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Titanium road bike test: Enigma Echelon vs Kinesis GF Ti Disc vs Vaaru MPA

Matthew Page
4 May 2017

Is titanium really the wonder material it's supposed to be? We took three Ti bikes to the Peak District to find out

Titanium is one of the most abundant metals on Earth and yet titanium bikes aren’t cheap.

This is down to the intensive extraction and refinement needed to turn it into the metal tubing, and the specialist skills then needed to to build those into a frame.

But for many riders the investment is worth it for the ‘magic carpet’ ride titanium promises.

You see, titanium’s incredibly strong, making it more resistant to fatigue than aluminium or steel, plus it doesn’t rust.

It’s also around half as dense as steel, and can be built into thinner, lighter tubes than aluminium ones. And it manages all this while maintaining similar stiffness levels to steel and a superbly comfortable ride.

And although not as light as carbon, even the priciest carbon frames struggle to match titanium for comfort.

That said, it’s a tough to work with, and some riders find that the lightest titanium frames are more flexy than comfortable.

To sort out the facts from the myths, and find out what titanium bikes are like to ride in the real world, we picked three high-end models from British companies and took them for a day out in the Peak District: the Enigma Echelon, Kinesis GF Ti Disc and the Vaaru MPA.

Having already looked at all three bikes individually (see below for links to the full reviews), it's time to compare them and see which of them comes out on top. Read on to find out...

 

Enigma Echelon £2,150 frameset (£4,199 as built)

Frame 10/10 • Components 9/10 • Wheels 9/10 • The ride 9/10

A brief glance at the Enigma Echelon tells you that this is a bike with a lot of traditional features. From the geometry to the straight tubing, the very smart external gear cable routing to the rim brake callipers and mechanical gears, it has the look of a classic road bike.

The Echelon is the newest addition to Enigma’s range and part of its Signature series, which means it is not only designed in Britain, but also cut, mitred and double-pass welded in Enigma’s own workshop in Hailsham, East Sussex...

READ THE FULL ENIGMA ECHELON REVIEW

 

Kinesis GF Ti Disc £1,999 frameset (£3,393 as built)

Frame 9/10 • Components 8/10 • Wheels 9/10 • The ride 9/10 

Kinesis has been making the GF Ti (Gran Fondo Ti) for many years and the GF Ti Disc is the latest version of a model that is widely – and rightly – seen as a classic, with the big difference of course being the inclusion of disc brakes.

The GF Ti is aimed towards riders who love big rides and are looking for versatility with mudguard mounts and rack mounts that could make their bike an all-rounder – suitable for the worst winter weather, some touring and even maybe as a super commuter...

READ THE FULL KINESIS GF TI DISC REVIEW

 

Vaaru MPA £2,199 frameset (£4,499 as built)

Frame 10/10 • Components 9/10 • Wheels 9/10 • The ride 9/10

The Vaaru MPA (which stands for Miles Per Annum) is the brand’s versatile frame that is designed for year-round riding and to be comfortable for the longest of rides.

With a full complement of mudguard rack mounts and racks mounts, including on the fork, it’s perfect for anyone wishing to do some touring.

Vaaru are relatively new and specialise in titanium frames, concentrating solely on the benefits that this particularly tough metal can bring...

READ THE VAARU MPA REVIEW

 

Overall winner: Enigma Echelon

Signiture British frame takes the narrowest of victories

After our time with these three superb bikes there is no doubt in our minds that titanium is every bit the wonder material it claims to be.

Each of the three bikes offers a ride quality that can’t quite be matched by any other frame material, with incredible comfort combined with unsurpassed feeling from the road, helping you know exactly what is going on beneath you.

The Kinesis has long been a favourite and at the heart the frame is fantastic and offers a huge amount of versatility.

A few of the key components were a little disappointing, but one of the benefits of buying a Kinesis is that you can spec it exactly to your requirements and with a little tweaking, this has the potential to be an even more exceptional bike.

Choosing a winner between these bikes was almost impossible and ultimately came down to rider style and requirements.

The Kinesis is a fine machine while the MPA has a fantastic component specification and unrivalled comfort. The Enigma, meanwhile, has a much more traditional frame style that makes it simply stunning to ride.

Hmm... if we were forced over a barrel at gunpoint to pick one, then we’d have to go for the Enigma – it’s a beautiful bike and one that it’s really hard not to lose your heart to.

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