Otso Warakin Titanium Review: Get Carried Away
Released last week, the Otso Warakin Titanium is the newest addition to the young brand’s growing lineup of innovative all-road rigs. Lucas spent a month riding one around Arizona’s mountains and desert for this full review. Find details, his impressions, and tons of photos here. Plus, a look at the more affordable Otso Warakin Stainless…
Otso Cycles is a small Minneapolis-based company that’s been establishing an increasingly visible presence in our little corner of the cycling world over the past few years. Their ever-expanding stable of versatile bikes has been garnering attention from riders with a range of interests—including gravel racers, fatbikers, and dirt road ramblers—and all of them are well-suited to bikepacking. Announced last week, the latest addition to the Otso lineup is a titanium version of the Warakin, their drop-bar all-road bike, which was previously only available in stainless steel.
Warakin Ti Overview
In Otso’s own words, the new Warakin Ti is a, “lightweight, durable, lively machine that will carry the rider to wherever they choose to go…” Theirs is the latest in what’s becoming a crowded field of bikes advertised to do so, but it brings some unique features to the table and deserves a closer look.
- Highlights (58cm)
- Angles: 72° Head tube, 72.5° Seat tube
- Chainstay: 420-440mm
- Bottom Bracket: 68mm BSA threaded
- Hub specs: 100x15mm (front); 142x12mm (rear)
- Seatpost Diameter: 27.2mm
- Max Tire Size: 700x50mm / 650Bx50mm / 29×2.1”
The new Warakin Ti inherits the progressive geometry of its stainless predecessor (more on that below), but is built using seamless, buttled 3Al/2.5V grade 9 titanium tubes—the same stuff used in most Ti bikes on the market today. At 3.4 pounds (1542g) in size 54cm, it’s decidedly lighter than its 4.7-pound (2120g) stainless steel counterpart.
Wheel and tire options compatible with the Warakin Ti abound, as it’ll officially clear 700c x 50mm, 650B x 50mm, or 29 x 2.1” rubber. The frame features two sets of mounts in the main triangle and another one on the underside of the downtube, plus rack and fender mounts. Cable routing is fully external and the downtube guides are removable. Otso opted for a 68mm BSA threaded bottom bracket, a choice that should satisfy the legion of Press Fit skeptics out there.
The included Lithic Hiili carbon fork has a flat mount, a somewhat uncommon 15mm thru-axle, and hidden fender mounts, but unfortunately it lacks mounts for bottles or Anything-style cages. However, according to my contact at Otso, work is well underway on a new fork with mounts. Stay tuned for an update in the near future, possibly as soon as a few weeks.
Otso Tuning Chip
As with all of Otso’s frames, the Warakin Ti features their patented Tuning Chip rear dropout system, enabling you to shorten or lengthen its wheelbase by as much as 20mm and lower or raise the bottom bracket by 4mm. It’s a clever design that adds a lot of built-in adaptability, letting you make a quick adjustment for a more stable or snappy ride, depending what you’re getting into.
Admittedly, I never got to adjusting the Tuning Chip as I was perfectly content with how the bike felt with a 440mm wheelbase and only had the one set of wheels, but it’s nice knowing that I had the option to run an array of wheels and tires without tradeoffs in geometry. If I’d had more time with the Warakin, I would have liked to throw on a set of 700c wheels and skinnier tires to see how it performed in race mode with a 420mm wheelbase.
Aesthetically, most of Otso’s bikes aren’t quite to my tastes, but I think they nailed the overall look of the Warakin Ti. Its minimal graphics and partially brushed titanium finish add up to something that’s equal parts timeless, understated, and badass. If I had my way, they’d offer a fully brushed finish, but they’ve done an exceptionally nice job of blending the subtle graphics and mix of brushed and polished titanium finishes. It’s a great looking bike, especially with the black Lithic Hiili carbon fork.
From the moment I rolled out the door at Transit Cycles (where Duncan and Monique kindly set it up for me) I knew the Warakin Ti was going to be a comfortable, capable, and fun bike for my stay in the desert. As built, my 58cm weighed in at right around 21.4 pounds, a weight I think is totally reasonable, and one that I never felt particularly aware of while riding. The Warakin Ti accelerates quickly and pushes you to do more than just casually cruise.
I’ve been intrigued by the Shimano GRX groupset since it was announced last May, but didn’t have the occasion to spend any time riding it until receiving the Warakin Ti. It typically takes a lot for a groupset to excite me, but I’m totally enamored with 1×11 GRX—so much so that I’m feeling some regret about building up my personal all-road rig with SRAM Force. The shifting and braking are incredibly smooth, and I absolutely love the ergonomics of the brake levers/shifters/hoods. If you haven’t had a chance to ride a GRX-equipped bike yet, I’d recommend swinging into your local bike shop to give one a quick look or spin.
