Made In The USA: Anodized Titanium Straws from Firefly Bicycles

Using the only criteria that matter — the ones maintained by the 12-year-old boy in the back of our brains — what was the absolutely most cool/awesome/dope/fly machine in human history? It wasn’t the P.K. Ripper or the 917K, cool though they may be. Nor was it the AR-15 or the Cigarette boat driven by Sonny Crocket. It wasn’t even the F-104 Starfighter, although that is the plane I would buy if I won the lottery tomorrow.

The apex machine, the alpha dog of technological achievement, is surely the SR-71 Blackbird and its “Oxcart” sibling. It went faster than the missiles fired in its direction and it made Darth Vader’s TIE Fighter look like a Toyota Yaris. I don’t know about you but I’m looking forward to the “Hidden Figures”-style movie to be made about it where we find out that the Blackbird was invented not by a bunch of nerds with pocket protectors but rather by a diverse team of women’s studies majors, bronies-of-color, and MS-13 lieutenants. Good stuff.

The SR-71’s hull was made of titanium, a necessary inconvenience that required a massive amount of duplicity on the part of American intelligence agencies and/or corporations. Titanium is the king of metals: strong yet ductile, inert and hypoallergenic, able to withstand more heat than the other options in the craftsman’s arsenal. I have lived the vast majority of my life with various different titanium bolts holding me together.

There is little that titanium cannot do. Having saved the world in the Cold War (for a while, anyway) it is now ready to save the world yet again, in the greatest battle humanity has ever faced.

Although I received my first under-the-skin titanium upgrade in 1988, it wasn’t until recently that I bothered to use the metal in my bicycle builds. My skatepark bike features liberal quantities of Ti in its cranks, bolts, and other small parts, and in the near future I’ll be swapping the front end out for one of Mike Laird’s first all-titanium forks.

Last year, I took the plunge and bought three new titanium bikes from Lynskey, in Tennessee. If you know much about bicycles, then you know that the Lynskey family founded Litespeed, the original purveyor of frames in this particular material. Our own Ronnie Schreiber is a long-time Litespeed owner who covers thousands of miles a year on his early example. Today, Lynskey is probably best characterized as the blue-collar titanium bike-builder. The people who have real money are far more likely to buy a Moots, a Seven, a TiCycles, or one of the micro-builder products out there.

If they are particularly conscious of aesthetics, however, they might end up with a Firefly. This East Coast builder does some ASTOUNDING things with anodizing and polishing. If you want an $8,000 bike that looks like a $15,000 bike, they are the obvious choice.

A few years ago, I had Firefly cook up a batch of anodized titanium headset spacers in various shades of green for my skatepark and BMX race bikes. That got me on their email list, which is how I found out about Ti Straws
Perhaps you’ve heard about California’s ban on plastic straws. Like most legislation of this type, it nontrivially damages the lives of unpersons (in this case, the disabled) in exchange for a little bit of heroin-grade virtue signaling. The “science” behind it came from a a nine-year-old’s school report. Oh well. You’d better just learn to “move on” and accept it. Under no circumstances, citizen, should you allow yourself to look at other, similar laws in a critical fashion as a result. MOVE ALONG. Do you really want to go to jail for handing out straws? Of course not.

(A brief aside: Handing someone a straw in Santa Barbara will get you more jail time than the amount of jail time that Professor Eric Clanton got for hitting seven “Nazis” in the head with a bike lock, which was zero years, zero months, and zero days. Some of those “Nazis” weren’t even aware they were Nazis until they got hit. Now they know.)

Those of us who want or need straws will now have to provide them ourselves, although I wonder if perhaps the free heroin needles distributed so liberally in California couldn’t be “upcycled” for the purpose. Certainly they would do in a pinch although the flow rate would be low. You can buy USA-made stainless-steel straws from Mulled Mind on Etsy.

