Saturday, 07 November 2015 20:49

LEAN-R Prototype

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It’s not a TitanFlex, but it is a new creation by the inventor of TitanFlex, Tom Piszkin. It is a pretty unusual looking vehicle, so I couldn’t help but ask Tom a few questions about it to share with everyone.

TomLEAN R

Q1: It looks pretty unusual for a bike, what is it and where did it come from?

It’s a human powered vehicle designed to improve on the 100+ year old “double-diamond” design. Contemplating how other designs have failed to unseat the “safety bike” as the dominant species has been a fun exercise. Its not dissimilar to how I conceived of the original TitanFlex; I love working outside the box and innovating engineering solutions rather than fitting the mold but making incremental improvements. I can’t help but question the status quo: Is there no combination of new technology that could improve the state of the “human-powered” art? This LEAN-R is just another of my answers to that question.

Q2: How long of you been thinking about building this sort of bike?

In the early 1990’s when the TitanFlex was being used in the Race Across America I started thinking about a design that would provide the ultimate comfort and efficiency for this event.

Q3: Why did you make it? What are the potential benefits of this bike?

To pursue a what-if scenario: What if you had a bike that was more comfortable and more aerodynamic than a double-diamond, but not as heavy or cumbersome as a recumbent...a design that allowed you to use your body weight in climbing, offered a cruise position that distributed your body weight over more contact area, and enabled you to produce more power?

Q4: What is the most difficult part about engineering/building this bike?

The availability of a rear hub assembly that doubles as an input shaft. This feature is critical in keeping the wheelbase close to a double-diamond’s--so you can stand over the pedals. Something of this nature just became available. Although it is a single speed 3:1 gear ratio, it is sufficient for proof-of-concept. To be practical, the rear hub assembly needs to be multi-speed.

Q5: How was the process of creating this bike similar/different from designing the original TitanFlex?

This creative process followed the same template as the TitanFlex: What if I could have one bike that was as light as my carbon racing bike (Kestrel KM40), durable as my steel trainer (Schwinn Circuit), could be easily set up for either pack riding or time trialing, and isolated my freshly-repaired back from the abuses rough roads? Image the lack of clutter in my garage!

LEAN-R DesignModel

Q6: What are your plans for this bike this design in the future?

To use this prototype to experiment with the positioning and control parameters while keeping tabs on the development of a multi-speed hub, which would be incorporated in the second generation.

 

 

Feedback

What do you think about the LEAN-R? If you have any other questions for Tom, post them in the comments section. I think we'll have it out at the 6-12-24hr TT World Championships, so maybe Tom will let you take it for a spin if you're out there!

Sunday, 25 October 2015 21:26

Sub-17 Build

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Thought I'd share a couple drool-worthy photos from a recent build. Nice bike, John.

 

Tuesday, 22 September 2015 00:39

Meet our new friends: Hermes Sport

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While both Tom and I coincidentally have Michigan-related histories, Tom and TitanFlex are truly San Diegans (and I’m getting there, after 12 years here). Thanks to year ‘round riding, thriving open water swim scene, and tons of running opportunities, it’s no surprise that San Diego (and southern California) is home to many great triathlon and cycling innovations, indeed the innovation of triathlon itself. Although we’ve got TitanFlex owners riding all over the world (a black TitanFlex once passed me while running in Paris), we’re happy to be in the thick of the San Diego scene. And so, I’d like to introduce you to a San Diego cycling friend of ours, Hermes Sport.Maybe some of you know of Hermes, they’ve been making bespoke wheels for a while, but they’ve got some new wheels and we think they’d look great on a TitanFlex. I’ll let Alex Webster introduce more about Hermes and the wheels below. Going forward, it will be an easy option to add a new set of Hermes wheels with new TitanFlex purchases, just ask us about it. With that as plenty of introduction, I’ll pass it over to Alex:

We're very excited to be working with the Titanflex gang, to provide them with the best possible wheelsets for use aboard their unique, innovative bikes.

