Classic Cycle Thursdays: Encore!

Last week I took the Teledyne Titan on its inaugural ride, and this morning I did more or less the same ride, only in reverse:

The Teledyne Titan is more or less the first production titanium Fred Sled, and has a reputation for cracking. Furthermore, the components on this bicycle have been drilled out to save weight, and as I mentioned last week I’ve come to the conclusion that Classic Cycles has sent me this bicycle in order to rub me out. I also mentioned the flexy fork, prompting one commenter to share this disconcerting image:

[Photo: “carchaeology blog”]

Given all of this, I gave the Teledyne a visual inspection before embarking on today’s ride. I also went to tweak the limit screw on the front derailleur as I’d managed to throw the chain once or twice last week. Since my “proper tools” are locked away in a storage cage, I generally look to my saddle bag for a multi-tool when making quick adjustments. So I withdrew the multi-tool that was in this particular saddle bag, only to find it had rusted shut:

The above is a prototype I received from Knog many years ago. Ironically, the problem with it was always that the bits had no resistance on the spindle, and instead would flop around like keys on a key ring, making it very difficult to use. Now the opposite is true, and you can’t open the fucking thing it all. I do realize that’s my fault, but if you’re the sort of person who unpacks your saddle bag when it gets wet and lets everything dry out then what can I say, you’re a better person than me.

So I sprayed the seized multi-tool down with Liquid Wrench and set it aside. Then I moved onto another saddle bag, and was relieved to find that the multi-tool therein, while flecked with rust, moved freely:

It is emblazoned with the sobriquet “Increase” because at some point on the blog I announced I was changing my name to Increase and the good people at Park Tool sent it to me. Such was my power in those days that even an off-handed joke would yield tangible dividends. Heady days indeed…

Anyway, once I’d fiddled with the derailleur I then examined the bicycle’s undercarriage, taking note of the serial number:

In case you can’t read it, the number is “001443.” I then turned to the Classic Rendezvous Teledyne Titan Registry, the mere existence of which simultaneously reaffirms my faith in humanity and attests to what huge dorks we all are. I was hoping to uncover some insight into the bike’s provenance, but alas, it hadn’t been logged:

By the way, you’ll note a lot of “?” entries. Given the Teledyne Titan’s susceptibility to cracking, we can probably assume that those riders headed out on their brand-new titanium Fred Sleds and never came back. So while I’d hate to dash anybody’s hopes, at this point we probably have to assume the worst.

So please join me in a moment of silence.

While I hadn’t learned anything about the Titan, I hadn’t uncovered any glaring defects during my inspection, and so tentatively I headed out–but not before giving my wife the following messages, with instructions to forward it to the Classic Rendezvous Teledyne Titan Registry should I fail to return:

Teledyne Titan #001443

Found on rubbish heap, sent by Classic Cycle in Bainbridge Island, WA to Bike Snob NYC, who went for a ride on 7/21/20 and never returned. It is assumed that the bicycle’s pronounced planing effect launched him over the guardrail of the George Washington Bridge and he plunged into the Hudson River below. RIP.

Speaking of the planing effect, while the front-end flex was still quite noticeable, I didn’t find it nearly as disconcerting, so presumably I’m getting used to it. In fact, the diciest moment I had on the bike was when I went to wave to somebody and my hand got caught in the non-aero brake cable. And as for the notion that planing helps you go up hills or whatever, I will say that despite having higher gearing than both my other road bikes (the low gear on the Titan is 42/28 versus 36/28 on my plastic bike and 34/25 or 34/29 on my Litespeed, depending on which wheels I’m palping), I never longed for a lower gear, even on the infamous Ranger Station climb on River Road. Could it be because the planing effect was flinging me up there like one of those canine tennis ball launchers? Or could it simply be the leverage afforded by the Teledyne’s long-ass cranks?

I may never know. I’d also like to say I smashed my best time on that particular Strava segment thanks to the whiplash effect of the Teledyne, but I’d be lying. I can state quite emphatically however that once again I enjoyed every pedal stroke, and that I like the feel of the Teledyne so much I’d choose to ride it based entirely on its own merit (as opposed to the novelty factor of riding a 45 year-old titanium bicycle). That’s not to say I’d ride it all the time (as good as the old stuff is it also really helps you appreciate the new stuff) but I’d definitely ride it regularly.

I’m still curious to see how it would ride with a steel fork though. In fact, as I rode I realized I had just such a fork. I’m not sure I’ll actually get around to trying it (I’m only a semi-professional bike blogger after all), but it’s something to think about.

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