Review: Titan Racing Switch Gravel Bike

A gravel bike can be tricky to justify if you're not fully committed to the discipline. They are not an absolute replacement for a road bike nor can they compete with the capabilities of a mountain bike. In which case a gravel bike is often relegated to being a third bike or fourth bike. Every cyclist knows the costs of the N+1 itch but the Titan Racing Switch looks to make it just that more attainable to scratch.

Titan Racing Switch gravel bike.jpg

 

The Titan Switch features a full carbon frame, an Ultegra groupset, and Shimano wheelset with Vittoria tyres for R33,999. Bicycles do come with hefty price tags but, in comparison, the Switch is a beacon of value.

 

Should the Switch Pro be slightly beyond your budget, there is also the Switch Elite that sports the same carbon frame as the Pro but with a more modest component selection. The Switch Elite retails for R23,999.

 

The Frame


The Switch frame is full carbon with internal routing and support for mudguards, and racks on the fork. The frame is available in four sizes, Small, Medium, Large, and Extra Large. I tested the Extra Large frame.

 

The frame is backed by a 5-year multi-user warranty. This means that the warranty can pass onto a subsequent owner, not just the original purchaser of the new bike. An important consideration if you plan to resell the Switch (or any Titan Racing bike) within the warranty period.

 

Titan Racing Switch gravel bike-17.jpg

Titan Racing Switch gravel bike-16.jpg
Titan Racing Switch gravel bike-11.jpg
Titan Racing Switch gravel bike-10.jpg

 

Build Kit


The Switch arrives with an excellent level of parts. The star component is the drivetrain. It’s a full Shimano Ultegra groupset with a 48-34T chainring configuration paired with an 11-34T cassette. More on the gear ratios later. The hydraulic brakes are also Shimano's Ultegra range.

 

Titan Racing Switch gravel bike-18.jpg

Titan Racing Switch gravel bike-12.jpg
Titan Racing Switch gravel bike-6.jpg

 

As mentioned, the wheelset is also from Shimano's catalogue. At this price point, it is reassuring to see a big label brand behind the wheels. While the RS170 wheelset does tip the scale at close to 2 kilograms, they are suitably tough for gravel road riding. Titan has fitted Vittoria’s Terreno Dry tyres with a comfy 42mm width (on our test model).

 

The Switch is fully kitted with Titan Racing’s in-house cockpit components with a carbon seatpost. The photos are a bit misleading as the bike I tested arrived with a non-standard Easton handlebar. I also replaced the stock bar tape after damaging it in transport.

 

Titan Racing Switch gravel bike-13.jpg
Titan Racing Switch gravel bike-15.jpg

 

Titan Racing Switch Pro Specifications


  • FRAMECarbon FM606 Gravel
  • SIZEXS-S-M-L-XL
  • FORKCarbon FM606 12MM Thru Axle
  • BRAKESShimano Ultegra
  • CHAINKMC X11
  • CHAINWHEELShimano Ultegra FC-R8000 46-36T
  • DERAILLEUR FRONTShimano Ultegra FD-R8000
  • DERAILLEUR REARShimano Ultegra RD-R8000 GS
  • FREEWHEELShimano CS-R7000 11-32T
  • GRIPPlain Black
  • HANDLEBARGravel Drop Bar FOV
  • STEMTitan TDS-RD403G-8 FOV (XS+S = 90CM / M+L+XL = 105CM)
  • WHEELSETShimano WH-RS170 DISC
  • SADDLESelle Royal 2075HRN
  • SEAT CLAMPAT-83 – TRC
  • SEAT POSTTitan SP-C212 27.2MM
  • SHIFTER FRONTShimano Ultegra Dual control ST-R8020
  • SHIFTER REARShimano Ultegra Dual control ST-R8020
  • TYREVittoria Terreno Dry 700 X 38C Black 120TPI TNT G+ F/V
  • WEIGHT9.3 kg
  • RETAIL PRICER33,999

 

On the gravel (and road)


Titan Racing was kind enough to loan the Switch to us for over six months of testing. This is longer than we usually get with review bikes and it allowed a thorough test of the bike across all conditions. In this time, I raced (well, participated) in two 100 mile events: Swartberg100 and Around The Pot. It also accompanied me on many an adventure around the farm roads crisscrossing the Overberg and Karoo. The Switch even spent several rides serving as a road bike.

 

Swartberg100 Titan Switch.jpg
Getting dirty at the Swartberg100 Gran Fondo in April. Photo credit: Peter Kirk.