Otso’s bikes come complete with a number of excellent parts from sister companies Wolf Tooth Components and Lithic. We’re big fans of Wolf Tooth’s many interesting and innovative products and have featured a ton of them here on the site. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a major plus to have the finishing kit, handlebars, fork, and other various bits furnished by in-house companies with a reputation for quality. I was very pleased with the ergonomics of the Lithic Corundum handlebars, although I’ve been won over by the wide gravel bar trend and would have preferred something a bit wider than their maximum width of 46cm.
I was a little surprised at Otso’s choice of a 15mm thru-axle up front, as I think most of us don’t own a pair of gravel wheels that meet that standard. It’s a non-issue if you’re buying a complete Warakin Ti, but if you’re after a frameset to build up on your own, odds are you’ll end up having to track down a 12 to 15mm adapter or a new wheel to get rolling.
By the numbers, the 58cm Warakin Ti has a 72° head tube angle, 72.5° seat tube angle, 420-440mm chainstays, 68-72mm of bottom bracket drop, 660mm of stack, and 384mm of reach. Tuning Chip adjustability aside, those numbers make for a bike that largely resembles its competitors in the all-day, all-road realm. That’s not a bad thing, however, as by now most companies have figured out the angles that translate to comfortable days in the saddle. It’s got a generous amount of stack, puts the rider in a fairly upright position, and the relatively long top tube is meant to be used in conjunction with a shorter stem.
Adjusting the wheelbase via the Tuning Chip will have a ±0.2° effect on the head tube and seat tube angles, but for most of us normal folks, things like choosing the proper stem and handlebar position will have a far more noticeable effect on how we feel after a long day of riding. Still, our more particular readers who are looking for a perfectly dialed set up should keep that in mind.
Warakin in the Wild
I spent about a month riding the Warakin Ti through the picturesque desert and mountains surrounding Tucson, Arizona, where I had the opportunity to go on a ton of day rides and bikepacking trips. From morning jaunts on pavement up Mt. Lemmon, to gravel overnighters out beyond the city lights, to longer trips into the Sonoran Desert, the area proved to be a perfect testing ground for a drop-bar gravel rig—with the added bonus of giving me an excuse to continue my three-year quest to avoid winter.
Southern Arizona offers a wealth of varying road surfaces and terrain, and the Warakin Ti felt like the right bike for 98% of the roads and trails I took it on. Climbing, bombing down gravel roads, cruising around town, you name it, the Warakin was a joy to ride. In fact, I don’t think I missed a single day of riding during my stay. Especially after several months mostly off the bike for health reasons, I was always really excited to get out for a spin on the Warakin. Only on a couple of very short stretches along the Sky Islands Odyssey East Loop did I look over at Miles on his Why S7 hardtail and think that he was probably having more fun on the chunkier bits.
I’ve been hooked on 650B wheels and tires since I first rode them, and I think the HED Eroica + WTB Venture combination specced on my Warakin pushed me further toward the point of no return when it comes to riding 700c vs. 650B wheels. For the type of riding I most enjoy, it strikes me that 650B wheels are superior in nearly every way, and they felt right at home on the Warakin.
Loaded up with bikepacking bags, the Warakin Ti feels great. Since I was riding in warmer weather, and mostly on shorter trips, I never had it weighted down to the max, but it was anything but a chore to haul my gear and food, even when getting to camp required lots of climbing. This is a bike that feels like it was built to handle more than just fast and light—I could see myself riding it on any of the longer bikepacking trips I have in the pipeline, including the Torino-Nice Rally route. “Stable” and “confident” are used to describe lots of bikes, but the Warakin Ti exudes both in the real world, more so than some other bikes I’ve ridden up to now that are marketed with the same language.
One nitpick: as someone who typically uses a half frame bag, I wasn’t able to fit a 22oz water bottle on the seat tube without it hitting the underside of the bag. There’s still room to scoot that bottle mount down on the frame without interference, so I’m not exactly sure why Otso decided to place it where they did. I was able to eek out a little bit more room using my Wolf Tooth x King Cage Morse Cage, but it was still too tight to fit larger bottles in both positions—not ideal when riding in the desert. Granted, the cage could be lowered with a Wolf Tooth B-RAD mounting base, but that feels somehow inelegant on a super clean bike like this.
Wide World of Ti
There aren’t a ton of off-the-shelf titanium offerings in this category, but there are several companies that offer similar variations on the theme, each with their own set of quirks. Other smaller companies such as Curve, Chumba, Why, and Bearclaw come to mind, and all of them are well worth researching if you’ve decided to splurge on a titanium frame. They’re all making great bikes and they’re likely brands you’ll recognize if you’re a regular reader of the site. Among this list, the price of an Otso Warakin Ti falls somewhere in the middle, though the spread isn’t massive.
