a Cross Country Rider
from Arlington, VA
Date Reviewed: December 29, 2011
Strengths: quality, aesthetics/finish, strength, durability, customer service
Weaknesses: seatpost binder
To be fair, this review is more for Habanero Cycles in general than their mountain bike frames specifically. I don't have their MTB frame, but I do own two Habanero Cycles frames: one cyclocross frame and one "team nuevo" road frame. These are really fantastic frames; they are built bombproof, very traditional shape, have beautiful welds, and a brushed ti finish that is both good-looking and low-maintenance. While they are not the lightest weight ti frames, they are also not nearly as flexy as the super-light ti frames. For example, my 2002 Lemond Victoire probably weighed 1lb less but would flex laterally like crazy when standing on the pedals (rear wheel would rub the brake pads); that does not happen with my Habanero road frame.
The reviewer that suggested that these are the same frames as XACD is wrong. They are definitely from China and obviously it would be cheaper to go straight to the factory, but it costs the price of the frame to ship it back to China if there is a problem. My buddy bought a MTB frame from XACD; he loved it but it did break within a year (though he's a tough rider, so this isn't to suggest their frames are crap). The finish is not the same either (bead-blasted, if I recall correctly). Anyway, I have nothing against buying from XACD, but you will not get the customer service that you will get with Habanero cycles. That is worth a lot.
I will agree with other posters that the seatpost binders are problematic. I had a slightly under-spec Thomson (!) Masterpiece seatpost that I had to return (to Thomson) on account that it wouldn't keep from slipping. Tried carbon paste, but to no avail. While my new Masterpiece does not slip, the deviation on the previous model was so small that the frame really should have accommodated it. I had no problem with my previous road frame -- and have had no similar issues on frames where I've used a traditional seatpost collar. While the integrated collar is nice aesthetically, it's not worth the hassle. On my CX frame, I never had any issues with the Kona post I bought off ebay; that just happened to be the perfect size (or maybe slightly larger than spec).
It would also be nice to see a few more "no charge" options that are really becoming standards -- like disc tabs on the MTB frames (and maybe CX frames) and a 29er geometry frame.
On the whole, I would heartily recommend Habanero to anyone interested in a quality and inexpensive titanium frame. The product is solid and the customer service is fantastic.
Similar Products Used: 2002 LeMond Victoire (Ti) road bike
a Cross Country Rider
from Edmonton, AB, Canada
Date Reviewed: June 11, 2011
Strengths: ride quality, lightweight
This review is based on the Hab Road bike, Nouveau model with 1" head tube. Super light-gives any modern carbon bike a run for it's money regarding weight. Overbuilt chain stays, der hanger. It's very good looking if you like a conventional geometry bike. VERY GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE & VALUE!
I love this frame. I love the way it feels, I love the way the parts built up on it, and I love riding it. I have a stupid quibble about the way the bolts for the water-bottle cages are set up (it's hard to find two cages that will fit in the lower-on-the-downtube, higher-on-the-seattube setup), but that really is just a quibble.
Nonetheless, I can't recommend the frame.
When I first got the frame, I couldn't tighten the bolt on the integrated seatpost binder enough that the seatpost didn't slip down into the seattube. I finally tightened the bolt enough that either the weld, or the material of the tube itself, broke. Mark took the frame back and ground off the binder so I could use a separate saddle clamp, and it works well that way. The site of the grinding was scarred; I was able to fix it, to the point that it's not too noticeable, with a wire brush and some 0 steel wool.
Mark said he thought the problem was that the seat tube might be a smaller diameter than the 27.2mm spec; he said that even 27.1mm might be problematic and 27.0mm was almost CERTAINLY going to be trouble. He suggested I sent the seatpost to him to be measured, which I did, but I didn't get the measurement back.
If I were to buy again, I'd ask for the seatpost binder to be ground off at order time, or I'd go with a different vendor. (It also helps to mix some chalk [plain blackboard chalk] in the light grease I put on the seatpost when I insert it.)
this bike is stupid fast, i love it. Takes a minute to get used to the aggressive angles but once you are, hold on and get ready to push faster and faster. Now i almost always ride to the trails, just pump the tires to 70 and i can keep up with all but the most intense road bikers, then get to the trail and air em down and let her rip. awesome bike crushes the trek.
Similar Products Used: trek carbon hardtail, santa cruz juliana
Bike Setup: lots of xt stuff, v brakes, carbon bars, magura fork
a Cross Country Rider
from kansas city, mo
Date Reviewed: June 29, 2010
Strengths: this is an intro post, after which i will write a review when i have absorbed the bike. i am building it up right now and everything seems nice and clean. . .hopefully the ride will be the same.
Weaknesses: none so far
i am yet to see the bottom line, but everything seems promising and the guys at Habanero were great to deal with. the welds look great (and i am comparing them to the SEROTTA that just left my house). I bought this bike because my personality is like an old toyota landcruiser and the SEROTTA was a Ferrari. I hope that it fits the bill. . . more to come.
Bike Setup: Sram Rival/Force/Apex mix. Thomson stem and seat post. Mavic wheels. Brooks saddle. avid canti brakes. Ritchey handlebars and fork.
