Thursday, June 2, 2016

Built to Go... Fast

When I was just a boy, the biggest poster that adorned my bedroom wall was not of a Countach, Pamela Anderson, or N*Sync (hey, I won't judge). It was a majestic 120 x 80cm glossy picture of an SR-71 Blackbird, the fastest spyplane in the world. You might spot its cameo on movies like Transformers or Deadpool, although it was pictured of being able to take off and land vertically on the later (spoiler: it is not). The Blackbird was the most advanced reconnaissance aircraft of the time, designed to reach highest altitude and velocity to outrace the Soviet Union's surface-to-air defence missiles during the Cold War.

One of the interesting facts about the Blackbird is that because it must endure the extreme environment associated with high altitude and high speed, they have to build it from the lightest, strongest material existed at the era: titanium. But titanium is scarcely found in the United States, so in order to have a spyplane to peek over the Soviet Union the CIA came up with the idea of creating a number of dummy companies to source titanium from... the Soviet Union.
The Cold War ended, and some of the defence technologies trickled down to us average Joes in so many forms. The bicycle industry take a lot of advantage as well, incorporating materials from carbon fiber, 6-series or 7-series aluminium alloys, and of course, titanium. Known for their excellent vibration damping qualities, ideal strength-to-weight ratio, and their immunity to rust—perfect if you want to make a frame that will likely outlast yourself—titanium might be the most ideal material to make a bicycle frame from; if not from their whopping price, as the result of material scarcity and manufacturing difficulties.

But it was the material properties that hooked Themma Suwandana in the first place. Satisfied with his long-term BMX project he was on the market to build his first road bike, and after many deliberations he was set on this Lynskey Peloton. Combined with the titanium's vibration damping quality, the Peloton's laid back endurance geometry should give Themma ample comfort when he speeding along the black top.

Also made of titanium is the Lynskey-branded seatpost, topped off with ENVE seatpost head holding a Fizik Aliante saddle. Steering duty is handled by Lynskey's own brand carbon fork with aluminium steerer, held in place by Chris King headset. The bike's direction is commanded through the combination of 3T ARX Stealth carbon stem and  3T Rotundo carbon bar with a Cinelli x Rapha tape wrapped nicely.

Transferring Themma's power to the Mavic Ksyrium rear wheel is a complete set of Shimano Ultegra drivetrain right down to the pedals. He ditched Mavic's standard WTS tires with a pair of classy Veloflex Master 25s. Another nice handmade titanium details are a pair of King bottle cages.

While the Peloton would never be as fast as the Blackbird, Themma wound up having a great titanium beauty that is not just constrained to his bedroom wall—he can ride it anywhere he like. Fast.

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