Otso Warakin Stainless
The Warakin was originally launched with a stainless steel frame back in 2016, and that model lives on alongside the new Warakin Ti. I rode a Warakin Stainless for several months to have a better reference point for its titanium counterpart.
The two frames look very similar, and the design differences that set them apart are relatively minor. To be sure, the Warakin Stainless is also a great looking bike (and more than a few people asked me if it was titanium).
While the base builds are vastly different, both framesets come with the same Lithic carbon fork and Wolf Tooth accents. A Warakin Stainless comes in at $1,450 for a frameset, or $2,850 for a complete Shimano 105 base build. And Otso will even add S&S couplers for an additional $700.
If you like the look of the Warakin Ti and extras such as the Tuning Chip and Lithic fork, but don’t want to shell out the extra money for titanium, I think the Warakin Stainless makes a lot of sense. Having ridden the titanium and stainless steel versions, I can confidently say that they’re both excellent bikes. I was decidedly less wowed by the 105 base build on the Stainless than the GRX build on the Ti, but that’s no surprise given the roughly $2,000 price difference.
Using the Configurator
One thing that sets the experience of buying an Otso apart from that of most brands is their online bike builder. It allows you to build your bike exactly as you want it, rather than picking from a list of stock builds or needing to buy a frame only and do all the legwork yourself to match your specific vision.
They’ve got a number of great options for just about every component, from super sensible to slightly outrageous. With their easy-to-use configurator, you can design a Warakin that suits your unique needs. I think that’s huge, and it has the potential to save buyers time and money. If nothing else, it’s kind of fun to use the dropdown menus to dream up different builds at various price points. Want a Warakin with a Lauf fork, 46cm Easton EC70 handlebars, and purple accents? How about a Lithic carbon fork, Redshift ShockStop stem, and ENVE carbon rims with Industry Nine hubs? They’ve got you covered.
For my Warakin Ti, I wanted to create something I could actually justify buying, rather than a totally crazy dream build. As such, I went with a mostly stock GRX build, but opted for 650B HED Eroica GP wheels, Easton EC90SL cranks, and a 38T Wolf Tooth chainring. That exact combination isn’t presently available via the online configurator, but the total price worked out to around $4,760. Of course, if you have something else in mind beyond what’s offered in their bike builder, they’d be happy to sell you a frame, fork, and Wolf Tooth accents for you to build from the ground up.
Otso Warakin Ti Build Kit
- Frame Otso Warakin Titanium
- Fork Lithic Hiili Carbon (15mm thru-axle)
- Wheels HED Eroica GP Disc
- Tires WTB Venture 650B x 47mm
- Handlebar Lithic Corundum
- Headset Wolf Tooth
- Brakes Shimano GRX 810 Hydraulic w/ 160mm rotors
- Crankset Easton EC90SL w/ 38T Wolf Tooth chainring
- Cassette Shimano SLX 11-42T (11-speed)
- Deraileur Shimano GRX 810 (11-speed)
- Shifter(s) Shimano GRX (11-speed)
- Saddle Brooks Cambium C17
- Chain Shimano HG-11X
- Tuning Chip adds versatility and helps dial in the ride feel
- Online configurator lets you build a bike that suits your needs
- Ti and Stainless versions offer the same design at different price points
- Lack of fork mounts limits hauling capacity
- 15mm front axle is an outlier
- Bottle cage positioning isn’t ideal with a half frame bag
- Size/model tested Otso Warakin Ti (58cm)
- Weight (as tested) 21.4 pounds (9.7kg)
- Price (as tested) ~$4,760
- Place of manufacture Taiwan
- Manufacturer’s Details OtsoCycles.com
Pricing and Availability
The Warakin Ti is available now at OtsoCycles.com in a full range of six sizes from 49-60cm. The frame only will cost you $2,550, a frameset is $2,800, and the GRX base build is priced at $3,950. Frames come with a five-year limited warranty.
There’s no shortage of bikes in this category on the market these days, but if you’re searching for a titanium do-almost-everything bike, I think Otso has come up with an extremely compelling option in the Warakin Ti. It’s an exceedingly well thought out rig with some touches that make it stand out from the crowd—which comes as no surprise, given all the innovation coming out of the Wolf Tooth Components side of the business. The frameset itself leaves very little to be desired, and you can build up a Warakin to your tastes using the online configurator.
Though this is Otso’s first foray into building with titanium, they have a track record of producing excellent bikes, and the Warakin Stainless already has several years of proven experience in the field. If I hadn’t invested in a titanium drop-bar bike of my own from a different company last year, this is one I’d seriously consider buying for myself.
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