First look: New Ti bikes and some fine looking wheels from Spin Cycleworks
Titanium frames and lots of other goodies from new manufacturer aiming to be the best
Ever heard of Spin Cycleworks? Possibly, possibly not: they're fairly new in the cycling scene but the company has been formed of the back of a solid background of engineering in other fields. Spin's MD Drew Gill has been working with Titanium for many years, and riding Titanium bikes since the first ones appeared. But he's always thought he could make a better one, and the Spin range is his opening salvo.
First things first: we don't think we've ever seen welds neater than these on any Titanium bike at any price. They really are pretty special. Where are the frames made? They're 'Made in Titanium', says the nice Spin brochure. They're actually made in China in Spin's own facility – they don't make bikes for anyone else – and Drew is confident that the quality of the construction is second to none. Given the way the welds are performed, we'd be hard pressed to argue. Interestingly, three quarters of their welders are women. The welds are so neat in some places that they look more like embroidery than welding; at first we thought they'd been filed but, says Drew, anything that would need filing down goes on the reject pile.
We spent a lot of time talking about the welds, actually. Go on, have another look at those welds above. They're pretty special. Anyway, enough about that. The Spin range is three bikes, two road machines (Spitfire MKII and Spitfire MKIII) and a track iron, the Solo Ultimo. The bikes are made from a mix of 3/2.5 titanium and the much harder 6Al 6V Ti that is used for things like the drop outs and which Spin machine in house. The main tubes are crafted from 3/2.5 Titanium tubing which Spin manipulate to create some interesting shapes. The down tubes of all three bikes are bi-ovalised to be elongated at the head tube and flattened at the bottom bracket. This adds vertical stiffness at the head tube and lateral stiffness at the cranks to deal with the different loads.
The road-race-ready Spitfire MKIII has a top tube that goes from a sort of rounded off triangle (sorry, tri-axial diamorphic) to a flattened oval along its length, while the the MKII has a more traditional round member there. Both of the road bikes use a double butted seat tube but the MKIII is a larger diameter for a stiffer feel. The MKII (below) is built more for comfort and is aimed more at the sportive market than the racer, though both bikes share the same race-oriented geometry, classic horizontal top tube lines, shortish head tubes and classic 73/73 geometry (well, there or thereabouts, it's adjusted slightly across the size range).
Spin don't just make frames though, they make all sorts of other stuff. The frameset prices for the Spitfire road bikes are £2,150 and £2,350, but you're getting a lot more than just a frame and Carbon fork. You're getting a machined 6/4 Titanium headset, for a start. And a Titanium stem. And a Titanium seatpost. And a set of Spin's own Carbon bars. All of those components are made in-house and are designed to marry perfectly with the frame and fork.
The Solo Ultimo track bike comes in at two grand, it's tighter and steeper with a very short back end. It's definitely track-ready in terms of geometry but sensibly there's a drilled brake bridge for road duties, and you get the option of a titanium flat bar to replace the Carbon drops if you're going to be rocking your hipster jeans rather than your lycra.
On top of that, Spin showed us some of their very nice looking wheels. They hand-build them out of good quality components and they're light and pretty reasonably priced, so there's a lot to like there. Again there's good attention to detail: each wheel is built with malleable brass washers between the spoke head and the hub flange to better distribute the forces and guard against failure. You can see them in the pic above.
Bottom of the range is a 30mm Aluminium clincher that put us in mind of Pro-Lite's excellent Bracciano. At a claimed 1,520g and £329 for a pair they're very much in the same ball park, so we're itching to get some in to compare and contrast. The Quicksilver finish is jolly nice and well worth the extra £20 over black ones, we reckon. Spin use their own hubs with some standard components (freehubs and bearings) and the wheels come with rather natty QuickLight skewers.
Spin also make a 50mm Carbon rim in clincher and tubular flavours; at £1,049 and 1,470g (claimed) the clinchers are both lighter and a bit cheaper than the Reynolds Assault C hoops we had in not so long ago, so again it'll be interesting to compare them. The tubs are just 1,240g claimed weight. All Spin's wheels are built up with DT Swiss spokes.
Nearly done, but we thought we'd quickly mention the one-piece cassettes: There's an 11spd Campag one and a 10spd Shimano/SRAM one, and it takes the CNC the best part of half an hour to do all that milling; the end result is a cassette with a claimed weight of under 100g. You can have a silver ceramic coating or gold Titanium Nitride if you're feeling a bit bling. 12-23, 12-25 and 12-27 incarnations are available and they cost a lot of money.
If you want to read more about the range head on over to www.velotechservices.co.uk for a gander. We'll be getting a Spitfire MKIII and some wheels in for a go soon enough, so stay tuned for just-ins and reviews...