A gravel bike is designed for off-road riding on unpaved or gravel surfaces. These bikes look a bit like road bikes, thanks to the drop handlebars. But they are more rugged with wider tires and have components better suited to off-road riding.
Some gravel bikes have titanium frames. Titanium offers a range of benefits, such as making the bike lighter and more durable. Titanium is also resistant to corrosion and fatigue, ideal for riding in bad weather and the challenging conditions you encounter in the backcountry.
A Brief History Of Titanium As A Bike Frame Material
During the 1970s, the first instances of employing titanium as a material for constructing bike frames emerged. However, it was not until the 1990s that titanium gained widespread adoption in high-end bike frames.
Owing to its exceptional strength-to-weight ratio and lightness, titanium found its initial usage in aerospace and military applications. These qualities were recognized by bike manufacturers who wanted to offer higher-end bikes to their customers.
One of the first companies to use titanium in bike frames was Merlin Metalworks, which introduced the Merlin Titanium in 1986. The bike changed the game when it came to the performance and durability of modern bikes. The company awakened the world to titanium as a viable material for bike frames.
In the 1990s, other companies began to adopt titanium as a frame material, including Litespeed, Seven Cycles, and Moots. These companies focused on building high-end, custom frames for serious cyclists and racers.
Today, titanium remains a popular choice for bike frames, particularly for gravel and touring bikes, where durability and comfort are important factors. While titanium is more expensive than aluminum or steel, it offers several advantages that they can enjoy.
Best Titanium Gravel Bikes on the Market
1. Moots Routt RSL
The Routt RSL is a high-end titanium gravel bike with exceptional performance and comfort. It features a lightweight frame, hydraulic disc brakes, and a 1x drivetrain. The bike is designed to be fast and efficient on paved and unpaved roads.
- Lightweight: The Routt RSL features a lightweight titanium frame that is both durable and responsive.
- Comfortable: The bike has a smooth ride quality due to the natural vibration-damping properties of titanium.
- Versatile: The bike is designed to handle a variety of terrains, including gravel, dirt, and paved roads.
- Customizable: Moots offers several customization options, including different wheel sizes, drivetrains, and components.
- High-performance: This bicycle has been engineered to deliver superior performance, featuring a 1x drivetrain and hydraulic disc brakes that offer remarkable stopping capabilities.
- Expensive: The Routt RSL is a premium bike with a high price tag, making it out of reach for some cyclists.
- Limited tire clearance: The bike can only accommodate up to 700x42c tires, which may not be wide enough for some riders.
- No suspension: The bike has no suspension, which makes it less comfortable when the trail gets rough.
2. Lynskey GR 300
The GR 300 is a versatile titanium gravel bike that can handle a variety of terrains. It features disc brakes and clearance for up to 700x45c tires. The bike is also customizable, with options for different handlebars, wheels, and drivetrains.
- Versatile: The Lynskey GR 300 is designed to handle a variety of terrains, from gravel roads to light singletrack. It handles rugged terrain as well as city commutes.
- It looks fantastic: The aesthetic appeal of this bicycle is striking, yet it also boasts the versatility to be tailored to individual preferences through the incorporation of diverse handlebars, wheels, drivetrains, and other integral components.
- Large tire clearance: You can fit it with 700c x 45mm or5 x 2.1 wheels.
- Smooth ride quality: The frame has excellent vibration damping, creating a pleasant ride wherever you’re riding.
- Expensive: A bike of this quality doesn’t come cheap
- It doesn’t come as a complete bike: You need to buy some components separately
3. Seven Cycles Evergreen Pro
The Evergreen Pro is a high-end titanium gravel bike designed for comfort and speed. It features a carbon fork, hydraulic disc brakes, and clearance for up to 700x45c tires. The bike also has a custom geometry option, allowing for a perfect fit.
- Bespoke: Every bike is bespoke, so you can specify everything from wheels to geometry
- Fast and smooth: You’ll love the ride quality and how it covers the ground quickly
- Very expensive: You need deep pockets and serious love for gravel riding.
- Overwhelming choices: With so many options, you may be overwhelmed with decisions.
4. Enigma Escape
The Escape is a premium titanium gravel bike handmade in the UK. It features the Shimano GRX600 groupset, a carbon fork, hydraulic disc brakes, and clearance for up to 700x42c tires. The bike is also highly customizable, so you can choose your perfect specification.
- Versatile: This bike is suitable for anyone who wants to ride a variety of terrain types.
- Practical: It comes with mounts for fenders and bags, so you can use it for commuting or touring.
- Different builds available: You can choose specific components to suit your wants and needs.
- Expensive: You can buy a carbon bike of similar weight for less.
5. Ribble Gravel Ti
The Ribble Gravel Ti is built in Britain, and the company prides itself on fantastic personal service. The Gravel Ti is fully customizable and provides a silky smooth ride quality that you only get with titanium frames.
- Excellent ride quality: This gravel bike has virtually unrivaled ride quality thanks to exceptional vibration damping.
- Responsive handling: It feels relaxed when riding on the road but responds well to your inputs.
- Attention to detail: This bike has an elegant build quality with nice touches within its construction
- Narrow handlebars: Some cyclists may find the handlebars too narrow, which can be an issue when off-road.
