2024 Crisp Titanium | Titanium Bicycles Handcrafted in Italy | Darren Crisp | Crisp Titanium

Frequently Asked Questions

  • The starting price for a Crisp custom road or mtb frame can be found by clicking the main menu Pricing/Road-Gravel-MTB tab. Here you’ll find all the pertinent information regarding standard framesets and all the options. The standard framset package includes project planning, analysis of anthropometric data, geometry development, drawing and revisions, fabrication, graphic and personalization development, hand satin finish, and custom etching.
  • Shipping costs vary from country to country. Shipping costs also vary based on the quantity of goods shipped (frame only, frame + fork, complete bike). Typically, a frame shipped via express courier, insured for its declared value will cost from Euro 30-60.00 in Italy. A frame shipped outside Italy via express courier, insured, usually costs between Euro 100-200.00. This does not include packing, packing material or packing labor as this depends again on the quantity of material being shipped. Detailed quotations are provided to the prospective client before starting a project. If you have particular needs regarding shipping or prefer to use your carrier, I also accommodate this possibility.
  • I use many types of ASTM-certified titanium. For bicycle frames, I prefer to use straight-gauge CWSR American grade 9 (3Al/2.5V) seamless and Grade 5 (6Al/4V) titanium as it has been time-tested and offers the highest quality for bicycle frame building. For butted tube sets, I prefer Reynolds quality triple-butted tubing for specialty frames. I prefer braze-ons and machined parts from Paragon Machine Works in California.
  • No. I prefer grade 9 for its mechanical characteristics and overall ride quality. Grade 11 and 2, among others, are not aerospace grade alloys. They are typically designed for industrial applications where high resistance to corrosion is necessary (boilers, heating elements, acid baths). They have inferior mechanical characteristics when compared to Grade 9.
  • I use Grade 5 on machined parts (BB shells, dropouts, braze-ons) because of its strength and machinability. I do not use Grade 5 tubing because it does not exist commercially in seamless form with regard to tubing. The Grade 5 tubing that is used for bicycles is formed from sheet and welded to make tubing. While the exterior surface of the tubing is ground flush after welding, the interior surface is not. On bicycle tubing, where wall thickness is typically from 0.5mm – 0.9mm, having inconsistent grain structure within this space (caused by the weld seam) is not advisable. The resulting difference of the two grain structures, when placed under stress (riding the bicycle), can propagate stress risers and cracking, which in turn can lead to tube and frame failure.
  • The attachment shows various grades of titanium as outlined by ASTM standards. As you can see, grades 1-4 are considered commercially pure (CP) titanium and are relatively inferior in strength to GR9. By adding small quantities of alloy, specific characteristics can be achieved based on the use of the material.
  • This is a question that I get frequently. I am not an expert on carbon fiber, so my capacity to respond at a technical level is limited. I know that both materials can be formed in various ways to achieve objective goals of strength, stiffness, and light weight. Carbon fiber may be manipulated with changes in fabric density, lay-up orientation, thickness, shape, epoxy/resin type and quantity. I prefer to achieve these goals with titanium by manipulating tube length, tubing diameter, tube shape, cold bending, wall thickness distribution, and geometry of the frame to meet the design criteria. I can make a frame more or less flexible depending on the desired effect. I do, however, question the marketing strategies of those who promote carbon, using both stiff/rigid and shock-absorbing in the same sentence.
  • This response is more directed to my Italian reader, as there is a multitude of advertising propaganda touting the benefits of welding in a sealed vacuum chamber (sorry, it’s long and my website doesn’t allow me to indent or add paragraphs). Here is my procedure and an explanation of my technique: I weld all my frames in an oxygen-free environment which simulates (and is actually preferable) the chamber. My welding and tacking fixtures are manufactured by Anvil, USA (www.anvilbikes.com) and they are plumbed for purging in a vacuum using argon as an inert shielding gas. These fixtures are designed to weld titanium bicycle frames, exclusively. The argon chamber is typically not used in bicycle manufacturing; however, some consumers are convinced that they are built this way for purity. This is typically not true for a number of reasons, which I will detail further. Subsequently, the technology of welding titanium bicycle frames has advanced well past the weld chamber, allowing for higher quality and more precise welding methods. To begin, the purge chamber must be filled completely with argon before welding, which is time consuming and very inefficient as most of the volume of the filled chamber does not even come in contact with the weld pool. One must also place all the work to be welded inside the chamber and seal it off before filling the tank, which means that you can only work on a limited number of parts at any given time. With a bicycle frame, this is incompatible as the frame must constantly be checked to achieve good alignment during the fabrication process as the heat from tacking/welding will distort the frame. Correcting for this distortion cannot be done with any precision inside the chamber as this is done on an alignment table. The frame needs to be checked multiple times in this process, which is obviously not possible in a chamber, so some qualitative decisions have to be made regarding alignment to this effect. This is not an efficient way to build and is a waste of gas and time. I have seen advertisements in magazines regarding the chamber as a necessity for clean welds. This is also not true as the cleanliness and structural characteristics of welds depends as much on the tube preparation before welding as the welding process itself. Tubes must be cleaned with acetone and synthetic abrasives before welding. This is true whether welding with a purge chamber or standard purged fixture. If the weld is compromised, 9 times out of 10 it is due to faulty tube preparation. This is not a factor influenced by the chamber, but instead buy the fabricator’s neglect. The chamber will yield a compromised/polluted weld just as a dedicated purged fixture if the tubes are not prepared properly. Without a chamber, you are very close to the surfaces you are welding. You can see the quality of the weld in real time as you are laying down the bead. In many cases, the amperage/heat of the weld will be changed by the welder when moving the weld pool along differing material thicknesses. This allows the builder to judge the quality of the weld very easily without waiting to empty a purge tank. A purge tank also requires the use of cumbersome gloves and working at a distance with increased heat to insure weld penetration. This is not conducive to a controlled process and is why you will see some manufacturers grind off the extra weld to make a seamless joint. Titanium frame fabricators typically use a special titanium torch and trailing shield to protect the outer weld field (while the inner part of the tube is purge-protected by the fixture). This torch is much larger (up to 3x) when compared to a typical steel tig torch for greater weld field shielding coverage. There is also a post-flow of argon after the weld is complete to cool the surface until the titanium has reached a non-reactive state (cooled off). Titanium, depending on the alloy, melts around 1600-1700C degrees, while it becomes reactive with air and surface-born particles at a much lower temperature. This is why the shielding gas is necessary. Also lint-free gloves must be worn when handling Ti as the natural oils from your hands and dust can compromise the cleanliness of a weld. You may also notice that tacking of bicycle frames is not done in the chamber but outside of the chamber. In this case, why would you consider putting the frame in the chamber if tacking was not executed with shielding gas inside the tubes? Wouldn’t this be an important misstep? If the welds are contaminated before it goes into the chamber, you will only continue a poorly executed weld inside the chamber. I tack ALL my frames in a modern, purged tacking fixture, which is the most precise controlled system of welding titanium bicycle frame available. The chamber is typically used in aerospace or industrial applications where repetitive welds are performed with constant heat and appearance is of less importance. It is also used for specific welding conditions where purging may not be possible, such as welding small pieces, solid pieces, or irregularly formed pieces of work. It is important to remember that the purge chamber will not make a better weld, even though we are led to believe this by some sources. Sorry, that was a long explanation, but I get this question very frequently. Summing it all up, welding titanium technology has advanced in the past 40 years and it makes no sense to weld bicycle frames in a purge chamber. It does look very high-tech and sophisticated, though.
Simple. You can call, email or fax your order. I request an initial non-refundable deposit of Euro 500 to start a custom frame. This allows me to order the specific material that will be needed for the frame (to keep costs competitive I do not keep a large overhead of titanium material). The deposit is considered a commitment to buy. It also locks in a reserved position on my “custom build” list. I work on one frame at a time in the shop and build them based on the deposit/order date. While I progress on existing orders, we’ll work on the design development of the frame.

