The Fearless Vulture Titanium is designed for everything in the gravel world, be that racing flat out, hitting really hard technical trails or loading it up and setting off to Patagonia. This new version of the Vulture is more surefooted than ever in the technical stuff but is it still fast enough when you put the hammer down?
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Fearless Vulture Titanium frameset - Technical details
Fearless has updated its steel Vulture using 3AL/2.5V Titanium and it’s a beauty. Available as a frame only for £2,200, it's made from standard round profile tubing apart from the tapered headtube and drive-side chainstay plate bridge to allow for greater tyre clearance.
Fearless quotes a maximum tyre size of 29 x 2.2in or 27.5 x 2.4in with this new frame design and excellent chainring clearance with the chainstay plate. It comes with a rear axle and all bolts and port blanks for 1x, 2x & Di2 gear versatility, a flat mount rear brake mount, and an English threaded BSA 68mm shell.
You can also order a frameset with a smart full carbon adventure fork with huge clearance and triple mounts on the fork, internal dynamo routing, inboard mudguard mounts, and adjustable 47-52mm offset dropouts for an extra £310.
The headset and seat clamp are up to you, as is the complete build, although various headset options are listed on the website as a guide. The good news is you won’t need a headset press to fit them as the headtube is machined for a 42/52 integrated setup which requires no tools at all to fit.
Seat post size is 27.2mm and the geometry is designed to work best with an offset post. The seat clamp is 31.8mm which is pretty easy to get hold of from most brands but should you wish for the titanium version you see in the pictures, you’ll need to preorder that with your frame for an extra £70. In a nod to foul weather protection, the seat tube is slotted on the front to keep the crud from getting into the frame and the seat clamp threads.
The Vulture Titanium differs quite a bit in geometry from the previous steel version we reviewed in 2018 and from the more recent Warlock, a model we liked when we reviewed it in 2021 The new geometry uses the knowledge and feedback garnered from these earlier models, riders and market trends.
This model features a slightly longer wheelbase via a longer back end to not only allow for larger rubber but also a little more control and comfort on the rough stuff when fully laden.
The head tube has grown in length by 40mm to 180mm to provide a more upright position for the rider offering better visual involvement with what you are riding through or past. That headtube is also slacker now at 70.5-degrees to provide the rider with more control and confidence when they turn away from the double track and smash down the singletrack descent on the rough stuff.
The top tube is lightly shorter at 565mm and coupled with a reach of 383mm and stack of 591mm, the Vulture Titanium has a shorter rider compartment meaning that the frame sizes will accommodate a wider range of torso sizes. Fearless also lowered the standover height with a reduction in the seat tube length to 540mm to provide more space for manoeuvrability when riding and comfort when straddling the top tube at rest. The seat angle is fairly stock at 73-degrees.
The Vulture Titanium has all the ports required for all gear options from AXS to wired 1x, 2x, and Di2 versions of them.
Mechanical rear gear cable routing is semi-internal running into the top tube and exiting on the drive side ahead of the seat tube collar. The cable then runs externally down the underside of the seat stay to the rear mech. Mechanical front cable routing runs into the top of the downtube port and out on the underside in front of the BB and into a conventional plastic cable guide under the BB and up your front mech which needs to be fitted via a 31.8mm band clamp. Di2 Ports and plugs are provided if you’re using that system
Chainset compatibility is ‘gravel only’ be that 1x or 2x. The maximum 2x chainset is a 48/34T setup or a 44T chainring for a 1x setup. Fearless states on its site that Shimano’s Dura-Ace, Ultegra and 105 Road chainsets will not fit this frameset.
Fearless has kept the cargo mount quota reasonably low on this model with traditional two-bottle mounts inside the main triangle and one underneath the downtube. The brand decided to do away with the triple mount on the inner downtube as it found that riders were not using it, instead, the mounts are as low as possible to allow the use of a frame bag and two large bottles. There are both mudguard and rack mounts on the frame supplied with bolts fitted.
If you have any questions about size and fit or chainset compatibility Fearless has information online or can help further via an email address, social media, or heaven forbid in 2023, a good old-fashioned telephone which feels very reassuring when you're spending this much cash.
The Vulture Titanium is available in S, M, ML, L and XL. We tested a frameset built up with a selection of review kit and personal parts that we know and love and can ‘ignore’ in the testing process.
Fearless Vulture Titanium frameset - Performance
Titanium has been used for bike frame manufacturing for decades and is almost always 3AL/2.5V grade which simply means it’s an alloy of Titanium made of three per cent aluminium, and 2.5% vanadium and it’s the perfect material for a gravel bike be that a racing one or a bikepacking adventure one.
