After a lifetime deprived of titanium bikes, this Pandemic Summer I acquired two. First the Ti Rush, which in spite of being haunted and requiring an exorcism has become my favorite, and then the Ti Javelin.
I didn’t even know such a thing as a Ti Javelin existed until I saw one listed in the classifieds of BentRiderOnline.com. At first I had no interest; the steel Javelin is a monotube bike, and I don’t want to deal with flex. I continued riding my haunted Ti Rush, Titania, occasionally wishing I’d waited for a Medium to come up for sale rather than settling on the Small, whose seat has to be set all the way back on a modified rail. That Ti Javelin for sale is a Medium, the devil on my shoulder whispered. Revisiting the photos, I saw that the titanium version had a dual tube frame. And perfect welds; it had been Easy Racers’ trade show model, and looked great.
But what was it? There’s no titanium Javelin on Easy Racers’ web site; I’d never even seen one mentioned before. Apparently only ten were ever made. The model came out right as the Easy Racers company was tanking, and subsequently went out of business. Consequently the Ti Jav was never promoted or produced or advertised, and was quickly engulfed by the mists of time. But according to legend – by which I mean the seller – the Ti Jav was the fastest consumer bike Easy Racers ever made. According to legend, Fast Freddy Markham once rode this very same bike at record (for a consumer model) speed. And by “record” I mean not actually recorded, except in legend.
I bought the Ti Jav at the height of the pandemic summer, when bike shops were overwhelmed. It took a while to pack and ship, and when it arrived in Urbana I had to wait over a month for my friendly neighborhood bike mechanic, Simon, to get to it. While in overall great shape, it needed a few modifications before I could ride it. Finally, after two months, with Summer well over and Fall underway, I got to ride the thing, which I named Athena.
Was she faster than my Ti Rush? Alas, no. But I don’t think she’s any slower, and Titania is pretty fast. “Fast” being relative, as I am a 52-year-old female non-athlete who bikes mostly for mood management. The same “engine” (me) yields similar speeds on both bikes. Supposedly the Ti Jav excels with a fairing. It has a smaller front profile and just zooms along, according to legend. But I have no intention of fairing either it or my Ti Rush, partly because they both have carbon fiber forks which are now known to fail, and I don’t want to stress them. Also, I just don’t like to ride my two-wheelers faired. In the Summer I prefer the warm air on my skin, and the quiet openness that permits conversational rides with friends. When I need a fairing, I ride my velomobile, Frosty.
The Javelin’s bottom bracket is ten inches higher than standard Easy Racers frames. I was worried she would be hard to ride, but she’s only very slightly more difficult than a Tour Easy. Steering can feel just a little weird and unstable. I hate riding her on gravel, and I’m a little nervous on turns. On the other hand, the riding position is exquisitely comfortable, better than my other bikes. Because my feet are up higher, the seat reclines more, and my back feels like it’s being cradled and hugged. It’s possible a rider can get more “power” in this position, but I haven’t been competitive enough to find out over the few (220) miles I’ve put on her so far. The bottom bracket is still, thankfully, no higher than my hips. I did get tingly toes a few times, but not the foot numbness I used to get on my Grasshopper. If a bottom bracket is really high I imagine one’s feet could slip off without “clipless” cleats, but my preferred pinned platform pedals worked fine at this height.
The Javelin’s chain is configured differently than the Ti Rush’s, crossing over a central idler. This makes some noise while pedaling. I don’t think there’s any way for it to not make noise. It’s not terrible, but it’s always there.
Right now, if I could only keep one bike, it would be the Ti Rush, because she’s a little easier to handle, and more versatile. But I barely know the Ti Jav. Winter is setting in, and I won’t be able to ride her more until next year. I might get faster on her. She’s a very nice bike. There were some beautiful moments on our rides when I felt like I was astride a javelin, flying through the air, hurled by Athena herself.