I cycled a fair amount when I was younger, back in the 80s, and I still have my first road bike which my parents saved hard to purchase for my 14th birthday: a Raleigh Record Sprint 12. But somewhere along the way motorbikes, cars, beer and girls came along and my dreams of riding alongside Stephen Roche at the Tour de France never materialised.
But after a recent early mid-life crisis, in which I raced dirt bikes and trial bikes and kept getting hurt, I dug out the old Raleigh. I followed that with a new Specialized bike, and got the cycling bug back again.
I guess I’m fitter now than I ever was when I was younger. But with the motorbikes collecting dust, it was time to sell them and purchase something worthwhile; something that would last like my old Raleigh.
I had long admired titanium bikes, and a recent chance ride on a friend’s really got me thinking about a Ti build. I probably spent far too much time searching the internet instead of working, putting together a list of possible framebuilders.
A chance encounter with Wittson at the Bespoked show in London this year, where they proudly had their latest creation on display drawing lots of attention, got my interest. The following day I went back with the geometry and measurements from my previous bike for framebuilder Mindaugas to look over.
It’s always a worry when you can’t really test ride a bike properly before purchasing. But Mindaugas spent considerable time and care going over my measurements to ensure the frame sizing would be correct.
When choosing components I really needed to go for Shimano because my other bikes are Shimano and I really needed to keep those components for compatibility. I knew that at some point I would be ordering a nice set of hand-built wheels once I could decide on what I wanted, so I wanted a set of sensible run-arounds to begin with.
The shimano Ultegra wheelset fitted the bill perfectly, and as a nice touch has hubs and nipples in the blue/grey which match the brake blocks. Another nice feature is that although the frame has an integrated seat post, it’s still adjustable by 40mm or so, so changes to shoes, pedals or new seats can be accommodated.
The specs are as follows:
- 2014 Wittson Suppresio Frame M/L
- PressFit 30 bottom bracket
- Ultegra 11-speed groupset
- Ultegra clincher wheels
- Schwalbe Lugano tyres
- Continental race inner-tubes
- Prologo Nack Carbon seat
- Enve 2 fork
- Chris King headset
- K-Edge Ti colour out-front mount
- Deda 120mm dark metal polish stem
- Deda Newton 44cm anatomic dark metal polish handlebars
- Look Keo graphite pedals
- Axiom Inox SS bottle cages
The total weight is 7.9kg.
I’m really happy with the look of the bike, but I’ve also made a few improvements. I’ve just changed the tyres over to all black and purchased some summer wheels: H Plus Son Archetypes with Chris King mango hubs — a splash of colour to set of the Ti frame — and Sapim CX Rays in black. I’m going to fit these up with Schwalbe Durano race tyres. All told, this should bring the build down to about 7.5kg.
So how does it ride? It’s super smooth rolling over poor road surfaces, notably more so than other bikes I have ridden recently. We have lots of short sharp hills in my local area, rather than really long accents, and I prefer to be out the saddle powering up and rolling over rather than grinding.
The bike feels stiff, light and quick and it steers really nicely, which is reassuring at speed on turns. After four or five hours in saddle the bike still feels really comfortable — it’s a slightly more race-orientated geometry (I don’t race though), with a shorter head tube than my other bike, so its a testament to the frame geometry and having the perfect fit that I find it a pleasure to ride for long durations.
So far the Ultegra has performed perfectly, with super-slick crisp changing and phenomenal brakes. In essence, this bike is amazing and I have it totally dialled in now.