Ti Tuesday: Jamie’s Ti Esatto

This week we are featuring Jamie Williams (@geogjim) amazing Ti Esatto. Jamie is one of our Instagram followers and tagged his build with the #tituesdayswithkona hashtag, like a lot of the Ti bike owners we seem to be coming across, his 7.4kg Lynskey built Esatto is a work of art. It’s just dripping in carbon, the bottle cages, the seat post and seat rails, the cranks, the rear mech, the brake levers and lastly the fork are all straight from the future (at least there is still room to upgrade right?). But i’m guessing you’re here to see the bike, not read a boring intro. Here it is, Jamie’s full photo-set (make sure your sitting down for this one), complete with his background to the entire build as well as his thoughts on the ride itself.

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Why can’t all bikes look like this, I mean who needs paint. An FSA Headset slides beautifully into that tapered headtube, while the handlebar (more on that later) is connected via one very light and slick Zipp Service Course SL stem.

I’ve lived in France now for 14 years and was first introduced to road biking by my Father in law who gave me a beautiful 1984 Steel Pinarello Treviso in mint condition when he retired from the road at the age 72. Ever since then I have been bitten by the French religion of cycling. I am lucky enough to live between the Jura mountains and the Alps which means beautiful cycling is on my doorstep and when I have the time I take full advantage of it.

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After doing a few sportives including the Marmotte, the idea of sharing the roads with thousands of other cyclists quickly wore off. Now, with a friend, I organize an annual ‘pilgrimage’ in the first week of June. In 2014 we were headed to the Pyrenees, a week with no computer, no e-mails and with cols like the Aspin, Tourmalet and the Peyresourde to keep us busy. The goal was coast to coast across the Pyrenees in 7 days.

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Nothing but the best here, Campagnolo Chorus 11 Speed Compact groupset. Move along please.

All the other trips had been completed on a full carbon frame and I had felt every bump of the ‘Haute Route’ (Geneva to Nice) across the Alps last year so was looking for something more gentile to go with my ever increasing age!

I had first owned a Kona in 1992 when I started to mountain bike, my Lava Dome is still being ridden today by a friend in the UK. I had also been impressed with the Kona Cyclocross I purchased a few few years ago as my winter commuter and trainer. I had been in regular contact with my local Kona shop who had been a great help and support for an annual charity ride around Lake Leman. When I heard that there was now a relationship with Lynsky and that titanium road frames were going to feature in their selection I jumped at the chance as the first batch had just arrived in Europe.

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What are you still doing here, you’re causing scene.

I had never had the opportunity to build a bike from scratch and with help from the shop the project was realized just a day before I left for the Pyrenees. Everything in my head told me not to take on 800kms, 20000m of climbing on the roads of rural France on an untested bike. But despite my trepidation the bike was packed and within 24 hours was in Argeles sur Mer on the Mediterranean coast.

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Okay fine you can keep looking… How about those dropouts?

The first thing you notice riding Titanium is how it smooths every bump in the road but remaining more responsive than Steel. The geometry was also strange after being used to a full race bred Colnago. The Headtube being slightly longer in combination with a shorter top tube meant that I was less fatigued at the end of each day. At no time during the 7 days did I get the usual neck and shoulder ache. However there was a lot of climbing and descending to come.

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Once you find that right seat it’s hard to move on, so we will forgive Jamie for the Specialized Toupe saddle, a FSA K-Force seat post keeps things svelte and the always impressive Shimano Ultegra brakes handle the task of keeping Jamie in control.

Day 5 was going to be the main test, the Tourmalet, Soulor and Aubisque over 120 kms and 3000m of climbing. The Tourmalet is legendary, famous for it’s ‘Assassins etape’ in the 1910 Tour de France and after the first few kilometres sits at a steady 9 to 10%. The descent and climb between the Soulor and the Aubisque has to be the most stunning scenery in the the whole of France! I wondered if the choice of Ti over Carbon was going to be the wrong one.

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Details, details, details.

Once on the road in Sainte Marie de Campan the legs warmed up and I settled into a steady pace. The bike responded beautifully, I was never going to out sprint anyone, but then I spent more time with my head up looking at the stunning surroundings, this is why I brought a Titanium bike. On long climbs I had been prone to getting pins and needles in my left leg, even after bike fittings. This was the first climb that I noticed I wasn’t having to get out of the saddle to relieve this.

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Classic Mavic R-SYS SLR C hoops keep things rolling fast and true.

As for the descent, the back side of the Tourmalet is a delight! A mixture of tight hairpins and long sections of straight where you can see well ahead. I wondered if the extra space between the fork and wheel to enable mudguards to be fitted would result in a nightmare when on fast and gnarly descents, this assumption proved to be unfounded. On hairpins she stuck to the road like glue, on the straights I registered 83 km/h and the sensation was as smooth as silk! You know you have made the a good choice when you have a smile from ear to ear at the end of a long descent!

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Um. Is it wrong to get excited by this photo?

Two days later we arrived on the Atlantic coast in Guethary after some brutal Pay de Basque cols (short but hitting 19 to 20% in places). Celebrating with ‘pressions’, a cigar and eating yet more duck. It had been an amazing trip, so had I chosen the right bike?

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I know I said it already, but ‘How about them dropouts?’

The Esatto changed the whole experience of this trip. I had not spent the ride constantly looking a few metres ahead of my front wheel but enjoyed some of the most spectacular wild scenery France has to offer. I did not fear every bump and pot hole that rural France threw at me and I did not get off the bike feeling battered and bruised at the end of everyday. I had wanted a mile munching machine that would feel like riding on silk yet still descend like a beast. I got what I wanted, confident to this day that I had made the right choice.

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FSA K Force handlebars and some timeless Brooks bar tape finish this outstanding and jaw dropping build. Nice work Jamie.