We make the new VK line of wheelsets, hand built right here in San Diego.  This is our first system-designed wheel, and a big change of course for us.  Since 2009, Hermes Sport had been a custom wheelbuilder, gaining extensive experience in building precision racing wheels.  This project began in 2012, and since them we've worked to perfect our system, and deliver untouchable performance. No effort was spared in making the VK wheelsets the most optimized around in terms of strength-to-weight, and introduce new technologies never seen before in a bike wheel.  They're now beginning to ship, and we feel we've delivered a set of wheels that deliver the goods in terms of speed and handling, but at the same time are built to be easy to maintain and last for years.

We've built wheels for triathletes for a long time, however in spite of their potential we haven't yet established our new VK wheels in this sphere.  In the process of rectifying this, we are doubly gratified to be working with another awesome local San Diego company to help us get a foothold in the triathlon world.  The Titanflex design is a bonafide race-proven concept, and working with them will help us better establish ourselves as much as our wheels will enhance the performance of their bikes.

Thanks, and happy trails!  Please feel free to read more about what we do at www.hermes-sport.com

Tuesday, 21 April 2015 15:15

HydraQuiver Review Pt.2

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I’ve been running with the HydraQuiver for over a year now since my first review {read it here or on SDRI}. My feelings haven't really changed since that review, its a great bottle holder, and my go-to if I need to carry more than 8oz but a camelback is overkill. My use has evolved and I had a few more thoughts recently though, so I thought I’d share an update. 
 
A postural device?
We're going to down a little diversion from what you’d expect out of a review of a hydration device, but follow my line of reasoning here. It wasn’t obvious to me for a while that the unique side of the shoulder–almost falling off–slings was an ideal design. It wasn’t uncomfortable or annoying, but it was noticeable. The contact feels like it is out near the delts, not on the traps snug to the neck like most backpacks. After a few uses, I mostly got over the feeling that they were going to fall off all the time, and now I have a reason to think its the perfect design.
     I’ve been thinking a lot about upper body posture (you know, “running tall”) and shoulder mobility recently, both with respect to my running form and some nagging shoulder/neck pain/tightness. The most obvious flaws I see in a majority of runners anywhere I go is poor arm carriage (lack of sufficient swing and not following the Coach Piszkinism "nips to hips” or crossing over the midline). Related to that is rolled in shoulders, which is a general posture problem we modern-day humans hear about plenty. I’m pretty sure that if you don’t externally rotate your shoulders, you can’t get your arm to carry right (just like hip external rotation is part of normal gait). So, I’ve been working on this, both with mobilizations and conscious cues while running. Now, I find automatically and naturally, my external rotation remains in check while wearing the HydraQuiver, even at later stages of long runs where form tends to break down.
They even make specific braces for this, that look pretty similar to the quiver without storage (check out the comparison below; I'd rather wear a HydraQuiver for style reasons at least).
backbrace   hq square
 
Change of mind: water held on shoulders is better than tight around the waist
My one negative early on using it was the new sensation of having something on my shoulders. Its not the same secure feeling of a running camelbak where that thing is essentially grafted to your body. The HydraQuiver, sits much higher, and almost feels like it is going to fall off (if its on correctly), but IT NEVER WILL. It took me a while to get used to this and have faith that I have it set right, but now its dialed in and I use it almost exclusively for anything longer than about 1:30, when I used to use a waist belt held bottle. Now, I can’t imagine going back to that tight feeling around my gut of a belt-held bottle.
 
