Yorkshire is home to some of the best frame builders in the United Kingdom, of both older generations and new. One of the latter is Dan Titchmarsh, who won the award for Best Off Road Bicycle at the 2014 Bespoked show with a steel 29er. A natural born engineer, he’s now turned his attention to another metal: Titanium.
Dan gained an early experience with fabricating metal to be used for fast machines. His father is Roger Titchmarsh, a most reputable maker of replica Norton frames, having made over five hundred frames under official authorisation of Colin Seeley. Watching and helping his dad in the workshop was an ideal preparation for Dan’s future career.
After building up enough skills with steel to be worthy of a Bespoked award, Dan sought out a new challenge: making bicycle frames from titanium. He’s not new to working with it, Dan himself has extensive experience working with ti from his own motorsport work, although this is his first bike frame.
He tells the story: “I needed a new TIG welding machine to start building in titanium because I needed a machine with a high degree of adjustability with the pulse settings. So, I got in touch with EWM UK and spoke to Alan Cauchi who is the MD (EWM is a German company who along with Fronius from Austria make the very best welding machines you can possibly get, and EWM UK are the UK distributors for EWM).
“Alan’s an ex shipyard TIG welder on Tyneside and highly qualified in TIG. I knew him through my brother who works for a local welding supplier. He was so into what I was doing that he ended up wanting to do a swap for the frame kit minus the parts in return for a DC inverter pulse machine.
“This suited me as I desperately need bikes for the portfolio and have very limited funds for big purchases like welding machines (or speculative bike builds for that matter). It also suited him as he wanted to move from running to cycling to give his knees a break which had taken a hammering playing football in his younger days.
“He liked the idea of having a bike with the TIG welds on show and made by someone he has a connection with, and who has a shared knowledge of TIG welding. So, being from the Newcastle area, we met at Physiohaus for a sizing by John Dennis before I went on to design the frame.
“It was great to get to know John who fits a lot of the pro teams and I have since been up there for my own fit. John has a cute puppy who likes to run off with your trainers, it was worth it just for that!
“The spec of the bike is: 3al/2.5v double butted tubeset mixing Deda and Reynolds tubing, 6al/4v machined parts from Paragon, integrated seat mast, Breezer dropouts and my own one-off CNC-turned 6al/4v head tube which was hewn from solid bar. The head tube takes Cane Creek integrated bearings for the 1.5” steerer fork and I had some Park Tool cutters re-ground undersize so that the bearing was gently held on the O.D. as well as on the chamfer for a more solid interface. It works really well.
“Because the frame is quite small I decided to go with an integrated seat mast. I wouldn’t want to do this for a larger rider though. The build kit is Ultegra with i9 torch hubs on i25 rims, KCNC mast topper, ENVE forks/stem and Pro PLT bars. The finish is bead blasted with 400 micron glass bead and mirror polished logos. The process is to mirror polish the tubes by hand, of course, and use blast masks to cover up the selected areas for blasting.”
By the look of his first ti bike frame, Dan has a bead on how to make his TIG welder work. The Titchmarsh frame building legacy is set to continue.
Big thanks to Dan Sharp for the photography.