To Be Determined Journal

To Be Determined is a journal of cycling, adventure and photography, curated by a NYC-based cycling team known as TBD Racing or Team TBD. From criteriums to cyclocross to product reviews and travel diaries, it is all part of the TBD Journal.

Litespeed L1R Review

Litespeed L1R Review: Team Sixcycle is proud to have Litespeed as one of its 2012 sponsors - with most of the team riding the extremely aerodynamic Litespeed C1R. The C1R is a terrific bike that we'd put up against any other aero bike on the market. However when it comes to light weight and extreme stiffness Litespeed has another bike that perhaps excels even more than the C1R: the 2012 Litespeed L1R. Made with the same 60T carbon that is found on the C1R, the L1R has more traditional tube shapes and an ultra stiff BB386 bottom bracket. Check out our review of the 2012 Litespeed L1R below and visit the Litespeed site for more information at: http://www.litespeed.com/bike.asp?content=L1R-2012 UPDATE 1: we have also posted our review of the 2012 Litespeed C1R - check out our thoughts on this aerodynamic race marchine here: http://team.sixcycle.com/2012/10/05/2012-litespeed-c1r-review/

UPDATE 2: We just published another review of the Litespeed C1R here - click through to see thoughts on Di2 installation on this aero race machine.

2012 Litespeed L1R Review from Team Sixcycle-RK&O's Roger Parmelee

60T carbon fiber, Continuous Cross-Sectional Morphology, Reactive Pressure Molding, BB386 bottom bracket, 1.125" x 1.5" tapered steerer fork, and Zero-Stack headset system. What does all this mean?

I could spend hours talking about the unique qualities that are derived from each of those technologies, but skipping the jargon and going for the bottom line: the L1R is stiff.

This stiffness certainly has something to do with the four years of development Litespeed invested in the frameset. But it's also a function of the fact that the L1R uses 60-ton carbon fiber weave — the lightest and strongest available. Combine this 60T carbon with Litespeed's development of Reactive Pressure Molding(RPM) to create advanced molding techniques that allow increasingly rigid aerodynamic shapes while also reducing material weight and you have a combination of strength and light weight.

In contrast to Litespeed and RPM, many manufacturers use a process called bladder molding to form their carbon shapes. This regimen requires extra filler material and permanent components; all contribute to useless weight in the frame in order to decrease drag.RPM allows precise control of inner wall thickness by using a polyurethane sleeve, and thus making unique shapes - like the L1R's full-carbon head tube - achievable.

Litespeed also made great strides in making the L1R extremely aerodynamic outside of RPM. The proprietary carbon fork has been bladed and bowed to allow a clean airflow over the front wheel. The L1R also features a shrouded water bottle mount which again contributes to excellent aerodynamics.

Also unique to the L-series: tube lengths and widths are specific to each frameset size, ensuring a proportionally uniform fit and ride quality whether you ride a Small or an Extra-Large. It's this thoughtfulness and attention to details that gets inner bike nerd juices really flowing.

Another area where the L1R excels - and the Litespeed investment in R&D shines through - is in the use of a BB386 bottom bracket. While some will criticize the limited power meter options with BB386 but there is actually an increasing array of BB386 compatible power meters (as well as both pedal and wheel based power meter options). And when it comes to the actual ride of the frameset, the BB386 is impressive.

When it comes to the on the bike performance, I loved this frameset from the beginning. My last framset was a Specialized SL3 - which sets a high bar - but the L1R easily exceeded that bar and with it all of my expectations.

The bike feels very neutral - not twitchy and extremely easy to maneuver. This is important to me as an all-around type rider who does a fair amount of sprinting as well as a variety of crits and road races with punchy climbs. The bike really shines in the corners - in crits the stiffness allows you to come out of the saddle and put power immediately down to the ground with no flex while at speed the bike tracks extremely well around corners. Whereas a number of bikes that I have tried have been twitchy in corners, the L1R is very solid and in a fast paced crit that solid feel means better control.

However the Litespeed L1R just isn't about high paced crits - it's extremely comfortable over five to six hour bike rides as well. Living in riding in New York City - with its wide array of road surfaces, including some that have more potholes than solid roadway - the L1R's ability to dampen road vibration is essential. In the end whether it's in a race or while doing a long training ride, the L1R has beat all of my expectations and comes out on top versus other top end frames like the SL3.

Turning to the looks of the bike, as the pictures below highlight, it really stands out. The first thing you'll notice is the matte carbon fiber tubes. The shaping is absolutely beautiful in person and the top tube has a nice flat surface to it with a UCI legal 1.125x1.5inch tapered steerer tube and oversized aero head tube. An asymmetric design of the down tube / seat tube junction has been incorporated to promote a direct conduit for energy transfer, resulting in the ultimate in drivetrain efficiency.

As I said I could go on for hours about the 2012 Litespeed L1R, but in the end the best way to understand just how good this bike is to try it out in person.

Build Spec for Roger Parmelee's 2012 Litespeed L1R

  • Group: SRAM Red shifters front rear deralurs 11x26 cassette
  • Wheels: Zipp 303 firecrest
  • Brakes: TRP R970 SL breaks
  • Handlebars: FSA Plasma bars
  • Seapost: FSA K-Force seatpost
  • Crankset: FSA K- FORCE LIGHT BB386 crank
  • Saddle: Fizik Aliante Braided Carbon Saddle
  • Bar Tape: Lizard skin bar tape
  • Pedals: Look keo blade pedals
  • Cables: Gore ride on professional cables
  • Chain: KMC x10sl chain

2012 Litespeed L1R Pictures