I typically send the client some documents that are simple to fill out regarding body dimensions and current bicycle geometry and position. We also discuss these aspects as well as the desires and riding habits of the cyclist to accumulate the archive which becomes the starting point of the new frame development. Distance is not a problem as I typically work with cyclists all over the world, normally via email, fax, or traditional post. I also work to spec and frequently build frames for cyclists who already have a specific geometry outlined or measurements by a biomechanic. Monday thru Thursday is usually dedicated to fabrication time while Friday I tend to work mostly in the office on designs and communications with clients.

Typically, to keep the projects advancing, I will tend to keep my communications with the client to a minimum until about 1 month before the building is scheduled. While this may seem like a long time, over the years I have noted that roughly 50% of my customers have had significant idea changes regarding their frame desires since the deposit. I believe that it is more efficient if I give them time to contemplate their project after they have taken the step toward purchasing a new custom frame. In addition, it allows me to concentrate fully on the advancement of projects in the shop to move them closer to our fabrication date. Projects that are advanced in the development process, but are then radically changed when nearing the construction phase are rarely a problem, but it becomes a problem for other customers who patiently wait while the project is redefined at the expense of the queue.

Please don’t be concerned if you don’t hear from me for a few weeks as this is common while I’m busy cutting and welding. I would like to make it perfectly clear that I am always available to my clients AT ANYTIME during the process if there are questions or comments to make regarding the project. The best way to contact me is via email as I typically don’t answer the phone when I’m working on client projects in the shop.

