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by Dave Rome
August 8, 2020
Photography by James Raison
Some of the latest aluminium bikes now feature seamless lines, aero profiles and component integration that make them tough to distinguish from their more expensive composite counterparts. Clearly lessons first learned with carbon are now being applied to metal, and it’s a fascinating space to watch.
Now, Sydney-based Bossi Bicycles is looking to take these advanced shapes and apply them to a frame made entirely of titanium. Featuring cast lugs, hydroformed tubes, and fully integrated cabling, Bossi claims its new Strada SS road bike is stronger, lighter and more aero than more traditional titanium offerings, and that it’s a bike that aims to offer the ride quality and durability of titanium with performance a little closer to that of a carbon bike.
Still a relatively fresh face in the Australian cycling scene, Bossi Bicycles got its start selling low-cost, consumer-direct bikes that sought to undercut the big brand offerings for mass-market appeal. That didn’t last long and the company quickly did a 180º turn and began focussing on in-house-designed (with outsourced manufacturing) titanium frames and carbon wheels. Since then the company has offered a range of titanium options, including an all-road, a gravel, and a road bike. But none of those are like the new Strada SS, and in fact, I’m not aware of any titanium bike quite like this new offering.
Traditional titanium frame manufacturing, in the simplest sense, is the welding of round tubes which feature miter joints. Things have become a little more advanced in the past few years, and a number of well-known builders have begun to incorporate 3D printing into their frames for tackling complex shapes, such as at the dropouts.
The Strada SS features shapes that you wouldn’t think are possible in titanium.
Designed to be a performance road bike, the new Strada SS takes a large stride away from convention. It utilises die-cast titanium manufacturing (using 6AL/4V titanium) to produce the head tube, seat tube junction, and dropouts in shapes that would have you assuming they’re 3D-printed. These cast lugs are the basis of the unique frame design, a design that’s arguably best compared to what Specialized has done with its SmartWeld approach to aluminium.
Like Specialized’s approach, the lugs used by Bossi don’t require the tubes to have a miter joint (although those that connect to the bottom bracket shell do), but rather extend out to sleeve into the respective tube. Compared to more traditional methods, this lugged construction has the potential to be lighter, stiffer and stronger. And as James Bossi, owner of Bossi Bicycles suggests, it offers a smoother and more consistent finish with the tubes than what’s possible with 3D-printed lugs.
Sitting between those lugs are double-butted and hydroformed titanium tubes (3AL-2.5V), with smoothed-off welds joining them. The Strada SS’ top tube, seat tube, and down tube all feature noticeable Kamm-type truncated shapes, mimicking those of many carbon aero bikes. Bossi is quite open that this bike hasn’t seen a second of testing in the wind tunnel and that the bike has no supporting aero data. Honesty is quite refreshing.
“We’re focusing on the ride quality, the character, the strength,” said Bossi. “Then comes the aerodynamics. It’s not the priority.”
Weight-wise the cast lug construction is said to save approximately 200 g over Bossi’s previous, more traditionally constructed frame. The result is a 54 cm frame with a claimed weight somewhere between 1,500 and 1,550 g. And that comes with the claim that not only does this new frame exceed ISO strength and durability testing, it exceeds the previous frame’s durability figures by 20%.
Cast lugs mean custom options are off the table.
Of course, the use of the cast lugs requires moulds to be made, and from there the bike’s geometry is effectively set in stone. Bossi will offer the Strada SS in a choice of six frame sizes, all of which offer fairly traditional and well-proven numbers.
It wouldn’t be a new bike release without mentioning that the brake hoses and gear cables are fully concealed. Here Bossi has adopted FSA’s ACR turn-key solution for fully internal cabling, a system that’s also found on bikes from De Rosa, Bianchi, and most recently the Merida Reacto.
FSA’s ACR system features a growing range of handlebars and stems.
The Strada SS’ cast head tube is designed to accommodate FSA’s system and the concealed cable routing. And because FSA’s system allows it, the bike can be set up with either electronic or mechanical shifting drivetrains.
Another trendy element of the disc-only Strada SS is seen with the D-shaped carbon seatpost that’s held in place with a binder wedge. Similar to the likes of Specialized, BMC, and Giant, who also equip D-shaped seat posts to many of their performance bikes, Bossi has equipped such a thing to provide more seated comfort. And yep, the seat stays are lowered, too.
Things are far more traditional at this corner of the bike.
Bossi has elected to use a T47 threaded bottom bracket shell (86 mm width), while both the frame and fork are optimised for 30 mm rubber.
The frames feature laser engraved logos with a CNC-engraved logo at the head tube. A brushed finish comes as stock but Bossi will also be offering custom paint and anodising options. Prices for these are to be confirmed.
Bossi, a direct-to-consumer brand, is expecting the first production frames to land on Australian shores in December. Expect to pay AU$5,499 for a frameset including a matching monocoque carbon fork, seatpost, clamp, and FSA ACR headset. Another $250 will get you a frameset with the matching Vision Metron 5D ACR integrated bar/stem. The pictured complete bike is priced at AU$14,499 (excluding paint).
We’ll be looking to get one in for review early next year.