One of the famous producers of titanic bicycles is located in Korolev, the Moscow region. The wished modifications can be ordered just on the production site.
Korolev is a space capital of Russia as you know. One of the biggest science and production centers of the Moscow region.
Korolev also seems to be a city of bicycles, as if you are somewhere in China… Probably a bicycle is a traditional mode of transport there.
Mikhail Nokolaevich is a general director. Their factory is not big, only 12 people work there.
“Rapid” company originates from aviation, titanium is an airspace material. When the defence industry started to die they wanted to apply their experience somehow. Titanium only started to be a fashionable material for bicylcles production. The guys got an order from Sweden for a titanic bicycle frame. They made some samples how they thought they had to look, far from ideal. They didn’t know much about mountain bikes then.Â These were 1994-95, the first MTB started to be sold in Moscow.
The next order came from America, from Wolf Creek club. They helped to test new products. Then followed Englishmen who even created their own brand for which the factory produced frames. Later – orders from France, Canada… Even the champion of some bike marathon used their frame.
There is a center certifying frames in Germany. “Rapid” asked to apply the heaviest load for their frames while testing… Real loads depend on various conditions, of course.
Tube X-Ray. Here one may see some defects unseen with an eye.
Since 1994 they have made more than 12 thousand frames. Only two broke. The first one broke when crashed into a car, there were no chances there. The second one had a tube defect but it had been working for 12 years… Recently they had a visitor with a frame he bought here in 1996, he still uses it.
Titanium is considered to be the best material for bicycle frames production. It has perfect riding characteristics, one of them is a capability to quench high-frequency oscillation while riding on crushed stone, for example. Titanic alloys have a higher fatigue limit than steel and aluminium.
The production site of “Rapid” is a small shop with machines where some specialists work. Half of them have been making frames since the very beginning.
“He’s our artist – it’s a jewelry work” – that’s what they say about a welder Alexander. Welding of titanium requires strict following of some rules. It is necessary to protect welding points from harmful elements such as oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen.
This tiny hole, for example, is specially made for argon blow.
This master has a unique rich experience. “It’s a pity I have nobody to give my experience to”. He’s been a turner since 17 years old.