Passionate cyclists and adventure seekers! If you're on a quest for the ultimate gravel bike that boasts unparalleled performance and a ride like no other, brace yourself for the exhilarating journey of custom. Today, we’ll delve into the made-to-measure gravel bike by Titici, a unique masterpiece of precision engineering and innovation. Together we can hear the experience of rider Matt Johnson, who bought this very bike to ride the expansive Perth countryside he calls home. Get ready as we unveil the extraordinary features and riding experience that sets this bike apart from generic brands and models.
The Difficulties of navigating custom
We’re fortunate to have the opportunity to hear from Matt, a client and passionate bike rider from Perth, Western Australia. With the help of Chainsmith, Matt has taken his love for cycling to new heights. Matt isn’t a newcomer to the world of cycling, he’s owned an array of bikes, including his current stable: BMC SLR01 to ride on flat routes down to Freemantle, Sworks Aethos, a Parlee gravel, Sworks epic MTB, and Sworks stump jumper MTB.
As you’ll note, a majority of Matt’s frames have been factory produced. So, what prompted Matt’s search for the perfect high-end road bike, to experience the magic of a custom-built masterpiece?
In the beginning
Firstly, when doing it alone, the journey of finding the perfect bike can be daunting and overwhelming. Even in the mass produced realms of Trek, Specialized, and Giant, the vast array of options in the market can lead to indecision and uncertainty. The sheer research it takes to invest in a bike proves a challenge for many riders. Custom on the other hand has drastically less marketing power and in comparison information can fall short. It can be difficult to find reviews because custom frames, in the true sense, are built one-of-a-kind to perfectly align with the owner. The information can then seem limited to the builder’s processes, their techniques, materials or history.
Steps to Buying a custom bike: Alison McGregor
But it’s exactly the ideal of a bike being in sync with a rider’s individual physical, aesthetic, and performance demands which attracted Matt. And so he thought to seek the advice of experts by filling out the Recommended Best bike Form. We consider this the first step to buying a custom bike. From this we more clearly understood Matt wanted a state of the art frame, something unique, that would as successfully transfer his power through the pedal as attract a comment or two at the pub after his ride. Matt’s cycling needs were formally assessed to determine a builder, frame material and model that would best suit.
Above: Titici workshop. Read more in our article: Road bike carbon frame construction: What you need to know
Together it was decided a gravel frame called the Reilli by Italian builder Titici was ideal. Not only is Titici focused on improving performance, individual moulds are built to create specific tube-to-tube assembly. Matt’s ideal ride position on the Relli would therefore be precisely transferred into actuality.
In this step, accurate measurements are fundamental for perfecting frame geometry. There was no argument when we invited Matt to visit Chainsmith for a complementary IdMatch bike fit at our Sydney Lab. Matt agreed to a trip from Perth, ensuring his future enjoyment on the bike.
“Ill-fitted bikes can not only compromise the immediate riding experience but potentially destroy a long-term dream bike.”
A significant risk to investment riders face when ordering custom bikes is the danger of inadequate bike fitting, or no bike fit at all. Ill-fitted bikes compromise the immediate riding experience and, at worst, can destroy a long-term dream bike. The resulting discomfort can hinder a rider's overall performance, motivation and love of the bike. Using the IdMatch Lab safeguarded Matt’s future passion for riding outdoors, at speed, and in comfort.
Q. Thanks for joining us Matt. To start, can you share with us what you were looking for in a new bike when you began your journey with Chainsmith? How did a custom bike fulfil your desires?
Matt: I wanted a bike I could have confidence in, a bike that I could take any where in the world and know it would suit the environment. The “Recommended best Bike” survey from Chainsmith I originally took, asked some pretty important questions. This narrowed down the actual bike I was looking for. I didn’t want a standard off-the-shelf bike.
Classified Wheels on the Titici are the icing on the cake
Q. From the initial consultation with the Chainsmith Team, how did Alison walk you through the process of buying a custom bike and component choice?
Matt: Ali walked me through the process in great detail, my expectations were managed throughout the whole journey. The knowledge and experience on components was next level, she also recommending components I had not yet heard of. The Classified wheel set I’d not heard of is amazing! It makes the ride even more pleasurable. The bars are another exceptional recommendation from the chainsmith team. Overall how all the components work well together in a complete package, there is nothing I would change on the bike.
“The way I fit the Titici is amazing. The power I can generate is up 10 to15% compared with my other gravel bike.”
Matt, Custom bike owner
Q. What importance was placed on dialling you into both the initial and post-bike fit within Chainsmith’s IdMatch Lab?
Matt: A huge amount of importance was placed on bike fit by the Chainsmith team. I knew bike fit was important, but Dave took it to the next level. Correct bike fit for me has always been important especially after coming back from a serious crash.
The way I fit the Titici is amazing. The power I can generate is up 10 to15% compared with my other gravel bike. I have completed a couple of 3 and 4 hour rides and the only pain is from sore legs, but the type that makes you smile.
Matt enjoying the Idmatch process with David Piacenti
Most definitely the Idmatch bike fit with David made the bike feel even better in my opinion. The correct bike fit in my opinion is a crucial part of feeling balanced and having the confidence to trust your bike.
Q. Important question, where have you ridden your Titici Relli, and how did it handle?
Matt: I have taken the Titici out on the Munda bidi track, in various parts including Mundaring through parts of the camel farm, from Nannup to Manjimup, Timberline trail loop in Nannup, parts of the seven race course in Nannup. I have also taken it on some road rides, on which it can hold its own.
Q. Thats definitely a relationship you’ve built with the bike by now! With that kind of experience, and the one you had during the ordering process, can you describe what kind of rider you'd recommend a custom bike to?
Matt. Absolutely. A custom bike is for a rider who wants a perfect fit, to know there is no other bike like that one, its your bike for a long time. I’d advise they contact Chainsmith. Even if you are interstate the process is very easy, and the Chainsmith team is very accommodating. I had only a couple of hours to pick up the bike and get on a plane, and the team made it happen.
Titici road and gravel bikes are undeniably unique, one of a kind, and Italian-made
My experience during the stages of buying a custom bike from Chainsmith was exceptional. They managed my expectations from the beginning, in regards to timing kept me updated regularly and also got back to me when they said they would. In three words I would describe the advise I received as professional, informed and comprehensive; from the initial enquiry to the final fitting, informed throughout the whole journey and comprehensive. They covered everything I needed to know and more regarding bike fit, components and riding.
Q Finally, what is your future dream ride and why would you use the Titici?
Matt: My future dream ride is another custom bike from Chainsmith. My preference would be Titici, as the finish of this build has exceeded my expectations. The moment I saw my bike in the shop, I was blown away.
Thanks to Matt for his time, and for sharing his experience with riders ready to take the plunge into the world of customisation.