Jan 14, 2010
Posted by MJR
From 1993-ish to 2005 I was an editor for a few magazines, mostly Bicycling. During that time I was fortunate enough to ride hundreds of bikes and I was just thinking back to what the best road bike was I’d ever ridden at the time I’d ridden it (i.e. not the best bike by today’s standards, but the best riding bike compared to all the competition at that time.)
As surprising as the bike I’m thinking of might be, it wasn’t that hard to figure out—it leapt to mind immediately. There were plenty of incredible bikes that I was fortunate enough to ride during my time as an editor: the first-ever Madone, the first all-carbon Specialized Tarmac SL the initial aluminum/carbon Pinarello Prince, a crazy Scapin with curved seatstays, a few custom Bob Jacksons, a sky blue Pegoretti, a Giant TCR Advanced (pink Telekom edition), a feathery Litespeed 6/4 frame, the Ibis ti road bike with butted tubes. No end of ‘em now that I think about it.
Still, the best ride ever has to go to a model that Colnago made for a very short period of time in the mid 1990’s—the Bi-Titan. I’m reaching back 15 years for details on it, but I remember precisely that it showed up at the Bicycle Guide offices on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles in a giant box. Not only did we get a Bi-Titan that day, but we also received the first-ever, all-carbon C40. Both bikes were completely assembled, all we had to do was roll it out, turn the bars in the right direction and we were off.
Being that all-carbon bikes were still fairly new at that time, we had way more interest in the C40 than the freakish Bi-Titan—a bike that featured two small diameter downtubes instead of a more typical configuration. I hopped on the C40 for the 45-minute ride from the office to my house in west LA and there was an immediate issue. The rear tire rubbed the stays every time I pedaled. And not a little……it rubbed a lot. Something was clearly wrong with the frame; later we’d find out that Colnago had mistakenly sent me an early prototype created only for review of graphics.
So, it was back to the office, quick swap of pedals and back on the road, but this time on the freakish Bi-Titan. With the gimmicky dual downtubes, I was decidedly skeptical, but the fit of the 57cm Bi-Titan was perfect and that was always half the battle with test bikes. The sample that we had featured a number of things that were kind of new at that point, but are common now: zero rise/drop stem and shallow drop bars and Vittoria open tubular tires.
The first ride was reassuring and, in the weeks that followed, rides in the Malibu hills and along PCH convinced me that the Bi-Titan was something very special. Perfect geometry, incredible handling thanks in large part to a beefy straight-blade steel fork (instead of the carbon forks that were just starting to sweep the marketplace), amazingly comfortable. The perfect bike really. So perfect that I eventually had three different custom frames made with the Bi-Titan’s exact geometry.
After a few months, Colnago called looking for the BiTitan. On an editor’s salary there was no way I could afford the few grand they wanted for it. So, off it went to Cambagio destined never to not be matched! Writing this and remembering how great that rig was, I think I might try to scare one up on eBay.