Bike Test: Domahidy Designs Titanium 29er
Domahidy Designs is a brand-new mountain bike company fresh off a successful Kickstarter campaign, and they have a remarkably simple mission statement: to make incredibly fun bikes. The company was founded by Steve Domahidy, a rider who is no stranger to bike design. As the co-founder of Niner, he worked as the head of research and development for the big-wheeled brand for a number of years and, as a result, holds five patents, including the CVA suspension design Niner currently uses on its full-suspension bikes. Domahidy Designs sprang from Steve’s desire to return to his roots and once again build incredible mountain bikes.
Domahidy’s hardtail bikes are built for the mountain bike purist. The bikes exude a level of craftsmanship that’s typically reserved for custom bikes in a “production bike” package. Everything from the neat-as-a-pin welds to the perfectly executed paint job to the customizable dropouts screams quality. Riders looking for a longterm hardtail friend should give Domahidy a serious look. Domahidy currently only builds two models, one from Reynolds 853 chromoly steel and one from titanium, like the bike tested here.
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?
The Domahidy Ti takes the same geometry as the steel model and swaps the tubes for titanium. The frame is designed to take advantage of the material’s “springy” nature by offering compliance where it’s needed and stiffness where it’s not. The bike comes stock with versatile slider-style dropouts for either geared or singlespeed use. The frame comes with all the same features as the steel bike but with an additional upgrade to titanium bolts for the dropouts. The frame also features a threaded 73-millimeter bottom bracket, custom tapered head tube, full-length cable housing, and clean aesthetics that will have both old-schoolers and new-schoolers turning their heads on the trails.
The attention to detail is the standout on this bike. It features super svelte hydraulic cable guides all around with full-length external housing. This makes it very easy to change and more resistant to grit and contaminants. It also allows the rider to remove the cable guides on the down tube when converting from geared to singlespeed. The entire length of cable housing and cable guides can be removed, leaving a super clean frame behind.
SRAM’s XX1 drivetrain is a workhorse that’s both lightweight and durable. Whether you’re planning to race this bike or simply use it as a lightweight trail bike, the XX1 will not disappoint. Industry Nine wheels provide a snappy-feeling hub engagement paired with light rims and spokes. These hoops further improve the bike’s already quick-feeling nature.
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
Moving Out: Domahidy built this bike to fund its Kickstarter campaign. As you would expect, it’s decked out with top-end components as the bait to trip the trigger for potential investors. Fortunately, Domahidy made it through the initial Kickstarter phase and is now in full production, so you can buy a Domahidy just like this one, or pretty much any other way you would like it built. That’s the beauty of a Domahidy. It gives you the feel of a full custom build with the cost advantages of a production frame.
Pedaling: The Domahidy delivers just enough stiffness during pedaling. The frame is stiff enough to exude confidence for all but the strongest “T-Rex quads” sprinters and Clydesdale riders; however, what we like about this bike most is the inherent compliance the titanium lends to the ride quality. Long grinder climbs are rewarded with a relatively supple ride that won’t rattle the fillings in your teeth. The bike delivers stiffness where it needs to and keeps creature comforts in mind. Riders who love long days in the saddle will love this bike.
Climbing: Hardtails climb better than any full-suspension bike. Sure, there are situations where a technical ascent is helped by the “charge and hope for the best” approach full-suspension bikes afford, but if you’re talking pure efficiency, there’s no better machine than a hardtail. The Domahidy’s aggressive geometry puts the rider in a forward-biased, efficient position on the climbs but also keeps the front end planted on steep ascents.
Cornering: The sharp and quick handling manners of the Domahidy make it corner like a classic hardtail. The quick and nimble handling will suit an advanced rider’s skills better than a novice’s. Once a rider is used to the tight geometry, the Domahidy handles like a slot car that knifes through switchbacks with ease, both when climbing and descending, leaving slacker bikes in the dust.
Descending: The Domahidy was built as an efficient and fast bike first, but it doesn’t throw descending prowess out the window to achieve it. The frame has a natural “springy” feel that’s more forgiving than typical carbon race frames, which often feel harsh as a buckboard. The Domahidy won’t do all the work for you, but pointed down a technical trail, this bike will deliver confidence to a skilled pilot.
Braking: SRAM’s XX1 brakes provide plenty of stopping power on the trail, although the lever feel is slightly inconsistent on long descents. While the brakes didn’t suffer from power fade, the feel is less precise than SRAM’s trail brake, the Guide. We also experienced some brake squeal in wet conditions, although it certainly wasn’t a deal breaker and seemed to remedy itself once the brake dried off.
TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?
Domahidy knows its core customer, and that’s exactly who this bike is built for. The narrow bars and small tires fit right into the mix seamlessly; however, riders looking for a trail bike rather than a race bike may prefer a wider bar and tires with a little more air volume for more forgiveness on rocky trails.
The Fizik Tundra saddle is on the harsh side. Riders and racers concerned about weight over comfort will be right at home. Everybody else should plan to swap this minimalist saddle for something more comfortable.
The Domahidy is a hardtail enthusiast’s dream. The sharp handling manners and supple feel make this bike an ideal choice for cross-country riders looking for a lifetime companion. The tried-and-true geometry is quick and feels as if it’s reading your mind on the trail.
The top-notch construction in everything from the weld quality to the striking paint job to the nearly perfect frame alignment makes this bike worth the price. Sure, Steve Domahidy will build you a bike with a build kit that will take less of a toll on your wallet, and it will still have all of the well-designed details this bike does. His steel frames are more than likely just as dialed as this titanium monster he sent us; however, this titanium frame matched with the dialed kit makes for a bike that will be difficult to send back. Hey, Steve, if you’re reading this, the bike is ‘in the mail.”
DOMAHIDY’S GIVEBACK PROGRAM
Every single Domahidy Designs frame will come with a free one-year IMBA membership and a free set of IMBA socks. Customers who purchase a Domahidy Designs frame will get a card with a unique number on it. All they have to do is call or email IMBA with the card number and the IMBA membership will go live and socks will be in the mail. Those who already have IMBA memberships will be able to add a year of membership to their existing account and still receive the free socks.
“Steve Domahidy’s partnership with IMBA is an example for every bike business,” says Rod Judd, IMBA’s Associate Director of Membership and Development. “IMBA exists for its members. They fund our vital work, and we work to improve riding for them. By introducing mountain bikers to the association, Steve is growing the sport and giving customers another reason to buy a Domahidy Designs. It’s a win-win.”