Why Titici wants you to ride a bendy bike

Flat, flexible top tube claims to boost comfort

You may never have heard of Titici (pronounced Tee-Tee-Chee), but the Italian company has been around since 1961.

Originally one of Italy’s largest steel bicycle frame manufacturers, Titici was producing in excess of one million frames by the 1980s, mostly as original equipment for larger and more established Italian mass-market brands.

Skip forward a fair few years to 2016 and Titici partnered with fellow Italian manufacturers X-Bionic in a bid to expand as a name-brand producer in its own right.

Custom carbon for stock prices

Geometry numbers can be altered to suit a rider's tastes
Geometry numbers can be altered to suit a rider's tastes

Titici’s aim is to be a unique proposition in high-end carbon bike production — every element of the frame’s geometry and dimensions can be customised by the consumer, allowing you to tune the way in which the bike itself rides.

So if you’re a heavier or lighter rider, Titici can customise the layup of the carbon in key areas to meet your exacting needs. The head angle, seat angle and other key geometry numbers can also be altered to the customer's tastes.

What looks likely to set Titici apart from the competition is that the price of a full custom frame is exactly the same as its off the peg offerings (though off-the-peg is somewhat moot as all frames are built to order in Italy).

Each frame is handmade in Italy
Each frame is handmade in Italy

Titici also claims that from the point of order to delivery — including full custom paint services — it takes 50 days. If this does indeed bear true, that’s an impressively short turnaround when you consider that most artisan steel builders of note currently have around a 10–12 month waiting list even before a frame is started.

The carbon frames and forks are completely handmade in Italy using a combination of 1k and 3k carbon weaves and unidirectional T800 fibres.

Titici claims its rim brake road frame weighs 950g (L), and the disc version 1kg (L) including all fixtures and fittings.

Titici also claims it’s not interested in winning an arbitrary weight war, instead it’s focussed on strength and ride quality.

Of course, custom service like this doesn’t come cheap. The Flexy Road with disc brakes, which Warren got the chance to ride, retails at £3,800, with average complete bike prices hovering around the £7,500 mark. Prices for the Flexy Front Suspended XC are currently TBC.

Flexy top tubes?

The top tube tapers down from a wide, squoval-like profile to a super flat shape
The top tube tapers down from a wide, squoval-like profile to a super flat shape

The most unique design feature that is shared across all of Titici’s bikes — from its road bikes to its 100mm travel, full suspension XC marathon bike — is its patented Flexy top tube, or to give it its more technical moniker, PAT (plate absorption technology).

The head tube end of the tube is more conventional
The head tube end of the tube is more conventional

This radically shaped top tube, which starts out at the head tube looking not unlike one of Cervélo’s Squoval profile tubes, radically flattens into a super thin (roughly about 10mm thick) flat plate shape at the joint between top and seat tube.

Titici claims that this shape offers huge horizontal rigidity but an equally large amount of vertical flexibility (or, in the finest horrid marketing speak, vertical compliance).

Some of the weight of the frame is attributed to the super thick walls at the narrow end of the top tube
Some of the weight of the frame is attributed to the super thick walls at the narrow end of the top tube

Weirdly, some of the weight of the frame is attributed to this design, because when the tube shape narrows, the wall thicknesses increase massively, from less than 1mm at its thinnest to 3–4mm at the flat-plate shaped end.

It’s very disconcerting to look at Titici’s brochure — and the bike’s top tube — and see “design your own flexy bike” shouting back at you, though we suspect that this may be something that was lost in translation.

NFC full service history

Rather uniquely, the frame’s head badge has an NFC chip embedded within it. When scanned using your phone and Titici’s own TCT app, this includes warranty information and can also be used to log a service schedule and history of the bike's servicing and ownership.

Titici also claims that having this ID chip embedded should help reduce your insurance premium and claims process. The brand are also in talks with insurance companies in the hope of providing dedicated policies for Titici owners.

Warren's first ride impressions: Titici Flexy road disc

We had the chance to ride the Flexy road disc around Richmond Park
We had the chance to ride the Flexy road disc around Richmond Park

First things first; it’s pretty weird that Titici doesn’t have any sort of naming convention for its bikes. It just feels odd referring to this bike as the Flexy road disc — yes that’s what it is, but it doesn’t exactly exude any passion.

I only got to take the road disc on a few laps of Richmond Park in central London, but with only 20 miles clocked, I still came away with quite a positive feel for the bike.

The frame gets a little wider around the seat cluster on the road frame
The frame gets a little wider around the seat cluster on the road frame

First up, the sizing of my 58cm/XL standard bike was good — with a generous amount of reach and a low stack the Titici feels aggressive and rapid.

The excellent stiffness around the bottom bracket and chainstays helped make short work of the steep sharp ascent at Nightingale Lane.

