I started road cycling on a steel Bianchi and while carbon fiber frames are light I still missed the shock absorbing quality of metal. Carbon fiber is great at filtering the smaller amplitude road buzz, but our local roads are full of potholes and cracks. Titanium and stainless steel do not suffer from the same corrosion problems as vintage steel had so it was just a matter of time I would bite the bait. A year ago Planet-X had their regular periodic sale on their titanium cyclocross frame Pickenflick I could not resist any longer.
I have tried cyclocross racing in the past, but I was really looking for a disc brake road bike. Luckily I had a chance to try a Pickenflick locally before making my order. The frame felt sturdy and the geo was not too long so I thought I could make it work. I regularly explore gravel roads and I could not trust light alloy frames that feel like coke cans. The head tube angle is standard 70.5 degrees, but 400mm fork with 45mm trail makes for a pretty sluggish steering. The chainstays are also pretty long (435mm), at least compared to RT-90 I had previously (408mm).
To be honest the handling has not hindered me in any way. I slammed the stem and have just been riding the bike like it was a road bike. Sure, the bike is not quite as snappy as a carbon fiber racer and going uphill you notice the frame is bit heavier. However you always have the option to explore that gravel shortcut or single track path you would not dare to take your racer. So it is a compromise I have been happy to live with. Of course I can’t lie I still dream about an aero racer every now and then.
For now the setup has worked well. I moved the old 10-speed Sram Force parts over and bought cable-actuated disc brakes. Fully mechanical TRP Spyre has worked great in the back and I have semi-hydraulic TRP HY/RD on the front for smoother modulation. Eventually I thought I might move to Sram Red eTap, but I have been waiting for Xshifter to ship. With external cable routing setting up mechanical shifting was simple. I have compact 34-50 Rotor 3D+ crankset, but 36-52 would have touched the chainstays.
Initially I was little worried the geometry would not fit my needs. In use Pickenflick has proven to be a very versatile bike and has served me well. That is not to say I would not buy other bikes. Even though I have fit tyres from 40mm to 28mm CX bike is just never going to be that Thoroughbred racer. I still look forward to few more seasons with it and I don’t know maybe it really could be the bike to eventually hand-over to my son. At least the material will outlast me.