The Spitfire Mk I is the cheapest titanium bike in Spin’s smooth-riding squadron. It boasts ‘Authentic Spindustries Advanced Projects Space Station titanium’ – which translates as a plain gauge 3AL2.5V titanium top tube and oval down tube with a double-butted seat tube.
But touches like the machined head tube with inset logo, monogrammed brake bridge, a 6AL4V chain hanger pip on the driveside seatstay, spun bullet ends on the chainstays and neat welds all round elevate it above most basic ti frames. At a claimed 1.43kg (3.15lb) it’s also within 60g of the range-topping Spitfire Supermarine Mk III.
The frame is available in three sizes – 52 (S), 55 (ML) and 57cm (XL) – and a range of frameset and complete bike options. The T5 bundle – frame, fork, ti seatpost, stem and headset – costs £1,469, while Campagnolo Veloce-based bikes start at £2,099.
Our test sample was based on the T5, and completed with Spin’s carbon 50mm Supersonic SSC50 wheels, Quicklight carbon bar and Rotor Q-Rings on Campag Veloce cranks. It represents decent value for a ti machine, though the mismatched reds and ti finishes aren’t the most subtle of aesthetics.
Taxying the Spitfire onto the runway, the smoothly supple ride of the frame is immediately obvious. Even with deep section rims, a firm saddle, and a bar and stem that stand up to a fair amount of wrestling on climbs, this is a proper road melter of a bike.
Pretty much everyone who rode it admitted to stopping and double checking tyre pressure at some point as it glided silk-like over sections where most bikes clattered and chattered. The smoothly squeezed power delivery of the Rotor cranks also accentuates the surging feel when the road rises up.
There’s definitely some dislocation between the firm cockpit and the rear of the bike when you start heaving hard, though, and it becomes a more significant issue on descents. Basically there’s just not enough stiffness in the frame to stop the flat-sided wheels from tramlining straight on in corners or twitching with every crosswind gust or passing lorry.
We switched the wheels for a conventional set and things improved, but even then head shake and tracking vagueness made technical descents a nervous experience. It’s a bike better cruised than caned.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.