I've been meaning to drop you a line for some time to let you know my first impressions of the bike (needless to say it's all been going pretty good). Hope the following piece (and the pic) is useful ......
Before I picked my bike up from Justin I'd referred to it secretly as "project 11". Why? Because it was a 2 year project to research and ultimately order a new bike which would come to fruition in 2011. OK, so the project name was rubbish, however I couldn't be more happy with the bike itself.
I guess if you're browsing Justin's web site you're probably in the same boat as me a year or so ago - you are researching different manufacturer's before you decide which frame to go for. For me the decision to go Ti was made fairly early on in the process, a medium which, I think it's fair to say, is on the up at the moment in the UK. The UK has more than it's fair share of specialist Ti builders but to be able to deal with a small independent who was only an hour's drive down the road was a real deal clincher as far as I'm concerned. As others will testify, when you meet Justin you soon realise he couldn't be more laid back without needing a recumbent to get around on, and that easy going nature really helped to make the ordering process so easy. He was able to offer sound advice about component selection and was more than happy for me to design my own decals (see the pic). He pointed me in the direction of competitivecyclist.com who have a great system for taking your critical body measurements and from the resulting data Justin made the first drawing of my frame. Another couple of emails, some measurements from my old bike and a photo of me riding it and Justin came up with drawing two, which I was able to approve.
Once the deposit was paid and the frame ordered from Russia everything happened very quickly. The frame arrived in 3 weeks instead of the 6-8 weeks Justin had estimated. It arrived so fast I hadn't had time to order all the components to go on it! I opted to have Justin build the bike as I'm not the world's greatest wrench, so when I went to collect my pride and joy it was all there in one piece. Justin didn't seem to sure about the decals I'd designed but he did like the HED wheels I'd bought. I think he'd liked to have put them on his "superlight" bike listed above.
Riding my new machine is a joy. I've never owned a full carbon frame so I'm not able to make a straight comparison between the two. What I can tell you is that there's something very different, very special about the ride feel of a Ti frame. The ride is fantastically comfortable but this doesn't impact on the responsiveness when you want to throw it round a corner or put the hammer down. The track at Lotus Cars may have been resurfaced in time for this year's crit series, but I think my new bike had much more of an effect on my ability to carry speed through or even accelerate around a corner. The Columbus Minimal fork not only works brilliantly with the frame, helping the aforementioned handling but is also (I think) the best match aesthetically to the frame.
They say a Ti frame is for life but I enjoyed the process of selecting a frame builder and collating the components too much not to do it again. And when I do I would be more than happy to go back to Justin. I'm thinking a hard tail 29'er with beltdrive, Rohloff gears and mudguard clearance. Good job I'm already saving!