After months of development, we are excited to launch the latest version of the No. 22 Little Wing titanium track frame. Building on the success of the original Little Wing, this new version has been our most ambitious new bike development yet. You can check out the essentials about the bike on our Little Wing product page, but this blog post digs a little deeper into the details that make the Little Wing so special.
An integrated seat mast has always been a core element of the Little Wing, and the new Little Wing gave us the opportunity to improve on our previous seat mast topper. Our primary goals for the new topper were lower weight and increased adjustability, while maintaining durability.
Early in the development process we investigated different production methods to best achieve these goals. We explored refining the previous topper's welded construction, 3D printing, machining the topper from a single billet of titanium, and casting the part from molten titanium. After developing versions of the new topper for each of these methods, the clear choice was a cast part.
At 120g including ENVE saddle rail hardware, our new cast titanium seat mast topper is more than 40g lighter than the version it replaced. The new topper is also shorter with decreased minimum insertion, which allows riders to drop the saddle more than an inch lower than our previous design allowed.
One of the most appealing parts of a track bike is its simplicity. Without derailleurs, brakes, shifters or cables, a track bike's minimalism brings attention to its smallest details. Often overlooked on other bikes, the Little Wing's seatstay bridge showcases the thought put into every detail on this frame.
The bridges are water jet cut from a plate of 6/4 titanium, CNC machined then individually mitered for a perfect fit to each frame size. Shared with our Broken Arrow disc cyclocross frames, these bridges are a light, strong and beautiful way to stiffen the rear end of our frames.
Originally developed with input from experienced track racers, the Little Wing has always been a favourite at the track. One piece of feedback we received from our racers, however, was about the bike's standard, 3/4" horizontal dropouts. When changing gearing at the track, the 3/4" range of horizontal adjustment was too short to allow for a gear change without breaking the chain.
Our new dropouts have addressed this feedback, and now offer a full 1" of horizontal adjustment. Small gearing adjustments can now be done without breaking the chain, saving valuable time at an event.
In addition, the Little Wing's new dropouts are machined from a 2" round bar of 6/4 titanium. Most hooded dropouts (including the previous Little Wing's) are made from two pieces of plate titanium, formed and welded together. Our new one-piece dropouts are more complex to manufacture, but the result is a stronger, more precise and lighter dropout than the welded alternative.
Completing the new Little Wing frameset is a full carbon fork with proper rake to match the frame's geometry. Featuring a 1.5" tapered steerer tube and full carbon construction, the Little Wing's fork delivers on the stiff, responsive promise of the frame's construction.
Thanks to customer demand, the Little Wing's fork is being offered both with and without a brake hole. Customers wanting to run a front brake on their Little Wing can now do so while still running a fork with rake and stiffness perfectly matched to the frame.
While the new Little Wing's main design priorities remain ride quality, handling, and durability, we also spent substantial effort in reducing the weight of the Little Wing. A series of detail changes throughout the bike have added up to a substantial weight reduction—more than 400g of weight savings across all sizes. An internally relieved head tube, our one-piece dropouts, relieved bottom bracket shell, lighter seatmast and topper all combine to deliver a bike that is lighter, stronger, and better riding than ever. A 54cm Little Wing frame weighs approximately 1780g, including a full length seat mast, topper and hardware.
The Little Wing has been an exciting project for us, and a great opportunity for us to push the boundaries of our construction abilities. With a small number of other new models already in development, this Little Wing is a good sign of what's to come.
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Trade shows are a logistical challenge at the best of times, and this year the Toronto International Bicycle Show and the North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS) were separated by four days and nearly 2,000 miles. The whole No. 22 team was scrambling: from late nights anodizing tube samples, last-minute catalogue production, nerve-wracking customs clearances and coordination with our suppliers to make sure not just the bikes, but all of their parts, were there on time. Throw in a blizzard at home and the result has been one of our more ambitious show schedules to date.
So, was it worth it? Absolutely.
We are occasionally asked why we offer a ten year warranty, in contrast to the so-called "lifetime" warranties that are advertised by other titanium builders.
We are tremendously proud of the craftsmanship of our frames, and we have built our brand around offering what we believe are the best made titanium frames currently available. We strive to be open and honest with every element that goes into our bikes, and our warranty is no exception.
It's not every day that we get to announce a new model, which made our launch of the Aurora at the recent Philly Bike Expo even more special. Blending the sublime handling of our Great Divide Disc with the smooth ride quality and increased stiffness under power of the Reactor, the Aurora has been one of the most anticipated bikes we've ever released.
Up front, the Aurora uses a tapered head tube with an integrated headset, shrink-wrapped around the thru-axle tapered steerer carbon road fork. Taking a page from the Reactor's playbook, the Aurora features a CNC-engraved head tube "badge", saving a few grams over our conventional solid titanium badges.