Ti Lust

In March 1994, I did the unthinkable. I bought a titanium mountain bike frame. Then I paid cash for it. $1275. (US$700) It was still cheaper than your everyday high flying branded Litespeed or Merlin. It was up to me to give it some ‘pedigree’ As I couldn’t ride it to the ends of this earth, a few decals from an all Italian road bike shop did the trick. It’s birth cert had only 2 letters embossed on a very thick and strong right rear dropout. “WF” Woei Fong, a most Taiwanese or Chinese name. Thank God there were no such stickers of the sort splashed across it’s satin smooth tubes. Just under 3 lbs of naked titanium.

The welds were so clean and even, rumour had it that the Taiwanese were welding most of the the US brand titanium frames. This got the Merlin and Litespeed distributor in Singapore incensed and must have cost him some sleepless nights. Not that Asians cannot build ti bikes but more like, a substantial dent in $$$ and loss of face for his pedigree bikes. C’est la vie.

The furthest that my beloved WF has been to is Perth Western Australia. In her early  years she made countless South East Asian mountain biking trips, the last being North Thailand in 2002. I think she must have had about 4 suspension forks up front, and we all know how long those last, not to mention numerous swaps of components when they failed the rigours of off road cycling and touring. A Blackburn Expedition (1992) rear rack still fits but not too well when loaded with larger panniers. She rides best with a rigid fork and is lighter  and nimbler at the same time. Old and new old stock (early 90s) M900 XTR parts are slowly making their way back into this bike, where they rightfully belong.

16 inches is a bit small for me. hence the loooong seatpost. RST air shocks a little too high too, so is the BB height. Did I know all these in 1994 ? Off course not !.

Perfect beads on the head tube

Isolation in Sumatra 1994

There are no rack / mudguard mounts so one has to improvise. Then there’s the 29.4 mm seat tube/post size to grapple with.

That Italian badge.

2010. The final incarnation I hope. Old skool cruiser. Jitensha Studios Nitto flat bar, MB 0 Turbo saddle, M900 XTR bits, Kona Project 2 steel forks, front and rear racks, for the supermarket and huge Ortleibs waiting for a 1000 km ride.

Minoura mini rack. Deore XT 7 spd thumbshifters, long cables

M 900 XTR F/Hub and radially laced wheels

A gorgeous NOS Miyata fork, from their Elevation series.

A gorgeous NOS Miyata fork, from their Elevation series. 1992 maybe?

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Oops. Another forgotten bike. 2000. I was given this frame, yes given, it’s a long story, from a good friend at a bike shop. A made in Santa Cruz, California, do it all hardtail. The previous 17 yr old Swede owner who used it for trials could not keep up with the payments. Yeah, they’re like expensive cars. It was slightly less than perfect, dents here and there and had about an inch sawed off the seat tube where the seat post goes in. Bought a $250 RST air shock and we’re off to Bali. Twice. It climbed the hills like Spiderman, with very short chainstays, which made 3 gears redundant. Think of a short wheel base Mini Cooper with off road tryes. To cut a long story short, the seat post kept slipping, rear facing drop outs too finicky for me, top tube a tad too short, I was taking too many risks on the down hills in Bali,  and just look at the red and orange. It screamed, ‘Ah Beng’ (local lingo for red neck or hoon)

It was soon up for sale. A friend took it for $300 (frame, fork and headset) built it up and gave it to a female colleague who also happened to be married. Ahem. She locked it outside a mall and in 30 minutes, it was gone !  Some time later I saw the it (the bike) in a shop getting a basket attached to the front end. Yikes !  The Korean engineer, who bought it for $100 at a flea market was clueless when I recited the parts it had. Bullseye Hubs, XTR cranks etc. It was covered in mud and dried cement. A sad end, but I’m sure it dreams of those off road trails in Bali. RIP orange Heckler.

The 20 km downhill run from Putung to Candidasa in Bali

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