Titanium frame builders Spin popped into BikeRadar's UK headquarters in Bath to give us a glimpse – and first ride – of their latest bike, the Spitfire Mk X Lightning. This criterium machine rounds out their range nicely, complementing the Mk II sportive bike and Mk III road racer.
The Mk X has relatively steep seat and head angles (75 degrees and 74.5 degrees), and a short wheelbase (97.8cm) and chainstays (395mm, although the stays on the prototype shown here are 5mm longer). Don't be fooled into thinking that it's only for circuit racing, though.
Spin reckon it's ideal for any rider looking for a sharp, responsive ride without sacrificing long-distance comfort. After all, they argue, why choose a bike with geometry designed for eight-hour marathons and three-week stage races if most of the rides you do are short and sharp outings in the one- to three-hour range?
As with all of Spin's frames, the Mk X is made from 100 percent titanium. It comes with a carbon fibre fork, which has an eye-catching paintjob on the inside of the legs. The finish shown here is different to that of production frames, which will have a polished look similar to the Mk II and III. Three sizes will be available: 52cm, 55cm and 57cm, all with a 1-1/8in head tube.
Finishing kit includes plenty of Spin's own titanium components, such as the Monolithic 31.8mm stem (which comes in 100,110,120 and 130mm lengths), seatpost and headset. Carbon finds its way into the aforementioned fork, QuickLight bar and bottle cage, and Supersonic tubular wheels.
SRAM Red takes care of shifting duties, with Spin's own 10-speed, 11-23t cassette at the rear (other options include an 11-speed Campagnolo cassette, in 11-23T, 12-25T or 12-27T) and Rotor 3D+ cranks with egg-shaped Q-rings (53/42t) up front.
With this gearing setup and bearing in mind its circuit racing credentials, most amateurs would be wise to stay clear of lugging the Mk X over to many hills. So we found the flattest stretch of road we could near our Bath office and took it out for a spin. What we can tell you is that it's a sprightly beast indeed.
Anyone who hasn't experienced Rotor's elliptical chainrings may be sceptical, but the power they generate felt pretty good to us. The 53t big ring is said to be the equivalent of a 51t ring as you bring the crank through the 'dead' upstroke, but generates the same power as a 56t ring would during the downstroke.
Geometry aside, the frameset is the same as the Mk III road racing machine and the Mk X shares the comfortable, springy feel of that bike. What you want in a bike like this is confidence in tight cornering, and it didn't disappoint, even in the wet. A titanium bike is a good bet for the hurly burly world of crit racing, and the lifetime warranty of all Spin's frames gives the peace of mind a similarly priced carbon frame could never offer.
Pricing starts at £1,190 for the frame only, £1,290 for the frameset and £2,369 for the complete entry-level build with Campagnolo Veloce. The complete bike as pictured comes in at £3,749. More details can be found on Spin's website.