 

The Switch cruises with ease on gravel. It is an unashamedly race-focused bike which means the frame is stiff and built for power transfer. Feedback to pedal input is rewardingly sharp and allows the bike to smash out endless miles of gravel road. The Switch frame is strong and robust which contributes greatly to the stiffness. This does mean that the frame lacks some of the compliance that many other gravel frames boast. There is little in the way of flexing tubes or built-in dampening devices on the Switch. It is worth pointing out that the more compliant carbon bikes are significantly more costly than the Switch.

 

The over-built nature of the Switch frame does not make the bike noticeably uncomfortable. Even after completing a hundred-mile race (or two), the bike never became a chore to ride. After seven hours of riding, my perceived fatigue matched my experience with other gravel bikes over such distances.

 

One of the joys of gravel riding is that it affords you time to ponder. My feeling is that the tyres are the real heroes on most gravel bikes. The pair of Vittoria tyres that the Switch came shod with were capable of taking a considerable beating and dispensed with the task of suitably dampening the expected rigidity of the Switch frame. Even descending a corrugated Swartberg Pass after 140 km already ridden, I felt comfortable and controlled on the Switch.

 

Titan Racing Switch gravel bike-2.jpg

 

The Switch is a surefooted descender. The tough Shimano wheels and grippy Terreno Dry tread pair are a trustworthy pairing and reliable as a tubeless setup. Shimano's Ultegra disc brakes are superb. They showed almost no sign of fade coming down the Prince Albert side of the Swartberg Pass. Just the sort of reassurance you need to hurtle down an unpredictable gravel road.

 

The sharp characteristics of the Switch frame mean that it thrives on gravel and tar alike. The best illustration is the Swartberg100. The race is almost equal parts tar and gravel and the Switch felt superbly suited to both surfaces. It depends where you ride but my gravel explorations include a large portion of tarred roads while transitioning between the gravel sections. The Switch was the ideal partner for these weekend excursions around the Overberg and Karoo. The large tyres do put you at a disadvantage compared to a traditional road bike though.

 

Around the Pot Titan Switch Bunch.jpg
The Titan Racing Switch Pro brought a dash of colour to rather gloomy conditions at Around The Pot. Photo credit: Oakpics.

 

The Shimano Ultgera R8000 series drivetrain has been refined over the years to near perfection. It is an excellent choice for a gravel groupset, if you’re looking for two chainrings up front. I feel that Titan Racing made a slight miscalculation with the chainring choice, however. The 46-36 tooth configuration is Shimano’s cyclocross pairing. Perfect for an hour-long race of maximum effort with short punchy climbs but the 36 tooth small ring is painfully exhausting when hitting a mountain pass after five hours in the saddle. My riding style would prefer a 50-34 tooth setup for long-distance gravel rides. On shorter rides (and even on the road), I was fairly comfortable with the stock setup. As a quick fix, I fitted an SRAM 11-36 cassette to bring easiest gear ratio to one (36-36) but a 34 chainring would not have gone unappreciated.

 

Titan Racing Switch gravel bike-4.jpg

 

Conclusion


If you want a carbon gravel bike with dependable components at a reasonable price, then the Switch is one of the easiest bikes that I have ever had to recommend. The frame might not have the fancy dampening features that some more expensive gravel bikes boast but it gets the job done with equal amounts of purpose and enjoyment.

 




7 Comments

Steven Knoetze (sk27), Oct 31 2019 07:35

Now they just need an alloy version.......

GiantTjop, Oct 31 2019 08:20

Wished they swopped the black and red frames! The Pro would've sold better in black -IMO

Hilton., Oct 31 2019 09:20

Wished they swopped the black and red frames! The Pro would've sold better in black -IMO

I have to disagree! I I love the orange-red colour. On the Valerian road bike, I'm actually turned off the Elite with 105 groupset because of the boring black on black colours.

 

Maybe they should offer all their road & gravel bikes with the colour choice? Would be another first, to go along with their awesome warranty!

dirtypot, Oct 31 2019 04:13

I've ridden this bike with a set of Reynolds carbon hoops and it was great!  Light, fast and fairly comfy.  And I love the colour.

One thing which I liked which wasn't mentioned in the review is the ability to have a third bottle cage on the underside of the downtube which would be great for really long unsupported rides in the middle of nowhere.  

eddyvicki, Nov 01 2019 09:49

I tend to agree with you @GiantTjop, that colour does nothing for me, with an option to swap out for the black frame, I'd be on the bike yesterday. Awsome rig at the price

mtbDobby, Nov 01 2019 12:24

anywhere I can see this bike in person - I am based in Fourways?

mecheng89, Nov 01 2019 08:50

anywhere I can see this bike in person - I am based in Fourways?

Best would be to give Titan a call. Friendly bunch.