Titanium bikes, with their typical bare metal finishes and without flashy or trendy paint jobs, often get overlooked at a trade show fighting for media or consumer attention. The brushed grey metal doesn't beg for attention and doesn't shout "Look at me" with loud finishes or wild tube shapes. Yet ask a group of cyclists to describe their dream bikes, and titanium still is a commonly-cited material of choice due to its ride quality, durability and light weight. Ogden, Utah based Why Cycles doesn't have to ask this question, because it's confident it has the answer in the form of its titanium do-it-all R+.
At the 2017 Sea Otter Classic expo, it was easy to miss the R+ as it sat camouflaged against the sand of Laguna Seca, but when we finally spotted it, it justified attention to its details. The frame features subtly shaped tubes that the company says are designed to increase lateral stiffness. Many of the cross sections are ovalized, while the down tube and seat tube are curved, adding a bit more rear tire clearance and fork crown clearance. Might there be enough to fit around the new Fox Step-Cast AX Adventure Cross fork?
Of course the R+ is more than just a collection of shaped tubes. Why Cycles adds versatility for any type of riding you want to throw at it, with internal cable routing (including a port for a dropper post), rack and fender mounts, three bottle cages, and with an eye towards serviceability, a threaded bottom bracket shell. Bikepacking, monster cross, touring, cyclocross, road plus or gravel, Why Cycles says the R+ can do it all.
The company adds to the bike's versatility with two fork options in the form of ENVE's Cross Fork and Lauf's Grit carbon leaf spring fork for longer, bumpier adventures.
The R+ features short, 42cm chainstays, a 70m bottom bracket drop, with relatively long sloping top tubes and shorter seat tubes. There are four sizes available.
There are two complete bike builds available, with a Rival build that comes with Industry Nine Torch wheels and Easton EA70 cockpit for $4499, and a Force build that adds Knight Composite 29″ Race wheels and a Easton EC70 carbon cockpit for $5999.
Want to build your own dream bike? Why Cycles sells the frame and frameset separately. The frame alone (with headset, seat collar, Maxle) retails for $2149, while the frameset with ENVE Cross Fork is $2649. Want to spring for the Lauf Grit fork? It's a $200 hit to your wallet.
Skeptical of another pop-up brand selling titanium frames made in China? It's not like Why Cycles is rebranding frames off Alibaba. Why Cycles was founded by Ben Craner and Adam Miller. Miller started and later sold Borealis Bikes, the lightweight carbon fat bike company. Miller also emphasizes its overseas builder is a small, family-run shop that makes these frames exclusively for his company, to his spec, similar to what Dean Bicycles is doing with its affordable Antero Cross.
The Why Cycles R+ was one of the few frames we saw at Sea Otter that did not go to flat mount calipers, but the rear-facing post mount features clean welds and an intricate design:
Intrigued? Why Cycles are only sold direct, shipped to you in an EVOC travel bag you get to keep. The direct sales model doesn't mean you don't have a chance to try before you buy, however. The company offers demo rides from its Ogden, Utah headquarters, and was offering demo rides at Sea Otter and will be making other stops as part of its demo program. Or stay tuned, as we have a review bike in the queue.
See the full photo gallery of the Why Cycles R+ in the slideshow below.
More info: whycycles.com
See our ever-growing stream of new cyclocross and gravel-oriented bikes, wheels, tires, components and cycling gear from 2017 Sea Otter here.