Just the right amount of storage for travel runs
I run a lot in random cities while traveling for work. Annoyingly, it means I need to carry a few extras for safety or convenience. You know, in case what I think is the right route ends up taking me on an extra 10 mile loop, or not happening by a 7-11 when I need fuel. This includes money, hotel keycard, food, and increasingly I wish I could carry my phone with me. None of this will fit in the little tailbone shorts pocket, and I don’t want to have to pack and fuss with a camelbak everywhere I go. The pocket in the HydraQuiver turns out to be perfect for all this. For luggage efficiency sake, I habitually also look for any items I travel with to have multiple uses (like the backpacking axiom). So then I also have a regular water bottle (rather than a bladder) that I can use for other water holding purposes with an economy of packing size/weight (gym, spin, bedside, airport). The quiver itself packs pretty well. I usually pack around the bottle-holding loop, but I’m pretty sure it would be fine if I crushed that flat….I’m just a sucker for keeping it pristine.
 
Net-net?
I love this thing, and the wife is jealous (and can use the postural reminder) so we're getting another. Heck, I might even get the double-barrel one. Oh wow, they have a vest version too. Maybe if when I do another ultra-marathon...
Monday, 20 April 2015 00:23

Welcome to the new TitanFlex Bikes

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Hi everyone, and welcome to the new online home of TitanFlex Bikes.

You don’t see as many TitanFlex Bikes on the road these days as 10 or 15 years ago. However, we feel like there are probably a lot of athletes out there for whom the bikes would be perfect if they only knew about them. So, we’re making some changes. The website is updated and will continue to have new content (about our bikes and other things), we’re on social media, and perhaps most importantly Tom has updated the flagship AL-Ti model and released it as the TitanFlex-20.

We firmly believe that you don’t need to spend $10K+ on a new superbike to do well at triathlon. And you certainly don’t need to be uncomfortable on your bike for it to be fast. Rather, you should be fast because you’re comfortable in a better position for the whole race--not to mention in training.

By being smart about design and material choices, letting function rule over form, the TitanFlex is not like other bikes (which you can confirm at a single glance): it is laterally stiff to ensure efficient power delivery to the road, light and aerodynamic by minimizing unnecessarily turbulent vertical seat tubes, and incredibly comfortable on your rear (along with everything connected to your rear). In addition to these “standard TitanFlex features,” the new TitanFlex-20 has a number of improvements and refinements based on Tom's 20+ years of experience making bikes and coaching triathletes. Some highlights include:
 • Integrated headset
 • Improved stiffness at the bottom bracket
 • Aerodynamic brake tucked under the chainstay
 • Provision for easy internal cable routing in Di2 builds
 • Deep penetration welds for smoother esthetics

You might wonder why the bike is not made of carbon. All of the tactile elements that make TitanFlex special are somewhat at odds with each other, like stiffness and flexibility at the same time in different regions. So it make sense to use the material best suited for each specific task. Carbon’s suitability for sexy styling has to be balanced against its aversion to high-impact events. We think titanium is a more bullet-proof way to dampen road vibrations in a cantilevered design. A carbon TitanFlex would be heavier than it’s aluminum rendition at the level of stiffness desired in the task of power transmission. Of course, we’re not saying carbon is bad; carbon is excellent for forks and wheels, and all sorts of other parts, and we use it there.

So, stay tuned to the new website and our social outlets, and please interact with the new content by adding your comments. It won’t just be about our bikes, or just about cycling. We love all this stuff just like you. We’ll also have guests (friends and sponsored riders) joining the conversation and sharing information.

Lastly, if you want more information or want to try out a TitanFlex for yourself, just let us know.

Best wishes,
Tom and Harper

Saturday, 18 April 2015 22:50

24hr Time Trial Worlds 2014

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I'm a little late sharing this fun story, but now that the new website and blog are up and running, its about time.6-12-24_Hour_World_Championships___HomewebcatID.png

Tom and I headed out to Borrego last winter to hang out and watch the 6-12-24 Hour World Championships. We had some fun setting up with the race organisers and shooting the breeze with riders. The 24-hour race is a UMCA World Cup event and a RAAM Qualifier, so brought out some serious competition by top ultra riders. One rider in particular, we'll never forget. A canadian dude came up to us in the afternoon before the race (6PM start time). He chatted for a bit with Tom, and then they called me over to join the conversation. Well, this dude, Donn MacDougall, was in a pickle. His airline had lost his bike somewhere between Canada and southern Cal. It turns out, Donn is approximately the same dimensions as I. So, we agreed he'd race on my triathlon bike. He tweaked some position settings, and got himself ready to race in a couple hours. Oh ya, and it was a good thing I had my cycling shoes in my car, they fit him too (and I'm pretty sure I'd rinsed them out since the last time I'd peed during a triathlon bike leg).