Its low weight and compliant nature are ideal for gravel surfaces be they smooth gritty summer hardpack trails or rocky, root-infested tracks, regardless of the surface titanium helps deliver a more comfortable ride. It also has the bonus of being incredibly durable and easy to look after, whilst painted frames need to be protected from scuffs from bike packing bags and flying rocks, titanium is all but impervious allowing you more time in the saddle and less time cleaning and polishing and fretting about chips in your £1,000 paint job.
Fearless’s Vulture Titanium is a good-looking gravel frame without using any exaggerated tube profiles, engineered joints, or stunning dropouts. The frame itself is unnamed, wearing only the sandblasted Fearless Logo on the downtube as an identifier and a rather smart debossed headtube logo. All the tubes are round in profile with differing diameters and the overall look is clean and super functional without shouting “look at me”.
For the money, it’s very neat and tidy with accurate consistent weld scaling around the joins and a finish that looks as good as anything else in this price range and even a chunk higher. It is not a Moots though – but then it’s not claiming to be – or priced as such.
The head tube is one of the nicer ones I’ve seen on a non-custom gravel bike for quite a while. The simple tapered tube is beautifully debossed with the Fearless logo and that prominent design coupled with the Hope headset cap’s chamfer helps the headtube trick the eye and offer a more beautiful sculptured look than its actual straight lines. Very smart indeed.
I’m testing the large version which at 183cm tall, is spot on. I like a 56 to 57cm effective top tube and I'm pleased with the extra standover clearance with the Vulture Titanium which is a huge bonus when you have it loaded with your camping kit and you need to stop and check the route.
I’ve run two very different wheelsets on the Vulture Titanium during my test period to find out what it’s like as a bulldozing adventure wanderlust rig and then a slimmed-down version both in weight and tyre width as a more out-and-out speed weapon.
With Pacenti Forza Wide wheels shod with Teravail 650 x 2.1in Sparwood and Rutland tyres for plush and playful excursions off the beaten track the Fearless has excellent do-everything credentials. It soaks up the chatter from the gravel softens up the edges of the potholes on the roads and blasts through the woods with ease.
Should you see a bit of trail heading downhill that slacker headtube angle and low top tube beg you to grab the drops and hammer the Vulture down the side of the hill. It’s an absolute blast, especially if there’s a little bit of ‘tech’ to the trail where you can revel in the confidence it provides. This frame loves aggressive lines and more out-of-control sections and delivers huge grins giving its rider more confidence to push on harder, more so than most other gravel bikes I’ve ridden. Show it the top of a trailhead, and you’ve suddenly got a party on your hands. This frame likes to go down.
The slacker head angle fills you with confidence to blast downhill and into the woods without worrying too much about whether you’ve fitted a dropper post (there is no internal routing option here – even more reason to save up for that XPLR AXS groupset). The low standover height means lots of space for excessive body adjustments on the bike helping keep yourself upright and moving.
The fork provides super rigid control irrespective of the terrain surface and at no point is there any undue flex from the tips regardless of your line choice. The fork obeys all handlebar and body inputs tracking exactly where you want it to go without concern or worry. There is no untoward harshness in feedback from the trail and it’s a great match for a frame begging for you to ring out every last drop of excitement in the twisty stuff. On the smooth stuff and cruising along the fork adsorbs surface imperfections and helps provide a very comfortable front end to the Vuture Titanium.
If you fancy a bit more zip for blasting around your local gravel loop with your mates simply change the tyres and or wheels to something a little faster and the character of the Vulture Titanium changes – a lot. I swapped the 650b x 2.1in-wide rubber out for Schwalbe G-One RS 700 x 40mm tyres fitted to Spinergy GXC wheels and the Vulture Titanium delivers a more racey feel full of that famous Ti zing.
Where the large tyres with lower pressure dampened that special Titanium zing to just being super smooth; the thinner, lighter and higher pressure 40mm setup shows that the urgency is still there, just waiting for you to tap into it. It's a hard feeling to describe other than it feels like it's egging you on, urging you to keep going.
Sure you’ll need to borrow or buy another set of wheels, but let’s assume you can do that, or that you built it that way in the first place. If so, then this racier setup shows that the Vulture Titanium has plenty of zip to it. It’s not quite as fast and dynamic and easy to flick around on the smoother stuff (or the roads in between) as the Windover Bostal, I tested earlier this year, but it is super comfortable everywhere which means you don't have to blast it if you don't want to. Turn the gas down a little and it's a great cruiser.
