The Curve Titanosaur is the 36er They Hope No One Will Buy
Designed specifically to tackle the rough Australian Outback, the Curve Titanosaur has 36″ wheels, loads of mounts, goes fast, and they secretly hope no one will want to buy one. Find the detailed story behind the Titanosaur here, as told by Curve Cycling’s Grand Ambassador Ryan Flinn…
Words and photos by Ryan Flinn (@flinnryan) of Curve Cycling
The Titanosaur concept is based loosely around the idea that Jesse needed a bike to take on the roughest corrugated roads in the Australian Outback before they are sealed. Doing it fast but in relative comfort would be pretty rad too. Thus the Titanosaur was born.
“Expensive mistake or fastest bike across the desert? Not sure yet but it DOES descend like a screaming banshee out of the pits of hell.” —Jerry Castle, Curve stunt rider
As readers will know from this site’s coverage of the GMX+ release earlier this year, Jesse and the Curve crew have a real love of the Australian Outback, adventure cycling, and the long-forgotten history of the overlanders. The idea behind the 36er is essentially big wheels roll better over the rough stuff and maintain speed! We hope. Maybe. Having watched Jesse ride up three flights of stairs on the 36er to demonstrate the concept, I was immediately won over. When testing, we realised this thing—once you get it up to speed—is actually FAST! It seems to build its own inertia and momentum. Having him sit on my tail whilst I tried to lose him down mountain tracks, I was quite surprised I couldn’t shake the guy either. In fact, he was faster than my Kevin in full party mode—very embarrassing!
The wheel size is essentially a unicycle standard. There are literally only a few people making rims and only one tyre manufacturer for serious off road use. The technology in tyres has definitely not filtered through to 36er tyres just yet, and it’s one of the concerns we have when wanting to take this into some of the remotest, most inhospitable areas on the planet.
We did have a specific application in mind when we dreamed it up, but we’re not pretending we’re innovators or first to the party here. In fact, 36ers have been around for a long time. There are rad companies out there designing and building 36ers for very tall folks. Companies like Blacksheep in the USA, Truebikes in Slovakia, and Tractor Bikes in Western Australia. We have also reached out to an Italian company making 36er carbon hoops, Alchemist. They very kindly supported our idea and are sending some hoops for us to build up.
This thing is heavy! It weighs 18 kilograms (39.6 pounds) dry and heaven knows how much she will weigh when ready to take on the FKT challenge. The inland thoroughfares in Australia are 1,000 to 2,000 kilometers long with barely a single turn with deep corrugations. This means that riding them at speed is very similar to being trapped in a washing machine for five days.. or perhaps a clothes dryer, as that would better reflect the temperatures.
Some interesting challenges
For a given speed, the 36er wheel doesn’t spin or rotate as quickly to power dynamos. Luckily there are some efficient options out there, like those from our friends at Shutter Precision, who have been great in helping making this happen. Vic Chen has been a longtime friend of Curve and a big supporter of Jesse, Sarah, and my own adventures. His dynamos have seen many a good test, namely Trans America x3, Indian Pacific Wheel Race x3, Race to the Rock x 4, Pan Celtic Race x 1, and the Tour Divide x2, all within the Curve family.
Saddlebags are tricky due to insufficient space with the wheel diameter, even for Jesse at 6 foot 3 inches. Super Tall riders won’t have an issue, however.
For tubeless setups, we have had to tape the rim in such a way to provide a seal between the rim and the tyre in order to get the darn thing to seal! It took Jesse a week of riding, a couple of rolls of gorilla tape, some swearing and tinkering to get them to hold pressure. Thankfully, our engineer Liam heard the commotion and was the guy who cracked the code.
Chains! Huge chainstay lengths means two chains are necessary.
Gear ratios! We were lucky that SRAM Australia supported this project and very kindly championed the idea by supplying a Reagle groupset: SRAM Red Axs Levers (No Force AXS post mount option available) + Eagle X01 AXS rear mech and crankset. We just call it Reagle. The bigger diameter tyres demand a drastically lower gear ratio to bring pedalling into the reach of us mortals. The 10-50T Eagle cassette paired with a 34T XO1 crankset has really helped.
It’s not a bike for introverts! I don’t think there is a drop-bar 36er running Robots made out of titanium anywhere on the planet. We could be wrong but we’ve not seen any. It’s definitely been great seeing people do a double-take when you ride past, and all the fun conversations we have had with people talking about the bike has really blown us away. Many people haved rushed over to chat who aren’t even into bikes, some even asking me to take photos for them with Jesse and his bike. Its been such a ball!
Overall, it’s just a bit of fun, with an underlying seriousness. We are a curious bunch, and none more so than Jesse when it comes to adventure and bikes. I think he will be doing some amazing things with this bike in the year to come. Watch this space.
If you are super tall and need some Titanosaur in your life, we may even be able to make one for you, but for now it’s just a prototype needing a lot of testing and work. With our philosophy, if it’s a bike we want to ride, we will make it available to everyone. Early indications of interest have shown that we may have been unsuccessful in making a bike that no one will ever want to buy…
About Ryan Flinn
Ryan, aka Rhino, was born in South Africa and has lived all over the world. He’s been a trials rider, an XC mountain biker, a triathlete, a fixed gear crit racer, an indoor track rider, road racer, and general hooligan since his feet were able to touch the pedals! Find more from Ryan on Instagram @flinnryan.
Not familiar with Curve Cycling? Check our our review of the original GMX, as well as recent reviews of the Kevin of Steel and the Dirt Hoops wheels. Also find our site visit to Curve HQ in Melbourne.