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: July 31, 2009
Strengths: Very neat and nice welds, Stiff and strong, Superb customer service :)
Weaknesses: None so far...
What can I say, after several crashes and some bad fall all the bike has to show was a small scratch on the downtube decal. Never even had a dent or a crack. E-mailed Customer Service (Mark) and asked for a replacement Decal. After a few days New set of Decals are on the Mail and slap them back on and the Frame is as good as New. Never had a problem climbing steep slopes and hardly feel any flex at all unlike other Ti frames I tried. Several of my bikes comes and goes but this one is definitely a keeper.
Similar Products Used: Voodoo Djab, Jamis Durango, Flyte Ti, Turner Flux, Rocky Mountain Element 10,DBomB Rocketbomb, Wheeler Ti, etc...
Bike Setup: Habanero Ti 18.5", Full 2008 XTR drivetrain, Hope Pro2 hubs with DT-Swiss Revo spokes in Mavic 717 rims, Ritchey WCS stem/flatbar/4-axis stem,Fox F80x Terralogic, Chris King Headset, some X-lites here and there.
a Weekend Warrior
from Tupelo, MS
Date Reviewed: July 1, 2009
Strengths: Light weight, strong, stiff, great welds, custom
These bikes aren't actually mine. The frames were bought directly from Habanero Cycles, and I built them up for customers. First I have to say that Mark and the other associates at Habanero are amazing at what they do, customer service is above and beyond. Since both frames were custom, communications were open and constant, with no topic or question not covered. Delivery was as quoted, and the frames were amazing quality, welds and lines were clean.
They matched the desired geometry and made recommendations that would work best. They certainly want their frames to perform at their best. If you are looking for a custom ti frame, mtb or road bike frame, you need to give them a shot. Custom frame for $1300.00, I'm saving for one now for myself.
Bike Setup: 650b custom, on-one carbon fork, Stans rims/Paul hubs, White Ind 180mm cranks, LPS carbon bars, Marta SL brakes .
29er custom, fox fork, Bontrager ss wheels & cranks, Ritchey carbon bars, Quad hydr brakes, Ergon grips.
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: July 6, 2005
Strengths: - Ride quality - Finishing - Price
Weaknesses: Non as yet.
Habanero has done a good job on their frames. You can just get the standard options which are already impressive or you can get a full blown custom without breaking the bank. Good QC level. The perfect blend of quality & price. Normally you'd pay for what you get but with this frame, you're getting alot more than what you pay for. I like the fact that it's straight gauge ti so it's not flexing all over the place. Very nice ride feel on road but it really excels off-road when you put it through the test. You'll know the difference when you're climbing a difficult slope, screaming around corners or taking drops. Very predictable....takes a beating but keeps on kicking. One of the best i've ridden.
First off my seat post issues, all minor. Mark addressed the first two via same- or next-day emails, the third I didn't feel compelled to inquire after:
1) Raceface seat post listed in build kit, no-name post shipped: Returned post and Mark cut me a check to purchase another.
2) After purchasing a seat post (Ritchey Comp) it would not stop slipping in the seat tube. Purchased another (Ritchey WCS) with the same result despite tightening one pinch bolt until it snapped: Mark suggested the seat posts' ODs were smaller than spec, even offered to return ship the frame to check out the ID of the seat post. I didn't want to give up the bike just yet so my LBS measured the post's OD (a little smaller than 27.2mm, touché), and the seat tube's ID (slightly bigger than spec). Fortunately they had a Bontrager post that measured a little larger than spec and it doesn't slip.
3) Wish the seat post binders were threaded to accept a pinch bolt directly: I've got two other frames with "ears" on the seat tube like the Habanero but they're threaded, one with a depression to countersink the pinch bolt head. Just personal preference.
These are gnats in comparison to the bike's advantages. First and foremost the thing is built like a tank. I mostly ride on the unforgiving rocky lava pan in the local park. I drove the thing into the garage door forgetting it was on my bike rack. Frame stayed in alignment, no cracks, no visible damage at all.
Titanium frame = no real finish upkeep necessary. Ride it through mud, creek crossings, sand, who cares?
If you need the absolute lightest XC racer on the block or a FS look elsewhere. Buy this frame if you want a tough, inexpensive hardtail from a guy that stands behind his product.
a Cross Country Rider
from Toronto, ON, Canada
Date Reviewed: February 7, 2005
Strengths: This review concerns my new custom Habanero Cross frame, built to my spec: Exceptional quality-clean welds, ti "braze ons", high bang/buck ratio
Weaknesses: No Litespeed, Merlin or Seven sticker on frame.
If you are looking for a Ti MTB, or any Ti bike for that matter, take a close look at Habanero. Their web page does not do their bikes justice. This is an exceptional Ti frame, that happens to be relatively inexpensive. The quality of the construction and welding on my frame easily eclipses that on my Litespeed-and my Litespeed is a nice bike. My bike is built much like the MTB version, same tubing diameters. It is rock solid-and I am 6-3" and 205lb. Take a look, you won't regret it.
