Italian Tech Geared for Gravel: TITICI Words by Clive Pursehouse, Images by TITICI

The world is wild about gravel. From Tro Bro Leon near France’s Brittany coast, to Kansas’ Dirty Kanza the world is enthralled with off-road road racing. The Italians have likely wondered what took us so long. L’Eroica dates to the nineties, and Strade Bianche has been an instant classic going on thirteen years. Modern events recognizing a heritage that is long a part of the Italian cycling culture, white gravel roads are found in nearly every corner of every region of the cycling paradise that is Italy, though they are legendary in Tuscany of course.  

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The Italian bicycle company TITICI is not a new brand; they have ticked off a series of serious milestones over the years since their founding in 1961. In the 1990s, they were cranking out the frames, producing one million in a year. Sheesh. But in 2003, TITICI did a full one-eighty, and instead of mass production, they went all-in in the opposite direction: hand-made, custom carbon bicycles. While most of us romanticize the history and heritage of Italian-made steel bicycles, the Mantua based TITICI is all about embracing the forefront of cycling technology, with all models, from gravel to road to MTB, boasting the world’s thinnest toptube, a mere 8mm.

It’s this crazy, tiny toptube that both turns heads (along with the dope paint scheme) and makes the gravel grinding atop a carbon TITICI much less of a grind. This toptube and its patent is referred to by the folks at TITICI as “Plate Absorber Technology” (PAT), a designed taper built to flex and absorb vibration. This toptube also gives the bike frames, referred to as “Flexy,” their names, “Flexy Road, Flexy MTB, etc. In the construction of the toptube, the squared-off horizontal frame tapers down to a single piece of carbon fiber.

“The singular piece of carbon allows for a greater vertical shift,” say the engineers at TITICI, meaning there’s a greater capacity for vibration absorption. The “flexy” capacity (as contrasted to a flux capacitor) is particularly attuned to high frequency vibrations, the kind more often produced by an irregular road surface, which, in the end, is the whole reason we ride gravel, an escape from the regular. The Flexy design allows for a dampening about 18% greater than you’ll find in your common frame designs, per the TITICI tests done at the University of Parma.

The other draw to TITICI for Italian-custom-frame geeks is that they’re doing all the carbon production in-house in Mantua, fatto a mano in Italia. The carbon layups are all done by hand and TITICI offers both standard sizing and custom fitted frames made to measure. TITICI uses what they call progressive bandage workmanship, a carbon lay-up technique that allows them to apply the carbon fiber sheeting progressively—depending upon what the frame size calls for—using slow resins. This process allows for maximum customization depending upon the rider’s geometry.

Everything old is new again. And so as we eschew the smooth finish of black top for dusty forest service roads, our sport’s Italian forefathers want us to know that while steel is indeed real (whatever that means), carbon is a harbinger of a new Italian take on gravel. For those looking for a racing take on a gravel bike, or an aggressive frame with plenty of built-in compliance for long days off road, TITICI is made to measure.

For more, visit titici.com

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