Bike Review – Titanium Astir GT
I’ve been riding for over 10 years now, have had two alloy and 3 carbon bikes in my time, but I’ve been hankering for a titanium bike for quite some time. We’ve all seen them, the raw Ti bike finish just looks great, seeing the welds, the deep lustre of the metal finish, the clean lines, sweet.
So, given the chance to try out a locally made Titanium bike that I first saw at the Tour Village back in 2016 was a no brainer. James, the brain behind the Astir brand, is a mechanical engineer with a previous life working with Titanium, decided some time back to branch out into mixing his expertise working with Titanium and his engineering skills with his cycling passion to make titanium frames and build bikes.
He’s been plugging away for a while and slowly but surely building up the brand and expanding his range.
After first meeting James at the Village, I’ve been sporadically nagging away at him to let me give a Ti bike a try, and just after Christmas he relented, and lent me the try GT bike, a gravel tourer.
There appears to be a leaning back toward metal bikes, with newer Aluminium and Steel technologies combined with improved design and geometries matched with decent wheels, seat posts and forks improving the comfort over the older metal framed bikes. However there are still few Titanium bikes on the market, and those that you do are priced quite high, and for good reason, so it is a delight to see James persevere with his passion.
James kindly brought the bike up to Norton Summit and gave me a few hours to give it a go over some of the delightful gravel roads around Norton and Marble Hill.
The GT, with some good 40mm rubber on the front is designed to eat up bumps on the road, making for a relatively smooth ride and robust handling.
Weighing a bit less than 8kgs, its definitely no carbon bike, but the weight didn’t matter when riding up the loose gravel roads. Heck, when the rider I just a tad over 80kg, an extra ½ kilo or so on the frame is really going to matter much.
The stiff frame allowed efficient transfer of what power my chicken legs through to the rubber, and with the decent rubber, it was mostly transferred to the gravel base.
Without much effort, I put the bike through its paces on a wide variety of road, gravel, bitumen, Roubaix style pavers (yes, the exist, although not as bone shaking as the real thing, Old Cherryville Road, keep an eye out for it next time your riding around Marble Hill) and even a fire trails which disappeared over the edge of a ridge somewhere just east of Corkscrew. This titanium bike shined through on all road surfaces.
I didn’t tell James this, but heading down Narrow Ridge Road I was almost cleaned up by a commodore coming out of a driveway. That section of road was a short steep and descent with very loose gravel, which wasn’t too bad until this commodore came flying out of a driveway and came flying up the road. With the loose gravel on the crown of the road and deep gashes on thesides, I was unable to turn as such without the front wheel digging in, so it got a little scary, but the bike held it’s line and we both came out unscathed.
The bike felt significantly more rigid than my carbon bike, but it had that good solid feel without losing that feeling of responsiveness and comfort. The GT soaked up the holes and gravel just nicely thank you. It was a fun bike to ride. With some good road tyres thrown on I can see it being a good multi-purpose bike, taking me around whatever gravel I could throw at it as well being the touring bike for the longer sportive rides.
If you’re thinking about looking at a Ti bike, give James a call and give Astir a try.
The following taken from their website homepage gives you a bit more of feel for what Astir is about.
At ASTIR we make custom made bicycles to order. Our bikes have a blend of classic and contemporary design by using traditional lines with an “Astir” touch of finesse. ASTIR is a small boutique company and our designs concentrate exclusively on unique road bicycles that can be used in Cyclosportive events, as your local café racer a daily commuter or a fast Tourer. Our frames have been fine tuned for riders that are strong and like to ride on comfortable frames that have a clean look and that will last over the years. All the frames are custom made to fit we do not have off the shelf frames.
Our primary material is Titanium. We use Titanium 3AL/2.5V (known as Grade 9) straight gauge tubing and double butted to build our frames. This material has been used over the years with great success in the cycling industry. It is lightweight, strong, durable and gives a very good surface finish. Tubes are selected with an emphasis on giving a comfortable yet confident sporty ride. Model variations are the (Road) Classic, Sportive, Brevet, Titan, (touring and commuting) Touring and our eBikes. (designed and engineered in Adelaide South Australia). The models are a guide and can be changed to suite your requirements and riding style.