Planet X Sportive Ti heralds carbon backlash

Titanium collaboration with Tennessee's Lynskeys

Sportive riders who want an alternative to the plethora of carbon road bikes out there have a new titanium option in Planet X’s latest, the Sportive Ti.

The Sportive Ti features clearances for 25mm tyres for a bit of extra comfort for long rides, but is otherwise very much a fast road bike in a semi-compact configuration.

Built from double-butted 3Al/2.5V titanium by the Lynskey family operation in Chattanooga Tennessee, the Sportive Ti frame will retail for about £999 according to Planet X design honch Brant Richards.

In other words, “as cheap as China, but USA made,” says Richards.

Not just USA made either. The Lynskeys are one of the great titanium framebuilding dynasties. The family founded Litespeed in 1986, and sold the company to American Bicycle Group (which also owns Merlin) in 1999.

To the delight of welding geeks everywhere, the Lynskeys returned to bike building last year.

The Lynskey/Richards collaboration has already spawned a titanium version of the 456 hardtail mountain bike frame from Planet X’s sister marquee On-One and a titanium Pompino is on the way, along with a 29er, says Richards.

The backlash starts here

Despite Planet X’s phenomenal success with carbon fiber bikes in the last couple of years, Richards is in the vanguard of a bit of an anti-carbon backlash.

In a recent interview with Singletrack magazine, he said, “I rode [a carbon bike] today and the more I rode it and the more I got into it, the more I was almost revolted by it.”

It’s not the bikes themselves that Richards has a problem with, but the lack of craftsmanship needed make a carbon frame, a process he describes as, “wrapping bits of cloth round a rubber thing and then passing it over to be put in a mould.”

“The skill level in making a frame is so low that children could do it,” says Richards. “There’s a mould to make but the actual act of construction is as skilled as stuffing envelopes. Where’s the mystique if there’s that level of availability.”

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