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Lynskey R460 Disc review

2 Dec 2015

Lynskey is one of the oldest hands in the titanium game, but the R460 DIsc is a modern take on the titanium frame.

If there were a Nobel Prize for services to titanium framebuilding it would have gone to Lynskey some time ago. But then the most deserving don’t always win. CS Lewis once nominated his friend JRR Tolkien for the literature prize, only for Tolkien to be rejected by the Nobel committee because his work had not ‘in any way measured up to storytelling of the highest quality’. Lynskey’s credentials, by contrast, are beyond dispute. With a bicycle heritage dating back to 1986, these Tennessee builders’ frames exemplify titanium at the highest level, and the R460 Disc is no exception.  

Hidden qualities

The first thing you’ll notice about this particular R460 Disc is the lack of titanium on show. Where most ti frames usually have the naked metal proudly on display, Lynskey has chosen to cover up most of the R460’s tubes with some rather serious paint, inspired by the early 1990s Klein bikes.

Lysnkey R460 paint

For some titanium fans that might seem sacrilegious, but as a number of stainless steel bikes have shown, painting expensive metals can enhance the beauty of a frame – such as the Condor Super Acciaio. For Lynskey, this approach is something the company is trialling this year. As well as the bike pictured, bare metal, satin finish or mirror polished R460s are also available. The paint, at this stage, is essentially custom, with prices starting at £700 on top of a frameset.

As with an aluminium frame, or steel for that matter, the titanium used in a bike frame is actually an alloy. For the tubes used on this bike the alloys are 6Al/4V and 3Al/2.5V titanium, meaning titanium plus 6% aluminium and 4% vanadium, or 3% aluminium and 2.5% vanadium. The addition of these elements means the resulting titanium alloy can be heat treated or cold-worked to produce a stronger finished material. This increased flexibility in terms of working the metal means that in many ways the strength properties and performance of titanium frames are as ‘tuneable’ as carbon fibre frames

‘We get real specific about which tubes are used for what,’ says Lynskey’s plant manager, Steve Kirby. ‘Areas like the head tube will be cold-worked stress relieved, whereas chainstays and seatstays might be fully annealed [heat treated], to adjust the ride characteristics.’ 

I’ve wondered previously why most titanium manufacturers don’t tend to use 6Al/4V for anything other than the occasional head tube or dropout, when on paper it’s stiffer and lighter than 3Al/2.5V, but as Kirby explains it’s because 6Al/4V doesn’t readily lend itself to being made into the tubes suitable for bikes. 

Lysnkey R460 Bottom bracket

‘You start with a titanium ingot – like a big tube with a hole in the middle – and it’s stretched by firing it through something like a cannon. I saw one mess up once and blast the ingot through the wall and out into the parking lot, where it smashed through a car roof. Since 6Al/4V is that much harder, it doesn’t readily lend itself to being stretched into fraction-of-a-millimetre thick tubes, so despite it being stiffer than 3Al/2.5V for the same wall thickness, not a lot of people build bikes out it.’

The solution where the R460 is concerned is to take 6Al/4V sheets and roll, shape then seam-weld them into the triangulated tubes for the frame’s main triangle. The round seat tube, seatstays, chainstays and head tube are therefore 3Al/2.5V. Well they’re ‘rounded’, save for the seatstays which get Lynskey’s trademark ‘helix’ profiling, which looks rather like a twisted, spiralised tube, which it’s claimed increases rear end stiffness. 

Not having ridden a comparable non-helixed frame I can’t attest to extra stiffness, but I can definitely say this is one stiff titanium bike. 

The bottom line

There’s no getting away from the fact that the R460 is a race bike, and as such it doesn’t make many apologies to that most sensitive of fellows, Monsieur Posterior. The head tube on this 55cm effective top tube bike is a hair over 13cm, making for a large saddle-to-bar drop. Great news for pliant racers, but if you’re not comfortable in a racing tuck and harbour reservations about stacks of spacers spoiling a bike’s aesthetic, you might want to look away now – the R460 isn’t the bike for you. But if you like your bikes sharp, responsive and aggressive, you might just have found your perfect match.

Lysnkey R460 fork

For a titanium bike – a material associated with a plush ride quality – the R460 is remarkably stiff. Wide-profile tubes help, but I’d put money on the compact geometry being the main cause. The frame feels small beneath you and is supremely manoeuvrable. It’s hard to explain, but it’s akin to throwing a cricket ball versus a football. They might weigh roughly the same, but the cricket ball throwing sensation is a hard, direct one, the football softer and somewhat ungainly. The R460 is the cricket ball: punchy and alert.

trounces any other titanium bike I’ve ever ridden

Pedal stomping is a rewarding experience, but it’s the cornering that won me over. The back end is clever, with interchangeable dropouts to accommodate quick-release wheels or bolt-thru axles. This test bike came set up with a bolt-thru dropout but with extras to convert it to quick release so I was afforded a like-for-like comparison, and the bolt-thru definitely won the day. 

Lysnkey R460 dropouts

Cornering isn’t just about leaning a bike through a bend. Braking performance is paramount, as is a stiff pedalling platform for accelerating out of the turn. The bolt-thru set-up made a noticeable difference to both. It gave the Sram Red disc brakes a rock-solid brace that translated to powerful, progressive braking, and tied the back of the bike together in a tight, snappy triangle that was stiff enough to want to lift up the rear wheel when pedalling hard.

All that added up to a bike whose 8.5kg belied a fleet-of-foot ride that would be the envy of many lighter carbon steeds, and certainly trounces any other titanium bike I’ve ever ridden.

Hard and fast rules

Once you’ve subscribed to the racy geometry, what’s the catch? Well, it’s twofold. First, the weight when it comes to climbing. Those extra kilos above ‘race weight’ are offset to a degree by the stiff, efficient punch the compact frame delivers, meaning short, sharp hills are no problem. But on longer climbs the extra mass makes itself known. Then there’s the comfort side of things. 

Lysnkey R460 review

Rougher surfaces felt a bit rumbly. The set-back titanium seatpost does a good job of compensating for the overall stiffness, but it still wasn’t enough to award the R460 all-round comfortable status. The flipside, though, was that I felt entirely connected to the bike, and hence the road, as the R460 transmitted buckets of feedback.

The crux is that the R460 is a race bike. It’s not brutal – I had many happy 100km-plus rides aboard it – but it’s far from a leisurely pedal. Yet because of that it’s an incredibly exciting bike to ride. It’s fun. It has that carbon race-bike thrill, with a touch of titanium soul. It does make you work up the climbs, but it will rip through the descents, and for all the bits in between it will go like the clappers. Plus, with disc brakes, it will stop on a sixpence. But for me, best of all, it’s just a little bit different.


Lynskey R460 Disc £5,265 as tested
Frame Lynskey R460 Disc
Groupset Sram Red 22 HRD
Bars FSA Energy alloy
Stem Ritchey WCS C260
Seatpost Lynskey titanium
Wheels Stan's No Tubes ZTR Holy Grail tubeless
Saddle Selle Italia Elite Kit Carbonio
Weight 8.47kg (Size 55cm)
£3,349 (frame & fork)

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