First ride: Lynskey Helix (frame only) review£2,499.99

Titanium superbike

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Carbon versus titanium: for most road riders, it’s an argument that’s been settled. Carbon bikes are stiffer, lighter and often cheaper, which leaves titanium as a more comfortable and durable alternative, better suited to sportives than road racing.

End of story? Not according to Lynskey Performance. The family-run US bike builders believe their range-topping Helix is good enough to reignite the debate.

Ride & handling: Reassuringly stiff and precise but with all-day comfort

From the first turn of the pedal, it’s obvious this is a stiff frame. Really stamp down hard and there’s only the slightest movement from the bottom bracket.

The same reassuring stiffness is evident up front, too. Most top carbon bikes have huge headsets with 1 1/8in top races and 1 1/2in bottom races. Mark Lynskey, speaking technically, describes fitting such a headset in a titanium bike as “a real bugger”, so relatively slim 1 1/8in races are used top and bottom.

However, the handling doesn’t suffer. Just like the bottom bracket, there’s plenty of metal where the head tube, top tube and down tube meet. Lean the Helix over hard through a bumpy turn and there’s no obvious twisting or deflection, just immediate, precise and dependable steering. Combine this rigidity with a well-chosen 73 degree head angle and you have a bike you can throw around with confidence. Entertaining? Yes. Nervous? No.

Yet in spite of being noticeably stiffer than many titanium frames, this is a still a bike you can ride all day. You feel connected to the road surface, but not beaten up by it.

Ultimately then, if you think titanium has had its day, the Helix is stiff and fast enough to make you think again. For those who are already fans of the material, the Helix is as good as it gets.

Can this beat the carbon supremos?: can this beat the carbon supremos?
Can this beat the carbon supremos?: can this beat the carbon supremos?

Frame: Namesake tubes give frame a unique look, but they're not just for show

The first thing you notice about the Helix is the odd-shaped tubes that give the bike its name. They’re more than just a visual flourish, though. According to Mark Lynskey, it’s the spiralling tubes of 3AL/2.5V titanium that allow the Helix to stand toe-to-toe with any carbon superbike.

“A basic understanding of shapes and forces tells you that beams are designed to resist bending, and cylindrical shapes do a good job of resisting torsion loads,” Mark says. “Conversely, beams do a poor job with torsion and round shapes don’t resist bending well.

"The down tube and top tube of a bicycle frame have both torsion and bending happening at the same time during a ride. The benefit of the Helix shape is that it’s what could be called a compound shape. This means it’s a good combination of a beam and a cylinder. It resists both bending and twisting very well.”

The polished frame costs a whopping £1250 more, so beware of fingerprints: the polished frame costs a whopping £1250 more, so beware of fingerprints
The polished frame costs a whopping £1250 more, so beware of fingerprints: the polished frame costs a whopping £1250 more, so beware of fingerprints

Build: Our 'sky's the limit' spec resulted in a complete bike weight of just 14.2lb

If you want a Helix, you’re looking at dropping a minimum of £2499.99 for the frame alone. That puts it up with range-topping carbon bikes that have Pro-Tour pedigrees.

And if you hanker after the stunning polished finish of our test bike – and we certainly do – you’ll have to pay around £1,250 more (depending on the dollar-to-pound exchange rate). That may seem steep, but Mark Lynskey says it takes almost as long to polish the frame as it does to build it.

For the weight-obsessed, there’s also a small penalty over carbon superbikes. The claimed weight for our large frame is 1.27kg/2.8lb, so there are plenty of carbon frames out there that weigh at least 300g less.

That said, with the right parts, the Helix can still be built light enough to furrow brows at the UCI. With SRAM Red taking care of the shifting, and feathery Edge tubular rims laced to Industry Nine hubs, our test bike weighed just 6.44kg/14.2lb without pedals.

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