6. Wilde Bikes Dream Engine Titanium
The Wilde Bikes Dream Engine Titanium is built for long-distance adventures. It is designed for exploring the backcountry, single track, and fire roads. Wilde Bikes has given the Dream Engine off-road geometry, so it handles rough terrain well and has several mounts for carrying all your touring equipment.
- Ideal for touring: This gravel bike has many mounting points for attaching everything you need for bikepacking.
- Wide Tire Clearance: The frame allows for 2.6″ wide tires for extra grip and reduced mud build-up.
- Stability: The off-road geometry provides lots of stability when riding all terrain types, even when you’re loaded up.
- Expensive: As this is a high-end bike, you have to expect a high price tag. However, the Dream Engine is more affordable than some bikes on this list.
7. Curve Cycling Big Kev
The Curve Big Kev is regarded as a gravel-plus bike. This means it has 29″ tire clearance up to 2.35″ wide on the rear and 2.4″ at the front. The wider front tire gives you more control, grip, and confidence. This bike is designed for bikepacking and events like the Tour Divide.
- High capability: As this is a gravel-plus bike, you can explore more rugged terrain. This means it is more capable of bikepacking adventures in the wilderness.
- Confidence-inducing: The wide gravel-plus tires provide more grip, giving you the confidence associated with enhanced grip.
- Storage: This bike can accommodate frame bags, rear cargo racks, and fenders.
- Expensive: The Curve Big Kev is very expensive, but there are a few build levels to choose from that may suit your budget better.
8. Bearclaw Thunderhawk
The Thunderhawk is a full titanium gravel bike available in two models; the high-end SRAM Force 1 with Hydraulic Disc brakes and the SRAM Rival 1 with Mechanical Disc brakes. Both are excellent road bikes with the ability to take on all-road adventure rides, mixed-terrain endurance races, and long bikepacking trips.
- Lots of mounting options: The Thunderhawk is equipped with mounting points or racks, fenders, and many other accessories.
- Tire clearance: The frame can accommodate up to 700x50c (29×1.9″) or 650x60c (27.5×2.35″) tires. These give you lots of grip and mud clearance.
- Bottle mount is too low: Some riders feel the seat tube bottle mount is awkward to reach.
9. Naked Bicycles Gravel+ Titanium
The Naked Bicycles Gravel+ Titanium is a versatile bike designed for light singletrack, day-long expeditions in the backcountry, and multi-day bikepacking trips. Naked Bicycles is a small company that will build your bike to your exact specifications, but they will also offer suggestions and opinions so you get what you want and need.
- Customizable: You can get your bike in any specification you like.
- Great looks: These bikes are gorgeous to look at, thanks to their elegant frame design.
- Superb ride quality: The Gravel+ Titanium rides beautifully, no matter what spec you choose.
- Overwhelming choices: As you can specify every aspect of the bike, you may struggle to decide what components to add to your build.
Why Choose a Titanium Gravel Bike?
Titanium is an excellent material for gravel bike frames. Here are some of the benefits titanium brings to the cycling world:
Titanium has outstanding durability against both fatigue and corrosion, rendering it a top-quality material for bike frames that experience challenging circumstances.
Although it’s not as light as carbon fiber, titanium still weighs less than steel and aluminum, making it a desirable option for cyclists who aim to reduce the overall weight of their bikes.
Titanium naturally dampens vibrations while you ride, which can help to reduce fatigue and discomfort on rough terrain. It gives you a smooth ride quality, allowing you to ride further before feeling tired.
Titanium frames are known for longevity and can last many years as long as you look after them. This is important, as titanium gravel bikes are expensive.
Titanium gravel bikes are highly versatile and can be used for various riding styles, including touring, bike packing, and commuting.
Titanium is a popular material for custom bike frames. It can be easily shaped and welded to create unique designs.
Titanium Bike Frames Compared to Other Materials
Carbon Fiber Bikes
Carbon fiber frames are lightweight and stiff, making them popular for road racing and high-performance riding. They can also be expensive and are vulnerable to damage from rock impacts, crashes, and stress.
In comparison, titanium bikes are more durable and more comfortable to ride due to how the frames absorb vibrations.
Aluminum frames are lightweight and affordable, making them popular for entry-level and mid-range bikes. They can also be stiff, which some riders may find uncomfortable on longer rides.
In comparison to aluminum bikes, titanium bikes come with a higher price tag , but they offer a more comfortable ride and remarkable durability.
Steel frames have been used for bikes for over a century. They are known for their durability, comfort, and classic aesthetic. However, they can be pretty heavy and prone to rust. In comparison, titanium bikes are more durable and resistant to rust while still offering a comfortable ride quality.
Cyclists love Titanium bikes for their durability, comfort, and versatility. They can be an excellent choice if you’re serious about riding and want a high-performance bike that will last for years with proper care.
Overall, a titanium gravel bike can be an excellent investment for an avid cyclist who wants to explore off-the-beaten track. The options we have highlighted above are excellent examples that will surely impress; now, all you need to do is choose the right one for you.
Tom Fortune has been reviewing cycling products for several years from his home in the French Alps. As the owner of mtb-threads.com, he mainly reviews mountain bike products but also reviews road cycling products independently.