Review: Titan Racing Switch Gravel Bike

Review by Nicholas Webb.

A gravel bike can be tricky to justify if you’re not fully committed to the discipline. They are not an absolute replacement for a road bike nor can they compete with the capabilities of a mountain bike. In which case a gravel bike is often relegated to being a third bike or fourth bike. Every cyclist knows the costs of the N+1 itch but the Titan Racing Switch looks to make it just that more attainable to scratch.

titan racing bikes switch pro gravel bike

Should the Switch Pro be slightly beyond your budget, there is also the Switch Elite that sports the same carbon frame as the Pro but with a more modest component selection. The Switch Elite retails for R23,999.

 The Frame

The Switch frame is full carbon with internal routing and support for mudguards, and racks on the fork. The frame is available in four sizes, Small, Medium, Large, and Extra Large. I tested the Extra Large frame.

The frame is backed by a 5-year multi-user warranty. This means that the warranty can pass onto a subsequent owner, not just the original purchaser of the new bike. An important consideration if you plan to resell the Switch (or any Titan Racing bike) within the warranty period.

 

titan racing bikes switch pro gravel bike
titan racing bikes switch pro gravel bike
titan racing bikes switch pro gravel bike
titan racing bikes switch pro gravel bike

 Build Kit

The Switch arrives with an excellent level of parts. The star component is the drivetrain. It’s a full Shimano Ultegra groupset with a 48-34T chainring configuration paired with an 11-34T cassette. More on the gear ratios later. The hydraulic brakes are also Shimano’s Ultegra range.

titan racing bikes switch pro gravel bike
titan racing bikes switch pro gravel bike
titan racing bikes switch pro gravel bike

As mentioned, the wheelset is also from Shimano’s catalogue. At this price point, it is reassuring to see a big label brand behind the wheels. While the RS170 wheelset does tip the scale at close to 2 kilograms, they are suitably tough for gravel road riding. Titan has fitted Vittoria’s Terreno Dry tyres with a comfy 42mm width (on our test model).

 The Switch is fully kitted with Titan Racing’s in-house cockpit components with a carbon seatpost. The photos are a bit misleading as the bike I tested arrived with a non-standard Easton handlebar. I also replaced the stock bar tape after damaging it in transport.

 

titan racing bikes switch pro gravel bike
titan racing bikes switch pro gravel bike

Titan Racing Switch Pro Specifications

FRAMECarbon FM606 Gravel

SIZEXS-S-M-L-XL

FORKCarbon FM606 12MM Thru Axle

BRAKESShimano Ultegra

CHAINKMC X11

CHAINWHEELShimano Ultegra FC-R8000 46-36T

DERAILLEUR FRONTShimano Ultegra FD-R8000

DERAILLEUR REARShimano Ultegra RD-R8000 GS

FREEWHEELShimano CS-R7000 11-32T

GRIPPlain Black

HANDLEBARGravel Drop Bar FOV

STEMTitan TDS-RD403G-8 FOV (XS+S = 90CM / M+L+XL = 105CM)

WHEELSETShimano WH-RS170 DISC

SADDLESelle Royal 2075HRN

SEAT CLAMPAT-83 – TRC

SEAT POSTTitan SP-C212 27.2MM

SHIFTER FRONTShimano Ultegra Dual control ST-R8020

SHIFTER REARShimano Ultegra Dual control ST-R8020

TYREVittoria Terreno Dry 700 X 38C Black 120TPI TNT G+ F/V

WEIGHT9.3 kg

RETAIL PRICER33,999

 

On the gravel (and road)

Titan Racing was kind enough to loan the Switch to us for over six months of testing. This is longer than we usually get with review bikes and it allowed a thorough test of the bike across all conditions. In this time, I raced (well, participated) in two 100 mile events: Swartberg100 and Around The Pot. It also accompanied me on many an adventure around the farm roads crisscrossing the Overberg and Karoo. The Switch even spent several rides serving as a road bike.

titan racing bikes switch pro gravel bike

The Switch cruises with ease on gravel. It is an unashamedly race-focused bike which means the frame is stiff and built for power transfer. Feedback to pedal input is rewardingly sharp and allows the bike to smash out endless miles of gravel road. The Switch frame is strong and robust which contributes greatly to the stiffness. This does mean that the frame lacks some of the compliance that many other gravel frames boast. There is little in the way of flexing tubes or built-in dampening devices on the Switch. It is worth pointing out that the more compliant carbon bikes are significantly more costly than the Switch.

The over-built nature of the Switch frame does not make the bike noticeably uncomfortable. Even after completing a hundred-mile race (or two), the bike never became a chore to ride. After seven hours of riding, my perceived fatigue matched my experience with other gravel bikes over such distances.

 

One of the joys of gravel riding is that it affords you time to ponder. My feeling is that the tyres are the real heroes on most gravel bikes. The pair of Vittoria tyres that the Switch came shod with were capable of taking a considerable beating and dispensed with the task of suitably dampening the expected rigidity of the Switch frame. Even descending a corrugated Swartberg Pass after 140 km already ridden, I felt comfortable and controlled on the Switch.

titan racing bikes switch pro gravel bike

The Switch is a surefooted descender. The tough Shimano wheels and grippy Terreno Dry tread pair are a trustworthy pairing and reliable as a tubeless setup. Shimano’s Ultegra disc brakes are superb. They showed almost no sign of fade coming down the Prince Albert side of the Swartberg Pass. Just the sort of reassurance you need to hurtle down an unpredictable gravel road.

 The sharp characteristics of the Switch frame mean that it thrives on gravel and tar alike. The best illustration is the Swartberg100. The race is almost equal parts tar and gravel and the Switch felt superbly suited to both surfaces. It depends where you ride but my gravel explorations include a large portion of tarred roads while transitioning between the gravel sections. The Switch was the ideal partner for these weekend excursions around the Overberg and Karoo. The large tyres do put you at a disadvantage compared to a traditional road bike though.

 

titan racing bikes switch pro gravel bike

The Shimano Ultgera R8000 series drivetrain has been refined over the years to near perfection. It is an excellent choice for a gravel groupset, if you’re looking for two chainrings up front. I feel that Titan Racing made a slight miscalculation with the chainring choice, however. The 46-36 tooth configuration is Shimano’s cyclocross pairing. Perfect for an hour-long race of maximum effort with short punchy climbs but the 36 tooth small ring is painfully exhausting when hitting a mountain pass after five hours in the saddle. My riding style would prefer a 50-34 tooth setup for long-distance gravel rides. On shorter rides (and even on the road), I was fairly comfortable with the stock setup. As a quick fix, I fitted an SRAM 11-36 cassette to bring easiest gear ratio to one (36-36) but a 34 chainring would not have gone unappreciated.

titan racing bikes switch pro gravel bike

Conclusion

If you want a carbon gravel bike with dependable components at a reasonable price, then the Switch is one of the easiest bikes that I have ever had to recommend. The frame might not have the fancy dampening features that some more expensive gravel bikes boast but it gets the job done with equal amounts of purpose and enjoyment.

 Pros

Superb value

Dependable built kit

Fast, responsive frame

Feels frisky on tar too

Gran fondo approved

Cons

Some might expect more frame compliance

Chainring sizing not ideal for endurance racing

Reading through the Switch discussion in the forums, it appears that a number of Hubbers have already bought a Switch. It’d be great to hear how your experience compares in the comments below.