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.