Ah, but who would have a stainless-steel straw if titanium straws were available? Not the twelve-year-old boy in the back of your brain. He wants a titanium straw. Last month, Firefly Bicycles announced on Instagram and via e-mail that they would be making a limited number of titanium straws using some leftover material from their fabrication operations. Each straw was a custom order with an optional anodized tip in the color of the customer’s choice. They were $20 each including shipping. The timeline of Firefly’s communications with its customers went something like this:

Hour Zero: Would you like to buy a titanium straw LOL we are gonna do a few if anybody cares
Hour Twelve: Okay, the order response has been strong, we are going to honor the ones we have and close up the store in a bit
Hour Twenty-Four: Alright, everybody, the straws are all sold out, no need to keep calling, we are done with this for at least a few years
Hour Forty-Eight: sound of 155mm artillery fire in the distance

Needless to say, I got mine. As with any other non-plastic straw, you have to be careful about not breaking your teeth or impaling your palate with these Blackbird-strong bad boys. I’d be very surprised if any TSA checkpoint let you carry them aboard, although I would also be surprised if the nudie-booth scanner could see the ones you’ve sewn into the inseams of your pants. I like the color of the anodizing, which in my case is a bright green, and the color of the material, which is the same dull but complex grey I treasure in my bicycles and in my IWC Ingy. So far, it’s been a good purchase and I would recommend them to anybody willing to wait until Firefly restarts production sometime during President-For-Life Pence’s fifth term. Follow Firefly on Instagram for advance notice of the next batch. You won’t be sorry. They are amazing machines.

43 Replies to “Made In The USA: Anodized Titanium Straws from Firefly Bicycles”

  1. everybodyhatesscott

    When do people use straws? I get it when you’re in the car and don’t want to spill anywhere but just drinking out of a glass seems a lot easier. I definitely can’t see the need, or want, for a $20 straw made of titanium. Unless you want a John Wick moment “He killed a man with a straw.” That said, I’m not on the Straw Banning virtue signalling side.

          • Kevin Jaeger

            I’m very skeptical that the slightest bit of scientific study exists to support the idea that using straws has any benefit for the teeth. I’d be open to persuasion if it actually exists, but this sounds like something just made up.

            But in any case I don’t drink soda and there’s no way I’m drinking beer from a straw. l’ll be skipping this advice.

  2. Economist

    I use straws when I am tired of my child managing to spill every open cup that has ever been handed to him in his entire life.

    I also prefer to use straws when drinking Coke and similar fizzy drinks. I also use them in smoothies.

  3. Fred Lee

    Color me envious.

    Since I missed the ordering window, my best bet is likely to un-bend one of my King-Cage Ti cages…

    and @everybodyhatesscott, it’s just a personal preference. When I worked at my big .com job, I used a straw because drinking soda (or water, or whatevs) from a big cup without a lid at your desk is a great way to make a mess when you knock it over, or to inadvertently experience a drinking problem while trying to drink and code.

    There’s also the theory, I don’t know if I believe this, that using a straw is better for your teeth. Maybe true, maybe not?

  4. Fred Lee

    And regarding:
    I definitely can’t see the need, or want, for a $20 straw made of titanium.

    See Jack’s comment about the inner 12-year-old. Honestly an $800 steel bike works just as well as a $8000 Ti bike (as the owner of more than one of each, and that doesn’t even get into the Carbon Fiber and Al bikes in my garage) I feel eminently qualified to comment on this…)

    A $20 Ti straw isn’t a necessity, but for the upper-middle-class affluent, it’s a fun toy so why not.

    • everybodyhatesscott

      If you’re a straw user, I guess can see wasting the $20 cause the titanium straw is cool and $20 isn’t all that much money. The amount of stupid shit I have because it’s “cool” or “I just wanted it” is definitely more than $20. I’m just surprised this many people use straws. I just assumed it was kids and drivethru orders.

    • Disinterested-Observer

      Years ago I bought my wife a titanium spork that has only been used in anger, so to speak, a couple of times. It is still quite awesome. I think it literally weighs the same as a plastic spork from KFC but is indestructible.

      To follow up on Fred’s point, I don’t think it’s unreasonable as a gift, assuming that it is something that the person receiving the gift would get a kick out of. My wife got me a Gillette Mach 5 for Valentine’s Day one year, because she knows I hate shaving, I always do it twice because of “Catcher in the Rye”, and I would never in a million years spend ~$25 on a razor for myself.