  • Lead times are determined by current workload. I work by myself and do not compromise the quality of my client’s dream bike based on anxiety or cutting corners to get more frames out the door. I am thankful for each order I receive and give my customers the full attention necessary to meet their design goals and to make their perfect bike. I even offer specific suggestions when asked what type of components would lend themselves to a project. I work alone, and unfortunately this fact has a definite influence on my lead times. I am very efficient at what I do but must consider that I can only offer tentative lead times, never definitive delivery dates as I personally must respond to the needs of my business, especially the administrative tasks and commercial side of things which take away from my shop (cutting and welding) time. I also have frequent unannounced visitors who arrive at the shop to see display bikes and to inquire about custom projects. I don’t want to make excuses, but I’d rather NOT realize a project in a “promised” time rather than delude a client for this reason. Therefore, I ask that you organize yourself accordingly so as to not be without a bike during the design and build phase of the project. If you find it difficult to comply with these requests, I’d ask that you simply reevaluate your purchase. My business is not about selling bikes, it’s about the journey of making a custom titanium bike for a person as passionate about them as I. I’d like to add, however, that I’ve NEVER had an unsatisfied customer. If there is a setback in the delivery schedule, the client is always satisfied that I took the time necessary to complete the job with their interest at heart. Whatever delay is incurred is quickly forgotten as soon as the first pedal stroke is made.
  • No. All of my work is 100% custom. I do not make, sell, or have an inventory of stock sizes. I think this may be why I am so busy.
  • Yes. I collaborate with machinists on some occasional projects for special machining requirements, but I do all the cutting, filing, welding, finishing as well as the administrative duties such as material ordering, shipping, email, and accounting.
  • The way I see it, you can buy a titanium frame from a multitude of sources. You can buy the $600 frame from the Far East or the $5000 frame from the boutique dealer. Many cyclists have and are very content with their purchase. No objections here. I started Crisp Titanium, because for me, the difference is the journey. I took that journey myself back in 1995 when I built the first CRISP frame (which I still use and enjoy today) and loved that whole process of starting with an idea. I loved it so much that I committed myself to helping other passionate cyclists achieve those same sensations, offering them the means to make their own journey. I have the tools, the tubes, and the know-how. Let me hear about your dream.
  • Frame weight varies from project to project based on design, size, and material selection. Weights generally fall into a range from 1200-1500g. Frequently, a lot of emphasis is placed on ultra light frames. It is important to consider when working with titanium, however, that the lower the weight, the less material is being used. Following this procedure one begins to lose the quality characteristics that make titanium such a great material for bicycle frames. I prefer to concentrate on quality fabrication and correct geometry, bike fit, etc., while keeping an eye on weight. It makes more sense to shave grams on the moving mass like the wheels and drivetrain. I’ve easily built bikes under 6.0kg and if you want to go that extra step, we can go sub 5.0kg, less pedals. Invest in the frame which will last a lifetime, play with the components to keep it fresh and to meet your weight needs.
  • Crisp frames, built with straight gauge Grade 9 CWSR titanium tubes, carry a limited lifetime warranty for the original owner. The warranty is non-transferable.
  • This depends on the work and my current workload. Please email or call for specific repair or modification inquiries.

Below is a copy/paste reply to a question about adding disc tabs to a rim-brake mtb frame. It could be applied similarly to road bikes with two caveats: You can add tabs for flat mount if the stays are robust enough for the braking load applied, and such intervention would require complete removal/replacement with new left chainstay setup (not welding tabs directly to existing tubes).

Technology has changed and it keeps me moving, too. So you want to add disc brake tabs to your rim brake frame? Many people have asked over the years for this type of intervention on their frames. First it was v-brakes on mtbs to disc, now caliper brakes to disc on road bikes. The short answer is no, it is not advisable. The braking forces on a disc bike are quite different because of the location of the caliper in relation to the hub centerline. You’ll notice that on all of my disc brake road frames, they have larger seatstays (19.0mm x 0.89wall) compared to 15.9mm x 0.89wall that I use for most caliper brakes. Some, depending on the rider profile, have increased wall thickness, too. The braking forces drive the frame design in addition to the other factors of the rider and conditions. This is just a loading and ride characteristics explanation.

The other aspect (and probably more important) to consider is the technical side of welding titanium in a frame that has already seen the world outside the fabrication shop. With the humidity and other elements that work their way into the frame, the welding process becomes the most important factor in deciding whether to intervene. Titanium requires a very clean (immaculate) surface preparation (ultrasound, acetone, substrate prep) for the welding process. When I am building a frame and have the single tubes, I can get “inside” of them to clean them to an acceptable level. When the frame is closed (a frame that is already built), I no longer have this benefit.

I can repair a frame, say if the top tube is smashed, because I completely cut the tube out and start with a new tube, and quality preparation. To add a brake tab to the rear triangle, I don’t have that luxury. I can’t get inside to clean the tubes to an adequate level. Then, if I heat the chainstay up to weld the new pieces to the frame, I also heat the elements that have taken up residence inside the tube. They then create a contaminant vapor. Titanium, when it goes above a certain degree (about 600°c), starts pulling these contaminants like hydrogen and nitrogen into the weld pool, compromising the weld itself.

So, after that long-winded answer, you can see that it is something that I’m not inclined to do. I could weld an ISO tab on the seatstay, and then put a brace under it down to the chainstay, but that still reflects a process as stated above. I can’t get inside to clean the tubes. Also, you are resigned to use an ISO or Post Mount brake system. 

  • Please contact me directly at info@crisptitanium.com to order a frame. Thanks! Payment forms include bank wire as well as  Bitcoin.