Callum Skinner won a Gold and a Silver medal at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. We find out what an athlete more at home with Formula 1 grade carbon fibre and speeds of up to 85 km/h thinks of the Vaaru Titanium MPA touring bike.
“I’ve recently retired from competitive cycling after the Olympic Games. Manchester Velodrome was our training base, every day we tried to achieve one thing, go faster than the day before. Comfort is definitely secondary (if not irrelevant) in the pursuit of speed. My bikes for the last 10 years have always been made of carbon fibre, from axel to axel with 19mm tyres pumped up to 220psi. As brittle and strong as rock. Our bikes were so stiff that our saddles would often be the point of failure at maximum speed. You’d hear a massive “crack” and you knew it was time to dig out your warranty and attempt to explain why you’d broken yet another saddle to the manufacturer. In my retirement, I had a yearning for something different.
My first taste of titanium came when I was 15 years old. I was disappointed, to say the least. It was far too flexible; it was like pedalling a bike made of spaghetti. Initially I was a little sceptical when I was given the MPA on long-term loan.
Two points won me over in trying the MPA. Firstly, there is the passion that exudes from owners Stephanie and James. They live and breathe cycling and that passion reassured me that I wasn’t just trying out any, average titanium bike. They also involve their customers in the set-up and ordering of their bike to find the perfect partnerships between rider and machine. Secondary, was the level of detail that goes into the design, wither it’s the beautiful paint or the perfect welds, the MPA is a thing of beauty. As much as I’d grown up in a sport and a team that is defined by science and numbers ultimately, I still believe that beauty can equate to functional and fast.
The first real test for the MPA was when I took it cycle touring, for an overnight trip from Manchester to North Wales and back. I was joined by former teammate Philip Hindes and Team INEOS riders Owain Doull and Chris Lawless. I’d brought the perfect tool for the job and friends knew it.
As we set off I the MPA surpassed my expectations. Even with 10kg of baggage attached to the frame, it was nimble, responsive but forgiving and comfortable. The perfect bike for eating up the miles. After living my life marked against the stopwatch or the power meter, I yearned to find a purer form of cycling. I genuinely found it with the MPA, I love speed and always will and this bike felt like the perfect compromise.
On day two we returned towards Manchester. Due to some dubious route planning, I also had an opportunity to try the MPA on gravel. Once again it outperformed its rivals in this scenario. It’s the perfect “do it all bike”.
Overall my second impression of titanium was far superior to my first. It’s fair to say that the MPA has won over a carbon fibre, speed-obsessed track rider. “