16 April 2014

On The Rack: Titanium

In the wee hours of this morning, we had snow flurries and freezing rain.  I wasn't awake, so I know about them because of the weather report and the glaze I saw on the windshields of parked cars this morning.

There were also some ice patches on the street.  So I decided to delay going for a ride until the temperature warmed and the glaze melted.  In the meantime, I did a bit of web surfing and came across this:

Now, those of you familiar with Tubus racks won't find this image remarkable.  And it isn't, really, except for one thing:  the rack is made of titanium.  Someone's selling it, slightly used, for $200.

I've never owned or used a Tubus rack, but the ones I've seen look to be very well-made (though, I must say, I like Nitto's finishing and overall workmanship a bit more).  Still, I'm not sure of how I feel about a titanium rack.  I'm sure it's strong.  But titanium is flexier than steel tubes or thick aluminum alloy rods or tubes.  So, even though I believe a Tubus titanium rack won't break, I have to wonder whether it might shimmy more than an alloy or steel rack from Tubus, Nitto or even, say, Blackburn.

The original Carradice Bagman supports were offered in titanium for a couple of years. But they seem to have been discontinued before Carradice completely redesigned the Bagman supports a couple of years ago.  Apparently, some people reported their bags--especially the larger ones like the Nelson Longflap and Camper--bounced and swayed.  To be fair, the clamps on the original Bagman supports--both in the steel and titanium versions--weren't the strongest, so that could have been a source of some problems.

Anyway, I said earlier that I'm not sure how I'd feel about having a titanium rack.  Even if swaying and flexing weren't issues, I have to wonder what benefit such a rack offers, aside from weight savings.   How much of a difference would 50 to 100 grams off the rack would make if you're carrying 30 to 40 kilos with it--and you're riding wider, heavier tires than you'd ride on an unloaded bike.

Given what I've said, I'd still take a rack made of titanium that mounts on the seat stays and rear dropouts over one from carbon-fiber and designed to attach to the seat post.


  1. Hi Justine

    I've been following your blog for years but I think this is my first comment! I've really enjoyed your recent renaissance here -- thanks for sharing so many items from cycling's history.

    I just wanted to say, I have a Tubus rack in titanium - not the one pictured but the Logo (http://www.tubus.com/product.php?xn=3). This is on my titanium touring bike (Enigma Etape). I have the steel version of the same Logo rack on my chromoly work bike (Surly Cross Check).

    The thing I value about the Logo's design (regardless of material) is how my panniers sit. The tube diameter suits a variety of pannier fittings and the cross-bars are placed so that it's easy to position the bag at a suitable height and never get heel strike. I've had all sorts of fit niggles with Blackburn and Topeak racks. With the Tubus ones, bags just seem to drop down on the tubes with no fuss and be right where they should be. And stay there.

    Another factor in my choosing ti for my ti bike is cosmetic: the finish on Tubus' ti racks is bright brush, very similar to that of my bike, so it looks almost like it's integral to the bike frame. I like that! (Same goes for my steel combo: bike and rack both black.) Also, the lines are cleaner and less fussy than those of many other brands'.

    The Tubus website says the weight limit on the steel version is 40kg but less (30kg) for the ti version. My usual load is a change of clothes, extra fleece/jacket, walking shoes and two heavy locks. I haven't pushed those limits with either bike/rack. I am preparing for my first multi-tour cycle tour in June -- taking the ti bike w/ ti rack. Practice runs with loaded panniers still well under the weight limit.

    I haven't noticed any shimmy or flex that I could attribute to the material, just shifts in handling if the weight distribution is off!

    This is all purely anecdotal of course, but hope it's helpful. I love the Tubus Logo racks, in both iterations.

    Both bikes, with racks, can be seen here:

    Have a great weekend -- do you get extra days off at Easter like we do here in the UK? I'm spending it out in the sunshine (fingers crossed) on my bike. :)



  2. Hi Rebecca,

    Thanks for reading and commenting. I am also happy to read that you've had positive experiences with your Tubus titanium rack. Maybe one day I'll get one--or the steel version.

    Yes, I do have this week off, and the day after Easter. Oh joy!