titanium touring bike

This Firefly Is The Cover Bike of the Bicycle Touring Buyer’s Guide 2016

I wanted to find a bike that made people drool all over the cover of the 2016 Bicycle Touring Buyer’s Guide.

So I took to my list of the 30 nicest touring bikes in the world to find a suitable candidate, but it was this relatively new build from Firefly that took the cake!

Firefly are three frame builders (Kevin, Jamie and Tyler) who sharpened their tools at custom frame manufacturer Independent Fabrications, before forming their own brand in 2011 which specialises in titanium frames. Based in Boston USA, they’ve quickly built a strong name for themselves by constructing some jaw-dropping bikes for people with a taste for detail.

Welding a Firefly Titanium Bicycle Frame 03

The cover bike of the 2016 Bicycle Touring Buyer’s Guide started life as a pile of titanium in a box. You can see that the frame tubes have already been shaped in a unique way – a clue that this Firefly will NOT be any old touring bike. Yep, it’s going to be pretty darn special…

Welding a Firefly Titanium Bicycle Frame 01

Welding titanium is a bit more complex than steel or aluminium. This is because oxygen is a contaminant to molten titanium and as a result, causes substandard welds. This Firefly frame has been sealed off completely, and replacing the oxygen is pure argon gas which ensures the titanium welds can be as strong as possible.

Welding a Firefly Titanium Bicycle Frame 02

The bike has been built around a Shimano Alfine 11 speed internally geared hub, and a Gates Carbon Drivetrain. The hub shifts its gears via an electric motor, allowing you to pair it with Shimano Di2 road levers. Shimano have been working pretty hard to bring automatic shifting to their e-Bikes based on your travelling speed and pedalling cadence. I wouldn’t at all be surprised if this technology made it to their Alfine gear hub bikes sometime soon.

Firefly Titanium Touring Bike 02

One of the most defining features of all Firefly bikes is the anodising. In order to anodise titanium, Firefly mask off the sections they want to colour, then apply trisodium phosphate to the surface with an electrified brush. When the brush is set to different voltages it can achieve different colours. Firefly have been doing anodising for a while, so they’re pretty good at working the colours!

Firefly Titanium Touring Bike 03

Tubus stainless steel racks adorn this titanium beauty, matching the finish of the frameset. A Schmidt dynamo hub harvests power for the front and rear lights using magnets inside the hub body.

Firefly Titanium Touring Bike 04

The final result is a lightweight road-going tourer which will require very little maintenance! Wipe off the belt, recharge the Di2 battery and GO. You could even pull off the fenders, run slightly wider tyres and it’ll be great for gravel road adventures too. What a cracking bike!

Firefly Titanium Touring Bike 01

I think this is a pretty worthy candidate for the cover of the 2016 Touring Bicycle Buyer’s Guide. What do you think? For more Firefly builds, head to their Flickr page.

If You Want to See 30 More Beautiful Touring Bikes, click HERE

  1. electronic shifting on the cover of “__Touring__ bicycle buyer’s guide” ? You must be kidding. And if you want to put IGH on cover – it should be Rohloff without a doubt.

  2. I’m not kidding! One thing that I really like about bike touring is that it isn’t inclusionary; you can tour on any bicycle. If you want to tour with electronic gearing, you can. If you don’t want to use a Rohloff hub, you don’t have to. 😉

  3. well looking from this perspective you could do trail tricks on road bike (Martyn Ashton – Road Bike Party on youtube) etc etc. Is it practical? Is it makes sense? Specially when you are looking to buy a new one and you can choose! In the end your book should be all about it – an information guide helping to decide what you need and what will work for you. Sorry but I don’t see much of purpose for electronic shifting on touring bike. In my opinion, on the cover should be something classical, something what proved itself over years and a little, elegant touch of now days – but – it should make sense ___on touring bike___ . Titanium frame, belt drive or something like that. But no electronic shifting nonsense.

  4. I don’t think electronic shifting is as nonsensical as you may think. I have a bunch of friends who use electronic gearing on their touring and adventure bikes because they love how impervious the system is to mud, water and grit. My friend Jesse, who rides more than any other person that I know, even has his bike wired so that his dynamo hub can charge his Di2 battery if he needs. That said, the reality is that the batteries last a really long time between charges. Would I choose a Di2 system for touring? Probably not. Should other people? Definitely, as long as they’re aware of the risks.

  5. Pretty it is, no doubt about it. Don’t like the solution taken to fix the rear rack to the seat stays though, very limiting in terms of model choices. It’s a bit of the same with Koga bikes, great attention to detail, but their obsession to make everything “custom” takes away all versatility when trying to fit accessories or replace factory parts.

  6. If you’re building a bike to your every specification (including racks), why build it to be more versatile? I do tend to agree that mass-produced bikes (like Koga) should be constructed to accomodate all standard accessories though.

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