- Setavento Ti
- £625 frame only
- Straight outta China
- Value for money custom designed titanium frame
Titanium has traditionally been the reserve of the wealthy, or the fortunate. Setavento certainly isn’t the first company jumping on the cheap Ti bandwagon – we’ve already tested the £750 Dialled Bikes Morning Glory and £699 Pipedream Nevis offerings, both of which proved to be pretty agreeable mounts.
Setavento have the ace in the pack though. Not only is £625 price tag even lower than the opposition, it also includes a custom geometry service included in the price. You don’t just buy a stock frame of the shelf, instead you supply Setavento with a list of measurements and riding preferences and you’ll get a frame designed just for you. Which looks like a killer deal – surely there’s a catch?
James Laurence is the man behind Setavento. “I felt that American-made Ti frames were getting very expensive. We offer a very competitive price by being web-based (think Amazon or Easyjet!) which reduces our costs while maintaining great customer service. If someone wants a complete bike we liaise with their local shop for the build.”
Fortuitously the test bike was designed for someone of very similar proportions to a number of the BM test crew. Obviously with a custom frame the numbers aren’t that relevant, although for the record the test frame was laid out in a classic XC style for the tallish rider: 71/73 angles and a 23.8in top tube. The ordering process for a custom frame is very straightforward – an online questionnaire gathers information about your body measurements, existing bike sizing and riding styles, plus other personal preferences. Setavento will then produce a design for you to see how your frame will look, and once approved it’s just a matter of waiting about six weeks for your frame to be produced.
The test bike was made from plain gauge 3AL/2.5V Grade 9 plain gauge titanium – double butted pipes are available for an extra £200. The head tube on future revisions will also be externally butted to save a bit of weight. Cable routing goes underneath the top tube, with cradle-style brake hose guides all the way to the dropout. This test model was lacking a third hose guide on the top tube, but this is standard on frames now shipping. The dropouts are compact but reassuringly chunky. The seat collar had a forward-facing clamp and the dropped top tube offers loads of standover clearance, meeting the seat tube about two inches from the top. The test bike had V-brake bosses at the back, but they’re optional – most Setavento buyers do without.
You’d expect a frame of this price to have a few drawbacks. But at first glance it’s not at all bad. You don’t get tubes from a big-name pipe manufacturer like Tange at this price, but what you do get is all tidily put together. The welds aren’t the prettiest we’ve seen, but certainly not the ugliest – we’ll go with “workmanlike”. The requisite curvy rear stays provide ample heel and tyre clearance. Although built with 2.1in tyres in mind we were happy with the amount of clearance around the 2.3in Continental Vertical treads. Setavento can push the stays out a bit if you want to run something chunkier.
Setavento supplies frames only, although it can liaise with your local bike shop to sort a full bike build. Our test bike came with a solid spec – Shimano XT, Hope M4 brakes, Continental Vertical tyres, Hope hubs on Mavic X717 Disc rims, Thomson stem and seat post, a Kobi saddle and a Fox F100 RLC fork up front. The whole ensemble came in at a trail-friendly 12.3kg (27lb).
To be honest we weren’t expecting miracles from the Setavento – just getting a custom-made titanium frame for this money seems amazing enough, expecting it to be a great ride too seemed almost unreasonable. But it handled everything we threw at it with aplomb. The stiff yet forgiving frame made it a blast through the woods. The frame had that desirable titanium feel, solid with a hint of spring. Through fast narrow singletrack, it had a fingertippy feel – it didn’t need coercing, just gently nudging in the desired direction and it complied without complaint. We swapped the extremely short stem supplied for a 100mm item, and the handling became, as you’d expect, a lot less twitchy and more “which way do you want to go, sir?”. We loved riding the Setavento, and it was a shame to see it leave the office.
Positives: Great price considering custom geometry is part of the package, rides extremely well, solid, pingy
Negatives: Welds could be sweeter, decals aren’t great
Verdict: Titanium used to be an exclusive material, lusted after by all that couldn’t afford the high price tags. Now though there’re plenty of small companies bringing titanium into the realms of mere mortals. Setavento manages to be cheaper than most and still offer custom geometry. Bargain.