Wittson Custom Ti-Cycles - Technically not a sponsor but a company that deserves a massive thank you for not only jumping into the trike frame design craziness but for nailing it on the first try!!
From start to finish the process took almost a year. Sitting down with my great friend Etienne from Belgium Cycles, who is the U.S. distributor for Wittson, we began the long process of trike frame design. It's not that trike frames are different in the geometry department but in the forces that trikes put on a frame are unique. Most notably is the head tube, as I've cracked 3 carbon head tubes in just 2 years.
Weighing a whopping 148 lbs (67 kgs) it's not like I'm pushing the weight limit of the bike frames. Generate less than average power but I descend like I'm hell bent! Slowing down for turns is done when in the turn, as the trikes 3 wheels scrub speed really quick. I've entered turns near 25mph and exited the same turn close to 15 mph. Trikes also bounce around a lot, seem to hit everything in the road, and at times cocking a rear wheel is the only way to go. The sooner you let go of the idea that you're in control and just point and shoot the thing the better off you'll be.
That being said the majority of the force comes laterally at the head tube and seat tube, with near normal ride traits vertically. You turn a trike, as obviously you can't lean it to steer it. The camber of the road is lessened by the super short frame and steep head tube.
All said and done the frame is shorter than a normal bike by about 3.5 inches, lower by 1 inch, and a steeper head tube angle at 74 degrees. Not to mention it has to be UCI legal. Yes even trikes have parameters if you want to race them internationally.
Why titanium? Why not!? Why Wittson in Europe and not a U.S. company? Well, I contacted Moots, Davidson Cycles, and countless others and got no reply back...I took that as a no and went looking for someone who would say yes. Etienne was just starting his shop in Longmont, CO. and told me about Wittson TiCycles. Wittson used to build Ti bikes for Colnago back in the day before starting their own shop and most importantly they took on the challenge with true excitement when others wouldn't.
How does it ride? Like nothing you've ever ridden before. I burn through bib shorts, cleats, gloves, and cycling shoes like a champ. With the sloping top tube I am free to pedal in turns, and quite literally twist the bike where it needs to go. It's a bit heavier than carbon but given carbons short comings I don't care. It has just a tiny bit of bottom bracket flex compared to carbon but with the short rear triangle you don't really notice it. I've raced it on some crap roads and speed bumps in South Africa to chip seal and cobbles in Spain and it feels the same as it did when it was new. Perfect!
Massive thanks to the chaps at Wittson for building a sweet trike frame for me to hammer on and win my first World Cup title this year!!