Building up the wish list for a new bike I came across Van Nicholas. For those who have not heard of the company (previously known as Airborne), they make some great titanium frames. With a transferable lifetime warranty and a crash replacement offer and affordable-ish, I was keen to get hold of one.
The build has been based on a bike that I can use for everything, hacks, road, epics, commute, the lot, so light, but not silly, and comfy enough for long days in the saddle.
As for how it rides, I can now appreciate why people speak highly of titanium. Surprisingly the Zion does not have loads of the legendary flex, it is there but subtle. A recent tyre change to the rear and I’ve noticed myself wanting to sprint into and power out of corners in a way I never felt on an aluminium rig.
The best compliment for the frame is that you just do not notice it. It simply gets you up, across and down terrain at speed with no complaints; the rear rarely slips out on climbs even on surfaces like the wet chalky South Downs.
The Zion is described by the company as ‘the work horse’ frame. A nice feature of this frame is that it has double bottle, rear pannier and front Crud Catcher bosses, all testament to its do-it-all credentials. And the rear dropouts feature a nice cut out monogram ‘V’.
Things to consider are the tight clearances around the rear tyre. I have run 2.1in and despite not leaving much clearance the rear stays free of crud, proven over the last six months winter riding in an area with all the varieties of mud, sand and clay. 160mm is the limit on rear rotor size, graphics are not robust and are already chipping away though replacements are available (but titanium head badge is a nice touch).
I’m pretty happy with the build but wonder if it could be lighter, but never want that by sacrificing performance or durability. I might risk a set Continental Speed King Supersonics for the summer. The nice thing about any titanium frame is it is going to last and keep its performance, so as parts wear they can be upgraded.
There are dearer titanium frames out there and possibly with greater performance, but it is a law of diminishing returns. I have no complaints and lots praise for this frame. Now roll on the summer for some epic days.