August 24, 2018

This review, entitled Too Pretty To Get Dirty, originally appears in Road Bike Action Magazine and has been published with permission.

What do you get when you mix the talents of Canadian cycling enthusiasts (one an architect and one a lawyer) with a handful of soon-to-be-unemployed titanium artisans in upstate New York? A beautiful titanium bike, that’s what!

It was back in 2012 that the pair of Canadians were looking to have some titanium bikes built when a shop by the name of Saratoga Frameworks (that specialized in building titanium frames) was going out of business. One thing led to another, and soon enough the No. 22 brand (the atomic number of titanium on the periodic table) was born.

We’ve been running into the Mike and Bryce of No. 22 for the last few years at the North American Handmade Bike Show where we would stand in awe at the sheer beauty of the bike’s design and construction. Following this year’s NAHBS, we were finally able to cajole a dual-purpose Drifter out of them.

THE FRAME

No. 22 makes two levels of frames— ready-made and made-to-order. Where the former takes three weeks for delivery, the latter takes about 12 weeks. In addition to the masterful welds, the bikes are available in 10 different, eye-catching, anodized color finishes (our test bike was done in the purple-gold fade). You also get three choices of stem/fork colors.

The front triangle uses size-specific, CNC-butted tubes with a bi-oval downtube and tapered chainstays. The 54cm frame (measured center to center) felt big, and the 101.5 cm wheelbase was definitely on the long side. The frame (with a claimed weight of 1375 grams) has ample room to run 40mm tires.

The Drifter frame is fronted with a No. 22 carbon fork, and only the rear brake cable is run internally. We’re not sure if the seatstay bridge adds any rigidity, but as with the rest of the bike, it’s more like a jeweled accessory. Available in seven sizes, the frame comes with a 10-year warranty.

THE PARTS

As hard as it was to look at anything past the frame, as we all know, a frame needs parts in order to be ridden. The ready-made bike ships to you in a matter of three weeks built up with a Shimano Ultegra 8000 drivetrain, which, on the most objective cost/benefit ratio, remains our most favorite drivetrain in the world.

The bike is outfitted with a 3T carbon handlebar and a beautiful No. 22 titanium seatpost (with an Enve clamp) that carries through some of the anodized details. In the wheel department, the Drifter rolls on Reynolds ATR tubeless carbon clinchers mounted with 40mm Schwalbe G-One tires.

In addition to the option for a pair of color-matched titanium King cages (say yes and you’ll never need to buy cages again), there are moves afoot to off er the butted titanium Silca frame pump that also has the trick anodized treatment.

THE RIDE

In accordance with the whiny naysayers who continue to complain that gravel bikes are not road bikes, we would defy any of them to take the Drifter out for an 80-mile ride and not come away thinking about replacing their old-school bike (with rim brakes and 23mm tires) for this modern dual-purpose bike.

Designed as a gravel bike, we nonetheless found three reasons to spend the majority of time aboard the Drifter pounding out paved miles: 1) Indeed, the bike is so pretty, no one relished getting it too dirty; 2) The 52/36 and 11-30 gearing was on the tall side for most of our steep SoCal gravel rides; and 3) it was simply a great-handling, compliant road bike.

PUNCH LINES

• Beauty on two wheels

• Canadian/American hybrid

• Gravel, schmavel—a great road bike

STATS

Price: $7,499 (frame: $3,199)

Weight: 18 pounds

www.22bicycles.com

Would the Drifter be our first choice if we were entering a local criterium? No. Would it be our choice for everything else? Yes.

THE VERDICT

Thankfully, there is still a vibrant community of titanium (and steel) frame builders out there who know all about cycling’s black plastic monopoly but still prefer to bring something else to the table. As for the No. 22, what’s even more impressive is that beyond being just a titanium bike, they’ve upped the bargain with a level of enjoyable, artistic details seldom found these days.

As ironic as it is that their Reactor road bike (with an integrated seat mast) uses a carbon fiber seat tube to provide the feel of a titanium frame, the Drifter was as compliant as any of the best carbon bikes we’ve tested. No doubt the pillowy 40mm Schwalbe tires help, but this is a frame that best defines all the possible attributes of a titanium frame.

Yes, once again we are gloating about an expensive bike ($6,799 for the raw-framed version), but when you consider there are some frames on the market that sell for just as much, paying seven large for such a distinctive, durable, fine-riding steed makes all the sense in the world.