Pumping Pirelli's excellent tyres up to 110psi allowed me to focus on the ride quality of the frame
Pumping Pirelli's excellent tyres up to 110psi allowed me to focus on the ride quality of the frame

I wanted to get a feel for the bikes claimed compliance, so topping up the excellent Pirelli tyres to 110psi to get them feeling solid removed this variable.

You can see how easily this frame could be modified for rim brakes!
You can see how easily this frame could be modified for rim brakes!

It’s hard to be certain on such a short ride, but I think the Flexy top tube certainly does have an effect — the rear end’s ability to smooth out and eliminate any road buzz is impressive and it’s nicely matched to a front end, aided massively by quality 3T carbon bars and tape.

Each frame is hand signed with its unique serial number
Each frame is hand signed with its unique serial number

i came away from the Flexy Road Disc impressed and desperate to get hold of one to try out more extensively and on more familiar roads and loops on my home stomping ground.

The chance to try out a custom carbon bike, where you can tweak every element of the geometry and the ride feel is an intriguing one, and I’d like to explore the options available and build something unique.

Jack's first ride impressions: Flexy Front Suspended XC

Richmond Park wasn't the ideal testing ground for a mountain bike, but I still enjoyed my time on the Flex front suspended XC
Richmond Park wasn't the ideal testing ground for a mountain bike, but I still enjoyed my time on the Flex front suspended XC

Jack Luke was also out trying Titici’s bikes for the day and had a chance to try out its 100mm travel XC hardtail.

Have you ever seen a skinnier top tube on a mountain bike?
Have you ever seen a skinnier top tube on a mountain bike?

The Titici Flexy Front Suspended XC (what a mouthful) borrows the same ‘Flexy’ top tube used on its other bikes and is aimed squarely at the XC marathon crowd.

The bike is very comparable to my Bianchi Methanol long term test bike — a similarly minded and priced XC hardtail with its own take on vibration damping tech in the form of Countervail — so I was particularly keen to see how the Titici and its purportedly 'bendy' tubes stacked up against this in terms of comfort.

This particular test bike had two bottle cage mounts, but you can have as many as you like
This particular test bike had two bottle cage mounts, but you can have as many as you like

I should stress that like Warren, I only had the chance to ride the bike around the rather un-gnarly Richmond Park, but with a few genuinely steep and gravelly climbs — the sort of terrain an XC marathon bike is likely to spend a great deal of its time on — I had a couple of opportunities to lay down my middling power to see how the bike performed.

The stance of bike is decidedly Euro-XC, with a 71-degree head angle, 427mm long chainstays and 74-degree seat tube angle (almost exactly the same numbers as the Methanol) making for an overall fast handling bike.

Both the Titichi and Bianchi feel very nimble once up to speed and are quick to change line, but the Front Suspended XC felt a touch more twitchy in hard corners than my Celeste Prince.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what was causing this is on such a short ride (and without the chance to accurately measure the geometry of the bike for myself), but I suspect the offset of the fitted Rockshox SID fork may be different to the Fox 32 Step-Cast fitted to my Bianchi, which as we know can drastically alter the way a bike handles.  

The bike has buckets of standover clearance, exposing a huge amount of seatpost, which when combined with the supposedly flexy top tube should in theory make for a very comfortable ride.

While I didn’t find the Titici Flexy Front Suspended XC to be a particularly harsh riding bike, the alloy 3T seatpost fitted to the bike doesn’t deflect nearly as much as the carbon post fitted to my Bianchi, meaning the full force of any bumps and lumps encountered were directed right to my bot.

Of course, this point is somewhat moot given every bike produced by Titici will be custom built to order, with a consumer free to spec the most Gucci carbon seatpost that they wish.

However, this just further confirms my belief that cockpit and seatpost choice has far more to do with comfort than any supposed magic, bump eating, suspension-like squidge weaved into the layup of a hardtail (or road for that matter) frame.

The Titici did feel great while climbing out of the saddle, with no detectable flex around the bottom bracket or chainstays. Sensibly wide bars also helped here.

I was also particularly pleased to see very generous clearances out back on the Titici — one of my biggest complaints with the Methanol and many other XC bikes is how unnecessarily tight tyre clearances are made, making the bikes far less versatile than they could otherwise be.

Cables were free to rattle about in the down tube, but it wasn't particularly distracting in its intensity
Cables were free to rattle about in the down tube, but it wasn't particularly distracting in its intensity

The full length cables are free to rattle away inside the Titici’s boxy down tube, but this was not particularly distracting in its intensity on the terrain I encountered. However, I'd be keen to hear how much of a racket this arrangement made on tougher terrain before making any judgements.

Like Warren, I left my time with Titici eager to spend more time on the Front Suspended XC and was particularly taken by the idea of being able to alter the geometry of it — significantly increasing reach, while slackening out the head angle and steepening the seat tube angle would be close to my dream XC bike. Watch this space.

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