We’ve seen various incarnations of the Titus Rockstar 29er over the past couple years as the brand was in turmoil. Now that it’s landed, presumably safely, in the hands of Planet X / On One, real world production has been plugging along and bikes are shipping. That’s good news for the brand, and a welcome story of keeping manufacturing in the U.S. for a brand born here.
The Rockstar’s hydroformed aluminum front end comes from Sapa, for now. It has specific butting profiles to give strength where needed, particularly around the headtube and shock mounts, then its welded together and heat treated there, too. Full assembly is done in Planet X’s Portland office. The monocoque carbon fiber rear triangle is made in Asia. Each side is made as one piece, and the main pivot and rocker arm keep things together.
Sapa will continue to make frames for them through June, at which point Titus will continue to order tubing from them, they’ll just have to find another manufacturer. Titus’ brand manager Michael Golinski says Zen and Ventana are options, and they’re researching others, but either way they’re going to try to keep all of their alloy bike manufacturing in the U.S., except the El Guapo, which is made by Kinesis in Taiwan. In the meantime, they’ve pumped up their orders to bolster inventory in case there’s any lapse.
Read on for weights, details and first ride impressions…
Our size large test bike weighed in at 26lbs 10oz. They’re sold as a frameset only, but Titus can put together build packages based on rider budget and preferences. Our bike came in with full SRAM X0, a SID 29er alloy crown fork and Crank Brothers wheels, Rubena tires and Titus/Planet X/On One branded cockpit. This would be an upper-middle spec package.
This is the Version 2 Rockstar 29er and has a bit shorter top tube, little higher BB and curved seat tube so they could tuck the wheel in more. It was a rolling change that replaced version one in about December/January. If you want one of the originals, they’ve got a few left for $999 (frame only, no shock). As shown here, they’re sold for $1,299 including a custom tuned Rockshox Monarch RT3 shock.
The suspension is a Horst link design with the seatstays directly driving the shock.
The seatstays join together with a carbon yoke at the shock mount. The main pivots rotate on sealed cartridge bearings
Both stays are curvy, and the S-bend seatstays tuck in very close to the wheel for a streamlined, heel-kick-free design.
Other than the replaceable derailleur hanger, the dropouts are full carbon fiber. Claimed frame weight is about 6.1lbs with shock.
It uses a standard external cup bottom bracket and asymmetric chainstays. The drive side has a metal chainsuck protection plate.
Up front, it has a tapered headtube and fairly clean cable routing under the top tube. There are no guides for a dropper post or remote shock lockout cable run.
Jay and I have ridden the Rockstar 29er on our local, very XC-ish trails, and both of us think feels small. Not necessarily small in dimensions, but small in that we can whip it around pretty good. As with most of our test bikes, we try to just assemble it and ride it without looking at any of the manufacturer’s marketing or specs if we don’t have to. In this case, our initial impressions were that the bike had a very stiff suspension. Turns out, the bike accidentally shipped with the SID set at 80mm travel. The Rockstar 29 is designed with 100mm rear travel for use with 100-120mm forks. No wonder. We’ll be changing the travel up to 100mm before the next ride and I have a feeling it’ll really change the personality.
Even so, the rear end still feels stiff even with shock sag set at the high end of the recommended range and the RT3 settings open. The 100mm range of full suspension bikes sits square in the XC racing part of the spectrum, so a stiffly tuned rear shock isn’t such a bad thing on a bike like this. We weren’t bouncing around or anything, but it’s not as plush as “trail” bikes we’ve ridden. Again, the feel of this could change when we boost the fork.
It shipped with the tubeless valve stems, and Rubena tubeless-ready tires, but with tubes installed. Titus sources the Rubena tires from a local distributor in Portland, but the brand is from the Czech Republic. They’re actually pretty nice, and we’ll be converting them to tubeless shortly, too. Golinski says eventually they’ll have their own branded tires on offer, they just aren’t ready yet.
So, first impressions are decent, but it needs a few set up tweaks to give it real potential to shine.