  5. Ronnie Schreiber

    where we find out that the Blackbird was invented not by a bunch of nerds with pocket protectors but rather by a diverse team of women’s studies majors, bronies-of-color, and MS-13 lieutenants. Good stuff.

    Well, yesterday Google told us about Mary G. Ross, a diversity twofer because she was apparently the first female Native American engineer. She was one of the founding members of the Lockheed Skunk Works, though she worked primarily on space vehicles, not airplanes.

  6. S2k Chris

    Straws are invaluable if you drink iced beverages, because it keeps you from dumping ice all down the front of you when you get half done. Or if you’re a reformed hillbilly like me you use a covered Yeti tumbler which serves the same purpose.

  7. Spud Boy

    At lunch today, the bartender asked if I wanted a straw in my ice water. From now on, I’m going to ask for two straws to make up for all the greenies who refuse one.

  8. widgetsltd

    Calling this “Calfornia’s ban on plastic straws” is just being sloppy, or perhaps advancing a particular agenda even if the facts don’t fit. I LIVE in California, and I can tell you for an absolute fact that straws are available in all sorts of restaurants in the LA metro area. Come on, man, this is a Santa Barbara and San Francisco thing.

    • Jack Baruth Post author

      Well, Seattle and NYC are on the way to doing it. I suspect that it will end up being a “Clinton Archipelago” thing rather than a state-by-state policy. Your clarification is duly noted and affirmed 🙂

      • Seattle Guy

        Seattle has banned non compostable single use straws, but compostable plastic and paper straws are available. They waited 10 years after banning other plastic food packaging for the alternatives to go into production. Straws are small, light, and hard to sort so they go everywhere as litter or contaminants to the recycling and composting streams.

  9. Hogie roll

    The first season miami vice boat was a 39’ Chris Craft stinger. In the season finale they drove it to the Bahamas to wack a drug dealer.

    Thereafter vice boats were the 38’ Wellcraft Scarab.

    Neither of them are particularly valuable.

    Ironically the “Cigarette” brand is bulletproof and they bring a lot more money. Somewhat deservedly so, they are built much better.

    • Mopar4wd

      Was going to say the same thing. As I recall some one bought a vice scarab in upstate NY a few years ago I think he paid like 20K.

      Wellcraft also provided the boats for the short lived Thunder in Paradise. Hulk hogan and his costar both got their own Scarabs out of the deal.

  10. Johnny Bravo

    Jack, you are fucked in the head wasting so much time on the sort of shit you do.

    Titanium straws, socks, foot inserts, and other crap , not to mention Massdrop bullshit that is garbage and that you put out there to earn referral merch on.

    This website is a troglodyte wasteland.

  11. -Nate

    So far the large diameter red plastic straws 7-11 gives me every time I refill my 64 Oz. travel mug works fine so I’ll pass in spite of the obvious cool factor of a Titanium straw .


  12. DougD

    At least the F-104 has small wing area so it’ll take up less space in the hangar.

    I think I’d go DHC-2 Beaver with floats, so I can fly beer up to the fishing camp. With the F-104 you’d have to hold on to the case and eject.

  13. Limp Dick From Quebec

    How sad to see Jack Baruth hawking titanium straws on a clusterfuck of a website, in between gig IT work, and writing fiction dressed up as truth on various sewer level sites elsewhere.

    You should write a totally over the top autobiography (but not really biographical, as it would inevitably be littered with fictional tales of sexual conquests, bar room brawls, and a littany of hilarious claims to track competition wins) titled ‘The Extraordinary Life of Jack Baruth, Man, Racer, Daredevil & Legend’,

    It would be a terrific yarn.

  14. Sean

    Straws.. The biggest non-issue of 2018. So far.
    For crap sake..
    The first person I see sipping water from a plastic bottle with a titanium straw is getting a leg sweep.

  15. -Nate

    “This website is a troglodyte wasteland.”

    Yet you return time after time after time after……

    ? Who’s the troglodyte ? .



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.