracked Ti frame will be sent off and repaired wheras an Aluminimum frame will either be swapped under warrenty or thrown in the recycling skip.

    Aluminium frames have to be heat treated again after being welded – difficult to do after being painted. I know that steel frames don’t really need this. Dunno about Ti, although most Ti frames are ‘raw’ finished.

    None of the answers have really answered why Ti is about three times the price though…

    mrmo
    Member

    Ti costs more because of supply and demand. There is insufficient demand to increase the refining capacity. But there is alot of niche uses which will always mean there is a market.

    Ti is also hard to work, it needs to be welded in a clean Oxygen free environment or the welds will fail.

    Does that answer your question.

    Premier Icon coolhandluke
    Subscriber

    I don’t think ti is a very expensive metal. My wedding ring cost £30. Hardly dear compared to other metals you could use for a ring.

    I think its expensive because its h ard to weld properly.. I think it reacts to oxygen and then you get a discolouring around the weld. You need inert gas to purge the area local to the weld of o2 then or weld in a sealed box with no air in it, in an inert gaseous atmosphere.

    IT will come as no surprise to fabricators with experience in handling titanium that special consideration needs to be taken during preparation and welding.

    Titanium and its alloys are reactive and can become contaminated by atmosphere gases. Adequate shielding using inert gas is essential if repeatable, high- quality joints are to be made.

    For many years it was believed that welding-titanium could only be performed satisfactorily in sealed chambers equipped with glove ports and viewing ports and filled with high-purity, inert gas such as argon.

    A better understanding of the mechanism of metal/gas interaction has shown that for some applications, as long as adequate local shielding is maintained during welding, the use of sealed chambers with or without vacuum pumping systems may not be absolutely necessary.

    This understanding has afforded possibilities for welding large titanium fabrications and significantly extended the application areas for the metal and its alloys into major structural forms, especially in the aerospace industry, the motor sport industry and latterly in the petrochemical industry. The primary requirement then is to provide a protective gas atmosphere to the joint area during welding and subsequent cooling.

    Basic guidelines

    The weld purge gas must be used correctly. It should be 99.999% pure, even 99.995% gas can lead to some yellow discoloration.

    If the colour of the welded metal begins to mottle, or if it exhibits any hint of blue, the gas isn’t pure enough, or it isn’t being applied correctly. The gas flow should be started several seconds before starting to weld. If there is enough shielding and the argon is being dispersed evenly over the part, a uniform colour will be seen.

    Protective gas flow is still needed after welding until the metal has cooled below about 250°C to prevent discolouration.

    jambon
    Member

    Well, no, not really.

    I understand the niche bit but Aluminium can’t be welded in O2 and Tig welding is the same idea – removal of oxides in the weld by welding in an inert (Argon) atmosphere.

    I suppose I’m wondering if prices will come down in the way that Aluminium frame prices fell 10-15 years ago.

    I would like a Ti bike to replace my full susser but no way can I afford one. I feel that other people feel in a similar way, so there is a potential market.

    If there is a potentail market, someone generally comes along and supplies that market, if they can. With Ti frames currently being so much more than Steel, Alu and Carbon I’d have thought that somone would be doing just that.

    If so, then it can’t be such a bad thing, envirnmentally speaking, at least.

    mrmo
    Member

    how hard is it to understand it is not economically viable to increase production capacity enough to bring prices down and there is no reason why any miner/refiner would want Ti to come down in price anyway, there are accepted alternatives which because of installed plant aren’t going anywhere.

    Ti does not offer a alternative for the majority of uses of Aluminium and Steel. You also have to consider what can Ti do that Carbon composites can’t? I have a feeling the biggest use of Ti is as a colouring agent.

    Further who is going to make Ti frames, Aluminium fell in price because it could, the material supply was there the factories were there, and to be brutal Aluminium is piss easy to work with, it does what it needs to do, and Ti offers no advantage for a manufacturer over Al.

    As for a potential market, i am sure that Bugatti could sell a few more Veyrons if they priced them more sensibly. Just because a few cyclists want to buy Ti frames doesn’t mean new production capacity can be opened.

    Kuco
    Member

    how many uses of Ti outside of the bike industry can you think of, how many uses of aluminium outside of the bike industry can you think of?

    I guess the biggest user I can think of is aerospace and military applications and the amount they spend totally dwarfs what the cycling industry spends. Plus it is hard to work with and machine, also like steel there is various grades of Ti.

    Premier Icon BadlyWiredDog
    Subscriber

    I would like a Ti bike to replace my full susser but no way can I afford one. I feel that other people feel in a similar way, so there is a potential market.

    That’s conclusive then 😕

    Kuco
    Member

    But isn’t a full suspension frame about the price of a Ti frame and in a lot of cases dearer?

    benkitcher
    Member

    Price of Ti6-4 in 2007 was about £40/kg. Although it bottomed out last year at about £10, is now on its way back up (as the aerospace market recovers)

    Compare that with the price of aluminium alloys, which tend to hover about £2/kg, and you start to see where the cost comes from.

    I should think the processing costs are the main factor effecting purchase price however. Machining is significantly more expensive for Ti alloys and I suspect welding is too; your typical bicycle factory just isn’t geared up to process the stuff. That means they either have to fork out seven figure sums to purchase the appropriate equipment (which subsequently also costs £100/hr + to run), or pay an aerospace subby aerospace money to develop and perform a process.

    mrmo
    Member

    But isn’t a full suspension frame about the price of a Ti frame and in a lot of cases dearer?

    yes and….

    apples and oranges. a 953 frame costs a tad more than a BSO from halfords. there both made from Steel though. And what does Ti offer that Carbon or Al don’t? So why invest the money!

    Why don’t you get decent large scale manufacturer steel mountain bikes anymore? the market moves on to more appropriate materials for the solution the market has accepted.

    Kuco
    Member

    You really do seem bitter about Ti.

    mrmo
    Member

    not at all, i like Ti, but there is a lot of hype making it out to be something it isn’t. I have seen some beautiful Ti bikes and some really horrible ones. At the moment cheap means mainstream, ie Aluminium and Carbon at the top end. If you want cheap Ti frames you need mainstream manufacturers not just niche companies to be using it, and for that to happen you have to identify real benefits and balance this with the facts that it offers no real benefits over Aluminium or Carbon. It is more expensive, harder to weld, harder to manipulate and generally offers less options than the current alternatives.

    My road bike is Steel it rides beautifully, but for a race bike it is relatively heavy and flexi. Ti would be heavy flexi and expensive and not really offer any advantages.

    Who would buy a Ti bike? aluminium makes better full-suspension bikes as it can be made stiffer and the tubing can be formed more easily, Carbon is lighter, stiffer and easily worked which suits high end road bikes and XC hardtails better, Steel is cheaper so suits the cheap hardtail market. So that leaves Ti as a niche product same as good steel frames.

    Premier Icon jameso
    Subscriber

    No real benefit over carbon and al? There are a few.. they can be subjective but I expect durability is the main one. As long as its welded properly it can be as durable as steel, much more so than al and for use among rocks etc, probably more durable than carbon. I like ti as a lighter alternative to steel, but let’s face it for the pound in weight that extra grand is a big ask. But in some cases the ride is worth it. Almost..

    Premier Icon epicyclo
    Subscriber

    The reasons Ti is so expensive is its extraction.

    If you’re going to be fighting off a few hundred Russian submariners while you cut enough Ti out of their sub for a bike, you need to hire expensive mercenaries…

    HTH
    🙂

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