Similar Products Used: Litespeed MTB, Urbanite steel, too many bikes to remember or list
a Cross Country Rider
from Houston, Texas
Date Reviewed: August 10, 2004
Strengths: I have had Mark design and build 2 custom bikes for me. A 73 cm road bike and a 24" ti 29er hard tail. The bikes have both survived many miles of abuse under my 230 lb body. I have 8000 miles on the road frame and a 1000 miles on the 29er.
Weaknesses: Some tire fit issues that were resolved quickly.
Great custom frame at a great price. The welds are very pretty and the brushed finish stands up to all abuse. The $700 is worth is to not have to worry about fixing scratches and dings. Just ride and rinse.
Bike Setup: XT XTR with White bros shock on the mountain bike. Ultegra and wound up on the road bike
a Weekend Warrior
from Mesa, AZ, USA
Date Reviewed: August 5, 2004
I couldn't let "John's" comments below go unchallenged.
The company he cites is NOT the fabricator who builds Habanero frames - far from it (over 1000 miles for example). There are differences in the frames, but I'm not going to turn this into a marketing pitch... just want to let y'all know that he doesn't have his facts straight (pretty much all of 'em that is).
BTW, I gave my own bikes 5 chilis because I do really like them (and to offset his one chili rating, since it seems he doesn't actually HAVE a Habanero).
Bike Setup: XT / RockShox Psylo / SRAM cassette and shifters / Ritchey WCS pedals and rear cantis, Pro saddle and stem, Avid front linear brake and levers / Ritchey ExcaVader tires
Date Reviewed: July 23, 2004
I ran across this website for these bikes, and you know what? They are the exact bikes produced out of this location in China! I contacted them, and the price for the bike is $300... that's for the "Habanero" one! Custom for $35 more! Given, the folks don't speak the best English, but they are more than cordial, and very easy and polite to deal with. Why would you want to pay a "bargain" $700 for the bike that's only $300? http://www.aerolite.ca also uses these people!
Weaknesses? The price! Go to the origin, not some secondhand middleman that has a huge (read: 100%) upcharge! That's why they'll do the 1/2 price frame replacement, because even if they replace 100% of the frames, they still make a whopping 25% (higher than markup on bikeshop bikes!)
Aerolite, Habanero... they're all the same. Marked up Chinese bikes trying to be marketed as something special. What a joke! If you bought one of these, demand your money back! Check out the website here: http://www.xacd.com.cn/product.asp?rootcl=1
Similar Products Used: Any Titanium bike... don't let marketing fool you!
a Cross Country Rider
from Louisville, KY, USA
Date Reviewed: November 29, 2001
Strengths: Ti for a great price, pretty brushed finish, service, great service, 1/2 price crash replacement, stiff and light.
Weaknesses: using a Thomson seatpost it initially slipped but i just tightened it and it no longer slips. it takes quite a bit to keep it from slipping. I did have to wait a couple months to get mine in (didn't have 17" for a while).
I can't really add much to what others have already said. Mark was very prompt on replying to e-mails and answered all my questions completely so I went ahead and ordered a frame. It did take a while to get it (out of my size) but when I did, it was very very pretty. Frame was nice and straight, and stiff and light. So the next free weekend I had I built the thing up with components i had been amassing while waiting for the frame.
The first thing I noticed was how much faster it was uphill than my Fisher Paragon (double butted Aluminum). The gearing was about the same so it was not due to that, and fork was same as well. It was lighter by about 3 lbs (22 vs 25) but it made much more of a difference than I would expect 3 lbs to make. And the best part was not it being faster, but it was QUIETER. Another person here has mentioned it was well. For some reason it being quieter provided for a much more easy ride. It was also smoother. It was stiff and rock solid, not stiff and rattle-your-bones. As if i had some "sound-deadening" compared to the Fisher.
After three years, I can't ride anything else. I built a GT LTS-1 about a year after i got my Habby (from a used frame i got off the net, and parts off the Fisher). at 26 lbs it was light (for F/S) but when i rode the GT, it felt like a Huffy! Heavy, slow uphills compared with the Habby. I sold the GT to my uncle a year after that, and i still can't ride it cause i'm spoiled by the habby.
The trails around here are fairly technical, and a fast, light, and stiff hardtail is better suited than a F/S; so until i can afford a Seven, Habby will last forever.
Other notables: - i use 1.9" tires so i have no clearance problems. - my stickers are doing fine after 3 years (though i don't fall as much as i used to). - get lots of oohhs and aahhs from people who don't know what a habby us. - a friend pointed out to me that the seat stays flex when i squeeze my rear brake hard, but i haven't noticed any problem with braking performance. - there was a local shop that was supposedly going to start selling habby frames but i have yet to see any other than mine. i kinda hope they don't cause it's kind of neat to have something a little more exclusive than everybody's Litespeed, etc. - i don't think it will have any problem with longevity as i am fairly light at 155 lbs. it is overbuilt pretty good yet still light. - didn't notice any sharp cable guides. - i (and all my friends) absolutely LOVE the chain hanger. - nice welds - i only wish the cables were routed on top or bottom of the top tube. - any questions feel free to e-mail me, that's all for now.