Here's Donn in the middle of the night. 

IMG 1463 1 

Tom and I made it on prime-time TV, which was super fun too.

Check us out at 2:40, but the whole coverage is pretty cool. Still, my favorite part is where Sarah Pilla calls us "Special Men." 

The whole race was fun, but meeting Donn and getting to help him out was a highlight I won't soon forget. Of course, theres the problem that my bike has done a 24hr TT, yet I have not. This shameful situation should probably be rectified soon.

Sunday, 06 April 2014 15:27

HydraQuiver Gear Test and Review (Pt.1)

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Never Race with Something NewhQ start

I’m pretty sure it’s not breaking the rule of don’t ever race with something new, if you call it a “training race.” And so it was, I tried out the Orange Mud HydraQuiver on a trail marathon. Regardless, conventional wisdom is frequently wrong, like my preconception that theonly way for bottles to not be annoying or asymmetrically impact my gait is for them to be strapped to my lower back squeezing my gut as tightly as I could handle. It turns out, and I wouldn’t have guessed this without trying it, that the best place for a bottle is right between my shoulder blades.

HydraQuiver is how I know this.

The Right Hydration Solution for the Right Race

There are lots of options in hydration systems. I think this setup is the ideal one for a well-supported long-ish run (race or training), such as Catalina Marathon where I first used it. A full bladder is unnecessary, and too time consuming to refill; but you need something to get through some long segments. I’d also use this as my first choice on 13-20 mile training runs with no options for refilling. 

hQ close
  • The right amount
    • Standard 21-24 oz bike bottles fit. With this capacity I easily skipped occasional water stations. I don’t like stopping at every single one if they’re only a mile or two apart, because it breaks up my rhythm and gives me a chance to dawdle.
  • Easy and comfortable
    • Accessing the bottle is simple; easier than I thought...and putting it back is even easier. I used a short bottle and it was no problem--there’s an adjustable strap to raise it up.
    • Once I figured out that I should cinch the shoulder straps tight, it didn’t jostle at all, and was very comfortable. Zero chafing over the 4+ hrs despite being the first time I’d worn it. There is a little bit of armpit contact that took me a little while to get used to compared to larger packs.
  • Tons of storage
    • There is a surprising amount of storage. There are two pockets on top of the shoulders that are easily accessible and velcroed shut. I kept a Hammer Gel Flask in one, with plenty of room to spare. Then, basically the entire thing is a pocket between the padding and bottle. You can easily store a marathon worth of fuel.

 

 

Related ‘Quiver Skills

As we learned from Napoleon Dynamite, girls like guys with skills…show off those quickdraw HydraQuiver skills during other bottle-based activities post-race.

hQ Bar hQ beerholster

 

Disclaimer: I received the HydraQuiver at no charge, thanks to my devilishly dirty friend, Victor Runco. I wasn’t obligated to say I like it, but I like it and I’m keeping it.

 

Sunday, 22 April 2012 00:21

Ultegra Di2

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BobC describes the first TitanFlex Ultegra Di2 installation on his blog. Thanks to this project, the new TF-20 model is made specifically for internal routing of the electronic group. 

Thursday, 15 March 2012 20:59

Inspired Article

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Click to view the complete article

Sunday, 31 July 2011 20:32

Preferred by cycling addicts

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It's official. TitanFlex is the vehicle of choice among those addicted to bicycling...

 

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