‘Cheap’ titanium has always been a scary thought for me, especially after riding a few early attempts that rode badly and had very questionable quality issues. But that was ten years ago when affordable CUSTOM titanium was just unheard of. That is until now. Titanium needs careful manufacturing, it’s not that expensive as a raw material but it’s so hard to work you need special tools and techniques that require investment and skilled operatives. Titanium seems to be all the rage now. In fact we’ve tested several frames crafted from the magic material recently (Moots, Airborne, Omega, Serotta) and they continue to maintain their popularity – rightly so. Apart from Airborne and perhaps Omega they’ve never been cheap, like we’ve already said it’s nasty stuff to work with titanium.
A read through the older tests on this site (listed below) will help you familiarise yourself with what to expect from a titanium frame, but in short you get comfort, strength and longevity. The design of the tubes and the frame will influence the weight, rigidity and stability of the bike, with these last three things being the (important) factors that the budget builders have always struggled with.
Setavento are a company offering something quite unique – a custom spec frame at an impressively low price. The bike we tested wasn’t custom designed to our size or spec, but the test bike fitted me almost spot on and gave us a clear indication of how the frame performed. With a 54cm top tube and a 54cm seat tube it was as if it had been built for me. However, if you are speccing your own frame, it couldn’t really be any easier. An online questionnaire gathers information about your body measurements, existing bike sizing and riding styles, plus other personal preferences. Setavento will then produce a design for you to see how your frame will look, and then its just a matter of waiting about six weeks for your frame to be produced.
As James from Setavento says:
“The reason I set up Setavento was because I felt that the American Ti frames were getting very expensive. We offer a very competitive price by being web based (think Amazon or Easyjet!) which reduces our costs while maintaining great customer service. If someone wants a complete bike we liaise with their Local shop for the build.”
The price is kept down by Setavento being a web based company, following the EasyJet model – keeping overheads to a minimum and offering consumer choice. They only supply frames, but they can liase with your local bike shop to supply a fully built bike. Our test bike was made from plain gauge 3AL/2.5V titanium. It’s worth mentioning that double butting is available for an extra £200. To keep the frame as stiff as possible the downtube is oversized and the chain stays braced across the bottom bracket.
James is very straightforward and confident in his product too:
“As the majority of the world’s bicycles are made in The People’s Republic of China (inc. Taiwan) we suspect that other manufacturers haven’t been passing on their cost savings. Perhaps wisely they’ve spent the extra cash on marketing. For Setavento we want to make titanium frames available to a wider range of cyclists. We use two modern titanium bike frame factories in China who between them build 8,000+ stock Ti frames per year for many of the world’s better known bike brands. Hence all of our frames carry a lifetime guarantee.”
Further down the frame, the front mech is attached to the frame via a hanger, ours came with a triple set up and there’s some adjustment here to cope with a compact. Continuing along the frame, the flared chainstays meet the ever-so slightly curved seatstays at some chunky dropouts. Overall the welding is fine, if a little blobby in places, not as neat as you’d expect on a more expensive frame (like the Moots) but at this price you can hardly complain – the welds certainly look like they won’t give way. The stickers are a little disappointing (especially the head badge) but like the frame you can specify if you don’t want them or prefer an alternative.
The components on our test bike were a bit of a mix and match Campagnolo Record triple group with Thomson seatpost and Deda bars. It was testament to the bike that the slightly worn feel of the controls didn’t bother us that much, the ride was involving and smooth enough to forgive a few missed shifts, dragging brake cables and a dirty pair of worn tyres. Actually whilst on the subject of tyres, we really liked these Dedatre Milan-San Remo’s tyres. They’re comfy and grippy, and certainly a good choice for rough roads.
Ride wise the 73° head tube matched up to a comfy-yet-still-racey seat angle of 72.5°. I like a short responsive frame for racing and the Setavento was certainly that, but the downside is that pedal overlap was very tight (not really a problem until weaving through traffic). It’s a compromise for builders to make this sort of set up work and remain comfortable. The height of the bars was OK for me but still a little low – the stem had already been flipped – but a bit of a worry was that James (who owns this bike) is six foot one, so he must have a sizeable saddle bar drop. Up front is a non-integrated headset, with a Reynolds Ouzo Pro fork. We’ve been impressed with this fork in the past, and is a good partner for the frame.
But part of the custom route means that you can specify a high(er) bar position should you wish and they can accomodate most design changes. The design takes around two weeks, with e-mail or phone contact with the customer for each revision of their frame drawing, afterwhich the build takes six weeks. When speccing your frame you can choose between a compact or standard too, ours was a compact.
Setavento and Airborne are starting to plough a very deep furrow for cheap, quality titanium frames. If there is a downside it’s in the weight, but I was quite reassured by it as I’d prefer a frame that will do it all to feel solid rather than flighty, you’d be confident using this frame rain or shine, reliability is no longer an issue. In the final analysis the Setavento isn’t quite as exotic as a DeRosa or as lovingly crafted as a Serotta, but snobbery and ti-cliches aside it rides like titanium should and is perfect in every way you need it to be. You will not be disappointed.
Bad: Not a featherweight frame
Frame sizes: Custom to order
Size tested: 54 cm seat (c to top) 54cm top tube (c to c)
Frame tubing: plain gauge 3AL/2.5V titanium
Fork: Reynolds Ouzo Pro 43mm rake
Headset: Campagnolo Record
Crankarms: Campagnolo Record Triple
B/B: Campagnolo Record
Chain: Campagnolo Record 10 speed
Freewheel: Campagnolo Record 13-26, 10 speed
F/D: Campagnolo Record
R/D: Campagnolo Record
Shifters: Campagnolo Record Ergopower
Handlebar: Deda Newton 31.8mm
Stem: Deda Newton
Tape: ‘Carbon’ Ribbon
Brakes: Campagnolo Record
Wheels: Campanolo Neutron
Tyres: Dedatre Milan-San Remo 700x23c
Weight: 19.5lbs (less pedals)
Price: £650 frame only
Contact: 020 7900 2663 –
You could fit DT levers if you like
Tight, yet comfy, rear triangle
The welding is certainly ‘solid’