This is the Stelbel Ti9, the Italian bespoke specialists first foray into the world of titanium – and what an entrance. We were lucky enough to get the chance to borrow it for some riding around Kraków during the summer.
Back in 2017 we met the good folk behind Stelbel at their old workshop in Bergamo. At the time, they only made frames in steel and stainless steel staying true to the brands heritage; only constructing bikes from materials the original founder Stelio Belletti produced with.
In the 1980’s Stelio tested frames in titanium and while they proved successful, the market for them was not quite ready. Fast-forward over twenty years and these experiments gave the current team at Stelbel a foundation to build from.
Back to the future
The result is the Stelbel Ti9; the outcome of number of years of development based on marrying the original trials with modern techniques, while staying true to the unique TIG welding techniques that Stelbel use on their other models.
Ti9 is the name derived from the use of Grade 9 titanium, also referred to as 3AL-2.5V.
It is often used in the aerospace industry where lightweight, strength and high corrosion resistance are equally important. These are all also characteristics that make it a very effective material choice for a high-end frame.
The bike features a T47 bottom bracket; one of the latest standards to be added to the growing list of bottom brackets. Developed by Chris King and Argonaut it is designed to cure the curse of the squeaky bb. It has an oversized shell like the BB30 that helps in creating a stiffer frame, but with threaded cups to keep it from moving.
All cabling is internal, as you would expect with a bike of this calibre. The specimen that we were sent also happened to be in the same bike used in the ‘Movement by Campagnolo’ film that launched the Italian component maker’s 12-speed groupset.
The Ti9 in Kraków
On a ride from Podia HQ we took in some of the roads just outside of the city of Kraków. Not widely known as a cycling destination, the medieval city is located just 100km from the Tatra Mountains. It’s proximity to the higher terrain results in the undulations growing the further south from the city that you venture. This not only makes it an interesting area to ride, but proved perfect place to test the Ti9.
Frame material holy grail?
The bike is smooth and sophisticated as you would expect from a titanium bike; especially one at the high end of the price scale. As a material, titanium is often seen by some as the holy grail for bikes. Offering the weight and response of carbon, along with the comfort of steel.
We weighed the bike straight out of the box and it tipped the scales at just 7.2kg. With that kind of weight it challenges many carbon models. While it might not be quite as stiff as the carbon counterparts, it is often a trade off between stiffness and comfort.
It’s all about balance
Stelbel have found a nice balance between the two, which offers the kind of ‘long day in the saddle’ comfort, with sufficient level of responsiveness at the same time. Finding this balance is what makes certain bikes truly great.
It took some time to understand and appreciate the bike. It is not something that is immediately clear. A total of 500km was ridden over a few weeks, with one particularly long 200km ride. It was on that day when we really grew to love it. The material does a remarkable job at absorbing the vibrations from the road giving that smooth ride characteristic. This is without seemingly loosing any power through frame flex; a number of climbs during that day were recorded with new best times.
It shouldn’t have to be said, that a smooth rolling bike is a not only pleasing to ride, but it also helps to reduce the fatigue on the body. This not only allows you to pedal for longer, but it also enables you to pedal harder for longer. A big day in the saddle, like a 200+km ride, will definitely be made more enjoyable on a bike this good.
Come ride with us
Are you planning on visiting Kraków? Get in touch and let us show you our favourite places to ride. We can’t promise you a Stelbel Ti9, but we have some other great bikes that you can test!