Titanium Vs Carbon Bikes - The Key Differences

Titanium Vs Carbon Bikes - The Key Differences

This year at the Cycle Show we launched the Reilly Cycleworks Fusion to critical industry acclaim, with CEO Neil FitzGerald celebrating spearheading the titanium bike revolution with a unique offering taking on a sea of ubiquitous carbon bike frames.

Neil’s background as a Formula 1 carbon fibre specialist combined with Mark Reilly’s pioneering use of titanium means Reilly Cycleworks is perfectly placed to weigh up the respective pros and cons of both materials.

When it comes to riding a bike on a road, off-road or any other chosen terrain - you want a secure bike and frame that suits your needs for the smoothest ride possible.

Additionally, it is typically the most expensive part of your bike. Therefore, deciding between carbon fibre bike quality or titanium ride quality can be strenuous to choose from.

Picking the bike most favoured to you depends on the riding/ cycling routes you will be performing. In this blog, we will aid you in making that decision by comparing the contrasts of each model - the benefits and drawbacks, etc. Read along to learn more about each type of bike!


What is a Titanium Bike Frame?

So, what is and why buy a titanium bike? Well, first of all, a titanium bike frame is a material aimed at bikers in the industry who love to cycle all year round.

Whether they are gravel riders, cycle tourists, long-distance riders, etc - titanium is for the bikers who want custom framesets that last as long as they live. These titanium frames offer a smooth ride, whilst performing at a high level for the most elite riders.

For each cyclist, the titanium bike frames will provide more comfort when riding, so your performance doesn’t suffer. Not only is it comfortable to ride, but the material is extremely lightweight. In fact, compared to steel bikes - the titanium models are 40% lighter.

With that, you would expect its strength and power of it to suffer, but this is not the case. The power stays identical and the lightweight frame aids the rider in using their force.

Instead of pure titanium, these bikes are manufactured with titanium alloy - which has great resistance to fatigue and overall damage. As opposed to aluminium frames that fatigue at a much quicker rate. Due to having alloy rather than 100% titanium, strength/ durability is increased - whilst the weight is decreased.

Once you find titanium frame tubes that have a shape that suits your eye, these are then welded together using high-technology machinery or elite craftsmen. Although welding is extremely laborious, once this is completed - you will have a long-lasting, smooth-riding bicycle to begin using.


What is a Carbon Bike Frame?

If you’ve been looking for a bike, carbon fiber frames are the most favoured among the other external options. Whether this is a mountain bike or a road bike, this bike frame material is applied to most professionals’ bike choices.

This may shock a few people, but carbon fiber is essentially plastic, strengthened with sturdy fibers. This explains why carbon fiber is the lightest material of them all - due to its uncomplicated structure.

Each individual fiber is manufactured by processing a polymer into filaments of carbon atoms. Once completed and bounded together, they are then moulded into the shape of a typical carbon fiber bike frame.

Even though there are two techniques for accomplishing the carbon frame - the most common is by building each fiber frame tube individually and then using a glue insert to bond them together.

This more simple way of putting together a frame ensures that custom frames are easier to design and measure. However, with more sophisticated carbon fiber frames for the more elite riders, they are moulded slightly differently.

The top tube, head tube, downtube and seat tube are all moulded together in one piece, rather than individually separated and glued in together.

However, unlike titanium frames, there is lots of freedom when it comes to creating your carbon fiber bike frames as there is a multitude of diverse tools and equipment that you can use. Whether that be a dissimilar type of resin for welding, the number of filaments, etc.

It all depends on what the model needs to look like by the end of the project. Every single factor considerably contributes to the end product with how durable, comfortable and stiff it is when testing the bike by travel.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Titanium Bike Frames

Now that we’ve discussed each type of bike frame and you have a deeper understanding of both materials - it is time to run through the benefits and drawbacks of each. Firstly, we will be looking at titanium bike frames and their pros and cons for active cyclists:


Pros (Titanium Bike Frames)

  • Titanium frames offer a comfortable ride
  • Durability is second to none (survives hard impacts)
  • These frames will last a lifetime (no need to replace them)
  • Saves you money replacing frames constantly
  • Titanium is recyclable (environmentally-friendly material)
  • Typically more pleasing to the eye when you buy


Cons (Titanium Bike Frames)

  • If it does get damaged somehow - it is a nightmare to repair (due to the difficulty of welding)
  • Heavier than carbon fiber frames (expenditure of energy during competition is increased)
  • If not looked after properly, it can begin to make creaky sounds


Benefits and Drawbacks of Carbon Bike Frames

Moving on to the carbon fiber frame, we will run you through the benefits and drawbacks of this model. After this, you will have a clear picture of the key differences between the two models - ultimately leading to your decision of which frame to purchase. Here are the pros and cons of carbon fiber frames:


Pros (Carbon Bike Frames)

  • Lightest weight model that can be bought
  • Control and handling are responsive to every minor detail
  • These frames are super comfortable to ride (due to the vibration absorption rate being great)
  • Simple to repair, in contrast to the titanium models
  • Carbon frames will always be a lot quieter than titanium frames (less noise to endure)


Cons (Carbon Bike Frames)

  • Not as durable as the titanium frameset
  • You may have to replace the set more often as it has a shorter lifespan
  • It will cost you more money to purchase due to the lifespan
  • Isn’t fully recyclable (not as environmentally friendly)
  • Won’t warn you about any safety issues (difficult to grasp precautions)
  • No space for racks or panniers making it difficult to carry any wanted luggage, e.g food or fluids


A closer look at our titanium heroes

Our most advanced titanium road bike yet

Fusion is an evolution of their road series, combining classic Reilly race geometry, top-grade hydroformed titanium tubes and advanced engineering to create a light, aerodynamic titanium frame to rival carbon equivalents. 

We decided to make the titanium frame faster with the use of aero tube shapes. Compared to carbon fibre, in terms of this element of the manufacturing processes, getting metal into these shapes is considerably more difficult. However, our use of investment casting allowed us to mimic the aero shapes usually associated with a carbon mould or 3D printing.

Fully integrated cable routing gives the bike a sleek and minimal cockpit, while the stunning ‘kamm tail’ tube profile brings additional aero benefit. 

Take On Country Lanes in Style

Our disc brake Road frame the Spectre has awe-inspiring levels of braking power and is ultra versatile with ample tyre clearance up to 35c, without guards , 32C with guards.  Featuring a CNC machined low mount disc dropout, hewn from a solid billet of 6AL4V titanium, incredibly stiff and sleek - this bike is designed for the country lanes.

The Ultra Adventure Bike

Drawn on the blueprint design of Reilly's ultra successful 3AL-2.5V titanium Gradient, the Gradient T47 incorporates an internally cable routed bottom bracket that is compatible with all axle standards producing cleaner lines and mud-free shifting.

The new frameset features revised hydroformed down tube and top tube profiles with top tube pack boss mounts and a new carbon fork design incorporating internal dynamo and brake cable routing with variable rake for running 650b or 700c wheels with up to 55mm tyre clearance .The Gradient T47 matches the ride characteristics and the geometry of the original.

Titanium is in our DNA, and we’ve spent hours in the saddle perfecting our bike builds so you can find the right fit for you. Custom built with years of bike building experience; our dedicated team of self-professed bike nuts are here to guide you on your lifetime bike.