A nasty break

Miscellaneous 2 1

My recent post about Litespeed’s Google video, which illustrated the toughness of titanium as a frame material, generated a bit of discussion. As some commenters pointed out, the way the frame is engineered is just as important, or more so, than the material that goes into it. Coincidently, Fat Cyclist posted a picture a few days ago of his broken Ibis titanium road frame. The image reinforces the point that any frame material can fail. I have seen broken aluminum, steel, carbon, and titanium frames. Some materials tend to have more catastrophic failures than others. Steel, for instance usually does not fail without some warning signs. I would imagine that titanium behaves similarly. Still, no single material is foolproof. That is exactly why it is important that bicycle manufacturers take engineering and product testing seriously. People’s lives are at stake.

To be fair, not all grades of titanium are the same and I am not sure what mix Ibis used back when they were making Ti Road frames. This was an older bike, but that really is a scary failure. Fatty is very lucky that he did not get hurt.

2 Comments

  1. benja July 14, 2006 at 5:10 pm -  Reply

    Heh, well as one of the welders at Ibis during the first two years of Ti frame production I can tell you that those Ancotech butted Ti tubes got REEEEAAAAL thin in the center sections. Real thin.

    The butting process was all mechanical so some may have gotten a bit TOO thin. I wonder how many miles that frame had on it. And nice to see it didn’t fail at the weld!
    =)

    BTW, the LiteSpeed breakage video was next to meaningless. Any frame can break.

  2. Fat Cyclist July 15, 2006 at 12:21 am -  Reply

    i didn’t log lifetime miles on the bike, but based on my usage for the past nine years, i’d guess i have about 40,000 miles on that frame. i’m going to miss it.

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