Climbing in or out of the saddle reveals a frame that adsorbs the surface imperfections well and lets you get on with just spinning the pedals without any real noticeable bottom bracket flex. The bike's overall weight helps in climbing for sure, but the frame or more accurately the bottom bracket area transfers your energy into forward momentum without discernable flex and I found myself riding up steep gravel and rutted climbs with relative ease. Out-of-the-saddle sprints up twisty rough road sections were great fun delivering crazy bursts of acceleration and producing much swearing from my riding partner.
The Vulture's tall 180mm head tube also allows for greater visibility when cruising along providing much more engagement in the scenery you are riding through and whilst the slightly short front compartment (for me) meant that I was initially pretty snug when tucking in behind the bars a simple swap out for an offset (recommended in the first place) Easton EA90 post allowed me another 1cm+ of length which felt instantly more comfortable as I slotted into the drops. For reference I’m pretty evenly proportioned (I have average back length and average leg length for my height but I do have long arms).
The increased standover height is a bonus with a gravel bike designed to be loaded up and taken off-road. It’s noticeable immediately you stop and straddle the top tube. I’m sure for some readers it will be a pleasant bonus over similar models with more horizontal designs where they have felt a little uncomfortable in that area.
Added to that greater standover height, Fearless has specced a slightly longer chainstay, 445mm over the 430mm of the steel version which is great when you’ve loaded the bike up with your heavy bikepacking gear and helps deliver a more stable ride. It also allows a smidge of extra heal clearance if you run a rear rack and panniers or the aeroe Spider Rack like I recently tested it with.
Fearless has been cautious not to stretch that geometry in such a way that it’s an all-or-nothing touring bikepacker. With a wheelbase of 1061mm, it might make it feel a tiny bit slower to flick about and accelerate out of turns than snappier gravel race machines out there but the return is that it’s very comfortable with a tent, sleeping kit, food and clothes, and crushing trails.
If you opt for the frameset option which I’m sure a lot of customers will do, then rest assured you’re in safe hands. The big conversation point about the fork is its adjustable offset from 52 to 47mm. That’s not a huge change but one that can have some effect on the way the bike handles. But it also can allow you to keep the same feel when you change wheels and tyre sizes. Different width, height and tread depth tyre profiles can as make as much difference here as the offset does to the trail. For most people, you’ll have a dabble with both settings and stick with one you like, especially as it’s not a simple switcheroo. You’ll need to add a direct mount caliper adjuster and reset your brakes which is a faff so it’s not something you do quickly for a quick feel comparison trailside.
I spent most of my time in the 52mm offset setting preferring the slightly more responsive ride characteristics of the shorter trail that this this position offers. Long trips with heavier cargo would probably benefit from a switch to the 47mm offset to increase the trail as long as your tyre stayed the same.
The fork features recessed triple cage mounts on the legs which whilst being very discreet, flush, and easy to clean when not loaded do mean that you’ll need to find spacers and specific mounting hardware before you can attach your cargo cage. Not a big issue but a result of looking sleek.
Fearless offers the frame for £2,200 without a fork or seat clamp. If you want the fork (and why wouldn’t you it's lovely) it’s another £310. The seat clamp is £70 which seems a lot compared to Hope, Thomson or Wolftooth options.
Fearless Vulture Titanium frameset - Verdict
There are a lot of direct-to-consumer gravel bikes in the UK and I suspect everywhere else, too. In a non-exhaustive list, titanium options from Ribble with its Gravel Ti frameset for £2,300, Reilly and its £2,500 Gradient model and Sonder with the £1,900 Camino Ti frameset are all worth a look. Geometry varies depending on design remit with steeper or slacker head angles and in the case of the Sonder and the Ribble, lots of clearance just like the Fearless.
If you fancy saving some money and prefer a racier feel then the steel 853 Windover Bostal is worth a shout as I loved the fast agile responsive attitude but it wasn't quite as aggressive downhill for me. If you want crazy downhill capability and fun and less head-down zip, then the Marin Gestalt XR complete bike might be worth a shout and spend some money on upgrades where necessary or just swap it out for your own kit.
With slightly slacker geometry and a taller front end, Fearless’s Vulture Titanium offers plenty of excitement on the rough stuff especially if you like your technical trails to go down. It’s also super comfortable to ride and you get a great view of the landscape you’re riding through. Loaded up it's a dependable low-torqued diesel but drop the gear and take it for a hard-charging blast in the evening and it will deliver that race-feel smile after smile. A really fun bike with more than one trick up its sleeve.
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