For 2016, the North American Handmade Bicycle Show returns to Sacramento, and this year’s event will see the debut of a specialist titanium frame builder from Lithuania: the family-run Wittson Custom Ti Cycles. On display will be their lightweight Bestia 29er.
The father of Wittson is Vidmantas ‘Vitas’ Zukauskas, a master of the titanium bicycle who instigated many famous ti Colnago models, before production was moved offshore and Ernesto’s focus shifted to composite frame materials.
Vitas is an ex-pro racer himself, whose palmares includes podium rankings in three Tours of Lithuania and first in the 1977 National Road Race Championships. After 12 years of coaching, including 5 guiding the Lithuanian National Cycling Team, Vitas understandably had made solid connections within the industry.
In 1994, he was approached by investors to establish a frame building business that specialised in titanium, and Nizhny Novgorod, a city near Moscow, was selected as the base. Prototypes were designed, tested and presented to Colnago, which then were developed into models such as Monotitan, Master BiTitan, and the Oval and CT series.
After Colnago’s move to carbon and the Far East, Vitas and his son, Mindaugas, have partnered together as Wittson to continue to produce some of the world’s finest handmade titanium frames. Their Bestia XC MTB frame will be on show at this year’s NAHBS, dressed with components by German carbon specialists AX-Lightness.
With a Rigid stem, Leaf Plus saddle, and Poseidon 600mm handlebars by AX-Lightness, Formula R1 Racing brakes, the total weight of the bike tips the scales at a feathery 7.8kg. AX-Lightness also supplied the wheelset, shod with A-Dugast Rhino XL handmade tubulars. Power is transmitted by SRAM’s Gripshift XX1 drivetrain.
The frame itself is a work of hydroformed art, with an oversized externally and internally butted head tube, a bi-ovalized top tube, a hydroformed donwtube and a ti seat mast. It’s a showstopper, for sure. Keep an eye out for it on Stand #108 in Sacramento.