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First titanium bike from US bike brand - David Arthur rode it to find out what it's all about

The new Stoemper Vincent is a beautifully handmade titanium frame that offers huge performance and long-distance comfort. I got to ride the new bike on the roads of Portugal recently, here’s how I got on.

But first…

Stoemper is a small Oregon-based bike brand which has until now specialised in steel and aluminium frames, but it has recently added the new Vincent titanium bike to its lineup.

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The bespoke handmade frame building scene on both sides of the Atlantic is in good health at the moment, with a growing number of independent frame builders popping up all the time and shows like NAHBS and Bespoked UK showcasing some beautiful craftsmanship.

The majority of builders work with steel because it’s relatively easy and affordable. Titanium is not those things, famously difficult to work with and expensive. Options for bespoke titanium are limited though, there are only really a small handful of brands building titanium inhouse, most are manufactured in the Far East.

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Why it titanium still popular despite being expensive? Because it is lighter than steel and famously offers a supple and bump-absorbing ride and it should also last a lifetime. The new Vincent is all those good things. It's being fast, responsive, smooth and refined. It took me little time to appreciate the new Vincent.

- Terrific titanium: 14 of the loveliest titanium road bikes we've ridden

The frame is made and painted by hand to order in the US, using American sourced seamless 3Al/2.5V titanium tubing. The tubes are oversized, with a chunky down tube, fat chainstays and tapered head tube ensuring there’s no lack of stiffness when you’re sprinting and climbing.

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The quality of the finish is extraordinarily good. It has been passionately made, that much is clear, with the neatest welds I’ve seen on a bike in a long time. The finish is of the highest order too, with a ceramic paint finish that is super durable and can be used to apply any graphics you want to the frame.

Details are well considered too. Internal cable routing, which can be optimised for any groupset, an external threaded bottom bracket, cowled dropouts and 12mm thru-axle with a flat mount brake caliper. Good boxes thoroughly ticked. If you’re not a disc brake fan you can order the Vincent with rim brakes.

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Stoemper pairs the frame with a Parlee carbon fibre fork, with internal brake hose routing and a 12mm thru-axle and flat mount interface. Frame weight is claimed to be 1,350g, a fair bit lighter than a steel frame.

The frame is available in 13 sizes including a custom geometry option. I rode a size 56cm built up with SRAM Red eTap, Hunt 50 Carbon Wide Aero Disc wheels and Pirelli tyres and Zipp finishing kit. It’s a high-end build befitting of a high-end frame, helping to keep the weight low, though I didn’t have any scales to hand to weigh it, unfortunately (that’s hand luggage limitations for you).

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Geometry on this bike includes a 389mm reach, 576mm stack, 983mm wheelbase, 70mm bottom bracket drop, 410mm chainstays, 73.5-degree head angle and 165mm head tube length. That’s the standard offering, likely fine for most people, but you can customise the geometry if you need or want.

What’s it like to ride then?

Just lovely. It offers long-distance comfort with plenty of responsiveness for fast-paced and energetic riding. You can really sling it around the road with gusto and the handling rewards in the corners with astounding stability.

The balance of stiffness to compliance has been judged to perfection, it’s neither too soft or firm. It relays enough information through the contact points to keep you engaged in the ride but without swamping your senses with an overload of vibrations.

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Much of the materials appeal is the fabled smooth ride quality. The roads in Portugal are generally in pretty good condition, but where the road surface was sub-standard the Vincent demonstrated why titanium still has such a draw. It’s silky smooth, the frame soaking up the vibrations and bumps extremely well. That was on 25mm tyres at about 80psi, there’s space to go wider for even more comfort.

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There is some fabulous riding around Lisbon, but in particular to the south of the city around Setubal. Long climbs rewarded by high-speed descents with fabulous curves served to highlight how good the handling of the new Vincent is. The Choco Frito is well worth the trip too.

It rolls into corners with a composed manner, the steering predictable and accurate. Small direction changes when banked over are easy to make. The sense of control is very good, and there’s enough feedback to keep you fully engaged without it ever getting skittish.

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The disc brakes are a bonus on unfamiliar roads. The SRAM hydraulic disc brakes don’t lack power, but the lever feel is heavier than Shimano equivalent brakes. But one-finger braking into high-speed corners is something you quickly get used to. The Hunt wheels are stiff and roll fast, the Pirelli tyres grippy and predictable.

- Choosing a steel, aluminium, titanium or carbon road bike

To sum up, the Vincent is fast and engaging when the mood takes you, yet smooth and comfortable when you’re just cruising. It’s as good as the best titanium road bikes I’ve tested over the years.

What it’s not is cheap. Few titanium frames are, especially when they are made in the US. The Vincent frame and fork retail for $3,899, which is about £2,999 at the time of writing. The complete bike as tested would come in at about £7,199. That is Moots, Mosaic, Indy Fab, No.22 or Baum money, so it's in good company at least.

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Much like its rivals, the Vincent provides a compelling alternative to carbon fibre. That it’s handmade in the US will appeal to some, and there’s a high level of customisation available from the geometry to the frame details and of course the finish.

If you crave a titanium frame and have the budget the Vincent is an appealing choice.

More info at https://stoemper.com/

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.