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2018 Geometry Charts

Great Divide Rim Brake

Size 48cm 50cm 52cm 54cm 56cm 58cm 60cm
Effective top tube length (mm) 495 510 525 545 560 580 600
Seat tube, center-center (mm) 445 462 490 518 540 565 590
Head tube length (mm) 90 100 120 140 160 180 200
Seat tube angle (deg) 75 74.5 74 73.5 73 73 72.5
Head tube angle (deg) 70.5 71.0 71.2 72.2 72.5 73 73
Front center (mm) 567 574 584 584 589 607 621
Chain stay length (mm) 412 412 412 412 415 415 418
BB drop (mm) 78 78 75 75 75 73 73
Reach (mm) 357 364 370 379 383 397 406
Stack (mm) 506 517 534 559 580 597 617

 

Great Divide Disc

Size 50cm 52cm 54cm 56cm 58cm 60cm
Effective top tube length (mm) 510 525 545 560 580 600
Seat tube, center-center (mm) 462 490 518 540 565 590
Head tube length (mm) 95 115 135 155 175 195
Seat tube angle (deg) 74.5 74 73.5 73 73 72.5
Head tube angle (deg) 71.0 71.2 72.2 72.5 73 73
Front center (mm) 574 584 586 594 609 623
Chain stay length (mm) 412 412 412 415 415 418
BB drop (mm) 78 75 75 75 73 73
Reach (mm) 364 369 378 382 397 405
Stack (mm) 520 536 560 580 599 618

 

Drifter

Size 48cm 50cm 52cm 54cm 56cm 58cm 60cm
Effective top tube length (mm) 502 510 525 545 560 575 595
Seat tube, center-center (mm) 464 478 503 525 535 549 577
Head tube length (mm) 90 100 120 140 150 170 190
Seat tube angle (deg) 74.5 74 74 73.5 73 73 72.5
Head tube angle (deg) 70.5 70.5 70.8 71 71.2 71.2 71.5
Front center (mm) 571 575 589 603 611 627 639
Chain stay length (mm) 430 430 430 430 432 435 435
BB drop (mm) 78 77 75 75 75 73 73
Reach (mm) 352 353 364 373 379 389 398
Stack (mm) 530 538 556 576 586 603 623

 

Reactor

Size 50cm 52cm 54cm 56cm 58cm 60cm
Effective top tube length (mm) 515 530 548 565 580 595
Seat tube, center-center (mm) 456 475 496 514 542 568
Head tube length (mm) 100 120 140 160 185 205
Seat tube angle (deg) 74.5 74 74 73.2 73 73
Head tube angle (deg) 72 72 73 73.5 73.5 73.5
Front center (mm) 571 582 585 590 603 618
Chain stay length (mm) 405 408 408 410 410 410
BB drop (mm) 72 72 72 70 68 68
Reach (mm) 374 379 391 395 401 410
Stack (mm) 503 522 546 565 587 606

 

Aurora

Size 48cm 50cm 52cm 54cm 56cm 58cm 60cm
Effective top tube length (mm) 495 510 525 545 560 580 600
Seat tube, center-center (mm) 445 462 490 518 540 565 590
Head tube length (mm) 100 110 130 150 170 190 205
Seat tube angle (deg) 75 74.5 74 73.5 73 73 72.5
Head tube angle (deg) 70.5 71 71.2 72.2 72.5 73 73
Front center (mm) 567 574 584 586 594 609 624
Chain stay length (mm) 412 412 412 412 415 415 418
BB drop (mm) 78 78 75 75 75 73 73
Reach (mm) 355 363 369 378 382 396 406
Stack (mm) 510 521 538 562 582 601 615

 

Broken Arrow

Size 48cm 50cm 52cm 54cm 56cm 58cm 60cm
Effective top tube length (mm) 505 510 525 545 560 575 590
Seat tube, center-center (mm) 467 490 510 532 548 567 590
Head tube length (mm) 90 100 120 140 150 160 180
Seat tube angle (deg) 74 74 73.5 73.3 73 72.5 72.5
Head tube angle (deg) 70.8 70.8 71 71 71.3 71.5 72
Front center (mm) 565 571 580 599 609 622 627
Chain stay length (mm) 425 425 425 425 425 425 425
BB drop (mm) 68 68 68 68 66 66 64
Reach (mm) 352 355 359 372 382 393 397
Stack (mm) 524 533 553 572 580 591 610

 

Little Wing

Size 50cm 52cm 54cm 56cm 58cm 60cm
Effective top tube length (mm) 515 525 540 555 575 585
Seat tube, center-center (mm) 477 499 524 552 575 595
Head tube length (mm) 100 120 140 160 180 200
Seat tube angle (deg) 75.5 75 74.5 74.5 74 74
Head tube angle (deg) 72.5 73 73 73.5 74 74
Front center (mm) 566 569 579 590 601 611
Chain stay length (mm) 393 393 393 396 396 396
BB drop (mm) 58 58 58 58 58 58
Reach (mm) 382 383 387 397 407 411
Stack (mm) 506 527 546 567 588 607

 

Old King

Size Small Medium Large Extra Large
Effective top tube length (mm) 580 605 622 642
Seat tube, center-center (mm) 380 410 445 481
Head tube length (mm) 100 110 120 140
Seat tube angle (deg) 73.5 73.5 73.5 73.3
Head tube angle (deg) 70 70 70 70
Front center (mm) 655 680 698 719
Chain stay length (mm) 435 435 435 435
BB drop (mm) 58 58 58 58
Reach (mm) 401 423 437 451
Stack (mm) 599 609 619 637