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Titici F-RI01 review

29 Nov 2019
Verdict:

Mixes Italian flair and design quality well, and delivers a highly polished performance, but at a price

Cyclist Rating: 
For 
Exquisite custom build quality • Standout design • Great balance of rigidity for power transfer and a smooth ride feel • Integrated aesthetic • Great paint job
Against 
A touch portly at this superbike price point, one that will likely put it out of reach for most people

When I first saw the Titici F-RI01, I’ll admit my heart sank a little. The squashed-flat top tube emblazoned with the mandatory three-letter acronym – PAT (Plate Absorber Technology) – suggested a bike trying a bit too hard to find something to make itself stand out from the crowd. But then I rode it.

Shame on me for my presumption, because the Titici didn’t just impress me out on the road, it really impressed me. I still wince at the silly acronym, but I’m happy to concur that PAT, which Titici claims improves shock absorption by 18% compared to a ‘standard tube’, does afford the frame a palpable degree of additional comfort.

The unique top tube shape also plays its part in preserving the lateral and torsional stiffness required to keep the frame feeling taught – at least versus my best attempts to wrestle some flex out of it.

The vertical compliance isn’t as obvious as, for instance, on the Trek Domané, where the bounce in the seatpost is visible, but the Titici’s flattened top tube irrefutably takes a good deal of the sting out of the bigger strikes on the road. There’s a sense of immediate dissipation as bumps are dulled to a mild thud, rather than a spine-jangling reverberation.

The buzz from higher-frequency vibrations is also slightly dampened, if to a lesser extent, but the Titici is still ahead of a good number of its competitors in this regard.

This too on a 25mm tyre, indicating to me it’s more a case of successful frame characteristics than a reliance on voluminous rubber. Many brands now spec 28mm as standard, and I’m certain the buzz would all but vanish completely if I fitted some 28s on the Titici.

The F-RI01 also handles beautifully. It reacts with pleasing immediacy, the front end feeling impervious to flex, and when I threw it into tight corners it hit its marks assuredly. At this point you might be thinking, ‘This all sounds very positive, so how come I’ve never heard of Titici?’

Small but perfectly formed

Titici is a small Italian brand, a David in the face of the Asian Goliaths. It began in 1961, originally called Tecno Telai Ciclo (TTC – hence Titici today), which translates simply as ‘technical bicycle frame’. Founder Alberto Pedrazzani claims he worked first in iron, before moving onto steel, then aluminium and inevitably to carbon.

Like many artisan framebuilders, Pedrazzani often found himself making batches of his wares for bigger Italian marques. But no matter what the material or which logo eventually adorned the down tube, one thing would always be the same – everything was 100% handmade in Italy.

That’s something that remains the case today, even though Alberto has now passed the reigns to his son, Matteo.

Titici’s point of difference is to focus on full custom (although some stock geometry frame sizes are offered). Its carbon frames are mostly tube-to-tube constructions, maintaining both the hands-on aspect of the build, plus allowing complete autonomy over dimensions.

This range-topping F-RI01, though, is the one exception. The front end is fully integrated, with all the hydraulics running completely inside the bar/stem and frame tubes.

It’s exceptionally neat, I might add, and it’s the result of Titici developing a specific monocoque head tube and down tube piece to tessellate optimally with the new fork and the bar/stem combo on which it worked directly with FSA to create. So although it’s still fully custom, there are limits to what can be altered at the front of the bike.

While I’m on the subject of neat touches, the F-RI01 has something called (here we go again) TCT – Tap Connection Technology. It’s essentially a digital data log accessed by scanning the head badge using an app, noting everything from owner details to fit dimensions to service history and so on.

So forget that little bit of tape around the seatpost – if you travel with your bike and can’t remember your seat height, a scan of the head badge will tell you.

You pays your money

With each Titici, you choose your fit and paint scheme at no additional cost. The only reason to opt for stock sizing would be speed of delivery, as these can be turned around in approximately two weeks instead of the eight to 10 weeks required for a custom frame.

Being custom, the spec is also entirely up to the customer, but I doubt you could do much better than this extravagant selection of components straight out of the top drawer.

The wheels are by another northern Italian independent, Alchemist, and each pair takes a claimed 20 hours to build, thanks to the unique asymmetric rim profile. They’re concave on the non-drive side for the front, and drive-side at the rear, claiming to combat the extra torsional stresses created by pedalling and disc brakes.

Titici tells me ‘supply issues’ were the only reason it didn’t keep things in the Italian camp with a Campagnolo groupset for this test bike, but I’m every bit as happy with the Sram Red eTap AXS components, which delivered buttery-smooth shifting and matched the super-modern look of the rest of the bike.

It all comes at a price – nearly £12k in total for this build – but in the current market that’s (and I shudder to say this) not astronomical. Pricetags over £10k are not uncommon now, and if you’re going to spend that kind of sum then why not have something entirely custom, knowing you’ll never see another one when you pull up at the cafe?

You couldn’t say that about an S-Works Venge or Cannondale SystemSix, could you?

If I had any criticism of the F-RI01 it would be that it’s a little on the portly side. It could do with being 400-500g lighter overall to sit in the same bracket as the very top-level disc road bikes. Its slight heft doesn’t really affect the ride feel, other than feeling a little tardier on a draggy climb, but its worthy of note nonetheless.

In summary, I set out with low expectations for the F-RI01, but I finished up thinking I’d happily buy one. If I had a spare £12k.

Spec

Frame Titici F-RI01
Groupset Sram Red eTap AXS HRD
Brakes Sram Red eTap AXS HRD
Chainset Sram Red eTap AXS HRD
Cassette Sram Red eTap AXS HRD
Bars FSA Vision ACR integrated 
Stem FSA Vision ACR integrated
Seatpost Titici aero
Saddle Fizik Antares R1
Wheels Alchemist Ultra Series, Vittoria Corsa Graphene 2.0 25mm tyres
Weight 7.57kg (large)
Contact titici.com

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Price: 
£4,995 (frame, fork, headset, bar/stem, seatpost, bottom bracket), £12,000 as tested

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